It’s been a long time since my last entry, I’ve been busy brewing and haven’t had much time for writing!
With spring in full bloom here in Ontario I decided to make use of some local flora for my first beer of the season. This is Simon’s recipe and I am unabashedly stealing it… but I don’t feel bad because it tastes so good.
ONTARIO SPRUCE PALE ALE (recipe for 18.9L batch):
- 2x 1.7 Kg cans Beer Makers India Pale Ale malt extract (available in Toronto @ Leslie/Lakeshore Loblaws)
- 1 L tightly packed fresh spruce branch tips (picked in late May)
- Distilled water
- Danstar Nottingham Yeast
This is a fairly typical homebrew “kit” recipe, however I changed several things. The instructions on the Beer Makers malt extract can tells me to use 1 can extract + 1 Kg dextrose sugar per 23L batch. Instead of dextrose sugar, I use a second can of malt extract. Instead of a 23L batch, I prepare a 19L batch. I use good distilled water instead of tapwater. Finally, instead of using the crappy yeast the comes with the malt extract kits, I use Danstar Nottingham which is great for ales and more tolerant of high alcohol levels
To start this process, I went to the park near my house and gathered spruce branches. In spring you’ll notice the tips of spruce branches are distinctly yellow — this is the fresh growth, which tastes better and is more tender. This is the stuff you want. Chop away at these until you have a tightly packed 1L container.
Back at home, take a big stockpot, dump in both cans of malt extract and 4L of distilled water. Heat the pot until it reaches a slow boil, then let it simmer for a few minutes. This helps dissipate the malt extract (which is very think) in water and release a bit of the flavour.
Now for the spruce branches. First, clean them by running cold water over them in a strainer. In a separate pot, bring some water (say 2L) to a boil. Once it reaches boiling, turn off the heat, then dump in the spruce branches. Let them steep for 15-20 minutes in the boiling water.
Add the spruce “tea” into the bigger stockpot with the malt extract. Stir them up a bit. Your kitchen should be smelling extremely good at this point.
Now take the stockpot and dump everything (including spruce branches) into your primary fermenter. Add distilled water until you reach the 19L mark. The distilled water should cool down the malt mix significantly — if you’re lucky you can pitch the yeast right away! Otherwise wait until the wort reaches proper temperature, then pitch your yeast.
From this point on it’s all standard homebrewing procedure. Wait 6-7 days, transfer wort to a secondary, leave it there for 10-14 days, then bottle it and enjoy!