The Bruery - Arbre (Light Toast) (2015)
- ABV: 11.3%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 52–59° F
- Suggested Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, or Pinot Glass
This is the lightest toast version of the Arbre Series, released in 2015. The Arbre Series ages a base beer inside of oak barrels from Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky, with the barrels having different levels of toast. Here, the lightest barrel toast levels come through over an imperial stout base, providing rounding nuttiness, raisins, and a slight oak smoke.
This Arbre version pours a very dark chocolate brown, topped by light-tan, mixed-bubble foam. There’s modest retention around the perimeter of the glass. Rich chocolate and coffee and char land first in the aromatics: roasted and decadent. The barrel impact affords some nuttiness, dried fruit, soft oak toast. There’s engaging tension between the dark specialty-malt elements and the smoother impact of the oak barrels.
First tastes provide a huge impact of dark chocolate, roast, and vinous fruit. This barrel-aged imperial stout is nicely warming, definitely a sipper from that first taste, but sans sharp edges. Luxurious, nutty and chocolatey maltiness, with creamy tempering elements from the lightly toasted oak, which provides a welcome counterpoint to that base beer. Marshmallow, toffee, cotton candy… lots of fruity esters to accompany the caramel and chocolate.
This seems to be in its sweet spot, but sturdy enough for a bit more cellar time. The Bruery recommends pairing with Hungarian goulash, coffee-rubbed hanger steak, or macaroons.
What The Bruery has done for beer in Orange County, California, while impressive, is just a part of their contribution to the greater brewing landscape. Once just a confusingly named, obscure little brewery from a curiously named little Southern California town, The Bruery is now known to the majority of beer geeks across the country and beyond. They’ve continued to develop their extensive barrel-aging program, launched the Bruery Terreux line, opened The Tasting Room at Bruery Terreux in Anaheim, and ultimately become one of the most respected breweries in the nation. They’ve even recently added a third Bruery location: The Bruery Store at Union Market in Washington, DC, establishing a wee East Coast outpost.
As a result of their unbridled creativity and skilled brewing practices, The Bruery’s beers are still some of the most highly coveted out there, period. It was back in 2009 that they released the beer that took the brewing community by storm: Black Tuesday, a massive imperial stout (clocking in around 20% ABV) aged in bourbon barrels for well beyond a year. Hugely oaky, rich, velvety smooth, and borderline nourishing, it caused both a stir and an annual tradition. The demand for this stout led people to drive and/or fly from hundreds (or even thousands) of miles away.
A handful of breweries have managed to take the “limited-release” concept as far as The Bruery has done with their beers, with annual vintages that sell out in a single day. Some folks have even gone one step further, creating the release equivalent of a serial novel, as The Bruery did with its recently completed 12 Days of Christmas series of annual beers.
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