We found a recipe that went like this:
“To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . .”.
It sounded quite nice and simple. Besides, we had a lot of birch sap (in this post you can read how to extract it yourself and many other curiosities!) so we tried to make it! The first time, we followed the recipe closely but it turned out too sweet. Also, some unforeseen event happened. We used normal ale beer, and at a certain point we realized that, somehow, the fermentation process didn’t really start. Then we realized that at the time the recipe was written, the ale had normally still working yeast in it. The ale we used didn’t so that’s why we had to add little bit of dry yeast that starts to work at 42° C.
So then it started to ferment. The fermentation time is 10 days. You can leave it longer if your bottles are well sealed. Anyways, after 10 days the taste has already reached its maturity.
The second time we made some changes to the original recipe. We used half of the honey the recipe said, so 1/8 gallon (1 gallon amount to 4 litres). In grams, we put 100 g Finnish forest honey in the boiling sap plus 30 g of chestnut honey per litre.
The bottles we used were half a litre per each. They have to have air tight closure because, during the fermentation, the pressure will rise and the closure will have to contain it.
Birch sap beer
- 1 litre and 1 dl of sap*
- 50 g of ale beer
- 130 g of honey
- Lemon peel of 1 lemon
- 4 cloves
- Very little yeast (see picture above)
* Some of the sap will evaporate during the cooking part, so use little bit more of it in order to fill the bottles.
- Boil the sap with honey, chives and lemon for 1 hour
- Let the flavored sap cool down till warm and add the ale
- Bottle the sap and add the yeast straight in the bottles
- Don’t open the bottle from now on for 10 days
- Turn gently the bottle upside down few times per day so that the yeast will distribute better
The taste is fresh, somewhere between mead and wheat beer. Very good with fish or salad, or just by itself.
Open the bottle preferably outside so that you see how much foam comes out. Have a big glass with you and pour it immediately after opening it, not quickly but steadily.