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Beer and Spirits That Bottle the Essence of Evergreen Trees

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December is the month when evergreen gets to shine. Douglas firs ringed with twinkling lights fill living rooms. Wrapped gifts await anxious hands beneath needled branches. Spruce and pine trees tower alongside ski slopes topped with powdery promise. Instead of just admiring those trees, why not drink them?

To better savor winter, breweries and distilleries are plucking pine cones, harvesting resinous needles and trimming spruce buds to create beers and spirits that are both cure and companion to the cold. In short, theyโ€™re bottling the essence of evergreen.

โ€œWhen I smell spruce tips, it reminds me of being outdoors in wintertime,โ€ says Alex Meyer, head brewer at Upslope Brewing in Boulder, CO. The breweryโ€™s cold-weather seasonal is Spruce Tip IPA, a taste of โ€œskiing in Colorado, where you get that big whiff of pine and fresh air.โ€

Distilleries are also going out on a limb. Tamworth Distilling in New Hampshire produces Garden Apiary Gin with juniper berries and aged pine rosin, as well as a limited-release Garden Spruce Gin. โ€œSpruce is a natural partner to juniper,โ€ says distiller Matt Power, adding that such combinations in drinks can create powerful โ€œolfactory special effects.โ€

Weโ€™ve sniffed out a foursome to try around a fire.

Spruce Tip IPA

Spruce Tip IPA
Courtesy Image

Spruce Tip IPA: Upslope Brewing Company (Boulder, CO)

This warming, wintry IPA is brewed with Colorado spruce tips. Upslope complements their coniferous contributions with Cascade and Simcoe hops, the latter lending notes of pine. Still not โ€œholidayโ€ enough for you? Itโ€™s also highlighted with hints of candied orange peel.

[$13; totalwine.com]

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