By Iron Chef Leftovers
I like beers that are different. I have a ton of them stocked in the beer cellar right now that will keep me writing beer reviews well into 2013 (assuming the Mayans were not right). Recently, I saw an update to Chuck’s Hop Shop tap list that Fort George Spruce Budd Ale was on tap.
Here is the description of the beer from the Fort George website:
With the help of many Fort George fans we picked over 120 lbs. of Spruce tips, leaving our arms aching from the constant stabbing of the Spruce needles. Through all of that pain of picking over 35 lbs. of Spruce tips for each batch came a beer that cannot be rivaled in deliciousness. With nothing more than organic pilsner malt and Spruce tips for ingredients, this beer might be the best thing you have ever put in your mouth. With Spruce tips being full of vitamin C, this beer is incredibly good for your health* and can lead to a longer life.** With each glorious sip you are able to realize what an adventure into the woods taste like. With hints of Spruce, citrus, and more Spruce, these beer tastes like a Spruce tree. With the summer heat in full swing, grab a growler of Spruce Budd, find a some shade underneath a tree and enjoy life.
*Probably not true
**Definitely not true.
This beer clocks in a 4.9% ABV and is brewed with no hops (the spruce tips essentially replace the hops). I picked up a growler and the beer appears to only be available on tap.
Spruce Budd pours pale yellow in color with lots of carbonation. There are hints of malt on the nose, but not much else – it has the aroma of an American Lager (i.e. Bud) without any hint of adjuncts. The initial taste was slightly fruity and crisp, without much going on. After a few seconds, you get a burst of raspberry and spruce in a short, dramatic finish. It reminded me of a Jolly rancher candy – slightly sweet, slightly tart. The spruce flavor is balanced and it does not overpower a very subtle beer. As the beer warms, it become slightly bitter and tannic, but not hop like, and the bitterness and tannins fade quickly. Mrs. Iron Chef made the comment that she felt the beer was lacking something, and I immediately said “hops” – I had been thinking the exact same thing that she was. A bit of inclusion of hops would make for a more complex beer and probably would have helped the finish to linger just a bit longer.
Spruce Budd goes down extremely easily and would be perfect for sitting on the back deck on a hot day. The beer is light and refreshing and you feel like you can enjoy several without thinking about it when the weather calls for an ice cold beverage, but you want something with more complexity and flavor than a Bud.
Overall, Spruce Budd is interesting if you have never tried a beer made with spruce, and definitely refreshing if you are looking for something light and not hoppy, but still want something with flavor.
Spruce Budd gets 3 Piceae out of 5.