Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer

Birch Beer, A Lancaster County Classic Beverage

Pennsylvania birch beer is a soft drink made from birch bark and birch sap. It is a popular beverage in the state of Pennsylvania, and is often associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch. The birch sap is collected in the spring, and it is then boiled down to make a syrup. The syrup is then mixed with water, sugar, and other flavorings. Birch beer is typically a dark brown color and has a slightly sweet taste with a hint of spice often from cinnamon and nutmeg. The flavor of birch beer is often described as being similar to root beer, but with a more subtle flavor.

The History of Birch Beer in PA

The history of Pennsylvania birch beer dates back to the early 1700s. It is believed that Native Americans used the sap of a birch tree to make a beverage which they shared with the early settlers including the PA Dutch. Birch beer quickly became popular in the state and was soon being sold by local merchants. The first commercial birch beer brewery was opened in Philadelphia in 1752.

In the 1800s, Pennsylvania birch beer became even more popular. The drink was featured at many fairs and festivals and was often served at soda fountains. Birch beer was also a popular choice for home brewing.

In the early 1900s, the popularity of Pennsylvania birch beer began to decline. This was due in part to the rise of other soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. However, birch beer never completely disappeared. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of Pennsylvania birch beer. This is due to several factors, including the growing interest in craft beverages and the increasing availability of birch beer in grocery stores and restaurants.

Taste of Pennsylvania Birch Beer

Pennsylvania birch beer has a unique flavor that is unlike any other soft drink. The flavor of Pennsylvania birch beer comes from the ingredients that are used to make it. The main ingredient in birch beer is the sap of the birch tree. The sap is boiled down to make a syrup, which is then mixed with water, sugar, and other flavorings.

Some of the other ingredients that are often used in Pennsylvania birch beer include:

  • Ginger
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Clove
  • Vanilla

The exact combination of ingredients that is used to make Pennsylvania birch beer varies from brewery to brewery. This is one of the things that makes Pennsylvania birch beer so unique.

Looking to try Birch Beer? It’s available on our menu at Smokehouse BBQ & Brews or you can pick it up in the Plain & Fancy Country Store.

Recipe for PA Birch Beer


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup birch bark, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add the birch bark and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool.
  4. Strain the liquid and discard the birch bark.
  5. Add the sugar, honey, molasses, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the liquid.
  6. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  7. Bottle the birch beer and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours before serving.