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: 575
Photo of metter98
3.52/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear brownish amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high beige head that gradually died down, leaving patches of bubbles on the surface, a collar around the edge, and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light aromas of molasses are present in the nose along with notes of dark malts and hints of spruce.
T: The taste follows the smell and has some hints of initial sweetness; there are notes of spruce tips in the finish. No bitterness is perceptible.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This isn't that bad for a beer that followed Ben Franklin's original recipe. The spruce flavors aren't that strong, but seem to keep this from being too sweet.

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Photo of brentk56
3.37/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with a cloudy dark amber body, small head and no lacing

Smell: Herbal aroma from the spruce and molasses

Taste: Overwhelming herbacious taste; somewhat medicinal

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Interesting brew, but not my cup of tea; just a little too over the edge; I much prefered the Poor Richard's from Olde Hickory in North Carolina

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Photo of oline73
4.12/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a mostly clear dark amber color with three fingers of off tan head that leaves only a layer as it fades.

Smell: Definitely picking up the spruce, along with some caramel malt sweetness. There are some fruity notes, and I'm also picking up the molasses.

Taste: I really enjoy the taste of this beer. I'm picking up the spruce along with a fairly strong sweet malt presence. Not picking up the fruity notes here, but I do find some caramel and molasses. Mildly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium to somewhat thin body, the carbonation is on the high side, but it seems to work here. The finish is mildly dry.

Overall: This is a really interesting beer. I'm enjoying the spruce along with the malt sweetness. I would definitely have this one again.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.2/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a pint glass.

Pours a moderate brown-amber color with an off-white head and a tiny amount of lacing. The nose is dominated by the spruce and there isn't much else there. Maybe a tiny bit of light brown sugar. A bit of bready malt.

The nose brings some more pine and spruce as well as a bit of light earthy character. Some other mild herbs there as well. A bit of very light sweetness and bread crust, but this is a bit plain and relies too heavily on spruce alone. Feel is fairly light with good carbonation. Interesting, but not all that great.

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Photo of mothman
3.79/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Beige khaki head. Dark copper caramel color.

Flavor is of lots of spruce and spice. Very earthy and herbal. Some sweet malts. Not overly spiced which is nice. There is something that I taste but I can't determine what it is. It is really unique.

Mouthfeel is spiced and smooth. Medium bodied.

Overall, better than expected. Not overly spiced which is nice.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the City Tavern in Philadelphia. Deep copper with orange tints. Solid cream colored head. Distinct malt & hop aroma, but not real specific. The yeast character is prominent: lightly fruity, some vanilla, perfumy, quite unique. Fruity malt up-front, thin bodied, almost Belgian in a way with some earthiness. Some hop flavor mid-swallow leading into a bitterness that coats the back of the mouth and throat - very solid. Long lasting malt finish that just lays in your mouth. Very English except for the strength. A good pint that combines a good drinkability with a decent amount of complexity.

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Photo of mactrail
4.05/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Attractive amber in the glass. Pleasing maltiness with a dose of piney woods. Very mellow flavor. Of the few spruce flavored beers I've had, this one is the best.

A hint of what tastes like licorice, though that may be a component of the spruce. Oh, looking at the label, it ust be the touch of molasses. Not as resiny as you might think, but more aromatic. Aroma of violets and sage. The beer itself is a rich and mellow ale, quite a big mouthful. The aromatic spruce with a touch of hops give it a nice balance.

Way bigger and richer than the 5% ABV would suggest. This is a thoroughly drinkable ale with the friendliest flavors. The molasses gives some spice and fruitiness along with the hoppy edge that is really worth a try.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not sure where or when I first had this.

Somewhat hazy, reddish-brown pour, with a half inch or so of foamy white head. Aroma is herbal with notes of spruce and dark sugar. I'm definitely not a big fan of spruce or juniper flavor (I hate gin with a passion), but fortunately this beer isn't too potent in that area. Taste of woody spruce and sap, fairly balanced by brown sugar sweetness and molasses, herbal, nutty, with somewhat medicinal notes. Medium body, and decent overall. For what it's worth, this is okay, but it's not something I'd go for more than once or twice in a lifetime. Luckily Yards has lots of other good stuff to chose from.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.62/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to ShanePB for this bottle!

A: Pours a dark red, almost mahogany/brown color with a white one finger head. The head dropped quickly to a small layer of fine bubbles on top.

S: A unique aroma to say the least. A heavy dose of spruce up front followed up by some spice, mostly nutmeg. At the end there is a definite bready/caramel aroma as well. There is a little bit of mint too.

T: Very herbal/spicy from the spruce, also a bit sticky. Some nice caramel malts and I can taste a little bit of the molasses used to make this one as well.

M/D: Medium bodied with good carbonation, a touch more would have been nice, but its not a problem at all. Has a sticky/dry finish. Definitely a fall/winter beer, would pair nicely at Thanksgiving. Not an everyday drinker, but something I would consider picking up from time to time.

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Photo of mikesgroove
1.9/5  rDev -47.7%
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 billab914
3.43/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Sam Adams pint glass. It poured a very dark amber color with a bit of a reddish hue to it. It started with a huge foamy head to it. The head faded but as it did there were some nice thick sheets of lacing left.

The spruce really shows in the aroma. It has a very fresh, green, Christmas tree like flavor to it. A little bit of malt sweetness comes through but the spruce is the dominating flavor.

The taste has a similar fresh and green spruce flavor to it. Towards the finish though more of the sweeter, malty flavors come out. It has a bit of a syrupy/sappy feel coming through in the finish as well. The spruce is the main flavor here, but it's not bad and interesting at least.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is decent, it was pretty drinkable for a spruce flavored beer. The spruce isn't something I would like very often, but it was a decent beer with a very cool concept behind it.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.89/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This was purchased at Wegman's, poured chilled in a glass mug from the 12oz brown bottle.

The color is deep brown like maple syrup with hazed clarity and thick beige cream with rocky head. The settling leaves a thin layer of average sized beads. The smell is very pleasant with slight herbal presence and mild sweet malt aroma. There is a good amount of malt body in the feel with medium carbonation and light bitterness with a slight dryness and low alcohol influence on the palate.

the Taste has a nice flavor of malt up front with a woody hop and the spruce provides a subtle earthy and clean element to the somewhat sweet flavor. The spruce is aromatic and contributes to the taste but the bready taste is the malts primary contribution with a subtle molasses element adding flavor toward the middle. Overall I really enjoy beers like this that have a traditional element or a backstory as to why the ingredients were used. I think this is very drinkable and would probably handle several in a sitting.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.13/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - A rust/dark amber color with little head of carbonation.

s - Smells strongly of spruce and pine, as well as cinnamon, some spices, and maybe a little bit of malt.

t - Small amounts of spruce and pine, but not as much as I was expecting. Tastes of pepper and spices.

m - Very carbonated and light bodied.

d - This beer was decent, but not my favorite. I didn't think the spices and spruce were very flavorful, and thought the smell and taste were a little lacking. I wouldn't buy this one again.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Killian's imperial pint glass.

Pours a cluttered light ruby brown with a small white bubbly head that doesn't really lace much at all. The smell has a lightly syrupy smell, with some subtle piny and floral notes as well. The spruce comes through pretty well in the taste, with some light hoppy bitterness, pine needles, and some subtle molasses as well. The body is nicely moderate, but there's a sharp tinge of carbonation at the end that serves to keep things a little awkward. That aside, this is a nice, solid, drinkable 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 stakem
3.35/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a slightly hazy amber color with a tan head that doesn't offer much in the way of retension. It isn't long before the beer is left with only a thin ring of lace along the top of the beer. Nose includes a bit of caramel maltiness along with a bit of a citrus zip that isn't quite hops but is close to it. Taste upfront is an overwelming amount of the "spruce" addition. It is quite spicey and it lingers right on through until the aftertaste. Body of the beer has some maltiness but the spruce really distracts from the other flavors that might be in this beer. It has a medium to light feel and light amount of carbonation. For me, this would be a good festive holiday beer. For some reason the spruce is reminding me of the Christmas holiday season. However, it is not something I would want to drink on a regular basis.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.57/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Gotta love the blue bottle plus it keeps more light out than the other varieties...appears a chestnut ruby amber in body with a nice tan head leaves some even thick coats of lacing down my glass. Aroma is very pleasant with outdoorsy spruce tips, fruity toastsed malt tones with an evident maple syrup character, however I stand corrected b/c the label states it contains molasses I can definitely smell some concentrated thickened sugar. Flavor...spruce ain't no joke, kinda like drinkin' your christmas tree water, but in addition to the pine tree flow this beer offers subtle malt sweetness with the spicing coming from the tree nice flowing ale. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a lighter more moderate carbonation but the flavors stay on the palate. Drinkability is definitely one of the most interesting brews I have had in awhile I'm glad I gave it a go can't wait to try more strange colonial style brews.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First off, I love the glass. I wish it was used more. The earthy and leafy profile on this beer and a minor caramel like sweet tone make it a really nice one to sip on. After a while it seems to lose its interesting edge, but I still think it is pleasant. Kind of a slick mouthfeel and a very low carbonation. This started out well and kind of dropped off at the end. Still a decent beer though.

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Photo of jwc215
3.82/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a mirky ruby brown with a thin head that soon becomes a thin wispy patch. It leaves some tracings of lacing.

The smell is of woody spruce and molasses.

Woody spruce is offset by a molasses backbone. The spruce dominates, but just enough molasses holds it in check so that it does not become overwhelming. It has a medium body. It has an herbal, sappy, almost medicinal finish.

The body holds up well. There is a slight rawness to it while keeping a relative smoothness.

It's an interesting brew, and pretty good for what it is. But, one is enough before it becomes too much. A good one to try for a historical replication. It is what it should be. But, still in all, you really have to be in the mood for spruce and molasses (which normally I'm not). It's easier to drink than other historical beers I've had. Worth trying for the experience.

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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 tone77
3.56/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a pretty auburn color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of spruce and pine. Taste is also spruce, pine, a menthol like flavor, different and unusual. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall I would not want a steady diet of it, but worth a try.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
2.88/5  rDev -20.7%
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 BARFLYB
3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have not had this beer since it came in the pretty blue bottles. I was young in my exploration of different beers and this one always left a bad taste in my mouth seriously. I swore I would not have it again, but in the name of reconciliation, I bought a bottle with a different label, probably from the change in the brewery's location.

Chestnut brown from fallen acorns in the fall. The beer pours out pretty muddy brown and becomes chustnuty when condensed. A nice medium cream colored head stays afloat for a few before taking a powder. Not much in terms of lace, just some stringy lines here and there. Decent looking beer.

The smell consists of a big pile of spruce tips gathered up on a tarp by your landscaping company. It's really large but not as much as I remember. Under that a big amount of caramel sweet malt with some molasses hiding in the corner with a dunce cap on. Spicy and nothing in terms of hops although they must be used, right?

Taste is subdued in terms of the amount of spruce they laced this batch with. I remember the spruce dominating this beer ten fold and tree sap with spruce would stay with you for hours after consuming. Now, this is not so much a problem. Caramel, molasses, grain and some malt take the spruces edge away and I like it.

The feel is medium bodied with a solid build, tavern spruce does not slouch in terms of flavor so that's not a problem as well. A decent amount of carb felt on the tounge which I think fits perfectly for this type of beer. The aftertaste is of spruce but not as much as in the past, making this much more bearable for me.

I would not go around and pick up a six of this as spruce does not do it for me, but im glad I picked this bottle up. Maybe it's the change in location of the brewery or maybe it's the recession that's keeping boatloads of spruce from making it's way into the tanks, but I seem to like where this is going. Hopefully Yards makes more steps in this direction in the future.

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Photo of biegaman
3.92/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

There's two references to various 'The Office' episodes in the title of this one - see if you can find where!!
Thanks to leftmindedrighty for this blue glass bottled spruce ale, brewed with molasses, spruce tips and sprigs. They say this is loosely based on a recipe Ben Franklin suggested for beer in his Poor Richard's Almanac. The style was popular in his days...crazy kids.
Pours with A good mocha brown head forms after a rough swirl and succeeds slowly leaving dots of lacing. A nice shine to the light, a darkened mahogany brown in colour. The aroma is pleasing, in an odd kind of way, boasting notes of chocolaty mousse and spruce with definite notes of brown sugar, ginger and molasses - neat like something that should be baked! The mouthfeel could use a little texture beyond the dryness of the spruce, really chokes the mouth, but it does yield a world of flavour. A lot of spruce with hints of nuts (hazelnut, walnut) and malts. I really like this as an alternative to other styles, there is a lot that can be done with this style. I hope to see Spruce beers catch on a little more, I could see brewers doing interesting things with it...

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Photo of tobelerone
2.9/5  rDev -20.1%
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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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
3.63 out of 5 based on 575 ratings.
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