Everything’s available as a subscription these days, including beer. Case in point: The Bruery’s Reserve Society, which gives drinkers access to its limited-edition beers once a year, netting you 12 750ml bottles for $325 plus tax. (You can choose between sours, non-sours, or a mix.) Members also get discounts on additional online purchases plus priority access to new releases. You can read the full release list for the coming year — and sign up — on The Bruery’s website. If you’re too late, check back in October 2023 when the Society will open up yet again.
The Bruery sent us four representative beers showcasing the kind of thing members receive — though not all are on the 2022 shipping list — including its most recent Black Tuesday release, one of the most revered of The Bruery’s offerings. Thoughts on everything tasted follow.
The Bruery Petit Mardi 2022 – French for “Small Tuesday,” this is a fortified imperial stout aged in oak puncheons and made with Petite Sirah grapes and Syrah grapes. Is it beer? Is it wine? Where does the line fall? This heady, decadent “beer” finds the richness of stout combining with the distinct fruit of wine grapes, the finished product offering notes of chocolate, blackberry, and ruby Port wine. To be honest, I wouldn’t have guessed this was beer at all if it had been served to me blind, though there’s a malty character on the nose — and some of that cereal character on the finish — that at least keeps the brewery in the picture. Heady and endlessly fun. 15.9% abv. A- / $40 per 375ml bottle
The Bruery Black Tuesday 2022 – A prized annual release: Imperial stout, aged in bourbon barrels for a year. So we’re heading into an easygoing, mild experience, right? Hell no, this is a near-20% abv beer that is designed to punch you in the face, so shut up. Small doses are in order, which actually reveal nothing surprising at first: dark chocolate, vanilla, burnt caramel, and sweet, syrupy malt. Complexity then builds: Notes of cane syrup inform an impossibly lengthy finish, with elements of maple and root beer building in the mix. The finish finds notes of Port wine, lightly bittered, with distinct sour cherry notes. So beautiful and so much to explore as you let it linger on the palate. The Bruery sent me a full 750ml bottle of this — and I’m the only one here who’ll drink it. Pray for me, y’all. 19.7% abv. A / $33 per 750ml bottle
The Bruery Vanilla Villain 2022 – Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial stout with three types of vanilla beans in the mix. Less daunting than Black Tuesday, thanks to lower abv and higher sweetness, this drinks like dessert from start to lengthy finish. If you’re not a fan of vanilla, you may be a bit lost here, as the experience leans heavy on a dusky, dark vanilla character, complemented by cocoa nibs and coffee grounds as the finish builds. The light fizz gives it more of a porter-like consistency, though the heavy-duty body is unmistakably Imperial stout. As with many of these beers, a small glass feels like more than plenty. 15.7% abv. A- / $45 per 750ml bottle
The Bruery Creme Bruelay 2022 – A barrel-aged barleywine made with vanilla, salt, and dulce de leche. The sweetness of Vanilla Villain gets doubled up here, that dulce de leche caramel character dominating, giving this a distinct flan-like quality up front. It’s not a big, black stout like the above beers but a true barleywine, deep red in color and quite malty, which becomes more evident after the initial rush of sugar wears off. That takes awhile, however, the beer taking a trip through the bakery as it percolates notes of cinnamon churros, chocolate sauce, and a squeeze of mandarin orange. My least favorite beer in this roundup, but lots of fun all the same. 15.8% abv. B+ / $37 per 750ml bottle