So, what was it like? Standard amber colour, very cloudy liquid, very little head, and the taste….well lets just say its “unique”. The vegetative additions of “spruce” and “tea tree” are clearly evident. Beer made from swamp water is probably the best description. But you know, if, like Cook and his crew, you regard it as a “health tonic”, then its perfectly drinkable. Suspending the rum ration for three days of beer drinking was just a happy side-benefit of this health-tonic! A lot better than drinking water from a barrel that first you had to skim the scum off the top, and then strain out the yard long ropes of algae. I recall Cook writing that the first sips of this spruce beer were “terrible astringent” and that the beer was then sweetened with “moleasses”. That is still evident, there’s a hint of something mouth-shattering underlying this modern recipe. I can imagine the first taste of their unsweetened brew must have been a real slap in the face. But again, they regarded such bracing acidic tastes as evidence of health giving properties. These were serious hard men, used to eating and drinking some shocking muck. No matter what it tastes like to me, this healthy swamp water beer tasted like “Nectar of the Gods” to them. In Cooks own words, “Beer was exceeding palatable and esteemed by everyone on board”. I’m sure an annual April 2nd dose of tonic for me will keep me happy healthy and wise.
Yes, yes, I know this isn’t pencil stuff, but just indulge me.