The Hoppy Truth About SoCal Beer (part 1)

From Alabama the hubby and I traveled to Orange, California to visit my brother and get a taste of the Southern California beer scene.   We wanted to visit the actual Bruery Brewery, but it is only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  And we were there on a Monday. Doh! Luckily for us, the Rue family also owns a quaint specialty beer, wine, and snacks shop in downtown Orange called The Bruery Provisions.  We arrived around 10:30 in the morning and tastings weren’t available until noon.  Apparently Californians aren’t as into day drinking as Chicago-ins are.  At 11:15, the sales clerk said he would check with the supervisor if he could open up the tasting room early.  I proposed that it was actually 1:15 PM Chicago time but I don’t think he felt that was a valid argument.  But he was able to open the tasting room early and we were able to get down to tasting.


 
They had five beer flights to choose from: The Bruery Year Round Flight for $3; The Bruery Special Draft Release/Seasonal Flight for $5; a flight of beers from that month’s guest brewery; a flight of beers from the east coast for $9; and a flight of beers from the west coast for $6. These are all great deals, especially the two Bruery flights.  And let me clarify that it is not $3 per taste; that is $3 for five 2-ounce pours.  And the majority of Bruery’s beers are up there with regard to alcohol so you can get yourself a pretty good buzz for $3.  Not bad.  Plus, on the tasting menu they have recommendations for cheese and/or meat plates.  We paired the Smokey and Rustic cheese plate with the Special Draft flight which was a real treat.
 
Needless to say, we got the two Bruery flights.  On the Year Round list, the standout was the Loakal Red, a blend of two red ales (one aged for a month in new American oak barrels and the other dry hopped) and fermented using a California ale yeast. This beer had a caramel, sweet nose with a nice hop finish.  Unfortunately, this beer is only available in Orange County.  If you are ever out that way, this is a must try!  

Another year-round offering was the Orchid White, a Belgian-style wittier. This had a classic Belgian yeast nose and was crisp, light, and highly carbonated. The Saison De Lente, the Bruery’s spring Saison, was crisp and light, although it had a funky nose and slight sour finish. The Mischief is described as a hoppy Belgian-style golden strong ale. I detected pepper on the nose with a fruity, melon taste. Finally, Rugbrød is a Julebryg-style strong brown ale. This had a slight alcohol aroma and had a malty, sweet taste.
 

A couple of the offerings on the tasting menu.

The Special Draft Release/Seasonal Flight ranged from spectacular to just downright weird.  On the weird end of the spectrum was The Salt of the Earth, a wheat beer brewed with truffle salt.  I am not a huge fan of truffle oil; I like it used sparingly on food occasionally but that is about it.  With this beer, the truffle nose overpowers the entire beer and this was the only component I could recognize.  I may just be extremely sensitive to the truffle smell, though, as neither my mother or my brother noticed it.

The next offering in this flight was the Imperial White Orchid which was particularly delicious. It was perfectly balanced; it was heavier than the singular White Orchid yet still crisp, clean, and refreshing. TheTrades Winds Triple had champagne-like carbonation and had a similar taste profile to Duvel. The Humulus Cornballer is the Bruery’s version of a malt liquor yet had a hug, citrusy hop aroma. If you have ever smelled a bag of hop pellets, that is what this beer smelled like, which was surprising coming from a malt liquor. Finally, the Cuir is the Bruery’s anniversary ale, that combines this year’s anniversary ale recipe with oak-aged anniversary ales from years past. This had a lovely raisin aroma and flavor. And may I go on record that even my mother liked this one.

Overall, this was an amazing experience, even if we didn’t get to go to the actual brewery. Next brewery we went to? Stone!

To be continued…

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