hist-brewing: Mead recipes

Donald Beistle dbeistle at arches.uga.edu
Wed Sep 22 15:30:48 PDT 1999

Many thanks to Angus for the wickedly potent-sounding Scandinavian mead &
ale recipes. But is the "Balder's Ale" recipe really supposed to make just
5 liters of beer with 6kg of malt extract? No wonder he was impervious to
all the missiles the Aesir hurled at him!

Also, it's no surprise that Angus couldn't find an entry for "pors" in his
Swedish(?)-English dictionary. Myrica gale is known in English as bog
myrtle or sweet gale--when it is known at all. Modern English "gale" comes
from OE "gagel" (cognate with German "Gagel"), though I have no idea what
the etymology of "gagel" might be. By contrast the name "pors" appears to
be limited to Scandinavia, implying that the continental Germans, English,
and Scandinavians began using myrica gale to spice ales sometime after the
Scandinavians had broken away from the rest of the Germans (ca. 1st cent.
BC-AD) but before the Viking era (8th cent. AD). If all the Germanic
peoples had brewed with myrica gale before dividing up into Goths, Scands,
and Germans, then there should be one recognizably similar word for it in
most of the Germanic languages--e.g. beer, Bier; ale, ol; mash, Maisch;
etc. The only other possibility I can see is that "pors" is borrowed from
some non-Germanic language.

There is some nice information on "pors" and yarrow (the other distinctly
Scandinavian brewing spice) on a website from either the Swedish or
Norwegian Museum of Natural History. A search on AltaVista should be able
to find it.

--Donald Beistle
 Athens, Georgia

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