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Previous Pint Pleasures - October 20 2018

guinness eileen

The Bruery, 717 Dunn Way, Placentia, California

Last month I paid yet another visit to California to visit family and old friends. I didn't make it out of the Los Angeles/Orange County area, except for a short trip to the mountains of Big Bear. But, as one would expect, I did visit quite a few new breweries while I was there, so I have quite a few new places to write about.

My friend Rick drove down from Oakland to spend a couple of intensive days of exploring and tasting with me. On our second day we decided to cross the Orange County border. Our destination was the city of Anaheim, home to the original Disneyland, where a major sprouting of new breweries has occurred in the past couple of years. Located just northeast of Anaheim, close to Yorba Linda and the Richard Nixon Library, is the city of Placentia. When I first heard about this place as a young teenager I thought it strange that a city would be named after an afterbirth. But the “i” saves it, as it’s actually named after Piacenza, an Italian city located on the River Po. It also refers to an English royal palace, a battle, and a slang term for a pleasant place to live.

We decided to pay a visit to one of the only two breweries in Placentia. Opened in 2008, The Bruery is a family-run business which takes its name from founder Patrick Rue’s family surname. Patrick had planned to become a lawyer but became distracted by his home brewing hobby, and instead of going into law he ended up opening this brewery. The Bruery specialises in barrel aged and experimental beer, and has more recently been brewing farmhouse-style wild and sour beers at their Bruery Terreux brewhouse in Anaheim. Nearly half of their beer is aged in oak wine and spirit barrels.

As we walked in we found ourselves in a big square room with a long L-shaped bar covering two walls. There was even a flight-ordering station, with pencils and order forms listing the up to 50 beers currently on the taps. Everybody in the place seemed to be doing 5-glass flights, so we grabbed a form and pencil and sat ourselves down to plan just where we were going to fly to. As the four-page draft menu was huge, featuring experimental IPAs as well as Belgian-style sour beers and members-only exclusive offerings, we decided to go for all sours from the Bruery Terreux page.

First on our list was Humulus Terreaux (6.3% ABV), a hoppy bret with Mosaic hops. Rick was reminded of Orval, as it seemed to have a unique slightly pungy casing of Brettanomyces yeast which softened the sharp bitter Mosaic filling. Or perhaps it was a horse blanket in a Monday locker room, tempered by the bitterness of a mosaic casing.

Next was Filmishmish (5.7% ABV), an oak aged sour ale with apricots. It took us awhile to get around to actually tasting this one because of the wonderfully massive nose that rose like a sensory caress above our glasses. This is one of those brews that could make you hyperventilate before you even get close to a sip. Enhanced by fresh apricot jam and wood shavings, it suggested shades of a really good dark red wine, but oddly enough it possessed the look and colour of fresh apricot nectar. There were three levels to this beer: the nose, the actual tasting, and my breath afterwards. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience.

Third on our list was Beauregarde (5.7% ABV), an oak aged sour blonde ale with raspberries. The first time I ever tasted a sour beer that pleased me (which was probably the second time I tasted a sour), I was sent into a gradually accelerating rapture. I quickly became enamoured of anything that wasn't sweet: peaty single malts, cheeses so dry they pucker the tongue, wit so dry it speeds unnoticed through thick minds. This is why both of us were moaning with contentment bliss as we sipped this nectar. In fact, it gave me goosebumps.

Our next beer was Sour in the Rye POG (7.3% ABV), brewed with passionfruit, orange and guava (hence "POG") with honey and vanilla, and barrel-aged to give it a woody character. And I tell you, we were talkin' sour! I needed to stretch my arms and chant "num-num-num-num..." as quickly as I could.

Our final experience was Oude Tart with Raspberries (7.7% ABV), aged in red wine oak barrels. The first thing that hit the palette was oak. And then more oak. This was like a fine wine. Something very subtle and hard to lay a finger on was just behind the middle of the top rise of my tongue. Ahhh...Rick felt like he was swimming through these five beers like an airplane, cleaving them at different angles, like cutting diamonds. Or something like that. It was a beautifully eloquent description delivered too quickly for me to capture in my notes. But I understood. We both agreed that good sour beers act as a tonic, and we ended up feeling like stretching, bending, and fanning our tail feathers which had somehow sprouted up during this session.

The Breury was quite busy for a Wednesday afternoon, and most of the customers were wearing various brewery and beer company t-shirts, suggesting there are a lot of beer industry people as well as very serious craft beer consumers who know about this place. The room was absolutely freezing as well, making me wish I had something to throw over my frozen arms. It was forecast to be 87 degrees F outside, so perhaps this temperature was necessary for the beers’ sake -- or perhaps just to keep all of our tastebuds on their toes. (Do tastebuds even have toes?)

For serious beer connoisseurs the Bruery features two membership-only societies that anybody willing to spend the money can join. The Preservation Society gives access to the Society Tap List as well as offering specials on online purchases ($58.50 per quarter). And the 2017 Reserve Society costs $295 and offers all kinds of things -- but currently this society is full up and taking no more new members, so don’t rush over with your credit card brandished.

Just before we left we stopped to use the toilets and were intrigued by the fact that one of the two restrooms was a two-urinal one-stall room labelled “Men'” while the other one was a one-toilet room labelled “Gender Neutral”. For expediency Rick used the Men’s while I used the Gender Neutral. I think he was a little bit envious.