Garrison Brewing Company in Halifax has started producing limited edition batches of spruce beer using Christmas trees. Spruce beer is a traditional Canadian brew that was also popular in the U.S. at times, but that didn’t do anything to assuage Garrison Brewing president Brian Titus’ fear about producing the beverage.
"Not gonna to do it. No," he told CBC News of his first reaction. "This is not going to be the beer that takes this brewery down."
Garrison brewmaster Daniel Girard grew up hearing tales about his grandfather’s spruce beer.
"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. "I know that the Americans would do it because George Washington made spruce beer.”
The traditional brew is made with spruce sprigs, fir twigs, malt, blackstrap molasses, dates and hops. The 7.5 percent alcohol beer is a potent drink.
"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," Titus said. "How Canadian can you get, eh? We like to say, 'Party like it's 1749.'"
Demand has been high for the strong spruce beer.
"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, we’re going to take off work,’” said Garrison employee Tracy Phillippi.