Anyone ever have a spruce beer

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Well-Known Member
Jul 26, 2005
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Made from actual spruce trees? We have a Christmas tree farm with plenty of blue spruce.... Would be nice to have for the holidays.

If you've had this type of beer (I read about it last night in Joy of HB), could you please give me some good recipes? Preferably more towards the ale side than stout.



Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2005
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I've seen this but not tried it. Fraoch, who make some tradittional ales in Scotland (http://www.fraoch.com/historicales.htm) make Alba - a spruce beer.

This is a quote from their website:

"Introduced by the Vikings, spruce and pine ales were very popular in the Scottish Highlands until the end of the 19th century. Many early explorers, including Captain Cook, used spruce ale during long sea voyages since it prevented scurvy and ill health. Shetland spruce ale was said to "stimulate animal instincts" and give you twins. Alba is a triple style ale brewed to a traditional Highland recipe from Scots pine and spruce shoots pickled during early spring.Pure malted barley, is boiled with the young sprigs of pine for several hours then the fresh shoots of the spruce are added for a short infusion before fermentation.

A tawny brown strong ale with spruce aroma, rich malt texture, complex wood flavour and lingering finish.

Best drunk at room temperature from a wine goblet as an after dinner digestive. 7.5% abv"

Doesn't give you much of a recipe, but I guess it uses fresh, spring shoots as they won't have quite as much of an overpowering flavour


80/- :cool:


Well-Known Member
Jun 14, 2005
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Surprise, AZ.
How about Porter? Here's what I have in the way of spruce:
Spruce beer
Type: All grain
Size: 11 gallons
Color: ~23 SRM
Bitterness: 24 IBU
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.011
ABV: 5.4%
Water: If your water is soft just add a quarter tsp of plain salt for 11 gal.
16 lb. 8 oz. American 2-row
4 oz. American crystal 120L
1 lb. British chocolate
2 oz. British black patent
1 lb. British Munich
9 oz. spruce tips 45 min.
1.42 oz. Fuggles (4.75% AA, 60 min.)
1.42 oz. Cascade (6% AA, 30 min.)
Yeast: American ale yeast wyeast 1056

Mash: 84% efficiency
Infusion mash 1 qt per lb. hold at 153°F for 1 hour or till conversion. Add ½ qt per lb boiling water to bring to 160°F hold 15 min. Add rest of boiling water to raise to 170°F sparge to collect 13 gal. Boil 60 min.
Boil: 60 minutes to SG 1.045 with13 gallons
Carbonation: 7/8 C corn sugar per 5 gal to prime

Funyfarm Ale
Ingredients for 5 gallons:
12 oz. Crystal Malt 20L
7 oz. Unmalted black barley 500L
7 oz. Chocolate barley
4 oz. Munich Malt
4oz. Domestic light roast 300L
2 ears Dried sweet corn (yes that is what I said!)

All of the above were crushed with my rolling pin and added to 3½ gallons of cold water, bring to a boil! Remove grain bag 1 min. into boil. Then.... add to your boil

7 lb. Dark Malt extract
6 oz. Corn sugar
2" Brewing licorice
1-cup Darkest honey you can lay your hands on.
1 cup Molasses
1 cup Dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. Spruce essence
1 oz. Eiroca hops Alpha 14.10 boiling
¼ tsp. Irish Moss (last 15 minutes)
@ 10 min remaining add
¼ oz. Yakima Kent Goldings hops
Total boil time is 45 min
Sparge in to chilled water. Pitch your Champagne yeast at 80°F. Racked to secondary at 7 days gravity set in secondary for 28 days. Bottled with ½ cup of honey.
OG: 1.063
FG: 1.012

Colonial Porter
⅓ lb. Black patent malt
⅓ lb. Carapils malt
⅓ lb. Dark crystal malt, 90° to 120° Lovibond
6 lbs. Dark plain malt extract syrup
8 oz. Blackstrap molasses
1 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (3 to 4% alpha acid), for 45 min.
1 5-in. Brewers' licorice stick, chopped or shaved
1 cup Loosely packed fresh spruce needles
1 pkg. Fruity dry ale yeast (or 1 qt. liquid ale yeast culture)
⅔ cup Corn sugar for priming
½ tsp. Gypsum
¼ tsp. Kosher salt

OG: 1.046

Step by Step:
To 2½ of gallons of water cold water, add gypsum and salt. Steep malts in a muslin grain bag. Gradually raise temperature to 170°F, remove grains, and sparge into kettle with about 2 qt. of hot water. Bring liquor to boiling, remove from heat, and stir in malt extract and blackstrap molasses. Return to heat and bring up to boiling again. Add hops. Boil 45 minutes. Remove from heat, set kettle in a sink full of ice water. Steep for about 30 minutes in the cooling wort the licorice stick and the spruce needles (it's easiest if these are in some sort of a bag). Remove spruce and licorice, add to fermenter, and top up to 5¼ gals. Cool to 75°F and pitch yeast (Wyeast 1028 or 1275 work well with this brew). Seal up and ferment cool (65°F or less) for about 10 days. Rack to secondary and age cooler (55° to 60°F) for about two weeks. Prime with corn sugar, bottle, and age three weeks.
Obviously, to use fresh spruce needles this would need to be brewed in early spring when the spruce trees begin to sprout new growth. If you wish to brew it "out of season," however, you can do a couple of things: in season, gather the spruce growth that you will need and freeze it in an airtight, Ziplock bag until needed, or soak them then and there in enough vodka or grain alcohol to cover them completely until you want to use them and then add this potion at bottling instead of as a finish hop. Out of season, you'll have to use commercial spruce essence that you will probably find at your homebrew-supply store. It's not perfect. In fact I find it a bit strong, but it will impart a spruce flavor to anything (including your kitchen, if you spill it). Easy does it, add a few drops (to taste) at bottling.
Blackstrap is ideal, the richest and heaviest of all molasses (except for treacle, of course, but then that's just too British for this recipe, don't you think?) but other dark molasses will do. Try, though, or find "unsulfured" brands, because the sulfur (a preservative) may inhibit fermentation and leave you with a cloyingly sweet beer.
You really should use "brewer's licorice," or raw licorice root. Licorice candy is not the same thing. Most homebrew shops stock or can get real licorice root, so ask. If it's unavailable, you can get a licorice-like flavor by adding sambuca or Galliano liqueur, or by using some anise instead. But the founding fathers would not have used these, surely.
All-grain brewers:
Mash 7 lbs. pale malt plus 1 lb. dark Munich malt (20° Lovibond) and the specialty grains above in 11 qt. of liquor at 150°F for 90 minutes. Sparge at 168°F to get 6½ gallons, add 8 oz. molasses, and boil to reduce to 5¼ gallons. Add hops and spices as above.

Wisconsin Spring Porter
3⅓ lbs. Plain dark malt extract (Northwestern)
1½ lbs. Light dry malt extract (Laaglander)
1 lb. Crystal malt
¼ lb. Black patent
¼ lb. Roasted barley
1 cup Dark brown sugar
1 lb. Clover honey
5 gal. Maple sap (used as brewing water)
2 oz. Goldings hops
2 tsp. Spruce essence (or half of amount recommended on bottle)
¼ oz. Fresh wintergreen leaves (roll in hands to crush)
1 vial White Labs English liquid ale yeast in a 1-pint starter

Step by Step:
Steep the grains and remove just prior to the boil. Add malt and boil. At start of boil add 1½
oz. hops, spruce, and wintergreen. Boil 45 minutes. Add the remaining hops, boil two more
minutes, and cool. Pitch yeast at 70°F. The maple sap is very important. Get as much as you can. I had to add water to get five gallons. The taste is very unique and refreshing, with a subtle aftertaste that makes you want more.
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.020

Hope you find one you like,

Dr Malt

Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2005
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Pacific Northwest
Alaskan Brewing makes a Winter Ale that is made with Sitka spruce tips. You might check their web site to see how they add the spruce tips. I was at the American Homebrewers Association meeting where the brewer passed around the fresh spruce tips as well as his beer. The tips had a fresh citrus aroma, not the typical pine or fir smell. Very interesting ingredient.

Dr Malt