Most commonly I have heard the term as “small beer”. It was made from at least the second if not the third runnings from a mash. People think batch sparging is all the rage now in the 21st century? But the English and the early Americans did it all the time, hundreds of years ago. Fuller’s in England still today keeps each of their three runnings separated, then blends them in different combinations to make all their signature beer styles. In the days of old, English speaking brewers would often do three runnings from one mash. The first runnings would make a very strong high quality beer for special occasions or for royalty, up to 8-10% ABV. The second runnings would make a standard strength ale, 4-5%. The third runnings would be very low alcohol, about 1-2%, and they would feed that to the children and servants (and perhaps save the spent grains to use as animal feed or fertilizer?). Back in those days, people found beer to be safer to drink than water. What they didn’t quite understand but we know today is that boiling is a great way to sanitize things. People figured out that when they took a drink directly out of a lake, river, or spring, this could lead to disease. We know today that this is caused by the micro-organisms that aren’t always kind to the human digestive system. The process of brewing, however, required boiling, so the effect was that the people knew it was safer to drink, even if they didn’t understand why. Plus the alcohol helped to kill contaminants and preserve the beer. So yeah… kids drank small beer. All the time. Every day. Breakfast lunch & dinner. And since it was low alcohol, there weren’t huge effects and no one was the wiser until perhaps they got very thirsty and had a little too much.
Much healthier than packaged poison soda, but could you imagine how that would go over in the US? Like the proverbial lead balloon?[/quote]
Neo Puritanism has probably caused more harm to health than is realized. (old Purtitans at least extolled the virtues of beer). Give kids a healthy, very low alcohol beverage and call it “beer” and adults will be lead away in handcuffs in front of a jeering audience. But give them a healthy, very low alcohol content beverage and call it “boza” you might be able to get away with it.
Boza is drank in Turkey, Bulgaria and Albania, is made with wheat (and corn in Albania) and is the color of chocolate milk and has the texture of a thin milkshake. It’s delicious and kids there, even in muslim Turkey and Albania, drink it during school lunch. I’ve brewed up drinkable versions of it but I cannot quite get the proper flavor. But it goes from pot to bottle in less than 24 hours.