Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “Barley … for mild drinks”: Danish Beer

“Barley … for mild drinks”: Danish Beer

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 31, 2010

Buried in the comments of another post is some delightful discussion of the making of Danish beer by the early immigrants to Sanpete County (and no doubt other places). I’ve copied the comments here so that they can be more easily found later.

Enjoy! (The discussion I mean, not the beer …)



  1. I have my grandfather’s sister’s hand-written recipe book. Inside the front cover she wrote: Cooking Recipes, L.D.S.U. They must have come from a class, because the front several pages include instructions for measuring, weights, boiling time for different vegetables and meats, and other hints.

    Some of the recipes are identified by M.H., Mrs. D., G. C., E. S., Erma (her sister), mother, Mrs. Rich, Vera’s Sour Cream Cake, Hattie Barber’s Caramels, etc.

    There are a lot of great-sounding recipes. Also some interesting ones, such as: stuffed eggs, egg balls for soup, cheese pudding, apricot sherbet, cottage cheese pie, prune conserve, plum pudding candy, bleach, dandelion wine, danish beer, hand lotion, face cream, Mrs. Wilcox’s Medicine.

    Comment by Maurine — August 31, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

  2. Danish Beer! Maurine, that actually comes up quite a bit in primary documents and I’ve always wanted a period description. Is there any way I could get that recipe from you?

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 31, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

  3. You remind me, too, that Amy T sent me a recipe for Danish beer. If it’s okay with you, Amy T, I’ll forward that to J., too.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 31, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

  4. Send away! Perhaps Danish Beer could be the next lab rat experiment. It’s fat free, and if you drink it quickly enough, it won’t have fermented much. : )

    Comment by Amy T — August 31, 2010 @ 6:57 pm

  5. *hic*

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 31, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

  6. [2]: sly J. real sly. Make it sound like historical research with the reference to primary sources and all.

    Comment by Paul Reeve — August 31, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  7. J. Stapley, I also found in the recipe book recipes for Saratoga Brew, dated 3 Aug 1919, and Aunt Sarah’s Bran Brew. Have you seen a reference to Saratoga Brew?

    Comment by Maurine — August 31, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

  8. I assure you that this is for strictly medicinal…er, research purposes.

    I’ve not heard of Saratoga Brew before, but it sounds like Aunt Sarah was on to something important. My Finnish Mormon friends insist that their fresh meed is to die for.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 31, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

  9. Danish Beer:
    Brown 10 lb lard – bucket of bran.
    Use boiler – 1 big bucket of water. Add bran and 1 big handful hops tied in sack. Boil 1 hr. Then knead sack in several waters. Add to boiler – then 3 lb. bucket of sugar. Let whole come to a boil.
    Use 1 cupful – let cool – then dissolve 1 yeast cake & 2 tablespoons flour. Keep this warm until it rises then add to beer when it is milk warm. Keep whole warm and let stand 24 hrs. Bottle tightly.

    (Did this make sense, or am I the only one trying to figure out what I just wrote? Maybe the recipe of Amy T is more clear.)

    Comment by Maurine — August 31, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

  10. The recipes for Saratoga Brew and Bran Brew are also quite confusing, but the recipe for Dandelion Wine is clear:

    Cover 4 qts. of dandelion blossoms with 4 qts of boiling water. Let stand 3 days. Add peel of 3 oranges and 1 lemon, boil 15 min. Strain. Add juice of oranges and lemon to 4 lbs of sugar and 1 cup yeast. Mix. Let stand in warm room for 3 weeks.

    Comment by Maurine — August 31, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

  11. Back to Maurine’s comment 31. The version I have is from Sanpete Scenes, Gary Peterson and Lowell Bennion, p 144. I forget whether this is word-for-word or whether it’s my own summary.

    Brown 1 quart wheat in a 350° oven. Place wheat and 1-1/2 quarts clean, food-quality barley and 1/2 cup hops in a cloth sack. Boil in large pan until nutrients are removed from grain. Keep draining and add liquid until you have 5 gallons of stock. Place in a crock. Add 1 quart honey, 2 pounds raw, dark pure cane sugar and 2 dissolved yeast cakes. Let sit overnight and then bottle. Cool. The brew should not ferment for one to two weeks.

    I have had a similar Finnish drink. It must be an acquired taste. Kind of like fermented Postum.

    Comment by Amy T — August 31, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

  12. “Brown 10 lb lard – bucket of bran.”

    I’ve been trying to figure out what this was to mean. I’m fairly certain that it isn’t “lard.” Adding fat to a fermentation would be disastrous. I’m thinking maybe it was “large bucket.” What do you think?

    Thank you everyone for contributing your recipes. Simply wonderful.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 31, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

  13. #[12]: That one’s easy: “Use as much bran as will fit in an empty ten-pound lard bucket.” (That’s much more specific that the next ingredient, which is “as much water as will fit in a ‘big’ bucket” Maybe 5 gallons?)

    Comment by Clark — August 31, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

  14. Hah! That is awesome Clark. When in doubt, read it as if it meant something.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 31, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

  15. The 10 lb lard – bucket of bran didn’t make sense to me either, but Aunt Annie’s handwriting is very clear and that is what she wrote. This particular recipe has several “space, hyphen, space” so what looked like lard – bucket could very well be lard-bucket. Clark’s explanation about the empty ten-pound lard bucket sounds good to me. Now explain kneading the sack with hops in several waters, added to boiler.

    Comment by Maurine — August 31, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

  16. Add bran and 1 big handful hops tied in sack. Boil 1 hr. Then knead sack in several waters. Add to boiler – then 3 lb. bucket of sugar.

    The bran and hops are placed in a cloth bag and the bag is tied. The entire bag is placed in a large pot of boiling water. After it is boiled, the sack is rinsed until the water runs clear. I assume some women would knead the bag in the water to hasten the rinsing process and move the materials through the cloth bag. I can’t tell if they were saving the rinse water or discarding it. Probably saving it, because the other recipe says:

    Place wheat and 1-1/2 quarts clean, food-quality barley and 1/2 cup hops in a cloth sack. Boil in large pan until nutrients are removed from grain. Keep draining and add liquid until you have 5 gallons of stock.

    This is a rather amusing topic for a Mormon history blog. Should we call in a brewer to clarify the process?

    (The reason I have the recipe is that my Danish ancestors were supposed to get married but Ephraim bishop Canute Peterson told them to go to Salt Lake City to get married. They did that a few days later, but they still threw the party that day and served “Beear & Kigs” (beer and cakes). I’m sure the adoption of the Word of Wisdom was not a straight line for the Danish immigrants.)

    Comment by Amy T — August 31, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

  17. Amy T, it appears that we may share ancestry beyond our previous conversations. My mom’s family is from Ephraim.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 31, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

  18. For your edification (from the Larson edition of Clawson’s diaries, 298-9):

    [John Henry Smith] Had devoted considerable thought during the night to the question of selling beer at Saltair and wondered if we were not inclined to take rather an extreme view of the case—whether, if we cut off the privilege entirely, we were not to some extent invading the rights of the Latter-day Saints. The revelation on the Word of Wisdom speaks of barley for mild drinks [D&C 89:17]. It is a question that demands serious thought. Have we taken an extreme view of the word of God? Where can we strike the limit, where can we reach the spirit of the Word of Wisdom? (Apostle Heber J. Grant asked Apostle Smith if beer that is intoxicating is to be considered a mild drink. The revelation, he said, forbids the use of strong drink.) Apostle Smith continued and said that the German beer was very light and mild and would not intoxicate, though he conceded that the beer of the United States is of a very different character and will cause drunkenness.

    Apostle Brigham Young. Topics treated. Said that he believed the temperance movement among our people a proper movement. If we give an inch, the people and the world will take advantage of it—and drunkenness is the crying evil of the age. The Word of Wisdom! “Who can cut it off and patch it on for me?” Each must be judge for himself. Many times water, he said, would distress him, while a little Danish beer would bring a feeling of comfort and ease. However, he believed in the Word of Wisdom as we teach it. As to the matter of selling liquor, said that he was simply disgusted with what he saw at Saltair on the occasion of the “old folks” excursion. He came across a lot of old men—members of the church—smoking old pipes and guzzling beer.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 31, 2010 @ 7:54 pm

  19. This must be from the very same meeting, from Anthon Lund’s diary:

    The question of selling beer at Saltair is one I have given much attention. I wonder if we are not extreme in our views concerning beer. The Word of Wisdom gave the liberty to make mild drinks of barley. We have strong views, but, perhaps, Prest. Snow has found us a little strenuous and does not wish to infringe on natural liberties of man. I can not believe it is stupidity which has activated a man of God like Bro. Snow. I want to stand by my chief. … I believe the beers used in America are intoxicating. The question is: “Where is the mean line to follow.” The feeling of the brethren was that Danish Beer was not detrimental.

    B. Young: Some men have found fault on the other side and thought Bro. Lyman has been so straight on this matter that he leans backward. “Well” said I, “When a man has to pull against others he must lean back to pull well. We must work hard against the tendency to break it. For me Danish beer is a blessing. I can not drink a glass of cold water without having it interpreted lay heavy on my stomach. I shall be so glad when we can get rid of liquor selling at Saltair. I have been so disgusted to see so much beer-guzzling going on at Saltair … I felt humiliated that ministers of other Churches plead with us to keep Saltair a respectable. I believe, however, they did so to gain a point. …

    The Presidency came in … Bro. Grant bro’t up the questions of selling beer at Saltair. The young men feel deeply on this question.

    Prest. Snow: We might have asked Y.M.M.I.A. but we did not. He then told about the ministers calling and how they could not tell anything definitely. Then he said that brandy and whiskey has not been sold. We do not want to do anything but what is right but we propose to do it as we think best. Another year I shall be as quick as any one to let there be no beer sold.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 31, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

  20. Sounds as if you’re an expert, Amy T. Can you cater the next Keepa snacker?

    Comment by Mark B. — August 31, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

  21. That is a much better account, Ardis.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 31, 2010 @ 8:58 pm

  22. I don’t know if it made it into John Hatch’s edited volume. This is snipped from the transcription I made for John to work from.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 31, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

  23. I’ll have to try some of those recipes next July and treat everyone to an authentic Pioneer Day celebration.

    The discussions among the Brethren concerning beer is hilarious.

    My wife descends from Danish immigrants who settled Sanpete county. I’ll have to tease her about this.

    Comment by Steve C. — August 31, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

  24. I’m sure I speak for all participants here in saying that we are proud to provide the fodder for future marital discord.

    Also, I second the nomination of Amy to cater our next Keepa snacker.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 31, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  25. My maternal G-G Grandfather LOVED his Danish beer, and he consumed a considerable quantity. Maybe that comes from having 20 kids. He emigrated from Denmark, helped put out a fire on the sailing ship, saving the day (yay!) and hooked up with another Danish family with two lovely daughters while crossing the plains in a handcart company. He was one of the first settlers in Mt. Pleasant, Sanpete Valley. One of the two daughters became my g-g-grandmother, but he actually wed both of them, and then later another Danish woman. Thank heavens for Danish beer!

    Comment by John Pratt — August 31, 2010 @ 9:47 pm

  26. Sure; I’ll provide food if Maurine will send some historical recipes. But it sounds like Steve C. is in charge of the — er — beverage committee.

    Comment by Amy T — September 1, 2010 @ 6:27 am

  27. I’m right on it, Amy. Now where did I put that 10 lb. lard-bucket of bran?

    Comment by Steve C. — September 1, 2010 @ 7:11 am

  28. I’ve added Danish beer to a recipe site along with a few other recipes from Keepa.

    Danish Beer

    In looking at the nutrition information for the Danish beer, I doubt that the calorie count and fiber content are quite that high, since they would undoubtedly have discarded the grain after boiling it. (Fed it to the livestock?)

    Comment by Amy T — September 7, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

  29. This was my great-grandmother’s recipe for Danish beer. Bothilda Frandsen of Mt. Pleasant.

    Comment by reed russell — February 21, 2012 @ 1:19 am

  30. That’s wonderful, Reed. I wonder what the yarrow and dandelion did for the flavor. Added a slightly bitter taste, perhaps? And she used straw to strain the liquid! What a great detail!

    Comment by Amy T — February 21, 2012 @ 6:23 am