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General Category => Ingredients => Topic started by: Iliff Ave Brewhouse on December 10, 2013, 05:11:36 PM

Title: spruce tips
Post by: Iliff Ave Brewhouse on December 10, 2013, 05:11:36 PM
I am curious as to what exactly spruce tips are. Thinking about next year's Christmas beer already. I have a blue spruce in the back yard...
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: mabrungard on December 10, 2013, 05:22:17 PM
Spruce tips are the very young first growths from the trees. They are very soft and sweet. They do not have much in the way of sprucey or piney flavor when they are very young.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: Iliff Ave Brewhouse on December 10, 2013, 05:39:33 PM
Oh ok...so I assume my mature blue spruce will not help...
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: duboman on December 10, 2013, 05:48:09 PM
Oh ok...so I assume my mature blue spruce will not help...

Actually it will work fine but you would need to harvest some of the new growth that emerges in the spring as they begin to grow.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: denny on December 10, 2013, 05:51:16 PM
I encourage you to try a spruce beer before you brew one.  You might change your mind.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: majorvices on December 10, 2013, 05:54:43 PM
I encourage you to try a spruce beer before you brew one.  You might change your mind.

+1
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: Iliff Ave Brewhouse on December 10, 2013, 06:06:02 PM
I encourage you to try a spruce beer before you brew one.  You might change your mind.

I have tried beers with spruce tips. I think it can be successful as long as you keep it subtle
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: HoosierBrew on December 10, 2013, 06:24:24 PM
I encourage you to try a spruce beer before you brew one.  You might change your mind.

+1

+10
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: thebigbaker on December 10, 2013, 06:25:28 PM
I've only had two spruce beers that I liked.  I had some of Shorts Brewing's Imperial Spruce India Pilsner at this yr's GABF and it was a really good beer.  The other spruce beers I've had were just too much and I couldn't drink more than a couple of ounces.  Actually, Alaskan's Winter beer is brewed w/ spruce and that's not a bad beer.

As for brewing a spruce beer, not sure if I want 3-5 gallons of a spruce beer taking up one of my taps.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: Iliff Ave Brewhouse on December 10, 2013, 06:52:51 PM
My goal isn't necessarily to create a spruce tips beer. The plan is to create a complex, strong Christmas ale utilizing spices and possibly a small amount of spruce tips...
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 10, 2013, 07:55:30 PM
I encourage you to try a spruce beer before you brew one.  You might change your mind.

I have tried beers with spruce tips. I think it can be successful as long as you keep it subtle

I think you should treat spruce tips like vermouth in a martini.  Show them to the kettle then put them away.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: morticaixavier on December 10, 2013, 08:14:17 PM
My goal isn't necessarily to create a spruce tips beer. The plan is to create a complex, strong Christmas ale utilizing spices and possibly a small amount of spruce tips...

don't worry about all the spruce tip haters. I say go for it... next Christmas. This spring when your spruce starts to get those light green tips collect a couple quarts and freeze them.

I think Tom Schmidlin posted some good info on the relative merit of the varying kinds of spruce for this purpose.
Here:
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=14089.msg179189#msg17918 (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=14089.msg179189#msg17918)
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: tschmidlin on December 10, 2013, 08:25:01 PM
I say go for it too, but seriously, taste the tips before you decide to use them or not.  If you don't like the flavor, don't use them.  You can try different kinds of trees, and even different trees of the same variety.  They don't all taste identical, and even trees growing right next to each other can taste different.  If you find a good tree keep going back to it, each time you harvest the tips there will be twice as many on those same branches the next year.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 10, 2013, 08:27:30 PM
each time you harvest the tips there will be twice as many on those same branches the next year.

For real?  So you could theoretically make the tree bushier by harvesting the tips?
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: fmader on December 10, 2013, 08:32:50 PM
I just kegged my spruce ale. I used my standard pale ale grain bill and hopped with chinook and cascade. I added about 8 oz of spruce tips with 5 minutes to go in the boil. Tasting notes going into the keg was very citrusy flavor. I liked it and expect it to be good carbed up.

I harvested the spruce tips from the new blue spruce growth in the the spring. You want to get them when they are about the size of the end of you pinky or the size of the tip of a small paint brush. I shrink wrapped them and froze them until I brewed it about 6 weeks ago.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: tschmidlin on December 10, 2013, 08:35:34 PM
each time you harvest the tips there will be twice as many on those same branches the next year.

For real?  So you could theoretically make the tree bushier by harvesting the tips?
Yes, removing the tip causes the end to branch the next year.  It will have the same affect as other trimming you do on the trees in your yard, so it can make it look bushier this way.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: Iliff Ave Brewhouse on December 10, 2013, 08:48:06 PM
I just kegged my spruce ale. I used my standard pale ale grain bill and hopped with chinook and cascade. I added about 8 oz of spruce tips with 5 minutes to go in the boil. Tasting notes going into the keg was very citrusy flavor. I liked it and expect it to be good carbed up.

I harvested the spruce tips from the new blue spruce growth in the the spring. You want to get them when they are about the size of the end of you pinky or the size of the tip of a small paint brush. I shrink wrapped them and froze them until I brewed it about 6 weeks ago.

Thanks for the information. Let me know how it turns out in a couple of weeks. I was thinking of a similar hop combo with the spruce tips plus maybe some simcoe.

My spruce tree doesn't seem to be in the best of health so I am not sure if there will be much new growth.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: fmader on December 11, 2013, 02:17:22 AM
I just kegged my spruce ale. I used my standard pale ale grain bill and hopped with chinook and cascade. I added about 8 oz of spruce tips with 5 minutes to go in the boil. Tasting notes going into the keg was very citrusy flavor. I liked it and expect it to be good carbed up.

I harvested the spruce tips from the new blue spruce growth in the the spring. You want to get them when they are about the size of the end of you pinky or the size of the tip of a small paint brush. I shrink wrapped them and froze them until I brewed it about 6 weeks ago.

Thanks for the information. Let me know how it turns out in a couple of weeks. I was thinking of a similar hop combo with the spruce tips plus maybe some simcoe.

My spruce tree doesn't seem to be in the best of health so I am not sure if there will be much new growth.

I thought about using Simcoe but opted out for whatever reason. Now that I think of it, I used all homegrown hops in it too. And it was Centennial instead of cascade. I don't remember exactly but something like 18 grams of chinook at 60, 14 grams of each at 30 and 0 minutes. Those amounts ate round about. I don't have my notes. My types recipe called for 1/2 oz chinook at 60 and half oz each at 30 and 0, but I opted to use my homegrowns at the last moment to keep the trend since the spruce was grown on peppery to. Harvesting the spruce tips isn't the funnest thing. It takes a lot to get a 1/2 pound.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 11, 2013, 02:54:13 AM
Just to say that I had one that was unlike others I have had, at Fort George in Astoria OR before the 2012 NHC. It had. Juicy citrus char actor with a piney/woody background. Not like chewing on a piece of pine branch like some beers - Shorts comes to mind.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: mabrungard on December 11, 2013, 01:15:58 PM
A properly produced spruce has NO pine-sol character. Just the notes that Jeff mentions above.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: Jimmy K on December 11, 2013, 01:40:49 PM
Not like chewing on a piece of pine branch like some beers...
Of course not, it's spuce :)
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: davidgzach on December 13, 2013, 09:33:47 PM
I encourage you to try a spruce beer before you brew one.  You might change your mind.

+1

+2
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: majorvices on December 14, 2013, 02:55:09 PM
I actually have had spruce beers I thought were decent enough, just none I ever thought were good enough to go back for a second glass, which is the hallmark od a great beer in my book. The key with spruce is to keep it just at its taste threshold and then maybe a quarter turn, but not much further from there.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: ynotbrusum on December 24, 2013, 10:15:34 AM
I made one that was a rave for those bold enough to try it.  I used only 4 ounces in the boil at knockout.  The key was using a pound of Special B in the grist for a 5 gallon batch.  It was real raisiny and the spruce tips added a nice piney aroma without too much stickiness.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: fmader on December 24, 2013, 11:58:52 AM
We had my spruce ale described earlier in this thread on tap for the annual Christmas party along with a winter warmer, pumpkin saison, and a holiday IPA. All of the beers were really good. The IPA was my favorite, but the most popular of the four was the spruce ale. Everybody loved it. It was very light with a strong citrous flavor. That is currently the lightest keg. I'll be harvested more spruce tips in the spring and brewing it again for next holiday season.
Title: Re: spruce tips
Post by: reverseapachemaster on December 24, 2013, 02:53:22 PM
It's fine when the spruce tips are used with restraint. I like Alaskan Winter but I've had a few homebrews with a heavy-handed addition of spruce tips. One beer was more than enough.

So if you're looking to make a Christmas beer with multiple spices you want to go really light on the spruce tips in the beginning and adjust up (like any other spice/herb).