Sprucette | Maplewood Brewing & Distillery
Winter coats have been put away in the back of the closet. Boots have returned to their corner of the floor. Long sleeved shirts go unused. Summer must be getting close in Chicago! Finally! While that won’t change your drinking habits too much, I know I personally reach for lighter offerings more during the hot months. Lighter saisons, lagers, and pilsners get even more up close time with me than they normally would, mainly because they’re easier to drink multiples of. Grisettes definitely fall into that category so when I saw Maplewood’s Sprucette, I grabbed it immediately.
Basically Sprucette is Maplewood’s version of a grisette – a Belgian-style table beer – that was conditioned on “Colorado-grown, hand-picked spruce tips.” In addition a large portion of rye was used in the grain bill for Sprucette. It clocks in at 4% ABV – perfect for those long summer days.
Sprucette pours a straw golden color with a boisterous amount of head (at least 4 fingers). That head slowly reduces to about one finger that remains persistent throughout. Sprucette is absolutely clear as I can see my finger through the glass. Upon smelling it you are immediately greeted with meyer lemon notes and a cracker/biscuity note. Some earthy notes of grass do show up as well. I can’t tell if that comes from the hops or the spruce tips, as otherwise I wouldn’t have guessed spruce tips were used in this. If you’re expecting big piney aromas you won’t find them here.
The first sip of Sprucette brings big, big cracker or biscuit flavors. A lot more than I was expecting! Some lemon taste arrives a bit after the cracker. The lemon definitely isn’t as assertive or prevalent as the cracker taste, but it does finish up the grisette nicely. The spruce tips scarcely show up at all, with some grassy notes showing up on the finish; again that could be some hop notes as well. A hint of spice adds a little complexity to things. That light bitterness and the cracker/lemon note bring me back for more every time.
And that lemon and cracker note on the Sprucette hangs around a fair amount after the sip. The mouthfeel stays in the medium range but it feels much fuller on the tongue. Thank the rye for that! However that rye mouthfeel kind of makes Sprucette drink a little bigger than its 4% ABV. I’m not talking about barrel-aged stout big, but like 6-7% big. One to two cans would be enough for me.
Sprucette really shines with the cracker flavors and lemon support. Thanks to those flavors and the rye it doesn’t drink thin at all. But thanks to that rye this beer has a little bit too much heft for me for a grisette. I prefer a lighter – but not thin – mouthfeel on my grisettes, ideally being able to drink a 4-pack without a second thought. Ideally I’d like the flavors of Sprucette without the bigger mouthfeel. Between the two though, I’ll take a heftier grisette if that gets me access to the lovely lemon cracker flavor. If you don’t go in expecting a ton of spruce or pine notes, you’ll more likely than not finish Sprucette content.