I was looking up spruce beer to see how late it was being advertised and came across a small batch of notices from one newspaper in Schenectady New York in the 1830s. By the second half of the 1800s, there are plenty of recipe books that offer homemakers the ability to make a 1.5% alcohol soft(ish) drink for the family based on sugar and essence of lemon. Unlike those household guides, the 1830s lemon beer appears to take its place with other alcoholic beers and not in the temperance drinks cabinet.
The notice of the lost notebook to the right is particularly interesting. from the 28 March 1832 edition of the Schenectady Cabinet, it explains its own purpose – but whoever was keeping track of the debts of this drinker was serving lemon beer along with rum and beer. Or porter, sweet wine, strong beer and New Jersey cider. Premium drinks. Yet, the recipe for ginger beer to the lower right is from 2 May 1818 of Albany Gazette and that looks a heck of a lot like the later 1.5% temperance drinks. Maybe the stuff was both premium and light, a small nod to sensible drinking in the fairly debauched days of James Monroe.