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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.

500 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 500
Reviews: 197
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 17.13%
Wants: 24
Gots: 51 | 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: 500 | Reviews: 197 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bobhits
2.34/5  rDev -34.3%
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.

Photo of oline73
4.12/5  rDev +15.7%
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.

Photo of Haybeerman
3.27/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

Photo of ReelBigwigFish
2.9/5  rDev -18.5%
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.

Photo of JayQue
3.41/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

Photo of Dmoore07
3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Photo of beertunes
3.41/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

Photo of deaconoflove
3.78/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

Photo of mdaschaf
3.62/5  rDev +1.7%
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 turnstile
3.34/5  rDev -6.2%
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.

Photo of Ty1erC
4.32/5  rDev +21.3%
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.

Photo of xnicknj
3.36/5  rDev -5.6%
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.

Photo of LeftyEtc
4.08/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

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.

Photo of jmdrpi
3.01/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

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.

Photo of msubulldog25
4.15/5  rDev +16.6%
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.

Photo of tigg924
3.87/5  rDev +8.7%
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 mralphabet
3.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

A: Poured a reddish-brown color with a good fingers worth of head that settles to a nice ring with little lacing.

S: Lots of stuff here and some are quite strange. Sweet roasted malt with molasses, caramel (yummy) then the strange floats in... Pine, like pine tree needles. I'm catching just a wiff of hops.

T: I'm getting the good stuff up front, sweet roasted malt, caramel and molasses, then a light hops jumps in finishing with a strong pine note. Strange but good.

M: Medium bodied with a light carbonation. A little sticky feeling as it warms up.

D: Strange but good.. Low ABV, great and unique flavors, worth looking for if you like the strange and unique. One or two will do you.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.2/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a pint glass.

Pours a moderate brown-amber color with an off-white head and a tiny amount of lacing. The nose is dominated by the spruce and there isn't much else there. Maybe a tiny bit of light brown sugar. A bit of bready malt.

The nose brings some more pine and spruce as well as a bit of light earthy character. Some other mild herbs there as well. A bit of very light sweetness and bread crust, but this is a bit plain and relies too heavily on spruce alone. Feel is fairly light with good carbonation. Interesting, but not all that great.

Photo of JRed
3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Transparent brownish-red in body with fluffy off-white head that leaves little lacing. Sharp aroma of molasses, spices, pepper, spiced honey, soy sauce. Tastes of molasses, spices, medicinal flavors, salt, hop bitterness towards the finish and the drink rides out on some hop dryness and slight pepper/soup. High in carbonation and medium bodied. A warming beer that goes well on this rainy day.

Photo of goblue3509
3.47/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a brown color with a slight one finger head which goes to skim and some moderate lacing. The aroma is of sweet malts and a big spruce aroma. It's kinda like a tree in a bottle with sweetness. The taste is much of the same, there is a nice sweet malt backbone that balances out a sprucey tree like flavor. It is a different taste, not bad, but different. The mouthfeel is a little slick and moderately carbonated. Overall its tough to think about drinkability, it is so different in its taste that it is very interesting, yet the taste is something that would get old after two or three.

Photo of TheFightfan1
3.62/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear brown color with lighter ruby highlights. Tan heading which doesn't hold too long.

Smell is very intriguing. Heavy aroma's pulling through. I have no idea what sprig is but I do smell the spruce they speak of.

Taste is not as bad as I'd thought it would be.LOL. Decent malt billing to kind of bind these ingredients together. Yeasty fruitiness is apparent as well.

Smooth mid-bodied brew with an almost perfumey type of aftertaste.

Very unique brew I was glad I tried it.

Photo of Liverpool08
3.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very interesting brew. A dark amber brown with a thin tan head. Aroma of malt, some sweet molasses and a hint of the spruce. Fist sip is a bit malty, but different. Some molasses and yet still something else. There is a spice?? Maybe the spruce. Its not overwhelming, its actually nice. It makes this one more like a winter warmer or Christmas ale. Has that nice warm brown ale flavor with just that hint of spruce or cloves?? Either way its a tasty brew for the colder months. Glad I tried it.

Photo of stingrayvr6
3.77/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown/amber into a pint glass. Thick cream colored head, great retention and lacing. Smell of strong spruce, like a forest, some malt sweetness and spice. Spruce hits the tongue right away, almost overpowering. A little more malt backbone would have helped this one, but definitely tasty and certainly has its own flavor niche. Good beer.

Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 500 ratings.