Zedler’s Recipe for Spiced Beer Against Melancholy


A couple of German libraries, assisted by the German Research Council, have scanned all 63,000 pages (g) of 'Johann Heinrich Zedler's Great Complete Universal Encyclopedia of All the Sciences and Arts', published in 1732. It's even searchable. And it's fantastic.

I searched for melancolia in various spellings and came across this recipe for 'Spiced Beer Against Melancholey'. The antiquated spelling and Fraktur script make it a bit hard to read, but the recipe seems to have at least 15 or so ingredients, including young beer, 'hermo-dates(?)', carrot seeds, radishes, white wine, coriander seeds, juniper berries, St. John's Wort tips, and much more:

Krauter beer melancholey

There's got to be some philologist out there who can interpret the weights, measures, and cooking instructions. We can only hope all the spices are still available.

Let's all get together and whip up a giant cauldron of this stuff and get rid of our Melancholey once and for all! Who's with me?

5 thoughts on “Zedler’s Recipe for Spiced Beer Against Melancholy

  1. One and a half Pounds (Pound ~0.45kg) of schwarzer Nieswurtz, 14 Lot (Lot ~15g) of Jalapa-Wuzel (Rhizom of the Wunderblume, probably), one and a half pounds of Hermodatt (which is something mentioned in old texts as Google tells me. A form of /Krokus/?). Cook in 24 Kannen (Kanne ~ 1L) of young beer until 1/4 is evaporated (?) lastly add, while simmering… (Senna alexandrina, Rhubarb Root, white wine stone, Coriander, Süßholz(wurzel) Stahlfeilich… a mixture of Vitriol and Vinegar it seems… and Cochlearia officinalis. Fairly readable. Peculiar is the construction of “gib ihm zu gären” which modern German would probably parse as “lass(e) es gären”. Measurements are dependent on time and place where the recepie was written and are roughly parsed here.
    I, too, would offer to join your exerience against ennui. Actually part of the number of ingreients stems from the fact that an alternate recepie is given in the second half.


  2. White wine sounds good, but the recipe calls not for wine but for “weißer Wein-Stein”, or cream of tartar. Not as appetizing.


  3. Could be exciting, what you get when you let Google translate “der knötichten China=Wurtzel, Pöonien=Männlein, … Zienfeilicht in ein Läppgen gebunden acht Loth…”!
    I would advice to make sure to have medical staff at hand.
    But my favourite part is the concluding part: “rostig Eisen ein Pfund, thue alles zusammen in ein Säckgen.”


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