The birds and the beers

From left, Josh Weise, Tanner Hockey and Kevin Connell — brewers at Raquette River Brewing in Tupper Lake — stand in front of a 10-barrel tank of the new Spruce Tip IPA brew they crafted with Northern NY Audubon to celebrate the spruce grouse. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — This beer is for the birds.

Raquette River Brewing and Northern New York Audubon’s new Spruce Tip IPA, celebrating the spruce grouse, takes flight Dec. 11.

RRB co-owner Mark Jessie said the beer based on a bird native to the Tupper Lake area was brewed on Tuesday and is fermenting now.

“As a bird lover, I’m excited to see a special local species highlighted,” Northern NY Audubon Vice President Shelly Cihan said in a statement. “As a beer lover, Raquette River is one of my favorite breweries and I am so happy we got to work together.”

Jessie said Audubon approached him with the idea around two years ago, and they’re finally making it happen.

“A spruce IPA was the first thing that came to mind,” Jessie said.

The taste will be a traditional West Coast IPA RRB brewer Kevin Connell said — a very piney flavor.

“Literally the tips of a spruce tree,” brewer Tanner Hockey said.

The initial 10 barrel batch used 15 pounds of spruce tips. Jessie said these came from Colorado, but he hopes if they brew this one again in the spring they’ll be able to harvest the tips locally.

Asked if it tastes like a bird, Connell laughed and said “We’re hoping, that’s the flavor profile we’re looking at.”

“It’s perfect for turkey day,” Josh Weise said.

Spruce grouse’s diet is highly comprised of spruce needles in the winter.

The hand-drawn label on the can will have information about the bird and its conservation.

“Spruce Grouse are endangered in the state,” Northern NY Audubon President Janelle Jones said. “They are only found in a few select locations near Tupper Lake, making this awareness campaign a local matter.”

Hockey said he knows of a flock of spruce grouse living near Massawepie Lake.

A portion of the money from sales of this IPA will be donated to Northern NY Audubon.

Northern NY Audubon will be at the launch party on Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. with merch and prizes for a raffle.

The beer is a special release, so the taps will only flow for as long as this limited brew lasts. Jessie said it will be sold on tap and in cans only at Raquette River Brewing.

Jessie said people can even get it in a flight.

Jessie likes collaborating on beers. He said RRB’s collaboration with Birch Boys, a local chaga mushroom businesses, to make a chaga beer earlier this year, went well. He said the chaga beer is becoming a regular part of the brewery’s menu.

More collaborations are in the works, too, he said.


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