Christmas spirit: Microbrewery crafts spruce beer

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Canada (CBC News/CNN) – Just in case you thought Christmas trees were only good for decorating, a Canadian microbrewery is using types of evergreen trees to make an old-school brew that has customers buzzing.

The beer is a tradition that has had Canadians 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 Daniel Girard, brewmaster of Garrison Brewing Company.

He 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,” Girard 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,” Brian Titus of Garrison Brewing Company said. “It’s pretty wonderful. You just can’t feel your toes any more because it’s starting to kick in a little bit.”

The beer has a hardy 7.5 percent alcohol content.

“You don’t put a lime on top of the bottle,” Titus said.

Soon, the 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,'” Tracy Phillippi said.

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

“How Canadian is that? How Canadian can you get, eh? We like to say, ‘Party like it’s 1749!'” Titus said.

Copyright 2013 CBC News via CNN. All rights reserved.

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