#357 Wigram – Spruce

Wigram SpruceName: Captain Cook Spruce Beer
Brewery: Wigram Brewing Company (Chch, NZ)
Style: English Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
Source: Vic Park New World

Historical brews are just about my favourite thing ever right now, and are tipped (by me) to become trendy after the upcoming sour explosion (also tipped by me) simmers down. I’m very much looking forward to this period – just as I look forward to a time when balaclavas are acceptable winter accessories and bacon-based desserts are a thing.

Like the slightly more famous Captain Cooker, Spruce Beer is based on Captain Cook’s original 1770 beer recipe and is flavored with rimu (spruce) and manuka. I reckon this must taste a lot better than the OG version, or else New Zealanders would have been far too advanced to ever drink anything like Tui.

At the risk of seeming exceedingly lazy, I think the best way for me to describe this beer is to simply show you my notes:

“It’s so fuckin weird I feel like I’m eating ferns” was Olivia’s contribution, and in some ways that sums it up quite nicely. What perhaps doesn’t come across in this list though, was how totally and weirdly nice it was. All those complex “bushy” flavours were carried by lovely sweet malt, balanced by a little bitterness at the end, and it was actually totally quaffable. Perhaps a touch more bitterness might have improved it for me, but then it wouldn’t have been so historically accurate now, would it?

Today’s thank you goes to Olivia (my sister, in case you missed that), who has been my number 1 sidekick since day one of the blog. She’s embraced beer with the same level of enthusiasm that I have, and will be  the person I geek-out about beer with long after the blog has finished. Thank you Livy!

PS – If you want to get ahead of the historical trend, might I suggest brewing a Harry Potter themed buttered beere based on this 1588 recipe and then instagramming the shit out of it. Also send me some, because I’ve been fantasising about drinking that since I was 12.

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Published in: on August 1, 2012 at 10:36 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My tasting notes on this were something like “tastes like a bucket of pine needles dumped into a vat of sugar water liberally dosed with tea tree oil. Nasty stuff.”

    We’re clearly getting the same flavour notes, but I’ll happily admit that this is one beer where the unusual flavour just didn’t work for me. Same goes for Gunnamatta. Not that I’d tell the Yeasties that… whoops. 😉

  2. A good tip – I think the trend for historical brewing is on the up, especially in the UK, where primary research into their vast brewing history has unearthed interesting recipes that wouldn’t look out of place coming from a craft brewer today. A 7% 60IBU ̶B̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶I̶P̶A̶ Export Porter perhaps….

  3. Rather amused that both this and this http://www.canadianbeernews.com/2012/07/31/phillips-draws-inspiration-from-bcs-brewing-history-for-evergreen-ale/ just showed up in my RSS feeds 🙂

  4. A small brewery near here makes a Spruce tip IPA that is one of the nicest things I’ve ever put in my mouth.

    • Nice, perhaps it’s the one from Maree’s link??

      • As far as local breweries go, Philips is actually fairly big. They do some very good beers and made one of my go-to beers.

        Tofino is tiny. Like 5 hL tiny. You can very rarely get it outside of the small town they take their name from. Their regular IPA is really good, but in the spring they do a Spruce tip version that is blimmin incredible.

  5. Six Point had a Spruce Beer on at The Festival (Worcester, MA) and it was a cracking beer. Made by a bad arse German brewer who was flouting the Reinheitsgebot and said he’d never return to brewing in Germany because of that silly piece of legislation.


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