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Old 06-05-2011, 01:49 PM   #111
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I brewed a brown ale with black spruce tips a few years ago and it turned out pretty good. As I sit here typing I can see the new spruce tips through the window. Here I go to clip a few pints for the next brew. Now I know what I'm brewing this week!!

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Old 06-15-2011, 05:44 PM   #112
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I was going to use some bittering hops at 60 min. Though I like the idea of bittering with the spruce too. How much bitterness did you get from that? I know you can't put an actual IBU number to it, but how would you describe the bitterness level?
I am looking to do a spruce beer in a month or so, and picked about a quart of tips earlier this spring and froze them in anticipation. Reading through the thread, it looks like a lot of people are using the spruce as a hop substitute, as the above quote illustrates.

I re-read the section in Gordon Strong's book last night about his spruced version of Poor Richard's Ale (which won a Gold at NHC). He did some research before brewing it, and the advice he followed was to pick the tips fresh (when they feel like a paintbrush), just after they've blown their red/brown hood (the earlier pictures illustrated that hood nicely). The signifigant thing was the instruction to boil them for 60 minutes. That technique specified the long boil in order to pull the sugar out of the tips, kind of treating the spruce more like a fermentable/non fermentable than as a bittering/aroma agent.

To be a little more specific (but going off memory) for a 5 gallon recipe, Gordon's recipe used a quart (by volume) of tips at 60 minutes, and then starting at 60, he flipped Amarillo and Simcoe additions throughout the boil.

He described the finished beer a "citrus-ey". He also mentioned the spruce character was best when the beer was young, but the beer improved overall with age because he had to wait for the molasses to fade.

My plan is to use his technique for the spruce in my Poor Richard's Ale, but skip the molasses. Has anyone handled the fresh spruce in this manner? How were your results?

Thanks for any input,
Joe
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Old 05-13-2012, 05:31 AM   #113
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I'm surprised to see nobody's kept up the thread this year...
I've done three spruce beer batches so far - all extract brews, always with the new tips in the spring, and always adding the spruce at the beginning of the boil. They've always turned out great! Not very sprucey, but very herbal, regardless of light/dark malt or hop combination.
Well this past year we've gone all grain, and since this is a once a year thing and we wanted more spruce essence, we decided to go big this year. I also have a few hops plants around the house, but the labeling has worn off the two primary producers and I can't remember what variety they are - not to mention they all grew together such that come harvest time you couldn't tell who was who. So I figured this would be a yard beer - whatever I have around the yard. Alas, I don't have any grains (maybe I should stop owing the lawn to remedy that;-) so I opted for something "local" at least - while Alamosa is hardly near by, at least it's in the same state. So I started out with 8lb of Colorado 2-row and added 1/2lb of biscut - my wife wanted nutty and I wanted simple, so we left it at that. In the past I had always used the measure of: a mason jar packed full of new spruce shoots, but this year I filled a 2gal bucket - about 3.25lbs of spruce, and augmented that with the 1.5oz hop melange. I wasn't in the mood to play with hop schedules when I had a mixed bag to start with, so I just went witht he dump and run method. It's a real strange brew in the pot, but it should be a good summer beer. While you can never tell for sure until it's done fermenting, the wort was good enough that my wife and I drank off the hydrometer flask like it was soda pop. In fact, to that end I actually did try to make a batch of spruce soda as well. Definitely more spruce character to this batch - can't wait to see how it turns out.

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Old 05-13-2012, 06:28 PM   #114
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Well - at least it's a happy beer...

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Old 05-14-2012, 12:30 AM   #115
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i'd love to attempt a spruce beer. if anyone would sell/trade me some tips, i'd be incredibly grateful!

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Old 05-14-2012, 01:07 AM   #116
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Tossed mine in to the fermenter today, all spruce additions, no hops. It's been a great beer in the past!

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And I'd like to see my 1.080 beers ready from grain to glass in a week, and served to me by red-headed twin penthouse pets wearing garter belts and fishnet stockings, with Irish accents, calling me "master luv gun," but we can't always get what we want can we? :)
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Old 05-14-2012, 01:56 AM   #117
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i'd love to attempt a spruce beer. if anyone would sell/trade me some tips, i'd be incredibly grateful!
try those christmas tree farms along 92 on the way to half moon bay.
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Old 05-24-2012, 05:58 AM   #118
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on the advice of someone here, i went foraging. can someone confirm that this is spruce and that this is good?

i was careful only to pick the soft growth. is the downie white stuff much better than the soft green?





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Old 05-24-2012, 01:04 PM   #119
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on the advice of someone here, i went foraging. can someone confirm that this is spruce and that this is good?

i was careful only to pick the soft growth. is the downie white stuff much better than the soft green?
That is NOT spruce by a long shot. Spruce is a tree, those look like Yew's or some type of shrub. I wouldn't use them in my beer not knowing what they are for certain.
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And I'd like to see my 1.080 beers ready from grain to glass in a week, and served to me by red-headed twin penthouse pets wearing garter belts and fishnet stockings, with Irish accents, calling me "master luv gun," but we can't always get what we want can we? :)
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Old 05-24-2012, 07:25 PM   #120
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Do NOT proceed without a positive identification. The pictures aren't showing up for me at the moment, but if it is ornamental Yew, it is very toxic and CAN KILL YOU:

Quote:
SIGNS: "Found dead" is the typical presenting sign. Very rarely will animals show signs up to 2 days later: trembling, slow heart rate, difficulty breathing, gastroenteritis (stomach upset and diarrhea). The plant is exceptionally toxic, with one mouthful able to kill a horse or cow within 5 minutes. Toxicity is compounded by the apparent palatability of yew. Many animals are poisoned accidently when yew trimmings are thrown into the pasture or when yew is planted as an ornamental within browsing reach. Infrequent reports of dogs chewing the leaves resulted in gastroenteritis, seizures, and aggressive behavior.

The toxin is taxine, a mixture of alkaloids, that slow down cardiac conduction. As little as 0.1 to 0.5% of the fresh plant per body weight is lethal. Death is due to cardiac and/or respiratory collapse.
Not to over react or anything- just be careful!
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