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The Southern Districts of New Zealand

V.—Captain Cook's Method Of Making Spruce Beer

page 298

V.—Captain Cook's Method Of Making Spruce Beer.

“We at first made our beer of a decoction of the spruce leaves; but, finding that this alone made it too astringent, we afterwards mixed with it an equal quantity of the tea plant (a name it obtained in my former voyage, from our using it as a tea then, as we also did now), which partly destroyed the astringency of the other, and made the beer exceedingly palatable, and esteemed by every one on board. We brewed it in the same manner as spruce beer, and the process is as follows. First make a strong decoction of the small branches of the spruce and tea-plants, by boiling them three or four hours, or until the bark will strip with ease from the branches; then take them out of the copper, and put in the proper quantity of molasses, ten gallons of which is sufficient to make a ton, or two hundred and forty gallons of beer. Let this mixture just boil; then put it into casks, and to it add an equal quantity of cold water, more or less according to the strength of the decoction, or your taste. When the whole is milk-warm, put in a little grounds of beer, or yeast if you have it, or page 299 anything else that will cause fermentation, and in a few days the beer will be fit to drink.

“Any one who is in the least acquainted with spruce pines will find the tree which I have distinguished by that name. There are three sorts of it: that which has the smallest leaves and deepest colour is the sort we brewed with, but doubtless all three might safely serve that purpose.”—Cook's Second Voyage towards the South Pole, 4th edit. vol i. pp. 99 and 101.

[The three sorts here referred to were probably the Rimu, the Kahikatea, and the Mai or Matai, which are different species of Dacryds.]