Spruce Tip Blonde Ale, Skagway Brewing Company, Skagway, AK.

I got married! On top of being able to marry the woman I love, this event brought together friends and family from all over Canada, and even some traveling from the UK. A few of my friends from Newfoundland took my wedding in Calgary as an opportunity to explore the west coast. Two university friends, along with their wives, were able to go on an Alaskan cruise before making their way to Calgary for the wedding. While in Alaska they were lucky enough to get off the boat in Skagway, where they bought a two litre growler of Spruce Tip Ale. They then carried it back to the boat, packed it in their bags, and then brought it all the way to me in Calgary for a wedding present. Other than the whole taking a wife thing I did this weekend, this was the highlight of the wedding. It is so nice to know you are being thought of, and that someone is willing to not only buy you a new craft beer, but to commit to lugging it hundreds of miles to get it to you. I have some great friends and I am well aware of that.

I was thinking of them as I cracked open the seal on the growler and poured it out to share with my friend Greg, who flies back to Newfoundland tomorrow morning. With a clink of glasses to celebrate my nuptials, we tuck into this Alaskan beer brewed with spruce tips.

The beer has a cloudy appearance that gives the impression of a hearty drink. There is very minimal head that dissipates quicker than drink tickets at a wedding when last call is announced. There is some lacing on the glass.

There is a very evident aroma of pine. I was expecting this based on the beer’s name and its use of spruce tips in the brewing process. I will admit that I was initially hesitant about drinking a beer with spruce tips as its lead flavour, but the smell of this brew is enticing. It packs a floral scent that makes you want to climb a mountain or paddle a canoe. As I am sitting on my couch with my friend Greg, I feel like I am out in the woods.

The beer packs a bitter quality that evens out the flavour coming from the spruce tips. It’s a well balanced brew that showcases the hops, front and centre. There is a floral taste that carries with it the taste of citrus and some faint spice flavour. I found myself moving from a skeptic when I cracked open the two litre growler, to truly enjoying every sip of this beer, and once that happens, there’s no sense putting the cap back on.

The mouth feel of this beer is slightly heavier than I anticipated. It’s creamier than most ales and this gives the beer a thicker feeling in your mouth, while not impeding the drinkability. It is a very easy drinking beer.

Overall, this is beer I would gladly drink again, which is what you’re looking for in a beer. It is an intriguing flavour that goes beyond the gimmick of adding unconventional ingredients to the brewing process. It is well balanced and uses hops effectively to temper the spruce tip taste, while still letting the beer’s namesake to come through. But, the most memorable and most important aspect of this beer, is that good friends on their way through Skagway thought of me and brought this growler with them all the way to Calgary for me. This beer is a testament to years of friendship. I drink it with the knowledge that I have some of the best friends anyone could hope for, and because of that, it’s the only beer that I care to drink right now.

 

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