Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale
Yards Brewing Co.

Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce AlePoor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale
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Herb and Spice Beer
Ranked #113
Ranked #41,669
3.62 | pDev: 16.02%
Yards Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States
Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce AlePoor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale
Notes: Based on Franklin’s original recipe, which called for barley, molasses, and essence of spruce, our Tavern Spruce is as approachable and engaging as was the man himself. We source blue spruce clippings from a local organic farmer, steeping them in the kettle to create this one-of-a-kind deep amber ale.
Reviews: 214 | Ratings: 610 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Greatbigsoxfan
4.65/5  rDev +28.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Very drinkable with moderately strong piney taste and aroma
Had first at the brewery in Philadelphia ordered thinking it was a one time novelty but liked it. I don’t drink this as my everyday beer but love it for a change of pace

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Photo of EMV
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Clear dark burgundy pour. Ruby red around the edges. Thick fluffy off-white head.. solid lacing.

S: Spruce and malts. They advertised Spruce... it's here.

T/F: Malts and toasted grains... sweet up front. Strong evergreen/spruce flavors. Lighter medicinal hops. Earthy... all flavors secondary to the spruce. Medium to light bodied.

O: Not a favorite, but they hit what they were aiming for with a spruce-forward red ale. About half a pour would be ideal... not one I'd want a lot of, but fun to taste.

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Photo of ordybill
3.54/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the tap into a tulip glass at the City Tavern in Philly. The appearance is a reddish Amber with a small off-white head. The aroma is all spruce. The taste is malt and spruce.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
3.79/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - The beer poured a copper color with visible carbonation and an off-white head.

Smell - The beer had notes a dry grass and light spruce.

Taste - Dry hay and light cracker malts were at the front of the taste. Light spruce notes sit in back, but seem like an after thought. A spruce beer could stand more spruce.

Mouthfeel - The carbonation lent itself to the dry mouthfeel.

Overall - This is a nice beer. I just want more spruce in my spruce beer.

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Photo of DeaconWhite82
3.9/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

First time I had this beer , I was not big fan. I drink it now and I enjoy it. Deep amber color with a strong scent of pine. Taste of pine with a smooth finish. Easy to drink. I find this beer very refreshing.

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Photo of cdclark81
3.77/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Color is a filtered medium brown. The head deteriorated slightly but never disappeared with good lacing. The spruce really comes across in the smell. I can taste a good bit of the spice, as well as a little of the spruce, but it isn't overpowering. It's slightly sweet, but not too much. Good beer.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.29/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Reviewed from notes. This was poured into a pint glass. The appearance was a somewhat transparent golden yellow with a one finger white foamy head that quickly died and barely left any lacing. The smell had some spruce and light honey. The taste was sweet and alower some light spruce to come through. On the palate, this one sat about a light to medium on the body with a decent sessionable quality about it. Overall, I say this was a pretty good beer I’d have again.

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Photo of HoppingMadMonk
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Brown Amber color. Smells like a nice ale with a more than mild scent of spruce. Yards makes excellent,really well crafted beer and this one is no different. It tastes like an excellent well made ale with a spruce tree added. That's the amazing part and also the problem as it really tastes like a beer with an added Christmas tree. I really respected the quality and how well it was crafted but I personally had a hard time with it

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Photo of mvanaskie13
3.99/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hard to believe I've not reviewed this beer - enjoyed it many times over the years as parts of different variety packs. Poured into a small chalice: color is darker amber, almost brown, head is light tan, presents about 1/4 inch thick and dissipates to a ring and light froth.

Smell is light spruce tip essence first, then light earthiness and subtle sweetness.

Taste is pleasant and different - spruce tip essence is forward and prominent, but not overpowering; compared to Pennsy Tuxedo this beer has more background sweetness in the form of caramel malt or molasses.

Mouthfeel is moderately carbonated, light sweetness and light bitterness.

Overall a good beer, unique many years ago, but still good execution and simple flavors - expected from a style based on a 250 year old recipe.

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Photo of Vetbidder
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark color to this beer. Smells of toasted malts with not much else going on. Nice flavor. Getting some spiciness, some slightly bitter elements. It has a fuller creamy feel and less carbonation.

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Photo of Immortale25
2.87/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Poured into a Double Barley can-shaped glass. Bottleneck says Bottled On 082416.

A- Pours a reddish dark amber color with a 1/4 inch light tan head that retains a bit before becoming a paper-thin ring around the edge of the glass and a large center patch of sheer surface foam. Resilient lacing leaves large clots behind.

S- Spruce as expected with a bit of toasted malt sweetness behind it.

T- Strange flavor of spruce and some bitter component that I don't believe is caused from the hops but I could be wrong. The flavor of this beer does not have me looking forward to the next sip at all. I wish the molasses was more prominent so that it could counteract the bitter flavor I'm perceiving.

M- Somewhat sharp with medium carbonation and a body leaning toward the fuller side.

O- This beer is limp in almost every category. Muddled and unfocused flavors lead to an unpleasant drinking experience. If this is what beer tasted like in revolutionary times, I'm glad I live in the 21st century.

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Photo of MikeWard
3.96/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass. bottled 5/16/16, so a bit over 7 months old.

amber body, good carbonation, small creamy head which quickly dissipates to a ring and faint covering.

aroma is strongly of the spruce, even after 7 months

taste confirms the nose. this is a pleasant drink. Spruce taste is nice without being oily or over piney.

finish leaves a bite along the edge of the tongue, mouth is a tad below medium.

overall, a different and enjoyable beverage. Wouldn't say no to another, though likely would be a bit much for a session of these.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.18/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Yards Brewing in Philadelphia, PA.

This one pours a nice rich brown color, with a small head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like minty spruce, but not too overwhelmingly so, with some molasses, caramel, and bready malt.

I expected this to be a spruce bomb, but luckily that was not the case here. The spruce is minty, herbal, and ultimately refreshing. There's a nice molasses and caramel sweetness underneath the beer. There's a good sturdy breadiness to the malt, as well.

This is lighter bodied, with a pretty crisp mouthfeel.

I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this one. Pretty nice stuff.

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Photo of SomethingClever
4.04/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into snifter no bottled on date but the sampler pack says kegged on 8/26/16

A: Nice quarter inch tiny bubbled soapy head that is slightly off white. Body is a rich caramel, dark amber that is a little hazy.

S: Smells piney, almost car freshner piney, a little bit of light roasted malts underneath a little sweetness maybe some toffee.

T: Light spruce on the tongue followed by some sweet caramel notes, a light sweet bready undertone. The molasses is noticeable as it warms and pretty enjoyable.

M: A little creamy yet lighter

O: The spruce is there in both the nose and the taste but it isn't overwhelming in either. Otherwise the beer is quite easy drinking darker malted lager. It isn't going to win any prizes, but it isn't bad either. The more this beer warms the more I warm to it.

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Photo of The_Kriek_Freak
4.11/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

It may not be getting the best reviews but I absolutely loved this one. Tasted like no other beer I've had before (and I've had a few). The spruce is definitely there but not in a way that becomes a distraction. At 5% it drinks like a light but flavorful beer cocktail.

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Photo of Dodo2step
2.76/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A- cherry juice caramel color with a nice frothy head. Nice lacing on my pint as well.

S- plums but then it fades away with ginger and pine. nothing malty either.

F- plum, cherry, ginger and dark roasted malt

M- sour juice with plum and faint malt.

O- eh....started off well but the plum and cherry really took away from it after awhile.

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Photo of cambabeer
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Had this sitting in the yards tasting room in Philadelphia. The spruce character, in both the smell and taste was very present, not to the point of being overly Christmas tree-like, but pushing it. The malt sweetness and cinnamon character is not so much balanced by the hops, which are minimal, but by the dry almost gin like finish.

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Photo of jmasher85
4.14/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

To this day, it's one of the most unique, memorable beers I've ever had. Furthermore, biased though I may clearly be, I don't think you can be a true Philadelphia beer lover without liking this beer...probably more than you should.
First word of warning: if you like gin, pinecones, or Christmas, you will like this beer. If not, be wary. The spruce is very, very present in this one. In all honesty, it's almost like a gin was magically turned into beer by Santa Claus, or Ben Franklin himself (who, if all the legends of him are true, probably had some special powers). Not a whole lot else of note on this one: a bit of malt gives a rustic sort of sweetness, a bit of hop throws a bitter wrench in there too, but mostly what you're getting is piney, sprucey, tree-beer. And while it's not something I'd drink regularly (I fear that more than one at a time might actually nauseate me a little), every few months I revisit it and put that classic Brotherly Love smile on my face.

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Photo of Myotus
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.
LOOK: Pours with an off-white foam head about the size of half a finger. This dissipates into a line of foam within 20 seconds. Has a very clean copper color. There are so few rising bubbles, that I can count them as they ascend.
SMELL: There are mild aromas of caramel malts, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, and plums. There is also a hint of pale malts along with an unknown spicy/grassy aroma (I suppose this is the spruce with which this beer is brewed).
TASTE: Mild flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and molasses combined with subtle flavors of caramel malts are the first to calmly enter my palate. A mix of subtle plum, spruce, and hints of pale malt flavors follow the initial taste as all initial flavors persist.
FEEL: Light-bodied with a subtle carbonation. Has a somewhat smooth finish with little dryness.
NOTE: The spruce flavors and aromas are very weak in this beer. It was good, but I am disappointed. You can't put "Spruce" in the name if it isn't going to be a prevalent flavor. On a completely separate note, this tastes almost exactly like a Sam Adams Winter Lager. All you would have to do is add some orange peel and take away what little spruce there is.

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Photo of brother_rebus
4.28/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Mild amber hue. Christmas tree nose. An unobtrusive sweet malt to compliment the hoppy/sprucy taste. Keeps a spiced carbonated feel across the entire pallet. Have been searching this one out for over a year. Finally got it and am very impressed. Well done.

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Photo of dfconnor
2.53/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

This ale has a bad nose. It tastes better than it smells, but I was still disappointed, especially after enjoying other varieties produced by Yards. The flavor was very ordinary. Finishes kind of watery. If this were not marketed as a craft beer I would not be so hard on it.

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Photo of DonBowman
4.49/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I have rarely liked spiced or herbed beers but this is an exception! The very mild spruce smell finish is delightful. The beer is a dark amber, has a lace, head and body that speaks of more alcohol than the 5% content. A nice well balanced beer that certainly tends to the malty side, very enjoyable!

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Photo of baconfromwalmart
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

L: Clear mahogany brown, light brown head consisting of a mixture of small and large bubbles that leaves nice lacing on the side of the glass.
S: Molasses, rich wood
T: Toasted malt, pine, pretty mild and balanced. Very drinkable.
F: Rather thin...
O: I love that this is Ben Franklin's own recipe and will definitely have it again.

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Photo of Kendo
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from the bottle into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body is brownish-amber with absolutely no head.

S: On the sweet, malty side of things - caramel malt with a touch of lemony bitterness.

T: Brown bready malt foundation is followed with some faint piney bitterness.

M: Medium in heft, carbonation is light, nearly non-existent.

O: Meh. Too sweet for my preferences. Interesting for historical purposes, however, as it's pretty likely that the ales being produced in this country around the time of the Revolution were something like this.

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Photo of scootny
3.94/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It's my father's birthday and the first one without him. Today I make my 700th review. I miss you dad, I think you'd find this one to be right up your alley.

I really like this unusual and delicious beer. Brilliantly clear with a huge head, reddish brown amber. Impressive retention and lacing. Head is dense, high and stays all the way down. Quite lovely.

Nose bring a multifaceted sweetness. Caramel malt, light brown sugar, spruce is delightfully sweet as well.

Taste follows the nose. Lots of caramel, mild breadiness. Earthy, mild hops and piney spruce. Spruce flicks out a faint alcoholic sharpness but it is subsumed in the swallow and lingering pine.

Feel is medium weight. A good fall density. Smooth light carbonation has a bit of light creaminess though a pinch more might bring it to a better place for me.

An unusually and delightful change up session ale. Keeping in mind the time that the recipe for this and all the other Ales of the Revolution series, this review is for a glass at a cellar temperature. When I had my first bottle right out of the refrigerator the spruce took over and ruined the beer. Let it sit for twenty minutes or so, to let the caramel bloom and balance the bitttering components . Then sit back and enjoy each sip

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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 610 ratings