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Spruce tips beer

I went out on a creative limb and made a spruce beer with 4 oz of fresh spruce tips and a pound of Special B (hoping for a raisiny flavor). The hops used was Falconers flight, but just a half ounce. 8 lbs of 2 row.

Think it will be drinkable? If not I will blend, but I wanted to try something unusual and my spruce trees were budding out nicely…

The one spruce beer I made got comments like “it tastes like cough syrup”. The best spruce beer I’ve ever had was vaguely drinkable as a curiosity, but not in any way enjoyable. That’s not to say you won’t like it, but don’t try to give me any!

I can’t say that I’ve ever tried to make a spruce beer or but I have had one that I thought was very good. It’s called Alba by Williams Brothers in Scotland. It has pine and spruce in it. I wouldn’t mind trying to recreate that one sometime. Here is there discription:

Alba - 7.5% ABV

A triple style ale inspired by those brought to Scotland by the Vikings. Brewed with sprigs of pine and infused with pickled Scots pine and spruce shoots that obviously leads to a woody finish.[/quote]

There is a little microbrewery in Skagway Alaska that makes a Spruce Tip ale that is basically an english pale ale with a fairly small amount of spruce tips. I made a pretty decent imitation last year using a basic english pale ale recipe and about 4oz of fresh spring spruce tips. It’s probably a good idea to go easy on the spruce the first time, as the comments above show, some people like the flavor and some do not.

Yeah, for sure going easy on the spruce tips is advisable from everything I have read (which is not a whole lot). I picked the 4 ounce level based on Charlie Papazian’s suggested level in a 5 gallon batch. How it will taste is yet to come, of course, but the smell of the spruce tips crushed in my hand was like a bunch of Simcoe hops. I went with the Special B to get the raisin flavor as a balance to pine (not that I have anything to base that thought on).

It is bubbling away nicely in a water bath in the garage at 58F, later this week/early next week I will let it free rise to ambient basement temperatures; US-05 was the yeast.


Its going to come across as kind of a Christmas beer style so I agree the Special B would bring a nice complement. I tasted a homebrew last weekend with spruce and juniper, very subtle flavor which was a good thing.

Maybe serve it up with a side jigger of Akvavit and call it a Norsky Boilermaker :wink:

The winter before last didn’t NB have a seasonal recipe for a juniper beer in one of the catalogs. I think the hot wort may have been poured thru a bundle of juniper branches. I do not recall the base malts or adjuncts but I wonder how close yours will be to that one.

Check this one out: ... -beer.html

Very interesting. Glad to see the reference to raisins - that is what I was hoping to get from the Special B malt… We shall see.


Oh, and I will give that Aquavit suggestion a try - anything should taste better compared to that stuff. I haven’t had it in a few years.

I had a spruce tip beer a few months ago at the Urban Chestnut Brewery in St. Louis. I read quite a bit about this in the beer magazines and I was curious to try it. As others have said some people like it some not. I did finish the pint but didn’t order another one. It was good to try it but one was more than enough. Having said that if you really enjoy the smell of spruce you will probably like your beer as the recipe looks sound.

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