California Beer Seed (1860)

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Mon Apr 5 01:32:13 UTC 2004

   DARE has "Cal(ifornia) beer" from 1965-70.  DARE has "beer seed" from 1969.
   Those dates are probably a little off.
   I don't know if the OXFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN FOOD AND DRINK will have this

Home-Town Flavor From the Press
KERWIN HOOVER. Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: May 30, 1954. p. B5 (1 page):
   All kinds of mail come to the Journal, not the least of which was an offer from a man in Mathison, Miss., to send us some beer seed if we would send him $1.25.  The man says he will, for this sum, send us enough seed to make a "starter," and we are so intrigued with what this all means that we probably would send the money except our doctor told us we had better lose some weight.--Coronado Journal-Compass, G. K. Williams.

The Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Nov 7, 1918. p. I9 (1 page) :
   SACRAMENTO, Nov. 4--A plea for a "stake" of "California Beer Seed" that will produce a beverage which is "mighty good ginger cake, beats sassafras tea, and ice tea and is better than near beer," has been received by Charles Paine, secretary of the California State Agricultural Society, from W. A. Adair of Marshall, Tex.  Paine said he he;d no information concerning "beer seed," but has appealed to the public for assistance that he may comply with the request.
   Adair's letter said:
   "During the Civil War, we made a home beverage called California beer, made from California beer seed.  The seed multiplied several hundred fold monthly, is my recollection.  I know that a seed the size of a grain of sugar grew to be as large as a buckshot, rose gradually from the bottom of the container to the top then burst into hundreds of little ones and sank to the bottom again.
   "Some friends laugh at me and say this is a dream.  Dream, or not, it was mighty good with ginger cake during the war and beat sassafras tea.  As it is made of water and cheap molasses, it will beat ice tea without sugar and I believe it will be better than near-beer.
   "Can you lend me a stake of seed?  Will send you back the stake and interest."

The Housemother's Exchange; Freezing Without Ice"
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Sep 24, 1911. p. VIII6 (1 page):
      Beer Seed
   This is for the member who asked for California beer seed.
   Long years ago when I lived down in Muskingum county, Ohio, as a child, I knew an old lady who had the beer seed in a large glass jar in her cupboard.  She told me exactly how it was made.  She also gave me some to drink.  It was delicious.  In taste it was somewhat like rootbeer--only better.
   I have often wished I knew what the "seed" was.

The Housemothers' Exchange; A Canning Hint
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Sep 10, 1911. p. VIII6 (1 page) :
      California Beer Seed
   You say you never knew that California beer seed grew on earth, or in molasses, sugar, or vinegar.  We may all learn, and we never grow too old to learn.
   I have often made the beer with "seed," but this is said to be the way to start the seed,
   One-half cupful of pearl barley and 1/2 cup molasses or dark sugar to each quart of water.  Put these into a jar and cork tightly.  Set in a warm place for twenty-four hours and it will be ready for use.
   I have never made the seed, but often made the beer after the "seed" was started.
   Let me say that the molasses used here is the good old-fashioned homemade sorghum, such as few city people ever see.  It is not the adulterated mixture sold in stores.  There is a vast difference between them.  There is no vinegar in the beer--nothing but sweetened water.  The seed ore has yeast in effect (illegible line--ed.).  They multiply so rapidly that only a very little need be saved for making a fresh supply.  it is a healthful drink and much better than rootbeer.  It never intoxicates.
   If you get other information on the subject let us have it.
   L. H. D. (St. Paul, Minn.)

   You say truly that one is never too old to learn.  I never heard of beer seed until a correspondent mentioned it and had the haziest kind of idea as to is being and nature until your letter enlightened me.
   But you tell us how to "start the seed."  Are we to understand that the "blend" of sorghum, pearl barley and water are the beer itself which you extol as a nonintoxicant much better than rootbeer?
   Is no "starter" used in making it?

Article 12 -- No Title
Scientific American (1845-1908). New York: Mar 24, 1860. Vol. VOL. II., Iss. No. 13.; p. 206 (1 page) :
   A. C. Jr., of Texas.--If you will send us some of the California beer seed we will examine it, and give you our opinion of it.

Article 9 -- No Title
Scientific American (1845-1908). New York: Jun 9, 1860. Vol. VOL. II., Iss. No. 24.; p. 382 (1 page):
   G. H., of Miss.--Your beer seed is being examined.

American Journal of Science and Arts (1820. May 1861. Vol. 31, Iss. 91; p. 103 (54 pages)

Article 1 -- No Title
The Genesee Farmer (1845-1865). Rochester: Oct 1861. Vol. 22, Iss. 10; p. 324 (1 page):
   A BEER PLANT.--Our readers have hear of and perhaps seen the "vinegar plant"--a funghus which turns sweetened water into vinegar.  Before it becomes vinegar, of course, the sugar must be changed into alcohol.  It appears from the _Boston Cultivator_ that a plant--doubtless a funghus--has been discovered in California which is used to convert sweetened water into _beer_.  The "beer seed" is put into a cask with sweetened water, and as the beer is drawn off fresh sweetened water is added, the plant continuing to grow and to change the water into beer so long as a fresh supply of sugar and water is provided.

California Beer Seed.
Scientific American (1845-1908). New York: Oct 1, 1892. Vol. Vol. LXVII., Iss. No. 14.; p. 217 (1 page):
   A correspondent sends a small package containing some "California beer seed."  He says: "It is used with sugar and water for making domestic beer.  This sample was dried the present summer.  When in its best condition it causes a brisk alcoholic fermentation, about the same as common yeast.  This may not be as active was the best, but it is the freshest I can procure now, and is enough for a pint of water, with 1 1/2 ounces of sugar dissolved in it and kept at a proper temperature for alcoholic fermentation.  The beer that this came from was made with sorghum molasses, from which it derived its dark color.  In its normal purity and wet it is perfectly white.  It is self-propagating, that is, it increases in quantity while fermenting sweetened water."
   _Answer by Dr. C. V. Riley._--I have had this substance before and have watched the interesting fermentation of water and sugar under its influence.  The action is due to a bacterium and a fungus the species of which in our American substance have not, as Prof. Galloway, the micologist of the department, informs me, been settled definitely.  it is similar, if not identical, to the so-called "ginger beer plant" of Europe,...

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