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Spruce Beer - Garrison Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Spruce BeerSpruce Beer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

44 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 44
Reviews: 28
rAvg: 3.55
pDev: 20.85%
Wants: 3
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Garrison Brewing Company visit their website
Nova Scotia, Canada

Style | ABV
Herbed / Spiced Beer |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
North America’s oldest beer style brewed with local Spruce & Fir tips, blackstrap molasses and dates. Dark amber and brown colouring. Aroma is a comforting mix of spruce boughs, caramel malts, molasses and dates. Complex and full-bodied, it balances the crisp bitterness of spruce and fir gum with the warming flavours of molasses and bittersweet chocolate.

35 IBU

(Beer added by: kjyost on 06-26-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 44 | Reviews: 28 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DreamDeath
DreamDeath

New Brunswick (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -1.4%

05-18-2014 08:50:58 | More by DreamDeath
Photo of cmorrisse
cmorrisse

New Brunswick (Canada)

1/5  rDev -71.8%

03-12-2014 18:41:18 | More by cmorrisse
Photo of cam477
cam477

Newfoundland (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

02-13-2014 02:07:13 | More by cam477
Photo of AnakinVader
AnakinVader

Nova Scotia (Canada)

4.5/5  rDev +26.8%

02-10-2014 17:00:19 | More by AnakinVader
Photo of souvenirs
souvenirs

British Columbia (Canada)

3.58/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: black / cherry when held to the light, big foamy head, the colour of "spring brook froth" (says my mother...)
S: sweet molasses, can't really pick up the spruce
T: dark roasted malts, molasses, just a hint of spruce
F: nice.
O: The spruce isn't as prominent as I'd expected, but this is for sure a decent brew.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2013 21:11:12 | More by souvenirs
Photo of lgmol
lgmol

Nova Scotia (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

12-19-2013 15:17:29 | More by lgmol
Photo of sdm9465
sdm9465

Nova Scotia (Canada)

3/5  rDev -15.5%

04-08-2013 16:30:47 | More by sdm9465
Photo of Phyl21ca
Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.01/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tap (Hivernale): Poured a light brown color ale with a medium size foamy head. Aroma of spruce tips is quite powerful with light molasses notes also perceptible. Taste is dominated by spruce tips with some residual sugar also perceptible. Body is average as well as carbonation. I get what the goal of this beer is but I am just not sure that spruce beer is something I should be seeking on a regular basis.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2013 18:34:50 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of CurtisD
CurtisD

New Brunswick (Canada)

3.25/5  rDev -8.5%

01-18-2013 02:57:39 | More by CurtisD
Photo of cattersley
cattersley

Ontario (Canada)

4.43/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Citrus, malt apparent, a vibrant pete smoke, and spruce. This is malty, almost liquid bbq smoke, carmel malt, and sugary tree sap! Dark amber in colour, mouth-feel very think, full on the tongue. A dark amber colour. This doesn't disappoint, one of the most unique I had the pleasure of drinking.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2012 02:37:16 | More by cattersley
Photo of Molson2000
Molson2000

Ontario (Canada)

4.75/5  rDev +33.8%

09-11-2012 00:12:05 | More by Molson2000
Photo of MattPS
MattPS

Ontario (Canada)

2.5/5  rDev -29.6%

07-08-2012 01:27:23 | More by MattPS
Photo of joemcgrath27
joemcgrath27

Alberta (Canada)

3.6/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - clear dark brown, thumb of head dissipated to a half finger leaving some random lacing
S - strong aromas of molasses, pine tar, all spice, and dark fruits, very interesting
T - wow this is unique, strong dark molasses, spruce, dark fruits, licorice, and lots of spice
M - sticky and heavy, the spices and alcohol have a kick that get up in your nostrils, finishes full and sticky
O - very unique and worth a try, in your face all around, not something you want more than one of but I would call this a must try for its unique qualities

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2012 03:20:36 | More by joemcgrath27
Photo of biegaman
biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

3.65/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Garrison's Spruce Beer is a hell of neat thing to drink, but really isn't much to look at. It'd be easily mistaken for prune juice, sharing not only the color but also the same complexion and lack of (visible) carbonation. The gastronomic appeal of a spruce beer is highly subjective, but I think muddy brown liquids are a universal turn-off.

If the aroma smells unusual to you, and you're not smart enough to clue in given the name, this beer is brewed with local (I can't imagine the need to import them) spruce and fir tips as well as (slightly less unconventional) blackstrap molasses and dates. Taken altogether, it's beyond atypical. It smells like no beer I've smelled before.

While it is difficult to recognize any of those components outright, one can taste, assuming he is paying close attention, bits and pieces of each. The flavor is thick and sticky-sweet (molasses), with notes of sweet, dried dark fruits (dates) and lots of drying, bark-like overtones and sappy, syrupy resins (you figure it out).

Does it tastes good? Well, that depends on who you ask. I say yes. It reminds of me of grandma's date squares, loaded with brown sugar, with remnants of maple syrup and good pairings for long-steeped black tea. There is also the unmistakable taste of spruce tips and various other tree parts, but their resinous flavor is, although a bit soapy, appealing to me.

There's enough sweetness in here that it should please just about anyone, assuming they don't mind a bit of tree sap with it (and don't already have diabetes). This, by the way, for the kids out there, is what *real* gum tastes like - don't believe me, go to northern Quebec and ask for Double-Bubble! I can't believe how little of the 7.5% alcohol is noted.

If we ever do get time-travel up and running, our ancestors might wonder how the television or elevator works, but they'll likely recognize Garrison's Spruce Beer (those of East North American decent anyhow). Not everyone will share the same affection as eighteenth-century sailors, but anyone unsure if they do or not aught to find out.

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2012 23:21:56 | More by biegaman
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beerhunter13

Ontario (Canada)

2/5  rDev -43.7%

05-14-2012 00:41:02 | More by beerhunter13
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CAMRAhardliner

Ontario (Canada)

3.25/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours chestnut brown with red glints. The tan, shortlived head leaves lots of lace trails on the glass. Lots of spicey, herbal spruce fills the nose, it reminds me of the smell of camping up north. The taste is dominated by a strong, medicinal spruce character. Caramel, cookie dough malts, ginger, and figs show in the background. The mouthfeel is somewhat numbing from the spruce blast. The finish is sweetish and herbal and piney.

The spruce is perhaps a little overpowering in this beer. Worth a try because it is definitely unique, but an acquired taste.

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2012 00:48:00 | More by CAMRAhardliner
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andrenaline

Ontario (Canada)

3.55/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes... Props to peensteen for hooking me and a few friends up with a case of this stuff.

A - Pours a dark brown colour, reminiscent of root beer, finger of beige head with some retention and no real lacing.

S - A tad mild, soapy scent off the top, molasses and black licorice dominate.

T - Loads of molasses and rich caramel and toffee, some leafy green hop notes are noticeable alongside faint spruce notes. ABV is well hidden and a smokey earth flavour lingers.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and finishes sticky.

O - A unique concept and my first taste of the style. Definitely not a beer you could drink several of in one sitting. The molasses is a bit overpowering and I would've liked a bit more spruce flavours. Given the style, it serves its purpose well, but it's unlikely I would go out of my way to try this again.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2012 02:48:35 | More by andrenaline
Photo of mintjellie
mintjellie

Ontario (Canada)

1.83/5  rDev -48.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Deep ruby brown colour. Two finger beige head, somewhat retentive, no lacing. Strong evergreen and molasses scent accompanied by more delicate notes of dried fruit and chocolate. It kind of smells like some sort of spice or fruitcake. It smells fairly inviting. Too bad my nose decided to betray me.

I find the first sip of it tolerable. The initial flavour is what I imagine pine tar would taste like. Then the molasses overpowers it, choking my palate in a grip harder to break than rigor mortis. Each sip of it becomes a great struggle to get down. I find myself physically shuddering as I force each mouthful back, fighting my throats desire to close shut. Oh, there are chocolate and date square notes here as well, but they cannot save me from the molasses death grip. It's not that I hate molasses - I made some tasty ginger snap cookies a few weeks back, and they had molasses in them. There's just so much molasses in this. It's like someone took some blackstrap and diluted it with carbonated water.

I can't do this. This is too much. I have to pour this down the drain. This is my second experience (oh yes, it's certainly an experience!) drinking this beer. I managed to put back at most a fifth of the bottle. That's more than I managed the first time.

Almost medium bodied with medium carbonation. It's hard to really judge mouthfeel when you're swallowing something as quickly as possible just to get it out of your mouth.

This just isn't for me. I'm sure there are people out there who would like this, and probably some who would even love it. If you love molasses and pine tar, this beer is for you. Personally though, I don't love it. I think I actually loathe it.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2012 05:11:57 | More by mintjellie
Photo of SebD
SebD

Ontario (Canada)

3.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It has a nice ruby/brown color to it. It has a nice thick beige head that dies down slowly and leaves very little lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of pine and spruce with some roasted caramelly malts, earthy hops, molasses and dark fruit.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a dominant tree flavor (pine and spruce), slight earthy character, molasses and dark fruit sweetness with some light roasted caramelly malts and a slight smokiness.

Mouthfeel: It has a light carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel. Slight lingering bitterness.

Drinkability: It's a smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2012 19:17:05 | More by SebD
Photo of JohnnyBarman
JohnnyBarman

Ontario (Canada)

3.28/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Though this was available in the LCBO, my buddy was recently in Halifax and brought this back from the source! Label describes this as a brew designed to imitate the early style of brewing of post-arrival Canada. Like gruit, this brew relies upon spruce and other herbs for flavorings. Reminds me of the spruce tea used by early European settlers to ward off scurvy. Use what you have around!

Poured into a nonic. Sludgy molasses-ruby in colour, with about an inch of head. Nice ring, decent retention.

Wow - no mistaking the spruce boughs in this brew. A bit of molasses and chocolate lingering in the back.

Definitely a strong blast of spruce up front, before the molasses, malt and chocolate get a turn. This tastes like Algonquin. Still, an interesting flavor that certainly feels authentic. The spruce burns a bit, so this brew is tougher to get down than most. Carbonation a bit strong, but without it it would be difficult to get down.

As a history buff, I always give a tip of the cap to brewers who experiment with the old styles. I love experiencing the flavours that might have been consumed in the past, and seeing how brewers interpret old recipes to suit modern tastes. However, just because it's an authentic historical brew doesn't mean it's going to be fantastic; suffice to say, a lot of the changes that were made in brewing have been done for a reason. While this Spruce Beer is an interesting sipper, I can't say I'd want to have this more than once. I will say, however, that the brew from Nova Scotia did taste better than the one from Ontario - but that just goes without saying. Worth a try, just to say you've had it.

Good to see you again, BA!

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2012 23:59:47 | More by JohnnyBarman
Photo of heebes
heebes

Ontario (Canada)

2.78/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500 ml bottle.

Pours mahogony with ruby highlights, fingers worth of medium tan head that dissipates like a soda. Nose is bready and caramel malt, mollasses, amber yeast, spices and pine needles. Taste is bold upfront, mollasses is prominent, sugary, pine and spruce evident. Mostly malt; bready caramel. Mouthfeel is a tad light, medium carbonation. Drinkability is limiting, would only have the one bottle.
Overall, worth a try once.

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2012 20:07:24 | More by heebes
Photo of liamt07
liamt07

Ontario (Canada)

3/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle from the LCBO, 500ml into a tulip. Bottled December 12, 2011.

Dark brown/mahogany body which appears filtered. Creamy tan head of a couple fingers - decent retention and webbed lace. Nose has a bit of earth, wood, molasses and subtle herbal note that isn't overtly spruce. Some foresty and raw 'sap' characteristics. Taste is rich and malty, sweet with a shit-ton of spruce tips - literally, this immediately brings to mind the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree being put up in my living room as a kid, into some hot sugar water in the base holding the tree up. Unfortunately, this isn't anything I would've wanted to have put into a beer! Again, sugary and 'sappy' notes, molasses and rich dark bread notes. Some spicing and some mint flavour as well. Long lingering aftertaste, mouthfeel is medium heavy with a good carbonation. Appears decent for what I think it attempts to approximate, but this is just way too sweet with too much going on - spruce is overwhelming in a negative way. I really wanted to like this, but this ended up down the drain.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2012 04:23:59 | More by liamt07
Photo of Rijtjeshuis
Rijtjeshuis

Ontario (Canada)

3.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

look - pours a rich, deep-red amber to light mahogany. Clarity is very good. Head is awesome: it was a very light tan, rose up very large and moussy, fell at slowly with decent lacing. Some nice carbonation clinging to the inside of the glass.

smell - pretty heavy on the malt in balance. I get a rich malt filled with raisins and molasses with a bread-like character The spicing is there on the finish, but it isn't too strong. The malt profile, to me, seems a lot like a doppelbock in tone. The spruce or hops come off as a bit earthy and it works well with the malts. I could have gone for a bit more spruce on the nose.

taste - similar to the nose, but with a heavier presence of the spruce spicing in there. The malt had the same dark-sweet doppelbock flavor thing going on (caramel, raisins, molasses, bread-crust, etc). It also has some smokiness in there, which takes it a bit further from a bock. The spruce, which is relatively mild, picks up well on the darker fruitiness of the malts and carries it to a good, though sweet, finish. The balance is, despite some bitterness, very malty. The finish is a bit coppery. No alcohol, earthy hops (if not the spruce).

feel - medium-high body with carbonation that we gentler than I though it would be given the giant head. I found it was a bit too cloying/syrupy feeling.

overall it was interesting, but not the sort of thing I'm rushing to get more of. I think it's a cool one-off, and nice for sipping - but like heavier bocks, not a session brew.
I'd pair with some nice roasted, succulent red-meat. Maybe something like duck or game as well.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2012 01:06:35 | More by Rijtjeshuis
Photo of funkengruven
funkengruven

Ontario (Canada)

3.58/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Found this at the local LCBO and although expensive, decided to give it a go.

This poured a dark ruby with abundant head, reducing to a thin layer of foam with a bit of lacing. The best way to describe the smell of this would be, Arboreal, very reminiscent of the woods. This woodsy aroma is prevalent in the flavor, goes down rather easily however has a bit of an astringent mouthfeel in the finish. The spruce is very evident in the aftertaste, tastes like the malt was smoked in a spruce fire, it stays with you for a few minutes.

Definitely an interesting beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2012 22:44:21 | More by funkengruven
Photo of korguy123
korguy123

Ontario (Canada)

3.18/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Super dark ruby red almost purple pour with a finger width of light tan short lived head. Lacing is decent.

S- Well where to start? It smells like a forest. I don't think I can distinguish the difference between a spruce and a fir but they both smell very "Tree-ey" I do get the molasses and stone fruits. There is a slight honey aroma as well.

T- Right off the bat you get spruce tree goodness. It's very interesting. I can taste the molasses and there is a strange perfume taste/aftertaste. I keep burping spruce tastes... I'm not overly happy with this. It's not offensive but it's not great.

M- Medium bodied, good carbonation and slightly sticky on the lips.

O- Well what can I say that everyone is probably thinking "Spruce in beer?!" Yeah I appreciate that this beer was a way of life ages ago, and it's also North America's oldest beer style but it's not my cup o tea (or beer) Like the ancient ales from Dogfish Head; This deserves a try and an unbiased opinion and mine is that I will probably not partake in a spruce beer again.

Kudos to Garrison for going for it!

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2012 01:43:08 | More by korguy123
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Spruce Beer from Garrison Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 44 ratings.