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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.

471 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 471
Reviews: 191
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 17.7%
Wants: 20
Gots: 34 | 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: 471 | Reviews: 191 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerGodz
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Reddish brown color, small head, light lacing

Smell: Pine, ginger, brown sugar

Taste: Up Front: Malty, pine, slight spiciness. Finish: Dry, sweet and minty

Mouthfeel: Light and tingly (in a non-gay way)

Drinkability: At 5% it could be a session beer if you like spicy, otherwise it could be a one and done.

Overall Impression: This brew reminds me of Christmas ale, so it is a good winter beer. I feel like I just quaffed a brew with our founding fathers. I feel the need to fly a kite in a electrical storm now!

BeerGodz, Feb 25, 2010
Photo of TMoney2591
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Killian's imperial pint glass.

Pours a cluttered light ruby brown with a small white bubbly head that doesn't really lace much at all. The smell has a lightly syrupy smell, with some subtle piny and floral notes as well. The spruce comes through pretty well in the taste, with some light hoppy bitterness, pine needles, and some subtle molasses as well. The body is nicely moderate, but there's a sharp tinge of carbonation at the end that serves to keep things a little awkward. That aside, this is a nice, solid, drinkable brew.

TMoney2591, Feb 22, 2010
Photo of treehugger02010
3.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found this bottle in the Ales of the Revolution variety case that I purchased at Bryn Mawr Beverage in Bryn Mawr, PA. I poured it into a pint glass.
Appearance: The body is a cloudy dark brown color. The head is thick, dark eggshell in color, three fingers tall, tiny bubbles, moderate retention and great leggy lacing.
Smell: The aromas are piney, resin, and hints of grapefruit.
Taste: The flavors are toffee, spicy and pine.
Mouthfeel: The body is thick with a crisp mouthfeel.
Drinkability: This is a very good beer.
Don't drink and review.

treehugger02010, Feb 21, 2010
Photo of blackie
3.63/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: pint glass, the clear, nutshell brown ale supports a white head that fast recedes to a low layer

s: heavy spruce - which might be described as a cross between pine sap and sassafras root - rides a nutty brown malt body sweetened with dark molasses sugars, bearing considerable resemblance to a certain midwestern spiced crispmus ale, spiced dark breads, pretty nice with the tree addition in good balance

m: carbonation smooth on a body that rides the light-medium line

t: a nutty malt base holds a big spruce presence and raw dark sugars compliments of the molasses addition, the spruce is pretty interesting but creates a root beer flavor on the tongue that may turn some off, molasses, wood, and barley linger with a moderate bitterness, the flavors build in the aftertaste with each sip and wear after a bit

d: reasonable, worth a shot but content with only having a single, I do appreciate the attempt to honor a historical recipe

single from Whole Foods Fair Lakes

blackie, Feb 18, 2010
Photo of mdfb79
3.13/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - A rust/dark amber color with little head of carbonation.

s - Smells strongly of spruce and pine, as well as cinnamon, some spices, and maybe a little bit of malt.

t - Small amounts of spruce and pine, but not as much as I was expecting. Tastes of pepper and spices.

m - Very carbonated and light bodied.

d - This beer was decent, but not my favorite. I didn't think the spices and spruce were very flavorful, and thought the smell and taste were a little lacking. I wouldn't buy this one again.

mdfb79, Feb 18, 2010
Photo of longdivision
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured a dark copper and had a thin head that didn't last long.
S - Spicy, cinnamon, fig. Probably been said already, but it does smell like a Christmas tree. As it warmed I did pick up some black pepper.
T - Big spruce flavor dominates. Also had flavors of spice and a cinnamon-ish bite in the finish. I couldn't detect any hops. Had supporting malts, and there were some interesting, slight sour notes at times.
M - Light bodied and big carbonation. It was surprisingly easy to drink given the unique flavor.
O - I enjoy it. I remember it being stronger tasting a few years ago. It seems they scaled back the spice and spruce more recently.

longdivision, Feb 06, 2010
Photo of Katahdin
4.6/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an amber body with a dirty sand color head that holds well. Smell has hints of molasses and the dried spruce twigs, a bit of a musty forest smell to it with a pleasing aroma of fresh evergreens over the mustiness. The flavor was a bit complex with earthy tastes of wood fiber, some maltiness, and the citrus like flavor of the spruce. Went down quite easily, not at all like chewing on a Christmas tree. A true interpretation of a Ben Franklin beer recipe. Very enjoyable.

Katahdin, Feb 02, 2010
Photo of saccro
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - not much head at all. Fairly clear though. Dark golden brown

S - gruit-spice aroma. sweet, but not like malty wort. no hops. Mild rootbeer-like aroma that may be the spruce

T - tastes like bittered watered-down rootbeer. A real thirst-quenching beer that is obvious in its low gravity. Very watery, but do all our beers have to be huge and malty? Odd choice for beer style -- you think a beer like this would be from its description, something you'd drink by a warm fire, but instead is a beer that would be great for the summer based on its quenchability. I would like to try the beer made from the first runnings of this beer's mash -- if it were to exist.

M - very light body and spritzy carbonation which I think helps give it a little more character.

saccro, Jan 17, 2010
Photo of NJCraftBeer
3/5  rDev -15.7%
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.

NJCraftBeer, Dec 25, 2009
Photo of beerthulhu
3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a rustic-amber with a 1 finger frothy, sandstone colored head that displayed a fair amount of retention (2-3min) before lapsing to a patchy covering. Visible carbonation was composed of lazily rising micro-bubbles.

S: The nose was dried molasses and dried caramel being the most prominent mixing well with a sense of dry twigs. The spruce tips are also noticeable giving this a fresh winter scent of evergreen. Overall a light sense making your work to appreciate its scent.

T: The flavor was light with a thin caramelized grain sweetness opening things up. Sweet caramel, hints of warm brown sugar and fresh spruce stand out nicely giving this a fresh burst of greenery. There are fresh citrusy tones lurking in the background adding a wet lemony ice tea twang of the finishing swallow.

M: The mouthful was oily slick with a medium body. A nice touch of carbonation is detected on the swallow. Things finish up with a bright lemony twang combined with a sweet grain lacing on the tongue.

D: A good ole time tavern ale with solid drinkability good for several at a time. A nice change of pace beer, fairly unique flavorwise with a good sense of enjoyment. 6 pack recommend.

beerthulhu, Dec 24, 2009
Photo of BARFLYB
3.55/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have not had this beer since it came in the pretty blue bottles. I was young in my exploration of different beers and this one always left a bad taste in my mouth seriously. I swore I would not have it again, but in the name of reconciliation, I bought a bottle with a different label, probably from the change in the brewery's location.

Chestnut brown from fallen acorns in the fall. The beer pours out pretty muddy brown and becomes chustnuty when condensed. A nice medium cream colored head stays afloat for a few before taking a powder. Not much in terms of lace, just some stringy lines here and there. Decent looking beer.

The smell consists of a big pile of spruce tips gathered up on a tarp by your landscaping company. It's really large but not as much as I remember. Under that a big amount of caramel sweet malt with some molasses hiding in the corner with a dunce cap on. Spicy and nothing in terms of hops although they must be used, right?

Taste is subdued in terms of the amount of spruce they laced this batch with. I remember the spruce dominating this beer ten fold and tree sap with spruce would stay with you for hours after consuming. Now, this is not so much a problem. Caramel, molasses, grain and some malt take the spruces edge away and I like it.

The feel is medium bodied with a solid build, tavern spruce does not slouch in terms of flavor so that's not a problem as well. A decent amount of carb felt on the tounge which I think fits perfectly for this type of beer. The aftertaste is of spruce but not as much as in the past, making this much more bearable for me.

I would not go around and pick up a six of this as spruce does not do it for me, but im glad I picked this bottle up. Maybe it's the change in location of the brewery or maybe it's the recession that's keeping boatloads of spruce from making it's way into the tanks, but I seem to like where this is going. Hopefully Yards makes more steps in this direction in the future.

BARFLYB, Dec 20, 2009
Photo of mtnbikerpa
4.05/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I bought this brew quite by surprise as part of the Ales of the Revolution variety pack. Poured from 12 ounce bottle into a fest beer glass. Carmel color and a trace head only on the outside rim of the glass lightly carbonated. Smell is absolutely wonderful a smell of sweet pine and sugary molasses. Outstanding spruce crisp flavor with sweetness like a sugary cookie. No notable hop profile, very moderate mouthfeel. This is a very drinkable brew I could very easily reach for another one.

mtnbikerpa, Dec 11, 2009
Photo of bob3701
4.75/5  rDev +33.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I truely enjoyed this beer, it really caught me by surprise. Poured a dark hazy amber with a creamy white head and laced really well. You could smell the molasses and spruce it was an amazing aroma. And the taste did not disappoint. Sweet from the molasses and that spruce tasted better then I thought it would. Finished with a citrusy after-taste. Euell Gibbons would be proud of this one. Makes me want to Drive to Philly and try it on tap at City Tavern. My hat is off to Yards.

bob3701, Dec 06, 2009
Photo of philbe311
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - One fingers worth of even light tan head with limited retention which gives way to a slight ring of bubbles around the edges of the glass... A medium brown chestnut color... Limited carbonation...

S - The spruce is quite evident in the nose, but not over powering or off putting... Ginger snaps... Toffee... Caramel... A faint nuttiness...

T - Molasses... Ginger... Earthy... Hints of toffee and caramel... Ever so slightly medicinal... I was afraid the spruce would dominate the taste, but its subtle and mixes well with all the other flavor components...

M - Medium bodied... Lightly carbonated... Very smooth... Slightly lush... Just a tad sticky...

D - A unique and quite quaffable offering from Yards... A was a little leery upon opening that the spruce would be off putting, but this was anything but... Solid and a beer I would welcome in my glass at any time in the future...

philbe311, Dec 03, 2009
Photo of NJpadreFan
3.98/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

NJpadreFan, Nov 01, 2009
Photo of drtth
3.93/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Moderately chilled and poured into a Duvel glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: The beer pours out a clear dark mahogany color with a 1 ½" creamy off-white tan head that recedes slowly, leaving foam and lacing on the side of the glass. Initially, sipping leaves patches of foam and delicate lacing on the side of the glass. Later as the head recedes to a small ring and some surface patches sipping still leads to a thin sheet of foam that turns into dense patterns of lacing.

Smell: The aroma clearly contains a soft smell of spruce resin and needles modulated and softened by the sweetness of the molasses. The spruce definitely gives it a mild medicinal character.

Taste: As expected from the aroma, the flavors are dominated by spruce and molasses. Throughout the resinous flavor of the spruce is forward and in charge while the molasses provides a back bone and support, keeping the harshness of the spruce tame and preventing it from becoming unpleasant.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is light to medium bodied with moderate persistent carbonation and a light silkiness. The finish is moderately long begins with the sweet molasses forward keeping the spruce in the background. It then becomes dryer as the molasses taste fades more quickly than the spruce, leaving a dry almost medicinal finish from the spruce.

Drinkability: I haven't smelled and tasted anything quite like this since I was a kid collecting pinion pine cones and then roasting them to get at the pine nuts and trying to get the pine sap/resin off my hands. I could see having this one again once getting accustomed to these flavors in a beer. It seems a perfect accompaniment to the December holiday season while trimming a Christmas tree. Even now I'd not be unhappy with a few more bottles of this beer for an evening, but this is definitely a beer for slow sipping.

drtth, Sep 09, 2009
Photo of rfgetz
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Coppery brown in tone with decent head that thins out quickly.

S - Spruce and hints of molasses and brown sugar

T - Spruce and Molasses... not much else going on. The two ingrediants work well together.

M - the ingredients dictacte an abuse to the palate, but the finnish is medium bodied and does not linger

D - With the balanced Spruce and Molasses combo you'll either love it or feel indifferent, not appaled. Would recommend a clean palate for tasting.

rfgetz, Jul 08, 2009
Photo of Lexluthor33
2.95/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

The appearance was hazy,light medium brown with an orange tint that was almost golden. A small head and thin lace.

The aroma of sugar,and spruce.

The taste of spruce is dominant with a sweet, molasses flavor.

The feel was low carbonation and a medium body.

Notes: This was not a bad beer,but I must add that it was not my preferred style. It was cloyingly sweet and while the overall makeup was average I found it hard to finish the whole beer. I mean it was not like when you can't finish a beer because it's awful;it was just too sweet and sprucy for me.

Lexluthor33, Jun 05, 2009
Photo of BeerImmediately
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Didn't even notice the cool blue bottle color until after the beer was poured!

HUUUUGE 'ed on this puppy ... filled the glass w/only a few oz. of beer. Body was a deep opaque mahogany, head was a tan color and it left a thick lacing.

Most noticeable smell to me was the sweet, malty molasses and a strange hint of metal. Spruce didn't come thru until it warmed.

Taste was shocking - relative to the look and smell... I was expecting something like a dubbel, and I got a puckering lemon and wit-like flavor. I guess w/ spruce tips, I was also expecting more hoppy-forest qualities, but this one was much more like a sweet-and-sour hard candy.

Found the mouthfeel to be tart, but pretty nice - none of the graininess reported in other reviews.

Drinkability was ok - little sour for my liking, and therefore I would be hard pressed to have more than 2 in one evening.

Appreciate the creativity from Yards, though (even if it IS modeled after a centuries-old recipe!)

BeerImmediately, May 01, 2008
Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
3.63/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12 oz. cobalt blue bottle. (I dig the bottle)

Nice surprise to get a beer I have not tried yet in a variety case of Yards. I did not notice until I arrived home :)
Pours a nice rich, slightly cloudy, brown color; w/ a nice head with a rough pour but it does dissipates fairly quickly.
On the nose, hints of spruce, molasses, and spices.
Nice taste (let warm); molasses, spruce, sweet caramel malt, hints of pine/hops.
The mouth feel oily before swallowing, afterwards however it is rough, sand paper-ish. I am not sure what contributes to this gritty after/mouth feel, but it stays around long after. I like the fact the beer taste lingers but the mouth feel is just annoying. (Will need another variety case to test again, however some other reviews seem to confirm the gritty after after/mouth feel)
We shall see how the Yards beers change (if at all) w/ the Yards/PBC split. I'm excited either way!

WilliamPhilaPa, Mar 08, 2008
Photo of jasonjlewis
2.65/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice 2 finger head with a cloudy brown color. Head dissipates half way down the glass.

Smell is of toasted caramel malts, spruce, and molasses.

Taste was pretty bad to start off with and got better as the beer warmed. It has an off flavor and some tannic acid I think. Some undesirable flavors mask the toasty caramel maltiness. The spruce is a little too strong and it overpowers the sweetness of the malts and molasses. I don't really liek this beer.

Weak and watery mouthfeel.

Not a beer that I will try again. I appreciate the sample though, whoever it was from.

jasonjlewis, Mar 03, 2008
Photo of Kreuger
3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12 oz. blue bottle.

A - Pours out a rich looking, slightly cloudy, brown ale. It starts with a moderate head but it dissipates down to a thin lace pretty quickly. There is slight visible carbonation.

S - There's a very satisfying and appropriate sprucey nose and its strongly supported by a powerful molasses presence; but there is also a metallic note that plays a bit too often through out the life of this beer, and shows up seemingly at random.

T - There isn't much hop representation here, its bite comes almost exclusively from the spruce. But there is a very strong character of the molasses that its brewed with, and the molasses are a lovely malt substitute. I'd look forward to more beers made with molasses. It adds a luxuriant smoky sweetness to the flavor a pleasant lingering aftertaste.

M - The mouthfeel is good. its not overly bulky or malty nor is it astringent. The moderate abv ride very comfortable below the spruce bite.

D - The primary drawback, as other reviewers have observed, is how strong a flavor it is. It can get overpowering.

Spruce is an acquired taste to be sure, and not one that everyone will like. It makes this a very difficult beer to pair with food. The wrong food and suddenly its a mixture of dirt and garden hose instead of molasses and spruce, but the right sharp cheese and you might just be in heaven.

I'd buy it again, and share it liberally. I think its a growth experience every beer connoisseur should have at least once.

Kreuger, Feb 25, 2008
Photo of deapokid
3.33/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Unbelievably thick lace coats the rim as a heap of rich molasses and heavy carbonation fill the glass.
A forest-y aroma with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg permeates leading up to the first taste, which is reminiscent of Christmas trees and fresh peaches.
This interesting ale pours over the tongue lightly and is quite refreshing, with a taste reminiscent of a winter warmer tinged with a variety of spices like mint and maple syrup. Was really off-putting at first, but grew on me overtime and is quite an original little number.

deapokid, Feb 21, 2008
Photo of splat215
3.45/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is.... surprisingly drinkable. Now normally when I approach a beer, I don't expect it to smell like a christmas tree farm - but this one does. Which is not necessarily a bad thing - just ... a bit off.

Once you get past the smell of pine tree beer, the taste on this one's fairly decent. The taste is spruce, spruce, and spruce, but fairly subtle and doesn't knock your taste-buds off. Nice mild carbonation, good mouthfeel, goes down pretty easily.

And yes, the bottle is very cool.

splat215, Feb 02, 2008
Photo of Biscuit033
4.2/5  rDev +18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark amber almost brown delivered with minimal head. There was little retention and spotty lacing.

S: Molasses, mint, pine, and some mulling spices.

T: Molasses and brown sugar taste and sweetness is balanced superbly by the spruce, earthy, and spices. I am amazed by how this type of beer is so well balanced and easy drinking.

M: Creamy but with some slight oiliness. The flavors linger on but the spruce almost cleanses the palate.

D: Surprisingly quaffable. This is something that I would consider for a long day of drinking in the winter.

Biscuit033, Jan 23, 2008
Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 471 ratings.