Spruce Beer | Garrison Brewing Company

Spruce BeerSpruce Beer
BA SCORE
43.6%
Liked This Beer
3.6 w/ 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:
#33,666
Reviews:
32
Ratings:
55
Liked:
24
Avg:
3.6/5
pDev:
18.89%
Alströms:
0
 
 
Wants:
5
Gots:
7
Trade:
0
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 55 |  Reviews: 32
Photo of Molson2000
4.75/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of mmurphy525
4.5/5  rDev +25%

Photo of bryehn
4.5/5  rDev +25%

Photo of Groulxsome
4.5/5  rDev +25%

Photo of AnakinVader
4.5/5  rDev +25%

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 DaPan
4.38/5  rDev +21.7%
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.

 605 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.

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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 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 thehyperduck
4.13/5  rDev +14.7%
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: 4.13, 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.

 1,707 characters

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 kjyost
4.07/5  rDev +13.1%
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.

 683 characters

Photo of Stocean1
4.02/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

 375 characters

Photo of jsnoek
4/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of WeissBoy
4/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of Kartoffeln
4/5  rDev +11.1%
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.

 1,455 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev +8.3%
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!

 470 characters

Photo of jrenihan
3.77/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

 954 characters

Photo of cam477
3.75/5  rDev +4.2%

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 DamageCase76
3.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of SebD
3.75/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

 661 characters

Photo of lgmol
3.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Rijtjeshuis
3.71/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

 1,602 characters

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Spruce Beer from Garrison Brewing Company
Beer rating: 43.6% out of 100 with 55 ratings
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