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spruce beer

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On the unusual ingredient front, I'm making the Kumdis Island Spruce Beer from "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, 3rd edition". The recipe couldn't possibly be simpler (I've scaled it down for a MB fermenter):
3.3 lbs. Briess CBW traditional dark malt extract syrup
2 oz. spruce tips (new green growth of spruce trees)
1 oz. Hallertauer hop pellets (I'm adding a 1/2 oz. spalt as well to acheive the called for 5 HBU's)
American ale style yeast (using Safale us-05).

Has anyone done a spruce or spruce essence beer? I'm very curious to know what to expect.

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Very curious about this. I hope someone responds. And, of course, keep us posted. Sounds killer.

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I decided to do this beer the other day as well. I will let ya'll know how it is!

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Anchor Steam has a Christmas beer that has that spruce tree aftertaste. I told my wife it was like drinking a malty Christmas tree. :laugh: I love it. I may have to venture into this as well. :chug:

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This was bottled on 06/04. First tasting on 06/25.

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I hit my FG today! That was QUICK! 4 days. I'll probably bottle this weekend. The hydrometer test was good... just a slight spruce taste... I liked it!

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Hmm. Ever prowling, never posting.....

My first impression of this beer was, meh. It is aging very nicely though. In the three weeks since I opened the first, it has really begun to develop some nice character. The spruce is much more noticeable, and provides a very refreshing accent. I am going to try this again next year in a lighter beer.
This one attenuated rather poorly, I am guessing as a result of some temperature control problems. The temp in the small MB fermenter can fluctuate fairly rapidly, and I was up to 75* at times, then down to 66*-68* after putting it into the fridge to cool down. Used the US-05 yeast, which normally attenuates pretty well. The beer wound up with a 4.3% ABV, which actually makes it a nice summer refresher, but I wouldn't call it a session beer.
All in all, I'd call it a success. I do think it would be better in a paler ale though, where the spruce is not so overpowered by the darker malts.

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otg,

Thanks for updating. With this spruce info and the current Sticky Wicket post about licorice stick, I have some new non-fermentable adjuncts to consider.

Keep prowling and post when you can.

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Just an update on this beer. I had the last two bottles last night after conditioning for 6 months in the beer fridge. Conclusion: I wish I would have saved more for 6 months.

It was a very good malty beer with just a hint of spruce. Some things I'd do differently. Is put a little more sugar for a little bit more carbonation. Is use Irish ale yeast and maybe add a little maltodextrine to make it a bit thicker.

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This sounds very interesting. Do you guys know of any commercial micro brews that have spruce flavors? It sounds good but I've never heard of this and would love to try it.

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I know there are a few commercial examples, but I don't know who makes them. I think they are popular this time of year though so check out your liquor store.

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Yards Poor Richard Taverns Spruce is what got me interested in this style. The question: is it too late to find spruce tips for a holiday brew?

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This does sound like a fascinating experiment and I remember thinking about it after reading parts of "Joy of Homebrewing."

I would imagine it might be tough to find some fresh tips in summer. Spring would have been your best bet, but you never know. I'm no botanist and I am not sure how much of a difference it would make to just grab some thinner sprigs that aren't as young, but maybe someone else would have a better answer for you.

Does it say why you need the fresh young tips? Is it just because they are milder and don't have as harsh of a bite?

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How does the spruce taste compared to say the piney/resinous flavor you can get from some American hops? I love that flavor in my APAs, I might actually like a spruce beer if it's similar in any way.

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BugLaden wrote:

Yards Poor Richard Taverns Spruce is what got me interested in this style. The question: is it too late to find spruce tips for a holiday brew?


Depends where you live. We still have spring growth occurring on our spruce trees; and yes, you do want to use the fresh new growth before the new twigs get stiff and grow bark.

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I read somewhere that there were times when our forefathers (and mothers) had to use pine needles as a hop substitute due to a lack of hops...

Don't know if it was simply that in spring, there were young pine growth tips but the hops were still dormant in the ground or if they couldn't get any hop rhizomes...

(they probably brewed them all up in the fall and were out! :woohoo: )

I suspect the would have a resinous taste akin to some of the newer north American bittering hops, but just a guess based on tasting pine resin and needles accidentally while camping...
:S

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From what I've read (Charlie Papazian if I'm not mistaken), using pine leaves a very horrible tarry taste. I've made tea with pine needles (good source of vitamin C if you get scurvy in the wilderness), so I don't know exactly what is different about using them for beer.

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