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Imperial Spruce India Pilsner - Short's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Imperial Spruce India PilsnerImperial Spruce India Pilsner

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

343 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 343
Reviews: 143
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 18.32%
Wants: 114
Gots: 39 | 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:
Original batch (from Imperial Series--750 ml bottles) was 10% abv. New, 2010, 12 oz. bottles are 7.15% abv.

(Beer added by: hoppymeal on 06-30-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 343 | Reviews: 143 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kbeals

North Carolina

3.65/5  rDev -7.1%

A- 12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass. Slightly hazy and a very bright yellow color. Pours ekes out a finger of fizzy white head. Head doesn't stick around too long on this one, some lacing however.

S- This one smells really good. Has a seriously minty aroma to it, very piney as well. Good doses of citrus, grapefruit, orange and whatnot. You can almost smell the bitterness of it.

T- Well, the fantastic aromas doesn't really mean fantastic taste. The mint and citrus is all there, but it is almost overwhelming to a point. I really appreciate what they are trying to do here, but it doesn't seem to work for me. Definitely no trace of malts in it, which I didn't really expect to be honest, but it needs something to round it out a little better.

M- Medium body, carbonated well.

D- The taste really gets to me. I know this beer isn't meant to be guzzled in the first place, but this one was hard to finish. I'm glad I traded all my other bottles away as one is enough for me. This was a VERY intriguing beer, and I'd recommend it to someone who's willing to test their palate.

10-15-2010 12:24:44 | More by kbeals
Photo of kellyst


3.53/5  rDev -10.2%

Slightly cloudy pilsner with a medium white head and good lacing. Aroma is pine with a hint of citrus. Flavor is a pine explosion. The first bottle I had I honestly didn't like it. I'm now at the end of my six pack, and have come to appreciate it. Flavor is heavy pine dominant, with some citrus hop flavor and a touch of grain sweetness. The biggest drawback to this beer is drinkability. Just one is more than enough.

10-08-2010 14:09:32 | More by kellyst
Photo of koopa

New Jersey

4.43/5  rDev +12.7%

12oz bottle received as an extra in a trade with a very generous BA thanks!

Appearance: Pours slightly hazy and slightly tawny for a golden hued beverage. The crown is 2+ fingers, shows moderate retention, and decent lace.

Smell: Wow this one sings with hop goodness and spruce tips!

Taste: Some bitterness from the hops but mainly bitterness from the spruce tips. A light fruitiness is also noticed and appreciated. Bready malt is nice as well.

Mouthfeel: Average pilsner body with a touch more heft and a slightly long bitter finish.

Drinkability: Quite sessionable in my opinion.

Love this one....

09-30-2010 21:22:09 | More by koopa
Photo of maximum12


4.2/5  rDev +6.9%

Thanks, again, ad nauseum, to malty for the fantastic variety of Short's brews. I am, after five weeks, working my way through the majority of them. In the mood for a lighter brew tonight. Weird pilsner? Smells of my favorite place in the world, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area? I hope? Bring it on, & bring my paddle, pack, & tent, too.

Pours an unfazed & clear yellow into my Flying Fish chalice, carbonation racing as if it senses a checkered flag. OK, this beer smells absolutely amazing, just like a "pine bath" in the woods. Spruce wells from the glass, leavened only by the sting of hops. This reminds me of great places I've been, & makes my mouth water. Absolutely fuckin' incredible. It simply can't taste this good.

And it doesn't, which isn't to say it isn't good. It is. But the tsunami of spruce is tempered & tamed, cut by the malts in a way that doesn't seem to impact the nose. The hops rush in way too fast - leave me in in the deciduous forest for a few more minutes, damn it - & add a nice bittering effect. Whatever taste the hops held is held down by the spruce, leaving a faint trace of grapefruit. Lemon Pledge?

Oily, a bit chewy, bready, but still light enough, despite the creeping alcohol level, to make me crave another. Luckily, I have two more...

Excellent beer. Unique, tasty, & punches my nostalgia button for the north woods I haven't seen in...two days. I need to go back. Thanks Short's.

09-29-2010 02:21:20 | More by maximum12
Photo of Kegatron


4.08/5  rDev +3.8%

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.

09-23-2010 16:48:18 | More by Kegatron
Photo of Shumista


3.13/5  rDev -20.4%

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.

09-07-2010 16:43:32 | More by Shumista
Photo of robwestcott


4.15/5  rDev +5.6%

big thanks to Shumista for this one - my first short's brew.

poured fairly aggressively from the bottle a honey yellow to a sun king shaped pint glass with a thinnish short lasting head with very little, if any, lace.

aroma as billed - full on piny spruce, with a pleasant lemon rind following up.

as expected after fully appreciating the aroma, piny hops forward - but only mildly bitter up front. also detecting lemon and citrus. seconds after the sip, the bitter hits the back of the mouth.

thick-ish, medium carbonation, slightly bitter.

very drinkable.

09-03-2010 22:54:49 | More by robwestcott
Photo of WeisGuy

New York

4.43/5  rDev +12.7%

12oz bottle at HopCat enjoyed on 8/26. Review from notes.

a - bright, hazy golden amber color, nearly two-finger white head with good retention and lacing

s - the spruce/pine aroma jumps out of the glass as soon as it's poured, lots of grapefruit hoppy bitterness provides variety, very light sweet malt notes, not much alcohol in the aroma, my wife commented that this reminded her of x-mas

t - like the aroma, big dry piney flavors up front with a grapefruit bitterness to match, midpalate has a lightly sweet malty backbone to balance out the bitterness a bit, but this one is all about the pine and hops, finish is pretty dry with lingering spruce and citrus flavors and only a light alcohol heat

m - medium-bodied with moderate carbonation, very middle-of-the-road in these aspects, but about what I want in the style, light alcohol warming, dry finish

d - very drinkable stuff, the pine and hop flavors are bitter and dry, but they weren't overly harsh on the palate and they worked very well together, I could easily drink a few bottles

This was the star of the Short's lineup we tried at HopCat, the others being the 2009 Anniversary Wheatwine and the Black Licorice Lager (all three were good, though). I can't wait for this one to be bottled again, as I will be picking up several sixers.

08-30-2010 21:09:00 | More by WeisGuy
Photo of a74gent


3.63/5  rDev -7.6%

I'm unsure why the bottled lower ABV version of this beer isn't listed separately from the Imperial version, but here goes.

Based on notes from 8/3/10 tasting

Beautiful nose of spruce tips. A nice little foam lacing with a cloudy yellow color. Flavor is a bit acetic for my taste, but drinkable by all means.

08-30-2010 00:44:02 | More by a74gent
Photo of zoso1967


4.35/5  rDev +10.7%

Thanks to TCgoalie for picking this one up for me.
Pours a slightly gold tinged pale yellow with a fluffy and bubbly head that leaves wonderfully sticky lacing. The aroma is quite pleasing with lots of pine and nice grapefruit citrus notes. The malt component of the flavor is quite grainy and a little toasty even. Taking a sip I am blown away by this beers complexity. Spruce is definitely the first thing I pick up, but there also is a good amount of citrusy and piney hops in there. The malt backbone is fairly sweet and both toasty and slightly buttery. It mingles well with the pine flavors and makes me a believer. I am also picking up some interesting green herbal notes, and some minty medicinal qualities. The mouthfeel is medium with a fairly dry finish that coats the tongue. The drinkability on this is insane for being 10%. I dig it, and while I couldn't see myself downing these one after another, I definitely wish I had another bottle right now.

08-29-2010 19:36:05 | More by zoso1967
Photo of lackenhauser


4/5  rDev +1.8%

Very pale, soft golden color. Huge pine aroma-sticky and resiny-like liquid sap at Xmas! However that being said the resiny/piney presence of the hops really comes thru. Very pine like flavors. Almost wintergreen and medicinal flavors. While I want to say the pine is way ovedone the hops are right there to balance it out. Mild malt and somewhat sticky caramel falvors. Good mouthfeel.

I have to admit I came to this one not very optimistic. Last spruce beer I had was god-awful and one of my only drain pours in a long line of beers. Short's really pulls this off by balancing the spruce with a heavy hand of hops. Could not do much of this but it tends to be very enjoyable. Would love to try the 10% version!

08-21-2010 00:51:18 | More by lackenhauser
Photo of ShogoKawada

Rhode Island

4.78/5  rDev +21.6%

750ml 10%. Bottle 668 of 886, big thanks to Doodler for this. A masterpiece of a beer.

A- Strange. Gray-blue tinged head, a very dark body (for the style). Beer is ambery-brown with orange highlights. Head is dull but sticky and plentiful. Spruce must do strange things to a beer.

S- Spruce! Pine needles, hops, etc.

T- Jaw-droppingly good. Spruce is in full effect, and is complimented by a phenominal hop bill. I know this beer is about 3 years old at this point, but I wouldn't be able to tell if I didn't know. The spruce is great and really makes this a one-of-a-kind flavor profile. Like chewing on a pine needle. So hoppy and so much pine bitterness that I am swooning over this. Drinks like a DIPA but without the caramel malt sweetness to get in the way.

M- Great body, nice lasting pine bitterness. Balance is phenominal- Can't say enough good things. Good carbonation. Lighter than expected but wholy welcome.

D- Amazingly high. I love this beer. I will seek out bottles of the old and the new batch. One of the best beers I've ever had. This is what American brewing is all about.

08-20-2010 17:01:31 | More by ShogoKawada
Photo of TCgoalie


4.18/5  rDev +6.4%

I've heard bad things about this beer but I am pleasantly surprised.

The pour was very nice as the light yellow hue enabled the brew to show off a tornado like effect of effervescence feeding a foamy head. I'm impressed at the head retention and steady lacing.

There is all kinds of grapefruit in the scent which splits time with mellowed pine needle. Straight out of the bottle the nose is heavenly.

The taste starts thin with a light malt profile followed by an explosion of bitterness. Heavy grapefruit and lemon start the ambush followed by a good dose of pine needle bitterness. I'm impressed at how the spruce blends into the hops without overpowering the lovely fruitiness that the hops have to offer. The alcohol lends enough to help balance the bitterness...don't get me wrong, this is bitter heavy, but the bitterness makes sense.

While in my mouth, I notice how creamy this is. This is the first imperial pilsner I've had, so I'm unsure if this is normal.

When I looked this up on BA after I had had a few sips, I couldn't believe it was 10%. This thing could be anywhere from 4-8% but I didn't think it would be 10%. For that, I will give it a high mark.

08-13-2010 22:44:09 | More by TCgoalie
Photo of CaseyK

New York

4.13/5  rDev +5.1%

Thanks to glazeman for the extra!

A: Pours a nice creamy white head that leaves nice lacing.

S: Smells like Christmas, the pine smell comes through very strongly and a nice hoppy smell as well.

T: Wow, the first taste to hit your mouth is pine, undeniably. Then comes a strong hop flavor, these flavors really linger in your mouth. The taste sticks in your mouth for a long time, but the aftertaste is very pleasant, the same as the initial pine flavor.

M: I would say this is medium-bodied. This stuff is smooth.

D: This stuff does an amazing job of hiding the high abv. Very well-made.

Overall this is a great brew, it masks its alcohol content and has a delicious hop and pine taste that really stands out. I couldn't drink a bunch of these in one sitting , not because of the ABV but rather just how strong and pronounced the flavor is. Really great and unique beer though.

08-08-2010 03:37:20 | More by CaseyK
Photo of BMoney575


4.85/5  rDev +23.4%

Sampled on 8-7-10

Pours a hazy golden yellow color, with a fizzy white head that leaves a great ring of lacing that covers the entire glass as it settles.

Smell is extreme pine needles, with a huge amount of citrus hop sweetness to push it over the edge. Unlike anything I've ever had, and unbelievably good.

Taste is exactly where the smell leads you, thick pine resin flavor that is so strong it almost has a meaty quality. The hops come in next, lightening things up with flavors of citrus and even more pine. The finish is thick and sweet, pine all the way. Very strong, but not overwhelming. Ridiculously well made.

Mouthfeel is perfect, thick to go with the badass pine and hops.

Drinkability is surprisingly good, the alcohol is well handled and the pine, amazingly, is very refreshing.

Overall, a unique and epic beer, that ranks with the best I've ever had.

08-07-2010 23:22:09 | More by BMoney575
Photo of InsidiousRex


4.53/5  rDev +15.3%

I love unique beers and this one is far from run of the mill...

Golden haze in the glass with sparkly effervescence. Limited head.The smell is the first thing that takes you back. With the first whif I get an olfactory scatershot of pine and black tea and liverwurst (yes I said liverwurst... but in a very good way somehow). The taste is refreshing and piney with a lot of the citrus hops coming through at the end.

This beer does NOT taste like 10%. Not even close. Im not a huge fan of imperial pilsners (some things arent necessary. Its like souping up a pinto). But this one is nice and drinkable without being in the least bit cloying or (alcohol) hot. If someone told me this is 5.5% I wouldnt doubt them. I guess the spruce adds something to this beer that I normally dont get in any other imperial pilsner Ive ever had. Good stuff.

08-07-2010 20:08:54 | More by InsidiousRex
Photo of number1bum


3.63/5  rDev -7.6%

Thanks to mymrnngjckt for sharing a bottle of this.

Pours a mostly clear golden color with an inch of off-white head. Keeps a thin but pretty full lace, but not any stick to speak of.

Nose is really incredible in the way it nails the spruce flavor, but also reveals some citrus hop aromas and malt sweetness. The spruce aroma is really impressive.

While the smell is really amazing the taste is a bit much. It's also somewhat medicinal. Big spruce flavor, like gnawing on a tree in its intensity, and it reminds me a lot of a cough drop. There is some malt sweetness and some citrus flavor too but the spruce is the star of the show here. It's just a little over the top I think. If it was straight up spruce I think it would drink better, but the medicinal/cough drop nature of it, which really lingers in the finish, detracts from what otherwise could still work really well despite it's extremity. The medicinal flavor starts to mellow as it warms up, which is why I end up at 3.5 here where I started with a 3.0.

Mouthfeel is a medium-full body, not as heavy as might be expected at 10% however, and the alcohol is well hidden. It has a pretty good slickness to it, with a drying finish. It's also somewhat astringent owing to the medicinal flavor mentioned previously.

This is certainly a pretty wild beer by Shorts, and it comes close to really working well. The reason it doesn't quite get there is not because it's over the top but because it slips down the slippery slope toward being medicinal. Beer and cough drops don't mix, and that flavor hurts the beer in my opinion. As I said before, it's better as it warms and if I have it again I will let it warm up before digging deeply into the glass. That's a curious approach with a pils but it helps cut the cough drop flavor. At the end of the day this is a nice effort by Shorts, but I can't call it a triumph.

08-04-2010 01:27:32 | More by number1bum
Photo of GordonQuid


4.85/5  rDev +23.4%

From bottle to an english pub mug.

Clear golden with a huge two inch head and nice thick lace.

Smells lick a pine forrest and/or being slapped in the face with a pine tree branch and a bag of car air freshner's.

Taste is a smooth blend of high alpha piney and citrus hops with a nice melding of malts and honey.

Freakin' smooth as all hell a real hop lovers delight.

Delisiously quaffable at 10%, ouch!

08-03-2010 13:59:44 | More by GordonQuid
Photo of TCHopCraver


3.83/5  rDev -2.5%

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.

08-02-2010 22:48:51 | More by TCHopCraver
Photo of Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

4.35/5  rDev +10.7%

A: This beer appears a clear, golden hue with a white head and some decent lacing.

S: The aroma is really powerful, with a huge bouquet of spruce and rosemary.

T: The taste is a huge blast of pine trees and hops. The spruce and hop flavors are incredibly fresh and flavorful. I really respect the way Short's brewing pushes the limits of craft beer and still produces a very drinkable and enjoyable final product. This is really an amazing beer.

M: It's not something of which I want more than one glass, or possibly two, but it's a terrific beer in small quantities.

D: What a cool beer and beer experience. I definitely recommend it if you can get it.

08-02-2010 18:03:43 | More by Huhzubendah
Photo of mattcrill


4.43/5  rDev +12.7%

Aroma: Lots of earthy hop aromas. Piney and floral hop resins. Spruce aromatics are pleasant and up front.

Appearance: Clear, golden color with a soft and sudsy white head.

Flavor: More spicey, earthy, and piney hop notes. Pleasant cracker-like malt base but followed quickly by punishing piney hop flaovrs. Balance is decidedly bitter. Finish is clean and dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, creamy, with medium carbonation. Slighty silkiness and resin hop characteristics that carry over.

Overall impression: Interesting, piney, hoppy pils. Very enjoyable, immsensely drinkable, and delivers as advertised. Thanks to malty for the chance to enjoy this delightful beer.

08-02-2010 01:49:00 | More by mattcrill
Photo of BeerAdvocate


4.5/5  rDev +14.5%

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.

08-01-2010 14:03:12 | More by BeerAdvocate
Photo of association330


3.78/5  rDev -3.8%

12 oz. bottle (marked only "Spruce Pilsner", though imperial is still included in the subtext), no freshness date.

A - Pours light-to-medium gold, with a small, fleeting head. Just a few spots of lace.

S - Clear presence of spruce needles, with some sweet and fruity malts, and a touch of hop leaf and lemon zest in the background.

T - Spruce is absolutely the focus and it's a perfectly acceptable beer flavor, blending nicely with a vague malt backbone and a lengthy, fairly bitter finish.

M - Body is thin, but lacks the necessary carbonation to give it substance. It may be an over-the-top imperial pils, but it's still a pils; it needs an element of refreshment.

D - I got more than I bargained for with this beer, as I didn't notice the "imperial" distinction until I got home. Still, it's a happy accident. As a proud Michigander, this is a nice regional "re-twist" on a west coast twist, I just wish it drank a little more like a pils.

07-30-2010 23:28:33 | More by association330
Photo of semibaked


3.63/5  rDev -7.6%

Poured into a Pint Glass.

A - Pours a hazy yellow with a light layer of white head and leaves some decent lacing.

S - Wow I certainly did not expect how good this smell, yes you get the spruce and the needles but there is some nice lemons and other citrus fruits and citrus candy. Really good smelling.

T - A lot more of the spruce comes out in the taste, there is also a good amount of citrusy bitter hops, and ends with some lemon peel and zest.

M - Light bodied, super crisp and clean, and a lot of prickly carbonation.

D - This is definitely a different pilsner. Right away you get the spruce and it is pleasant at first but almost becomes too much drinking the whole bottle for me, but certainly not a bad beer.

07-29-2010 22:35:38 | More by semibaked
Photo of david131


4.3/5  rDev +9.4%

A- An ever so slightly yellow liquid with a thin and splotchy white head.

S- Spruce, mint, and passion fruit. Very appealing.

T- Spruce, mint, grass, and passion fruit. Unique and tasty.

M- Creamy and smooth at first, but there is a lasting bitterness and dryness on the finish.

D- A unique, intriguing, and sessionable take on the style. I dig it.

07-27-2010 03:03:43 | More by david131
Imperial Spruce India Pilsner from Short's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 343 ratings.