Proof that the small guys go it best, The Bruery, a small craft brewery in Orange County California which just brought home two gold medals at the World Beer Cup. In the Belgian-Style Flanders/Oud Bruin category their Flemish Style Red Ale Aged in Oak Barrels, the Oud Tart took home the gold. Also in the Experimental Beer category their Autumn Maple brewed with 100% Brettanomyces yeast (a very volatile wild yeast) took home the second gold.
The Bruery focuses on creating richly flavored beers that are unfiltered, never pasteurized, and completely bottle conditioned without additional carbonation added. They are also not shy about experimenting with using exciting ingredients in their beers, a perfect example being Their Autumn Maple; it is brewed with yams, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses and maple syrup. This really is the stuff that dreams are made of. At least mine are… Is that weird?
This was the first of the Bruery beers that I had tried, so I was plenty excited. It comes in a wine shaped 750 ml bottle branded with 10.5% abv on the side. I let it warm up to cellar temperature around 12C (54F) as would be appropriate for a rich brown ale of this magnitude, and poured it into two large large snifters; for my mate and I.
As I poured it, before I could consider the color, aromas ripped out of the glass at me. It was warm spice and rich deep dark caramel and malt which found its way quickly to my nose. Getting closer into the beer, the nose reveals cloves, cinnamon, molasses, caramel and pale malts, sweet egg bread, biscuit, light wood and hints of alcohol.
The beer though, sitting gently in my snifter was very pretty; it has raised a nice pillowy and fluffy two inch head showing significant density and a creamy egg shell color. It has reasonably strong retention, but slowly fades to a heavy lacing on the surface of the beer, which itself was sublime. I was very happy it was not pitch dark, and it does show fantastic browns, amber orange, glimmers of ruby red, gold, and copper with hues of ivory black streaming through it. From the sight and smell it seems to enjoy significant complexity – but my favorite test was yet to come.
The flavor of course is what I was excited for, and it did not disappoint. First rich caramel, pale and dark malt flavors all make their way gently across your tongue in a recognizable fashion paving the way for the more unique experiences to follow. Soft roasted yam flesh and pumpkin glides in caressing your palate gently bringing with is spices to the edged of your mouth. The clove and cinnamon found in the nose tickle and tease your taste buds as bigger meatier flavors relax deep in your palate.
Bready biscuit malts, caramel and maple sweetness along with soft vanilla and a hint of earthy funk rest deep in the beer. Molasses makes its way in at the end, and more spice and Belgian yeast notes. The beer benefits very well from the bottle conditioning; the body is full but very soothing with soft and delicate carbonation. It really flows gently over your palate but is aggressive enough to make itself known.
The alcohol is perfectly hidden among the balance of sweet and savory favors. Hops are not very apparent, but the sweet flavors are all more on the savory side of things. Overall it creates a very appetizing beer which was a pleasure to enjoy. The finish was warm and smooth, lingering slightly, but encouraging me to go back for more. I loved the spice, and love the brown caramelized flavors of yams, maple syrup and luscious malts.
I would bet that this will also age well in the cellar, but probably only for a couple years. Its balance and spice makes it perfect for food pairings. Try roasted chicken or turkey, cheese plates, tomato pastas, shrimp, and BBQ.