Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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.

199 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 199
Hads: 545
Avg: 3.63
pDev: 27.55%
Wants: 24
Gots: 76 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 199 | Hads: 545
Reviews by unclecrappy:
Photo of unclecrappy
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Gingerbread? Yep.

I picked up a single bottle at 3 Sons in Pittsburgh. I've sampled a spruce/pine beer before, and was expecting the same kind of piney, sharp bitterness. I got something completely unique instead.

Pours a very dark red. Small head, some lacing.

A whiff from my glass was the first clue that this was different: a little sweet, bready, with just a hint of the spruce I was looking for.

The first taste was ... gingerbread. Sweeter than I expected, but it doesn't dominate. The spruce essence does a nice job of providing balance. And as I read on the completely cool blue bottle, the gingerbread comes from molasses used when it's brewed. It's weird ... but it works.

Mouthfeel was nice, almost creamy. Drinkability? More than a couple at a time could become a little cloying, but as an occasional curve ball, this works very well.

 862 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of kenito799
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%
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.

 1,004 characters

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

 1,262 characters

Photo of benlaitman
4.5/5  rDev +24%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A-red/amber brown appearance.
S-sweet and spiced smell.
T-nice mild hop, but filled with complex sweet and spicy flavors.
M-not a lot of carbonation, relatively light beer.
D-Beer needs to be drunken slowly to appreciate the complex flavors. Not the easiest to drink very quickly.

I really do like this beer for its complexity even though it isn't the most drinkable of beers. Drink this when you want to try something different. All of the Yards "Ales of the Revolution" are really interesting/complex beers.

 510 characters

Photo of boston2bburg
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

 751 characters

Photo of jackplane
4/5  rDev +10.2%

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

 668 characters

Photo of TimoP
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

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.

 700 characters

Photo of StevenShawSr
3.29/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of tigg924
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

 383 characters

Photo of Apotheosis
4/5  rDev +10.2%

Photo of Mealy58
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of jcdiflorio
2.97/5  rDev -18.2%
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.

 695 characters

Photo of ImFlyerThanYou
4/5  rDev +10.2%

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.

 305 characters

Photo of wattoclone
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%

Photo of Soonami
3.48/5  rDev -4.1%
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.

 667 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.57/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

 912 characters

Photo of SPRichard
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of testch09
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of jferrara35
5/5  rDev +37.7%

Photo of ianjsullivan
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

 612 characters

Photo of Adkins1203
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Photo of sandanders
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 199 ratings.