Beer Trippin’ in California. The Bruery Reserve Society Initiation Party
In my last post, we visited The Bruery Provisions, in Orange, CA. After finishing up our beers and stuffing ourselves with cheese, we decided to go find our hotel. Patti had done her homework and found a hotel right next to The Bruery. I don’t want to lose you here, but The Bruery Provisions is different from the actual Bruery. Same company, but The Bruery is the actual brewing and bottling facility, with a tasting room inside. We could see the grain silo from the hotel. Yeah, my wife rules! Unfortunately, The Bruery doesn’t open their doors to the beer nerds until 4PM on Fri / Sat and noon on Sun.
With not much else going on and the monsoon still raging outside, we decided to check in and relax. Patti caught a nap and I went to find a cup of coffee. We had some time to kill before the main event. After an hour or two, I called for a cab and we got ready to head out.
I’ve already mentioned The Bruery Reserve Society, and you might not have a clue as to what I’m talking about Well turn down your walkman and listen up. Neil Diamond can wait. The Reserve Society is a club run by The Bruery that gives members access to their hard to get, rare, one-offs and seasonals throughout the year. If you’ve heard of beers like Black Tuesday, Chocolate Rain and Melange, this is the way to guarantee yourself a bottle or three. If you haven’t heard of these beers, you need to seek them out! Mark your GABF map now! Seriously, GO! It’s cool, I’ll wait for you until you get back. Grab us a beer while you’re at it.
Now, do yourself a favor and hunt down some beers from these guys. Even if it’s just off the shelf stuff like Saison Rue or Mischief. Try them, ask a friend to share some, come to one of our tastings, join the club next year. DO IT! They’re making some pretty special beers and since opening in 2008, they’ve jumped to the top of the pack as one of the best breweries in the U.S. It’s nice to see too. Patti and I met the founder, Patrick Rue, at GABF in 2008 and he was just trying to get his beers out into the market. We tried Black Orchard and Autumn Maple and knew we’d be hearing more from him in the future. It’s safe to say he’s done very well for himself.
Memberships are sold out for this year, but signups typically open around November for the following year. They won’t ship your beer to you, so if you don’t live nearby, start trying to track down someone who can pick up and ship for you. This isn’t as hard as you might think. I can point you in the right direction of some beer geeks out that way who will be glad to help. If that’s not your thing, the fine folks at The Bruery will store your beer at The Provisions until March of the following year. So, let them stockpile your beer, then make one trip out there and ship it back to your home or make a nice little road trip out of it. Yes, it can be done!
Throughout the year, members can participate in various parties, beer releases and events exclusive to Reserve Society members. We were in town for one of these events, The Reserve Society Initiation Celebration. It just kind of worked out that I had the time off for our spring training trip to Arizona, so adding an extra day to hop over to California seemed all too easy.
The party was being held at The Phoenix Club in Anaheim. This place is kind of like a big German hall with a restaurant and bar and various other areas that can be rented out. Our party was in a giant tent.
They checked our ID’s, pulled our name on the guest list, gave us a wrist band with 10 tabs for samples, a glass and a list of beers being served.
They had some rock music playing and along the edges of the room there were tables set up offering different beers. There was already a line about 75 people deep for pours of Chocolate Rain. Chocolate Rain is a version of Black Tuesday, their big ol’ 18% ABV imperial stout, that has been barrel aged with vanilla beans and cocoa nibs. I’ve tried Black Tuesday (phenomenal beer!), but had never been lucky enough to get my paws on a Chocolate Rain. It’s only been bottled two or three times and it’s never been sold outside of the club. So, Patti and I got in line and waited for our pour.
Wow!!! Amazing beer. Thick, oily pour, deep black color. It was so thick it coated the glass. Huge bourbon, vanilla and oak aroma. Loads of chocolate, fudge and caramel. Man, oh man. Delicious beer. I’m really looking forward to getting my bottles.
We really savored our sample and didn’t want it to end, so we took some time to walk the place and take in all the sights. Each table had a row of bottles lined up, showcasing what was being poured. I’m honestly not familiar with all the names of their beers. With names like Run BMC and Gunga Galunga, it’s not easy to remember what everything is. The bottles have a description on the label, so that really helped us with some of their more obscure beers.
After a good rinsing to peel the Chocolate Rain remains off our glass, we eventually decided on our next samples. Patti went with Batch #50 Grand Funk Ale Road and I grabbed a pour of Melange #1, which is a blend of Black Tuesday (imperial stout) and Oude Tart (flemish red). Batch #50 is an interesting beer. It’s created in the traditional Belgian gueuze process of blending old and young lambic together to create a new beer called gueuze. Sour and complex, there’s really no way to describe a beer like this until you’ve tried it. It’s unique and a favorite style of mine. Also interesting to note that it was brewed to commemorate their 50th batch, back in 2009, but because it took a blend of an old and new beer to make, it wasn’t ready for release until well after their 300th batch of beer had been released in 2011.
Patti and I usually order different beers and swap glasses to sample each other’s and try more beers. In this case, she preferred mine and I preferred hers, so we just swapped glasses. It’s awesome having a beer loving wife! I highly recommend finding yourself one. It’s better than having to share beers with your buddy who’s probably just going to get you sick.
Eventually, we made our way outside and discovered the draft truck. This is a big, white, box truck, with 30 tap handles drilled into the side. Lots of fun things pouring from the truck, but my favorite was a guest tap from Bootlegger’s called Knuckle Sandwich. This was a nice big, west coast, Double IPA. Patti got it with a splash of Centennial hop oil. This made it green (it was St. Patrick’s day after all) and extra hoppy.
Food was provided by Beachwood BBQ and they had pulled pork, brisket and chicken to choose from, plus a wide variety of sides to try.
Patrick and The Bruery peeps really know how to throw a party. My only regret was running out of tickets before trying Sour in the Rye with kumquats. It created quite the buzz, but I didn’t hear about it until after we got home. There were just so many great beers to try, we were bound to miss something special. Oh well, something to keep an eye out for in the future.
There were cabs all over the place when we got back to the parking lot and it was a short, 7 minute ride back to our hotel. We stopped our driver as he was going past The Bruery, right next to our hotel. So that wraps up part two of our Bruery weekend. The third and final installation of our St. Patrick’s day throwdown will be at The Bruery’s brewing and bottling facility. Stay tuned. In the meantime, here are some random pics and labels from a few of the many beers that were being poured at the party. Cheers!