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On The Hunt For Some Interesting New Beers? Signup For The Bruery’s Reserve Society.

I’m all about spending your money this week!  I dropped some details earlier this week about the Crooked Stave Cellar Reserve club and the signup info which began this past Monday.  Now it’s time to talk about The Bruery’s Reserve Society.  The Bruery, out of Placentia, CA has a beer club geared towards total beer geeks, nerds, connoisseurs, lovers, collectors, whatever…, that is a great way to acquire exclusive and hard-to-find Bruery beers.

The Reserve Society is entering its’ 4th year and shows no signs of slowing down as they continue to grow and cater to their loyal following.  I joined the club last year and have been very impressed by their wide variety of beers, collaborations, parties and other benefits that are exclusive to Reserve Society members. This year’s $295 fee will guarantee you:

— 1 bottle of Melange #3 (Initial Package, January 2013 pickup)
— 1 bottle of White Chocolate (Initial Package, January 2013 pickup)
— 1 bottle of Otiose (Initial Package, January 2013 pickup)
— 1 bottle of Chocolate Rain (Available in March 2013)
— 2 bottles of Black Tuesday (Available in late October 2013)
— 2 bottles Barrel Aged 5 Golden Rings (Available in December 2013)
— 1 bottle of Mystery Beer #1 (Mystery Release Date)
— 1 bottle of Mystery Beer #2 (Mystery Release Date)
— 1 piece of high quality merchandise

As a Reserve Society member, you’ll also receive 15% off purchases on the Bruery website, Provisions Store and Tasting Room, a membership card, climate controlled storage of your beers until 3.31.2014 and access to a ton of releases throughout the year.  Here’s a tentative list:

— Sour in the Rye
— Chocolate Rain*
— White Oak
— Sans Pagaie
— Bois
— Bois Aged in Rye Whiskey Barrels*
— Bois Aged in Brandy Barrels*
— Bois Aged in new American Oak Barrels #4 Toast*
— Kumquat Sour In The Rye*
— Barrel Aged English Barleywine with Portola Coffee* (Name pending)
— Blueberry Sour* (Name pending)
— Mystery Beer #1
— Mystery Beer #2
— Tart of Darkness
— White Chocolate
— Barrel Aged Apricot Strong Ale* (Name pending)
— Bourbon Barrel Aged Smoking Wood
— Cherry Oude Tart*
— Oude Tart
— Black Tuesday
— Grey Monday*
— Melange #1
— Bourbon Barrel Aged Autumn Maple
— Melange #3
— Rueuze
— Barrel Aged 5 Golden Rings*
— Smoking Wood – Rye Barrel Aged
— Approximately 8 very exciting Provisions Series releases

* = Exclusive (Reserve & Hoarders Society Only, not included in Preservation Society membership or to general release)
Black Tuesday, Chocolate Rain, Oude Tart and on and on and on.  Did you see the lines at GABF this year for 1 oz. pours of Black Tuesday?  If not, here’s a shot from the Thursday release.  You can skip all this madness and get secure your bottles through the Reserve Society.
Reserve Society members were given 2 bottles of Black Tuesday with their membership this year and were allowed to purchase up to 5 additional bottles.  The guaranteed bottles of the amazing 18.2% ABV, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout is worth the price alone.  Don’t forget about Chocolate Rain, Black Tuesday’s big brother, which is a 19% ABV, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout brewed with vanilla bean and cacao nibs.  Yeah, that’s included too.

Don’t even get me started on sours.  Name a fruit and they probably make a sour beer with it.  It’s ridiculous.  I love it.
The only catch with the club is that you either have to live in CA or have a “trustee” that lives in CA. My trustee is a beer trading friend that happens to live near The Bruery, is also a Reserve Society member and doesn’t mind picking up my beers and shipping them to me.  In exchange for his troubles, I send him some local Colorado brews every now and then and obviously pay for shipping costs through my FedEx account.  It’s actually quite easy and keeps me up to date with all the latest releases.

If shipping’s not your thing, you can always use the club as an excuse to make a road trip or fly out for a fun weekend.  They’ll even hold onto your beers for you until March 2014.  Mrs. Brewtally Insane and I flew out earlier this year to attend their “Initiation Party” and try a ton of one-offs and past Reserve Society releases.  There were plenty of mind-blowing beers to sample and I met some great beer peeps from all across the U.S.  Here’s a scan of the menu from the party.
It’s a quick flight and makes for a great 2-3 day trip.

Sorry to drain your wallets this week, but hey, it’s that time of year.  Sign up and get rewarded or miss out and get out-of-the-way.  Beer freaks looking to join for the first time can enroll on Thursday, October 25th at 11AM.  More details are HERE and your direct link to sign up can be found HERE.

Owner Patrick Rue is good people and I can’t say enough good things about his amazing beers. Definitely worth your time and money.
Cheers!
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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.

Beer Menu for the party.

 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.

Brewmaster Tyler King pouring his beers.

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.

Batch 50 and Melange No. 1

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.

Plenty of great food provided by Beachwood BBQ.

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!
 

Beer Trippin’ in Arizona. Baseball and Beer Hunting.

My family and I are big baseball fans and every year we find ourselves heading to Arizona for a few days to take in some Spring Training games.  We got up bright and early on Wednesday morning to grab the first flight from Denver, CO into Phoenix, AZ.  As we were waiting for our bags at baggage claim, we realized that we had accidentally left the kids bag at home…  NOOO!!!

In the past, my wife and I would always share a bag with them and fit their stuff in with ours.  But, since they would be flying back to Colorado with their “Mimi” and “Pap” and my wife and I were heading to California for the weekend, we decided to give them their own bag.  Unfortunately, since we got up at 2:45AM on the day of our flight, we packed the bag and had all their things in it, but we forgot it at the top of the staircase at our house.  Not a great start to the trip.  Hey, it’s not like we pulled a “Home Alone” and left our kids behind.  Trying to stay positive about the situation, it gave us a chance to get them some new clothes and was a way to kill a few hours before In ‘N’ Out opened.

mmmm, in-n-out!

So a few hours later, after a trip to Target, they had clothes and we were off to get checked into our hotel in Scottsdale, AZ.  When we got in, everyone was tired and ready for a nap.  With not much else going on, I decided to head out for a little beer hunting.  I always try to track down new and interesting beers when I’m out-of-town.  I like trying beers I’ve never had and usually keep a mental list of things I’ve been wanting to try from different regions around the U.S.

Within a few miles of our hotel was a Bevmo! and a Total Wine.  These places are practically next door to each other.  It’d be like having Argonaut and Lukas Liquors across the street from each other back home.  Kind of crazy, but it makes an out of towner like me happy to not have to drive far for good beer.

Bevmo! was solid and had a wide variety of beers, both local and imports, but Total Wine was just awesome!  They had a sign advertising 2500+ different beers.  I liked the setup quite a bit.  They divided their beer section up by style.  For example, all the IPA’s were in one section, in alphabetical order, with notes about some of the beers and staff recommendations.  They even had a section for special releases and limited beers.  It was almost too easy.

Total Wine offers classes every month educating consumers and offering samples of different styles of beers.  They had some deep discount beers to get rid of their past seasonals.  I saw quite a few xmas seasonals for great prices.  For example, Sierra Nevada Celebration and Odell Isolation for $4 / 6-pack.  Great idea that I wish stores back home would adopt.  It prevents beer from just sitting around for months and keeps inventory fresh.

Anyway, the store was great and I got lost in their beer section for nearly an hour.  I made a mix-6 of some locals and grabbed several bombers to open during our stay or take home to the cellar.

Arizona locals.

The next day, we headed to Salt River Fields to watch the Colorado Rockies take on the Chicago Cubs.  We had perfect seats about 20 rows back behind home plate.  We were in the shade and it was 84 degrees.  Glorious!  You couldn’t have asked for a better day.  There’s not much of a beer scene at the stadium, but you can get an $8 Blue Moon or a $10 bomber of Fat Tire.  I stuck with my bottle of water and enjoyed the game.

The view from our seats. Perfect day!

Yeah, the Cubs still suck and the Rockies won 7-5.  Hey, there’s always next year Cub fans.

After the game, my parents offered to watch the kids for a few hours, which gave my wife and I a chance to visit a few local breweries.  Our first stop was at Papago Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ.  As soon as I walked in, I knew it was our kind of place.  The walls were completely covered with beer signs, tap handles, mirrors,  posters and so on.  Papago has 30 beers on tap, which featured both their beers along with a great selection of guest taps.  I decided to try their Hopago IPA and Patti went for their Oude Zuipers Tripel.  Both were well balanced and very drinkable.

An impressive tap lineup at Papago Brewing.

Oskar Blues was there doing a promotional deal with their Deviant Dale’s.  The rep, who was from Denver, spent a long time chatting with us about the Colorado beer scene and gave us some swag to take home.  I had a tough time trying to deciding on a second beer.  Papago has about 9 glass door refrigerators full of bottled beer that’s out in the bar area.  They allow you to buy bottles or make 6-packs to take home or you can pick out a bottle, bring it to your table and drink it there.  I LOVE this idea!  First, the fact that you can actually look at the bottles and not have to order from an out-of-date menu was nice, but also being able to take things to go or share with friends at the bar…  Brilliant!

They had all kinds of locals, but some nice out of state options and imports, including all sorts of beers from Dogfish Head, Epic, Marin, Ballast Point, Lost Abbey and so on.  They even had big time beers like Firestone Walker’s Sucaba, their highly sought after barleywine.  Beeradvocate.com named this one of the top 20 places to have a beer in the entire world and Papago has the beer to back it up.

I was pretty impressed and for my next beer, I went with a Three Floyds / Mikkeller collaboration called Boogoop.  This was a new one for me and is listed as a 10.4% wheatwine.  Big hops, sweet, sweet malty backbone.  I loved every drop of it.  Patti got a Bear Republic Racer 5, which is a classic American IPA from Healdsburg, CA.  You can spend a pretty penny in this place if you’re not careful.  Well done Papago.  We will be back.

Shuffleboard in the back at Papago.

Our next and final stop of the day was at Four Peaks Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ.  We got a table outside and took a look at the beer menu.  Patti went for the sampler and I ordered a Hop Knot, American IPA.  Their sampler consists of 8 different beers which range from a Peach Ale to an Oatmeal Stout.  It wasn’t anything mind blowing, but they were all well made and were pretty tasty.  They had good food and a friendly atmosphere (think Rock Bottom).  They sell growlers and bottles to go as well.

Four Peaks sampler.

Arizona is slowly transforming into a decent beer town.  Every year we come it seems that another brewery has popped up and is trying to educate the locals on choosing better beer.  Arizona Beer Week was two weeks ago and they have various beer festivals throughout the year.  It’s not exactly Colorado out here, but they’re working on it.

Today was another perfect day of baseball.  We sat 8 rows behind home plate to watch the Brewers vs. the Royals.  Spring training is tough to beat!

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and we’re heading out for a big ol’ throwdown at The Bruery in Orange, California.  This should be a pretty epic party with nearly 50 small batch, hard to get beers being poured, plus 4 guest breweries and a ton of food.  We’ll be making a few other stops along the way, so stay tuned.

Tomorrow’s schedule will consist of The Bruery, The Bruery and The Bruery!


Avery Strong Ale Festival 2012 Recap

I had been looking forward to the Avery Strong Ale Festival for weeks.  Unfortunately, these things always seem to come and go so quickly.  I’m a little sad that another one is in the books, but wanted to share some highlights with you.

My wife and I checked into our hotel at around 2PM on Friday and walked to a nearby restaurant for a big dinner.  We wanted something that would stick with us late into the night and the big ol’ NY style pizza we ordered really hit the spot.  After dinner, we tracked down a few bottles of water and called for a cab to pick us up.

The festival opened at 5PM and we arrived about 20 minutes after the hour.  There was no line, so we strolled right in, but were still early enough that it wasn’t packed with people just yet.  We got our glasses, tasting tickets and a beer list.  Avery was nice enough to post the list on their Facebook page on Friday morning, so atendees could get an early glimpse at what would be pouring.

They set the festival up in alphabetical order by brewery name, so it’s relatively easy to navigate.  The Avery tasting room housed the first 20 taps, from A-B.  The barrel room had an additional 35 taps, from B-G.  The remaining 69 taps, from G-V, were in the warehouse.  We figured the least amount of people would be in the back warehouse area and decided to hear there first.  Kind of like when you’re a kid going to Disney World.  You want to hit Space Mountain first to avoid the long lines later in the day.  Same principle.

Ready to roll with the first 20 beers in the Avery Tap Room.

In the warehouse, I grabbed my first beer, Russian River’s, Pliny the Younger.  I couldn’t resist the hoppy goodness and wanted to get a pour before the keg kicked.  I figured it wouldn’t last long.  It was the perfect start to the night, until I went to reach for my camera…  Yeah, so, uhm, no camera…  I had left it back in the hotel.  A blogger without a camera is like a stormtrooper without his blaster.  Pointless.  Oh well, I’m new to this.  Lesson learned.  Still, I wasn’t going to let this get me down.  I used my quick thinking, ninja skills and hijacked my wife’s iPhone to use the camera feature.

Anyway, moving on, I headed down a few taps to get a pour of The Bruery’s, Melange No. 3.  I’ve got a bottle of this in the cellar at home, but I’ve been been waiting to try this one for a while.  It didn’t let me down.  Melange # 3 is a blend of three different beers.  White Oak Sap, a wheatwine, their Anniversary Old Ale and Black Tuesday, their famous Imperial Stout.  Big, sweet nose, chocolate, bourbon and dark fruit flavors.  It’s a pretty special beer.  Mmm, delish!

Moving on down the line, I found what would prove to be my favorite beer of the night, Surly’s Five.  Brewed in honor their recent 5th anniversary, this is a 100% Brettanomyces fermented dark ale, aged in red wine barrels.  Sour cherries, oak, along with some tartness and bretty funk.  A beautiful brew.  I love my sours and this one was top notch.  Now for the bad news, Surly doesn’t distribute outside of Minnesota…  Sigh.  If you’re a beer trader, you’ve got to seek this one out.

Surly Five. My favorite beer of the night!

We came across plenty of other highlights along the way from all over the U.S.  Some of my other favorites were Alpine – Bad Boy DIPA, Cigar City – Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout, Avery – Bourbon Barrel aged Meph Addict and Pizza Port – Nose Rider DIPA to name a few.  The lineup seems to get a little better every year.

We saw lots of familiar faces and good people from around the beer world.  Plenty of local brewery representation, bloggers and even some out of state breweries.  Avery, Great Divide, Lone Tree (Jason, please bring beers next year!), Strange, Dry Dock, Bull & Bush, Oskar Blues, Redstone Meadery and many more.  We also met the gang from COOP Aleworks out in Oklahoma City, OK.  These guys were really cool and have some interesting projects going on that they were eager to tell us about.  Well worth checking out if you’re ever out that way.

Gary V. and The Gubna. Nothing like a little friendly competition.

“What’s yours?”

They don’t call themselves Strange Brewing for nothing.

No bathroom lines, the ability to go in and out of the fest to get some fresh air, good food, even better beer and some high school kids laying down some nice jazz tunes.  Another job well done by the good folks at Avery!

As the night began winding down, we called for a cab and headed back to our hotel.  It was time to head back and grab some zzzz’s.

American Craft Beer Radio host Gary V. had asked us to help him with his show on Saturday.  He was broadcasting from the Avery lot on Saturday morning and wanted us to pull some winners from his facebook page for a few brewery prizes he had to give away.  The good people at “The Kitchen” offered their upstairs bar for us to set up shop and connect with Gary.  His show is on 102.3FM from noon-1PM on Saturday’s.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that The Kitchen people really know their beer.  If you’re ever up in the Boulder area, check them out.  They’re right on the Pearl Street Mall and have a huge beer list.  They were pouring not just tasty locals like Avery IPA, but also harder to find beers like Russian River Supplication and Firestone Walker XV.  They also host beer dinners and have a Dry Dock beer dinner scheduled this week.  The food looked good too.  Being a sucker for cheese, they had a pretty impressive selection.  Like I said, check ’em out.  The radio show went off smoothly and it’s always fun to help when we can.

The Kitchen, Boulder, CO

After we wrapped up, we cruised the Pearl Street Mall for a bit and headed back to Avery to do a little beer trading.  I had set up a trade ahead of time and just needed to make the switch.  I left with a case of Avery bombers, so be on the lookout for some upcoming reviews.  The weather was perfect and people were really digging the outside patio area.

Again, awesome weekend, great people, amazing beer and perfect weather.  Avery, you guys rock!  Let’s do it again next year.  Cheers!