Beer Style: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (21A)
Recipe Type: all-grain
Yield: 5 gallons
I bottled the beer last weekend and was able to sample a couple of glasses. You can definitely tell that there is something different about this beer, but if I didn't know that there was spruce in it I probably would not be able to guess that it was. Also, Papazian says that spruce beer tastes something like Pepsi, but I think that takes a big stretch of the imagination. There is no detectable hop flavor and very little bitterness in this beer. Next time I brew this beer, I will probably increase the hops a little. I think that I used the right amount of spruce.
One important lesson I learned is that the hops make a much better filter bed than the spruce needles. I brew in a keg with a copper manifold on the bottom for draining. Since I added the hops first, they settled first and made a nice filter bed. During clean up, I noticed that after I removed the hops, the needles kept clogging the copper manifold.
Here are some other things that may be of interest: Scott Stihler says that you can also dry "hop" with spruce. He also says that he has frozen spruce growths to use latter, but the flavor diminishes a little, so you need to use a little more.
Lisa St. Hilaire says she has also added white fir to spruce beer, which has a tangerine-like aroma, but says to avoid using white spruce.
So, that is about all I know about spruce beer. So far, it seems like a good beer that is definitly worth brewing.
I mashed all grains together and did a protien rest at 122 degrees for 30 minutes and then mashed at 148-152 degrees for 1 hour.