1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

457 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 457
Reviews: 189
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 17.7%
Wants: 19
Gots: 32 | 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:
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 added by: GeoffFromSJ on 11-12-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 457 | Reviews: 189 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jdhilt
3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a three-finger khaki head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Cloudy brown color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Light molasses nose and flavor is molasses and spruce. Drying finish. $3.00 for a 12oz bottle from Mount Vernon Gift Shop, Mount Vernon, VA.

jdhilt, Oct 05, 2011
Photo of orbitalr0x
3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
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.

orbitalr0x, Sep 29, 2011
Photo of Chriscrundwell12
2.85/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Surly Imperial Pint glass.

A- Dark amber color, 3 finger tan head that dissipates quickly, splotchy lacing.
S- Interesting aroma, the spruce gives off an interesting minty aroma, some spice, some pine, nutty malt aroma, floral notes.
T- Tastes just like the aroma but not as minty, not very tasty.
M- Medium/light mouth feel, well carbonated, smooth drinking, crisp finish.
O- The minty pine aroma and taste was very off putting for me, not a beer I would drink again, would not recommend this one to others but that’s just my opinion.

Chriscrundwell12, Sep 07, 2011
Photo of avaldivia
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received in trade from Centennial. Poured 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Light brown color. Very nice head about an inch thick. little lacing all the way down.

S: Very light smell. Christmas tree like scent. a little pint.

T: Little spicy. Little bit of pine.

M: Medium bodied. Nice carbonation.

O: Solid brew. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

avaldivia, Sep 06, 2011
Photo of devilben02
3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a murky mahogany color, with a huge, rocky, tan head. The aroma provides a feeling of what it must be like to dry hump a Christmas tree: there is little but evergreen here, although maybe a little bit of pepper creeps in. The flavor is actually more balanced, which is kind of a let-down, with a dull graininess creeping in to muddle the woodsy spruce character. The texture is fine but mostly average. Overall, the distinctive spruce aroma makes this beer, but it's too bad that the flavor can't meet the expectations that are established by the first smell. Even so, the aroma was enough for me to love drinking this beer.

devilben02, Aug 31, 2011
Photo of MrOH
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Orangish brown with two solid fingers of light tan head. Splotchy lace.

Brown sugar and spruce air freshener. Light fruitiness.

Spicey and piney. Molassas comes through. Some gingery flavors. Very Christmas feeling. Molassas cookies/gingerbread with pine. Quite nostalgic.

Medium-bodied with good carbonation.

Interesting. Probably a nice winter beer, especially around the holidays. Definitely not an everyday drink, unless its what you're into.

MrOH, Aug 27, 2011
Photo of mooseo
4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap at the Yards brewery in Philadelphia.

A - Clear dark amber with a 1" creamy head. Good retention with decent lacing.

S - Aromas of spruce and pine. Very nice.

T - Taste is excellent. Sweet caramel up front. There are nice spruce, piney notes throughout. The finish is bready, with more spruce and other spices coming through.

M - Smooth and refreshing. Medium bodied with a slightly creamy mouthfeel.

D - I really like this beer. The dominant spruce flavor is very appealing. While there are better offerings from Yards, this still a great example of what they can do. The drinkability is high and very sessionable. Being on-tap at the brewery, the beer is extremely fresh, crisp, and refreshing.

mooseo, Aug 27, 2011
Photo of bobhits
2.33/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a tall white yet thin head with a dark body that when held to the light is rather reddish and frankly pretty clear.

Smells of spices, almost mint like without the clean finish, I’m bad at spice names.
Spiced amber without any hop profile is what I’m thinking here. It has a chi tea like flavor with amber malt and perhaps a touch of hops just to attempt some balance.
Light to medium body with enough carbonation I suppose.
Ben Franklin was a great man, but this beer well it is a pass.

bobhits, Aug 18, 2011
Photo of oline73
4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a mostly clear dark amber color with three fingers of off tan head that leaves only a layer as it fades.

Smell: Definitely picking up the spruce, along with some caramel malt sweetness. There are some fruity notes, and I'm also picking up the molasses.

Taste: I really enjoy the taste of this beer. I'm picking up the spruce along with a fairly strong sweet malt presence. Not picking up the fruity notes here, but I do find some caramel and molasses. Mildly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium to somewhat thin body, the carbonation is on the high side, but it seems to work here. The finish is mildly dry.

Overall: This is a really interesting beer. I'm enjoying the spruce along with the malt sweetness. I would definitely have this one again.

oline73, Apr 23, 2011
Photo of Haybeerman
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Ruddy copper color. Poured a 1 finger off-white head that dissipated to a skim. Intermittent lacing in broken rings.

S: Spruce (pine) and spices; notably clove and pepper. Light green apple aroma mixed with alcohol. Very aromatic; almost pungent.

T: Very consistent with the aroma. Mild bitter in the finish has sweet, spice and hop resin lingering. Very interesting beer, but strangely out of balance.

M: Medium body. Moderate carbonation. A nice balance to feel though a little short on the bitter.

D: Interesting beer. A little out of balance to be sessionable, but worth a try.

Haybeerman, Apr 11, 2011
Photo of ReelBigwigFish
2.88/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured 12oz bottle into large Munchen Mug.

A: Dark copper brown color with minimal head, no lacing to speak of, slight haze, just off from translucent.

S: Smells piney and spicy with hints of apple and clove. Sweet and a little smoke and alcohol in there as well. Interesting pine scent, I'm so used to piney hops, and this is more like steeped pine needles.

T: Same as the nose, starting with a very sweet punch, and a slightly bitter finish. Again, interesting...

M: Perfect amount of carbonation, and I like the consistency; a little on the syrupy side but still quite drinkable.

O: Like others have said, this beer is basically an almost-new take on a rather typical one. It's enjoyable to try a bottle, but I'd be disappointed if I had paid for a 6-pack, at least for the price of $10. Yards has many a good beer, much better than this one; can't hit the bullseye every time.

ReelBigwigFish, Apr 05, 2011
Photo of JayQue
3.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not bad! Kind of like a Christmas spiced beer. The spruce and molasses replace the nutmeg and cinnamon flavors for the typical Christmas Ale.

Looks good!! Big off white head with good head retention. Lacing is minimal and patchy. Nice dark amber color, slightly hazy.

Smell is about average. The sharp spruce shows up in the aroma..that's about it.

Taste is a bit better than average. Although it tastes like a Christmas Ale, the flavors are not artificial or overpowering. The spruce tips provide bittering and a piney flavor. The molasses offers a sweeter balance.

Mouthfeel is crisp...the spruce ensures that. Spruce bitterness is a wake up call for the taste buds. No artificial flavors or aromas like so many Christmas-type beers.

Drinkability is ok, I could have a few of these but not a whole lot because of the spruce.

JayQue, Mar 13, 2011
Photo of Dmoore07
3.55/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours a deep amber. Solid head, sticks around for a bit. Some decent carbonation coming up.

S- Definitely has spruce! Very piney, a little spicey, and mildly malty. For sure, this beer is different than any other I've had. My nose is a bit stuffy, so I'm not on my aroma game right now.

T- Very unique! Sweet molasses up front, some malt in the middle, with a big pine finish. Again, this beer is unique and interesting.

M- Pretty smooth. Perfect carbonation for my tastes, not too much, and not too little.

D- I could have one or two tops. It is a tasty brew, but I think the spruce makes it difficult to session.

Dmoore07, Mar 10, 2011
Photo of beertunes
3.4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to dwaz for this one. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a clean, clear reddish brown, with a nice off-white head that had good retention and some lacing.

The aroma was a bit sweet from the molasses was noticeable. There was also a bit of spice. On the tongue, the story was pretty much the same. Spruce, spice, sweet malts and a lingering tang.

The body is medium, not light and not full. Drinkability was very good, I'd have a couple of these. Overall, this is a pretty good brew. Certainly worth a shot.

beertunes, Mar 07, 2011
Photo of deaconoflove
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ap. A very nice coppery brown ale with a decent, but short-lived head.
Sm. Pow! Spruce/pine/spice...right in the kisser. It's all spruce. Kind of off-putting to me, makes me think of household cleaner or room fresheners that I can't stand.
Ta. Follows the smell, unfortunately. Spruce/spice with some sweetness and a mildly bitter finish.
Mf. Well carbonated and a little sweet/sticky hanging on.
Dr. Part of an Ales of the Revolution case...maybe if I let it age for a few months. It's interesting, but I won't let it happen again.
UPDATE: I had another one or two over the next few days, and I like it much better. Still not a favorite, but very drinkable (sippable?).
UPDATE Again: I really like it now. Maybe that first bottle was off.

deaconoflove, Mar 01, 2011
Photo of mdaschaf
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

mdaschaf, Feb 24, 2011
Photo of turnstile
3.35/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a growler filled today at the Yards brewery.

Appearance: Reddish-mahogany and slightly hazy. 3/4 inch off-white head recedes slowly into a ring of carbonation and surface film. Beautiful lacing.

Smell: Strongly herbed; spruce dominates the nose. Piney, malty and faintly citrusy. Overall, not getting many complexities.

Taste: Very herbal - spruce is most present. Sweet malt backbone. Mild bitterness in the finish with a ginger-like note lingering.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with light and smooth carbonation. Creamy texture although a little syrupy.

Drinkability: It's a little too sweet and herbal to have a second. A great history lesson, though.

turnstile, Feb 14, 2011
Photo of Ty1erC
4.33/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

*12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.*

a: deep mahogany in color. good retention and lacing.

s: sweet malt, spruce.

t: this is a very flavorsome beer. the taste is dominated by malt, but in a way that is usually associated with old ales and barleywines. it seems bigger than a 5% beer. the spruce flavor is subtle and wonderful.

m: medium to full-bodied. smooth and creamy carbonation.

d: really drinkable and unique. the low abv makes it pretty sessionable. i'd definitely buy it again.

Ty1erC, Jan 31, 2011
Photo of xnicknj
3.38/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into pint glass

Pours a deep copper with some darker tones. A fairly thick off white head bubbles up and retains for a bit before fading out, leaving some spotty lacing on the glass.

The nose is really muted, with some faint tones of spice and doughy malt.

A nice wave of caramel malt mixed with molasses and temperate sweetness up front. An assortment of herbs and spice add some flair to the profile. Light hoppiness and sticky syrup sweet touches. Finishes with some bready notes and lingering dark malt.

Fuller medium body, decent carbonation, a little sticky. Drinks okay, although the advertised herbs and spices are pretty light, especially in the nose. Not bad, but I probably wouldn't seek it out.

xnicknj, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of LeftyEtc
4.13/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a pint glass a healthy thick heads rises almost on inch thick slowly receding to half an inch with bubbly lacing left in its retreat. Dark amber in color, cleared beautifully.

S - Cinnamon, nutmeg and other holiday spices are present behind the sweet matiness. Lightly toasted malts are evident, and yep, spruce.

T - A wonderful, well balanced sweetness is joined with toasted malts. The long awaited spruce comes though at the end of each sip right before a slight alcohol bite.

M - Full and creamy initial presence is highlighted by a sweet finish and intriguing spice notes.

D - A truly relaxing beer, good for cold winter nights and lazy days. Enjoying this beer as it warms in my hand, I could defiantly enjoy several Spruce Ales with my excitement about its taste not diminishing.

LeftyEtc, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of jman42
4.13/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Nice brownish color with a decent head. Lacing was average.

S: Definietly noticed a nice sweet maltiness to this beer. The spruce flavoring came through, but wasn't as pronounced as I was expecting.

T: Very interesting taste. Nice noticed the spruce and hints of other spices. I liked it.

M: Smooth and creamy with a medium body.

D: Very nice drinkable beer. Perfect for sitting around the fireplace on a cold day. Not necessarily one I'd want to drink all day, but I am looking forward to the other one in my sampler pack.

jman42, Dec 06, 2010
Photo of jmdrpi
3/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

appears a dark reddish copper, with off-white head. good lacing and head retention.

yup, the spruce flavor is definitely the main aroma. I assume they the spruce tips/sprigs completely replaced the hops, as the term "malt beverage" is used on the label. Interesting, although to me the aroma isn't necessarily very inviting. more medicinal.

basically tastes like an amber ale with the spruce replacing the hops as the bittering agent. higher carbonation, medium body.

Cool to see a nod to a historical recipe, but not quite my preferred taste.

jmdrpi, Dec 04, 2010
Photo of billab914
3.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Sam Adams pint glass. It poured a very dark amber color with a bit of a reddish hue to it. It started with a huge foamy head to it. The head faded but as it did there were some nice thick sheets of lacing left.

The spruce really shows in the aroma. It has a very fresh, green, Christmas tree like flavor to it. A little bit of malt sweetness comes through but the spruce is the dominating flavor.

The taste has a similar fresh and green spruce flavor to it. Towards the finish though more of the sweeter, malty flavors come out. It has a bit of a syrupy/sappy feel coming through in the finish as well. The spruce is the main flavor here, but it's not bad and interesting at least.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is decent, it was pretty drinkable for a spruce flavored beer. The spruce isn't something I would like very often, but it was a decent beer with a very cool concept behind it.

billab914, Dec 02, 2010
Photo of msubulldog25
4.2/5  rDev +18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My last of the mixed 6-pack from a mid-September visit to Yards/Philadelphia; don't know why it took so long to get to this one, other than it 'got lost' in the back of the fridge. A brown 12 oz. bottle with a label updated from the one shown above; poured to a pint glass. Another from the 'Ales of the Revolution' Series, this one based on Franklin's recipe and using, among other things, molasses and sprice tips/sprigs.

For what it's worth, I tossed a penny on Ben Franklin's grave in hopes of good luck... or a return trip to the city... or whatever.

A: Deep and tawny sienna, clear-ish but for a whole mess of hanging sediment (two months, give or take, since bottling and it looks like this? must be intentionally fuzzy). Modest khaki head - maybe 1/2 finger at most, then a scant dimpled cream. Minimal lace: what's there is a speckled spray.

S: Mildly 'green and spicy' amidst a sweeter malt nose. The zest of citrus, strong enough though nothing phenomenal. A whiff of pepper.

T: Absolutely what an 'herbed/spiced' beer is *supposed* to taste like in this reviewer's opinion. Spruce tips shine, a lovely woodsy and herbal mouthful. The zingy spice of something like ginger, with fleeting notes of black pepper. Think about, and a clove-like spice takes hold. Deeper and richer than I'd possibly imagined; in a word: yummy.

M: Smooth and creamy and light/medium-bodied. Mellow carbonation here is appropriate.

D: Really an enjoyable beer, and so easy to drink! At just 5%, the Tavern Spruce is plenty sessionable. PLENTY. If this is how the Founding Fathers imbibed, then sign me up for that first time machine trip back to the late 18th-century. If this were available in Portland, it'd be a fridge staple.

msubulldog25, Nov 30, 2010
Photo of tigg924
3.88/5  rDev +9%
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.

tigg924, Nov 29, 2010
Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 457 ratings.