Sitka Spruce ESB has proved a popular beer from Mysterious Brewing since it launched in August. Here’s the story of how it all came together.
Back in May, Ken went on an expedition to the West coast of Scotland in search of an unlikely ingredient for beer.
It was spring and the short window of spruce picking was upon us. The spruce tree, think Christmas tree, produces it’s yearly growth, usually around 2 to 3 inches of soft needles, fresh from the bud.
The 2 varieties you will find in the UK are, Norwegian, which has softer needles and is the Christmas tree of choice and Sitka, which is faster growing and has pin like mature needles.
The west coast of Scotland has an abundance of Sitka, when you know where to look. Ken picked his in Argyle and the air quality is perfect, being so far from any cities.
It was not as random a trip as it may sound. Adam had been away on a brewery tour of Canada a few months previously, where a spruce beer is still not common but much more likely due to the acreage of spruce in the country. Adam had the chance to speak to speak to several brewers on his travels, including Andy Brillinger from Tofino Brewing Co. (pictured below) learning how people handle it in different ways in their beers.
The recipe Mysterious brewed with their 6kg of spruce tips was one which Ken had won a nationally sanctioned homebrew competition with, just last year. The competition was judged by Readings leading spruce expert JD, former head brewer of Wild Weather. Matt Younger, another former Wild Weather employee came along on brew day to help out. This may have partly down to the offer of free hot pies for lunch?
The recipe is based on the classic ESB, extra strong bitter with a rich deep malty base but it has a sweet backbone due to the inverted sugars from the Golden Syrup used in the boil. It balances perfectly with the piney spruce flavours and a hint of citrus.
It needs to be tasted as it delivers what no other beer this year will. Truly a unique beer which Mysterious Brewing are very proud of.