Below you will find many different recipes and dosing suggestions. These are just things we have played with ourselves over the years as well as some customer feed back. Have a recipe you would like to share using spruce, juniper or other fun ingredients? We would love to see it! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may post it on our website.
The majority of the recipes are based on spruce, but there are also juniper and other ingredient suggestions. If you are looking for something specific, like juniper, use the search function (Control F) to type in what you are looking for.
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.
ANOTHER NOTE - Because of the different sensitivities to spruce tips, if this is your first time around using them go on your gut. When you open your package, if they smell super strong to you then they probably are to you individually, and you can use a little less. If you love the aroma and just want to bury your face in it, use the full recommended amount!
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 or melon 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 flavor balance. Customers are also using the dry hop technique with spruce. In doing this, the spruce is not pasteurized, which has risks, but it allows you to test the product out of the brite tank and monitor the effect of the spruce. Most people leave the spruce in the tank 3-5 days. Please contact us directly for bulk pricing.
Those adventurous brewers can go old-school and replace all hop additions with spruce tips – a true colonial 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
16 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM)
1 lbs Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
2.00 oz Cascade [8.60 %] - Boil 60.0 min
1.00 oz Cascade [8.60 %] - Boil 20.0 min
2.00 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 mins)
8 oz Spruce Tips (Boil 15.0 mins)
2.00 oz Cascade [8.60 %] - (Boil 5.0 min)
1.0 pkg American 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
Spruce & Juniper Mead Notes:
If you are looking for some guidance on making mead with spruce and juniper, check out the podcast that Spruce On Tap was involved with at the links below from The Mead House. On their website, click the blue box at the top of the page to start the podcast.
Their website: http://www.themeadhouse.com/podcast/episode-118/
Their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/TheMeadHouse/
Spruce Soda: (Makes approx one gallon)
• 1 gallon water
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1lb spruce tips
• 1/8 teaspoon yeast
1. Simmer spruce tips in water for 1 hour. (In brewing beer we typically don't boil longer than 15 minutes but with soda the sugar covers the added tannins)
2. Strain out spruce
3. Stir in sugar and let cool to 80*.
4. If bottling, pitch yeast, let set for an hour, then bottle. If kegging no yeast is necessary, just keg, chill and carbonate. (FYI to those bottling, the yeast is just to make carbonation.)
More Fun With Spruce Tips:
There are so many fun things to do with spruce. Add spruce tips to salt to make spruce salt. Add spruce tips to honey for an amazing flavor combination. Boil spruce tips in water for 15 minutes (approximately 4 oz of spruce in 3 cups of water) to make a wonderful essence that can be used in making bread or other baking recipes. Check out food ideas below!
Prepare as a tea: Pour 8 oz of boiling water over 1/2oz of spruce. Cover and steep 3-4 minutes, strain, and serve. Stir in some spruce honey to taste.
Playing with Juniper:
We offer both juniper berries, a mixture of juniper needles and berries as well as just the needles. The juniper that we harvest in Southwest Colorado are unique (J. scopulorum) in that both the needles and the berries have similar flavor and aroma characteristics. For that reason, in brewing, distilling and culinary, we recommend trying the needle and berry combination or just the needles to keep things cost effective.
In brewing, typically juniper is added at about 1/4 of the recommended amount of spruce. So in a 5 gallon batch, maybe only add 1 oz to the end of the boil. On a commercial level, maybe only add .25 to .5lb per BBL. Again, we recommend using it in the last 15 minutes of the boil, but the dry hopping technique can be used - just recognize, like hops, they are not pasteurized when using them post boil.
Prepare as a tea: Pour 8 oz of boiling water over 1/4oz of juniper. Cover and steep 3-4 minutes, strain, and serve. Option: Stir in some spruce honey to taste.
Safety Note On Spruce & Juniper: Not to be used during pregnancy. Use with caution in persons with inflammatory kidney disease. Not for use exceeding 6 weeks in succession.
Playing with Yarrow:
Yarrow is an awesome little herb with many uses and some big kick. It helps stop bleeding, it repels mosquitoes and other insects when rubbed on the skin, and has been used for making beer for hundreds of years. General dosage is about 1oz per 5 gallons in the end of the boil for a medium bodied beer.
Cooking with Spruce & Juniper:
We love cooking with spruce and juniper. Both can be used in a variety of methods including marinades, garnishes and dried seasonings (to dry them just put them in the oven on very low heat on a cookie sheet for a half hour or so - do this without burning your house down please). However, one of our favorite things to do is to brine chicken and turkey with them. Below are some recipes for brining that come out AMAZING! Hope you enjoy!
Delicious Juniper Brined Chicken Recipe:
1 whole chicken, quartered
64 oz filtered water
1/4 cup + 3 tsp ground pink Himalayan sea salt
(If you use any other salt, look up a salt conversion chart as all types of salt vary)
1 oz juniper needles & berries
1 T peppercorns
10 drops stevia extract
Take 16 ozs of the water, heat it to almost boiling, dissolve the salt with it in a large bowl. Take another 24 ozs of the water, add it to a blender with the juniper and peppercorns and blend until pulverized. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and brine in the refrigerator for 4 hours. Grill or roast until done.
Hints: Once you taste brined poultry you probably won't want it any other way! This means needing a lot of salt on hand. Costco carries a 5 lb container of Ground Himilayan Pink Salt at a very good price.
On the grill: We love grilling brined chicken. Heat the grill to 600 degrees to burn off any old stuff. Then add the chicken and turn the heat all the way down. Keep your grill on low (about 325 degrees F) and cook the chicken for one hour (or until done). This will give you some of the juiciest chicken you can imagine!
Delicious Spruce Brined Chicken Recipe:
Use the same recipe as above, but replace the juniper with 4oz of spruce tips (yes, 4oz, not 1oz - juniper is much more potent). Amazing!
When using spruce and juniper in cooking, normally the best way to really impart the flavor is to blend or emulsify them with some water and use that. Biting into each needle can be a bit intense so it is best to blend them in.
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 and cooking, 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 mainly 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 (Picea pungens) – 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 (Picea engelmannii) – 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.