Imperial Spruce India Pilsner | Short's Brewing Company

very good
158 Reviews
Imperial Spruce India PilsnerImperial Spruce India Pilsner

Brewed by:
Short's Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Pilsner

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.15%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
Original batch (from Imperial Series--750 ml bottles) was 10% abv. New, 2010, 12 oz. bottles are 7.15% abv.

Added by hoppymeal on 06-30-2007

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Reviews: 158 | Ratings: 402
Photo of cpetrone84
2.42/5  rDev -39%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

pour is a pale yellow, hazed, with a thin bubbly white head. Nose is piney and different, fair amount of pine with light lemon and herbal hop, notes of pepper. Taste is heavy pine sol, some lemon and pepper, body is syrupy and disjointed, favors are off putting and harsh, harsh carbonation, overly piney and artificial chemical notes.

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Photo of mikesgroove
2.5/5  rDev -37%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Another in the imperial series I decided to open up last night. This one I was rather waiting for to be honest as I have had poor luck with spruce in general, but alas here we go, what a mess. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 06/04/2009.
The pour was the best part, crystal clear amber with a nice head of white on top that only barely settled down as the night went on. Amazing clear copper color though. The aroma as well, loaded down with spruce and piney like aromas had a decent malt balance to it that gave it a thick, yet not overwhelming profile. Then I took a sip. Then I gagged. Wow, talk about overkill here. It was spruce alright, like drinking the water in my tree stand. Way too harsh and obnoxious here, almost no balance to it at all, it was just harsh, harsh spruce tip and car air freshener like taste. Wow. Light body and the alcohol was hidden well but this was just flat out undrinkable. Very rarely could I ever say that, but this was undrinkable.
Overall would have been better served by being toned down a good bit, but it was just way overboard. Sometimes you don't need to go soo big with things,

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Photo of lupercmda
2.54/5  rDev -36%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I liked the look of this when poured. Poured a orange hazy color. But the smell of the spruce tips just was overpowering. I like spruce tip beer but this beer smells and tastes like bad cologne. The spruce taste was overpowering to the point that I had to pour this beer out.

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Photo of Phoodcritic
2.61/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.25

I had a fantastic spruce beer at Founders three weeks ago, which led me to try this one. This was altogether different, like chewing on raw spruce. If you like Greek Retsina wine you may like it. I didn't.

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Photo of jt31914
2.75/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Nice pale color, with a finger of head or so. Nice lacing.

S: Smells kind of fruity with some spruce notes to balance it out. Not bad.

T: This is where the beer loses it for me; it tastes like straight up tree, which just is not a turn on for me. It just doesn't taste like a pilsner to me, just a spruce tree; I would rather just have the curl again - that was the best pilsner I've ever had.

M/D: yea... it was alright, smooth, but just such a weird taste.

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Photo of baconsausage
2.85/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Have you ever put a bit of spruce sap right in your mouth to see how it tastes? Having spent a lot of time in the woods I have done this on many occasions, cause I like the taste. I cant say the same of this beer.

The beer pours a nice golden color with a thin head of white bubbles. Pure spruce in the nose, with just a hint of hops and sweet malt. This has all the apperence of a beer, but almost none of the taste. Like eating spruce sap right from the tree. Way too much spruce for me. I drank half of my half of the bottle and topped off my glass with whatever pale ale I was drinking, and that was about as much spruce as I wanted in this beer. I was looking forward to trying this (as I do alot of Shorts beers), and was dissapointed (as I am with a lot of Shorts beers).

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.95/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Thanks to Another6Pack for this one! I'm only doing a brief write-up, because both of us know this beer is out of season, and it's not really worth doing a full review of something past its prime. Still, it certainly smells piny enough (though the cloudiness is a no-no - a sign of its staleness), and the taste is very spruce forward. Even still, the flavor profile seems past its prime. I can taste a really good big lager behind it all - I'll gladly give this one a second chance fresh.

2.95/5: If it's just like sucking on a pine cone past its prime, how good will it be fresh?

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Photo of CMUbrew
2.96/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

A: Clear body and straw yellow in color. Didn't get much head on the pour, although I poured slow to leave the sediment in the bottle. Carbonation isn't overly active.

S: Very herbal. The spruce must be playing a big role in this beer, because I haven't smelled one like this before. Spruce, and a little bit of piney hop and earthiness.

T: Big spruce flavor here. Completely unlike anything I've ever tasted in a beer. Sappy pine needles and a somewhat dirty earth flavor. Some hop flavor in the background. I can't say that I like the taste.

M: Pretty standard pilsner feel, albeit a tad low on carbonation. Very dry.

O: The only Short's beer to date I haven't enjoyed. The huge herbal spruce flavor just doesn't work for me, as only the tiniest amount of hop flavor attempts to balance it. Not my thing, unfortunately.

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Photo of Wadsey
3.01/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Short's Imperial Spruce India Pilsner

Served in New Belgium globe glass

A: Pours clear pale gold with fluffy white head that falls quickly and leaves rings of lacing. Little effervescence. 

S: Strong spruce aroma, so strong that it borders on Pine-Sol. Some mint and solvent. A hint of ammonia or cat pee, too.

T: Starts off with a note of sweet, biscuity malt, which is immediately crushed by a felled spruce pine tree. I've previously described some beers as tasting like hop detergent. This sets the standard. Soapy, hoppy detergent joins Pine-Sol and rinses out my mouth. Additional tastes include: evergreen, pinecones, and Christmas cheer. High bitterness. Finish is a mouth full of pine needles and hop cones and seems to last for twelve days. 

M: Medium-high body with medium bitterness. Tingly mouthfeel and super drying. 

O: I admire the inventiveness of Short's Brews and the manner in which its brewers execute their inventiveness. They are brewing visionaries. I have no doubt the beer I am drinking is exactly what they set out to make. I just don't like that beer very much. 

Thank you, hurfer, for the opportunity. 

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3.08/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A pillow like three fingers of rocky light tan head seems to last very well. A murky haze of wheat colored glowing orange makes up the body. A crown of scattered lace is left as the head slowly fades. Nose is like a pine forest just after the rain, with a bit of musk thrown in. Taste stays with this same tone with tons of up front musky pine, like liquid pine needles. When it comes down to it, it really tastes like a christmas tree. A bit of a bitter bite joins in on the back of the palate. A bit of sweetness arrives in the middle as it warms. The piney feel is just shy of harsh on the mouthfeel and throughout. Drinkability is well...short. I think the pine needles could have spent about half the time in the brewing process and you would have still got the desired effect.

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Photo of phishisphunk
3.08/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A bottle generously provided by Strangebrew321. Thanks Adam. Much appreciated.

Served out of the refrigerator at about 45 degrees-ish into a pilsner glass.

A: This one pours a light to concentrated yellow. Almost neon with intensity. Neither hazy or opaque, but not translucent either. A huge fluffy white head presents it self and quickly implodes into it self. Looks as if some placed a melted marshmallow right on top of my glass. Very inviting brew.

S: Everything you would expect to find on the nose is there. Broken down into components one is greeted by a light, vibrant floral nose with whiffs of pine needles and citrusy hops. Together, they meld to create a Pine sol/Lysol aroma thats becomes difficult to shake once recognized. Not sure whether to be off-put or intrigued by this. But I expect nothing less from Short's as their beers tend to be rather intense.

T: Hmmm, I'm struggling to find that clean, crisp lager build I was expecting and I'm instead imbibing a very aggressively hop forward and bitter bruiser of a beer. I imagine the use of the spruce tips amplifies the impression of hops. Mid-palate presents a very juicy and citrus hop bite that I rather enjoy. The finish is piney and dry, almost like biting into a grapefruit rind. Lingers long and bitter. Tends to lean more towards an IPA, but not quite. I rather like it, however, that Pine-Sol flavor is in there as well. Definitely an interesting take on a "Imperial India Pilsner" or whatever that means.

M: Carbonation is pretty standard here. Helps lift the flavors through the palate. Nothing to detract form the overall experience here.

O: Another beer that presents what Short's does best. Lots of intense flavors without feeling too convoluted. Couldn't drink more than one or two a night, but could have no problem revisiting frequently. A little off the mark for a pilsner, but the basic pilsner premise is in there and creating one is an exact science. Short's just took a mad scientist approach. Enjoyable and recommended.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.13/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No longer "Imperial Spruce India Pilsner", rather the 2013 release is simply "Spruce Pilsner". It's murky, and pours with a shade just pale of true-gold; the bright, yellow edges hold up a soapy and foamy white head that takes a minute or so to recede to a swampy skin. Some drippy, wet lacing is posted up on the glass as the head finds its way downward.

You can't even get your face within a few feet of the glass without getting a swift kick in the head face from copious amounts of spruce tips. Pines, pines, pines, spruce, spruce, spruce. This shit is dank as hell, dripping with wet and resinous pine needles; an over the top amount that comes out swinging like it just ripped the straight-jacket off.

Despite the maniacal, borderline masochistic amounts of spruce in the aroma, a teeny-tiny bit of cracker and biscuit malt can be found underneath if you dig your nose deep enough. It gives just the smallest amount of finishing sweetness to the back-end aroma - pretty much the only thing resembling any type of balance in this brew so far.

I think there's no surprise from the aroma how this one's gonna taste. One sip and a massive wave of spruce tips and pine needles bludgeon your palate to death, beating your taste buds senseless and leaving your uvula gasping for hydration. It carries a palate engulfing bitterness with it; the kind that shocks your senses for a brief moment.

Just like in the aroma, some moderately sweet cracker malt can be found if you search for it, and it gets a little easier as the brew warms up. However the indirect pungency of the liquid Christmas tree you hold in front of you can never truly be washed aside. I hope you like pine, I hope you like resin, I hope you like enamel-peeling bitterness.

Medium-thick bodied, with a largely oily, resinous, and almost sticky mouth feel with medium carbonation. A harshly bitter finish that could wake up a corpse. Jesus, this stuff is pretty damn intense. It's a very polarizing brew, and now I can see why. I understand why some people may dig this stuff... Me? I thought it was alright, but nothing to rave about. Hard to drink in quantity.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.13/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Steve for sending me this one.

A: The beer pours a slightly cloudy golden orange color with a finger of white head.

S: Intense floral and herbal hop aroma with lots and lots of spruce notes. An almost lemon pine sol sort of smell to it. Candied lemon peel and a bit of sweet malt.

T: Tastes almost completely of spruce and pine needles. Very lemony as well. Quite a bit of woody, maybe a little bit of fruit, too. Some sweet malt and a lot of savory flavors, too.

M: Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

O: Just way too much spruce flavor for me.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.15/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured a clear medium dark golden color, with a decent little white head. Aromas of pine needles, resiny hops and spearmint. On the palate this one was crisp and somewhat syrupy, medium bodied and challenging at times (overwhelming Christmas tree here), with mint, a pine forest and some sweet malt. Although this brewery has produced a few good beers, they almost seem to experiment for the sake of experiment.

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Photo of SirEbril
3.18/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Smells a little solvent-like, decent carbonation, nice mouth-feel - the spruce is VERY present, though not super pleasant. I would say interesting as a novelty, not a set of flavors I would wish to revisit.

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Photo of Shumista
3.2/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2010 12 oz bottle variety, poured into a pint glass.

Pours a crisp golden yellow with a small white head. Aroma is earthy hops and the unmistakable scent of pine. Not like piney hops but like pine trees or cones. I've used pine to describe beers before but never has it been so true. Smells like they really got the spruce tips going in here. Taste is of course very hoppy and piney, somewhat bright. Lingering earthy bitterness and an aftertaste that kind of reminds of what it feels like when you eat something that isn't meant to be edible (like for instance a pine cone!) Somewhat crisp, drinkability only suffers because personally I am put off by the flavor.

Interesting, I respect the effort and creativity, but I will probably not drink the whole six pack myself but rather send them away as extras. Definitely worth trying because of its uniqueness, its just really not doing it for me.

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.26/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

No bottle date. Poured into a Mason jar. Yep. Thanks to scoot1969 for throwing this one in!

A: Pours a pale golden color with maybe a half finger of white foam. Pretty good lacing and so-so retention.

S: Smells like barbecue sauce. Straight up. I am not kidding. Maybe its just an unholy spruce/orange/pale malt aroma that is somehow coming off as barbecue sauce. I don't know, I'm not a chef. It mellows a little as it warms. A little lemongrass.

T: More in line with what I was expecting: very sprucey (?), a little crispness, with a moderate-high bitterness and pretty long finish. Actually, it's a pretty interesting, kind of like a cousin to a piney IPA. The bitterness lasts for several minutes. Pretty impressive.

M: Mouthfeel is very tannic. Carbonation is low and lightish body is overwhelmed by the bitterness.

O: Interesting, and bonus points for the novelty, I guess. I had trouble finishing the bottle, though.

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Photo of oline73
3.33/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at the brewpub. Poured into a sample glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear golden color with a half finger of off white head. There is some really great looking lacing.

Smell: Mildly sweet malt with a hint of pine tree and some herbal notes. Pretty mild overall.

Taste: Initially mild, some malt and a strong pine taste. The finish is a bit earthy and a bit like chewing grapefruit rind rubbed on a christmas tree.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with mild carbonation and a slightly dry finish.

Overall: Way too bitter in the finish killing all the other flavors. Otherwise I thought this beer was quite nice and very interesting.

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Photo of BBP
3.34/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A- There's a strong resemblence to lemon juice in the appearance. The only thing that ruins that is the slight film of head. No lacing is there to be found.

S- The aroma is quite strong. I could imagine finding this scent in a cleaning chemical. It smells crisp and nice, but the furthest thing from natural.

T- There is a ton of spruce in this, especially in the beginning. Imagine the taste of spruce and concentrate it. It's not subtle. The hops come out soon after as the spruce slowly fades. The drink is far closer in style to a IPA than a pilsner, but I can't say I've ever had an imperial pilsner before.

There's some biscuit malt as well as hints of caramel. The drink maintains a good amount of bitterness throughout.

M- Medium full with a dry stickiness from the hops that comes out immediately. It's somewhat rough as it goes down, but since it sticks around, the flavor lasts a bit longer. Fair enough tradeoff.

O- Yet another interesting beer from Shorts. I don't think I'd buy this one again, but I'm glad that I did try it. I would be curious how it would mix with other beers though, to perhaps round it out a little bit. This may actually be what I consider one of Shorts stranger brews, and that's saying something. Buying a single rather than a 6pk is highly recommended.

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Photo of gjl75
3.4/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A little to sprucey for my pallette. Wasn't expecting it to be that pungent, albeit I don't dislike it. A sipper definitely. That's Short's for ya. Always pushing the envelope!

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Photo of Floydster
3.41/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle acquired in a trade with OHLRangers, thanks to Ed for the opportunity, 13 of 13, #304/886, split with my dad last night, poured into my Sapporo pilsner glass

A-Clear golden orange with a red tint, massive three inch white foamy head, stuck around for close to fifteen minutes, great retention, but even better lacing, only thing that kept this from getting a five is it weird thickness
S-Spruce, pine needles, earthiness, herbal accents, medicinal scents, soft malts, strong hoppiness, lemons, other plants, and various spices
T-Wow I was not expecting such an overpowering flavor but I was sure wrong, one of the most intense beers I have ever had, flat out harsh, would have been fine with a couple sips, do not know anybody that could finish a bottle of this themselves, it is hopped just like an IPA but definitely has pilsner qualities once you get passed all the spruce and spices, there was a weird stickiness around where the cap was and I am pretty sure it was tree sap, it sure tasted like it at least, not much sweetness in here and tasted more like it should be medicine than beer, by the end once the beer fully warms I can start to taste some cornmeal and molasses, quite a journey while drinking this one, fun to try but not the most enjoyable
M-Thick full body, medium level of carbonation, piney, dry, and spicy mouthfeel, taste lingers so long, it literally tasted like I blended up some needles from the tree in front of my house and were drinking them for a while
D-This beer is hard to drink but not because alcohol is so present, mostly just the spruce, the booze are barely even there which is quite the feat for a ten percent beer, pine flavors are heavy on the stomach, not smooth

One of the beers I was looking most forward to trying from the imperial series and I was a bit let down, could not believe how fresh it smelled and tasted though, interesting experiment but I do not know if it necessarily works, this is a beer I would only need to try once, still worth trying as it is very unique

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.42/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

32 oz. howler poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Clear golden body. No head. Looks flat.

Smell - Very pungent spruce. Lightly spicy and woody in the back. Some grassy hops, too.

Taste - Hops are stronger than spruce up front. Pilsner malt. Spruce builds up and turns into that woody spice that I got in the aroma. Very bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Flat as hell. Very bitter. Makes it seem sluggish.

Overall - Excellent spruce flavor. Wish it had been carbonated.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.42/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle opened on 8.21.12.

A - Pours a cloudy, light yellow with small white head that moves quickly to the edge.

S - A pine tree.

T - A pine tree with a lemony-soapy finish.

D - Mild carbonation with a light body.

O - Pine all-over the place. Some lemony-soap in the finish.

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Photo of airohead2001
3.45/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks, glazeman, for another fun Shorts brew. Support your midwest brewers.

A - Hot yellow with a nice two finger head. Several layers of lacing coat the walls of my pint glass. There's a small bit of cloudiness in the color. Appearance reminds me of a lemon wheat beer like that gross Leinenkugal Summer Shandy.

S - Lemon, lime, grass, pine, mint, and booze. Really bizarre combination. Smells like Vix VapoRub.

T - Similar to smell - truly bizarre. The first thing that comes to mind is a Halls Honey Lemon cough drop. Bitter lemon, harsh piney hops, and spicy spearmint in the finish.

M - A little too flat for the style. It could definitely use a little more bubbly to cut the harshness of the bitter hops/spearmint.

D - This is another good beer from Shorts. However, with all the overpowering lemon and mint going on, this is not the most drinkable brew.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle shared by Thorpe recently, this was not easy for me to drink, it is a liquid tree. I did not like it as much as others.

Beer is yellow and hazy with a nice head of small and medium bubbles, some lacing, interesting.

Aroma is pine extract...super strong.

Beer is too dry, too high in alcohol, and too....much like a tree. I do get everything you'd expect from licking a tree including wood and spruce needles, it's just way too much for me. Congratulations, it's a tree, you've done it.

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Imperial Spruce India Pilsner from Short's Brewing Company
3.97 out of 5 based on 402 ratings.
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