Dismiss Notice
Extreme Beer Fest:Los Angeles

Join us December 9th in Los Angeles for the ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity!

Learn more...
Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

Spruce Beer | Garrison Brewing Company

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Spruce BeerSpruce Beer
BA SCORE
3.6/5
Good
55 Ratings
Spruce BeerSpruce Beer
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Garrison Brewing Company
Nova Scotia, Canada
garrisonbrewing.com

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

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

Added by kjyost on 06-26-2011

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#34,597
Reviews:
32
Ratings:
55
pDev:
18.89%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
5
Gots:
7
Trade:
0
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 55 |  Reviews: 32
Photo of jcubz
3.41/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of AndrewC
3.03/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Powers30
4.29/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of PorterPro125
4.09/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type: 650 mL Bottle

A- Pours a hazy reddish-brown with a 1/2 inch white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Small patches of lacing stick to the glass.

S- Very spicy and fragrant. Christmas spices and a bit of spruce.

T- Strong flavour of Spruce Needles and smoke. Not much else going on but it is quite tasty. Very fragrant.

M- Medium Body and moderate carbonation. Suitable for a big beer such as this.

O- A great, unique brew that offers up some interesting flavours that are perfect for a cool weather beer.

 533 characters

Photo of D-HopSupreme
4.34/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque brown body with very little head. The scent is very spicy, with lots of holiday spices coming into the mix along with a light maltiness, but little spruce so far. The taste is where this kicks in - large refreshing, and slightly cooling spruce needle taste comes through up front along with more spicy and malty notes. Finish is very pleasant and refreshing. Couldn't drink it all the time, but definitely an awesome treat.

 439 characters

Photo of Mousel
3.71/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Tychanos
3.75/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of leaddog
4.22/5  rDev +17.2%
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.

 767 characters

Photo of biboergosum
3.48/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

650ml bottle, nice little history lesson on the uses of spruce beer front and center on the label.

This beer pours a clear, rather dark red brick brown colour, with two fingers of puffy, slightly bubbly, and mostly creamy tan head, which leaves some low-lying island profile lace around the glass as it gently subsides.

It smells of grainy caramel malt, somewhat acrid and musty molasses, muddled black fruit, a mixed resinous coniferous tree bitterness (can't say it's particularly fresh or 'sprucey'), and a bit of Halls mentho lyptus informed alcohol astringency. The taste is campfire-singed pine tree branches, dry brown sugar, more musty molasses, now ethereal dark orchard fruit, bready caramel malt, very faint earthy, weedy, and woodsy hops, and a subtle warming booziness.

The carbonation is supportive enough in its plain-Jane fizzy and frothy emanations, the body a sturdy medium weight, and so-so smooth, the various acrid players here kind of inadvertently stepping on the roses, as such. It finishes off-dry, the graininess of the malt and the lingering touched dark sugars doing well in the face of that generally weird-ass bitterness.

I'm guessing that this is a pretty good approximation of what the garrison (hah) troops drank back in the day, and all I can say is that it's easy to be glad for the broad spectrum of developed and available hops now, it is. Not something I would want to drink much of myself, though, beyond the historical curio factor.

 1,479 characters

Photo of SchoonerNS
3.41/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of DamageCase76
3.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of DreamDeath
3.5/5  rDev -2.8%

Photo of cmorrisse
1/5  rDev -72.2%

Photo of cam477
3.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of AnakinVader
4.5/5  rDev +25%

Photo of souvenirs
3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

 313 characters

Photo of lgmol
3.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of sdm9465
3/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.02/5  rDev -16.1%
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.

 407 characters

Photo of CurtisD
3.25/5  rDev -9.7%

Photo of Electros
4.42/5  rDev +22.8%
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.

 296 characters

Photo of Molson2000
4.75/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of MattPS
2.5/5  rDev -30.6%

Photo of joemcgrath27
3.62/5  rDev +0.6%
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

 539 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.66/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

 2,081 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Spruce Beer from Garrison Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.6 out of 5 with 55 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.