These are beverages containing usually but a small proportion of alcohol. They are often regarded as "non.alcoholic," though this is not strictly the case. Occasionally, indeed, samples are met with containing as much alcohol as ordinary beer.

In general, the beverages of this class are fermented; but they are sometimes made by simple dilution of a herbal extract with water, or with a weak syrup. The fermented articles are prepared by first making a decoction of the herbs, then adding sugar and yeast, and fermenting the mixture slightly. The herbs employed are principally burdock, chamomile, dandelion, ginger, horehound, liquorice, sarsaparilla, and sassafras, often with a small quantity of hops or hop-substitutes such as quassia, gentian, or chiretta; and sometimes with quillaia to give a "heading." Instead of using the plants themselves, makers of herb beer often purchase ready. made mixtures of vegetable extracts and flavourings, which only require to be mixed with sugar and water, and fermented if desired. extract, for instance, is often made from compound decoction of sarsaparilla, flavoured with oil of sassafras and a little bitter such as tincture of chiretta, sweetened with syrup and coloured with caramel. Spruce-beer extract may be made with spirit of juniper, essence of ginger, essence of pimento, and decoction of sarsaparilla, coloured with caramel. A hop-ale essence is produced by mixing tincture of hops, tincture of chiretta, and essence of pineapple; and so on.

The proportion of sugar generally used in herb beers varies from about 3 to 10 or 12 ounces per gallon. With the smaller amounts, saccharin is sometimes added. Glucose syrup also is occasionally used for sweetening the beers, and essential oils for flavouring them; and tartaric acid or cream of tartar may be present in small quantity. The essential oils may include cassia, cinnamon, cloves, lemon, peppermint, and wintergreen oils.

The products are sold under various names, such as Herb Beer, Herb Porter, Botanic Stout, Dandelion Stout, Hop Ale, Burdock Stout, Sarsaparilla Beer, Horehound Beer, and so on. They usually have an original specific gravity ranging from about 1005 up to about 1025, though high?r values are met with; and they contain alcohol ranging from mere traces up to about 3 per cent. of proof spirit - occasionally more, as already indicated. A fair average would be: Original gravity about 1012, proof spirit about 15 per cent. The solids in solution are chiefly sugars, except perhaps in the case of the low-density beers, which may be sweetened with saccharin.

The analysis of herb beers is carried out in a similar manner to that of ordinary beer. Frequently, only the percentage of proof spirit is required. A fuller analysis would include also the determination of the original gravity, the percentage of sugar, and of saccharin if present, and the nature of the extract other than sugars, so far as this can be ascertained. Liquorice, bitters, acids, saponins, and flavouring oils are often present. The preservatives chiefly used are sulphites and salicyclic acid.

Ginger beer is prepared in a similar way to the foregoing. It usually contains a higher proportion of sugar than is found in the average herb beers.