Working in collaboration with writer and beer sommelier, Jane Peyton, Ilkley Brewery has taken Scandinavian inspiration to create a spruce beer named the Norseman.

The 5% ruby coloured ale has been made using locally foraged pine needles from spruce trees, along with Douglas fir needles and buds from Ilkley Moor. The beer has a soft bitterness, with pine and herbs on the nose, and is made using entirely English hops.

The Norseman is the latest beer in Ilkley Brewery’s Origins range which features beers that celebrate traditional methods and innovative brewing techniques from around the world.

Speaking about the Norse-inspired brew, Jane Peyton said: “I'm fascinated by historic brews, love English hops, I'm keen on foraging and am a Yorkshire woman with Viking DNA so the Norseman is my perfect beer!"

Luke Raven from Ilkley Brewery added: “The Norseman is exactly the kind of unconventional beer that slots perfectly into the Origins range. We’ve used spruce foraged on our doorstep, fantastic English hops and with Jane’s expert palate, we have created a beer that is fit for battle.”

Spruce roots
It is believed that spruce beers were introduced to Britain by the Vikings and would have been drunk in Yorkshire, a region ruled by the Vikings in the 10th century. The beer was thought to give strength in battle, boost fertility and prevent scurvy.

In Viking culture, women were the brewers and by law, women owned the brew kit so if a marriage ended or a husband tried to sell his wife’s possessions, he could not take or sell the brew kit.

Its other historical link is with Yorkshire man Captain James Cook. The explorer carried spruce beer on his ships for the crew as it was believed that the vitamin C in spruce would help prevent scurvy. Captain Cook’s ship was called Endeavour so in homage, Ilkley Brewery chose to use English-grown Endeavour hops as well as Admiral hops, another English variety, in a nod to spruce beer’s seafaring past. The Norseman is the first Ilkley Brewery Origins beer to use all-English hops.

Haworth’s Brontë sisters were also known to make their own spruce beer, both as alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions, using pine needles sourced from the iconic moors that inspired Emily to write Wuthering Heights.

In addition to its English hops, the Norseman is a complex beer with six different malts to add body and character. The beer is available now in cask.

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