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NEFF, Dirigible Brewing Team Up on Locally-Sourced Spruce Tip Pale Ale

Jul. 14, 2023
New England Forestry Foundation NEFF staff members pick spruce tips at Lincoln Davis Memorial Forest. Photo by David Ayers

Update: New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) and Dirigible Brewing Company’s spruce tip pale ale has launched, and is now called All Spruced Up! Visit to learn more about the beer, which you can enjoy at Dirigible’s Littleton taproom, located at 24 Porter Road, Littleton, MA. One dollar from each beer sold supports NEFF’s conservation efforts.

Taking the concept of local brewing to new heights, NEFF is brewing a new spruce tip beer in partnership with the nearby Dirigible Brewing Company. The spruce tip pale ale will launch at a release event at Dirigible’s Littleton brewery on July 26.

“Hearing all the bad news about global warming can be enough to make you want to cry into your beer, and we’re so thrilled to be able to partner with Dirigible and invite our community to join us in raising a glass to real, local climate solutions,” said NEFF Executive Director Bob Perschel. “As the third largest land trust in the nation and an expert in climate-smart forestry and forest products, we are leading the thinking on the relationship between forestry, climate change and a circular, biobased economy, meaning an economy based in natural materials that produces as little waste as possible. Our partnership with Dirigible is giving us the chance to take that thinking and make a new, refreshing connection between New England’s forests and our local food culture.”

NEFF and Dirigible staff teamed up earlier in July to gather spruce tips—the new growth at the end of mature branches—from Red Spruce trees at NEFF’s Lincoln Davis Memorial Forest in Sharon, NH, about 35 miles from Littleton, MA, where both NEFF and Dirigible are headquartered. NEFF manages Lincoln Davis Memorial Forest with their in-house forest management approach, Exemplary Forestry, which outlines the highest standards of sustainability currently available to the region’s forest owners for three key goals: enhancing the role forests can play to mitigate climate change, improving wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and growing and harvesting more sustainably produced wood.

In keeping with this sustainable approach, NEFF and Dirigible staff picked spruce tips sparingly and carefully, and only from the lower half of the tree. The tips have now gone on to impart a sweet, citrusy profile to the Dirigible-brewed beer.

“At Dirigible Brewing Company, we like to push the envelope and shed light on often-overlooked beer types and to experiment with flavors and styles that you won’t see everywhere. As an environmentalist myself, this opportunity to collaborate with the New England Forestry Foundation on a beer style I have enjoyed for several years through home brewing is a dream come true,” said Colin Knirk, Dirigible Co-owner and Head Brewer. “Our spruce beer is a pale ale that blends the modern techniques of a soft New England-style pale ale with colonial brewing that uses locally foraged ingredients like spruce, making for a delightful summer beer.”

NEFF and Dirigible will host a release party for the spruce tip pale ale on July 26 from 6-8 p.m. at Dirigible Brewing Company at 24 Porter Road in Littleton. NEFF Bioeconomy Initiative Director Jennifer Shakun and Dirigible Head Brewer and Co-owner Colin Knirk will lead an intimate discussion on forestry, beer, and the surprising overlap of both in terms of their sustainability practices, product lifecycles, and support of local economies. Each ticket includes a private brewery tour as well as one 16 oz. tasting. Tickets are $15 and all ticket sales will go directly to support NEFF’s conservation efforts.

Red Spruce, which can be found in mountainous lowlands 2,500 feet in elevation and above, appears in all the New England states except for Rhode Island. The average height of the Red Spruce is usually around 60–75 feet with a diameter of 1–2 feet, although the tree can grow larger under the right circumstances. Red Spruce wood is prized for its use as construction lumber, pulp, and musical stringed instruments. As a conifer, Red Spruce is important to winter wildlife, with deer, moose, and other animals known to use the low-hanging branches as a form of protection from the elements.