24 Beers of Christmas – December 7th: Nita Beer Cranshaw’s Spruce Ale

Nita Cranshaw

Your best defense against scurvy, this holiday season. Beers made from conifer needles have long and important history in many Northern cultures. For instance, the Vikings famously used Spruce Beers as ‘energy drinks’ before heading into battle. Europeans explorers arriving in North America learned of the medicinal benefits of vitamin-rich evergreen needles from the indigenous peoples. Needles could be boiled to make teas that would help to mitigate against the effects malnutrition. Over time molasses would have been used to produce Spruce Beers which fueled, for better or for worse, the European settlement of much of North America and beyond.

Early North American Spruce Beer recipes don’t sound particularly appetizing, and modern recreations typically support that premise, given the alternatives. Luckily for us, Cranshaw’s Spruce Ale from Nita Beer is actually a Spruce flavoured Gruit or Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer, as opposed to a more traditional, sugar adjunct-based, Spruce Beer. Built on the frame of an American Pale Ale, this beer boasts a tidy malt backbone with a very convincing resinous pine character in just the right measure. A winner in my books.

Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer (American Pale Ale with Colorado Blue Spruce) –5 % ABV, 35 IBU, SRM – ?

Food pairings: Bacon, Old cheddar, Gingerbread

Availability: Brewery-only