I'm new to home brewing and I'm interested in brewing a spruce beer. I've done a little research on it and I found it interesting that in its simplest form spruce beer is nothing more then fresh spruce shoots boiled in water, and then sugar/molasses and yeast is added.
It was commonly brewed on ships, including Captain Cook's famous voyages, and given to sailors to help prevent scurvy (apparently spruce shoots are very high in vitamin C).
This seems like a very simple "beer" to brew and also something very different with some history behind it. From what I've read the fresh spring growth of the spruce tree makes a nice fruity, citrus like taste as compared to any other time of the year which ends up tasting pretty nasty so now would be the perfect time to give it a try.
For my first attempt I plan on making a 4 gallon batch. From the old recipes I've seen I think about 1lb of fresh spruce shoots should be about right. I plan on using refined white sugar but I'm not sure how much per 4 gallons but I was thinking either 8 or 10lbs. I've brewed wine before so I plan on using some of my Red Star wine yeast that ferments fast, goes up to 18% alcohol content and has a neutral flavor. Will that work ok?
Anyone tried making an 18th century spruce beer like this before and have any ideas or suggestions?
If I use the measurements and yeast I listed above how long should I wait for it to ferment? Most of the references I've seen online say it was consumed usually 3 days later.
Also, how long should I boil the spruce tips before removing them and adding the sugar and yeast?