Tree to Table – Donate your Christmas tree

HOT OFF THE PRESS!

We are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of you supporting our mission. To guarantee that we can actually process all donations – and to make sure they don’t end up shredded after all – donating is not possible anymore.

Please support our cause by securing your table at the unique Tree to Table pop-up dinner.


Echte Lowlander? Klik hier voor de Nederlandse pagina

Did you know that we Lowlanders buy around 2.5 million real Christmas trees every single year? And that a huge amount of these trees end up on the streets, in the shredder or on the bonfire? Not this year: we have found a sustainable, no waste alternative that tastes great.

At Lowlander, we’re fanatical about botanicals. Since 2016 we’ve been brewing beers with a difference using flowers, fruit, roots and spices that bring a unique character to our beers while celebrating the adventurous spirit of the first Dutch traders.

With botanicals, the possibilities are almost endless. We’ve always been inspired to work with the best possible natural ingredients, and we’re constantly thinking of new flavour combinations that will excite drinkers, and ways to continue the conversation around the use (and re-use) of botanicals.

Considering that all botanicals come from nature, we decided it was time to give something back to the natural world by sourcing a botanical ingredient for our beer that would otherwise have gone to waste. Following the success of our Winter IPA, made with spruce needles and juniper berries, we decided to brew 2019’s batch using your Christmas trees!

So after the holidays, when you want to make space for your plants again start thinking about swapping the tree for plants again, you won’t just discard your Christmas tree, right? Donate it to us and we will brew our 2019 Winter IPA with it. We will pick up your tree for free, you just have to leave your details in the form below. Easy!

Not every tree is a beer-friendly tree. Answering three simple questions will confirm straight away whether or not we can brew with your tree. Check now using the box below.

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WHAT HAPPENS WITH YOUR TREE

If your tree is suitable for donation, you are probably quite curious as to what happens with it next. Well,  after collection we store the trees in their preferred, cool, natural environment to help them recover from standing in your warm and cosy home. We then carefully pick all the needles and preserve them. Using the needles we will brew not only our Winter IPA for 2019 but also a very special sparkling beer made with Champagne yeast. And since our aim is to use every single inch of the trees, we will use what is left to host a multi-course ‘tree to table’ dinner.

The next steps

MY TREE CANNOT BE USED

Trust us, we’re as disappointed as you are that we can’t turn your tree into tasty beer. But you can still get involved in the project through our crowdfunding campaign! Put a deposit down for one of the Tree to Table events or limited-edition products that we’ve got planned and you’ll be helping us to make the whole project happen. However you invest, you’ll be doing good while enjoying something great – and helping us spread awareness of re-using natural resources. Next year, perhaps more people will consciously seek out trees that can be re-used in environmentally friendly ways rather than buying disposable, chemically treated trees – meaning that more can be donated to Tree to Table 2020. In five years, maybe we’ll be sourcing spruce from trees donated from all over Europe. Perhaps this is the start of something big. We’re excited for you to be part of it.

Read more about our Christmas wish

CHECK YOUR TREE

Unsure of your answer? Find more information about Christmas trees in the FAQ’s at the bottom of this page.




Frequently asked questions

How many needles does the average Christmas tree have? Why aren’t all trees suitable for brewing? The answers to these questions and more, to help you decide whether to donate your tree this year, and to pick the right tree next Christmas…

On brewing with donated trees

Q: Which trees are suitable for brewing?
A: Any spruce that isn’t poisonous and hasn’t been treated with fire-retardant chemicals or sprayed with pesticides or artificial decorations is suitable for brewing – however, the flavour of your beer will differ depending on the variety of tree you use. Blue spruce, for example, has a fresh, citrussy flavour and aroma, while Douglas fir is characteristically Christmassy on the nose but much more subtle and grassy on the palate.

Q: How can I tell whether my tree is toxic or not?
A: Identifying which of the leftover Christmas trees we collect are toxic or otherwise unfit for consumption is our top priority before we start brewing – we’ve read up on how to identify different spruce varieties and have consulted different experts in this field. Larch trees and yew trees are both poisonous – yew trees contain taxine, a very powerful toxin that remains active even after the needles have been dried, cooked or preserved. Other poisonous species include Ponderosa Pine (also known as Blackjack, Western Yellows, Yellow Pine and Bull Pine), Lodgepole or Shore Pine, Common Juniper, Monterey Cypress, Common Yew, Norfolk Pine and Australian Pine. Luckily the Christmas tree varieties sold in the Netherlands are not toxic, so you’re very unlikely to have a poisonous species standing in your living room.

Q: How many trees do you need to brew Lowlander beer?
A: The yield of the average Christmas tree is between 30% and 50%: a tree measuring 1.70m and weighing 15kg will therefore provide us with between 4.5kg and 7.5kg of needles. So right now it is quite difficult to estimate how many trees we will need! As soon as we have collected all of the donated trees we will get to work drying the needles, steeping them, and making tinctures from them – we know exactly how to get the best out of them for our beer. Of course, we’ll keep you updated on our progress and let you know the final figures in January!

Q: What precautions do you take with the needles before you start brewing with them?
A: We only collect non-toxic, untreated trees that are fit for consumption. Nevertheless, all the needles that we pick will undergo a three-stage process to ensure there is absolutely no risk to consumers: first the needles are ‘purified’ in neutral grain alcohol; a second purification takes place in the brew kettle as part of our recipe; lastly, all our beers are pasteurised.

Q: Does my tree need to be organic?
A: When we started researching our Tree to Table idea, we spent a lot of time reading up on organic trees and investigating whether we would be able to brew with non-organic trees. The answer is yes – as long as the non-organic trees fulfil certain criteria, namely that they have not been treated with fire-retardant spray or sprayed with pesticides or artificial snow.

In actual fact, hardly any of the Christmas trees sold in the Netherlands can claim to be 100% organic. According to Milieu Centraal’s website, Christmas trees cultivated in an environmentally friendly manner, using as few pesticides as possible, do exist: these trees display the European organic-quality stamp (a green leaf) or the Planet Proof (formerly Milieukeur) symbol. Organic trees are available via adoption programmes; trees with the Planet Proof quality mark are only sold at a limited number of garden centres and growers.

Q: My tree has been toasty warm next to the radiator all Christmas – is that a problem?
A: Trees that have been stood outside in the fresh air yield much tastier and more aromatic beers than trees that have spent Christmas in a centrally heated house. That’s why we’ve also enlisted the help of bars, restaurants and other industry insiders who have had a tree out on the pavement over the Christmas season – trees we plan to collect from businesses include those decorating Amsterdam RAI and Horecava. We will let the trees we collect from you acclimatise to the outside world again before we harvest their needles, but you can help us (and your tree) by taking good care of it for the two weeks that it sits in your house. Give your Christmas tree about half a litre of water per day and don’t stand it too close to the radiator or fire. And remember that a cut tree has it a lot harder than a potted one whose root ball is still intact.

Q: What should I do if I’m not sure whether my tree is suitable for brewing?
A: If you’re not sure which species of Christmas tree you have, we’d rather not collect it, just to be on the safe side. If you still want to get involved in our Tree to Table project, you can donate to our crowdfunding campaign, treating yourself to something cool made from other people’s Christmas trees in the process. Find out more about Tree to Table events here.

On tree donation and collection

Q: Can I also donate my tree when I don’t live in The Netherlands?
A:
Wow, who would have thought this Tree to Table campaign would spread across borders already… Thanks for your interest! Unfortunately as a small brewery we’re not equipped yet to drive around Europe, we wish ;-). It is definitely our Christmas wish to one day brew beer with spruce from all over Europe. Maybe next year? 

Q: Until when can I donate my tree?
A: Tradition states that your Christmas tree should be out of the house by 6 January, so you will be able to sign up to donate your tree until that date. We will pick up the trees between 4-10 January; below you will find a table of pick-up dates and times per region.

Q: When will you pick up my tree?
A: The fantastic team of guys and gals who will collect the trees are planning to cover one region of the country per day. A region consists of a number of provinces; we’ve scheduled a three-hour time slot for each province.

Q: What if I’m not at home when you come to pick up my tree?
A: If you are in when we come to collect your tree, we will exchange it for a delicious, refreshing bottle of Lowlander beer. If you can’t be there for the collection, just leave your tree in a safe and easily accessible location – you can tell us where on the form.

Q: What do I need to do before I give you my tree?
A: Please ready your tree as much as possible for its destiny by stripping it of all its tinsel and baubles, and removing the pot. You can even pluck it for us if you like 😉

Other interesting tree-related bits and bobs

Q: Which varieties of Christmas trees are sold in the Netherlands?
A: Nordmann spars are the most widely sold and popular tree because they keep their needles for longer. However, that true ‘Christmas-tree smell’ is typical of the Douglas fir, a more expensive variety whose needles quickly fall off. Blue spruce and fine spruce are also popular Christmas trees in the Netherlands.

Q: What is the difference between a pine and a fir?
A: Both varieties belong to the conifer family, which also includes larch and yew trees. It’s very easy to recognise the different species: just look at how the needles grow on the branch. Fir trees have needles that grow individually; pine tree needles sprout from the branch in twos; larch tree needles sprout in clumps; and (highly poisonous) yew trees have red berries and needles that grow in a spiral around the branch. Check which type of spruce you’ve got this Christmas.

Q: How many needles does the average Christmas tree have?
A: Spruce trees have between two and 10 metres of branches per metre of height. Each metre of branch contains between 500 and 2,500 needles. So a two-metre-high Christmas tree produces anything from 2,000 to 50,000 needles!

Q: My question isn’t in this list, what can I do?
A: No problem! Email your question to us at hello@lowlander-beer.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


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