A Second Visit to The Bruery Features A Surprisingly Sizeable Amount of Barleywines
Last week, I went to The Bruery in Placentia for my second time, having been there once previously a half-year ago. It was once again an enjoyable visit. I went with a small group of young adults on March 17th for a tour of the brewery led by its Chief Financial Officer, Carl Katz. Although I hadn’t realized it when I scheduled this tour, but it was St. Patrick’s Day; fortunately, while our group was smaller than I had hoped, the tasting room was not packed, fortunately (presumably, people were drinking Irish beer or green beer, etc. elsewhere).
Despite IPAs being my go-to beer, I discovered at my last visit to The Bruery that its beers are yummy and tasty enough even hop-heads can greatly enjoy their beers, so at least I did not come in to this visit with the expectation of tasting IPAs. However, after being turned on to sour ales at The Festival in November, I was excited to try some great sour ales. Well, that was not to occur on this visit. Out of the 24 beers on-tap, only one was a sour ale. This was due, explained Katz, to the heavy production of sour ales going on right now gearing up for the opening of their new location later this year to focus on sour ales. Don’t think I came away disappointed from my visit, though, they had plenty of bourbon barrel-aged ales and barleywines (and bourbon barrel-aged barleywines(!)) on-tap.
For my first flight of five beers, I started off with the Rueuze, their sour blonde aged on oak (6% ABV). Smelling the Rueuze made my mouth water from the tartness of it. Its dryness seemed like dry white wine and it was very yummy. So great! Next up, I had the Tripel Tonnellerie, an oak-fermented Belgian-style tripel (9.5% ABV), which kind of smelled like a dry white wine and seemed the lightest beer of the night. To be honest, as someone who likes tripels, this was kind of disappointing, but maybe my error was starting with the Rueuze and then drinking this one. It was lighter than the Rueuze, so perhaps I should have started off with this one. I then had the Oaked Old Richland, an American-Style Hoppy Barleywine (11.1% ABV), which was okay – I didn’t find it to be so hoppy, nor was it clearly boozy-tasting. However, the Oaked Old Richland gave way to the Mash ’14, a bourbon barrel-aged English-style Barleywine (12.4% ABV), which was boozy, malty, and great! The Mash ’14 kind of seemed like the Oaked Old Richland, but was so much better and a treat to drink. The final beer of my first flight was So Happens It’s Tuesday, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout (13.6% ABV), which had a boozy nose and was good (also, it actually happened to be Tuesday, which made this beer appropriate). To be honest, the Mash ’14 and So Happens It’s Tuesday had the bourbon barrel-aged similarity in taste to them, but I enjoyed the Mash ’14 the best out of that batch, especially with its complexity and booziness.
Following that first flight, we then went on a tour with Katz, who told us that they currently have 17 fermenters and they have a 15-barrel brewhouse, although they are working on a 30-barrel brewhouse! And, owing to construction and getting ready for Bruery Terreux, they are currently brewing around the clock (exciting news for beer-lovers). Katz also told us that they produce about 100 different beers every year and they actually come up with their plans for beers years in advance. Of these 100 beers, only about 20 of them get bottled and get widely distributed, with another 30-40 are exclusively available to any of their three exclusive societies, and another 50 beers available in their tasting room. And they keep rotating them – which is why many of the beers I saw on-tap in September were not there. He also shared that their number one complaint they receive is “We love your beer and brewery, but we can’t find seats in tasting room”, which is why they are working to create the separate new tasting room.
Following the tour, I got a second flight of five beers, all of which were bigger (in taste and ABV) than the first flight and included a couple of beers from some of the exclusive societies. I started off with Bois, a rye barrel-aged anniversary old ale (15% ABV), which I found to be boozy and fruity. This was a solid beer. Next up, I had the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Smoking Wood, a barrel-aged imperial rye smoked porter (13.3% ABV), which seemed to me similarly tasting as the Bois (presumably due to its barrel-aging). Then, off of the Reserve Society exclusive list, I had the Chronology 6, a bourbon barrel-aged dark ale (16.5% ABV), which I also found somewhat similar to the previous two beers, presumably due to its barrel-agedness, but I was certainly not complaining – these were all big, boozy, and really tasty beers! Next up, I had Mash & Grind, a bourbon barrel-aged barleywine with coffee (13.7% ABV), which I found to be very good and sweet. Finally, I ended with a selection from the Hoarders Society list, Mocha Wednesday 2015, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout with coffee (18.6% ABV). This was sharper and boozier than the Mash & Grind. It was definitely more sharply coffee-tasting than the Mash & Grind, as well. Oh my – this was clearly a very special beer and super enjoyable! Also, I am glad I had no more beers afterwards, since it was bursting with flavor and coffee-ness (and 18.6% ABV made it a hard act to follow, as well).
The experience was a treat, not only hearing about the opening of Bruery Terreux, but also being given access to order beers from the Reserve Society and Hoarders Society lists. I must admit to being surprised by Katz covering the first round of flights for our group, which was certainly a pleasant surprise. I was further surprised when a couple of us also got our second flights covered, as well. Fortunately, I was able to give The Bruery money when I got a growler of White Oak (which I had remembered greatly enjoying when I was there a half-year ago). I came away knowing a lot more about The Bruery, their beers, and their expansion. The Bruery is certainly an exciting place to check out for beers in Southern California (even if you like IPAs). I will definitely be returning.