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Dec 19, 2009 08:48 PM

Spruce beer in Edmonton?

I was curious if anyone knew of where you could find biere d'epinette in Edmonton. (the alcoholic beer, not the flavored soda, i.e. Boylan's). A friend came back from a trip to Quebec and raved about this wonderful beer she drank over there. It has piqued my curiosity, but based on my initial research I'm afraid that this particular type of beer might not be normally exported out of Quebec's and possibly Newfoundland's borders.

I have been searching the catalog at, but it is a little difficult when you don't know the names of many of the beers. I am tempted to go through the bottles at Sherbrooke 1-by-1.. but they kind of have a lot...

I found a vendor at a Calgary farmer's market who claims to carry an imported spruce beer, but I don't really want to travel to the 403 for a beer I may not even enjoy.
Any help would be appreciated!


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  1. From one of my earlier mis-directions - they were talking soda and I was thinking beer.

    Alba Scots Pine Ale

    And Sherbrooke (theoretically) carries it.

    7 Replies
    1. re: cancowboy

      I did see your post in that thread, but it was a pretty confusing discussion and I was afraid people may not have even clicked through the link as even the title was (incorrectly) asking about birch beer.

      Also, I had my heart set on trying a Canadian beer, but spruce is spruce I suppose. I will give this a try if I can't find anything else. Thanks!

      1. re: ScottP


        At the risk of adding to the "Birch Beer" confusion [?] ...until I read cancowboy's link... I always associated "spruce beer" as being merely a soft drink not an actual beer.

        Any info from your friend that I can read?

        1. re: Bob Mac


          I did a quick "google" search of "spruce beer montreal" and from the few I read nothing suggested to me that an actual alcoholic beer beverage is involved unlike the Alba brand.

          All were talking about casse-croute's where one could get a "steamie" or other Montreal fast food and quaff a homemade spruce beer but the most I saw that suggested a beer was something which read to the effect of, "mildly acoholic, if at all" or words to that effect.

          If you locate one I would be interested in trying it and I may even take a run up to Sherbrooke as I have the day off.

          1. re: Bob Mac

            From the wikipedia article, Canada might be the only place that make a non-alcoholic verison.

            1. re: cancowboy


              Thanks for I finish off a "ginger beer",,.mind you I added dark rum [smile]

            2. re: Bob Mac

              Sorry, I don't have much more information Bob, this was just a word of mouth recommendation. Other than the websites that sound like we both found, the only offering of proof I have that Canada produces an alcoholic spruce beer is described on a link I found from the Wiki article provided by cancowboy:

              It is conceivable that my friend was describing a spruce SODA, and not beer, however given her affinity for hops and malts, I would like to think she would clarify the use of the word 'beer' in a non-alcoholic context.

              As I mentioned to cancowboy above, Sherbrooke no longer carries Alba Scot's Pine Ale, so don't waste a trip quite yet. I will speak to my friend to confirm there was actually alcohol in this beer she tried. I'll post back if I gather any more information one way or the other.

        2. re: cancowboy

          I checked out Sherbrooke today, a guy working in the cooler - who seemed pretty knowledgeable about his beers - said they no longer carry Alba Scots', and he doesn't think they have ever carried any other pine or spruce flavored beers. :(

        3. If the vendor is "A Taste of Quebec", Marco Spruce Beer appears to be non-alcoholic.

          Click on the label for nutritional info,

          1 Reply
          1. re: cancowboy

            Yes, that was the vendor I found. When I was doing my earlier research on spruce beer I neglected to consider that many of these results were probably talking about the soda. THanks.

          2. Try Chateau Louis on Kingsway, near the Save-On (across from the airport). They also used to carry it, but if the reason Sherbrooke stopped carrying it is a distribution issue it might not be available anywhere in Alberta now.

            3 Replies
            1. re: itwillmakeaturd

              I'm really curious to try this after reading about the hunt here on Chow. Do let us know what you find ScottP.

              1. re: raidar

                Myself as well, raidar.

                Did a little more "googling" and came up with this:

                Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce - it sounds like an odd concoction, but in reality it was brewed to celebrate and commemorate Ben Franklin's 300th Birthday. Based on Benjamin Franklin's original recipe for a Spruce Beer, Yards Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale is a dark, mild ale brewed with molasses and organic Norweigan Spruce tips to create a unique flavor. Although Franklin recorded this recipe during his time in France, spruce and molasses had become a common brewing ingredient for American colonists. The recipe was similar to a style popular in France at the time, and when England strangled the trade of hops and barley, colonists turned to alternative ingredients - and spruce being a favored choice - and Franklin's recipe provided a rich version they could enjoy.

                1. re: raidar

                  So I stopped by Chateau Louis this afternoon and was surprised to see Alba Scot's Pine Ale on the bottom shelf of cooler #4 or 5 (can't remember exactly which one). I poured some into a glass a few minutes ago and noticed a bunch of 'floaties' hanging around the beer. I checked the 'best before' date and it was marked as Dec 07. After some research, I determined that these floaties were likely protein deposits, relatively harmless and that my bigger concern is whether the beer still tastes acceptable.

                  I just took my first few sips and it pretty much comes as advertised. Smells of berries, fairly sweet, mild carbonation. A bitter finish. I'm probably just paranoid because of the "expiry" date yet I can't help but think a fresher bottle might taste differently.

                  I wouldn't mind going back in a week or two to find out if they can get some more recently brewed bottles in stock and just compare what I have today against a fresher beer. If anyone makes the trip and finds a fresher bottle in the coolers or asks their staff about replenishing their stock, please let everyone here know!

                  Reviews for those interested: