Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale | Yards Brewing Co.

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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce AlePoor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale

Brewed by:
Yards Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by NeroFiddled on 01-05-2003

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Reviews: 205 | Ratings: 576
Photo of Ursula1007
4.98/5  rDev +37.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I love the robust depth of the nuances that play on the palate. Molasses is detectable and welcome. With Spruce tips and sprigs in the recipe, this original recipe from the Revolutionary War period, is to be cherished as an American beauty.
Nicely carbonated for those of us who enjoy a tinkle mouth feel.

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Photo of brandon1920
4.84/5  rDev +33.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Very good beer. Frist of its kind that I have tasted. It makes me want to fly to Philadelphia and back just to stock up. If you live near you must go on a tour and try each and every beer that Yards offers, you won't be sorry. My wife and I took a tour on our honey moon and can't wait to go back.

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Photo of bob3701
4.74/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I truely enjoyed this beer, it really caught me by surprise. Poured a dark hazy amber with a creamy white head and laced really well. You could smell the molasses and spruce it was an amazing aroma. And the taste did not disappoint. Sweet from the molasses and that spruce tasted better then I thought it would. Finished with a citrusy after-taste. Euell Gibbons would be proud of this one. Makes me want to Drive to Philly and try it on tap at City Tavern. My hat is off to Yards.

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Photo of droomyster
4.61/5  rDev +27%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is one of, if not The, most intriguing beers I've ever tasted. It smells and tastes like liquid Christmas. It looks completely ordinary and average in the glass, with a clear brown body and just a short-lived fizzy head. The aromas, however, are startling. Spruce and molasses, indeed, and lots of them, filling the nose, dancing over the palate, leaving the lingering tastes of cinnamon and evergreen needles for minutes afterward. This seems to be a love it or hate it sort of beer. I for one am head over heels with it.

edit: after reading an earlier review that described blueberry and menthol flavors in the beer, I want to add that I concur with that judgment.

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Photo of donniecuffs
4.6/5  rDev +26.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Found this at a respectable beer store in Lambertville, NJ, off of Main Street, though I don't remember the name. Anyway, into a pint glass, poured a reddish/brown with 3 fingers of beige head, and fantastic lacing. The nose? Wow..juicyfruit, spearmint, maple syrup, and molasses. The flavor was even more impressive with a big macintosh apple influence, mixed with juicyfruit, mint, and molasses, and then dissolving to a crisp mac apple/mint finish, which lingered afterwards. Spritzy yet medium-bodied and smooth. As I drank this while smoking some pork butt on my Brinkmann in the backyard, I couldn't help noticing that this is a great summer beer.

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Photo of Katahdin
4.56/5  rDev +25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an amber body with a dirty sand color head that holds well. Smell has hints of molasses and the dried spruce twigs, a bit of a musty forest smell to it with a pleasing aroma of fresh evergreens over the mustiness. The flavor was a bit complex with earthy tastes of wood fiber, some maltiness, and the citrus like flavor of the spruce. Went down quite easily, not at all like chewing on a Christmas tree. A true interpretation of a Ben Franklin beer recipe. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of benlaitman
4.5/5  rDev +24%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A-red/amber brown appearance.
S-sweet and spiced smell.
T-nice mild hop, but filled with complex sweet and spicy flavors.
M-not a lot of carbonation, relatively light beer.
D-Beer needs to be drunken slowly to appreciate the complex flavors. Not the easiest to drink very quickly.

I really do like this beer for its complexity even though it isn't the most drinkable of beers. Drink this when you want to try something different. All of the Yards "Ales of the Revolution" are really interesting/complex beers.

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Photo of DonBowman
4.49/5  rDev +23.7%
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 SixpointJMH
4.47/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I wasn't expected much as I was a bit underwhelmed by the original Yards Ales of the Revolution when I sampled them a few years back, but I really dug this brew.

It pours a nice murky ruby colour with a medium sized head that leaves its fair share of residue on the glass.

The aroma is sweet, with hints of molasses and spruce for sure. There's a definite forest-like aspect to the aroma of this one. It's simple but very nice and effective overall.

The taste is more of the same, but better. It's woody and sweet and brings out both the molasses and spruce even moreso that the aroma and balances them quite nicely overall. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and a bit oily and chewy at times.

Again, this is a very nice beer. Not only is it the best of the series from Yards, it probably the best of the "Historical" brews that have been popping up here and there from various breweries in recent years. Definitely worth picking up a bottle or more if you see it.

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Photo of Ty1erC
4.32/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

*12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.*

a: deep mahogany in color. good retention and lacing.

s: sweet malt, spruce.

t: this is a very flavorsome beer. the taste is dominated by malt, but in a way that is usually associated with old ales and barleywines. it seems bigger than a 5% beer. the spruce flavor is subtle and wonderful.

m: medium to full-bodied. smooth and creamy carbonation.

d: really drinkable and unique. the low abv makes it pretty sessionable. i'd definitely buy it again.

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Photo of joepais
4.3/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for a great person sending this to me. I poured this bottle into a small sifter it produced a small white bubbly head that left fast the body was a light brown in color.

The aromas were sweet and malty balanced by some unmistakable spruce note. The flavor was nice as well it was defiantly one of the best spiced beer I have ever had truly enjoyable it had that bitter spruce flavor but a big old molasses base to balance this one out. It felt great in the mouth with good carbonation.

A great beer I could have had another one right after my first which is suprising for a spiced brew. well worth trying and seeking out

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Photo of Beerquester
4.3/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I tried this beer served on tap after the brewery tour, which by the way was a very good tour and well worth the visit.

These guys really did a good job in pulling this one off!

An unmistakable spruce pervades the aroma which smoothly transitions into a molasses-tasting full-bodied beer. This transition was necessary I believe to offset any lingering spruce which may otherwise have given a mediciney taste to the beer. A pleasantly smooth finish.

I could easily enjoy a few pints of this beer, made with organic spruce trips from a local farm, though of course, I would rank it more in the novelty or historical beer category.

A fine accomplishment on this style of beer. After trying this beer I am convinced of trying to brew one myself.

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Photo of brother_rebus
4.28/5  rDev +17.9%
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 dawg
4.26/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the tap into a pint glass with little head. Light could peek through the deep amber body.

The aroma was a tight balance of spruce, spices, and hops.

Mouthfeel was alright but nothing to write home about. The lack of head was a drag and I couldn't get anything special from the feel.

Tasted awesome. Like the scent there was a good balance between the needles, hops, malts, and I was stunned by a subtle citrus orange zest poking through with the finish.

Liked it enough to have a second. Probably could have had more.

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Photo of kenito799
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from cask from the beer engine at Dawson's, an outstanding small beer bar in the far reaches of Roxborough/Wissahickon, Philadelphia-on-Schuylkill, PA.

I had tasted this at the Yard's brewery the day before from a keg, and found a pleasing spruce aroma upfront, but it backed off in the mouth, leaving a really nice balanced ale.

A full pint from the beer engine produced a dark dark amber brew with a huge creamy head. Mouthfeel amazingly creamy, casks really augment the Yards brews (and maybe all beers). The spruce aroma was barely detectable at first but came across on tasting as a well-integrated and very enjoyable component to a very balanced and drinkable ale, surprisingly so. Rather than overwhelming, the spruce finish felt like I was standing in a forest or at least in my grandmother's living room with the heat from huge 1950s electric lights releasing vapors from the Christmas tree into the air (threatening to burst into flames). Highly enjoyable and worth several pints.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The final beer in my yards mixed variety pack.
A - Slight dark amber hue with very little head and slight lacing,
S - Some oak and some pine with cinnamon and hop background. Smells good.
T - Cinnamon predominant with very little bitter from oak or pine. Has almost a sticky sweet flavor.
M - Very light. Coats the mouth very well.
D - Overall a very nice beer at 5 percent a perfect succession beer full of oaky and spiced flavor. Great brew

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Photo of woodychandler
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Originally reviewed on-tap on 10-31-2007

This arrived with a thick, off-white/medium tan head with decent retention. The color was a deep amber with reddish highlights. The nose was not-quite redolent with with a pine/spruce scent. I say that because I had some of the early batches that were like Pine-Sol in a glass. This was a bit more subdued, but still notable. The mouthfeel was somewhere between medium and full with a great minty presence on the tongue. The finish was very clean and refreshing with a lingering taste of pine. It was not as intense as my first exposure to it, which was a shame. However, it was not a detractor. Rock On, Yards!

From a bottle on 06-09-2013:

I picked this up at The Foodery (N. Liberties) as I thought it the only one of the Yards Ales of the Revolution that I had not previously reviewed. Whoops!

From the bottle: "Crafted following Ben Franklin's original recipe."; "Malt beverage brewed with natural flavors (molasses, spruce tips and sprigs.); "Revolutionary Times Call for Revolutionary Ales. Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce (TM) is based on Franklin's original recipe. Enjoy a taste of history courtesy of Yards Brewing Company."

Someone must have read my original review because as soon as I popped the cap, the room smelled like Pine-Sol! My initial pour created a finger of fizzy tawny head with limited retention, quickly falling to wisps. Color was a deep copper with NE-quality clarity. Leaning in, it smelled like a freshly cut Christmas tree. Yes! Mouthfeel was medium and on this iteration, not only did I get that fresh mintiness, but I could also perceive the molasses on the tongue. Is my palate becoming more sensitive or did they tweak the recipe in the last six years? Finish was semi-dry with the commingled flavors of pine and molasses really lingering well after the swallow.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.2/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had the pleasure of having this on Yard's night at the Grey Lodge. Made to celebrate the 300th birthday of Ben Franklin. Traditional? I have no idea. But happy birthday.

Made with spruce wood tips and molases. You can taste both, and they combine very well. It reminds me of something I can't put my finger on and it is bothering me that I can't pinpoint it. Maybe it's another beer. But it's not reminding me of spruce and molases b/c how many times do you have that?

Color was quite nice. Not quite amber, not gold. But on the darker end of the spectrum while not black.

Too busy noticing the intriguing taste to take much notice of the mouthfeel.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.18/5  rDev +15.2%
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 Biscuit033
4.17/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark amber almost brown delivered with minimal head. There was little retention and spotty lacing.

S: Molasses, mint, pine, and some mulling spices.

T: Molasses and brown sugar taste and sweetness is balanced superbly by the spruce, earthy, and spices. I am amazed by how this type of beer is so well balanced and easy drinking.

M: Creamy but with some slight oiliness. The flavors linger on but the spruce almost cleanses the palate.

D: Surprisingly quaffable. This is something that I would consider for a long day of drinking in the winter.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours medium dark brown, some reddish tints, good white foam. Rings around the edge. Pine nose, molasses too. Syrup as well. Taste is a subtle sweetness. Slight root beer taste. Mint/spruce sprig taste. Smooth & flavorful. Pretty damn good original recipe.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark but clear cola color that takes on a cherry glow when held to the light. The head consists of an irregular film and a narrow collar.

Smells of oatmeal and sweet cornbread with a huge, sweet and smooth smelling pine (spruce?) with a bit of lime.

Tastes predominantly of a blend of the sweet spruce and lime rind bitterness with a slight, watered down molasses behind it.

The mouth feel is light to medium bodied with an easy mini-carbonation.

This is a really tasty beer, but it’s so sweet and flavorful, I’m not sure I could drink too many of these. I’d say two’s my limit.

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Photo of bubseymour
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked this up at "Good to Go" in Chambersburg PA on road trip. Haven't seen this one in MD

Looks like a great brown ale with nice 1 finger head. Smells malty and some sweetness and a slight sulfur metallic scent but very faint.
Has a very interesting and refreshing taste. Sort of a Vienna Lager but with something else which I guess is the spruce tips. Nice and different and it works. I definitely enjoy this one after doing 4 hrs of outdoor work today. It's a very refreshing and flavorful beer. Not sure if I'd go out of my way to find it but I enjoyed it.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My last of the mixed 6-pack from a mid-September visit to Yards/Philadelphia; don't know why it took so long to get to this one, other than it 'got lost' in the back of the fridge. A brown 12 oz. bottle with a label updated from the one shown above; poured to a pint glass. Another from the 'Ales of the Revolution' Series, this one based on Franklin's recipe and using, among other things, molasses and sprice tips/sprigs.

For what it's worth, I tossed a penny on Ben Franklin's grave in hopes of good luck... or a return trip to the city... or whatever.

A: Deep and tawny sienna, clear-ish but for a whole mess of hanging sediment (two months, give or take, since bottling and it looks like this? must be intentionally fuzzy). Modest khaki head - maybe 1/2 finger at most, then a scant dimpled cream. Minimal lace: what's there is a speckled spray.

S: Mildly 'green and spicy' amidst a sweeter malt nose. The zest of citrus, strong enough though nothing phenomenal. A whiff of pepper.

T: Absolutely what an 'herbed/spiced' beer is *supposed* to taste like in this reviewer's opinion. Spruce tips shine, a lovely woodsy and herbal mouthful. The zingy spice of something like ginger, with fleeting notes of black pepper. Think about, and a clove-like spice takes hold. Deeper and richer than I'd possibly imagined; in a word: yummy.

M: Smooth and creamy and light/medium-bodied. Mellow carbonation here is appropriate.

D: Really an enjoyable beer, and so easy to drink! At just 5%, the Tavern Spruce is plenty sessionable. PLENTY. If this is how the Founding Fathers imbibed, then sign me up for that first time machine trip back to the late 18th-century. If this were available in Portland, it'd be a fridge staple.

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Photo of jmasher85
4.14/5  rDev +14%
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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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
3.63 out of 5 based on 576 ratings.
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