In the old days someone might say the were heading out into the forest to drink some “marrow into the bones” to regain their vitality after a long and dark winter. Whenever this happened they were referring to the nutritious birch sap. The sap is a real tonic that one can tap during the early spring before the leaves have opened.

The sap has a sweet, slightly wood-like, taste. One can drink it as is, or one can make Lorenzburgian “Dragon Brew” by allowing it to ferment for a fre days. Added saffron gives the drink a beautiful golden color that resembles a dragon’s golden hoard. Dragon Brew is the traditional beverage for St George’s Day on April 23. St George is of course the most famous legendary dragon slayer, maybe he had a sip of Dragon Brew to gain strength and courage before setting out on his adventures!

Method for tapping birch sap

  1. Drill a hole in the birch trunk, about one meter from the ground. The hole needs to be around  an inch deep and 1/3 inch wide. Drill diagonally upwards so that the sap may run downwards.
  2. Press a rubber or silicone hose into the hole, make sure that there is no leakage of sap on the side.
  3. Bind a large bottle around the trunk and put the other end of the hose into it.
  4. A birch tree can produce several liters of sap every day so you need to keep an eye on the bottle so you can change it once it is full.
  5. Plug the hole once you have as much sap as you need. You don’t want to harm the tree permanently.
  6. The sap stays fresh for 3 days in the refrigerator and it can even be frozen for later.

Dragon Brew

Ingredients and utensils

  • 8 liter birch sap
  • 500 g of brown sugar
  • 500 g ordinary sugar
  • 200 g honey
  • 3 organic lemons
  • 1 g saffron
  • optional: extra sugar for added sweetness later
  • A large stainless steel bucket, it needs to be very clean or else mold can start to form.
  • A large pot or pan, at least 10 liters.


  1. Brush the lemons gently under warm water.
  2. Grate the lemons to get all the zest and put it in the bucket together with the juices from the fruit.
  3. Bring half of the sap to a boil together with the sugar and saffron.
  4. Pour the boiled sap into the bucket and add the uncooked sap.
  5. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. Once it is around 37° Celsius stir in the honey and the crumbled yeast. Cover with cling film and allow to sit for 24 hours.
  6. Pour the contents into your well-cleaned pot or pan. Most of the yeast has sunk into the bottom of the bucket, you want to avoid getting any of this sediment into your new pot.
  7. Pour the brew into well-cleaned (preferably boiled) bottles.
  8. Add 1-2 teaspoons of suger to each bottle.
  9. Put a cork in the bottles but not too tightly. Glass bottles may crack or explode once the contents start to ferment, try to allow a little bit of space between the cork and the bottle to let the fumes escape safely.
  10. Put in the refrigerator.
  11. The Dragon Brew is ready to drink after a week.
  12. Keep in mind that the beverage may be alcoholic and not suitable for children.
  13. You can prepare a non-alcoholic version by skipping the yeast and the fermentation process.