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

Not Rated.
Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce AlePoor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

509 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 509
Reviews: 198
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 17.09%
Wants: 24
Gots: 59 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Yards Brewing Co. visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
Herbed / Spiced Beer |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: NeroFiddled on 01-05-2003

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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 509 | Reviews: 198
Reviews by BeerForMuscle:
More User Reviews:
Photo of boston2bburg
3.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pictured looks blue - mine was brown. Pours clear chestnut brown with a decent head, some layers of lacing made by a beige head that retains a respectable covering over the beer. (Tall pilsner glass.)

Molasses and maple syrup overshadow the subtle fruitiness of the spruce in the aroma, but it's balanced nevertheless.

Fruity with some sappy pine character and citrus. Some raisin, plum. Resiny mouthfeel, which makes up most of the body, otherwise thin. Miderately spicy finish.

Startling at first, but evolves to be sessionable after a few quaffs. A medicinal quality, likely from the spruce, is the only detractor, but it's not overpowering.

Haven't had many spruce ales, besides my own homebrew, but this one beats the hell out of that.

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep garnet red pour with bright highlights when held up to the light. A quarter inch of light tan foam atop the brew. Not getting much lacing. Aromas start with caramel malts mixed with notes of spruce and a touch of molasses and dark fruit. Kind of earthy as well.

First sip brings caramel and toffee sweetness upfront with a nice kick of earthy spruce. Woody notes with molasses and a kiss of fruit. Flows down with some linger pine, pretty tasty!

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with steady carbonation. Pretty easy drinking brew and I enjoy the spruce twist and the historical recipe. Have had this once before and would have it again. Thanks smokeypeat.

Photo of Guden
3.76/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

Photo of tigg924
3.87/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, brown in color, hazy, moderate carbonation

Smell: big spruce and branch smell with some caramel malt

Taste: spruce, cinnamon, caramel, and earth

Mouthfeel: sweet and spicy, low carbonation, medium-heavy bodied

Drinkability: Almost tastes like a grut beer. A nice holiday novelty that I can see myself having one or two of due to the aggressive spicing.

Photo of jcdiflorio
2.97/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

served into a nonic glass from a cool looking colbat blue bottle long neck with crimped cap

Hazy,reddish brown,creamy off white head with good retention and spotty lacing.

Aroma was very sprucey,notes of licorice and molasses,some pine,no hop or malt aromas.A good spicey aroma nice and pleasing.

Very sprucy tastes,tart,licorice no real hop or malt tastes,mostly spruce.Finishes on the dry side,some slightly sharp bitterness with a lingering spruce taste. Reminds me a bit of Anchor Christmas.

Medium mouthfeel,creamy a very light feel to it.
The spruce was a bit much as far as drinkability goes,lacks complexity,won't want to drink another. Not terrible, just nothing to excite.

Photo of Ursula1007
4.98/5  rDev +39.5%
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.

Photo of Soonami
3.48/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yards Poor Richard Tavern Spruce is an interesting beer. The base beer is a brown ale that is spiced up with molasses and spruce tips/sprigs. The ale smells just faintly malty with a little fruitiness from the yeast. The molasses is well expressed on the palate, providing a deep, rounded sweetness, with vanilla notes. The spruce is pretty hidden and only surfaces in the aftertaste, when the beer is long gone and there is a little astringent fuzz on your tongue. The finish is fresh and despite the molasses isn't cloying.

I wouldn't run out to get more of this, but it was nice to try once and think about Ben Franklin cooking up a barrel of this 200 years ago.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.57/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Gotta love the blue bottle plus it keeps more light out than the other varieties...appears a chestnut ruby amber in body with a nice tan head leaves some even thick coats of lacing down my glass. Aroma is very pleasant with outdoorsy spruce tips, fruity toastsed malt tones with an evident maple syrup character, however I stand corrected b/c the label states it contains molasses I can definitely smell some concentrated thickened sugar. Flavor...spruce ain't no joke, kinda like drinkin' your christmas tree water, but in addition to the pine tree flow this beer offers subtle malt sweetness with the spicing coming from the tree nice flowing ale. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a lighter more moderate carbonation but the flavors stay on the palate. Drinkability is definitely one of the most interesting brews I have had in awhile I'm glad I gave it a go can't wait to try more strange colonial style brews.

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

ST: 12oz poured into a pint glass.

A: Clear brown with amber, red tints in the light. The head is half-a-fingernail off-white and the carbonation sounds like soda when being poured.

S: Sweet malt, spicy hint of spruce, a bit of molasses, and a slight woody aroma.

T: Mellow malt, a touch of molasses, and a bit of wood on the back before a clean finish.

M: Medium (surprisingly light though) and creamy

O: A mellow enjoyable drink. I wouldn't mind more spruce and wood flavors, and the body could be a bit more substantial, but there is nothing wrong with this beer. It really is a perfect quaffing ale.

Photo of Jeffreysan
3.67/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very dark, very murky brown color with a quarter of a finger of off-white head (the head also seemed to me to have flecks of green in it too, but that might have been my imagination due to the beer being brewed with spruce tips and sprigs) that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that practically covered the entirety of the beer. I’m actually surprised at the color, it’s so murky, almost like swamp water. I’m not too sure about that, as it makes for an unattractive beer.

Aroma: However, it doesn’t at all smell like swamp water, rather, I get malt and bread and some very earthy notes. Subtle yeast aroma as well. Finally, there’s some good floral notes present too, but not the evergreen spruce that I was expecting, more like grass and clover.

Taste: Floral notes up front, thanks to the spruce tips and sprigs that the beer is brewed with, followed by malt and caramel. There is a yeasty finish that I found pleasant too. Very interesting beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium, with some good carbonation to tickle the tastebuds, and a slight chewiness. Because of the low alcohol content, the beer only clocks in at 5% ABV, there’s practically no alcohol present on the palate, maybe just a slight hint.

Overall: According to Yards, this beer was crafted from Benjamin Franklin’s original recipe, using molasses, spruce tips and sprigs. It is a very interesting beer, with good flavor and mouthfeel, however, that appearance really puts me off. It certainly is a bottle beer for me, but just not one that I’m probably going to be searching out on a consistent basis. It was a great choice for the 4th of July weekend though, which is why I got it.

Photo of Ryanm1
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

They serve this a few block from the factory on tap at City Tavern. You can get a taster there.

I had no idea this was of the style of "herbed/spiced beer" but I can definately see that. Didn't know what to categorize it as but upon originally ingesting it, I myself as well as friend have said "it's like drinking a spruce tree". I've had Christmas beers that have been much more overspiced, but I think this is adequite and not overdone. It states that it's brewed in the fashion of Founding Fathers and is in Yard's Ales of the Revolution pack. I've categorized this as the Thomas Jefferson but a little less bite and a little more pine. Once again I'm jocking this beer as it is from one of my favorite breweries.

Photo of ggaughan
4.02/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Grey Lodge. The beer pours a very deep, dark brown color with a nice thick white head.

The aroma of the beer is very complex with definite tones of the spruce in it and spicy notes.

The taste is a nice roasted malt base with definite taste from the spruce. it is an odd ingredient to have but I really enjoyed it and would like to try it again. The beer is pretty drinkable but I think I could only have a few in a night. Maybe get a bottle or 2 to keep for awhile. Thanks to Ben Franklin.

Photo of mdaschaf
3.62/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to ShanePB for this bottle!

A: Pours a dark red, almost mahogany/brown color with a white one finger head. The head dropped quickly to a small layer of fine bubbles on top.

S: A unique aroma to say the least. A heavy dose of spruce up front followed up by some spice, mostly nutmeg. At the end there is a definite bready/caramel aroma as well. There is a little bit of mint too.

T: Very herbal/spicy from the spruce, also a bit sticky. Some nice caramel malts and I can taste a little bit of the molasses used to make this one as well.

M/D: Medium bodied with good carbonation, a touch more would have been nice, but its not a problem at all. Has a sticky/dry finish. Definitely a fall/winter beer, would pair nicely at Thanksgiving. Not an everyday drinker, but something I would consider picking up from time to time.

Photo of dacrza1
3.42/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Date: 13 January 2013...
Glassware: Hoegaarden tumbler...
Occasion: Golden Globes--what, no Hobbit? Guess I will be my wife's Les Mis date tonight...
Appearance: iced tea-colored body with a pencil-thin, hazy off-white head; sparse effervescence; not really a looker...
Aroma: spruce, yes, but cinnamon and nutmeg as well?...
Taste: the molasses is sweet but palatable; the spruce is not so pronounced at the tongue--elusive, flat malts...
Palate: smooth, unexpectedly soft and medium-bodied, with a warm ending despite the 5.0 abv...
Overall: Does Ben Franklin ever get anything wrong? This is curiously mellow and drinkable, but the profile is not quite the pine cone pinata I expected... warmed me on this winter's night for sure!

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yard's- Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce

A- Light amber brown with a smal light lacing head. Clear and little carbonation.
S- Sweet molasses, brown sugar, and fresh live spruce twigs.
T- Sweet brown sugar and molasses malt with a nice spicy pepper and spruce/ pine bite.
M- Sweet, yet mild. Thick malt with spicy dry spruce body and finish.

Overall- Actually much better than you'd think. The spruce is tasty yet not overpowering.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.12/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The anticipation is high for this. A friend in Philadelphia talked it up favorably, though he didn't realize it was being bottled. He'd only had it at Yards'. Since visiting Yards wasn't possible at the time, we were super-surprised and glad to find this at the Foodery (Philly beer store), in a bottle. A blue bottle, no less. Here goes...

Pours an off-white soapy head that doesn't last long, but remains a skim over top the entire session. The color is beautiful, a glistening ruby-brown, reminds of how many barley wines are colored.

Aroma is earthy evergreen and completely natural-smelling. Spruce is in there but well balanced against a more syrupy aroma. A fresh, organic, of-the-soil sort of scent.

Like the aroma, you get plenty of spruce in the flavor, taking the form of a tangy hops--earthy and piney and bitter (but not overly so). Molasses adds a sweet malt-type balance, and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg are present. The finish is a little odd though. Understandable considering this isn't made with your typical ingredients, but it would've been that much better without the sticky, grassy aftertaste.

Really good, quite different, very enjoyable, a must for anyone looking for unique and unusual beers of high quality.

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the City Tavern in Philadelphia. Deep copper with orange tints. Solid cream colored head. Distinct malt & hop aroma, but not real specific. The yeast character is prominent: lightly fruity, some vanilla, perfumy, quite unique. Fruity malt up-front, thin bodied, almost Belgian in a way with some earthiness. Some hop flavor mid-swallow leading into a bitterness that coats the back of the mouth and throat - very solid. Long lasting malt finish that just lays in your mouth. Very English except for the strength. A good pint that combines a good drinkability with a decent amount of complexity.

Photo of GDBEERMAN
4.12/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into pint glass.
A: A dark amber body, sits under a light tan layer of foamy head. Head retention is good and stays for a good while.
S: A spruce aroma is found in many malty complexities. A solid aroma, very pronounced and assertive. Notes of burning trees in the woods. I would say from the aroma alone that this would be a great brew to take on a camping trip, hell if it would be in a can I would even go as far to say backpacking, but a little low in ABV for that.
T/M: The taste is a malt dominate, spice forward brew. A mouthfeel of good thickness, but still smooth. Lingering tastes a nice, but have a slight woody funk on the finish. Nice malt overtones and overall a nice taste.
D: Good brew for everyday drinking, a nice malt layering from start to finish. Easy drinking, but for the amount of flavors, I would like to see more ABV to make it a well rounded drinkable brew. (Yes for me intensity of taste and ABV % need to be matched for a complete drinkablity.)

Photo of socon67
3.76/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark copper pour with a beige foam that has lacing that clings. Small bubbles of carbonation are seen.

S - Very spicy beer. I smell English tea leaves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. A mild malt profile is behind this beer.

T - Up front spicy notes that give an array of flavor. Nothing is overbearing and the taste is pleasant.

M - Balance could be a little better on this. Minimal carbonation, and leaves a bit of spice in the finish.

O - Maybe the best of the Ales of the Revolution. An easy drinking spiced ale that goes well with a light meal.

Photo of NJCraftBeer
3.02/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Not bad overall, but not great. It looses the flavor quickly, in my opinion. I mean, I love Yards overall, but this one isn't great. I prefer if I'm drinking a herb beer to have a crazy over the top herb flavor.

The spruce ale is a typical ale but made from an original recipe of ben franklins. he needed to try a bit harder.

Photo of kenito799
4.25/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from cask from the beer engine at Dawson's, an outstanding small beer bar in the far reaches of Roxborough/Wissahickon, Philadelphia-on-Schuylkill, PA.

I had tasted this at the Yard's brewery the day before from a keg, and found a pleasing spruce aroma upfront, but it backed off in the mouth, leaving a really nice balanced ale.

A full pint from the beer engine produced a dark dark amber brew with a huge creamy head. Mouthfeel amazingly creamy, casks really augment the Yards brews (and maybe all beers). The spruce aroma was barely detectable at first but came across on tasting as a well-integrated and very enjoyable component to a very balanced and drinkable ale, surprisingly so. Rather than overwhelming, the spruce finish felt like I was standing in a forest or at least in my grandmother's living room with the heat from huge 1950s electric lights releasing vapors from the Christmas tree into the air (threatening to burst into flames). Highly enjoyable and worth several pints.

Photo of AppalachianGyration
3/5  rDev -16%

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.

Photo of scootny
3.94/5  rDev +10.4%
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

Photo of KTCamm
4.15/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours medium dark brown, some reddish tints, good white foam. Rings around the edge. Pine nose, molasses too. Syrup as well. Taste is a subtle sweetness. Slight root beer taste. Mint/spruce sprig taste. Smooth & flavorful. Pretty damn good original recipe.

Photo of SamuelJackson45
2.79/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ok. This beer is nutts. The smell of spruce blew my senses away and the taste equals it kind of a wintergreen after taste. Come on and this suppose to be Ben Franklin's Recipe serious I think Ben was smoking spruce. lol. Now back to this review. If the hint of spruce wasn't in this beer it would be a good strong ale. But I do give Yards props to put out this old bold recipe and sure there fans out there that like this beer but I'm not a fan of this at all.

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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 509 ratings.