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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale | Yards Brewing Co.

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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce AlePoor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale

Brewed by:
Yards Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States | website

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

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.

Added by NeroFiddled on 01-05-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 201 | Ratings: 561
Photo of mactrail
4.05/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Attractive amber in the glass. Pleasing maltiness with a dose of piney woods. Very mellow flavor. Of the few spruce flavored beers I've had, this one is the best.

A hint of what tastes like licorice, though that may be a component of the spruce. Oh, looking at the label, it ust be the touch of molasses. Not as resiny as you might think, but more aromatic. Aroma of violets and sage. The beer itself is a rich and mellow ale, quite a big mouthful. The aromatic spruce with a touch of hops give it a nice balance.

Way bigger and richer than the 5% ABV would suggest. This is a thoroughly drinkable ale with the friendliest flavors. The molasses gives some spice and fruitiness along with the hoppy edge that is really worth a try.

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Photo of cpolking
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a deep and dark reddish-copper in color. There is a short head of off-white foam.

The aroma, not surprisingly, has a good amount of pine. The juxtaposition of the molasses and the spruce makes a sweet-tart note. It is oddly a bit like the old Bottle Caps candy.

The taste is sweet, tart and pine, pine, pine. This is like drinking a pine sap cocktail (with Bottle Caps candy thrown in).

For its deep color and intense flavors, it drinks surprisingly light. It is well carbonated. It is refreshing, but definitely unique and a bit odd.

Thanks to tone77 for this beer.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
2.88/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale

"Pours" a deep copper in color. A white foam cap, decent retention, some lace.

Aroma of spruce tips, suggestions of maple syrup, slightly minty and medicinal.

In the taste, spruce is dominant, with some molasses and well toned sweetness. Sweet pine. There is almost a menthol kick with the spruce, and it is kind of soothing.

Medium bodied, crisp level of carbonation yet somewhat syrupy. Perhaps because it was an aged bottle.

Overall, interesting brew that really does highlight the spruce tip flavor. Something I could definitely drink in simpler times when much better craft beer was not available.

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Photo of tobelerone
2.9/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I’d been curious about this beer for some time and found myself at the brewery one recent afternoon so I gave it a shot. It’s not terrible but it’s also not terribly interesting or something I’d go back to. That said, I’m glad I tried it.

Pour is copper to amber colored and a little cloudy. A decent sized head sinks to a thin band quickly. Lacing is pretty solid. Aroma is led by the spruce but it’s not overbearing and combines well with a general maltiness and some sweet caramel, maple syrup notes. The taste isn’t quite as appealing; the spruce is a little stronger than I’d like, the sweetness doesn’t cover up the “drinking a tree’ flavor, what seemed like an appealing maple syrup note in the nose instead feels more like a heavy handed dose of molasses. It’s still not quite sweet enough to cover the assertive and bitter spruce taste. Even a generic kind of bready malt flavor is pretty well hidden. It’s not that the spruce is totally overwhelming, it’s just that everything seems muddled and unfortunately, not all that tasty.

The body of this beer is medium, carbonation is right down the middle, feel is fine overall. Someone else said it was “like drinking your Christmas tree water” and that’s pretty apt. Not a ton of fun.

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Photo of CliffBrake
3.79/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Crystal bright reddish copper color with a good off white head that maintains a slick of bubbles and leaves good lacing on the glass.

Very light aroma. If I use my imagination, I think I can smell a whiff of malt and spruce, but I am not too sure. The spruce is definitely present in the flavor, offset by a bit of molasses and leading to a herbal bitter finish. Balanced and tasty.

Medium light mouthfeel with good carbonation. Overall this is a beer that one would really want to be a spruce aficionado to try. The spruce is not subtle, but is well done. I am sure this one is good for whatever ales (ails) you. Give it a try!

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Photo of clayrock81
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Odd beer I wasn't sure I'd like as it could be hit or miss but was more of a hit. Poured a light brownish hue with solid one-finger head that left bubbles and lace so no complaints. On first sniff I get a mild sticky malt aroma, with some sweetness, then patches of piney, floral hops and some spice (guess that's the spruce). Light to medium bosy, smooth and chewey, some breadiness and touch of sweet malts in this beer, odd balance with minor floral hops and the spices for a weird sweet/heavy bitter and light mix. Crisp finish, and while not perfectly balanced this could've been a lot worse and I enjoyed relaxing with this beer.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Although I believe this to be a very well brewed beer, it's a distinct taste that I personally wouldn’t consider sessionable...

Pours a hazy darkish amber with a decent cream-coloured head. Aroma is pure "spruce", with an underlying wood spiciness. Malts are more noticeable in the taste, sweetly caramelized, but the overwhelming flavour is that of the spruce tips. The finish is sweet but spruce-prevalent and lingers for an impressive length of time.

A unique beer that I definitely recommend trying!

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Photo of DanielBrett
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Just through a sixtel in the kegerator.

A: Brown /orange in color, poured about 3 fingers of white foamy head (likely because this was the first pour). It settled relatively quick. Have some lacing but not extremely sticky.

S: Like shoving your face into your Christmas tree, this brew has a big time spruce nose. Definitely one of my favorite aspects of this beer.

T: Very piney with some mildly sweet molasses flavors, not much bitterness. This brew tastes exactly like it smells.

M: Light bodied, smooth, easy drinking beer.

O: The first time I had this was at Yards Taproom, I really enjoyed it. I'm usually a fan of high hops, and higher alcohol content than this. However, this is a great, easy to drink session beer for the colder months.

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Photo of tone77
3.56/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a pretty auburn color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of spruce and pine. Taste is also spruce, pine, a menthol like flavor, different and unusual. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall I would not want a steady diet of it, but worth a try.

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Photo of jtierney89
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear deep garnet color with a thin off white head. Big time spruce tips on the nose with touches of molasses and maple. Caramel malt comes through a bit as well. Surprisingly crisp with a light to moderate body which thins a bit on the swallow. Finishes clean yet boring. Flavor up front on the other hand is pretty interesting. Flavorful spruce tips with balanced by molasses and caramel with buttered toast landing someone on the middle palette. The finish is hard to pin point but it does cleanse the palette well leaving an overall dry taste in the mouth. Better than expected and unique as well.

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Photo of microbrewlover
3.97/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew pours dark with a medium head and a little bit of lacing.
This brew is malty and like its name says is loaded with the smell and taste of spruce. The smell and taste make me believe that I could really be drinking something similar to what Old Ben Franklin drank. The taste lingers on the pallet after swallowing.

All in all this beer is very enjoyable and I believe it is good for any time of the year.

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Photo of keanex
3.15/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From a bottle with no freshness date, though from a mixed 12 pack which recently came out. Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

A: Clear dark garnet color with a thin light tan head that quickly becomes a ring and some coating.

S: Piney/Spruce scent takes the note with some nut aromas coming through. This reminds me of a spring day in the woods a bit with slight spices coming through. The smell is something I don't know if I like or not, but it's certainly growing on me.

T: A bit bland and watery. The aroma is definitely stronger than the scent here. There's a slight herbal flavor at the end, slight spruce hints, but other than that it's a bit boring.

M: A too watery, definitely bordering on light with light carbonation.

O: I had a bottle or two of this from the bottle and surprisingly it was better from the bottle. While I couldn't smell it really, the flavor was more direct and stronger. From a glass this is too watery and boring.

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Photo of BeerLover99
3.82/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: tan/orange body, trace white head,
patchy lacing

S: big spruce/pine, malt, caramel, toffee/nuts

T: sweet caramel, mint, nuts, malt,
mild bitter spruce/pine crisp finish

M: med/light, semi-dry mouth

O: Fascinating beer. Not great,
but not bad. Worth grabbing.
Really enjoyed this historical
recipe, quite sessionable.


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Photo of B967ierhunter177
4.07/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a clear, amber color with a thin head and lace. The aroma is of pine and grapefruit with maple in the finish, increasing as it warms. The flavor has spruce, bread crust, and sweet malt notes with some spices, mainly ginger. It's mouthfeel is medium. Yards Poor Richards Tavern Spruce Ale is a good beer, dry and slightly warming. Great on a cold Christmas Eve. Recommended.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.89/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Look: Dark brown in color with a 1/4 inch head and no real retention

Smell: The nose is very woody and kind of perfumey upfront with notes of molasses on the back end

Taste: The flavor matches the nose to a T. The spruce notes and woody notes present themselves right away and its quite unique. The back end carries molasses and caramel

Mouthfeel: Thin body and mild carbonation

Overall: Different and unique and I actually quite enjoyed

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.72/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A. Opaque clouded darker brown in color, two finger of tan head that leaves absolutely no lace behind but has about three minutes of retention before receding back to nothing.

S. At first I get hit by a strong hit of brown sugar smell, but than I notice dark plum odors mixed with a sahti-like level of spruce tip smell on top with quite the lovely earthy hop accent sprinkled on top.

T. Taste has a lot more emphasis on those spruce tips than the nose did, also I am getting a revisit of the caramelized brown sugar notes held within, but I also find a bit of an allspice-like kick blended in with the pine needles at the finish.

M. Medium bodied, but slightly under-carbonated and at times I get an oddball oily residual feel that fades in and out strangely...if there is a thing that I would consider needing work, this is it.

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Photo of ButchAleman
1.36/5  rDev -62.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

I have had this beer before several years ago and found it to be very interesting and unusual. Tried this beer at the brewery
tour. The sample that I had this week was probably the worst beer I have ever had. I don't know how a beer could be this bad but obviously Yards brewery that can make it htappen.

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Photo of Suds
3/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

So, I really love the idea of historic beers...anything from an authentic, old recipe is great. In concept at least. This, however, is one of those beers that reminds me that modern brewing recipes and techniques are a wonderful thing. The beer is an amber color, with a modest white head. It's smell is tree-like, with the spruce nearly overpowering. Still, it's fresh, with a lively malt undercurrent. Really, the smell is engaging. The taste, however, is where the overwhelming comes into play. It's dry-ish, with the spruce, woody component playing against the malt. Not really all that appealing to me. Decent body, full and satisfying. Overall, this is drinkable, but very underwhelming.

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3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle to snifter. Packaged 2/19/11 and consumed shortly after.

A: A large 2 1/2 finger light brown foamy head lasts long and settles into a slightly uneven cap. The body is dark brown with auburn tints. Opaque except when held to light, when it becomes hazy. Spare smattering of lace in no particular pattern.

S & T: Leans more malty than hoppy with aromas of rendered caramel and toasted bread. The spruce component is noticeable, increasing in woodiness as the temperature climbs. Spice and tobacco are buried in the flavor profile, which is pretty decent for 5% ABV. Lightly bitter.

M: Light to medium light body, average carbonation. Bitter finish is accentuated by the spruce.

D: Tavern Spruce drinks a little better after a month or two. As mentioned in a previous Ales of the Revolution review, a strange concept for a year round brew. Nothing I'd go out of my way to experience again.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a three-finger khaki head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Cloudy brown color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Light molasses nose and flavor is molasses and spruce. Drying finish. $3.00 for a 12oz bottle from Mount Vernon Gift Shop, Mount Vernon, VA.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep garnet red pour with bright highlights when held up to the light. A quarter inch of light tan foam atop the brew. Not getting much lacing. Aromas start with caramel malts mixed with notes of spruce and a touch of molasses and dark fruit. Kind of earthy as well.

First sip brings caramel and toffee sweetness upfront with a nice kick of earthy spruce. Woody notes with molasses and a kiss of fruit. Flows down with some linger pine, pretty tasty!

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with steady carbonation. Pretty easy drinking brew and I enjoy the spruce twist and the historical recipe. Have had this once before and would have it again. Thanks smokeypeat.

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
2.88/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Surly Imperial Pint glass.

A- Dark amber color, 3 finger tan head that dissipates quickly, splotchy lacing.
S- Interesting aroma, the spruce gives off an interesting minty aroma, some spice, some pine, nutty malt aroma, floral notes.
T- Tastes just like the aroma but not as minty, not very tasty.
M- Medium/light mouth feel, well carbonated, smooth drinking, crisp finish.
O- The minty pine aroma and taste was very off putting for me, not a beer I would drink again, would not recommend this one to others but that’s just my opinion.

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Photo of avaldivia
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received in trade from Centennial. Poured 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Light brown color. Very nice head about an inch thick. little lacing all the way down.

S: Very light smell. Christmas tree like scent. a little pint.

T: Little spicy. Little bit of pine.

M: Medium bodied. Nice carbonation.

O: Solid brew. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

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Photo of devilben02
3.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a murky mahogany color, with a huge, rocky, tan head. The aroma provides a feeling of what it must be like to dry hump a Christmas tree: there is little but evergreen here, although maybe a little bit of pepper creeps in. The flavor is actually more balanced, which is kind of a let-down, with a dull graininess creeping in to muddle the woodsy spruce character. The texture is fine but mostly average. Overall, the distinctive spruce aroma makes this beer, but it's too bad that the flavor can't meet the expectations that are established by the first smell. Even so, the aroma was enough for me to love drinking this beer.

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Photo of MrOH
3.56/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Orangish brown with two solid fingers of light tan head. Splotchy lace.

Brown sugar and spruce air freshener. Light fruitiness.

Spicey and piney. Molassas comes through. Some gingery flavors. Very Christmas feeling. Molassas cookies/gingerbread with pine. Quite nostalgic.

Medium-bodied with good carbonation.

Interesting. Probably a nice winter beer, especially around the holidays. Definitely not an everyday drink, unless its what you're into.

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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 201 ratings.