Fir / Spruce Beers?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by JouerAvecLeFeu, May 21, 2017.

  1. JouerAvecLeFeu

    JouerAvecLeFeu Zealot (540) Apr 17, 2015 Washington

    A few years back, I picked up a bottle of The Ale Apothecary's Sahati which is a take on the traditional Finnish Sahti that uses Spruce tips instead of hops. Since then, I've been seeking out as many Fir and/or Spruce tip beers as I can find. But they only seem to be produce in the PNW and Alaska.

    Here's the breweries that I know have brewed Fir and/or Spruce tip beers:
    Are there any others out there?
  2. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,652) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Here's one.
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  3. johnnybgood1999

    johnnybgood1999 Disciple (321) Oct 31, 2008 Virginia

    Yards Tavern Spruce was very solid. Haven't seen it in a few years though.
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  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    An option for those who are willing to take the step of homebrewing is to make your own Spruce tip beer. My next door neighbor (Walt) has a Blue Spruce tree and he granted me permission to harvest a few ounces of fresh growth spruce tips to brew a beer.

    Some photographs:

    As the wort was boiling I picked a total of 4 ounces (by weight) of fresh growth spruce tips of varying sizes:


    Below is my next door neighbor's (Walt) Blue Spruce tree:

  5. aquabears

    aquabears Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2016 Connecticut

  6. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (673) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Jackie o makes a really nice one

  7. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,278) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    For the few I've had, don't care for them much at all. Reminds me too much of those "Cool Colt" malt liquors from yesteryear.
  8. BaseballNBeer

    BaseballNBeer Initiate (99) Apr 22, 2015 Michigan

    Short's Spruce Pilsner is an imperial pilsner with blue spruce tips. It has a strong bitterness to it, but in a refreshing way.
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  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Is this beer distributed to your area?


    P.S. The head brewer of Jackie O's was kind enough to reply to my e-mails asking about the brewing of their Spruce beer.
  10. flyone

    flyone Initiate (124) Jan 5, 2008 California

    Anchor x mas. But not around right now. Snake River here in Jackson Wyoming does a good one! They even hollow out there own logs to do it.
    Melvin Brewing
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  11. JouerAvecLeFeu

    JouerAvecLeFeu Zealot (540) Apr 17, 2015 Washington

    I made the mistake of trying Cool Colt when it came out back in the early 90s. That was the worst beer I ever drank.
  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    I am cognizant of using fresh growth spruce tips. How are logs utilized in brewing spruce beers?

  13. JouerAvecLeFeu

    JouerAvecLeFeu Zealot (540) Apr 17, 2015 Washington

    Here's how The Ale Apothecary makes their Sahati:

    SAHATI is our interpretation of traditional Finnish sahti. Starting with a 200-year old Engelmann spruce tree felled on brewery property, we created our own kuurna (an ancient Scandinavian lauter tun) to separate the wort from the grain during brewing. The bottom of the kuurna is layered with spruce branches; the needles act as a natural filter and impart resinous oils into the wort. The hollowed-out trunk of the tree also contributes spruce essence and structure from the raw wood. The beer is made of barley & rye malts along with a sparing addition of Goschie Farms Cascade hops and is brewed just a few times per year.
 SAHATI is in many ways the very definition of The Ale Apothecary, where complex flavors arrive from the very methods used for production…the result is the process impacts the flavor profile at least as much as the ingredients themselves.

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  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    So the hollowed out log is 'exposed' to the wort during the lautering process. Interesting.

    Must be a Sahati 'thing'.


  15. RochefortChris

    RochefortChris Meyvn (1,269) Oct 2, 2012 North Carolina

  16. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,034) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

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  17. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (673) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Not that I have seen. I have an Ohio connection.

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  18. Saunassa

    Saunassa Initiate (0) May 7, 2017 Minnesota

  19. Saunassa

    Saunassa Initiate (0) May 7, 2017 Minnesota

    A lot of spruce and others evergreen trees are grown on Christmas tree farms or windbreaks around farms. There are fungus and insects that can be a problem so some places spray to control them.
  20. TonyLema1

    TonyLema1 Poo-Bah (1,686) Nov 19, 2008 South Carolina

    Blue Point Colonial Ale
    DFH Pennsylvania Tuxedo
  21. MacMalt

    MacMalt Poo-Bah (2,970) Jan 28, 2015 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    I agree wholeheartedly about Pennsylvania Tuxedo. I thought it would be gimmicky but it is a really solid and enjoyable beer. It's one of my winter favorites.
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  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    And the 'plus' for Tom (@drtth) is these blue spruce clippings come from Delaware County so there is some local 'terroir' here for him.:slight_smile:

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  23. moshea

    moshea Devotee (463) Jul 16, 2007 Michigan

    This. That beer tastes like an Xmas tree
  24. jmasher85

    jmasher85 Zealot (559) Mar 27, 2015 Maryland

    Pine Drops from Deschutes, I think, is made along those lines. Similar to Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo but more hops and stronger. And a milder option is Yards Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce. All delicious.
  25. Saunassa

    Saunassa Initiate (0) May 7, 2017 Minnesota

    To me Balsam is kind of sweet smelling and not so astringent so I am curious what a beer with balsam tips would be like. Maybe with a small amount of hops that would give a lemony flavour too?
  26. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Meyvn (1,300) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey

    I second Yards Poor Richards tavern spruce.

    I've a large. Full height spruce in my yards I plan to pick tips off for a homebrew this fall. Will be nice around Christmas
  27. mambossa

    mambossa Initiate (128) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio

    I'm gonna go ahead and chime in with the others on Jackie O's New Growth. It's worth trading for, seeing as OP is in WA. It's an extremely great example of spruce tip utilization. I remember last year's release, the malt bill was extremely clean, hops to compliment the spruce, and the spruce REALLY stood out nicely. Much more potent than Pennsylvania Tuxedo IMO. It's to be released again pretty soon, well worth a trade.
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I am uncertain what you mean by "tips" but fresh growth tips occur in the spring (i.e., now). Are you picking these tips now?

  29. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Meyvn (1,300) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey

    The pieces that grow on the tip of the end of branches. If I should harvest now then I will. Cheers.
  30. HermitDan

    HermitDan Disciple (329) Apr 30, 2016 New Jersey

    I've never had a Sahati before and I can't handle the flavor of spruce. Should I avoid Sahati if this is a common flavor?
  31. sharpski

    sharpski Champion (838) Oct 11, 2010 Oregon

    You may already know this, but in addition to Spruce Budd, Fort George also makes Magnanimous IPA with fir tips from an employee's farm. I believe Spruce Budd is draft only, but Magnanimous got canned last year.
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  32. Benish

    Benish Savant (974) Mar 13, 2013 Wisconsin

  33. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,386) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I have often read you want the new tips after the red pericap falls off. The will be small, not needles, no wood. This site has pictures.

    The Short's beer talked about above has a strong flavor of turpentine some years. Not my favorite.
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  34. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,258) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    That's the first time I've heard anyone use turpentine used as a descriptor, but I can believe it as a spruce flavor mixed with the alcohol. I personally get a Pine-Sol flavor sometimes. Maybe they should cut back a little on the amount of spruce tips that they use.
  35. Blinkyoureyes

    Blinkyoureyes Aspirant (209) Aug 28, 2015 Tennessee

  36. HopsDubosc

    HopsDubosc Disciple (320) Apr 24, 2015 Vermont

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  37. Redrover

    Redrover Poo-Bah (3,007) Jan 18, 2003 Illinois

  38. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (545) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

  39. BasterdInABasket

    BasterdInABasket Aspirant (205) Nov 8, 2010 Wisconsin

    Black Husky Sproose 2IPA and their imperial version Sparkly Eyes.
    There's been some variation in the few bottles of Sproose I've had, but always pine/spruce forward. The Sparkly Eyes blew me away when I had it though, a big spruce and piney hop bomb, they do some great stuff.
  40. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,652) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Actually, not really. I've never learned to taste the differences, if there actually are any, between Blue Sprice tips found in this area and those we used to find in the mountains near where our home was in the state where I grew up.

    Now, however, if you were talking about the difference between the nuts of the Pinon pine vs. other pine nuts, that would be a different story. Especially if the pine cones, before they have dropped their nuts, are set in the heat on a fireplace hearth, but not too close to the fire, to open from the heat of the fire so the nuts can be eaten fresh or roasted a bit and ground in with coffee beans....