NOTE -We only ship on Mondays and Tuesdays! Orders received by Sunday ship that week.
Recipe Ideas: NOTE – Everyone’s tastes are different (and we are glad for that). Some people are very sensitive to the pine flavor that spruce tips add to a beer and other people are not as sensitive to it. We always recommend starting light on your first batch. Then you know what to expect. After that, start ramping up on future batches if so desired. Fresh spruce tips may have high levels of undesirable resins and tannins when boiled too long. We normally add the spruce to the last 15 min of the boil (or less). The aromatic quality of the spruce is most present with this process.
PLEASE NOTE - Differing times of harvest, kinds of trees, age of tips, length of storage, etc. all contribute to the potency of the spruce tips. When you open your package, if they smell super strong then they probably are and can use a little less. If there is not a lot of aroma you may consider using more in the recipe.
COMMERCIAL BREWERIES - For commercial breweries we are seeing most people use 1-2lbs per BBL depending on the beer style for subtle flavor. So if you were brewing a porter or a stout it would probably be recommended to go with 2lbs or so. For a lighter beer 1lb should be fine. The young spruce tips that we harvest are not harsh, piney or resiny. Riff Raff Brewing Co brewed a 7BBL batch and used 2lbs per BBL (14lbs total) into a lightly hopped pale ale recipe. Here are their comments: "We wanted a lot of spruce flavor, and we got it. Though it is nice and sprucey, it is not overwhelming or too piney. Very little tannins are detected. It adds almost a sweet, slightly minty character. It has been a very popular seller." So, that said, if you stick with the 1-2lb / BBL suggestion you should have a nice, subtle flavor. Please contact us directly for bulk pricing.
Recipes Those adventurous brewers can go old-school and replace all hop additions with spruce tips – a true old skool spruce beer! But be careful, replacing hop additions with spruce additions (especially the longer boil times) can make one whopper of a sprucey beer.
2 Tbs Spruce Essence = Approximately 4 oz spruce tips
Spruce Juice Pale Ale (Our own family recipe, which has won ribbons!):
(5 Gallons – Mash Extract)
1.5 lb Light Dry Malt Extract
2.75 lb Pale Malt Liquid Extract
2 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row)
1 lb Munich Malt – 10L (Great Western) ½ lb Carapils
¼ lb Caramel / Crystal Malt – 60L
1 oz New Zealand Hallertauer (8.5% - 60 minutes)
.5 oz Cascade (8.6% - 20 minutes)
4 to 8 oz Spruce Tips (15 minutes - less for subtle flavor, more for lots of flavor)
1 tsp Irish Moss (15 minutes)
1 oz New Zealand Hallertauer (8.5% - 5 minutes)
Ale Yeast (priming sugar for bottling)
Mash crushed grains at 150 degrees for one hour. Remove grains and bring to a boil. Cut heat and add extracts. Bring back to a boil and start hop additions. Cool wort in a fermenter and pitch yeast. Rack to secondary after primary fermentation has slowed (usually 3-5 days). Condition in secondary for two weeks before bottling or kegging.
Our house recipe - 10 Gallon All Grain: Spruce Juice American Pale Ale
Type: All Grain
Batch Size (fermenter): 10.00 gal
Boil Size: 13.44 gal
Boil Time: 60 min
Equipment: Stainless Kegs (10 Gal/37.8 L) - All Grain
End of Boil Volume 11.44 gal
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 9.25 gal
Est Mash Efficiency 79.2 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage
Taste Rating(out of 50): 60.0
Taste Notes: Yeah, this beer rocks. Smell the spruce tips when you open the bag. If it hits you like a blast of Pine Sol (only good smelling) then you can cut down on the tips. If they are a little mellow, then up the ante. Remember, wild harvested means there may be variance in potency. Cheers to a fun filled brew (and end product of course). - Spruce On Tap
8.0 ozPale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
2 lbsCaramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM)
1 lbsCara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)
8.0 ozCaramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
2.00 ozCascade [8.60 %] - Boil 60.0 min
1.00 ozCascade [8.60 %] - Boil 20.0 min
2.00 tspIrish Moss (Boil 15.0 mins)
8 ozSpruce Tips (Boil 15.0 mins)
2.00 ozCascade [8.60 %] - Boil 5.0 min
4 ozSpruce Tips (Boil 0.0 mins)
1.0 pkgAmerican Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056)
Est Original Gravity: 12.7 Plato Measured Original Gravity: 12.7 Plato
Est Final Gravity: 3.1 Plato
Measured Final Gravity: 3.1 Plato
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.2 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.2 %
Bitterness: 47.6 IBUs
Calories: 171.5 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 7.0 SRM
Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 20 lbs
Sparge Water: 9.59 gal
Grain Temperature: 65.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F
Tun Temperature: 65.0 F
Mash In - Add 29.00 qt of water at 167.3 to reach 153.0 for 60 min
Sparge Step: Fly sparge with 9.59 gal water at 168.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: Keg
Volumes of CO2: 2.3 - Keg with 12.54 PSI
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 45.0 F
Age for: 30.00 days
Storage Temperature: 45.0 F
History and Brewing with Spruce Tips: Spruce tips have been used in the brewing process for hundreds of years. In fact, they were one of the main additions in beer before people learned about brewing with hops! Spruce tips add a fresh, bright aroma. The fresh, tender tips have a mellow pine scent and a crisp flavor. A number of refreshing flavors are associated with spruce-flavored beverages, ranging from floral, citrusy, and fruityto cola-like flavors to resinous and piney. This diversity in flavor mainly comes from the choice of spruce species, the season in which the needles are harvested, and the manner of preparation. Lighter, more citrus-like flavors are produced by using the bright green fresh spring growth before the new needles and twigs harden and become woody, which is right when we pick ‘em! The fresh shoots of many spruces and pines are a natural source of vitamin C (which helps the stability of the finished beer). Captain Cook made alcoholic sugar-based spruce beer during his sea voyages in order to prevent scurvy in his crew. Recently spruce has been used as a flavoring ingredient in commercial beer such as Alba Scots Pine Ale and Alaskan Brewing Company's Winter Ale and Wigram Brewing Company's Spruce Beer, which is based on Captain Cooks first beer brewed in New Zealand in 1773.
Alcoholic spruce beer was common in the colonial United States and eastern Canada. See our recipe from 1796 in the recipes section (though it is not exactly beer)! The Daily Order for the Highland Regiment in North America (early to mid 1800’s) stipulated that: "Spruce beer is to be brewed for the health and conveniency of the troops which will be served at prime cost. Five quarts of molasses will be put into every barrel of Spruce Beer. Each gallon will cost nearly three coppers."
Our Harvesting Process and Ethics: At Spruce On Tap we love brewing, but we love trees too. We are adamant about making sure the trees are not over harvested and that the spruce tips are only harvested in areas where the spruce tree is thriving. We recognize that trees are the source of our fresh air and they are beautiful to boot, and we strive to protect them. All spruce tips are Wild Harvested in primarily the San Juan Mountain Range of southern Colorado, in the San Juan National Forest. We harvest both Colorado Blue Spruce tips and Engelmann Spruce tips. We harvest the spruce tips when they first begin to emerge from their brown, papery casings each spring. At this stage they are very tender and have the brightest flavor with slight amounts of resin and citrus.
Storage & Preservation: We harvest the spruce tips fresh off the tree and vacuum pack them, then we freeze them the same day. With this process we can easily get them to last a year and still provide nice aroma and flavor. If you plan to order some but not use them all for a brew right away, you can re-pack what you don’t use and re-freeze it. If you can vacuum seal it that would be best, but even in a zip lock bag they should last several months frozen. Just don't let them get hot! Think of them like spinach. Once they are thawed out they will only last a few days and every day the flavor and aroma profile will decrease.
About the Spruce Trees:
Colorado Blue Spruce – Native to Colorado. 150-200 years (though some can reach 600 years). Medium to high elevations. The state tree of Colorado. Also known as Blue Spruce or Silver Spruce.
Engelmann Spruce – Native to Colorado. 250-500 years. Medium to high elevations. One of the taller of the high elevation conifers. They can survive in cold temperatures and deep snow pack at timberline (normally around 11,500 ft. around these parts). Produces cones at 25-50 years.
Other Uses – Food & Medicine - The leaves and branches, or the essential oils, can be used to brew spruce beer! (Go figure…) Also, the tips from the needles can be used to make spruce tip syrup. Native Americans in New England used the sap to make a gum which was used for various reasons, and which was the basis of the first commercial production of chewing gum. In survival situations spruce needles can be directly ingested or boiled into a tea. This replaces large amounts of vitamin C. Also, water is stored in a spruce's needles, providing an alternative means of hydration. Spruce tip tea has long been used by indigenous peoples to soothe coughs and sore throats, and to alleviate lung congestion. Reports say that spruce can be used as a preventative measure for scurvy in an environment where meat is the only prominent food source. Although there are many known uses for spruce, always consult a tree-eating expert before scarfing down wicked huge helpings of pine.