Artisan does not even begin to describe the level of craftsmanship that goes into each brew hailing from the Bruery in Southern California’s Orange County. With humble beginnings as a home-brew operation, the Bruery has grown to become one of the country’s finest producers of craft brews—though it remains a lesser-know microbrew gem. Its distribution is limited to 21 states and it offers members of its Reserve Society exclusive access to some of its most limited releases (www.thebruery.com/reservesociety)
Founded in 2008 by Patrick and Chris Rue (whose surname combines with the word “brewery” to form the company’s name), the Bruery specializes in experimental Belgian-style beers typically aged in either second-fill bourbon or wine oak barrels. It uses a proprietary strain of Belgian yeast for all of its beers to provide them with bold and distinct characteristics. Many of the year-round and seasonal recipes also call for some unusual ingredients, such as coriander, Thai basil, maple syrup, and even Pinot Noir grapes. The Bruery is perhaps best known for its strong ales, which can approach 20 percent alcohol by volume, though every beer drinker is to sure to find something to enjoy in the Bruery’s diverse range of offerings, which are only available in 750 ml bottles. Brew enthusiasts living in or visiting Southern California should stop by the Bruery’s tasting room in Placentia, which recently underwent an expansion due to its rapidly growing popularity. (www.thebruery.com)
One of the staples of the Bruery’s year-round brews, Mischief is a Belgian-style golden ale with 35 IBUs—giving it a much heavier hop character than one would expect from a beer of this style. But the relatively heavy hop notes remain fresh due to the fact that this beer is dry-hopped, meaning that a round of hops is added to the beer during fermentation rather than during the brew. Crisp notes of citrus, melon, and pear give way to delicate hints of spice, and it pairs well with barbecued meats.
Style: Belgian Golden Ale
Price: $8/750 ml
Availability: Year Round
Robb Report editorial director Bruce Wallin, a connoisseur of whiskey and rum and a self-declared veteran beer drinker, recently sampled the Bruery’s Saison de Lente and quickly declared it the best beer he had ever tasted. Rich with musky notes of Brettanomyces from the proprietary yeast, this blond ale perfectly balances fresh and forward hop notes with clove and fruit flavors, including lemon zest, tart apple, and banana.
Style: Blond Saison
Price: $10/750 ml
Availability: Spring Seasonal
The simplest way to describe the Bruery’s Autumn Maple is to call it a pumpkin pie in a bottle. This brown ale is brewed with 17 pounds of yams per barrel as well as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and (its namesake ingredient) maple syrup. This beer is perfect for sharing with family and friends following a Thanksgiving feast.
Style: Belgian Brown Ale
Price: $10/750 ml
Availability: Fall Seasonal
Only available to members of the Bruery’s Reserve Society and in very limited quantities, Chocolate Rain is an imperial stout to be reckoned with. This rich and complex brew is aged in second-fill bourbon barrels with vanilla beans and cocoa nibs. Its nearly 20 percent alcohol imparts it with a mouthfeel closer to that of a barley wine than a beer—and makes it virtually impossible to consume by a single drinker. This beer is best enjoyed in good company.
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 19.5% ABV
Price: $40/750 ml
Availability: Limited to Reserve Society members