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Spruce Beer - Garrison Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Spruce BeerSpruce Beer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

45 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 45
Reviews: 28
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 20.51%
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: 45 | Reviews: 28 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of korguy123
3.18/5  rDev -10.7%
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!

korguy123, Feb 16, 2012
Photo of WeissBoy
4/5  rDev +12.4%

WeissBoy, Feb 13, 2012
Photo of MattyV
3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

MattyV, Feb 12, 2012
Photo of peensteen
3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

peensteen, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of Kartoffeln
4/5  rDev +12.4%
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.

Kartoffeln, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of Groulxsome
4.5/5  rDev +26.4%

Groulxsome, Feb 09, 2012
Photo of thehyperduck
4.18/5  rDev +17.4%
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.

thehyperduck, Feb 07, 2012
Photo of jsnoek
4/5  rDev +12.4%

jsnoek, Feb 07, 2012
Photo of Stocean1
4.03/5  rDev +13.2%
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.

Stocean1, Feb 05, 2012
Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.63/5  rDev +2%
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.

TheSevenDuffs, Feb 05, 2012
Photo of DaPan
4.4/5  rDev +23.6%
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.

DaPan, Feb 04, 2012
Photo of hopsolutely
3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beautiful mahogany colour with decent cream coloured head, ample lacing and a creamy mouthfeel.

Earthy aroma of roasted dark malts, with less "conifer" than I'd expected. Flavour is that of a malt-forward pleasant dark beer, focused on roasted notes with a hint of chocolate. The spruce elements are definitely present, lingering for a very long time in the finish...

Not enough spruce to have the "wow" factor of some other examples, but more than I'd choose as a regular beer. In short glad to have tried it, but think one will be sufficient!

hopsolutely, Feb 04, 2012
Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
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!

Sammy, Feb 02, 2012
Photo of wilmaster001
3/5  rDev -15.7%

wilmaster001, Feb 02, 2012
Photo of spinrsx
3.13/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500ml bottle - from the Rideau Street LCBO

Appearance - Slightly hazy copper colour with a large size fizzy beige coloured head. There an average amount of carbonation and there is some faint lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, caramel, pine, herbal

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste caramel, pine, and malts. There is also some dark fruits mixed with some earthy herbal notes. It ends with a sweet malty piney aftertaste.

Overall - I had a feeling I wouldn't be a fan of this one.. It's not bad I guess, it's just not for me. Points for originality but not something that is all that drinkable.

spinrsx, Feb 01, 2012
Photo of jrenihan
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

jrenihan, Feb 01, 2012
Photo of bryehn
4.5/5  rDev +26.4%

bryehn, Jan 29, 2012
Photo of Long813
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

Long813, Jan 06, 2012
Photo of mmurphy525
4.5/5  rDev +26.4%

mmurphy525, Dec 16, 2011
Photo of kjyost
4.13/5  rDev +16%
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.

kjyost, Jun 26, 2011
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Spruce Beer from Garrison Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 45 ratings.