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 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 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.

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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.

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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

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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 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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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 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.

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Photo of sukwonee
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Light yellow body lots of bubbles, 2 finger head. Lots of lacing.

S: Hops, Spruce leaves/tips (whatever they put in here, you can smell it).

T: So,,, the spruce tips didn't smell very pleasant, but this beer tastes quite nice. Bitterness from the hops and the spruce leaves is offset quite nicely by sweetness.

M: Crips, high carbonation, very dry finish.

O: Unique (again). Very refreshing drink. Perfect for summer.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into pilsener glass, bottled 6/14/2012. Pours hazy golden straw color with a nice 1-2 finger fairly dense white head with very good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Good spotty lacing clings down the glass as you drink; with a fair amount of carbonation streaming up. Aromas of lemon, citrus peel, grapefruit, bread, herbal, floral, spruce, pine, grass, and earthiness. Very nice aromas that are extremely unique; and have great balance with a nice hop profile as well. Taste of big orange, pine, grapefruit, lemon, pepper, spruce, floral, earth, and big herbal spiciness. Nice amount of pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of orange, grapefruit, lemon, pine, spruce, floral, earth, and herbal spiciness on the finish for a while. Great bitterness and hop flavor balance with the malt profile; with good complexity. Medium carbonation and body; with a nice fairly creamy and slightly sticky mouthfeel. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very excellent and unique imperial pilsner. Great hop profile and balance; and extremely easy to drink. Highly enjoyable.

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Photo of chromemittenman
4.65/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What can I say but WOW. I loved this beer last year but thought, maybe it was just because of the circumstances of when I tried it. Well, this year i bought a six pack and needless to say had to go back and buy 12 more. This has to be one of the most unique beers I've ever had. The smell of spruce works SO well with the IPA and the flavor is just exceptional. This is a beer I hope to stockpile a bit more of, as last year it really lasted a long time and still tasted good.

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Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Lord Hobo- poured a very light and hazy yellow with a one finger bone white head with a little retention and nice streaky lacing.

Smells very strongly if piney hops and pine trees.

Tastes very hoppy (the piney variety)- a little sharp and light malt profile.

Mouthfeel is ver fresh- light bodied with medium carbonation and a little oiliness from the hops. Definitely a beer I would get again.

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Photo of alpinebryant
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into my hollow floating Pilsner glass with a large foamy white head and heavy lacing and retention. Not crystal clear, there are some tiny particles floating as I suspect this is not filtered heavily like most pilsners are.

S: Holy pine and alpha acid pine aromas. This really smells magnificent. Take my favorite smelling pine tree Blue spruce and combine with a nice light lager aroma and hops.... The result is very good.

T: To start off, this tastes resiny in more than one way. The blue spruce pine resin flavors are strong but not overpowering combined with the Alpha Acid piney flavors. Overall this is clearly the most pine like flavored beer I have ever had no competition. Most other spruce flavored beers I have had were stouts or porters. This is new to me and very good and the new growth spruce tips make the flavors more fresh and almost cooling. Light pale malt flavors are there in the background as well in order to balance the heavy hopping and spruce flavors. A nice crisp imperial pils that has lots of bitter hop presence.

M: Medium body for an imperial pils, but slightly lighter than some other examples I have had. (EX: Twisted Smile) I like this approach better as it is more refreshing and does not taste syrupy for a pils. medium carbonation.

O: This is a great example of what an imperial pilsner can be. I really enjoyed it and would get a growler of it if it were down at my shop.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - The beer pours a bright hazy golden-yellow color with a thin finger of frothy white head atop. The head fades down pretty quickly leaving behind some good lace.

S - he aroma is bursting with citrus hop and spruce and pine. There is a some light sweet malt in the background with some lemon peel.

T - The flavor starts off as expected with lots of piney spruce flavor with a bit of the citrus hops coming through with some lemon peel. Just a hint of sweet malt in the background. Through the middle, more grapefruit and apricot hop flavor come through with some good bitterness and a touch more sweet malt. The finish is a mix of hop bitterness with lot of pine and citrus flavor lingering.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth with a nice dry finish.

D - Very drinkable. The strong spruce flavor works really nicely alongside the strong hop flavors. Great hoppy pilsner.

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Photo of BeRanger
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz draught on-tap at Box Bar in Plymouth, MI about a month back. Review from notes on phone

A - Pours a crisp looking light yellow color with about one finger of white head when it arrived at my table which disappated quickly.

S - The blue spruce tips come through first, also can smell a nice fruity flavor of grapefruit/apricot followed by the hops.

T - A bitter taste off the bat but the fruit flavors come through. The alcohol isnt really noticable but it finishes with the pine needle notes. One big thing comparing this *Imperial* versus the regular spruce in bottles this year that most people are reviewing on here is that the Imperial version is much smoother. The fruits and malts come through much better with the spruce tips blending much better.

M - Light bodied with good carbonation. There is no bite to the Imperial version as I found there was with my bottles of regular Spruce pilsner.

O - While I wasn't a huge fan of the Spruce Pilsner in bottles for 2011, I really enjoyed the Imperial version on draught. The flavors and spruce tips meshed a lot better and eliminated the harsh after-taste.

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Photo of jacob4999
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After two years on BA finally my first review!

Poured from bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice hazy light orange color. Somewhat aggressive pour yields a one finger white head. Leaves a nice lacing with a good amount of consistent carbonation. Nice looking beer!

Smell: Very nice hop aroma and the pine spruce smell. This bottle is a few months old so the malt has definitely come out some. Also has some nice citrus notes. Great smelling beer!

Taste: Oh the hops and the pine. The sweet malt is coming through with the age. Nice light citrus notes. Light medium bitterness in the aftertaste. My kind of beer!

Mouthful: Medium light body with some carbonation, nice dry aftertaste.

Overall: After a few disappointments this is a beer that kind of brought me back to Shorts. If you dig bitter hops and like the smell/taste of pine I highly recommend this beer. Can't wait till next years batch for more. Tasty!

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Photo of peensteen
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from northyorksammy.

Hazy pale blonde colour, one finger of white head, good lace. Smell is of sprunce and pine, quite hoppy, citrus fruit in there, biscuity malt backbone, lots of hops in here though. Taste has a sprucey forest note, citrus following, fruity flavours, grapefruit and pine, good amount of maqlt in the finish, nice bitterness with a light alcohol aftertaste. Medium carbonation, medium body, resinious and oily, good feel. Solid stuff, flavourful stuff, very drinkable.

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Photo of syrupjoe
4.19/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into pint glass.

Pours a light hazy golden wheat color with a one finger off-white head.

Nose is a pungent overripe mango blast, with slight pine and lemon notes.

Taste is very piney, juicy and peppery with hints of barn funk and strong bitterness.

Mouthfeel is slightly syrupy, with medium to low carbonation.

Overall a very very interesting beer - I have never had anything like it. Hard to drink a whole pint, but enjoyable in small amounts.

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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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