Generally, this column is reserved for hard liquor but, once in a while, there’s a beer release at the LCBO that is so momentous we just can’t resist mentioning it. And that’s notwithstanding our worry that beer expert Crystal Luxmore might think we’re poaching her territory.
The release we’re referring to is from Nova Scotia’s Garrison Brewing—a small(ish) brewery that has generated a lot of buzz with its unique brews, including, most notably, its Spruce Beer, which is practically designed to capture the hearts and minds of alcohol historians. Useful for staving off scurvy, spruce beer was a staple on some ships—most famously any manned by Captain Cook before Hawaii got the better of him.
Spruce beer, one of five Garrison products visiting these parts, isn’t just a sailor’s delight, however. This strong ale is also associated with easing the hardships of roughing it in colonial North America. And while this might make it sound crude and unpalatable, remarkably, it brings to mind the twangy flavours of the best sours emerging from new beer hot-spot regions like the north of Italy.
It’s the perfect marriage of bitter, sweet, earthy and sour for those who can’t live with anything less than a full-fledged assault of flavour. There’s a reason people line up for its annual release in Halifax (and owner Brian Titus says he runs out in a few days every year).
There are some 800 bottles in Toronto LCBO stores but pay heed. Beer geeks are some of the more serious hoarders in the city and the Spruce is going to get snapped up fast.