In the dictionary of beer and brewing written by Karl Forgett (Brewer’s Publications, 1988) this beer is first mentioned as a drink that was generally brewed in North America and the North Europe. It is also called a black beer. Its recipe is known since 18th century. It is made as of fresh-cut branches of spruce as and extract of cones and buds of this coniferous plant with adding sugar and molasses.
During James Cook expeditions this drink was the primary means of fight against scurvy and he practically defeat to this disease in their ships. Also spruce beer was considered very useful in British Army at that time. That drink was considered even better than rum. To our days have survived a letter written by Vice-Admiral Samuel Graves in 1775. It says that after drinking rum all soldiers and sailors start to behave inappropriately. That’s why he suggests to replace the rum that was then fed to the military with the spruce beer having beneficial effects for the body.
In the beginning of the past century making of spruce beer was a common thing in America, Canada, Scotland and Scandinavia. But in 40th of the XX century the tradition to brew this beer was kept only in some provinces of Canada. It was so popular here that even local department of Fanta Co. started to produce a carbonated drink with a spruce taste. For some old natives of Quebec this taste is closely connected with their childhood memories. Nowadays the producer of such popular carbonated water is Marco Bevereges Co.
The only one brewery that still brews this beer according to original recipe of 1773 is Wigram Brewing Co in New Zealand. The brewers get a thick homogenous drink that has a special coniferous taste with original tea aftertaste (one of the ingredient of Manuka tea tree shoots). Even the advertising companies tried to represent this drink as National New Zealand one, but it had not became such. One of the critics described this as: A shake made of toothpaste, marsh and two times boiled tea”.
There are two recipes of spruce beer: with hops an without. For to brew this drink in home conditions you need a spruce extract that you can make at home or to get it in a special shop for brewers. According to recipe for 5 gallons you need to add one or two oz. of spruce essence. So for making this drink suggest strictly follow to recipe. If you wish to make spruce extract at home you will need a good handful of fresh green spruce shoots. They should be harvested in early spring. Shoot are need to be put with water into a sauce pan. To boil it till it gets a red-brown color with a sharp and concentrate taste. Then filtered and simmer again until the contents are not halved. Then bottle it into clean bottles, keep it in the fridge. While brewing new amount of beer, add your extract into a boiler with brewed drink.
Here are two most famous guidance for the preparation of spruce beer
Many have appreciated after National Brewing Competition in 1993 organized by ANA.
So, to brew 5 gallons of beer you’ll need;
– 1 oz. a spruce essence.
– 3 or 1/3 pound jar of not dark hopped extract Munton and Fison;
– 3 pounds of no dark hopped dry and malt extract Munton and Fison;
– 2 oz. of German hops Hallertouer, 3,5 percents alpha acidity ( 10 HBU/10 DEG, homemade bitter units);
– 1 tea spoon of Irish moss (1000015 minutes)
– dry beer yeasts Whitbread;
– ¾ cup of sugar to carbonize/
In five gallons boil for an hour a malt extract, hops, and spruce essence. Pouring into the primary fermenter, strain it so that it hit the moss and hops. Then add the water for it to be 5 gallons. After cooling add yeasts into primary fermenter and leave it for a week. Then pure it into secondary fermenter and leave for one more week. Then beer has to ripen, this process could take from 2 to 6 months. But it better to hold on because the ripen beer always tastes better.
Ben’s and Sam’s colonial brew
Here during brewing do without hops, it because with a help of this recipe they want to reproduce a taste of colonial period. Beverage has a sweet malt taste. You should like it.
To brew 5 gallons you’ll need:
– large hadful of freshly harvested young shoots of spruce;
– 6 and 2/3 pound of no dark hopped dry and malt extract
– 1 tea spoon of Irish moss
– El yeasts RedStar;
– ¾ cup of sugar.
In five gallons boil for an hour a malt extract, hops, and spruce essence. In five gallons boil for an hour a malt extract, hops, and spruce essence. Pouring into the primary fermenter, strain it so that it hit the moss and hops. Then add the water for it to be 5 gallons. After cooling add yeasts into primary fermenter and leave it for a week. Then pure it into secondary fermenter and leave for one more week. Then beer has to ripen, this process could take 2 months.