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This is my contribution to Harry Potter anniversary celebrations.

The Harry Potter books entered my life when I was about 13, and I read the third book in one long sitting over the christmas holidays. If I remember correctly, it was the third book in which butterbeer first (or at least for the first time prominently) appeared as a drink. It sounded delicious, and ever since then I've been thinking about what would make a suitable imitation for parties. 

Of course, I knew the descriptions from the books, and then consulted several fan-recipes. The former made me draw a gustatory connection to Slivovitz, a croatioan plum-brandy that I got to try whenever my mother went bowling with her colleagues. It wasn't fruity, which I dislike, but rather like honey and caramel, and it warmed you up, especially after you'd been freezing your ass and your toes off running in circles after a horse while clad in leggings and ballet slippers at -2°C for an hour.
The latter seemed to have found a consensus that something called "cream soda" was to be the central ingredient for any butterbeer endeavors. However, being in Germany, where people drink Fanta and Apfelsaftschorle, I had never tried cream soda, nor have I, even to this day. And, again, being in Germany, where people drink beer, I had my doubts that cream soda would live up to the "beer"-part, anyway.

Then I forgot about the butterbeer problem for a while, except for a brief moment when I read the Lord of The Rings in english for the first time and wondered if butterbeer was a reference to the innkeeper of a similar name (which had been different in the excellent German translation).

And then, I went to Japan and fell in love with a drink called Calpis.

Actually, ouside Japan it's usually marketed as "Calpico" because, you know, "pis". And we sure made that joke a lot. "You drinking cold piss again?"
I didn't know what exactly it was, only that it tasted wonderful and creamy and whole, and that I preferred the carbonated version over the regular water version because I'm a German and our drinks need to have fizz. And when I returned hom I missed it fiercely. In fact, whenever I returned to Japan in the following years I made a point of it to go and find a supermarket or vending machine that offered the (due to local preference of non-fizzy drinks much rarer) carbonated "calpis soda" on the very first day. (OK, the first proper day after falling into bed at 6pm and waking around 2am with a craving for octopus balls, and then some more sleeping after having thrown the companion out of bed and successfully badgered him to go and buy octopus balls.)

Around the time I got into fermentation, which started with kimchi, then sour dough (and then a full-on DIY craze I'm still unapologetically wallowing in) I discovered recipes for homemade Calpis, which, I learned, was mainly made from yoghurt - just when I had started making my own yoghurt. Since then I've been making Calpis syrup regularly, mixing it with carbonated water to get the japan-flavoured soda I so loved.

Over the last year, I've been working at a ramen shop to keep my language skills up, and there they offered Calpis cold AND hot. And then it struck me: from what I'd heard, Calpis apparently tasted a bit like the fabled cream soda, but it had one advantage over it that put it further into the "beer" category than you could say of cream soda: it's made from yoghurt, which, like beer, is fermented.

So for me, butterbeer will forever be Calpis. The only downside is the color, which is white, rather than yellow. Of yourse that could always be rectified by mixing it with a shot glass of Slivovitz.

And here's the recipe(ish thing) I go by when making Calpis syrup:


- Yoghurt (1 part)
- Sugar (1 part)
- (real!) Vanilla (to taste)*
- Lemon juice (to taste)**

* I've tried it with "butter vanilla" flavour and it turned out completely different and slightly yucky.
** This not only serves to add flavour, but also helps preserve the syrup and enhance the fizzing.


1. Put sugar, yoghurt and vanilla in a skillet. heat on high and whisk until sugar is melted.
2. Reduce heat to medium and boil down to about 2/3 to half volume, whisking every now and then. Be careful that it doesn't boil over. Take off for a moment if neccessary.
3. Turn off the heat and put the skillet in a large bowl or the sink filled with cold water (with some ice if you want) and whisk some more, this time to cool it down.
4. When the syrup has reached room temperature, gradually add the lemon juice, whisking all the while.
5. Fill in container(s). To serve, dilute with water according to preference. I like one tablespoon to 300ml or less.

Note: There are certain factors that will make the syrup separate. While it doesn't affect the taste much, it does affect the texture, which is palpable when you drink it. I haven't figured these out completely, myself, but one is mixing in too much lemon juice at once, and mixing it in at too high a temperature. Boiling the syrup too enthusiastically might also be a factor, so best keep to medium heat, even if it takes longer.

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I've finally joined Dreamwidth. Wow.

I'll be posting articles on various subjects here, as well as some fiction, which may or may not be friends-only, depending on content.


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