1. American Craft Beer Fest is this weekend in Boston, Mass. Join us for 640+ beers from 140+ brewers! Tickets for Friday, May 29 are still available. Cheers!

Imperial Spruce India Pilsner - Short's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Imperial Spruce India PilsnerImperial Spruce India Pilsner

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

383 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 383
Reviews: 152
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 18.37%
Wants: 121
Gots: 38 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Short's Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Pilsner |  7.15% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: hoppymeal on 06-30-2007

Original batch (from Imperial Series--750 ml bottles) was 10% abv. New, 2010, 12 oz. bottles are 7.15% abv.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 383 | Reviews: 152
Reviews by sfoley333:
Photo of sfoley333
4.79/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Been sitting on this bottle since Feb. when I did a trade for several shorts beer with Hoppymeal(Thanks Derek), and wanted to open it ever since. Bottle number #202 of 886 poured into Pizza Port 6th Ann Real ale glass. Pours a golden hazy color with a very slight orange tint and a thick white foamy head, good lacing on the head. Smell is like the name, I got a huge whiff of pine mixed with some citrus and a little spice in the background inter mixing with a sweet malt profile. Taste is pine sap and lots of it but still layers of citrus and bitter sweet malt profile. Mouthfeel is light body with low carbonation. I wish I had another bottle of this beer, I love hops but now I love Spruce and hops together. This beer should be made year round.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Eric1Mess
5/5  rDev +27.6%

Keeping this short and sweet. Best beer I've ever tasted so far...

Photo of tectactoe
3.13/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No longer "Imperial Spruce India Pilsner", rather the 2013 release is simply "Spruce Pilsner". It's murky, and pours with a shade just pale of true-gold; the bright, yellow edges hold up a soapy and foamy white head that takes a minute or so to recede to a swampy skin. Some drippy, wet lacing is posted up on the glass as the head finds its way downward.

You can't even get your face within a few feet of the glass without getting a swift kick in the head face from copious amounts of spruce tips. Pines, pines, pines, spruce, spruce, spruce. This shit is dank as hell, dripping with wet and resinous pine needles; an over the top amount that comes out swinging like it just ripped the straight-jacket off.

Despite the maniacal, borderline masochistic amounts of spruce in the aroma, a teeny-tiny bit of cracker and biscuit malt can be found underneath if you dig your nose deep enough. It gives just the smallest amount of finishing sweetness to the back-end aroma - pretty much the only thing resembling any type of balance in this brew so far.

I think there's no surprise from the aroma how this one's gonna taste. One sip and a massive wave of spruce tips and pine needles bludgeon your palate to death, beating your taste buds senseless and leaving your uvula gasping for hydration. It carries a palate engulfing bitterness with it; the kind that shocks your senses for a brief moment.

Just like in the aroma, some moderately sweet cracker malt can be found if you search for it, and it gets a little easier as the brew warms up. However the indirect pungency of the liquid Christmas tree you hold in front of you can never truly be washed aside. I hope you like pine, I hope you like resin, I hope you like enamel-peeling bitterness.

Medium-thick bodied, with a largely oily, resinous, and almost sticky mouth feel with medium carbonation. A harshly bitter finish that could wake up a corpse. Jesus, this stuff is pretty damn intense. It's a very polarizing brew, and now I can see why. I understand why some people may dig this stuff... Me? I thought it was alright, but nothing to rave about. Hard to drink in quantity.

Photo of TCHopCraver
3.81/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes on 8-1-10.

A: Pours a fairly dark gold into a standard pint glass. A pure white, 1 finger head fades and leaves a popped-up film on top of the beer. Carbonation bubbles move at a medium pace. The lacing has a fun, Japanese character-like appearance to it.

S: Holy spruce, Batman! That is mostly what I detect from the aroma. It's like sticking my head up the hollowed out trunk of a Christmas tree and taking a huge whiff. I smell a faint aroma of citrus hops to complement the spruce, along with a certain green herbal component.

T: This is certainly unlike any Pilsner I have ever tasted. The spruce is much better balanced in the taste by nice, big citrus hops than it was in the smell. The bittering hops provide a crisp, clean, bitter finish to the end of the sip.

M: This MF is definitely on the full side for a Pilsner with a hefty hop hubris that dries the palate out completely at the end of each sip.

D: I think this is more of a once in awhile experience for me. The spruce flavor is an inventive novelty, especially in a lager, but I don't think this would be a regular in my beer drinking lineup.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer review from BA Mag Dec 2007.

A generous dose of high alpha hops was not enough for Short's Brewing so they had to resort to using blue spruce needles to kick it up a notch. Oddly, this might be the new trend if hop prices become too excessive.

The clear orangey golden color displays a very active carbonation as tin bubbles stream to the top. The head is quite amazing with an excellent retention and rings of lace are left after each sip. Whoa! Massive, in-your-face aroma with a sharp crest of spruce and deep undercurrent of pungent hops. Slick and smooth, full body with a solid carbonation. Big mouthful of spruce to start, the taste buds try and beg for mercy but the spruce character weighs heavy until the hops come in for a few licks. Bitterness is not subtle at all with a sharpness that is strong enough to cut through the spruce flavor from middle to end. The alcohol lands right in the middle with a noticeable warmth but never becomes hot; malt flavors toss up biscuity flavors and a touch of sweetness. The finish is cleaner than we thought it was going to be with a lingering hop bitterness and spruce on the breath.

Definitive proof that Short's Brewing knows what extreme beer is all about. No pussyfooting here, taste and learn because this one is the real thing. Without a doubt the combo of spruce and hops within a big lager works.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.37/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle. #249 of 886.

Pours from the bottle a deep golden orange color that's somewhat hazy. There's a nice inch of creamy white head atop the brew that leaves spotty lacing as it falls. Aromas begin with a nice melding of citrusy, herbal tones along with a grainy, somewhat sweet biscuit malt undertone. This is all enveloped in huge resinous blue spruce pine needle goodness. Really bright in the nose and more so than I have ever experienced in any beverage.

First sip brings the sweet biscuit/pilsner malts upfront, but it quickly makes way for the bold, resinous blue spruce flavor. It's incredibly vibrant and deep. The card attached states they waited until the last minute to harvest the spruce to get the most resin and sap out of it, and it shows! Citrusy, herbal hops mill around as it flows down as well with a nice earthy character overall. Bitterness is there throughout. Really tasty stuff.

Mouthfeel is nice and creamy with a medium body that makes for a really solid drinking experience. Good carbonation at work here as well. Overall, an incredibly unique brew that ended up being very tasty and unlike any other I have had. I shared this and I think a whole bottle might be much, but hey it's always better to share anyways! I wish I had another of these cause I keep thinking about it. Cheers to Short's!

Photo of nickadams2
4.46/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A_Pale transparent gold with a half inch bone white head. Moderate lacing.

S_Heavy pine and hops.

T_Sweet pine up front. Honey and grassy hops. Bold piny, resiny hop profile.

M_Thin but nice body.Dry finish.

D_Great summertime beer. Ridiculously drinkable for the abv. Very refreshing.

Photo of warnerry
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a clear straw/golden brown. Moderately vigorous pour yields only one finger of head. Lots of sticky lacing.

S - Huge resinous spruce and pine with a strong presence of grapefruit as well.

T - Slightly astringent taste with massive spruce/pine bitterness. I'm really enjoying it. Grapefruit hops eventually come through. Leaves a long lasting bitter finish.

M - Oily, resinous mouthfeel coats the palate. The bitterness on the tongue seems to last for hours. Intense but good.

O - This is a very good offering from Short's. The strong bitterness may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.

Photo of glid02
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this thanks to gford217 - thanks!

Pours a copper-amber color with a one-finger off-white head. The head dissipates slowly into a thin pancake on top leaving thick lacing.

Smells of robust pilsener malts with good amounts of pine hop flavors and a touch of bitterness and alcohol.

Tastes better than it smells. Sweet malt flavors up front are joined almost immediately by pine flavors, and not pine hop flavors but straight off the tree pine needle flavors. However, somehow the pine manages not to overpower and carries through until a mildly bitter ending leaving a nice aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is good. It has a solid thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good. This isn't the tastiest DIPA I've ever had but I keep drinking it out of awe of the sheer amount of pine flavors.

Overall this is easily the piniest beer that I've had, and it surprised me by not being too over the top. Definitely worth a shot.

Photo of pwoods
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml brown bottle (197 of 886) poured into a snifter. Thanks to Hoppymeal for this great trade!

A: Pours like a pilsner with a stronger, hoppier head. Hold nicely and lends good lacing.

S: Tons of spruce needles and citrus. Lots of hop resins.

T/M: Hop bomb. More of the big spruce and pine with plenty of citrus. Alcohol is very present, a bit stinging and melds nicely with the spruce needles. Malts just to balance a bit. Body is pretty big with a chewy malt feel.

D: Not overly easy to drink but very interesting.

Photo of king75
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- This one is a medium to dark gold in appearance with about a solid inch of off colored foam head that sticks around with plenty of lacing.

S- This one smells strongly of pine needles, a slight hint of hops, and a slight hint of grape fruit.

TM- This one is really bitter and has a bite all the way through. The pine needle taste is overwhelmingly the dominant flavor, with hops and citrus nodes making an appearance throughout as well. This one leaves the palate feeling extremely tangy and dry.

Overall, this is a hophead or spruce lovers dream! Very memorable and unique enough that one is not quick to forget it. Overall, a very solid beer and very indicative of the style.

Photo of Sammy
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the brewery. Tremendous aroma from the tips of the tree, I enjoyed this forest. Grapefruit body with white lasting head. Carbonation there and helps drinkability, which is easy. Taste is piney,juicy, a bit of citrus. Saaz hops? ABove average mouthfeel.

Photo of dirtylou
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on-tap, Brickhouse - Madison

from notes

appearance: served in a shaker pint, bright hazed golden body, light filmy white cap

smell: spruce tips, floral citrus hops, pilsner malts. unique and potent

taste: ive had this a few times at festivals in the past and have always enjoyed - the spruce tips really make drinking this beer a cathartic experience that places your palate deep in the forest - green and fresh, earthy and organic, hoppy yet still traceable back to the pilsner malts. Nice.

mouthfeel: fresh and clean, medium-light body

overall: very nice

Photo of prototypic
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Spruce Pilnser pours a straw color. It’s very hazy and looks a bit more yellow when held to light. A white head caps it off. It’s rather modest, rising to less than a finger in height. It’s also quick to dissipate to a surface covering. It held there for a bit. Lacing was on the lighter side.

The nose is alright. It could use a little more strength, but isn’t bad. It kicks off with a scent that’s very similar to pine. Must be the spruce. Not bad. Hops are noted and have a citrus lemon scent. Smells like pine too, but that might still be the spruce. Can’t tell. Smells a little malty and a bit sweet. Alcohol is blended very well and isn’t all that noticeable. Pretty good. Just needs more strength.

The flavor is interesting. I’m on the fence. It definitely has a strong, distinct spruce flavor to it. It does tasty a bit like pine. Pilsner malt is definitely noticeable and actually acts as a really nice backdrop. Tastes a tad sweet. Hops are rather strong in the mix. They feature citrus flavors of grapefruit, lemon, and pineapple. It’s definitely bitter and a bit dry. Maybe some pine, as well? Alcohol is a little noticeable, but doesn’t come through as strong. Finishes sprucey and a little bitter. I’ve now made up mind – this is good stuff.

Spruce Pilsner has a medium. Carbonation feels light and soft. It is nice and smooth. It definitely goes down easy. The spruce flavor grows a tad tiresome. I like the 12 oz. bottle serving size. Good call there.

Short’s Brewing Company has a knack for blazing trails. Spruce Pilsner is definitely a unique, trailblazing beer. How is it? Good. Personally, the spruce aspect seems a tad old by the end of the bottle. But, it does work well with the pilsner malt and strong hop flavors. Definitely worth checking out if you have the opportunity.

Photo of 33nickadams
4.01/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- golden, hot much head, not much lacing
S- piney (which I assume is the spruce)
T- the piney taste jumps right out at you, then follows with the bitterness
M-a little tough to take at first, then swallows nicely
D- I am enjoying the first couple, I think I may end there though

Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Lord Hobo- poured a very light and hazy yellow with a one finger bone white head with a little retention and nice streaky lacing.

Smells very strongly if piney hops and pine trees.

Tastes very hoppy (the piney variety)- a little sharp and light malt profile.

Mouthfeel is ver fresh- light bodied with medium carbonation and a little oiliness from the hops. Definitely a beer I would get again.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.42/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

32 oz. howler poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Clear golden body. No head. Looks flat.

Smell - Very pungent spruce. Lightly spicy and woody in the back. Some grassy hops, too.

Taste - Hops are stronger than spruce up front. Pilsner malt. Spruce builds up and turns into that woody spice that I got in the aroma. Very bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Flat as hell. Very bitter. Makes it seem sluggish.

Overall - Excellent spruce flavor. Wish it had been carbonated.

Photo of Shumista
3.2/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2010 12 oz bottle variety, poured into a pint glass.

Pours a crisp golden yellow with a small white head. Aroma is earthy hops and the unmistakable scent of pine. Not like piney hops but like pine trees or cones. I've used pine to describe beers before but never has it been so true. Smells like they really got the spruce tips going in here. Taste is of course very hoppy and piney, somewhat bright. Lingering earthy bitterness and an aftertaste that kind of reminds of what it feels like when you eat something that isn't meant to be edible (like for instance a pine cone!) Somewhat crisp, drinkability only suffers because personally I am put off by the flavor.

Interesting, I respect the effort and creativity, but I will probably not drink the whole six pack myself but rather send them away as extras. Definitely worth trying because of its uniqueness, its just really not doing it for me.

Photo of Kegatron
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a Pils glass. Thanks go to splax23 for a couple of these in trade.

Pours a clear gold, with at least 3 fingers of rich bright-white foamy head. This shrinks down considerably but still holds tight with a ¾ finger dollop of creamy froth, which leaves some thick rings of lacing down the sides of the glass. Wow, the aroma is spruce tips all the way! Kind of like a fresh and floral forest scent that is only strengthened by the piney nature of the hops. There is also a sharp and leafy earthiness to this that is maybe even a little bit dank as well. The Pils malts still have a good presence themselves though here, with a stiff bready sweetness that fills out the back of the nose.

This taste just like it smells and if you've ever wondered what a handful of spruce needles tastes like, here's your chance. The needles and hops combine to give this a VERY resinous, earthy, and green citric bitterness that bites hard. The malts do a good job here though, imparting a grainy splash of grainy bready sweetness helps cut the bitterness some. Man that piney bitterness REALLY lingers aggressively on the tongue. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a solidly crisp smoothness to it that is in thanks in part to the hoppy oily slickness that helps ease some of the harsher aspects of the bitterness here. I'm detecting no alcohol here whatsoever for an over 7% beer. This just has a great overall feel to it and I'm glad that they decided to tone the ABV down some.

While I personally liked this, I could definitely see how some might not. I will say that the boldness of the profile does subside some as this warms up, leaving behind a lot of flavor but with less bitterness than when this first starts out. The crisp killer body on this ultimately really makes this though, keeping everything together and in check. This was my first experience with a spruce tip beer and I really dug it.

Photo of marcobrau
4.55/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours very clear yellow with a good amount of carbonation that forms about three-quarter-inch head that falls slowly leaving lace behind, but never really goes away. Really interesting combination of aromas: hops, toasted malts and of course spruce wood. Tastes woody and crisp, with lightly toasted malt and peppery hop notes. Surprisingly light-bodied. Dry, with a powerfully bitter hop finish and slight alcohol bite that eventually fades as a lingering hop bitterness coats the tongue. Overall, I would say this is perilously drinkable and quite tasty and bitter.

Photo of Tripphop
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden hue, glows in the glass. Whispy white head appears and fades to lace. Aromas are very piney. Good hop presence and the spruce wafts in and out. Flavor is very nice, very bitter and foresty. The spruce is nicely integrated, the massive hops carry it through and there is enough base malt to give a slight balance to it. Definitely hop forward but nicely done. Definitely the best spruce beer I've had.

Photo of SpdKilz
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours into a generic tulip with a golden color. About a finger of slight tan head is achieved with a relatively vigorous pour, which dissipates at a moderate pace leaving nice looking lacing.

Smell - So many hops, so much piney goodness! No joke I put my nose in the beer by mistake while smelling it. A perfect smelling beer for Christmas!

Taste - Not as heavy as the nose but still right in your face. This is a bit older than when I first tried it (had it this summer and has been sitting in my cellar ever since) but still has some great bitterness and amazing pine.

Mouthfeel - Medium to lighter bodied, moderate carbonation.

Drinkability - Relatively so for the style. I love Short's because of their impressive way to make a beer that sounds like it would be bad, to be damn good. Cheers!

Photo of Windigstadt
3.54/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a slightly hazy honey color with a two-inch white head that quickly dissipates.

S: Sweet notes of cotton candy and honey mingle with the pine and citrus notes of the hops.

T: The sweet, slightly bready pilsner malt quickly gives way to a dominant hop bitterness. No real hop flavor to speak of, but the piney spruce flavor is prominent in the back of the palate. Unlike a traditional Pilsner, this one finishes sweet with a slight alcohol burn.

M: Fairly highly carbonated, but neither too thin nor too thick.

D: For a 10% beer it drinks rather smoothly.

Overall: An interesting beer. It has more in common with a double IPA than a Pilsner, with spruce replacing any flavor hops. However, being a lager it lacks the fruitiness of an IPA, while at the same time the alcohol, hops and spruce overpower the bready malt nuances you get from a traditional Pilsner. Not a bad beer and worth trying, but I think this would've been better as a Double IPA (and I say that as somebody who generally prefers a nice Pilsner to an IPA).

Photo of akorsak
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A capped 750 mL bottle picked up at the brewpub during our summer Michigan tour.

A: The pilsner is a hazy golden straw color. The base of my tumbler radiates a bright orange hue. The pils is translucent, hazed without the accompanying sediment. A thick head, nearly three fingers of billowy foam, left plenty of dried lace behind.

S: The spruce really stands out in the nose, overpowering with a sweet needle syrup. Honey and excessive hops round out the nose. The aromas are very appetizing for being 2+ years old.

T: Pow! I've had hoppy beers that my wife refers to as tree-like, but this one takes the cake. The sweet, sappy flavors coat the palate, softening the impact of the excessive hops. The spruce is floral and intoxicatingly strong, a sappy blast of flavor that ends with mint. Caramel and pale malts are a support system for the spruce. Bold hops, or the remnants of those hops, still linger with a strong bitterness (if this is the hop profile after two years, I'd scared of what it originally tasted like). The beer has plenty of booze lingering around, mingling with the spruce. Pow!

M: The mouthfeel is arboreal, dripping with sweet minty spruce. I've had sahti, even Siletz's spruce ale but this takes the cake. Pow!

D: The pils is complex. That complexity, including the overpowering spruce flavor, makes finishing the bottle difficult. Pow!

Photo of emerge077
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to beertooth for busting out this one...review from notes.

Poured a glimmering hazed gold. Sweet sticky alpha hop aroma, spruce, high quality caramel. Pretty wild that this still has so much aroma 2 years down the road. Sticky, resiny sweet with a building herbal spruce or spearmint flavor that culminates in a long bitter finish. Body is thick and robust for a Pilsner, there's a spicy tingle on the finish, that must be what chewing on spruce needles tastes like. Overall good in small doses, definitely a fine example of creative brewing.

to view more.
Imperial Spruce India Pilsner from Short's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 383 ratings.