Birch Beer: The Off-Gridders National Beverage

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I just lost my homebrewing virginity to a tall, dark carboy of Birch Beer.  How do you make Birch Beer?  We don’t really know for sure, but you can check out our maiden voyage here:

Ok, it’s so simple, if you know of a lonely birch tree in your neighbourhood, you gotta try this:

How to Collect Sap from a Birch Tree:

First off, it must be collected in the spring.  Just put a hole in the tree and put a bucket under the hole.  You can read all about it here.

collecting birch sap

How to make Birch Beer from Birch sap:

  • Render down the sap so that it thickens up (don’t boil it, it will taste burnt).  We started with about 75 litres and ended up with 15 litres (this took a couple days sitting on the wood stove, adding more fresh sap each day).
  • Measure Specific Gravity (SG) with your hydrometer.  Ours was around 1.022, this would make very weak beer.  We added 800 grams of honey and the new SG was 1.038 (this should make beer around 5%).

how to make birch beer

  • Add a package of sparkling wine yeast (EC-1118) and place the whole batch in a carboy with stopper and airlock.
  • Enjoy the bubbling sounds from the airlock for the next 3-4 weeks (until it stops bubbling and gets clear).

how to make birch beer

  • Almost ready to bottle.  We racked it (siphoned) into a stainless pot and left the dead yeast bodies (the Lees) behind.  Add 90 grams (or maybe a bit more) of sugar (so that it will continue fermenting a little bit in the bottle to make it bubbly).  Fill bottles.

how to make birch beer

  • Wait at least 3-4 days for it to carbonate.

How to enjoy:

how to make birch beer

Love homebrewing? You gotta check out Beer for Children!

I’d like to thank Emma Hughes for posting her birch beer recipe at Miscellaneous Adventures, it pushed me over the edge and solidified my deep need for home made birch beer.

Ever made Birch Beer? Like this homebrew love story?  Tell us about it, like it and share it with even your remotest of acquaintances.  Already know how to make birch beer and you can tell we are a couple hacks? Hate beer and what it does to your belly? Then I recommend you expose us, and this low-carb post, with repeated facebook shamings.

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Collecting Birch Sap and Making Birch Syrup

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The flow of Birch sap is the first chapter in spring’s playbook. Collecting birch sap and making birch syrup is the only appropriate response.

Sugar bush - collecting birch sap

If you need nutrition fast, skip the syrup making, and just drink it. If you’re a connoisseur, you will be overwhelmed by its smooth, sweet and subtle flavour. If you’re a redneck, it will taste like water.

Check out the whole sappy story here, from heartache to pancake:

When to tap Birch trees:

Isn’t that the question. In my experience, the answer is, sometime between mid-March and mid-April. A more certain way to tell is by paying attention to the weather. When it is getting to 5 or 10 deg C in the days and still a little frosty at night, it is definitely time to poke a few birch trees and check.

How to tap Birch trees:

You can tap a birch tree with a lot of different things; plumbing fittings, hose, pipe, or a device actually made for the purpose. Some will leak more than others and some will support the bag or bucket, but they will all work. We first starting tapping birch with clear surgical tubing and a two litre pop bottle duct taped below. The moral is; don’t let the lack of equipment stop your sap sucking agenda.

collecting birch sap

Drill a hole such that your “tap” fits snug, just an inch in is sufficient. Come back the next day, and each day after that, to collect your bounty.

You can continue on to make syrup, or stop the insanity and just enjoy the Birch water as a beverage. It is the best water you will ever taste. It has all sorts of healthy stuff in it with a very minute amount of good sugars. Check out this article on the potential benefits.

collecting birch sap

How to make Birch syrup:

Making syrup is easy if you have a wood stove. Just sit a pot full of sap on the stove and wait for it to reduce to the tiniest amount of syrup imaginable (1 litre of sap will make 2 teaspoons of syrup and will take many hours). If you have an electric or gas stove, you can do the same, and it will cost you a fortune. When the level in the pot is very low, reduce the heat (or place the pot on a trivet) to avoid the sap/syrup from burning.

Now, add up all the time you spent tapping, collecting and boiling. Multiply the number of hours by your normal hourly wage at work. Divide this amount by the total mass of the syrup.  You are now in possession of the worlds most expensive syrup, brag to your neighbours, and enjoy it.

collecting birch sap

Let us know what you think of Collecting Birch Sap and Making Birch Syrup.  Got questions, leave us a comment below and we’ll tell you what we know.  Feel free to try out the fancy like or share buttons below.  If you like it, subscribe, you’ll get the next off grid adventure video emailed right to your doorstep.

collecting birch sap

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