hist-brewing: myrica gale

adam larsen euphonic at flash.net
Mon Oct 23 09:40:25 PDT 2000

Spencer wrote:

 ... Does bog myrtle possess the properties that were once ascribed
    to it...? ... chemical analysis has revealed no such properties.
    [One writer] is inclined to believe that there must be some
    substance in the bog myrtle that has the effect described.  But he
    is also open to the suggestion that the belief in a special effect
    gave rise to an increased consumption [that] produced effects of
    the kind described. ... The solution of these problems would ...
    require a complicated analysis, and as it is of little practical
    value to find the cause of the alleged headaches of bygone ages,
    the question will probably remain unsolved.

> Bog myrtle is not readily available where i live.  As a result i have
had it shipped in from the states at great expense (14 dollars an once
before shipping!).  On the mainland it is readily available in several
part of rural Scandinavian if you are willing to pick it.  I understand
that in order for the intoxicating properties to manifest them selves
you must use a large quantity (several ounces) so i have yet to see such
an effect in anything that i have made.  Also, now a days, must people
in the  Northlands that make old fashioned ale seem to use sweet gale as
a flavoring agent rather then as a preservative or intoxicant.
    Because sweet gale or any gruit spice is not being used in any large
scale commercial application i doubt that anyone will ever dedicated the
required expertise and funding to find out why it has the effect it does
and in what quantify.  I would recommend that one never use more then an
once per 21 liters so as to avoid any unpleasant effects the morning
after or become overly intoxicated by accident.

Spencer wrote:
It is not clear from this material what part(s) of the plant were
used, except for the mention that "the leaves were also taken."  He
does refer at one point to the shape of the fruit of the plant, so we
might assume that this is what was used.  Certainly, Rajotte refers to
the seeds as the flavoring agent in his Santa's Magic Potion.  In the
American herbal, the most closely related plant is the bayberry, from
which the twigs and roots seem to be used (at least, that's what I can
find in herb shops around here).

> As far as i can tell one is suppose to use the leaves.  I tried using
the fruit once (3 pounds per gallon) and had a harsh, pithy like drink
that was quite unpleasant.  I have heard of others using the seeds but i
have yet to do it myself.

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