My untraditional Birch “Beer”, which is more like a really weak wine.

My untraditional Birch “Beer”, which is more like a really weak wine.

After two rackings. Love that color.

I posted on Facebook that I made a Birch Beer, and I got many questions in regards to it. So, I decided to a write up about what I did. I hope it clears up some questions or inspires you to make your own batch.

But first, this is what I wrote on my Facebook Post:


My Birch Beer is done!

I’m definitely patting myself on the back with this one as I had no clue to what I was doing, lol.

But for my next batch, I would like a stronger in alcohol content. This batch is probably only 3%.

What’s interesting, is I made this ‘wine’ style, but because I didn’t use a lot of sugar and added no fruit base to it, it turned out more tasting like a beer. Well, actually, it’s a combo of Beer, Wine and a Cider, if that is possible. I added 1 single drop of Birch essential oil to each 500ml bottle. That took it to the next level.

Perfect to sip on while doing yard work, or having BBQ, or sitting on the dock on a hot summer day. 😁

But because it was wine style…it might age!? I also Carbonated half of them…so more of that sparkling wine or beer feeling!

Whatever concoction I made; I’m going to try to repeat it


Looks like the color of Beer 😉

Birch Beer is not really a beer at all. It’s a drink made by boiling Birch Bark/twigs in water, adding tons of sugar and adding some sort of wintergreen flavoring, like Birch Essential Oil or Wintergreen flavoring. Most people carbonate it, and then bottle it to turn it into a fizzy pop type drink.

However, I wanted more of a real ‘beer type’ drink.  So, fermentation needed to be involved. I could have made a Birch Mead, but I didn’t have any honey on hand. Well, not the required amount as I wanted to do 5 gallons at first. The sensible thing to do was to make a one-gallon jug at first as I had no idea what I was doing. But no, not me…I had a 5-gallon Carboy, and that is what I was going to do!

Last spring, I saved 5 gallons of Birch Sap by putting it in the freezer. Last Spring, I also gathered the ends of Birch twigs with the leaf buds. Apparently, that is where most of the wintergreen flavor is. I chopped them up into small pieces and I had 3 ice-cream pails full. I then boiled that in water to make a ‘tea’. I then froze that.

Finally, in March, I pulled out the frozen sap and Birch Twig Tea and started the process. 

What I should have done, was read/study literature about fermenting/wine making/beer making and got a real good sense of the process and mechanisms behind it.  But no, I dabbled in it instead, got a general idea, and went ahead anyways. Along the way, I would call my friend Jim who runs North Vines Wine-making (a Hobby Wine making place) and picked his brain about what I should be doing next. He was super helpful in guiding me along the way.

Another thing to note is that I lost my hydrometer reading along the way. I took a reading, wrote it on the carboy with a dry-erase marker. I thought I was being clever. But I should have written it with a sharpie. But I had to move my carboy several times, and it got wiped off by my hand.  So, learn from my mistakes…try keeping it in once place and write it down with a sharpie.  Without a hydrometer reading, I won’t know my alcohol content. But a rough estimate based on the sugar I put in, is 3-4%.

So here are the steps I did.

-I took 15L of Birch Sap and 6 L of Birch Twig Tea and placed it in a stock pot.

-I brought it to a boil for 4 min, to pasteurize it.

-As it was cooling down, I added 9 cups of sugar to it. Note: if you want a stronger alcohol content add more sugar. I think my next batch will 15-18 cups? I haven’t decided yet. I don’t want it super sweet.

-Once cooled, I added it to a clean and sterilized carboy.

-I took some of the solution out and I did the hydrometer reading.

-At room temperature, pitched the yeast. I used the wine yeast EC-1118.

-I placed and Airlock on it and let it sit until it was done fermenting (or slowed down to a crawl).

-I then racked it into another clean/sterilized carboy.

-I added 1 cup of Birch Syrup and stirred it in. I let it sit for a few more days.

-At this point, the sugar in the Birch Syrup could have caused a secondary fermentation. But I was running out of time on this project. So, I decided to end it. I added some Potassium Metabisulfite to it to stop the fermentation.

-It’s recommended you let it sit for three hours, but I let it sit for six hours.

-I then started the bottling process.

-I had some Birch Essential Oil on hand. So, I added 1 drop to each bottle.


It made forty-one 500ml bottles.

I am storing them in my beer fridge in my garage. If it’s technically a wine, and the fermentation has stopped, then they technically do not need to be in the fridge. But I want to be able to reach in and grab a ‘cold’ one.

I am going to make another batch and see if I can repeat my experiment. In theory, it should work out!

Have you ever made some fun experimental drinks? Any tips or advice? If so, please share in the comments below!