Spruce tree beer gains popularity

9:40 PM, Dec 27, 2013   |    comments
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Toronto, Canada (CBC News/CNN) -- Just in case you thought Christmas trees were only good for decorating, a Canadian beer company is using types of evergreen trees to make an old-school brew that has customers buzzing.

When Brian Titus, of Garrison Brewing Company, first heard about the idea of making spruce beer, his reaction was definitely skeptical.

"Not gonna do it. No," he recalled saying.

And, why not?

"Well, this is not going to be the beer that takes this brewery down," he explained.

But then there was the history. A Canadian tradition that has had residents snipping and gathering since the days of the earliest settlers.

"And after that I know that the Americans would do it because George Washington made spruce beer," said brewmaster Daniel Girard.

Girard heard stories of his grandfather's spruce beer, so he had to try a brew for himself.

"So then I decided to work on it and see how I would have made a spruce beer myself if I were a first settler like years ago," he said.

He took all those spruce sprigs, some fir ones too, and shoved them in. After a good soaking, he took out the branches added some malt, molasses, and hops. Eventually, he asked his boss to crack one open.

"You know just some wonderful aromas that come off it. It feels like you're out in a winter evening walking through the woods. It's pretty wonderful. You just can't feel your toes any more cause it's starting to kick in a little bit," says Titus.

Oh yeah, did we mention its hardy 7.5% percent alcohol content

Soon, this microbrewery owner was intoxicated by the idea of spruce beer. Others were too.

"Maybe a month ago the emails started to come in you know -- one or two a day -- or Facebook messages saying, "when is spruce beer coming? We need to mark it on our calendar," said Tracy Phillippi, of Garrison Brewing Company.

Sure enough, come sale day for this year's batch, customers showed up bright and early.

"It's the one thing that his father asked for for Christmas," says one resident from Halifax.

"I came down here to beat the rush for the spruce beer," says another from Nova Scotia.

Beer -- from Christmas trees.

"How Canadian is that? How Canadian can you get, eh? We like to say "party like it's 1749!" said Titus

And think about it, in a country like ours with so many Christmas trees, we could make a lot of beer!

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