The Bruery - Arbre (Alligator Char version)
Serving Temperature:52–58° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Teku, Snifter or Pinot Glass
The Bruery’s Arbre series has had them exploring the effects of varying levels of toast in oak barrels, working with the folks at Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky. This “Alligator Char” version of Arbre, not surprisingly, features a complex, dark wheatwine-style beer aged in barrels with the heaviest toast—also known as alligator char. The chocolate wheat malt of the beer and the toasty, charred effects from the barrel influence make for one of the tastiest wheatwines we’ve ever crossed paths with. Rich, velvety, beautifully impacted by the oak. It’s also our lowest ABV selection for this special offer of vintage releases from The Bruery.
This pours a quite dark, cola-brown color, with maple syrup and honey around the edges. A modest perimeter of off-white bubbles, with just a hint of lacing. This one definitely benefits from a bit of time to warm up in the glass, leading with a generous core of caramel and dark chocolate notes alongside toasty barrel character. This quickly expands into further depths of brown sugar, candied oranges, and plenty of soothing vanilla and almond from the oak.
For using new oak barrels, it’s impressive how much the net effect of chocolate wheat malt and alligator charred barrels makes this one seem almost like bourbon-barrel-aged beer. We found Arbre to be just beautifully dense and generous—particularly after a couple of years of gracefully aging in The Bruery’s archives, mellowing everything out just enough. This beer is packed with immense chocolate-caramel character, robust and almost vinous red fruits, plus an enormous presence from the barrels: toasty and charred, with well implemented layers of sweet vanilla and subtle tannins providing exceptional texture overall. Modest, fine-bubbled carbonation lifts everything, carrying an impressively built wheatwine along with some of the most potent (but well integrated) oak-barrel character we’ve tasted in quite some time.
As with all four of these featured beers, this 2017 edition of Arbre (Alligator Char) is close to its peak right now. We suggest enjoying a bottle before deciding on additional cellar time. As for food pairings, the combo of heft + vanilla + caramel has us leaning towards grilled pork tenderloin or spicy flank steak.
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