Yards Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce Ale – 5% ABV
It’s no secret that our Founding Fathers were on to something when they practiced the art of brewing. Samuel Adams is a huge name in the craft beer community. He brewed. George Washington brewed. Benjamin Franklin brewed. In fact, the great son of Philadelphia has his own beer. Yards Brewing Co. from the City of Brotherly Love has given new life to a centuries-old brew of Franklin’s with Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce Ale.
The neck label reads “Crafted Following Benjamin Franklin’s Original Recipe” and further information on the bottle informs the curious drinker-to-be that this was brewed with molasses, as well as spruce tips and sprigs. Spruce? That’s a new one in my book. Regardless, time to get down to the real task at hand – smelling and tasting.
The color upon pouring is deep ruby, almost garnet in color, bordering on brown. I poured it into my tulip glass and it left a nice light tan head, but one that quickly descended into a thin ring around the glass edge with a small amount of film. It seemed pretty clear, not a lot of haze at all. The nose brings to mind a healthy dose of malt, caramel, nut and spruce or pine. Not the kind of piney hop aroma that some might think of when they read this, or like some other beers I have reviewed, but something a little more subdued. The spruce is there, but it doesn’t make your nose hairs dance like flames in a campfire. A pinch of brown sugar came to mind, thanks to the molasses.
Getting into my first taste of this, immediately I could sense the malt, but with a little kick. In comes the spruce, with an ever-so-slight spice character that kept the molasses and caramel factions in order. It went down the hatch fairly easily, yet seemed kind of thin. Not a very heavy ale here. The flavor was decent, if not somewhat short-lived. There is a very subtle crisp bite at the finish. Again, not a lot of overly piney or grapefruit sour bitterness, but a moderately crisp spruce hint that lingers.
What to think of this one? Would I smack the table, stand up to attention and belt out a rendition of “God Bless America” over this selection from the “Ales of the Revolution”? Probably not, but it’s an interesting beer and I’d likely have it again. Is it a “knock-your-socks-off, blow-your-mind” winner? Not really. But then again, what’s the likelihood of that with a recipe that is over 230 years old? They kept it nice and simple back then. At the end of the day, it was a pretty good beer. Different, that’s for sure. I’d say it would make for a good session/seasonal beer around the holidays. Let your curiosity get the better of you and give it a try.