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Spruce Beer - Garrison Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Spruce BeerSpruce Beer

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

49 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 49
Reviews: 30
rAvg: 3.58
pDev: 19.27%
Wants: 2
Gots: 5 | 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:
Beer added by: kjyost on 06-26-2011

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 49 | Reviews: 30 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Molson2000
4.75/5  rDev +32.7%

Photo of mmurphy525
4.5/5  rDev +25.7%

Photo of bryehn
4.5/5  rDev +25.7%

Photo of Groulxsome
4.5/5  rDev +25.7%

Photo of AnakinVader
4.5/5  rDev +25.7%

Photo of Electros
4.42/5  rDev +23.5%
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.

Photo of DaPan
4.38/5  rDev +22.3%
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.

Photo of leaddog
4.22/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - Pours a dark copper brown with a finger of bubbly tan head.

Smell - spruce needles, wood, toffee malts, hint of camp fire smoke, dark fruits, hint of molasses, and earthy hops.

Taste - Starts off with the spruce needles followed by the woodiness, toffee malts, camp fire smoke, dark fruits, hint of molasses, and earthy hops. Its like going for a hike and getting a whiff of fresh tree aromas.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Finishes with a pleasant toffee sweetness along with the camp fire smoke.

Overall - A interesting and unique brew. This is definitely not for everyone. I admire Garrison's approach with creating this brew. The spruce aromas and flavours are spot on. Worth a try if you are seeking an adventurous brew.

Photo of thehyperduck
4.13/5  rDev +15.4%
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.

Photo of kjyost
4.07/5  rDev +13.7%
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.

Photo of Stocean1
4.02/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

Photo of jsnoek
4/5  rDev +11.7%

Photo of WeissBoy
4/5  rDev +11.7%

Photo of Kartoffeln
4/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev +8.9%
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!

Photo of jrenihan
3.77/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

Photo of cam477
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of Tychanos
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of DamageCase76
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of SebD
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

Photo of lgmol
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of Rijtjeshuis
3.71/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

Photo of peensteen
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

Photo of biegaman
3.66/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

Photo of MattyV
3.65/5  rDev +2%
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.

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Spruce Beer from Garrison Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 49 ratings.