Winter’s Wonder

25 Dec
Sprucy

Sprucy

Well I was preparing for a long winters nap before Christmas dinner but Brian had other ideas.  There is beer to drink.  I was immediately handed a pint of spruce beer, Alaskan’s Winter.  Spruce beer  is an all-American style of beer, but it is not for everyone.  However, I am always up for at least one pint.  I have said this before, but Siletz’s (now Calapooia) made the best spruce beer and the standard to which I compare all others to.  Siletz’s beer had a clear spruce flavor while still being a beer.

On to the Alaskan Winter…this beer is interesting.  The berry notes from this beer are unmistakable: boysenberries, very clearly  boysenberry.  I guess this is from the spruce tip.  Overall,  the beer is slightly sweet, medium-light body with this berry flavor carrying form start to finish.  This is a one note beer, simple but I still found it enjoyable.

How does it compare to the Siletz spruce ale?  It doesn’t, there just isn’t that spruce flavor to directly offset the sweetness of the malt.  I don’t want this to deter anyone from trying this beer because it is not bad but if you have had a spruce beer in the past and really enjoyed it, this is not your spruce beer.

Well, I hope you had a wonderful holiday, with plenty of cheer….family, friends and of course beer.

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2 Responses to “Winter’s Wonder”

  1. Chad Wakefield December 26, 2012 at 9:32 AM #

    Forgive my novice question, but from where is Siletz? I assume Oregon. I made a spruce ale a few years ago (was a essentially an English Pale ale kit from San Francisco Brew Craft with spruce extract). It was drinkable but I had no comparable so maybe I ought to learn more about Siletz and seek this beer that you have stated is beyond compare.

    • Michael December 26, 2012 at 10:59 AM #

      Chad,
      Siletz brewing was in the very tiny town of Siletz Oregon. It is between Corvallis and the coast in the coast range mountains. The brewery was not on a major road so it was mostly a production brewery. One could buy their beers around Oregon but I doubt it beyond that. A few years ago now Calapooia bought Siletz brewing with plans to continue the name but the work and cost was too much. Calapooia occasionally resurrects the old recipes including the spruce beer. Their version is now my favorite, not as good as the original but tasty in its own right. I don’t know what it was Siletz just got a nice strong “spruceiness” without the beer tasting like you were drinking pitch. The good news is Calapooia is bottling some of their beer, in the off chance Brian or I find one…well you are our #1 reader.
      Now for home brew I have had a few, all with extract, and to me all have been too “pitchy” including one in college that still stands as the worst beer I have ever tasted. This style dates to the founding of the country, I would really like to do some searching find a old recipe with the species of spruce used, go out and pick some (or at least the closest related species native to Oregon) and try to brew something close to what Siletz did in the past.

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