Red Spruce Bitter | Lawson's Finest Liquids

very good
23 Reviews
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Red Spruce BitterRed Spruce Bitter

Brewed by:
Lawson's Finest Liquids
Vermont, United States

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.90%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A winter seasonal brew infused with fresh sprigs of the red spruce tree and a dash of cinnamon that breaks from traditionally heavy holiday brews with a light body and refreshing zest.

Added by ClockworkOrange on 02-06-2009

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Reviews: 23 | Ratings: 85
Photo of mdaschaf
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes 1/29/11.

A: Pours a very hazy brown with a 1.5 finger off white head. Patches of lace were left behind.

S: Get a nice bready aroma, a lot of cinnamon as well. A slight floral hop aroma and a little bit of toasted malt as well.

T: The spices come through very nicely, especially the cinnamon. The flavor reminds me of mulled cider almost with some spruce mixed in. There is a thick bready flavor component and a lot of malt, coming through in some caramel and toffee. The flavors get more pronounced as it warms.

M/D: Medium bodied and extremely creamy and smooth. A lot going on in this beer, a really nice one for the colder months, and amazingly it is only 4.4%. Really like this one a lot.

D: Quite a bit of flavor and complexity for weighing in below 5%. A nice blend of flavors that has a distinctive bite.

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Photo of abuliarose
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

T'is the season for spiced beers. Poured into a Heady Topper pint glass, revealing dark opaque chocolaty brown body under two fingers of thick tanned head. Pretty thing. Smells hoppy and lightly spiced with a nice earthy sap smell. I'm not a spruce connoisseur but the evergreen aroma blends in well with the hops. Pear nectar sweetness comes through as it warms a little, along with a little jasmine tea. Simple smells, but refreshingly clean.

Tastes spiced with a big spruce presence. If you have ever made tea from the needles you will taste it here. Nice clean finish. Chewy. The pear echoes in the malty sweetness along with the dash of cinnamon. Very wintry and very unique. Mouthfeel is creamy and thick with supporting carbonation. Very drinkable; drinks like a meal.

Overall I like it quite a bit. Wish I had more for the winter season.

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Photo of BTPete
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured to pint. I've had this beer a few times.

A: Reddish in color with a thin head that doesn't stick around.

S: Malty, piney, spices in the nose. I am picking up something that is almost maple in character. I'm guessing it is the spruce.

T: Really nice and malty up front. Actually kind of smooth. It ends with a cinnamon and spruce taste which is actually great and a little surprising at the same time.

M: Medium bodied, relatively low carbonation but it works.

D: Good and really interesting. I've yet to be dissappointed by a Lawson beer. This one seemed like it was going to be unique and it fit the bill while being really tasty. It was also really drinkable at only 4.9% I have shared this beer with a few people and most people really enjoyed. Was my last bottle though, so maybe again next year. I'd grab another couple of bottles.

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Photo of Hendry
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep mahogany color, 1 finger foamy khaki head, spotty lacing in the Lawson's tulip.

The aroma is strikingly familiar to something else I have sampled, but I can't put my finger on it. It certainly takes on the attributes of a spiced ale by the nose, sweet malts & cinnamon & hops are most prominent, the spruce doesn't seem all that apparent.

Flavors are of a well crafted spiced amber/red ale, the cinnamon works very well with the rich malty character. Alcohol not detectable amongst the hearty flavors.

Mouthfeel is creamy and very enjoyable.

Lawson's is famous for their IPA/IIPA, yet so many that rate their other styles/offerings tend to rate them based on how much they enjoyed Double Sunshine IIPA, or Triple Play IPA. More reviewers need to rate based on the STYLE of the beer, and in the case of Lawson's, not how it stacks up to their legendary flagship ales. Red Spruce Bitter was a very pleasant surprise and a tremendous seasonal offering that was unique and really hit the spot on a cold Winter night.

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Photo of JMScowcroft
4.21/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Lawson's Finest Liquids - Red Spruce Bitter, poured into a Lawson's tulip.

Look - Pours a hazy dark ruby amber with a decent sized foamy head that dissipates quickly. Vanishing lacing.

Smell - Sweet malt with definite cinnamon and a dash of spruce.

Taste - Flavor is malt quickly pushed out of the way by spruce and cinnamon.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. Some malt warmth. Good drinkability. Rests a bit spruce but not overbearing.

Overall - I like it, I'm not big into this style but this is well crafted, would have this seasonally around the holidays.

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Photo of sisuspeed
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch #171
4.4% ABV

Poured into an Alchemist pint glass. A murky brown body with an orange-red tint supports a finger's worth of white creamy head on top. Light lacing.

Lots of bread, sugar cookie and a hint of cinnamon on the nose. The spruce actually comes through faintly as well. English malts make up the base.

Wow, this is a cool beer. It tastes like Christmas in a glass. Spruce, light cinnamon and sugar cookie malts. It feels like the spruce tree is in the bottle, but not overbearing.

Mouthfeel is on the lighter side, but still substantial, especially for a 4.4% ABV beer. Slightly bitter and a little resiny. Good.

Drinkability is high. At 4.4% ABV this beer is definitely sessionable. I love how it tastes like winter/Christmas in a glass, but isn't your typical winter warmer, which is a style I don't like very much. The spruce also comes through well in the flavor, which I wasn't really expecting. I'm kind of wishing I had picked up another bottle of this.

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Photo of Hyptochrons
4.16/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

poured from bottle into a boston lager glass. red/brown with a finger of tan colored foam. leaves a bit of lacing.

refreshing but subtle scent, mainly of sweetish malts and a hint of spruce. taste is malts followed by a cinnamon flavor. mouthfeel is nice in my opinion. the spruce really insnt too apparent in this beer, was most noticable right when i opened the bottle, and immediately after poured into glass.

overall i think this beer is pretty excellent and very unique. glad i picked up a couple bottles, would be a nice one to have around for the holidays and winter months.

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Photo of akorsak
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A foil-wrapped 650 mL bomber from the Warren Store, bottle 60 of batch 178. Served in a tumbler.

A: The beer has a rich mahogany color, displaying sharp orange highlights when the light is just right. Generally opaque, the ale supports over three fingers of off-white head. Rare patches of lace followed.

S: Quite malty, plenty of syrupy strong caramel. That base supports shaved cinnamon spices. Alongside the spice, a full hoppiness, very arboreal, comes through. I liken it to an English Old Ale (save for the spruce).

T: Warming and malty, the cinnamon registers first. The fullness seemingly betrays some curacao orange sweetness as well. Plenty of malts, aiding the Old Ale argument. Caramel and toffee are bold but not too strong. The spruce adds an undercurrent of flavor that runs throughout the ale, a spry lively flavor that is piney. For those seeking a comparison to Short's India Spruce Lager, look elsewhere because the spruce is a complement and not the star of the show here. That being said, it is difficult to overlook the unique flavor. The additional hops add a strong zest. It's not what I expected (see India Spruce Lager) but it exceeded my expectations (wrap your head around that one).

M: The mouthfeel, expect for the spruce, is a pleasant English old ale/warmer, toffee and caramel with a mild spiciness. Add the spruce and the beer goes in a whole new direction.

D: Quite a bit of flavor and complexity for weighing in below 5%. A nice blend of flavors that has a distinctive bite.

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Photo of WunderLlama
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into glass beer stein

Dark ruby brown, not transparent but not murky. A taupe finger foam appears on the pour and settles to a solid layer with good lacings.

Truth in advertising. The aroma smells like a spruce forest. Spruce, cinnamon and sweet malt. The spruce aroma is amazing.

Smooth, gentle malt with cinnamon and spruce. Taste of spruce on the side of the mouth. Gentle carbonation , great mouth feel , almost creamy.

Went on a pilgrimage to Vermont for skiing and bier. Was only able to grab one bottle from Lawson's and it was this red spruce bitter. Not on my target list but glad I grabbed it. Excellent balance, smooth beer with an incredible aroma. Tastes great and I recommend grabbing this beer if given the opportunity .

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Photo of THECPJ
4.07/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes 1/29/11:

Appearance: orangish red brown with 1 fingerhead

Smell: Cinnamon / nutmeg, biscuit,

Taste: Cinnamon, spice, mulled cider

Mouthfeel: mild carbonation, smooth,

Drinkability: Very drinkable, very interesting and complex brew. Would be perfect to drink around a fire.



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Photo of kingcrowing
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a Duvel tulip, 2010 vintage.

Pours a nice dark hazy brown with a generous, creamy light brown head. The nose is fantastic, spruce and cinnamon dominate with some light maltiness.

Taste is just as you'd expect from the nose, it's super unique - cinnamon and spruce are what you get first. The malt and hops take a back seat. Mouthfeel is a bit light with fairly thick carbonation - a pleasant surprise as I didn't know what to expect with a spruce & cinnamon beer!

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Photo of Slatetank
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to akorsak for this bottle, enjoyed chilled and allowed to gradually warm. I shared this with tenderbranson69 while brewing an oatmeal stout.

The color is deep bronze with crimson highlights and translucent in clarity. There is 2 fingers of creamy light beige capping w/ ultra fine beading and speckles of lace left on the glass, but retention is very good in spite of this. The smell is very full with nutty and bready malt w/ light spice and slightly earthy twiggy nose which doesn't hide the cinnamon - it is there in the background. The feel is creamy on entry with resinous and has light tannin with slight spiced effect and gentle roasted influence. The moderate carbonation is good and leads to a semi dry finish.

The strong malt backbone allows the mild roasted tasted to provide the base for the subtle yet flavorful spice and cinnamon flavors. The gentle woody taste is well blended with some toast and caramel from the malt and even slight stonefruit flavors. The hop flavoring is mild, but possibly adds to the woody flavor with an almost bark-like quality which translates to tannin adding balance and not overdoing it at all. The finish is lacluster which is why I didn't score the beer higher overall save for some woody/smoky elements. This was I beer I enjoyed because I am a fan of cinnamon. Really no ingredients are out of place and it was a very pleasing spice beer. I consider it perfect accompaniment to a sunny first day of spring in PA.

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Photo of jlpayne
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Murky. Little head, some lacing. Deep brown with a light red hue.

S - Pronounced nose. Soy sauce and ginger within a forest of pine. Even a bit of dish soap - in a good way.

T - Cinnamon rolls. Freshly cut, sappy wood.

M - Crisp. Light-bodied. Effervescent.

D - This is an intense beer. Half of a 22oz was enough for me, though I'd definitely be willing to share this beer again.

Well done LFL. The most unique seasonal I've had this winter.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer is dark copper colored and clear with a small tan head. The aroma brings light spruce and pine. A nice sweet, fruity malt scent charcteristic of a red ale. Biscuits and bread tones in the English style. Lawson's wanted to make an English style red and they succeeded. Exactly what I would expect. Fairly light in body. Light bitterness in the finish with very mild alcohol. A sessionable brew. I am enjoying this.

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Photo of CliffBrake
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

batch 252, bottle 329

Deep brown color with a short-lived tan head that leaves a very light curtain of lacing on the glass.

Inviting sweet, spicy aroma that is hard to pin on specific components.

Light bready malt with well integrated spruce and a dash of cinnamon. Slightly tart with a bright tangy finish.

Medium-light body with a modest, mouth cleansing carbonation.

Tasty and well worth a try.

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Photo of koopa
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle #92 of batch #178

Appearance: Pours the color of dark iced tead with a really nice 2 finger slightly off white (iced tea stained) crown that shows good retention and lace. If the brew were a touch less cloudy I'd score it a 5.0

Smell: Malt dominant with cinnamon and spruce adding some interesting support.

Taste: Same as the nose but less cinnamon and malt. Just a spruced amber thing for the most part. Slight bitterness from the spruce is pleasing.

Mouthfeel: A touch grainy and a bit watery. A bit pedestrian compared to the other fine Lawson's offerings I've tried.

Drinkability: Decent.


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Photo of henskejk
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes

A - Medium brown color, light tan head which retains fairly well

S - Mostly wintery spices detectable in the aroma

T - strong cinnamon flavor, but also somewhat refreshing. a little bit of other spices present and a little bitter in the after taste. does not end overly sweet like some other winter beers

M - Really smooth with light to medium body, nicely carbonated

O - Very enjoyable and drinkable holiday beer

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Photo of MDDMD
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-deep red brown color with a cream-colored head and good lacing

S-roasted malt, caramel , cinnamon, very aromatic spruce

T-roasted malt, caramel, cinnamon, heavy spruce flavors, light citrus, mild to moderate bitter finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-interesting beer with some really good flavors, wish the spruce was toned down just a little

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. brown bottle, wrapped in elegant gold foil... and a not-so- elegant desktop printer-quality label. No worries, it's what's inside that counts. Cool that each bottle is hand-numbered (Rare Batch #171; Bottle #9) and signed by the brewer! Thank you goes to sleepydave for sending one westward; poured to an Adnams nonic pint.

"Lawson's 2010 winter holiday ale is a special bitter brewed with English malts, Fuggles hops, real sprigs of Red Spruce trees picked at the brewery, a dash of cinnamon & fermented with an English-style yeast. Enjoy! 4.4% alc.vol."


A: What a filthy pour! Muddy hazelnut rust-brown, just translucent enough to show a bounty of fast-moving carbonation. not an issue with jostling the bottle, it's just that unfiltered I guess. A finger-high dollop of dense khaki rises and falls, leaving a thin skim and lace in loose drapes.

S: Expected more aroma, to be honest. With spruce and cinnamon as add-ins, my hopes for cut evergreen and bakery-fresh rolls were too high. Not a bad scent at all, just very mild - even as it warmed, the spice and sappy greenness remained remarkable only for their subtleties.

T: Now THAT'S an interesting flavor. The biscuity and nutty malts and the mildly-spiced hops ascend to a higher plane with the addition of bark-like cinnamon and spruce branches. A nice trick on the senses, the way these flavors mirror things 'wintry', both real and imagined. Bitterness does hang around as a 'ground nutshell' earthiness, even a slight tart twang. I'll write it again: Interesting.

M: Quite creamy, an effervescing carbonation that catches up just as it slides off the back of the tongue. Seems thicker than it is, due in large part to a sticky malt and fine graininess.

D: An appropriately-fortified 'English Bitter', it's measly 4.4% strength epitomizes session-worthiness. Don't know if this is one you'd WANT to have all night, but you could. And it's one I'd definitely recommend... and will pine for til I get another...

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Photo of papat444
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

***Rare Batch #252, Bottle # 20***

Poured from a bomber, bottled 12/29/2011.

Appearance: A very foamy head forms above a brown looking body which is actually dark red when held to the light. The head sticks to the glass all around.

Smell: Strong malt and some minerals, typical of a good bitter. Some spruce needles in the back somewhere.

Taste: Bready, malt stronger than hops. Spruce is reminiscent of what spruce needles smell like. More of a feel than a specific flavor. No cinnamon to speak of.

Mouthfeel: A crisp feel, well balanced with medium carbonation. Sticks around in the palate.

Overall: A bit disappointed that the spruce wasn't stronger and that there was no hint of cinnamon, even at room temp. It is still a well made bitter but don't expect too much of the special ingredients to come through.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.72/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle picked up at Warren Store. 2012 vintage.

Pours a clearish chestnut amber with a small cream colored head. Earthy and leafy aroma with bready malt and mild sweetness and a touch of cinnamon. Flavor tastes like a traditional ESB crossed with an exceptionally woodsy Anchor Xmas beer. Doughy malt body, earthy hops, and spruce (?), cinnamon and pine. Medium thick, creamy body with a dry, woodsy finish. Adequate but not worth seeking out.

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Photo of Brad007
3.29/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dark brown/burgundy-ish color with a thin head into my glass. It's brewed with red spruce tips and extremely low in ABV.

Can only be described as soft, "earthy" and non-threatening. Hmm. It doesn't use hops though.

Drinks like a nice herbed or spiced ale. A spot of caramel here and there with some spiciness. The spruce is hardly noticeable.

Not sure how to rate the mouthfeel but it's possibly over-carbonated. All this does is push the alcohol further into the taste buds creating a burning sensation.

Not the best they've produced. Worth a shot if you're into non-conventional beers.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.27/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This poured out as a decent looking brownish red color. The head was cream colored and had a light amount of retention and not much lacing at all. The smell of the beer is earthy with some decent malt aromas and spice. The taste of the beer is pretty mild, there is malt sweetness and spruce to bitter the beer up a little. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, nicely carbonated and drinkable. Overall it was a nice beer to try but I wouldn't have to seek it out again.

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Red Spruce Bitter from Lawson's Finest Liquids
3.96 out of 5 based on 85 ratings.
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