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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 donniecuffs
4.63/5  rDev +30.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Found this at a respectable beer store in Lambertville, NJ, off of Main Street, though I don't remember the name. Anyway, into a pint glass, poured a reddish/brown with 3 fingers of beige head, and fantastic lacing. The nose? Wow..juicyfruit, spearmint, maple syrup, and molasses. The flavor was even more impressive with a big macintosh apple influence, mixed with juicyfruit, mint, and molasses, and then dissolving to a crisp mac apple/mint finish, which lingered afterwards. Spritzy yet medium-bodied and smooth. As I drank this while smoking some pork butt on my Brinkmann in the backyard, I couldn't help noticing that this is a great summer beer.

Photo of OneDropSoup
3.55/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip pint: Beautiful amber-ruby with burnt orange highlights under 2 fingers of porous, off-white head that falls to a thin coating. No lacing.

Interesting smell: blueberries, a minty/lime flavor (mojito?), very brisk & light.

Taste starts off with a blueberry or juniper tang & moves into a breezy menthol. There's a light caramel kind of hiding between the stronger flavors. In comes a spicy heat, the kind you get from cinnamon gum (though it's not cinnamon). It then dries out, with floral notes like conifer needles, appropriately. First few sips are a little harsh, but it mellows out.

Medium-bodied, smooth & airy. Like popping a mint & feeling that cool, buoyant air, this has that sort of sensation. A little spicy & prickly at times, too.

Interesting & not unpleasant overall. Went from novel to harsh to pretty decent. Another "glad I tried it" beer, but I can't see drinking more than one at a time, & I doubt I'd seek it out. Still, not bad.

Photo of krisandajt
2.95/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A beer courtesy of mymrnngjckt...

Appearance: Poured from the bottle, this beer is a dark, mahogany brown color with no head and no sign of life. There's a very faint, thin ring of white bubbles around the very edge of the beer, but that's about it. Not really a whole lot of lacing going on, maybe a spot or two here and there.

Smell: Yup, smells like a pine tree. Reminds me of the smell that fills your house when you put up a Christmas tree two days before Christmas when all the good trees are taken and you had to pick from the bargain lot.

Taste: Mirrors the smell, no big shocker there. The taste is sweet and (brace yourself) piney. I'm not talking the kind of pine taste you get from hops, I'm talking about chewing-on-a-tree kind of pine. It's good for what it is, I suppose...just not for me.

Mouthfeel: No fizz and kinda thin.

Drinkability: Not exactly my kind of beer. Yard's was going for spruce, and they nailed it. If you like this kind of beer, I'd say go for it. Unfortunately, this one isn't for me and I gotta say it's a drain pour. I'm glad I got to try it, but I'll pass next time.

Photo of wahhmaster
3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Corned Beef & Co. shaker pint.

Appearance: Pours a reddish-brown color with a thin, tan head that dissipates quickly and leaves little lacing.

Smell: Smells strongly of molasses and pine needles. Has a little bit of roasted malt in the background but molasses definitely dominates.

Taste: Starts with a strong hoppy bitterness. As it develops, it gains a strong molasses flavor backed by significant pine, caramel, and roasted malt flavors. Reminds me a lot of a ginger snap cookie.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a light carbonation. A bit sticky to finish.

Drinkability: This is a very unique beer. I've never had a beer flavored with spruce before and, I must say, it really enhanced the drinking experience. This beer is most definitely worth a shot.

Photo of number1bum
2.78/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Thanks to mymrnngjckt for a bottle of this.

Pours a somewhat cloudy, brownish copper color with one finger of tan head. Settles to only a thin lace.

Smell definitely has a good amount of spruce in it. It's bizarre. It's very herbal, somewhat cooling with a sort of menthol kind of quality to it. Some honey sweetness.

Taste is also bizarre. The best comparison I can make is that this tastes like campho phenique. If you don't know what that is it's a cold sore medication that unfortunately I use somewhat frequently. It does taste like spruce but in a medicinal way, and more specifically like campho phenique (minus any numbing). I guess you could call it herbal, and there is a cooling menthol quality like in the nose, but those are also things you'd find in campho phenique. I've said enough.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty smooth. Has a cool mintyness in the finish which is interesting. Carbonation is pretty modest.

This is not my cup of tea. Maybe it's because it immediately conjures up thoughts of nasty cold sores but the campho phenique/medicinal flavor is just not something I find appealing. It's interesting, but definitely not something I will try again. I just don't enjoy this flavor at all. This was both a drainpour and a glass changer.

Photo of brandon1920
4.85/5  rDev +36.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Very good beer. Frist of its kind that I have tasted. It makes me want to fly to Philadelphia and back just to stock up. If you live near you must go on a tour and try each and every beer that Yards offers, you won't be sorry. My wife and I took a tour on our honey moon and can't wait to go back.

Photo of velkyal
3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is something of strange beast, being crimson in colour and having a heady mix of pine and caramel on the nose, which carries over to the drinking. With the prevalence of pine fresh toilet cleaner though these days though, it is difficult not to think of industrial cleaner instead of the tasty, delightful beer that this undoubtedly is.

Photo of DrDemento456
4.28/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The final beer in my yards mixed variety pack.
A - Slight dark amber hue with very little head and slight lacing,
S - Some oak and some pine with cinnamon and hop background. Smells good.
T - Cinnamon predominant with very little bitter from oak or pine. Has almost a sticky sweet flavor.
M - Very light. Coats the mouth very well.
D - Overall a very nice beer at 5 percent a perfect succession beer full of oaky and spiced flavor. Great brew

Photo of MikeRa
3.3/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: This ale pours a dark amber looking color with a 1" head, and no lacing

S: It smells like a mix of pine, spruce and cinnamon

T: It has a unique taste of cinnamon with some pine and spruce in it

M: This ale goes down real smooth

D: This is a really nice drinkable ale, and will drink again

Photo of kshankar
3.98/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a brownish red with a small foam that doesn't really retain much. No lacing.

Aroma is pine, spices like cinnamon.

Taste is spiced...cinnamon and spruce come through, with a malt backing that goes well with it

Mouthfeel is light and well carbonated, and its highly drinkable. I'd say drinkability is the best feature of this beer.

Photo of joepais
4.33/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for a great person sending this to me. I poured this bottle into a small sifter it produced a small white bubbly head that left fast the body was a light brown in color.

The aromas were sweet and malty balanced by some unmistakable spruce note. The flavor was nice as well it was defiantly one of the best spiced beer I have ever had truly enjoyable it had that bitter spruce flavor but a big old molasses base to balance this one out. It felt great in the mouth with good carbonation.

A great beer I could have had another one right after my first which is suprising for a spiced brew. well worth trying and seeking out

Photo of boston2bburg
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

Photo of stakem
3.35/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a slightly hazy amber color with a tan head that doesn't offer much in the way of retension. It isn't long before the beer is left with only a thin ring of lace along the top of the beer. Nose includes a bit of caramel maltiness along with a bit of a citrus zip that isn't quite hops but is close to it. Taste upfront is an overwelming amount of the "spruce" addition. It is quite spicey and it lingers right on through until the aftertaste. Body of the beer has some maltiness but the spruce really distracts from the other flavors that might be in this beer. It has a medium to light feel and light amount of carbonation. For me, this would be a good festive holiday beer. For some reason the spruce is reminding me of the Christmas holiday season. However, it is not something I would want to drink on a regular basis.

Photo of klkatz
3.38/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is an interesting beer. If you can even call it a beer. The label mentions it as a "malted beverage". It's a "beer" that probably has a broad appeal to the masses in the fact that it's very drinkable.

The color was dark red / mahagony. It is a very light body with extremely high carbonation. It poured with virtually no head.

With an average mouth feel. It had a sweet, mild maltiness with hints of juice as it went down. Was trying to get to the spuce and sprigs, but I couldn't distinguish it.

It is appealing - but not my type of beer.

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!

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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