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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 158 | Ratings: 402
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?

 583 characters

Photo of kogutmic
4.9/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The smell is wonderful, and is backed up with the taste. Love the bitterness. I love gin, and i love beer, and this is a sort of marriage of the two.
Me likey

 158 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

love the idea here, playing heavy spruce pine flavor and aroma with a very aggressive hopping. surprised by the color, has an almost brown hue to the pale beer, not yellow at all. big frothy head and a great aroma that smells like cutting down a christmas tree. fresh spruce, really springy and nice, maybe as much spruce as ive ever seen in a beer. the hops go with it so well, bitter and leafy and balancing well. malt is not normal pils malt to me here, its not crackery and thin, but instead a little richer, huge in body, and quite flavorful, even a touch of dry smoke it seems. the spruce is so intense when it comes on, so fresh, i love how flavorful this is, and the curious malt base seems to fit it very well. nice bog body, effervescent carbonation, and not a trace of booze on it at all. there is an almost menthol herbal intensity to it in the throat, eucalyptus or something, real strange, but not unappealing. woody and wintery, i absolutely love how different this is. top notch stuff from a brewery who had really yet to impress me. this is astoundingly delicious.

 1,081 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.56/5  rDev -10.3%

Bottle received as an extra.

Pours a slightly hazy golden orange, with a half inch head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells exactly as you'd expect. Heavy, heavy spruce and pine, with some mint.

The intense aroma carries over to the taste- the spruce flavor is quite overwhelming. This one's also quite hoppy, with tons of pine and grapefruit. But...if I'm being honest, the spruce is too much. It's good for about 3-4 oz, then just gets overly bitter for the sake of being bitter. There's some mint in here too, which is unexpected.

This one is medium bodied, with a very strong lingering bitterness, and a higher amount of carbonation.

This one is too heavy-handed to be taken all that seriously. I like the flavor of spruce, but it's overused here.

 758 characters

Photo of simplejj81
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%

Very strong pine taste, which i like. Yards brewery makes a spruce amber which is also good but tame in comparison. A good beer to share if your friends have an open mind and a broad palate.

 192 characters

Photo of Swettenham_Shire
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Received 2 bottles in an IP trade last weekend. This paired perfectly with an appetizer/dinner of cheese, grapes, crackers, and salad.

No mistaking the spruce tips here; very piney. My fourth beer from Shorts and all have been unique. So far so good.

 251 characters

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

Duuude, seriously. At long last, I'm trying this beer. I wanted it last year, but it was one of the only Short's releases I missed, and it was one of the ones I wanted to try the most. Hope this doesn't let me down. $2.49 single poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint. There's a date on the bottle, but it was pressed funny, so I can't read it. Almost looks like 22/7/14. If this were England... this would be a pretty damn fresh bottle of a beer!

Appearance: Beautiful. Semi-aggressive pour gives about two fingers of creamy, sticking-to-the-glass head. The color is semi-hazy golden orange.

Smell: Was this bottled yesterday? Holy hell. There are piney smelling hops, and then there's this -- it truly does smell like pine sap/freshly grown pine needles. There's then a fair amount of citrus in there from other sorts of hops... what a unique smelling beer. The combination of it all smells like walking through a pine tree filled forest after a good rain. It seriously smells like it could be a body wash.

Taste/feel: Good Lord this beer is exactly as described. Completely and utterly strange, but it manages to work. Holy hell is that unusual. Beginning to end, it's like you're chewing on pine needles (you know, without that unfortunate prickly texture of death). Assertive sort of hop oil and pine sap bitterness and stickiness, but there's still a very nice amount of sweet malts in there to keep this beer fairly balanced. Finish is clean, slightly piney and citrusy, but mostly with a nice caramel malt flavor lingering. The feel was unexpected -- very creamy feel to this beer with only a slight hint of prickly carbonation underneath... I would have preferred at least a little less creaminess, as it's a bit too heavy for my liking, especially for what's described as a pilsner. It feels a lot bigger than its ABV, although the alcohol can't be tasted or felt at all.

This is the definition of a hit or miss beer for many people, but if you come in seeing this beer and enjoying everything pine, you'll adore it... this beer doesn't disappoint. Massive pine characteristics with a bit of citrusy smelling and tasting hops with a super awesome malt backbone to keep this beer from slumping into the waaay too intensely bitter category.

I really enjoy this beer, but I doubt I could have more than a bottle of it. That pine note is super intense. Regardless, pick this one up without a second thought, assuming you don't hate the smell or taste of pine.

 2,468 characters

Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep gold with a one-finger foamy white head. Light sticky lacing.

S - Aroma of pine needles and light citrus.

T - Starts off sweet with a nice amount of citrus. The citrus fades into spruce tips and lots of piney hops. The finish is strong pine with a lingering hop bitterness.

M - Medium bodied with low carbonation. Very smooth with a creamy mouthfeel.

O - This is a really good offering from Short's. Well balanced with lots of great piney flavors.

 468 characters

Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.49/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is probably my favorite offering from Shorts, so it is about time I wrote a review. My two cents, I wish this was the summer seasonal and available the whole summer.

Appearance - Poured into a pint glass, the beer was a handsome golden color with a modest white head. The bubbles were fairly large and clung to the sides of the glass.

Smell - The spruce really shines in the aroma and I love it. It comes through like a really good gin.

Taste - The sour of the spruce jumps through in the initial taste. It really is a little like beer with gin notes. Gentle hop action occur with the background, melting nicely with the sourness of the spruce. The finish is clean and dry.

Mouthfeel - Recalling that this is an imperial pilsner, it runs a little thicker. The sour notes linger nicely in the back of the throat.

Overall - I usually grab a couple of sixers of this one to get me through the year. I would highly recommend cracking open a bottle with some Indian food.

 976 characters

Photo of PaulyB83
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a shaker pint glass. Bottled 07/22/14

A- Pours a deep yellow, good degree of clarity, small white head. Great color for a pilsner.

S- Big evergreen, rosemary, some light citrus notes.

T- Similar to aroma, rosemary. citrus, the bitterness is spot on and note too lingering which usually is my problem with Short's bitter stuff. Has a bit of a fruity finish that good lagers have.

M- Nice full mouthfeel or a lager, and a pilsner at that.

O- This stuff is great and traditionally Short's. I can really imagine sitting among the pine tree in Northern Michigan and knocking back a few of these.

 629 characters

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.

 466 characters

Photo of chugalug06
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A very light yellow brew with lots of haze and very moderate lacing. Nothing remarkable. Small white head too.

Nice smooth aroma. Slight musty aroma. Lemon and orange. Peanuts with noticeable spruce tips. NICE!

Great dry earthy bitterness with good green after taste. Sweetness is well placed. Only the wet slimy after taste detracts, not greatly, but still detracts. Nice well rounded flavors, complex, deep, unique. You can definitely taste the spruce tips, both in flavors and feel.

Well done, Shorts!!! A great brew, not experimental, but well thought out and executed. Thanks abanton for the hookup, glad I finally got around to this one! Held up well too.

 665 characters

Photo of elNopalero
4.76/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This pours a clear white gold with nice foam.

It has a light, grassy aroma which turns into a crisp lemony grass flavored hop profile with pleasant bittering and a delightful finish. This is spruce tips? Fantastic!

Bright, clean, crisp and delicious. A definite stand-out.

 276 characters

Photo of joe1510
4.27/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

#139 of 886

Received this bottle in a great trade with Hoppymeal, thanks a million Derek! Short's Imperial Spruce India Pilsner pours like I'd expect of a pilsner (although not one that weighs in at 10%). Beautiful golden body with a glass full of large carbonation bubbles swirling and rushing to the surface. Every other Imperial Pilsner I've sampled has had some viscosity and you really noticed by the crawl of the carbonation. This on the other hand looks more like a standard pilsner. The dense head grew to three fingers on the pour and is cotton white. Falls to a finger plus at it's lowest and leaves big chunky patches of lace.

The smell of this beer is intense! I'm sure the flavor will be too. There's a quick flash of biscuity malts upfront but the Blue Spruce needles come fast and hard. Rosemary like at first but morphing into a glassful of Christmas tree. I'm not getting much in the hop department. Possibly some pine upfront but that's most likely the Blue Spruce. Wait! As it warms there are some citric hop qualities that wave faintly in the background. There's a touch of earthiness from the spruce needles. I can feel my sinus' clear each time I inhale. Very interesting!

The nose doesn't lie! Just as intense on the tongue as in the nose. Slightly sweet biscuity malts flash through again but the spruce needles take over quickly. My mouth all at once becomes earth, resinous, and sappy like I'm chomping on a Christmas tree. The spruce rides roughshod over my tongue. There is more hoppiness than the smell led me to believe, but doesn't show itself until the swallow. That hoppiness is lightly sweetened grapefruit and keeps the spruce from running away with things. I'm growing extremely fond of the bitterness the spruce needles leave in their path.

Most Imperial Pilsners I've sampled in the past have had far too viscous bodies for the style. This has a medium body but the lively carbonation keeps it moving at a fast pace. I can't imagine the mouthfeel being any better then what it is right now.

This bottle is going down pretty easy but the flavors are so intense one bottle is all I could handle in a sitting. The bitterness does a number on your tastebuds too so be ready.

I've been fortunate to have sampled three of Short's beers, all thanks to Derek, and every one of them has been excellent. This is one of the most unique beers I've encountered and would love to get my hands on some more spruce infused beers.

Reviewed: 3/2/08

 2,482 characters

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.

 827 characters

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.

 2,133 characters

Photo of SportsandJorts
4.43/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: light straw yellow color. Slightly hazy but mostly clear. A finger or so of a white head that leaves a little lacing

Smell: sweet lager smell. The pine and hops break through a bit but are not very strong.

Taste: starts of with big pine flavor. Not quite pine hops but more of a true pine taste. Bitterness is fairly present. This taste is played over a more subtle bready yeast taste.

Mouthfeel: not overly heavy. Fairly crisp for all the bitterness. Some bitterness lingers

Overall: not as unique as other shorts beers. But executed just as well as any. Delicious bitter and sweet balance. Another shorts beer I was disappointed to miss in bottle only to find on tap.

 687 characters

Photo of Roman5150
4.78/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

bottle into tulip

appearance: clear golden yellow, 1 finger white head, some lacing

smell: pine, pale malts, earthy hops,

taste: Lots of pine, you can literally taste the spruce trees they put in a it. It gives it a sharp, crisp earthy bitterness (more like an IPA) that lingers well into the aftertaste, quite a lot for a "lager". You hardly taste the alcohol, completely masked by the piney bitterness. Malt backbone is a little sweet but not very forward, it's hard to distinguish. You can very subtly taste the typical bready notes found in a pilsner, buried underneath the more dominate flavors. Despite the huge amounts of pine, is surprisingly balanced and drinkable. Very satisfying.

mouthfeel: medium to high carbonation, medium bodied

overall: Another cross-breed of a beer, Shorts never disappoints with their experimental creations. Reminds me a lot like Beard of Zeus from two months ago, but with a lot more pine presence and it's a little thicker/more syrupy. Glad I got my hands on a sixer, will be going to pick up some more while it's still available. This may be one of my all time favorite's from Shorts, right up there with Huma Lupa.

 1,161 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.74/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Careful pour prevents the sediment from going and yields a very light fizzy head that dissipates very quickly, crystal clear watery barely banana yellow color.

Nose is a little weird, starts with a light booze and esters with a big almost double Belgian blond like, light phenols almost, a light pine spruce tree sap like, and a weird musty almost arm pit like.

Taste starts with a bitter pine sap, and turns quickly to an icky dirt taste, like pure soil, acidic soil that came from under a pine tree. Definite spruce tip flavor, followed by big resinous astringent bitterness as well as spicy earthy hops. Underneath that is a bit of blond malts, sweet and slightly estery, maybe even phenols. Finish is a long bitter pine sap spruce tip flavor, nagging bitterness and a bit astringent, some spicy chewy hops too, and still a bit sweet and sticky.

Mouth is med bodied, lighter carb.

Overall a very unique beer. It wants to be that beer that reminds me of walking and chewing on the forest spruce lined sap and soil covered earth. However, they seem to have added extra earthy spicy chewy hops on top of it which was not needed and brings it down. It is bitter and astringent, earthy soil flavored, and malts and yeast at least bring nice Belgian blond flavors, esters and hint of phenols even which accent the spruce nicely.

 1,329 characters

Photo of Knapp85
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured out as a slightly hazy yellow color, the head was white. The retention fades and doesn't leave much lacing. The smell of the beer is spruce, big time herbal spruce aromas... Very pungent. The taste is also very much full of spruce but it's also nicely balanced. The spruce is huge upfront then settles into a nice dry bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is clean and crisp, very drinkable. Overall pretty damn impressive. It's got a ton of spruce flavors so if you're up for it give it a try. Very nice brew.

 524 characters

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.

 335 characters

Photo of xnicknj
4.49/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into tulip - thanks to erikkoppin

Pours a clear golden color with a thin crop of white head resting on top. Dissolves almost completely, leaving a collar of haze and a few spots of lacing.

Tons of bitter pine hops and spruce in the nose. This reminds me of Christmas tree shopping with my parents when I was a kid, very earthy, herbal and fragrant. Biscuit and grain malt with some soft sweetness. Faint warmth on the back end.

Bitter and piny right up front with tons of resiny bitterness. Sticky and juicy with herbal spruce tones that continue to remind me of Christmas trees and camping. Mild backbone with grain, lemongrass and bread. Underlying sweetness with more spruce and pine tones towards the finish with a spike of warmth and bitterness.

Medium body, well carbonated, dry and lingering on the tongue. I've been a Short's fan for a while, but this might be one of my all-time favorites. This completely demolishes nearly every other beer in the genre, while completely nailing the described intention from the label - I want more of this immediately.

 1,088 characters

Photo of neobob187
4.46/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a DFH Snifter/Goblet.

A: a light yellowy golden color. Small amount of head but really great lacing all over the glass as you drink it.

S: not as heavy a nose as I'd expect from a beer this flavorful. There is a nice subtle pine/spruce smell, but nothing too crazy. Also a very subtle lemon.

T: For an "Imperial Pilsner" this beer is crazy hoppy. But I'm loving every second of it. Really nice grapefruit flavor from the Alpha Hops. Huge Pine/Spruce tinge. Also some really nice lemon and peppery bitterness in the finish.

M: Some really nice carbonation, very smooth, resinous and slightly dry finish.

O: An excellent and uniquely flavorful pilsner. I can really say I would drink this all the time if I lived in Michigan still.

 770 characters

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.

 279 characters

Photo of duceswild
3.67/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Picked this one up while in MI for about 2.99 for a single. Didn't realize how highly rated it was when I got it.

Pours with about a fingers worth of head and leaves a lacing after every sip. Smell is of pure spruce trees/needles. I also get a some hops on the smell. Very good smelling. Taste is very similar to the smell for me it is a little to over bearing on the spruce almost like I'm drinking a tree, but I totally appreciate what they are going for with this one. Mouthful is nice with a moderate about of carbonation and little hop bite on the end. Overall this is a solid beer from Short's and one I would welcome having again.

 677 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.