Spruce Beer

The knowledge of how to brew spruce beer was passed from the Native Americans to the American colonists. Barley and hops were in extremely short supply during the early years of European settlement of America. Therefore, the colonists were forced to turn to alternate forms of beer. Spruce beer was brewed by American colonists more often than any other type of beer as a substitute for barley-based beer.

Traditional Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds molasses

  • 2 gallons water

  • 6 ounces fresh spruce boughs

  • yeast

Instructions:

  1. Boil the water and spruce boughs for 1 hour then remove from heat.

  2. Remove the spruce boughs from the water and dissolve the molasses in the water.

  3. Allow the mixture to cool to 70F.

  4. Strain into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and ferment thoroughly.

  5. Prime, bottle and condition for 2 weeks before drinking.

Modern Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 pounds dark DME

  • 4 ounces new green growth of spruce trees or 1 ounce spruce essence

  • 2 ounces Hallertau hops

  • American ale yeast

  • 3/4 cup corn sugar

Instructions:

  1. Boil the extract, spruce tips or essence and hops in 2 gallons of water for 60 minutes.

  2. Remove the wort from the heat, add to 3 gallons of cool water and allow the mixture to cool to 70F.

  3. Strain into a fermenter, pitch the yeast and ferment thoroughly.

  4. Prime, bottle and condition for 2 weeks before drinking.

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