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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale | Yards Brewing Co.

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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce AlePoor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale

Brewed by:
Yards Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States | website

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Based on Franklin’s original recipe, which called for barley, molasses, and essence of spruce, our Tavern Spruce is as approachable and engaging as was the man himself. We source blue spruce clippings from a local organic farmer, steeping them in the kettle to create this one-of-a-kind deep amber ale.

Added by NeroFiddled on 01-05-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 201 | Ratings: 561
Photo of Salt-n-Beer
4.11/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

It may not be getting the best reviews but I absolutely loved this one. Tasted like no other beer I've had before (and I've had a few). The spruce is definitely there but not in a way that becomes a distraction. At 5% it drinks like a light but flavorful beer cocktail.

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Photo of Dodo2step
2.76/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A- cherry juice caramel color with a nice frothy head. Nice lacing on my pint as well.

S- plums but then it fades away with ginger and pine. nothing malty either.

F- plum, cherry, ginger and dark roasted malt

M- sour juice with plum and faint malt.

O- eh....started off well but the plum and cherry really took away from it after awhile.

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Photo of cambabeer
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Had this sitting in the yards tasting room in Philadelphia. The spruce character, in both the smell and taste was very present, not to the point of being overly Christmas tree-like, but pushing it. The malt sweetness and cinnamon character is not so much balanced by the hops, which are minimal, but by the dry almost gin like finish.

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Photo of jmasher85
4.14/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

To this day, it's one of the most unique, memorable beers I've ever had. Furthermore, biased though I may clearly be, I don't think you can be a true Philadelphia beer lover without liking this beer...probably more than you should.
First word of warning: if you like gin, pinecones, or Christmas, you will like this beer. If not, be wary. The spruce is very, very present in this one. In all honesty, it's almost like a gin was magically turned into beer by Santa Claus, or Ben Franklin himself (who, if all the legends of him are true, probably had some special powers). Not a whole lot else of note on this one: a bit of malt gives a rustic sort of sweetness, a bit of hop throws a bitter wrench in there too, but mostly what you're getting is piney, sprucey, tree-beer. And while it's not something I'd drink regularly (I fear that more than one at a time might actually nauseate me a little), every few months I revisit it and put that classic Brotherly Love smile on my face.

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Photo of Myotus
3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.
LOOK: Pours with an off-white foam head about the size of half a finger. This dissipates into a line of foam within 20 seconds. Has a very clean copper color. There are so few rising bubbles, that I can count them as they ascend.
SMELL: There are mild aromas of caramel malts, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, and plums. There is also a hint of pale malts along with an unknown spicy/grassy aroma (I suppose this is the spruce with which this beer is brewed).
TASTE: Mild flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and molasses combined with subtle flavors of caramel malts are the first to calmly enter my palate. A mix of subtle plum, spruce, and hints of pale malt flavors follow the initial taste as all initial flavors persist.
FEEL: Light-bodied with a subtle carbonation. Has a somewhat smooth finish with little dryness.
NOTE: The spruce flavors and aromas are very weak in this beer. It was good, but I am disappointed. You can't put "Spruce" in the name if it isn't going to be a prevalent flavor. On a completely separate note, this tastes almost exactly like a Sam Adams Winter Lager. All you would have to do is add some orange peel and take away what little spruce there is.

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Photo of brother_rebus
4.28/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Mild amber hue. Christmas tree nose. An unobtrusive sweet malt to compliment the hoppy/sprucy taste. Keeps a spiced carbonated feel across the entire pallet. Have been searching this one out for over a year. Finally got it and am very impressed. Well done.

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Photo of dfconnor
2.53/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

This ale has a bad nose. It tastes better than it smells, but I was still disappointed, especially after enjoying other varieties produced by Yards. The flavor was very ordinary. Finishes kind of watery. If this were not marketed as a craft beer I would not be so hard on it.

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Photo of DonBowman
4.49/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I have rarely liked spiced or herbed beers but this is an exception! The very mild spruce smell finish is delightful. The beer is a dark amber, has a lace, head and body that speaks of more alcohol than the 5% content. A nice well balanced beer that certainly tends to the malty side, very enjoyable!

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Photo of baconfromwalmart
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

L: Clear mahogany brown, light brown head consisting of a mixture of small and large bubbles that leaves nice lacing on the side of the glass.
S: Molasses, rich wood
T: Toasted malt, pine, pretty mild and balanced. Very drinkable.
F: Rather thin...
O: I love that this is Ben Franklin's own recipe and will definitely have it again.

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Photo of Kendo
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from the bottle into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body is brownish-amber with absolutely no head.

S: On the sweet, malty side of things - caramel malt with a touch of lemony bitterness.

T: Brown bready malt foundation is followed with some faint piney bitterness.

M: Medium in heft, carbonation is light, nearly non-existent.

O: Meh. Too sweet for my preferences. Interesting for historical purposes, however, as it's pretty likely that the ales being produced in this country around the time of the Revolution were something like this.

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Photo of scootny
3.94/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It's my father's birthday and the first one without him. Today I make my 700th review. I miss you dad, I think you'd find this one to be right up your alley.

I really like this unusual and delicious beer. Brilliantly clear with a huge head, reddish brown amber. Impressive retention and lacing. Head is dense, high and stays all the way down. Quite lovely.

Nose bring a multifaceted sweetness. Caramel malt, light brown sugar, spruce is delightfully sweet as well.

Taste follows the nose. Lots of caramel, mild breadiness. Earthy, mild hops and piney spruce. Spruce flicks out a faint alcoholic sharpness but it is subsumed in the swallow and lingering pine.

Feel is medium weight. A good fall density. Smooth light carbonation has a bit of light creaminess though a pinch more might bring it to a better place for me.

An unusually and delightful change up session ale. Keeping in mind the time that the recipe for this and all the other Ales of the Revolution series, this review is for a glass at a cellar temperature. When I had my first bottle right out of the refrigerator the spruce took over and ruined the beer. Let it sit for twenty minutes or so, to let the caramel bloom and balance the bitttering components . Then sit back and enjoy each sip

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Photo of TimeBandit
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Taste is sweet - molasses, with some spruce/pine at the finish. More spruce flavor would improve this, IMHO. Overall, enjoyable to have one now and again. My second favorite of the Ales of the Revolution series, after George Washington.

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Photo of AppalachianGyration
3/5  rDev -17.4%

I think I got myself psyched for something this beer is not. Is it a good decent beer? Sure, but the spruce notes are very subtle. I bought this because I wanted spruce flavor or a unique taste...and it really does not deliver on that account. If this were on sale, and I wanted "beer", sure I'd pick it up. But as a special, "spiced" or herbal flavored beer, it doesn't really measure up.

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Photo of CarlosRuizsChauffeur
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

A: Dark amber-brown, cloudy, hazy
S: Smells slightly like bubblegum, but mostly like a 40 ounce Olde English with fluorescent and aromatic notes
T: Taste like a nice balance of malts with spearmint and pine notes. The spruce tastes like amixture of nature and flowery (not perfumy) notes
M: Nice consistency, very refreshing while not being overly malted and not too thick
O: Very interesting beer. One of the most interesting I have ever had. I do not even know if it is technically a beer since Yards calls the beer a malt beverage. A nice complexion of malts that is impressively complex, but drinkable at the same time

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Photo of Guden
3.76/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- Perfectly clear garnet with a one finger head of tight bubbles.

S- floral and malty with some brown sugar, plum, toast and sweet herbal notes. Nothing screams "spruce" but fairly interesting.

T- again fruitiness and brown sugar/molasses character dominates with a tangy and lightly bitter finish. Herbal character builds with each sip but is more rosemary, sage and sweet herbs than pine.

M- low carbonation and seemingly low attenuation gives the beer a slight syrupy character that goes well with the molasses and keeps the herbality in check.

O- a very interesting beer, not what I expected and not something I would want regularly but definitely worth a try and maybe an occasional return.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.64/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on 06022014 at 40 degrees into standard pint glass
Aroma of spruce (very weak); as the beer warms, a molasses aroma appears
Head small (2 cm), off white, frothy, rapidly diminishing to uneven layer, 2 – 4 mm thick
Lacing Ok, broken rings and stalactites of small bubbles
Body dark amber, clear
Flavor as the beer warms becomes one of more coniferous resins, not piney, but more subdued. No hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl.
Palate medium, creamy, lively carbonation

Actually, a pretty decent beer which was, IMHO, better a few years ago when it was in blue bottles. However, consider that during the revolution, hops were no longer imported from Europe and a substitute had to be found. Spruce works rather nicely.

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Photo of sommersb
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Tasted On: 07-15-2014
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Shaker pint
Purchased: Received in a trade

Cola-colored and clear, with a nice offwhite head. Good retention with a trace amount of lacing. Aromas are of maple syrup and caramel sweetness, plus some woody smells.

The taste is mainly about nutty and toasted malts; semi-sweet, with little or no bitterness. Medium bodied, it finishes lightly sweet with a bready flavor.

I liked this beer — it reminded me a lot of a nut brown ale. Not sure I picked up the spruce to great effect, but it is quite tasty.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.07/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep copper color bordering on a light brown/mahogany with a small off white head. The head has a good level of retention fading over time to leave a decent level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is rather odd with a spruce/pine smell mixed with a decently strong aroma of a molasses smell as well as some brown bread. A little bit of caramel and a light herbal smell are there as well rounding out the aroma.

Taste – The taste begins with a molasses and brown bread flavor with some hints of a pine nature present. The flavor is rather sweet upfront with the molasses fading some as the taste advances to the end though. While the molasses fades, some very light caramel and darker fruit flavors of fig and plum come to the tongue. These fruit and caramel flavors are very light overall though, and don’t make up for the loss of the molasses sweetness. Spruce flavors really come on more toward the end, and with the slight loss of sweet and a slight increase in the roast tastes, one is left with a rather odd pine/herbal, brown bread and moderately sugary taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is average side in terms of thickness and creaminess for a brew of 5 % abv. with a carbonation level that is on the slightly lower side. The body was OK for the odd mix of flavors, but a slightly higher carbonation level may have enhanced the drinkability and sweeter flavors of the brew a bit better (which were in my opinion the most pleasant).

Overall – Nothing too spectacular here. The flavors never really meld all that well, with a kind of muddled flavor overall.

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Photo of delta490
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is definitely a different one. It pours a deep clear brown with a thin light tan head. The aroma is interesting, with some very strong molasses notes and hints of the malt. The taste, though, is really where this beverage becomes unique. It opens with the molasses but transitions into a moderate and definitive spruce flavor. I didn't mind it and it reminds me of walking through evergreens, where the aroma from the trees is so strong you taste it. It's not overwhelming, but you can't miss it. There's a nice weight to the body and it's quite smooth. Well-made and different, it might not be one I'd drink regularly, but it's definitely worth trying.

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Photo of bubseymour
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked this up at "Good to Go" in Chambersburg PA on road trip. Haven't seen this one in MD

Looks like a great brown ale with nice 1 finger head. Smells malty and some sweetness and a slight sulfur metallic scent but very faint.
Has a very interesting and refreshing taste. Sort of a Vienna Lager but with something else which I guess is the spruce tips. Nice and different and it works. I definitely enjoy this one after doing 4 hrs of outdoor work today. It's a very refreshing and flavorful beer. Not sure if I'd go out of my way to find it but I enjoyed it.

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Photo of gillagorilla
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Burley Oak snifter

A: Dark amber brown body that leaves almost no lacing. Basically no head, you only get a slight swirl of white bubbles in the middle if you swirl it. All there is is a light collar of bubbles.

S: Interesting smell here. It smells like what I would think the color red smells like. Sorry if that sounds weird, but I can't really place the scent. Slight sweetness that smells like it tastes.

T: Slightly sweet malt body that isn't like the regular taste of sweet malt. There is just this one dominant taste. Very light body, with only a slight lingering taste. I guess the difference in sweetness comes from the use of molasses and spruce.

M: Quite thin with only a tingling of bubbles/carbonation.

O: I've had douglas fir tea, but not a spruce tea. But they are both brewed with the tips. It is similar but the malt body makes it different. Different. I was most excited to try this one, but I have a feeling the porter in the series might be my favorite.

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Photo of Ursula1007
4.98/5  rDev +37.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I love the robust depth of the nuances that play on the palate. Molasses is detectable and welcome. With Spruce tips and sprigs in the recipe, this original recipe from the Revolutionary War period, is to be cherished as an American beauty.
Nicely carbonated for those of us who enjoy a tinkle mouth feel.

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Photo of metter98
3.52/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear brownish amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high beige head that gradually died down, leaving patches of bubbles on the surface, a collar around the edge, and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light aromas of molasses are present in the nose along with notes of dark malts and hints of spruce.
T: The taste follows the smell and has some hints of initial sweetness; there are notes of spruce tips in the finish. No bitterness is perceptible.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This isn't that bad for a beer that followed Ben Franklin's original recipe. The spruce flavors aren't that strong, but seem to keep this from being too sweet.

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Photo of IronLover
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Amber in color with a brownish hue and perfect clarity. Poured with a short, off-white foam that reduced to a healthy cap that left sheets of wet lacings on the glass. Fresh, earthy spruce aroma along with sweet maple syrup notes and bready malt beneath. Medium bodied, slightly oily feel, refreshing carbonation over the top, and a crisp dry finish. Spruce flavor up front along with a slighty metallic taste. Sweet maple into the middle followed by a spicy, herbal tanginess. Finished crisply and dryly with an herbal, spruce aftertaste.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.89/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This was purchased at Wegman's, poured chilled in a glass mug from the 12oz brown bottle.

The color is deep brown like maple syrup with hazed clarity and thick beige cream with rocky head. The settling leaves a thin layer of average sized beads. The smell is very pleasant with slight herbal presence and mild sweet malt aroma. There is a good amount of malt body in the feel with medium carbonation and light bitterness with a slight dryness and low alcohol influence on the palate.

the Taste has a nice flavor of malt up front with a woody hop and the spruce provides a subtle earthy and clean element to the somewhat sweet flavor. The spruce is aromatic and contributes to the taste but the bready taste is the malts primary contribution with a subtle molasses element adding flavor toward the middle. Overall I really enjoy beers like this that have a traditional element or a backstory as to why the ingredients were used. I think this is very drinkable and would probably handle several in a sitting.

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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 201 ratings.