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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

485 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 485
Reviews: 193
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 17.7%
Wants: 20
Gots: 36 | 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
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Ratings: 485 | Reviews: 193 | Display Reviews Only:
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
4.2/5  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.

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.

Photo of mralphabet
3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
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
3.18/5  rDev -10.7%
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
3.45/5  rDev -3.1%
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
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
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
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
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
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

Photo of BeerConnoiseur
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Amber color, clear
S - Smell of molasses, faint hint of spruce
T - Unusual but in good way. Nothing like I've tasted before...different.
M - Thin, waterery, not syrupy at all
D - Very drinkable, pleasantly surprised but perhaps more of a winter brew.

Overall: I liked this...can see myself drinking this after snowmobiling orhaving fun in the snow. Definitely reminds me of Christmas in a good way!! Definitely a beer you should check out!

Serving type: bottle

Photo of Soonami
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
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 Durge
3.98/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark copper mahogany colored brew with a modest off-white fuzzy cover and similar lacing. The aroma is a sweet moxie evergreen and maple malt, fairly strong and decent. The flavor brings much the same as the smell. Mild menthol spruce/evergreen hops with toasted pumpernickel. The carbonation is decently brisk with a clean lively feel in a medium bodied brew. It's pretty drinkable and in my view a much more likable than the basic Tavern Ale I tried earlier tonight.

Photo of BigMike
2.9/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Cherry red. Crystal clear with a thin soapy eggshell colored head.

S: Very fragrant. Lots of Rosemary, thyme, pine needles, brown sugar and caramel.

T: Tons of pine needles and herbs. Just like the aroma, Rosemary, thyme. A bit of spearmint comes through as well. Not much sweetness and I don't taste any Of the molasses.

M: Light and very thin bodied almost watery. Nice amount of carbonation for the body.

Overall: an interesting beer based on Ben Franklins original recipe brewed with molasses,spruce tips and sprigs. Not exceptionally good on it's own bit I can definitely see this paired with food. More then likely this is not something I would seek out again.

4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
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 magine
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Pours a hazy light brown/dark amber color with a fluffy off white head that sits atop the brew rather nicely. Head settles to a thin pocket marked head that islands as you drink. Nice lacing sticks throughout the drink. Good looking brew.

Brew smells spiced; hops, herbs. Yep pretty much as the name states. Pretty Good smell.

Brew is smooth and has some nice hop/herb sweetness to it. Pine, molasses herbs - lots of flavors. Has a barley flavor as well. Has slightly thin to medium mouthfeel. Easy drinking brew. Very little aftertaste as well. As others have said in their reviews, think Christmas time with this one. Solid taste.

I like Yards alot, their brews always look good and taste good. This is a unique brew, that once you get midway through the glass, you appreciate its flavor. I am not an experienced herb/spice beer drinker, but this one is good. This could replace some of the winter brews out there that I have tried. Its drinkable but I dont know if a case would be something I would want. A good brew on a cool night by a camp fire for sure.

Photo of BuxMontBeerLover
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

New option from Wegmans-Build your own 6-pack. Decided to try.

A- Amber color, clear
S - Smell of molasses, faint hint of spruce
T - Unusual but in good way. Nothing like I've tasted before. The smell of pine is actually more pronounced than the actual taste of pine. It's there, of course, but not overbearing. Taste is quite enjoyable.
M - Thin, waterery, not syrupy at all
D - Very drinkable, pleasantly surprised but perhaps more of a seasonal (fall/winter) brew.

Overall: I liked this...can see myself on Christmas Eve drinking a few and going back in time when this was the type of brews the old timers used to drink. See it? Get some!

Photo of IronCitySteve
3.4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a brownish orange color with a slight off white head that quickly dissipates. Tere is some spotty lacing.

S: Smells a lot like eastern white pine trees to me but the bottle says spruce. Either way, the scent of pine is most prevalent.

T: Much weaker than the smell. I can hardly taste the spice or the pine. It does come through on the back end though.

M: Leaves a little creamy spruce taste on the palate.

D: This is an interesting beer for sure, nothing like I have ever tasted. THat being said, I was pleasantly surprise and enjoyed it. I wish I could taste more pine though. It was not overly spectacular but worthy of a shot.

Photo of bamadog
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review is from notes taken on 8/16/2010 and poured from the bottle to a pint glass. Thanks to beerman207 for hooking me up with this one -- a very nice beer that I will gladly look for again.

Appearance: Pour is a light toffee brown and starts with a 1/2 finger of light tan head that fades immediately to a thin island; body is a little hazy, but still shows decent carbonation; only a few spots of lacing are left behind.

Smell: Very interesting -- a sweet piney hoppiness and herbal aspect just pour out of this beer; a bit of an interesting spiciness as well that is reminiscent of nutmeg, like in a pumpkin ale almost.

Taste: Just as interesting as the smell -- lots of sweet and sticky pine herbal/spiciness and it really does remind me of spruce needles and Christmastime; a lot of the nice sweet nutmeg spiciness is present too and a bit of warm toffee-like maltiness.

Mouthfeel: Body is light to medium light and has great carbonation that is very lively and it thoroughly pushes the flavors around and avoids being sharp; a thin semi-moist stickiness is left behind.

Drinkability: Quite nice -- the flavors would make it much of a fall or winter selection, but I would certainly be more than happy to drink it any time of year; great flavors with a moderate ABV would easily allow for a couple to be gotten through.

Photo of droomyster
4.65/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is one of, if not The, most intriguing beers I've ever tasted. It smells and tastes like liquid Christmas. It looks completely ordinary and average in the glass, with a clear brown body and just a short-lived fizzy head. The aromas, however, are startling. Spruce and molasses, indeed, and lots of them, filling the nose, dancing over the palate, leaving the lingering tastes of cinnamon and evergreen needles for minutes afterward. This seems to be a love it or hate it sort of beer. I for one am head over heels with it.

edit: after reading an earlier review that described blueberry and menthol flavors in the beer, I want to add that I concur with that judgment.

Photo of zoso1967
4.03/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a very attractive red hued light brown with a creamy parchment head that has pretty decent staying power and leaves nice lace. The aroma is not what I had expected. It is pleasantly malty with plenty of toffee and brown sugar/molasses notes. I also detect some raisin and perhaps a bit of toasted malt like character. The spruce is only a rumor in the aroma, mostly coming off as herbaceous. The flavor is quite nice with a great balance. Malty overall with a sweet caramelized profile that mingles with some earthy hop like flavors(interesting as I do not believe hops are used in this beer at all) and subdued spruce essence that are most evident in the slightly medicinal finish. It's a much different flavor than that of say piney hops, and it really melds well with the malt instead of standing against it. I am also getting a bit of dried raisin or cherry character similar to what I smelled in the aroma. This is only my second beer brewed with spruce in it, but it is infinitely better than the first which was dominated by Christmas tree aroma and flavor. The mouthfeel on this beer is superb. Very creamy with subdued carbonation and a medium body. It goes down quite easily, but is not necessarily the kind of beer you would drink a lot of in one sitting. Another great offering from Yard's Ales of the Revolution series.

Photo of SamuelJackson45
2.83/5  rDev -20.5%
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.

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.05/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a wee chalice at the brewery.

The tag for this ale seems to imply that barley is not part of the recipe and, if so, it's not stated what grain was used in its place. I got a feeling barley be part of the bill here.

This resembles and drinks like an ESB by and large. Extra smooth body - somewhat cask-like. Dark brassy color with a smart, compact (white) head.

Where, when I had this initially a couple years ago at the Grey Lodge Pub in Philly, it was lighter in hue and sported a kickin' spruce infusion, this time, I had to strain a bit to catch a piney whiff. It's there - more as the ale warms up, but far from the spruce bomb I remember. The way they have things balanced now, I'd say it's much more accessible to the masses, though I'm (pardon the pun) pining for a little more spruce boldness. Aside from the featured spice, I very much enjoyed the nutmeg and brown sugar notes I was getting as well.

My least favorite of the Ales of the Revolution by a hair - they're all interesting and worth drinking - but I'm very intrigued as to what kind of grub this one would pair with.

Photo of benlaitman
4.5/5  rDev +26.4%
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.

Photo of gboy515duo
4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass

A: Pours a dark brown, almost porter colored darkness, with a THICK 3 finger+ head. Almost overflowing the pint glass. There was a strong amount of lacing throughout and the head stuck around.

S: Strong Piney smell, as well as oak. The spruce came through in a leafy smell, reminding me of fall and winter. There was a very minty quality pushing towards the winter smell.

T: the taste of the air when Spruce leaves are burning came through as well as the strong aged malt, ale flavor. It was an extremely winter style beer that would go well in the season. Very minty & strong on flavor.

M: Creamy and Minty, kind of offputting.

D: One for the books to get when I go out with the guys or bring a 6 pack to a party

Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 485 ratings.