My paternal grandmother, Helen S. Wright, included one recipe for spruce beer in her book, Old Time recipes for Home Made Wine. Spruce beer was important to the indigenous people of North America because it is a natural source of vitamin C and was used to prevent scurvy. It can be made from the buds or needles of spruce trees but Grandmother’s recipe calls for spruce essence. Grandmother’s inclusion of allspice and ginger also makes it difference from that of the indigenous people. The flavor of the beer varies with the species of spruce used, the season of harvest, and the method of preparation, and is described as ranging from floral, citrusy, and fruity, to cola-like, to resinous and piney. The beer can be alcoholic or not.
Here is the recipe for spruce beer in the words of my grandmother:
Boil a handful of hops and two handfuls of the chips of sassafras root, in ten gallons of water. Strain it, and turn on, while hot, one gallon of molasses, two spoonfuls of the essence of spruce, two spoonfuls of ginger, one spoonful of pounded allspice. Put it into a cask, and when cold enough, add one half pint of good yeast. Stir well; stop it close. When clear, bottle and cork it.
To buy Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines by Helen S. Wright Click Here.