Make Your Own Spruce Beer Colonial Rations

   06.12.19

Make Your Own Spruce Beer Colonial Rations

Here’s a video from Townsends, all about spruce beer. It was rationed to the Colonial Army, who knew that beer is always good!

Our host reads off some 1775 general orders from the Continental Army back in the days of the American Revolution. Each soldier was allotted:

  • One pound fresh beef per day
  • One pound bread per day
  • Three pints peas per week
  • One pint milk per day (if available)
  • One-half pint of rice per week
  • One quart spruce beer per day

Then he makes me sad by saying spruce beer is “not technically a beer.” But I guess that’s not all that big a deal to me, because I doubt I’d chugalug a mug o’ spruce if it tastes anything like I imagine it would. Which, he says, it doesn’t.

He also says some folks made it using pine trees. Yeah, no.

Way back when, American Indians helped out some white folks by feeding them a spruce drink to cure scurvy. Naturally, we caucasians saw it as the perfect chance to try a new kind of beer, so spruce beer became a thing and was widely known as a “health drink.”

Get you some spruce bits and boil them in water until the bark starts to peel off. Strain the liquid, then…

Well, then he tells us we can buy ‘spruce essence’ if you want to skip the whole gather-and-boil routine.

You don’t need me to tell you how to make this stuff. That’s what the video is for.

It’s an interesting way to use natural ingredients to make an old-timey beverage, which he says is actually “very refreshing” and smells nothing like Pine-Sol.

Have you ever tried spruce beer? I have not.

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