Spruce Beer | Wigram Brewing Co

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9 Ratings

Brewed by:
Wigram Brewing Co
New Zealand (Aotearoa)

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by bainard on 01-11-2009

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Ratings: 9 |  Reviews: 8
Photo of sonorb7
4/5  rDev +31.6%

Photo of WestCoastLibations
4.34/5  rDev +42.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Recently returned from a brewery tour of the South Island of New Zealand, so for the foreseeable future, the reviews posted will emianate from that local. Visiting a total of 8 different breweries over the course of 2 weeks, it was hard work, but hey, somebody's gotta do it! Incidently enough though, the last one visited was Wigram Brewery, but here, the first one drank, so with that, I will begin.

Bought at the brewery itself, but transported in a bottle back to South Korea, I enjoyed it chilled, at the temperature suggested on the label: 8 degrees. Poured into a traditional Korean goblet, I know I was mixing cultures, but sometimes one has no other choice. Of course with this beer, the first thing you notice is the aroma, from the spices included in the mix. Poured rather well for having traveled across the Equator, it came out a nice darken brown, with little head. With the sweet smell still lingering in the air, everything seemed to settle nicely from bottle to cup.

Changing senses, from smell to taste, the spices within this beer, to me at least, did not overwhelm. While certainly different from the usual suspects, I think that if one is going with a distincitve beer such as this, they should welcome the changes associated with its taste. I mean, according to the bottle, this is what James Cook himself conconted in 1773 upon landing on New Zealand!

Overall, this beer is something that I was looking for: a local, one-of-a-kind elixir, which I probably won't have the opportunity to try again, at least under the same set of circumstances: traveling across the Globe, visiting the brewery, meeting the owner, and having him recommened this particular beer to me, while also giving me a historical account of its brewing. That is the beauty of this beer revolution, which I for one, am happy to be a part of!

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Photo of spicelab
3.08/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

500mL bottle thanks to Beermasons.

Clear bronze with a sudsy off-white head, about one finger. Leaves a slightly raised ring and moderate bead.

Kicks you immediately with pungent spruce and manuka twang, which being from the tea-tree family reminds me a lot of the Australian bush. Quite refreshing really. Other than that? Um, some caramel and light toffee malts.

Very similar flavours. Starts out nice and clean with more of that tea-tree, eucalyptusy, bay-leafy freshness. It's also rather sweet. After a while, it starts to feel like you're sucking the resins directly from the spruce needles and manuka leaves

Slightly oily mouthfeel, cut through by spritzy carbonation. Pretty dry finish. Nothing rough about it at all.

Nicely done. Like most spiced beers it becomes a chore to drink after a while.

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Photo of xylophonica
3.97/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Rusty-copper coloured beer with some delicate head on top.

S - Dusty..
There's a variety of dry spices such as cinnamon & cumin with a big hit of pepper. There's also a hint of oak/wood and maybe just a touch of mead.

T - Again it's really spicy. There's a big dose of dry mead with some currants and raisins. Sweetening up and becoming more reminiscent of rum as it warms. Several dark/toasted malt flavours coming through as well with some mildly fruity flavours verging on blackberries/currants.

M - Soothing on the palate yet warming at the same time with the intensity of the spices.

O - An odd combination - don't believe I've ever had a beer with such a rich tapestry of flavours. New flavours seem to arrive with a dramatic presence constantly in every moment that it warms. Not something you'd want to drink everyday but it's an intricate beast and well worth a try.

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Photo of crusian
3.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Wow, wish I saw these reviews before I picked this up... but, oh well, here goes.
Pours a nice, almost ruby color with a bit of a head, around a half finger. Large bubbles coat the glass... looks nice.
Nose is a forest. Spruce abound. Hard to get past the spruce to pick up anything else.
Taste is heavy on the spruce too, almost like a spruce tonic water. Lots of other spices come through also, giving it a nice spicy tang to it. Thin mouthfeel, again, akin to tonic water.
Nothing spectacular, but definitely interesting and different. Definitely worth a try, I am glad I picked it up, and kinda liked it. Not sure why such bad reviews, but I'll read through them now.
Wow, sounds like there may have been some bad bottles out there. Mine has two best by dates, the latter being 31 march 2012. Tastes pretty frah to me. Some of the other reviews may have been old?

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Photo of dgilks
2.93/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Sweet, honey like aroma with a slightly herbal edge. Okay and inoffensive.

Moderately clear amber colour with a 2 finger, fluffy, off-white head. Decent head retention.

The flavour lacks a bit of balance. There is plenty of sweet (some might say underattenuated) malt and then there is a slightly astringent, bitter, herbal and medicinal note of spruce. This is supposed to be based on the same recipe that The Mussel Inn's Captain Cooker is based on and this fails to achieve the same finesse. The herbal character is just a little bit too rough and the beer is let down by it.

Medium body and moderate carbonation are appropriate.

This is an interesting beer but the execution is a little bit off. For something similar but ultimately better try Captain Cooker.

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Photo of femALEist
2.03/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This beer is based on Captain Cook's original recipe first made in Dusky Sound, New Zealand in 1773. Flavored with Spruce (rimu) and tea tree (manuka). Claims this to be a 'healthy' recipe. 5% abv. This poured an murky orange copper. It smelled of mushrooms, spice, bouillabaisse and seemed very meaty. It tasted soupy: very meaty with cooked string beans. And it had a light mint clean aftertaste. Very very weird. This seemed similar to the experimental stuff that Dogfish Head does with their ancient recipes. But sometimes those recipes are ancient for a reason. SO if you are a big fan of Campbell's Chunky Soup, then this is your beer. If not, definitely skip it!

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Photo of ADZA
1.8/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

This brew is 5% ABV and it pours a murky copper colour with average carbonation that leaves a one finger head and no lacing,the aroma is awful its a cross between mint and tea horrible,the taste is actually a little better but not by much it has tastes of herbs,swamp and tea leaves and mouthfeel is average,obviously by me not being able to happily finish this brew the drinkability is the lowest i can give,im so glad i wasnt on Captain Cooks boat and please avoid at all costs please.

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Photo of bainard
2.08/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

a- murky brown with a minimal head, no lacing.

s- pine masked by a lot of malt and a bit of yeast. no hops to note.

t- the spruce in this james cook-style beer really comes through now. unfortunately, the malt that should be balancing it out is really nothing to speak of. doesn't warm well at all.

m- again, nothing really to speak of here. a little bit of carbonation with a decent body, but overall not notable.

d- blech, the pine takes over once it gets above 50ºF (10ºC), and even though the alcohol isn't big in this (unlisted), it's still nothing that i'm going to willingly finish.

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Spruce Beer from Wigram Brewing Co
Beer rating: 3.04 out of 5 with 9 ratings