Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => Ingredients => Topic started by: gimmeales on June 02, 2011, 04:23:45 PM

Title: Spruce tip experiences?
Post by: gimmeales on June 02, 2011, 04:23:45 PM
I'll be harvesting a bunch of Spruce tips from some local woods for use in a beer as yet to be determined.  I want to add them as flavor and aroma additions and was wondering what others experiences were with weights needed to give a distinct evergreen prescence without being overwhelming (and yes, I realize the subjective nature of that last statement :))

Cheers!
Title: Re: Spruce tip experiences?
Post by: tschmidlin on June 02, 2011, 04:38:23 PM
I follow Pete Devaris's instructions and use a quart of Sitka spruce tips for 60 minutes.  You get plenty of aroma and flavor that way, at least in beers like amber and wit.  Taste them as you pick them and don't use any that taste nasty - according to Pete it varies from tree to tree, sometimes drastically.  I've noticed the same thing, but nothing very drastic with the Doug firs around here.

Also, Sitka spruce tips are more citrusy than "evergreen", if by evergreen you mean piney.  Try some Alaskan Winter if you can find any where you are, they use Sitka spruce.

Oh, and Pete recommends measuring by volume rather than weight, it is more consistent that way since moisture content can vary a lot based on the weather.
Title: Re: Spruce tip experiences?
Post by: stlaleman on June 02, 2011, 05:00:08 PM
Black spruce is more wintergreen, It might be too late in the year to harvest, spruce tips are not merely the ends of branches but refer to the bright green growth of spring, very soft to the touch.
Title: Re: Spruce tip experiences?
Post by: denny on June 02, 2011, 05:28:31 PM
I made a spruce beer many years ago, when I had first started brewing and strange things sounded good.  It took a long time to go through 5 gal.  I was the only one who'd drink it.  It's not on my brewing schedule again in this lifetime.  ;)  Just curious, gimmeales...have you ever had a spruce beer?
Title: Re: Spruce tip experiences?
Post by: EHall on June 02, 2011, 05:33:53 PM
Yea, I was going to reiterate that you should only use the new growth coming out...
Title: Re: Spruce tip experiences?
Post by: gordonstrong on June 02, 2011, 05:43:36 PM
I follow Pete Devaris's instructions and use a quart of Sitka spruce tips for 60 minutes.  You get plenty of aroma and flavor that way, at least in beers like amber and wit.  Taste them as you pick them and don't use any that taste nasty - according to Pete it varies from tree to tree, sometimes drastically.  I've noticed the same thing, but nothing very drastic with the Doug firs around here.

Also, Sitka spruce tips are more citrusy than "evergreen", if by evergreen you mean piney.  Try some Alaskan Winter if you can find any where you are, they use Sitka spruce.

Oh, and Pete recommends measuring by volume rather than weight, it is more consistent that way since moisture content can vary a lot based on the weather.

I have straight-from-the-horse's-mouth advice from Pete in my book, p. 215-216.  It has a lot of good context about how to properly use and handle the tips.  It was good advice; it led to an NHC Gold Medal.
Title: Re: Spruce tip experiences?
Post by: tschmidlin on June 02, 2011, 08:02:53 PM
I follow Pete Devaris's instructions and use a quart of Sitka spruce tips for 60 minutes.  You get plenty of aroma and flavor that way, at least in beers like amber and wit.  Taste them as you pick them and don't use any that taste nasty - according to Pete it varies from tree to tree, sometimes drastically.  I've noticed the same thing, but nothing very drastic with the Doug firs around here.

Also, Sitka spruce tips are more citrusy than "evergreen", if by evergreen you mean piney.  Try some Alaskan Winter if you can find any where you are, they use Sitka spruce.

Oh, and Pete recommends measuring by volume rather than weight, it is more consistent that way since moisture content can vary a lot based on the weather.

I have straight-from-the-horse's-mouth advice from Pete in my book, p. 215-216.  It has a lot of good context about how to properly use and handle the tips.  It was good advice; it led to an NHC Gold Medal.
I followed his advice from NHC in Vegas, he even sent me tips.  It got me a 45 in the first round.  I can only assume the judges in the second round had no idea what it should taste like - one said overwhelming spruce, the other said no spruce at all.  :-\

But Pete is the man when it comes to making spruce beers.  I wonder if he'll make NHC this year?
Title: Re: Spruce tip experiences?
Post by: gimmeales on June 03, 2011, 04:45:25 PM
awesome stuff, thanks guys!  Didn't realize a 'bittering' addition @ 60 would also provide plenty of aroma as well - a quart sounds like a lot!  I've got several trees to choose from on my buddy's wooden lot - so will be tasting them now too :)  My plan was to fill a couple gallon zip-lock freezer bags and freezing them till ready - I'm assuming this is the best way to handle tips you aren't using right away?

Denny, my only Spruce beer experience is Alaskan's Winter Ale which I like very much, but wouldn't mind a slightly more pronounced piney\sprucy character so I'm  game for some experimentation.  Would also like to 'dry-spruce' a portion of my Porter I'm about to brew.  Sounds like you brewed up a doozy there - it IS such a distinct flavor, I can see it easily getting overpowering and medicinal.



Title: Re: Spruce tip experiences?
Post by: denny on June 03, 2011, 04:51:36 PM
Okey dokey, as long as you know what you're getting into!