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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 Molson2000
Molson2000

Ontario (Canada)

4.75/5  rDev +33.8%

09-11-2012 00:12:05 | More by Molson2000
Photo of mmurphy525
mmurphy525

Nova Scotia (Canada)

4.5/5  rDev +26.8%

12-16-2011 22:37:51 | More by mmurphy525
Photo of bryehn
bryehn

Ontario (Canada)

4.5/5  rDev +26.8%

01-29-2012 05:06:13 | More by bryehn
Photo of Groulxsome
Groulxsome

Ontario (Canada)

4.5/5  rDev +26.8%

02-09-2012 02:45:36 | More by Groulxsome
Photo of AnakinVader
AnakinVader

Nova Scotia (Canada)

4.5/5  rDev +26.8%

02-10-2014 17:00:19 | More by AnakinVader
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 DaPan
DaPan

Ontario (Canada)

4.4/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an incredibly deep ruby color with thin head that dissipates quickly.

Burnt caramel, maple syrup and evergreen in the background greets the nose. Not as "foresty" as expected. Something almost medicinal?

Quite bitter from the spruce, although not unpleasant at all. Certainly a different kind of bitter than hops provide. Deep roasted caramel in the background and wonderfully smooth mouthfeel.

After taste reminds of fresh cut Christmas tree, or boughs of fir used for holiday decor. Probably best enjoyed in front of a winter fire while decorating the tree.

Would definitely pick up some more.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2012 22:02:39 | More by DaPan
Photo of thehyperduck
thehyperduck

Ontario (Canada)

4.18/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle; packaged on December 12th 2011.

Pours a deep reddish-brown colour, not quite dark enough to be truly opaque. I was a little aggressive with the pour and wound up with nearly three fingers of silky, foamy tan-coloured head. It takes a few minutes to wilt down to a more manageable level, leaving lots of sticky lacing on the sides of the glass. The aroma is pleasant for sure, but a little subdued. Dark roasted malts and molasses are fairly prominent, with underlying notes of fresh, resiny pine sap.

One sip and I've already made up my mind - this stuff is a winner in my books. Rich, full flavour. Dominated at first by sweetness from the dates and molasses, accompanied by dark malts, roasted nuts and a faint smokiness. Solid balancing bitterness toward the finish, provided partially by the spruce tips and partially by the earthy, herbal hops. Slightly minty, with a malty, warming aftertaste - the alcohol is noticeable, but it works. Reasonably light carbonation for a nice smooth mouthfeel. On the heavier side of medium-bodied, leaving behind a sticky, syrupy feel on the palate.

I am a bit of a beer purist - I don't mind trying these fruit/herbed/spiced-type beers, but I usually consider them more of an interesting experiment rather than something I would purchase regularly. Garrison's Spruce Beer is different though - it's a delicious, relatively unorthodox and above all satisfying brew that is worth seeking out.

Final Grade: 4.18, or a high A- on the letter grade scale. Hopefully this stuff makes it to Ontario next winter, because I can easily see myself craving another bottle of this in the future. Worth a try for sure - a great late-winter/early-spring sipper.

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2012 23:44:49 | More by thehyperduck
Photo of kjyost
kjyost

Manitoba (Canada)

4.13/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle poured into tulip around 5C. Thanks BBrianBoogie!

A: Clear, though difficult to see through as it is a dark ruby red. Light tan head that disappears over time and leaves little to no lacing.
S: Syrupy nose with an alcoholic kick. A dank earthiness underlies it.
T: Fruity notes play with an obvious pineyness with a lingering lightly earthy bitterness. Some alcohol warms the tongue. Dried fruit and burnt sugar come across the palate at different times.
M: Initially a touch thin in the body, but it builds in strength over time.
O: A case of the whole being better than the sum of its parts. A solid sipper that would have been best suited to a cool damp evening.

Serving type: bottle

06-26-2011 02:43:42 | More by kjyost
Photo of Stocean1
Stocean1

Ontario (Canada)

4.03/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured a one finger head with little retention or lace, dark brown with ruby highlights.

Aroma is smoky, spruce/fir boughs, sweet molasses, dark fruit, earthy hops.

Taste is a little boozy, smoky maple, sweet molasses, pepper.

Medium body with plenty of carbonation, bitter and a little tart, still very drinkable and well balanced.

Overall a neat brew I am glad I tried.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2012 20:18:04 | More by Stocean1
Photo of jsnoek
jsnoek

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +12.7%

02-07-2012 01:02:53 | More by jsnoek
Photo of WeissBoy
WeissBoy

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +12.7%

02-13-2012 06:54:35 | More by WeissBoy
Photo of Kartoffeln
Kartoffeln

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark, slightly hazy ruby-amber with a sizeable tan head of bubbly foam and dense froth. Solid retention, settling to a fine ring of foam and leaving

S: Sweet, sappy spruce with a mildly resiny character and pine notes mingles with a bold, sugary scent of molasses. Rich, fruity, and somewhat toasty malts ground the nose with notes of biscuit and fresh dark fruits, particularly plums, figs, and raisins. Floral, resiny, and slightly herbal hops round things out.

T: Spruce with a pronounced resiny undertone and hints of sap and fresh pine blends into mildly sweet molasses with a slightly burnt note. A rich spicy note, mainly nutmeg, springs up midway through the sip and transitions into biscuit malt with a toasted grain character. Resiny, citric hops mingle with the spice and spruce notes in the finish.

M: Medium-bodied with modest carbonation, crisp on the sip and somewhat sticky on the swallow. The sprucey resin is rather refreshing, though, and makes for a clean, dry finish that effectively balances the robust flavour profile. The ABV is practically undetectable, and altogether it's unexpectedly easy-drinking despite the robust flavour and kick.

D: Not just a historical novelty, this is an excellent flavoured ale with complexity and a distinctly resiny character from spruce and hops. It reminds me of the Alba Scots Pine Ale from that Williams Brothers, and is at least equally worthwhile. Give it a try if you find it.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2012 00:41:59 | More by Kartoffeln
Photo of Sammy
Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.9/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500 ml LCBO. Forest breeze aroma, although could have been even more fir. Dark brown colour, small head. Smooth above average mouthfeel. Bitter without big IBU. Alcohol warming. Thought it was a 6% until it kicked in. Satisfying. Good drinkability for those appreciating this style. Nice roast, making it a little akin to a Black IPA.Sentimental value as my Dad liked spruce, which was a staple given to Canadian soldiers. Chocolate aftertaste a bonus. Nicely done boys!

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2012 22:57:06 | More by Sammy
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 cam477
cam477

Newfoundland (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

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

Nova Scotia (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

12-19-2013 15:17:29 | More by lgmol
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 jrenihan
jrenihan

Ontario (Canada)

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

Bottled December 12, 2011.

Beer is a dark caramel amber, with a full two-finger widths of beige head. Dissipates at a moderate pace, leaves a bit of lacing.

Smell is big, unusual and very nice. Lots of pine, caramel, tree scents other than pine that must be spruce, a sugary scent that reminds me of sap (power of suggestion?). Probably not for everyone, but it works for me!

What works in the nose works less well in the flavour. Huge bubblegum flavour, lots of pine and spruce. Other unusual flavour stick out - mint, herbs generally. Caramel malt is there as well with some earthy hop flavours. Like the scent it is very unique, but I don't find it particularly enjoyable. Nice in some ways but not great for long.

Pretty high carbonation level, medium bodied, a bit sticky. Too much carbonation.

Overall, an incredibly unusual and unique beer. Great smell, not a great taste. This is probably a beer that some people would love, but only a few.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2012 01:55:51 | More by jrenihan
Photo of peensteen
peensteen

Ontario (Canada)

3.68/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby colour, one finger of cream coloured head, light lace on the glass. Smell is malty and fruity, big molasses scents, caramel and toffee, sweet bready notes, subtle fir and spruce. Taste is full of molasses and malt, fresh earthy notes, spruce, spices, floral flavours with a bready caramel finish. Med-high carbonation, medium body, decent weight and pretty good feel. Interesting stuff that grew on me as it warmed, not my cup of tea but a solid brew anyway.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2012 18:20:36 | More by peensteen
Photo of MattyV
MattyV

Ontario (Canada)

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

Clear deep ruby/brown colour, 1 finger creamy tan head recedes to a thin cap. Aroma's full of fruity, earthy, and sweet molasses notes. The spruce and fir are detectable but play a background role in the nose. The taste is mostly sweet, fruity, and nutty flavours, but are tempered by the earthy/herbal bitterness from the spruce and hops. Slightly warming aftertaste, which also carries through some roasted malt flavour as well. Creamy and full-bodied. A nice slow sipper on the chilly evenings. I can appreciate the bit of history provided on the bottle's label. One of my more memorable ventures into the beer category.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2012 02:28:42 | More by MattyV
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
Photo of TheSevenDuffs
TheSevenDuffs

Ontario (Canada)

3.63/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle to pint glass.

A -Medium to dark brown with a ruby glow around the edges. Two fingers of thick, foamy cream coloured head with a tinge of brown in it and good retention.

S - Sweet brown sugar and molasses notes up front, followed by earthy and pine notes. Some spruce aromas are detectable as well but they don't dominate the nose (which is a good thing).

T - Huge earthy/piney/spruce flavour up front that gives way to sweet molasses, tree sap and brown sugar flavours. Some herbal notes in the background as well. The spruce flavours are definitely pungent but the big sweet malt and molasses flaovurs help to balance it out.

M - Medium body, chewy and smooth. Light carbonation.

O - Not the most easy-drinking beer but that isn't the goal with this one. A great winter sipper and a really good job by Garrison pulling off a good beer in this style.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2012 01:48:59 | More by TheSevenDuffs
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 Long813
Long813

Ontario (Canada)

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

A: Pours a dark green/red body, looks almost swamp like, but still clear. One finger of tan head with decent retention and leaves some lacing.

S: Strong notes of earthy hops - likely spruce and some caramel. Alcohol comes through as the beer warms up.

T: Most notable is the strong pine and malts. Caramel and booze are mixed together well. Some figs some through as well. Again, as the beer warms, you can really taste the alcohol.

M: Medium bodied with little carbonation. Alcohol appear to become more evident as it warms up. Leaves a malty alcoholic finish.

O: It's an interesting beer, but nothing I could or would have more than one of. This is the second season of this brew, so it can only get better.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2012 03:53:13 | More by Long813
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Spruce Beer from Garrison Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 44 ratings.