Some times I have so much fun doing research I feel a bit guilty. Unless I can convince myself that magic is somehow indigenous there’s little chance New Orleans “city beer” is going to make it into “Indigenous Beer: American Grown.” So I’ll just share this passage from “Germans in Louisana” now:
Before the 1850s a beverages called “city beer” was consumed by the common man in the saloons and restaurants of New Orleans. This concoction was made according to a secret formula from fermented molasses and vermouth1 but contained no preservatives. Consequently it would spoil during transportation and had to be drunk soon after it was brewed. Beer drinkers added syrup to mitigate the herbal taste and were known to suffer violent hangovers if they over indulged. It was the custom for the oldest boy in German families to fetch a bucket of beer at the end of the day to be drunk with dinner.
In 1845 the first city brewery appeared in New Orleans, on Philip and Royal streets, owned by Wirth and Fischer. A local German newspaper described the product of this Stadtsbreuei (city brewery) as made of magic and big barrels of sugarcane syrup mixed with Mississippi River water. Despite the popularity of city beer in the German community, the brewing business was hampered by the necessity of drinking the beer on the day it was brewed.
You read that right: magic is listed as one of the ingredients
1 In another book (“The German People of New Orleans 1650-1900″) says city beer was “a molasses brew and wormwood.”