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: 206 | Ratings: 577
Photo of AdamBear
3.29/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-dark amber with a sticky cream colored head

S-faint scent of..evergreen? It's a unique smell. Not one that I love. It's weak

T-comes in with a taste of buttercream, some caramel, and maybe a hint of spruce. It has some winter spices in there. Tastes almost like an old ale. Matching faint after-taste.

M-creamy no carbonation. Expected from the cask.

O-it's just a mediocre beer. I was expecting more from a piney ale. I guess I always expect good beer to be on tap. This was pretty much a let down. The flavors are so weak, it reminds me of an adjunct. Though there are no off flavors!

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Photo of larryi86
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A- A clear brown with a three finger off-white head.

S- Molasses, pine, spruce, some honey, hint of mint.

T- Spruce, molasses, licorice, pine, touch of mint, bready. Not as good as the nose.

M- Smooth, light to medium body.

O- Pretty good and unique tasting. Another solid beer from Yards.

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

Poured into a snifter. Appears clear ruby red with rocky foam head that fades to a thin lacing. Nose a lot of spruce with some pepper and spice. Spruce is not too overpowering but if you can't dig it, then you probably won't like this. I dig.

Taste is similar to nose with a nice malt backbone. A little sweetness behind the layers of spruce. Nice even bitterness with a medium mouthfeel. The spruce essence makes this seem a little fuller than what it is.

Overall, a very nice beer. You have to be in the mood for this and I certainly am right now with the weather changing to cooler temps. Very nicely brewed. Cheers!

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Photo of KajII
3.02/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

[Suggested Glassware: Lager Glass]

The pour was a clear chestnut brown with a large (2-3 finger) off white rocky head that was mostly diminishing down to just a small collar with poor lacing.

The aroma was of a light bread malt, spruce hops and an earthy yeast with hints of molasses, caramel and a light honey sweetness.

The taste was lightly bitter sweet and mildly malty with a touch of molasses throughout, and then became lightly hoppy yet very mildly sweet at the end. The flavor lasted only a short while after the swallow with the flavor fading quickly off the taste buds.

Mouthfeel was light in body and watery in texture with a very soft carbonation.

Overall the aroma of this brew was stronger than the taste. Although light in flavor, what was there was very tasty and rather satisfying...


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Photo of Ryanm1
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

They serve this a few block from the factory on tap at City Tavern. You can get a taster there.

I had no idea this was of the style of "herbed/spiced beer" but I can definately see that. Didn't know what to categorize it as but upon originally ingesting it, I myself as well as friend have said "it's like drinking a spruce tree". I've had Christmas beers that have been much more overspiced, but I think this is adequite and not overdone. It states that it's brewed in the fashion of Founding Fathers and is in Yard's Ales of the Revolution pack. I've categorized this as the Thomas Jefferson but a little less bite and a little more pine. Once again I'm jocking this beer as it is from one of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Yards Spruce Ale pours a clear copper color with a creamy head on top. As the foam fades spots and lines of lace cling to the glass.

The aroma has notes of pine, molasses and brown sugar. Earthy with floral notes.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is smooth, dry with light carbonation. The flavor begins with pine and sarsaparilla. That's followed by caramel, molasses and a touch of brown sugar. It finishes mildly bitter and dry with lingering pine notes when gone.

This beer is definitely different. It's like a bad root beer, but easily drinkable.

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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 cpolking
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a deep and dark reddish-copper in color. There is a short head of off-white foam.

The aroma, not surprisingly, has a good amount of pine. The juxtaposition of the molasses and the spruce makes a sweet-tart note. It is oddly a bit like the old Bottle Caps candy.

The taste is sweet, tart and pine, pine, pine. This is like drinking a pine sap cocktail (with Bottle Caps candy thrown in).

For its deep color and intense flavors, it drinks surprisingly light. It is well carbonated. It is refreshing, but definitely unique and a bit odd.

Thanks to tone77 for this beer.

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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 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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Photo of CliffBrake
3.79/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Crystal bright reddish copper color with a good off white head that maintains a slick of bubbles and leaves good lacing on the glass.

Very light aroma. If I use my imagination, I think I can smell a whiff of malt and spruce, but I am not too sure. The spruce is definitely present in the flavor, offset by a bit of molasses and leading to a herbal bitter finish. Balanced and tasty.

Medium light mouthfeel with good carbonation. Overall this is a beer that one would really want to be a spruce aficionado to try. The spruce is not subtle, but is well done. I am sure this one is good for whatever ales (ails) you. Give it a try!

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Photo of clayrock81
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Odd beer I wasn't sure I'd like as it could be hit or miss but was more of a hit. Poured a light brownish hue with solid one-finger head that left bubbles and lace so no complaints. On first sniff I get a mild sticky malt aroma, with some sweetness, then patches of piney, floral hops and some spice (guess that's the spruce). Light to medium bosy, smooth and chewey, some breadiness and touch of sweet malts in this beer, odd balance with minor floral hops and the spices for a weird sweet/heavy bitter and light mix. Crisp finish, and while not perfectly balanced this could've been a lot worse and I enjoyed relaxing with this beer.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Although I believe this to be a very well brewed beer, it's a distinct taste that I personally wouldn’t consider sessionable...

Pours a hazy darkish amber with a decent cream-coloured head. Aroma is pure "spruce", with an underlying wood spiciness. Malts are more noticeable in the taste, sweetly caramelized, but the overwhelming flavour is that of the spruce tips. The finish is sweet but spruce-prevalent and lingers for an impressive length of time.

A unique beer that I definitely recommend trying!

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Photo of DanielBrett
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Just through a sixtel in the kegerator.

A: Brown /orange in color, poured about 3 fingers of white foamy head (likely because this was the first pour). It settled relatively quick. Have some lacing but not extremely sticky.

S: Like shoving your face into your Christmas tree, this brew has a big time spruce nose. Definitely one of my favorite aspects of this beer.

T: Very piney with some mildly sweet molasses flavors, not much bitterness. This brew tastes exactly like it smells.

M: Light bodied, smooth, easy drinking beer.

O: The first time I had this was at Yards Taproom, I really enjoyed it. I'm usually a fan of high hops, and higher alcohol content than this. However, this is a great, easy to drink session beer for the colder months.

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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 jtierney89
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear deep garnet color with a thin off white head. Big time spruce tips on the nose with touches of molasses and maple. Caramel malt comes through a bit as well. Surprisingly crisp with a light to moderate body which thins a bit on the swallow. Finishes clean yet boring. Flavor up front on the other hand is pretty interesting. Flavorful spruce tips with balanced by molasses and caramel with buttered toast landing someone on the middle palette. The finish is hard to pin point but it does cleanse the palette well leaving an overall dry taste in the mouth. Better than expected and unique as well.

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Photo of microbrewlover
3.97/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew pours dark with a medium head and a little bit of lacing.
This brew is malty and like its name says is loaded with the smell and taste of spruce. The smell and taste make me believe that I could really be drinking something similar to what Old Ben Franklin drank. The taste lingers on the pallet after swallowing.

All in all this beer is very enjoyable and I believe it is good for any time of the year.

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Photo of keanex
3.15/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From a bottle with no freshness date, though from a mixed 12 pack which recently came out. Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

A: Clear dark garnet color with a thin light tan head that quickly becomes a ring and some coating.

S: Piney/Spruce scent takes the note with some nut aromas coming through. This reminds me of a spring day in the woods a bit with slight spices coming through. The smell is something I don't know if I like or not, but it's certainly growing on me.

T: A bit bland and watery. The aroma is definitely stronger than the scent here. There's a slight herbal flavor at the end, slight spruce hints, but other than that it's a bit boring.

M: A too watery, definitely bordering on light with light carbonation.

O: I had a bottle or two of this from the bottle and surprisingly it was better from the bottle. While I couldn't smell it really, the flavor was more direct and stronger. From a glass this is too watery and boring.

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Photo of BeerLover99
3.82/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: tan/orange body, trace white head,
patchy lacing

S: big spruce/pine, malt, caramel, toffee/nuts

T: sweet caramel, mint, nuts, malt,
mild bitter spruce/pine crisp finish

M: med/light, semi-dry mouth

O: Fascinating beer. Not great,
but not bad. Worth grabbing.
Really enjoyed this historical
recipe, quite sessionable.


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Photo of B967ierhunter177
4.07/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a clear, amber color with a thin head and lace. The aroma is of pine and grapefruit with maple in the finish, increasing as it warms. The flavor has spruce, bread crust, and sweet malt notes with some spices, mainly ginger. It's mouthfeel is medium. Yards Poor Richards Tavern Spruce Ale is a good beer, dry and slightly warming. Great on a cold Christmas Eve. Recommended.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.89/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Look: Dark brown in color with a 1/4 inch head and no real retention

Smell: The nose is very woody and kind of perfumey upfront with notes of molasses on the back end

Taste: The flavor matches the nose to a T. The spruce notes and woody notes present themselves right away and its quite unique. The back end carries molasses and caramel

Mouthfeel: Thin body and mild carbonation

Overall: Different and unique and I actually quite enjoyed

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.72/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A. Opaque clouded darker brown in color, two finger of tan head that leaves absolutely no lace behind but has about three minutes of retention before receding back to nothing.

S. At first I get hit by a strong hit of brown sugar smell, but than I notice dark plum odors mixed with a sahti-like level of spruce tip smell on top with quite the lovely earthy hop accent sprinkled on top.

T. Taste has a lot more emphasis on those spruce tips than the nose did, also I am getting a revisit of the caramelized brown sugar notes held within, but I also find a bit of an allspice-like kick blended in with the pine needles at the finish.

M. Medium bodied, but slightly under-carbonated and at times I get an oddball oily residual feel that fades in and out strangely...if there is a thing that I would consider needing work, this is it.

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Photo of ButchAleman
1.36/5  rDev -62.5%
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 Suds
3/5  rDev -17.4%
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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3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle to snifter. Packaged 2/19/11 and consumed shortly after.

A: A large 2 1/2 finger light brown foamy head lasts long and settles into a slightly uneven cap. The body is dark brown with auburn tints. Opaque except when held to light, when it becomes hazy. Spare smattering of lace in no particular pattern.

S & T: Leans more malty than hoppy with aromas of rendered caramel and toasted bread. The spruce component is noticeable, increasing in woodiness as the temperature climbs. Spice and tobacco are buried in the flavor profile, which is pretty decent for 5% ABV. Lightly bitter.

M: Light to medium light body, average carbonation. Bitter finish is accentuated by the spruce.

D: Tavern Spruce drinks a little better after a month or two. As mentioned in a previous Ales of the Revolution review, a strange concept for a year round brew. Nothing I'd go out of my way to experience again.

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Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
3.63 out of 5 based on 577 ratings.
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