This wintry Puritan-style brew is based on a recipe from "Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches" by Eliza Leslie, 1840. Brewed with real spruce branches, hops, dark maple syrup and no grain, it’s light, yeasty and dramatically different from modern beer.
- 1 gallon water
- 1 gallon plastic bag full of spruce limbs (the tips and newer growth)
- 1 cup dark maple syrup
- 1/4 ounce hops (such as Willamette and Centennial)
- 1 packet ale yeast
- 6 raisins
- 5 allspice berries, cracked (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
Boil water, hops and spices in a large pot for 20 minutes. Add the spruce limbs and boil for another 10 minutes. Strain the mixture through a mesh brew bag (if you have one) or a metal strainer. Let the liquid stand until it is warm.
Sanitize a gallon glass jug (known as a fermenter). You can do this with a no-rinse sanitizer, found at brewing stores. Pour the warm spruce liquid into the jug. Add the yeast and the sugar. Cork the jug with a rubber stopper and an airlock. Allow it to ferment for 2 to 4 days, or until it stops bubbling.
Sanitize your bottles (Lohman prefers 250ml clip top stopper bottles, but you can bottle in traditional small beer bottles) by boiling them for 30 minutes and then letting them cool upside down. Put three raisins in the bottom of each bottle and fill with the liquid. (The original recipe claims that the raisins stop the fermentation process, but it’s mistaken; they’re to give the yeast one last meal, which carbonates the beverage once it’s bottled.)
Allow to sit another two days.
*Note: You’re going to need some basic homebrewing knowledge to take this beer on. If you’re just getting started, I’d recommend purchasing a one gallon home brew kit, which is what this recipe is designed for.