Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Weird Beers.

It is time to start thinking of your holiday beverages. Are you tired of the same old freshly squeezed juice of Himalayan goji berries, artisanal beers, French champagne, and egg-nog made with free-range, organic low-fat, low carb, gluten-free, high GI eggs from happy , healthy monogamous hens?  Are you looking for something a little different to serve your guests this year?

Have you considered Beer of Sulphuric Acid? No? Perhaps Tomato Beer appeals to you more?
From the Twentieth Century Home Cook Book, by Mrs. Francis Carruthers, the Celebrated Authority on the Science and Art of Cooking (Chicago, 1905,) I give you the following recipes, (although do not suggest that you actually make the sulphuric acid version!):-

Beer of Sulphuric Acid.
Take of dilute sulphuric acid and concentrated infusion of orange-peel, each twelve drachms; syrup of orange-peel, five fluid ounces.
This quantity is added to two imperial gallons of water. A large wineglassful is taken for a draught, mixed with more or less water according to taste. This beer is entirely harmless, even if taken in considerable quantities, and is refreshing in hot weather.

Tomato Beer sounds a lot less scary:
Tomato Beer.
Gather the fruit, stem, wash and mash it; strain through a coarse linen bag, and to every gallon of the juice add three pounds of good brown sugar. Let it stand nine days, and then pour it off from the pulp which will settle in the bottom of the jar. Bottle it closely, and the longer you keep it the better it is. Take a pitcher that will hold as much as you want to use, fill it nearly full of fresh sweetened water, add a few drops of essence of lemon. To every gallon of sweetened water add a half-tumblerful of beer. This is a favorite drink in the Southern States of America, and is healthful.

The following idea is also sounds safe, if a little boring (and who wants boring during the holiday season?)

Cream of Tartar Beer.
Mix two ounces of cream of tartar, three pounds of brown sugar, three quarts of yeast. To be mixed and allowed to work. This makes ten gallons, and should be drunk as soon as worked. A strong syrup of pie-plant stalks [rhubarb] makes an excellent beer prepared as above, but without the tartaric acid.

If it is an alcohol-free alternative that you are after, you could jazz up your soda with some home-made bitters, or if you are not into “natural” products, you could improve your coffee with some artificial cream.

Home-Made Bitters.
Take half an ounce of the yolk of fresh eggs carefully separated from the whites; half an ounce of gentian-root; one and a half drachms of orange-peel, and one pint of boiling water. Pour the water hot upon the ingredients mentioned, and let them steep in it for two hours; then strain, and bottle for use.

Artificial Cream for Coffee.

Beat well one egg, with one spoonful of sugar; pour a pint of scalding hot milk over this, stirring it briskly. Make it the night previous.


Gary Gillman said...

I can shed some light.

The first is a non-alcohol version of a beer sought to be given an aged character. In the 1800's, some beer was long-aged in cask. It became on the dry side from ongoing fermentation of sugars and dextrins, and even tart, or a touch sour. (Numerous modern Belgian ales are still of this character).

Some people liked the estery old taste although this kind of beer had pretty much died out by the end of the 1800's in favour of a young, sweetish beer.

If you had no old ale on hand, you might add dilute sulphuric acid to new beer, or Seville orange slices, to impart a degree of acidity and a fruity taste. Presto old ale. These beers were considered refreshing in summer, sometimes mixed with young fresh beer.

So again the first one is a take-off on this but in a way to produce a non-alcohol equivalent.

The tomato beer seems a kind of concentrate, probably alcoholic, to give a fillip to cold water, again as a refresher. It is probably the progenitor to a Redeye, a mixture of beer and tomato juice and popular, or it was, in Alberta in Canada and parts the mid-western U.S. The tomato beer is really a tomato wine I'd say.

Haven't run into the cream of tartar beer before, it sounds like a version of a quick beer made at home, sans malt or hops but seeking to emulate the real thing.

Bitters are used of course in cocktails and some cooking, Angostura with the oversize label is the main one but many other types are being made today.

All very interesting. People used to have a taste for sharp sourish stuff, e.g. scrumpy cider, Muscadet, water- and-raspberry vinegar (an old English summer drink for agricultural workers). So sweet-sour, sweet-bitter, all variations on a theme...


The Old Foodie said...

Many thanks for that fascinating insight, Gary! I can't help thinking though that a better name for the beer might have been thought up, for the purposes of publishing the recipe!

Anonymous said...

The rhubarb version sounds quite nice--but I like tart things.

Joe Hopkins said...

There is a cocktail, known as Red Eye or sometimes Red Beer, which is tomato juice and beer. While not a brewed beer, it does bring together tomatoes and beer.