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 #114
Ranked #41,112
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.
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Reviews: 214 | Ratings: 607
Photo of ButchAleman
1.36/5  rDev -62.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

I have had this beer before several years ago and found it to be very interesting and unusual. Tried this beer at the brewery
tour. The sample that I had this week was probably the worst beer I have ever had. I don't know how a beer could be this bad but obviously Yards brewery that can make it htappen.

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Photo of mikesgroove
1.9/5  rDev -47.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

First I wanna mention the really cool blue bottle this came in, nice touch. Poured a very dark amber with a big creamy white head. Slow fade left a thick coating of gooey lace on the glass. This looked very very nice, but looks can be decieving. Smell was how do you say, odd. Smelled like a pine tree air freshner, very dry, with hunts of flour, yeast, almost tree bark. Caramel, bread, and other sweet smells came through as it dried. The taste did not suit me well at all. Only word I could think of is huh? Tasted like a soda, very light and highly carbonated. Sugary, amost trying to be fruit like but not making it. Did have a dry finish, but I could barely get the glass down. This was one of the strangest beers I have ever drank. It was like chewing on a fresh cut xmas tree, but not in the good way.

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Photo of Duder13
2.11/5  rDev -41.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12 oz. bottle, no brew date, concerned about when this was actually made

A - weak in color for a dark ale, no head, very little carbination

S - smokey, the spruce is overbearing

T - harsh and unbalanced

M - thin, watery, flat

would not try again, not a good choice.

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Photo of bobhits
2.34/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a tall white yet thin head with a dark body that when held to the light is rather reddish and frankly pretty clear.

Smells of spices, almost mint like without the clean finish, I’m bad at spice names.
Spiced amber without any hop profile is what I’m thinking here. It has a chi tea like flavor with amber malt and perhaps a touch of hops just to attempt some balance.
Light to medium body with enough carbonation I suppose.
Ben Franklin was a great man, but this beer well it is a pass.

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Photo of IchLiebeBier
2.36/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: amber/bronze; small head; no real lacing

Smell: sweet, soda-like, almost like Pepsi with a whiff of ginger ale shandy; I can pick up the spruce smell because I know it's there, otherwise I wouldn't have figured spruce; I can pick up tobacco, too, after seeing it in a review.

Taste: Reminds me of a specialty soda from Panama Jack or something, or an attempt at a Shandy with the wrong ingredients; I can't describe the flavors any better; finishes with a dry, lingering aftertaste that seems kind of like tar, most likely from the spruce resins

Mouthfeel: thin and slightly flat

Remarks: I've wanted to try one since reading about it in Joy of Home Brewing, but I can definitely say this is not my thing

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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 IgnatiusReilly
2.71/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured from deep blue bottle to pint glass at home. The bottle reads that this is based on an original recipe from Ben Franklin, based more on spruce and molasses as opposed to the less readily available barley and hops. Special tavern ale from Yards Brewing – I always like a historical throwback beer.

A: Deep ruby caramel, brown. Nice thick head, the holds pretty well for the duration. Good Belgian lace.
S: Spruce scent dominates. Reminds me of a forest, or the living room during Christmas. Maybe a little toasted malt but not much.
T: A lot of spruce-taste, but even more molasses flavor. Kind of novelty at first, but not very enjoyable. Begins to feel like I’m drinking pine sap, or a lightly carbonated cream soda. Finishes dry with a very small alcohol kicker, but not much.
M: Thin to medium, syrupy body.
D: A little too much “tree”. I lost interest and didn’t finish the whole thing.

It’s a cool idea, and decent for what it is. It’s fun to try from a historical perspective, but I’ll only need to try one.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
2.75/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice 2 finger head with a cloudy brown color. Head dissipates half way down the glass.

Smell is of toasted caramel malts, spruce, and molasses.

Taste was pretty bad to start off with and got better as the beer warmed. It has an off flavor and some tannic acid I think. Some undesirable flavors mask the toasty caramel maltiness. The spruce is a little too strong and it overpowers the sweetness of the malts and molasses. I don't really liek this beer.

Weak and watery mouthfeel.

Not a beer that I will try again. I appreciate the sample though, whoever it was from.

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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 SamuelJackson45
2.79/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ok. This beer is nutts. The smell of spruce blew my senses away and the taste equals it kind of a wintergreen after taste. Come on and this suppose to be Ben Franklin's Recipe serious I think Ben was smoking spruce. lol. Now back to this review. If the hint of spruce wasn't in this beer it would be a good strong ale. But I do give Yards props to put out this old bold recipe and sure there fans out there that like this beer but I'm not a fan of this at all.

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Photo of TheDeuce
2.79/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

In spite of others being available that I have heard tasted like a Christmas Tree, Poor Richard's Ale is truly the first and only beer I have had that does taste like it.

Appearance- thick head on top of a brownish green, decent lacey head, thick clouds of foam that stay.

Smell-sugary (belgian sugar?) and smell of spruce, which makes sense since they throw spruce in the actual mash. Really aromatic.

Taste-Little too much tree here, alcohol is well hidden but from an over flow of spruce and tree smell, also pine like, limited malt and hop flavor, not tough to put down but interesting aftertaste.

Drinkability-only for the spruce lovers

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Photo of number1bum
2.8/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Thanks to mymrnngjckt for a bottle of this.

Pours a somewhat cloudy, brownish copper color with one finger of tan head. Settles to only a thin lace.

Smell definitely has a good amount of spruce in it. It's bizarre. It's very herbal, somewhat cooling with a sort of menthol kind of quality to it. Some honey sweetness.

Taste is also bizarre. The best comparison I can make is that this tastes like campho phenique. If you don't know what that is it's a cold sore medication that unfortunately I use somewhat frequently. It does taste like spruce but in a medicinal way, and more specifically like campho phenique (minus any numbing). I guess you could call it herbal, and there is a cooling menthol quality like in the nose, but those are also things you'd find in campho phenique. I've said enough.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty smooth. Has a cool mintyness in the finish which is interesting. Carbonation is pretty modest.

This is not my cup of tea. Maybe it's because it immediately conjures up thoughts of nasty cold sores but the campho phenique/medicinal flavor is just not something I find appealing. It's interesting, but definitely not something I will try again. I just don't enjoy this flavor at all. This was both a drainpour and a glass changer.

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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 Chriscrundwell12
2.88/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Surly Imperial Pint glass.

A- Dark amber color, 3 finger tan head that dissipates quickly, splotchy lacing.
S- Interesting aroma, the spruce gives off an interesting minty aroma, some spice, some pine, nutty malt aroma, floral notes.
T- Tastes just like the aroma but not as minty, not very tasty.
M- Medium/light mouth feel, well carbonated, smooth drinking, crisp finish.
O- The minty pine aroma and taste was very off putting for me, not a beer I would drink again, would not recommend this one to others but that’s just my opinion.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
2.88/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale

"Pours" a deep copper in color. A white foam cap, decent retention, some lace.

Aroma of spruce tips, suggestions of maple syrup, slightly minty and medicinal.

In the taste, spruce is dominant, with some molasses and well toned sweetness. Sweet pine. There is almost a menthol kick with the spruce, and it is kind of soothing.

Medium bodied, crisp level of carbonation yet somewhat syrupy. Perhaps because it was an aged bottle.

Overall, interesting brew that really does highlight the spruce tip flavor. Something I could definitely drink in simpler times when much better craft beer was not available.

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Photo of tobelerone
2.9/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I’d been curious about this beer for some time and found myself at the brewery one recent afternoon so I gave it a shot. It’s not terrible but it’s also not terribly interesting or something I’d go back to. That said, I’m glad I tried it.

Pour is copper to amber colored and a little cloudy. A decent sized head sinks to a thin band quickly. Lacing is pretty solid. Aroma is led by the spruce but it’s not overbearing and combines well with a general maltiness and some sweet caramel, maple syrup notes. The taste isn’t quite as appealing; the spruce is a little stronger than I’d like, the sweetness doesn’t cover up the “drinking a tree’ flavor, what seemed like an appealing maple syrup note in the nose instead feels more like a heavy handed dose of molasses. It’s still not quite sweet enough to cover the assertive and bitter spruce taste. Even a generic kind of bready malt flavor is pretty well hidden. It’s not that the spruce is totally overwhelming, it’s just that everything seems muddled and unfortunately, not all that tasty.

The body of this beer is medium, carbonation is right down the middle, feel is fine overall. Someone else said it was “like drinking your Christmas tree water” and that’s pretty apt. Not a ton of fun.

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Photo of ReelBigwigFish
2.9/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured 12oz bottle into large Munchen Mug.

A: Dark copper brown color with minimal head, no lacing to speak of, slight haze, just off from translucent.

S: Smells piney and spicy with hints of apple and clove. Sweet and a little smoke and alcohol in there as well. Interesting pine scent, I'm so used to piney hops, and this is more like steeped pine needles.

T: Same as the nose, starting with a very sweet punch, and a slightly bitter finish. Again, interesting...

M: Perfect amount of carbonation, and I like the consistency; a little on the syrupy side but still quite drinkable.

O: Like others have said, this beer is basically an almost-new take on a rather typical one. It's enjoyable to try a bottle, but I'd be disappointed if I had paid for a 6-pack, at least for the price of $10. Yards has many a good beer, much better than this one; can't hit the bullseye every time.

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Photo of BigMike
2.9/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Cherry red. Crystal clear with a thin soapy eggshell colored head.

S: Very fragrant. Lots of Rosemary, thyme, pine needles, brown sugar and caramel.

T: Tons of pine needles and herbs. Just like the aroma, Rosemary, thyme. A bit of spearmint comes through as well. Not much sweetness and I don't taste any Of the molasses.

M: Light and very thin bodied almost watery. Nice amount of carbonation for the body.

Overall: an interesting beer based on Ben Franklins original recipe brewed with molasses,spruce tips and sprigs. Not exceptionally good on it's own bit I can definitely see this paired with food. More then likely this is not something I would seek out again.

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Photo of krisandajt
2.93/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A beer courtesy of mymrnngjckt...

Appearance: Poured from the bottle, this beer is a dark, mahogany brown color with no head and no sign of life. There's a very faint, thin ring of white bubbles around the very edge of the beer, but that's about it. Not really a whole lot of lacing going on, maybe a spot or two here and there.

Smell: Yup, smells like a pine tree. Reminds me of the smell that fills your house when you put up a Christmas tree two days before Christmas when all the good trees are taken and you had to pick from the bargain lot.

Taste: Mirrors the smell, no big shocker there. The taste is sweet and (brace yourself) piney. I'm not talking the kind of pine taste you get from hops, I'm talking about chewing-on-a-tree kind of pine. It's good for what it is, I suppose...just not for me.

Mouthfeel: No fizz and kinda thin.

Drinkability: Not exactly my kind of beer. Yard's was going for spruce, and they nailed it. If you like this kind of beer, I'd say go for it. Unfortunately, this one isn't for me and I gotta say it's a drain pour. I'm glad I got to try it, but I'll pass next time.

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Photo of jcdiflorio
2.97/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

served into a nonic glass from a cool looking colbat blue bottle long neck with crimped cap

Hazy,reddish brown,creamy off white head with good retention and spotty lacing.

Aroma was very sprucey,notes of licorice and molasses,some pine,no hop or malt aromas.A good spicey aroma nice and pleasing.

Very sprucy tastes,tart,licorice no real hop or malt tastes,mostly spruce.Finishes on the dry side,some slightly sharp bitterness with a lingering spruce taste. Reminds me a bit of Anchor Christmas.

Medium mouthfeel,creamy a very light feel to it.
The spruce was a bit much as far as drinkability goes,lacks complexity,won't want to drink another. Not terrible, just nothing to excite.

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Photo of orangedive
2.97/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Dark, dark maroon on its way to brown. Small head diminished quickly.

S - Smells of pine and molasses. Very earthy, malty and sweet. Strong. Nothing terribly subtle but that's okay.

T - Slightly bitter. Not as much sweetness as I anticipatred. Definitely piney, earthy. Having trouble locating any hops.

M - A little thin and watery. Leaves a feeling of grit in my mouth. Almost like after eating hard candy. This isn't to say it's awful--just not great.

D - It's going down pretty easy, but I won't have more than one.

Overall, I'm a little disappointed.

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Photo of Lexluthor33
2.98/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

The appearance was hazy,light medium brown with an orange tint that was almost golden. A small head and thin lace.

The aroma of sugar,and spruce.

The taste of spruce is dominant with a sweet, molasses flavor.

The feel was low carbonation and a medium body.

Notes: This was not a bad beer,but I must add that it was not my preferred style. It was cloyingly sweet and while the overall makeup was average I found it hard to finish the whole beer. I mean it was not like when you can't finish a beer because it's awful;it was just too sweet and sprucy for me.

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Photo of Suds
3/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

So, I really love the idea of historic beers...anything from an authentic, old recipe is great. In concept at least. This, however, is one of those beers that reminds me that modern brewing recipes and techniques are a wonderful thing. The beer is an amber color, with a modest white head. It's smell is tree-like, with the spruce nearly overpowering. Still, it's fresh, with a lively malt undercurrent. Really, the smell is engaging. The taste, however, is where the overwhelming comes into play. It's dry-ish, with the spruce, woody component playing against the malt. Not really all that appealing to me. Decent body, full and satisfying. Overall, this is drinkable, but very underwhelming.

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Photo of AppalachianGyration
3/5  rDev -17.1%

I think I got myself psyched for something this beer is not. Is it a good decent beer? Sure, but the spruce notes are very subtle. I bought this because I wanted spruce flavor or a unique taste...and it really does not deliver on that account. If this were on sale, and I wanted "beer", sure I'd pick it up. But as a special, "spiced" or herbal flavored beer, it doesn't really measure up.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.01/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

appears a dark reddish copper, with off-white head. good lacing and head retention.

yup, the spruce flavor is definitely the main aroma. I assume they the spruce tips/sprigs completely replaced the hops, as the term "malt beverage" is used on the label. Interesting, although to me the aroma isn't necessarily very inviting. more medicinal.

basically tastes like an amber ale with the spruce replacing the hops as the bittering agent. higher carbonation, medium body.

Cool to see a nod to a historical recipe, but not quite my preferred taste.

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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 607 ratings