Here is a recent email Mike sent to our club (Ann Arbor Brewers Guild) in answer to a question. Reposted here without his permission, but I know that he won't care as he loves spreading the gospel of spruce beer.
I 'discovered' spruce beer while I was putting together recipes for my historic brewing demonstrations.http://picasaweb.google.com/picobrew/HistoricBrewing#
My historic mash tun is half of a whiskey barrel with a hole in the bottom. To separate the grain from the wort I would use straw or pine branches - these don't add any flavor but work pretty well.
One day I used spruce branches - WOW
The key to using spruce is - not to boil it!
All my spruce goes into the mash - and I use lots of it! - 5 to 7# per 10 gallons.
I use - 'any old spruce' - mostly white (less flavorful) or blue (more flavorful).
I usually use the last 3 tips on a tree. These tips are usually 4 to 6" long. I leave them attached to each other - as this makes for a better - more stable - filter bed in my mash.
If you use an 'old X-mas tree' - make sure it does not have tinsel!
If I were going to do this in an extract batch I would steep the spruce boughs in the water - before adding the extract - at between 140 - 165F for 30 to 60 min. Remove the spruce before adding the extract. Proceed as usual.
Spruce can be used in most any style - my favorites to date would be - Belgian Spruce IPA, Hoppy Spruce Stout, Sour Smoked Spruce Beer.
If you have a smaller quantity of spruce - some brewers in the group - have had success adding a pound or less at the end of the boil - steeped for a few minutes before cooling.
I have never done much with the 'young new growth' - when I chew on it - it has more of a green grassy flavor - and have never had enough to try by it's self.
Trimming spruce trees will stunt their growth as mine are not 'spreading out' much any more - that is why I am using more white spruce these day than blue spruce.