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Imperial Spruce India Pilsner - Short's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Imperial Spruce India PilsnerImperial Spruce India Pilsner

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

381 Ratings

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Ratings: 381
Reviews: 151
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 18.37%
Wants: 120
Gots: 40 | 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
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Ratings: 381 | Reviews: 151
Photo of stakem
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Review from notes taken 1/13/10. Bottle I believe care of goryshkewych, thanks!

Poured into a sniffer, this brew appears a perfectly clear golden yellow color with a finger of fizzy white head that quickly recedes. It leaves lacework on the glass that is a bit leggy.

The aroma of this brew is hoppy with lemon scents, a bit earthy and is strikingly reminescent of a holiday wreath. A big, bold scent of spruce sits overtop a light amount of fruity esters which seems a bit out of place for the style but overall is enjoyable in that Short's different kind of way.

The taste of this brew is herbal with lemon and quite a bold, oily and resinous feel. The spruce is not subtle at all, it is very bold, bitter and lasting. Somewhat grassy in flavor to an extent as it warms, this brew is significantly more bitter than expected with a lasting spruce taste inside the mouth.

This is a medium to light bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. The spruce brings out a lemon and oily bitterness which is very bold. Certainly not your typical pilsner, this brew was a little rough going down. Interesting take on the style and certainly something different that is worth a try.

Photo of drabmuh
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle shared by Thorpe recently, this was not easy for me to drink, it is a liquid tree. I did not like it as much as others.

Beer is yellow and hazy with a nice head of small and medium bubbles, some lacing, interesting.

Aroma is spruce...like pine extract...super strong.

Beer is too dry, too high in alcohol, and too....much like a tree. I do get everything you'd expect from licking a tree including wood and spruce needles, it's just way too much for me. Congratulations, it's a tree, you've done it.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge, huge thanks to jale for giving me this bottle just because. Thanks again!

Pours a slightly-hazed golden-orange color with a good white head with mild retention time and a slight collar on the way down. The nose is incredible with ginormous amounts of heavy spruce and pine. Really quite awesome. The taste follows down the same path. Not sure how else to describe this other than to say that the spruce character is nearly overwhelming and I absolutely love it. Bitter and resinous, the mouthfeel is killer. I could drink this until my mouth completely dried out. Delicious.

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 billab914
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish shaped pint glass. It poured a slightly cloudy, pale golden color with a bright white head already sticking to the sides of the glass. The head continued to stick to the glass as I drank it to leave some great lacing.

The aroma has a great mix of hops and spruce to it. I get the spruce first with a fresh, pine, forest like quality to it. The hops give it a big and bright citrus flavor that really compliments the spruce nicely.

The taste shows the spruce throughout the beer as well. It has more of the resiny, pine, fresh quality to it. The hops again really make the beer with the complimentary citrusy, grapefruit flavor. It's moderately bitter in the finish with a little dryness as well. The spruce lingers for a bit.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is good, I really liked it. I've had spruce beers before and wasn't impressed at all, this one however is different. I really liked how they mixed the spruce with a lot of citrusy hops. It was very drinkable and added some very cool flavors and a twist to a hoppy beer. Very nice beer overall and I have to say I'm surprised I liked it so much.

Photo of Wisconsinality
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to MilwaukeCrusher for this interesting brew.

12oz bottle poured into standard pint.

A- Pours a standard, slightly hazy golden with minimal head. No lacing left behind after the pour.

S- You say this beer is made with spruce, you don't say. Lots of pine tree and hops and some malt as well. The thing it reminds me most of is my kindergarten class room, how I remember that is beyond me.

T- I was expecting more of the Spruce but it was more hops and malt than anything. Fairly balanced for a beer that is supposed to be one dimensional.

M- Thin to medium bodied with prickly carbonation that tickles the tongue.

D- I was expecting something else but was surprised by this beer. I was expecting a less drinkable beer but it was not. The flavor was not overwhelming and was good all around.

Photo of airohead2001
3.45/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks, glazeman, for another fun Shorts brew. Support your midwest brewers.

A - Hot yellow with a nice two finger head. Several layers of lacing coat the walls of my pint glass. There's a small bit of cloudiness in the color. Appearance reminds me of a lemon wheat beer like that gross Leinenkugal Summer Shandy.

S - Lemon, lime, grass, pine, mint, and booze. Really bizarre combination. Smells like Vix VapoRub.

T - Similar to smell - truly bizarre. The first thing that comes to mind is a Halls Honey Lemon cough drop. Bitter lemon, harsh piney hops, and spicy spearmint in the finish.

M - A little too flat for the style. It could definitely use a little more bubbly to cut the harshness of the bitter hops/spearmint.

D - This is another good beer from Shorts. However, with all the overpowering lemon and mint going on, this is not the most drinkable brew.

Photo of Lukafer
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to MilwaukeeCrusher, always look forward to trying Short's!

Pours a surprisingly light golden color, with about a fingers worth of head. Smells like hops and spruce, with a little malt. Damn! I always forget when Short's does something, like say use spruce needles, they go all out! Tastes hoppy and christmasy, but in a good way! First thing I noticed was spruce, then a lot of high alpha hops, finished with a huge bitterness. Spruce in the aftertaste as well. Mouthfeel is good and drinkability, I'm not sure, I only have one but I could probably drink one more. Short's doesn't play around, when they set out to do something, they do it. Good job!

Photo of emmasdad
3.15/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured a clear medium dark golden color, with a decent little white head. Aromas of pine needles, resiny hops and spearmint. On the palate this one was crisp and somewhat syrupy, medium bodied and challenging at times (overwhelming Christmas tree here), with mint, a pine forest and some sweet malt. Although this brewery has produced a few good beers, they almost seem to experiment for the sake of experiment.

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

This really is like a hoppy, christmas tree. The scent and the taste is just like a Christmas tree, but alas, it works! Such a great combo and I had this a few months after release and still tasted fresh. Imagine the pine aspect of hops kicked in by 100%. Awesome beer.

Photo of flexabull
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle four of the massive Shorts haul courtesy of mikesgroove, thanks again!

Pours a light gold color with a nice white head.

Smells strange, stinky, resiny, and like a tree. Also notice some lemongrass too.

For how odd the nose was, the taste is just as odd, but this time in a good way! Starts with some creamy malt flavors then the spruce and hops take over, piney, almost tastes like a Christmas tree smells like. Finish is crisp, with resiny hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is quite nice, very full and well carbonated.

Drinkability is good. This scores points just for the uniqueness, light years better to me than the Alaskan Winter brew that also has spruce tips in it. With that being said, I don't think I would want to drink more than one of these per session. It's a bit of a palate destroyer. Well worth tracking down.

Photo of dfillius
4.52/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Aggressive pour yields 2/3 finger of white head with good retention. Chill hazy gold color. Very pretty, with haze as the only negative.
S: Very aromatic, I can smell from feet away. Citrus hops - grapefruit, orange, lemon dominate. Some tropical fruit. Man candy, sublime.
T: Tastes very piney, a bit of rosemary flavor even. Interesting! I'd like a bit more of the citrus to come through. Flavorful, but odd, Maybe thyme and oregano. Tasty, like the flavor in chicken stock almost. A bitter hoppy one.
M: Very bitter. Clean, very little warmth.
D: I like, but I wouldn't buy it all the time. I'd definitely order a second pint. It's unique. It grew on me.

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

Poured to a one inch head. Head was slightly offwhite in color. Beer itself was a light brownish yellow and cloudy. Had some lacing going on and left rings with every swallow. Head hung around for a little while. Smell was nothing but pine. A deep pine smell just like you broke a branch off a pine tree and took a wiff. Tasted very piney, I mean strong pine. No alcohol taste. Had a slight bitter aftertaste of pine. Also a little on the dry side. Felt good in the mouth. Carbonation was good also. I got this bottle from a friend. Ill be buying a sixer tomorrow. Just a note, the alcohol was evident after a few swallows. You got that warm alcohol feeling. Very nice.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Kbeals dropped us off a 12oz bottle of this treat a while back... shared with the normal peeps.... Thanks Kevin!!

Pours with a nice 1" sticky white head.... hazy yellow brew.

Nose is about what expected... Big blast of pine that is blurring the line between hops and conifer.

Flavor begins with a huge bitterness that only sorta makes way for some minor pale malts and then the pine boughs and spruce tips pummel everything into a dry sorta minty finish... oily and resinous... the body seems a touch light given the full frontal assault laid down by the pine... carbonation seems about right.

Another great beer from Shorts and my homeboy Kevin!! I didn't care for this as much as the boys, but it was still very nice.


Photo of kbeals
3.69/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of kellyst
3.52/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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.

Photo of koopa
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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....

Photo of maximum12
4.24/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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 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 robwestcott
4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of WeisGuy
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of a74gent
3.64/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of zoso1967
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

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!

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Imperial Spruce India Pilsner from Short's Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 381 ratings.