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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 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
3.48/5  rDev -2.2%
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
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

4.12/5  rDev +15.7%
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
3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
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
3.76/5  rDev +5.6%
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
3.45/5  rDev -3.1%
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
4.61/5  rDev +29.5%
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
4.01/5  rDev +12.6%
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
2.79/5  rDev -21.6%
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
4.11/5  rDev +15.4%
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

Photo of donniecuffs
4.6/5  rDev +29.2%
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
3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
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
2.93/5  rDev -17.7%
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
3.89/5  rDev +9.3%
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
2.8/5  rDev -21.3%
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
4.84/5  rDev +36%
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
4.25/5  rDev +19.4%
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
3.26/5  rDev -8.4%
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
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

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