I was researching Horehound Beer recipes on (the old newspaper website) Trove. I found the name of an ingredient - perhaps a herb, that I did not know: "Capaicine".

As best as I can read, this recipe is:


Ingredients are: 4-lb. horehound herb, 18-lb. sugar, 1½-lb. licorice extract, 1½-lb. treacle, 4-oz. quassia chips, 10-oz. crushed ginger, 2-oz. coriander seeds, 2-oz. capaicine, 4-oz. caramel, 2-oz. tartaric acid, ¼-pint brewer's yeast. Suspend the horehound, ginger, coriander and quassia in a muslin bag in a copper and boil in about 15 gallons of water for half-an-hour, Add sugar and than other ingredients. Strain off into fermenting vat, Strain sufficient water through herbs to bring up to 24-gallons. When at 80-deg. F. break up yeast in a basin of brew and stir into the bulk. Allow to ferment for about 24 hours, skim off top and filter. Fine down with one pint ale finings.

NOTE: Australia used imperial measurements until 1966.

As stated, I am unable to identify the ingredient "capaicine". I don't think it's misspelling of "capsaicin". I wondered for a while if it was maybe a misspelling of "cinnamonmum", but have since given up on this idea.

I could of course, be reading the old newsprint incorrectly.

NOTE: This particular beverage must be delicious, since it is to be made in ~100 litre batches.

Bonus question: Is the "caramel" referred to, a browned sugar-syrup (perhaps made from condensed milk) or a colourant? A lot of recipes add "burnt sugar" for colour.

  • 1
    I think you've misread the spelling... that looks like "capsicine", not "capaicine". (Of course, that would still make it a typo.)
    – Sneftel
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:32

2 Answers 2


I suspect that the word intended was "capsicum". 2 ounces of chili pepper would be reasonable given the amounts of other spices. 2 ounces of capsaicin would be difficult to source and would make the beer essentially inedible.

  • Possibly French origin based on some search results I can see.
    – bob1
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 9:31

I would vote for a spelling error, and that capaicine is actually capsaicin. I can't find any reference for the original spelling. I have never consumed horehound beer, but it seems to me that, in looking at the ingredients, a little spice-heat would make sense. Think of the spiciness you get in the back of your throat when drinking ginger ale. I would say caramel is a color additive. It is not uncommon for sodas to have caramel color added. I'm no expert on 1940's beverages, so I would be happy to be corrected.

Edit: Thanks, @Sneftel....Your reasoning is more sound than mine...I would also go with "capsicum", as opposed to "capsaicin" (upvoted!). This also aligns with the comment below about a reference to chili peppers, though I have not specifically come across that.

In the end, if you interested in recreating this recipe, I bet you could zero in on the level of spiciness by experimenting with chili flakes. Maybe not 2 ounces at once, but a little at a time until the desired effect was achieved.

  • While your reasoning is sound, I'm wondering if capsaicin would be a readily-available ingredient in 1946? (EDIT: found and advertisement for capsaicin capsules from 1867).
    – Kingsley
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 2:21
  • 3
    2 ounces of capsaicin in 24 gallons of water would make pepper spray, not beer.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:29
  • 2
    capaicin is an old way to refer to chili peppers, particularly cayenne. It is NOT the active ingredient capsaicin. (Google thinks the same way and always go "did you mean...") Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:36
  • 1
    I definitely agree with using chili flakes. You'll get more consistent control of heat level than with fresh peppers, which vary between producers and throughout the year.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 12:58

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