Black Orchard - The Bruery

Not Rated.
Black OrchardBlack Orchard

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226 Reviews

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Reviews: 226
Hads: 312
rAvg: 3.59
pDev: 11.98%
Wants: 27
Gots: 15 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
The Bruery visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Dark Ale |  5.70% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: DoubleJ on 05-11-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 226 | Hads: 312
Photo of Sammy
3.7/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Black body with off-brown enormous head. Malty and oatmeal aroma. Fluffy mouthfeel, but also patent Bruery aggressive carbonation. Taste is cerial and some spice, and mollasses, roastiness and cocoa. Only so drinkable, needs to be shared. This BTW was a gusher. (261 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I opened this bottle and it gushed all over the kitchen sink. Something tells me this might be bad.

Pours a super dark crimson brown, almost black, with a ridiculous 4 inch head that takes forever to go down. I had to pour and wait for the head to go down a few times before I even got half a glass of actual beer. Zero lacing on the glass. Smells of plum, cherry, faint wheat, and metal. The metal smell really gives this a weird scent. Tastes of sour cherry, vinegar, plum, with a wheat aftertaste. Almost like a lambic taste to this beer. Carbonation is extremely high but somehow works with the taste. Very bubbly and crisp in the mouth. Overall, I am pretty sure this might be infected. The infection doesn't totally kill this beer but it definitely is not wanted. (770 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
3.8/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a near black color with a nice head. Pretty good lacing on the way down. The nose is quite aromatic, with some nice pepper, roasted malt, light citrus, and a bit of coffee. The taste brings in some really nice spice and yeast as well as some mild roast. Good, light mouthfeel with nice carbonation. Really a unique bear and another success. (368 characters)

Photo of brentk56
3.27/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a black coffee color with an overflowing head (the bottle was a gusher) that fades quickly without much retention or lace

Smell: Brown bread aroma with hints of oatmeal cookies, licorice, milk chocolate and plums

Taste: Very bready, up front, with a combination of brown bread and oatmeal spice cake flavors; by mid-palate, a sour citrus and green apple flavor starts to dominate and, after the swallow, earthy and mineral tones enter the fray

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body but ubstructively fizzy

Drinkability: While the beer is ambitious I fear The Bruery doesn't have everything down pat on this one; the flavors don't come together, in large part, as the fizzy mouthfeel obstructs the flavor profile; I would like to try a good bottle of this, sometime (780 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.68/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a deep hazy brown color ale with a quite large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of funky yeast with some fruity ester and some great Belgian malt also noticeable. Taste is a very well balanced mix between some floral malt with notes of funky yeast ester and a great malt backbone. The spices are well integrated in the mix and don't play such a prominent role. Body is quite full with great carbonation. Very well done and definitely underrated from this fine brewer. (503 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.89/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Murky cherry cola with a lousy looking crown of sandstone colored foam that isn't the least bit sticky and doesn't leave even a scrap of lace. A loud 'pffft' on crown cracking allowed me to catch what began flowing out of the bottle neck within seconds. That same foam is currently erupting in slow motion all over my kitchen counter. Not a good start.

The Bruery designed Black Orchard as a black witbier. That's an intriguing concept, but it doesn't really smell like one. The beer is dark malty, earthy and spicy. No orange peel or chamomile is appreciated. Coriander is questionable. Nothing is very well-defined and the aroma is more interesting than good.

As always, it's hard to ignore a craptastic mouthfeel to assess the flavor on its own terms. First, a nearly flat Autumn Maple. Now a thin, fizzy Black Orchard. These guys better get their quality control in order if they have any hope of being a successful craft brewery.

Although it never really comes together into anything worthwhile, the building blocks of a pretty good beer are in there somewhere. Specifics include brown bread, steely caramel, anise, ground clove, tart citrus peel (not recognizable as orange) and a spiciness that is most likely a combination of chamomile and coriander. An opportunity lost... yet again.

As is usually the case with excessively bubbled beer, the carbonation went from frenetic to nearly flat without spending any time in the acceptable zone. I can't even guess what an optimally bubbled ale would feel like since this one is so far from optimal.

What else is there to say? On one hand, I feel bad about giving such low scores to a beer that isn't as the brewers intended. On the other hand, I've given a significant amount of money to The Bruery and have been burned twice. As always... caveat emptor! (1,811 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
3.11/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Found this bottle at the local Green's for 7 dollars so I thought I would pick it up and give it a shot. Served chilled and poured into a large wine glass, this one was consumed on 1/16/10.

The pour was huge, massively carbonated with head filling three quarters of the glass on the first pour.Dark black in color and the head a mild tan, it looked the part right away. Head faded back and left really no lace in its wake but kept a nice cap on top. Aroma was light,nearly non existent at times, but when it was picked up it was light oats, touches of dark fruit and a hint of cocoa. Again though the big problem here was how light it came across. Flavor was more of the same, it just was too light and when you picked it up it was going in too many different directions which really caused it to come across as slightly a mess. But Mess is a strong word it was more bland then anything. Still well carbonated but I just could not get past searching for the flavor.

Overall the weekest of what I have had from the bruery by far. (1,030 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
3.21/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black in color with a nice tan head.

S: Roasted malt and slight spice. Not too much happening here.

T: More complex than the nose, but not overly so. Again, the roasted malts, a bit of coffee, and some ever so slight sweetness.

M: Decent body, very plentiful carbonation.

D: Certainly not bad, but not something I'd want to drink a full 750 of. Better than the Orchard White. (382 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.52/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Sloeber tulip glass.

Was it really necessary to bring race into this? Regardless, this stuff pours a dark black-brown topped by a finger or so of light khaki foam. The nose comprises dark fruits, clove, cardamom, light black pepper, a hint of cocoa powder, and a bit of toast. The taste brings in more of the same, with the fruits and spices trading haymakers against my tongue, all under the supervision of stronger bits of cocoa and toasted rye bread. The body is a lithe medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a fluid-ish feel. Overall, imagine a witbier that had turned to the dark side in every way. You've got this here thing. It's pretty good, though not really something I'm gonna get very often in the future. (738 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.17/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black body. Tan Head. Creamy cap. Good head retention. Spotty lace.

S: Dark malts. Roastiness. Hop. Chocolate. Subtle spice - clove, pepper. Banana. Citrus. Plum. ... ... interesting!

T: The flavor follows the aroma, and chocolate/cocoa and clove/candy battle it out! One side comes up on top, only to fall to the other. Then, after a short roll and a few rabbit-punches it regaining the upper position again in the next sip. Along the way the fruit, spice, roastiness, and dark malt acidity spur them on!

M: Medium-light in body and gently bristling on the tongue.

D: Surprisingly full-flavored and complex, but far from overdone! Easily drinkable, and compelling. Very nicely done! (692 characters)

Photo of jlindros
3.63/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Huge honkin head, which is good for The Bruery. Head fades quickly. Very dark brown color with a little light coming through and hints of ruby red.

N: Some Belgian Ale like aromas, sweet malts, hints of yeast, hints of dark roast and coffee, a little oat, and light fruit.

T: Taste is much lighter than I thought. Some sweet malts, Belgian malts, light sugar, some boozy taste which is weird for less than 6%. Some roast and coffee, hints of black patent and oats. Slight spices, but light.

M: Much lighter than I thought on the mouth. Good carbonation.

F: Still semi sweet and syupy. Spices come through a lot more on the finish. The roasted malts also do well at the finish as they did before. Slight spicy hop presence. It dries off well after the swallow. (766 characters)

Photo of mactrail
2.83/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Brewer says this is a "Belgian style ale with spices, wheat, and oats." Sounds like a great style but tastes like dishwatery home brew, the dark style. There is a hint of spoiled fruit, and overall it is just too suspiciously bitter. Plus it kept foaming insistently out of the beautiful green champagne bottle. I would give it an "A" for effort, but it is just too tough to drink.

From the 22 oz bottle bought at Baron's Marketplace on Point Loma Drive. [transcribed from notes; tasted October 28, 2008] (505 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.22/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Overcarbonated, impressive starting head but it dies quickly. The bottle bubbles over (twice!) after the initial pour. It dies to a near no bubble surface. Very little lace. Dark brown color where no light shines through.

Strong yeasty aroma. Smells (deceptively) like there is strong amount of alcohol.

The flavor is very malty without sweetness. There is a sourness from the brew. Some nice chocolate malt comes through. Light hop flavor. Relatively thin body, but this might be from the high carbonation.

Overall, it is a clear miss, but worth seeking out. (563 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
3.5/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 3/27 notes.

a - Pours black with lots of head...about three fingers with good retention.

s - Smells of Belgian yeast and spices.

t - Tastes a bit sour and bitter, with more yeast and spices.

m - Light to medium body with little carbonation.

d - Thought this was a decent Belgian. Some nice spices and yeast for a typical Beglian smell and taste, but nothing really stood out about it. I'd try it again and it's worth a try, but I wouldn't actively seek it out. (470 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
3.2/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Beer served in a Bruery tulip because I can. Beer is brown and clear with a big brown head of medium and large bubbles that rallies to form some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is sweet and mild overall, it smells kind of like candy.

I wish they would bring this beer back. The Bruery is too young to have retired beers. Beer is light in body and has a roasty back end, not much sweetness up front but there is an odd almost lactic note to the back of this beer. Carbonation is moderate on the palate but the more I drink / allow it to warm up, the less I am enjoying this beer. Ultimately I don't finish it and just go to bed. (625 characters)

Photo of jwc215
4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, poured into tulip glass:

Pours black with a large tan head that descends to a rocky cover. Spots of lacing stick.

The smell is of dark bread, roast, chocolate cake with a hint of orange peel and coriander.

The taste is of dark bead, chocolate cake, some tartness and light orange and herbal/pepper spicing. Dark character dominates, but with a subtle "wit" character - works well, very interesting/creative. There is a slight hint of alcohol in the finish.

It is medium-bodied, with somewhat effervescent carbonation. Oats impart a creamy smoothness.

An interesting brew...unique...a dark, Belgian-esque brew with a hint of white beer character. Another creative, well-done beer from this brewery! (717 characters)

Photo of WesWes
3.92/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown/black color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has decent malt character that boasts of pale, roasted, and crystal malts along with a killer yeast aroma. It's dry and spicy with some really nice fruit notes. The taste is decent. It has a solid malt base of crystal/chocolate/roasted malts along with a kick ass yeast character. It's got some citrus along with a spicy/fruity feel; very nice. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a good drinking beer. It's very complex and awfully tastey. Nice job! (620 characters)

Photo of Mora2000
3.63/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to djrn2 for sending this bottle my way. Sampled at the same time as Orchard White.

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma is roasted malt, chocolate, Belgian yeast and coriander. I don't get much citrus. The flavor is very similar with an earthy flavor as well as the chocolate and coriander. High, fizzy carbonation and a medium mouthfeel. A black wit is an interesting beer but I think the darker malts overpowered the lighter, more delicate wit flavors. (488 characters)

Photo of GClarkage
3.8/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12/23/08- Purchased at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle with a batch number on the back label. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Deep brown kind of sooty colored black...maybe dark gray. About a 3 fingered head and very large bubbled. Very light traces of lace with some spotting and light lines.

Smell- Nose of higher roasted malts a touch of sugar and some dark fruit scents.

Taste- As it warms a pretty nice grape flavor comes into play. Seems a bit more potent then the abv suggests. Malts are fairly roasted and lightly sugary with a very mild hoppy input. The grape flavor and light plum stands out the most though.

Mouthfeel- Foamy and higher carbonation level makes the first half tougher to consume than the second. Medium mouthfeel and very light aftertaste.

Drinkability- Carbonation made it a bit of a challenge in the beginning, but everything evened out and what you end up with is a pretty good tasting brew. (957 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.97/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml Bottle; Sampled August 2008
As expected this beer is a gusher, a slow gusher I am easily able to pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip, but despite my fore-knowledge I still end up with only three-fingers of beer and a head that grows past seven fingers in height and overflows the tops of my glass. The head is a dingy, tan color and is quite creamy with some obvious staying power. The beer is a murky, dark brown color that shows a touch of amber highlights when held up directly to the light. The aroma smells of tart green apples, pear and sour plums with a backdrop of orange zest, substantial clove and some earthy coriander. A particularly deep whiff of the aroma leaves me with a prickly, almost burning sensation in my nose due to all the carbonation, but underneath this is a dusty, toasted malt, slightly roasted grain note that gets a touch sharp and even astringent some how.

By the time I sip the brew the carbonation has subsided to normal levels. The beer has a light tartness to it, though not as much as the aroma might have suggested and there is a light, dusty cocoa note here that comes through despite this beer being quite dry. Much cleaner tasting than I remember this being on tap, I think the yeast has settled out a bit more compared to that keg. Fruit flavors of plum seem most noticeable. The ample carbonation adds to the acidity found in this beer, though the tartness is not to the point where I would ascribe it to "wild bugs".

Despite being careful, my second pour ends up with a nice overflow of beer that ends up on my desk. The second pour seems to accentuate some fruit notes a bit more with notes of apple and even some raisin joining the note of plum. Spice notes of clove phenols are joined by an earthy spiciness that melds in with the dark malt notes of toasted grain and light roast character. Exceedingly light bodied, yet not watered down, this is extremely quaffable and is how I like an easy drinking modern Belgian Ale (despite the high final gravity or the early 20th century Wit). The new pour also introduces the ample carbonation that provides a peppery carbonic bite.

This is much more integrated and thus tasty than the draught sample of this that I first had. Interestingly enough, I wouldn't say that it is all that different tasting or smelling, it just works quite a bit better. (2,352 characters)

Photo of BARFLYB
3.66/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into a glass over time.

A- Orchard black is not quite black but pretty much dark with a mixture of dark brown to black. A nice head quickly erupted climbing up the glass. After this faded it left leaving a pattern of lace on the glass. A very dark wit/BDA.

S- This wit had scents including coriander, clove and a mix of wheat and citrus. Some breadiness with warming along with orange and some maltiness. Some dried fruits including apple.

D- An interesting wit with the dark look coming through in taste with dark ripe fruits and the apple coming through. Some clove and cinnamon with a nice bready quality. Some roasted malts come through ever so slightly.

M- This black orchard is medium bodied with a tremendous amount of carbonation found in the white orchard as well. The flavor is not as pronounced than in the white version even though they are technically different beers. Starts crisp and finishes dry.

D- A good bottle to share with some close friends. The carb could get to you after a while. The alcohol does not get in the way. Warming brings so much more to this one. Give it a try if you see it. (1,123 characters)

Photo of Gavage
3.77/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: black in color with a 1/4" head that breaks apart quickly to a spotty surface foam. No lace develops.

Smell: wheat, spiciness, and an overall earthy tone create a nice aroma for this beer.

Taste: nice malt profile that create a pumpernickel bread flavor. Wheat, hint of licorice, allspice, clove, and a mild earthy tone round it out. Bitterness is mild overall.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer. Crisp from start to finish. Thefinish is also slightly dry.

Drinkability: this is a slow sipping beer based on the flavor profile rather than alcohol content which is lower than expected. One bottle was more than enough in a session. (643 characters)

Photo of Halcyondays
3.8/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Hollingshead's, a black white beer - interesting idea,

A: Pours black (really dark brown with burnt orange highlights) with a fizzy, short-lived light tan head.

S: Light orange peel, molasses.

T: The dark malt takes a backseat to the main flavours of this beer, but provides a backbone of dark rustic bread. Great orange notes, light acidity.

M: Light, spritzy, slightly acidic.

D: An interesting experiment that made quite a good beer from this new brewery in North County, very drinkable. (505 characters)

Photo of Billolick
3.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Large bottle, pours black under a looong lasting dark tan head. Over carbonated, crazy large head development, splotchy lacing. Dark grains in the nose along with ripe fruit. The taste is clearly hampered by the slightly prickly carbonation. What I do pick up is more ripe dark fruits, dark grains. NOt all that enjoyable, hence the low drinkability score. Does not taste like a spoiled bottle, just over carbonated. This seems like a fairly common and even understandable problem for a small and new brewery. Shame, I'll try it again some day.... (547 characters)

Photo of billab914
3.47/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my Lost Abbey stemware. Poured a dark brown color with a small fizzy khaki colored head. It almost looked like pouring a soda into the glass. The head faded after a few minutes to pretty much nothing and didn't leave any lacing on the glass.

The aroma has a malty,sweet, dark fruit smell to it with wheat, grapes, raisins and spices all present. The taste has wheat up front with the dark fruit and grapes coming through midway. The finish has some spice and more grape flavor to it.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and moderately creamy and silky from the oats. Carbonation is above average and really shows in the finish. Drinkability is decent, it's an interesting beer but not one of my favorites from the Bruery. I did like what the oats added to the mouthfeel but overall it was just an OK beer. I enjoyed drinking it but probably wouldn't buy again. (886 characters)

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Black Orchard from The Bruery
81 out of 100 based on 226 ratings.