Review: Two New Chocolate Ales from The Bruery: Share This O. C. and Chocolate Rain

Chocolate Rain and Share This O.C.
This month The Bruery released two ales, first through their Bruery Preservation Society and then to the public. Both are imperial stouts with heavy cacao nib flavors. We couldn’t resist opening a couple of bottles.

First up is Share This O.C., the third in the brewery’s “Share This” series of brews, meaning one dollar of each bottle sold is donated to Food Forward charity. Besides the Tcho cacao nibs, this stout also has orange zest and vanilla beans added. The chocolate fills your nose instantly as you tilt the glass of this ale toward your lips, with its dark chocolate body and creamy caramel head. It continues to dance across your palate, lingering thorough to the end. The orange is there but remains a muted partner, like a thin veil. The vanilla, as it does in cooking, nicely rounds out the other flavors. This ale is very smooth and would pair nicely with a mandarin orange cheesecake. 11% abv. A+ / $15 per 750ml bottle

Chocolate Rain is heavier on the chocolate than Share This O. C. It is also a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout, which is immediately evident at the first sip. If you like The Bruery’s It’s Black Tuesday, you’ll be pleased to know this is similar, previously released as a single casked version in 2011. Chocolate Rain’s body is very dark; even black in low light. The head is nice but vanishes in seconds. The cocoa nibs used here are Tcho cacao nibs, and the flavor is followed by vanilla bean. The non-sweet cocoa scent fills your nose like sniffing cocoa powder but then intensifies on a second pass. It is strong, as are the bourbon notes, from first sip to last. It may be too strong for some folks. The vanilla does its job of bringing the flavors together without taking center stage, and the back end reveals a hint of pepper, which could be a product of the charring process on the barrel. This would go wonderfully with barbeque ribs. 19.6 abv. B+ / $40 per 750ml bottle

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Review: Three Holiday Ales for 2016 – Bear Republic, The Bruery, St. Bernardus

Holidays always bring out the specialty brews to the delight of many beer and ale aficionados, including me. Most of these beers and ales are good for any fall holiday and work well into New Year’s Eve. Here are three ales are sure to please you as much as they did me. I recommend them all as nice sipping beverages.

First up is ‘Twas the Beer Before Christmas, a December 2016 release from Bear Republic. It is extremely rare, with only 384 bottles produced, and it is only available through Bear’s Wild Club. Its description: “Peanut butter roast malt character, dried apricot dustiness, clean tartness, cognac from Old Baba Yaga.”

This ale is barrel aged up to eighteen months. It consists of a combination of Bear Republic’s Old Baba Yaga, Tartare Noir, Tartare Apricot, and Epic. It is a light sour, though it has a thick, chocolaty head and dark brown body. When held up to light, a nice red sheen shines through.

The sour comes over lightly on the nose, bringing tart cherries to mind. However, it is not an overpowering sour but does make the mouth water with each sip. As the beer warms to room temperature, the sourness lightens to a nice tartness. The peanut is not immediately prevalent, but there are also hints of oak throughout. 8.7 % abv. B / $30 per 750ml bottle

Next we have 9 Ladies Dancing from The Bruery. It is a Belgian strong dark ale. Its description: “Inspired by flavors and ingredients found in tiramisu, including lady fingers, 9 Ladies Dancing mimics the Italian dessert by whipping together flavor combinations and layers of its own. This includes notes of vanilla, chocolate, and coffee.”

This ale has a dark, nutty brown body with a nice, creamy, ivory head. The scent has a light chocolate overtone. The taste is smooth with the cocoa nibs and vanilla flavors coming through, followed by soft spices. I left a glass in the refrigerator, exposed to air, for a half hour which brought out the chocolate and coffee notes with stronger clarity. This is a beverage to sip, with friends, in front of a warm fire on a cold night. 11.3% abv. A / $11 per 25.4 oz. bottle

My personal favorite is a Belgian Abbey from St. Bernardus: St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. Its description: “St. Bernardus Christmas Ale offers a spicy, mint-like flavor profile exuding the tastes of warming alcohol, fermented molasses, apricots, licorice, and marzipan that are highlighted by the perfect balance of brewing sugars.”

This ale is bottle conditioned. It has a rich brown body with a red overtones. The sparkling ivory head is velvety and large.

Initially the sweet scent of malt come forth and warms as the ale gets to room temperature. Overtones of crisp apple intensify with the warming as well. There are no notes of wood or citrus. I noticed a light zing on the tip of my tongue at the back end of each sip. However, there are no lingering aftertastes.

This ale brings to mind pleasant images of watching holiday carolers. 10% abv. A / $11 per 25.4 oz. bottle