Advent Beer Calendar: Day 13: Alaskan Winter Ale

Alaskan Winter Ale six-packToday I selected the Winter Ale from the always-reliable Alaskan Brewing Company. This beer has the distinguishing quality of being brewed with spruce tips—yes, spruce tips from trees. Why?

From the seafaring adventurers of the 1700’s to the homebrewers of today, adding spruce tips to beer has a rich history in Southeast Alaska. The tender new growth of Sitka spruce tips lends a delicious, yet subtly sweet floral aroma to tea, jelly and now Alaskan Winter Ale.

Spruce beers are one of those rare styles that originated in Colonial North America (U.S. and Canada); spruce was often used in place of hops (when hops were lacking) and as a flavoring agent. I’ve heard that a flavor characteristic of a spruce beer is Pepsi-like, though I can’t vouch for that.

There’s a good overall score of 85 on BeerAdvocate, with 95% thumbs-up, though there are several unfavorable reviews.

The Alaskan web site also offers food recommendations (and you know I like those):

Serve with roast goose, turkey, ham or lamb. A nice complement to holiday breads pound cake, or apple pie.