From Rob Fink. Follow him on Twitter @RobDFink or email him at rob[AT]borderstan.com.
As members of the DC-area beer community, we should revel in our local breweries and local beers as we rightfully ascend to “great beer town” status.
However, that sentiment should not discourage your exploration of world-class breweries and world-class beers already available in our area. I recently had the privilege of visiting a southern California brewery with prominent stature here in the District — The Bruery in Placentia, Orange County.
Nearly hidden, nestled in the back corner of a non-descript commercial park lies the Bruery, absorbing all of Orange County’s beautiful rays of sun and captivating our beer imagination along the way. My visit this past weekend coincided with their annual initiation party for members of their Reserve Society, a special membership which allocates you a number of rare, limited-release beers outside of their normal distribution network.
Some Favorite Finds
It felt like a beautifully crisp, warm autumn day back in the District, but I was quickly told that 65 degrees is a “cold snap” in southern California, even in February. As I acclimated to this so-called cold-snap, below are some warming, high-octane beauties which enabled me to deal with such wonderful weather.
- Grey Monday — 18.6% ABV, 2012 Vintage. What can I say, this beer is an invariably huge, complex stunner of an Imperial Stout. Aged in bourbon barrels for over a year along with a careful dose of Oregon grown hazelnuts, Grey Monday stultifies conventional understandings and perceptions of flavor. Lusciously intense notes of leather, dark caramel, charred oak and candied hazelnuts coalesce to form one of the most complex beer experiences of my life. If you have a friend in the Reserve Society, I suggest you somehow convince them to open this gem in your presence. Perhaps celebrate a “new” job, whatever you have to do.
- Oude Tart — 7.5% ABV. Refreshingly dry and, of course, tart, Oude Tart is a modern interpretation of the classic Flemish Red Ale. 18 months in red wine barrels allows softened oak to brace against growing levels of acidity, making the beer reminiscent of one of my all-time favorites, Rodenbach Grand Cru. For the initiation event, Oude Tart was served with an addition of boysenberries in the cask, brightening the beer’s underlying fruit flavors while accentuating its acidity; a beautiful beer for a pleasant February afternoon in southern California.
- Washington O.C. — 10.5% ABV. This time around the Bruery teamed up with our own Bluejacket (slated to officially open this summer at 303 Tingey St SE, near Nationals Park) to brew a burly Belgian-style Quadrupel. The addition of plums amplifies the already present character of fig, raisin and cherry while the beer is dry enough to disallow cloying fruitiness. This beer is a usual suspect on the draft of lines of Churchkey, and one not be missed.
Although several of the above beers are not readily available throughout Borderstan, our better beer stores such as Whole Foods on P St NW routinely have Bruery beers such as Saison De Lente, Mischief and Trade Winds Tripel, any of which would be a pleasing addition to your fridge for this weekend.