Not quite a vegetable and not quite an herb, spruce may be an unconventional ingredient found in beer. But spruce beer goes way back and this intriguing botanical delivers all kinds of interesting characteristics to our Winter I.P.A.
Spruce is a type of evergreen coniferous tree which most of us will link to short and cold winter days, or Christmas. This makes sense as traditionally spruce is seen as the bringer of light and life in dark days.
Its aroma is warming and purifying. Although we associate the tree and its aroma with winter, it’s the brand-new springtime growth of spruce you want to harvest.
The History of spruce beer
It might surprise you just how far back the use of spruce tips in beer extends. The oldest known reference mentions ancient Scandinavians and their Viking descendants already brewed beer from young shoots of Norway spruce.
During the early exploration of North America in the 16thcentury, the crew of Breton explorer Cartier stranded in Quebec, having to spend a harsh winter there. Most of the crew came down with scurvy and it was only thanks to the help from native Indians that they all survived. The Indians showed the men how to make a tea from the leaves and barks of an evergreen tree, most likely a white spruce.
This knowledge was used by later explorers to turn the medicine into something tastier: spruce beer (although it has been long debated whether a beer could prevent scurvy as well). Explorers turning the ancient knowledge of spruce tea into a beer ensured spruce beers became known in all corners of the globe; from James Cook who brewed spruce beer in New Zealand to a huge popularity of the beer in Britain during colonial times. During these years hops were rare so colonists used spruce tips instead of the hops.
The aroma & flavour of spruce
Both the flavour and aroma of spruce are so exciting. Reminding us of Christmas the smell is bright, fresh, piney and citrusy. Its flavour is pungent and delicate at the same time. Its bitterness can be slightly astringent.
We have brewed our Winter I.P.A. with spruce to give it a fresh, bright, citrus-like pine character, making it refreshing, sessionable and thirst quenching; even on cold winter days.
A crisp White I.P.A. with hoppy notes and a resinous citrus kick.
Our new Winter I.P.A. is a 5% ABV sessionable concoction with a grassy citrus kick complemented by the resinous conifer notes of fresh green spruce tips and Juniper berries, while still balancing out the bitterness, making this one an easy sipper.
During the height of the so-called Little Ice Age, the bitterly harsh winters caused canals and rivers to freeze. Amid bone-chilling temperatures people turned from wine to beer as grains were greater survivors of cold than grapes.
In tribute to going against the grape, we go against the grain by crafting a White IPA rather than the typical dark beers common in the winter months.
We dare you to go against the grain too, gifting the initials of your loved ones in bottles of refreshing Winter IPA instead of chocolate letters.
Sign up to our newsletter to find out first where to buy your Winter IPA letters, or what to serve with it for Christmas dinner!
If you’re interested in knowing more about Lowlander’s Botanical Infusions don’t hesitate to get in touch
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