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Bran Reserva | Birrificio Montegioco

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Bran ReservaBran Reserva
Very Good
34 Ratings
Bran ReservaBran Reserva

Brewed by:
Birrificio Montegioco

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Crosling on 06-09-2008

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 34 |  Reviews: 23
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.44/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle; Sampled January 2009
As I pour this I get a solid note of chewy, berry driven, tobacco edged red wine that is reasonably oaked. The beer pours into my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip with a frothy, large bubbled, initially half-finger thick, browned, tan colored head. The beer is a dark, well burnt amber color that shows an almost opaque hue to it when held up to the light, but if held just right flashes of deep ruby show through. This is incredibly wine like in the nose, there is also a soft backdrop of funky, ripe cheese and the oak provides a spiciness to this beer that accentuates the alcohol just a bit. Jam-like berry notes, full red currants and concentrated red wine notes are joined by a touch of buttery oak, some solid vanillin notes and a raw, freshly cut oak note. This has got to have been aged in Red Wine barrels of some sort. I am really digging the nose on this beer, it is incredibly complex, though I suppose much of the malt / hop character has been consumed by its stay in the barrel. I really like the touch of funkiness in the aroma that this has picked up.

Lightly carbonated the beer has a lightness to it that makes it seem a cross between a red wine and a strong Belgian Ale. It has a touch of viscous heft to it as well as a light sweetness that accentuates some dark fruit notes of black currants, tannic cherries, concentrated blackberries and perhaps a touch of raspberry. The beer finishes with a nice oak character that is in well balance with the other flavor components; some tannic, spicy oak, a solid woody bite and a bit of buttery oak character in the finish. This has a touch of tartness to it that is wrapped up in the wine-notes somehow. I have finally noticed a bit of beer character here as this beer has a toasted malt middle to it as well as a hint of caramel and toffee, these last mix in with the buttery oak character. There is a certain nuttiness here that seems to be a product of the malt and oak character (this last almost tastes of coconut at times). Perhaps a hint of cocoa is noticeable at times, but this is quite subtle.

This is one marriage of wine and beer that is more on the wine side of the aisle. Definitely surprising given that this is a malt / hop product, and while this is incredibly tasty, even fantastic, the weakness of this beer is that it does not taste enough like a beer. Still I will happily consume this any day.

 2,412 characters

Photo of Crosling
4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle, Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà, Rome, Italy. Very dark, nearly black, with a small, filmy head. Aroma shows chocolate, some oak, red wine and funk. Flavor shows red wine soaked oak, dark fruit, which leads into a long, satisfying roast-like finish. Complex, with lots of taste. This could be Italy's most refined and best beer.

 330 characters

Photo of Derek
4.32/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black with a tan head, very little retention, good lacing.

S: Alcohol, dark fruit, cherries, woody with a jube-jube fruitiness.

T: Jube-jubes come through in the flavour, with a great fruitiness; cherry, chocolate, dark fruit.

M: Moderate body is very smooth, carbonation is low for the style, slight acidity.

D: Very interesting/intriguing.

 349 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.32/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark plum body. Bubbly brown head. Lace is minimal in this high octane brew. Complex nose of brown sugar, rice vinegar, port, grapes and sherry. The flavor is pretty rich and also reminds me of port and sherry. The low carbonation doesn't hurt in that respect either. Some dark rum and plum and oaky tannin like characteristics kick in first. But it also has some acidity to it as well and an interesting tangy lingering that's reminiscent of a flanders red or oud bruin. And it's quite dry. This is quite the interesting brew. Complex and deep.

 545 characters

Photo of TheBeerDad
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of GClarkage
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of PuFtonLyfe
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of corby112
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From notes:

Pours a dark plum/chestnut brown color with a thin beige foam head that had good retention, slowly fading to a lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing.

Earthy aroma with lots of oak/wood character as well as plenty of vinous dark fruit, candy sugar and chocolate malt. Hints of grape and other dark berries.

Medium bodied and very well balanced with the dark malt flavor countering the sweet and tart notes. Complex with chocolate malt, vinous dark, oak and vanilla flavors complimenting each other nicely. Hints of grape, currant and other dark berries. A touch too vinous but overall this beer is very flavorful and extremely quaffable.

 652 characters

Photo of DmanGTR
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes during our blind tasting. Thanks to Bob for bringing this!

Dark brown with maroon highlights. Beige head and pretty clear, a few particles of sediment here and there. The nose is rather confusing actually. Sour cherries, prunes, oak tannins, and an undertone of caramel, raisins, and light roast. The roast is especially present in the finish. Alcohol is nearly indetectible. Is this an oak aged sour porter? It doesn't seem sour enough to be an intentional lacto or aceto inoculation, yet the dark fruit + sour cherry flavor is definitely there. So smooth and delicious. Unveiled, this is a completely new beer to me. Will look out for this next time.

 664 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.04/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opaque dark mahogany with cranberry and apricot colored highlights. A muted 'pffft' on crown cracking was followed by less than impressive head creation. The ecru colored foam is loose and unsticky, leaving a clean glass in its wake as it unceremoniously shrinks to near nothingness.

Bran Raven is a strong dark ale. Bran Reserva is the same beer aged in Barbera wine casks for greater than 6 months. I'm not sure that Belgian yeast was used, so the above style is suspect. The nose is fantastic and smells incredibly vinous, with loads of blackberries and plums alongside the dark malts. The beer smells tangy too, and is similar in some respects to a Flanders oud bruin.

Unfortunately, this Birrificio Montegioco offering is let down by its mouthfeel. As always, a shortage of malt in a high ABV ale means less power and a lack of complexity. I find it odd that the brewers used 12 different malts, from pale to black, and just about everything in between. Fewer malts and more total malt would have resulted in better beer.

That said, Bran Reserva is pretty tasty stuff. Flanders oud bruin is still in the lead as far as style assignment goes. Oak and tangy medium-dark fruit dominates: plums, red grapes and possibly even raisins. A lack of spiciness almost certainly means no Belgian yeast. There's a good bit of acidity as well, probably from whatever leached out of the wine casks.

Even though the light and underbubbled mouthfeel doesn't negatively impact enjoyment too much, bigger and creamier would have increased the final three scores at least one notch. The beer feels almost more wine-like than beer-like, which sort of fits the flavor profile.

In my experience, Italian craft beer is often interesting and less often good. Bran Reserva is both... and could be very good with more barley in the house. So far, I haven't bitten on Demon Hunter and Draco because of the excessive purchase price. They might be worth a look after all.

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Photo of GeorgiaBeerGuy
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a goblet. Had a dark brown color and a thick, murky consistency. There was a small amount of foamy, tan-colored head that quickly dissipated. OK lacing.

S: An interesting aroma of malt, yeast and a vinous quality.

T: First and foremost, the vinous quality dominates the flavor. It gives the beer an almost wine-like quality. There are also traces of malt, Belgian, and mild fruits. Very unusual, but oddly tasty.

M: A solid amount of carbonation with a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: Definitely not your typical Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but drinkable. Will not please everyone, but still worth a try if you're looking for something unusual.

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Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of adkrogue
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of jrob21
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Phelps
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bran Reserva is the barrel-aged version of Raven Ale, a tasty brown. After six months in used Barbera red wine barrels, it becomes Bran Reserva. Poured into a globe.

Opaque in appearance, but there are purple highlights at the edges. Looks almost flat at the pour — a very thin, tan layer is all I get in the way of bubbles.

Deep, oaky nose. Red wine, cherries, fig, vanilla, a little balsamic vinegar.

In the flavor, vinous oak, green apple and tart cherries add to the acidity as the brew warms. The brown ale beneath us noticeable through notes of caramel and brown sugar. A touch of funk emerges as well. The finish is less tart and more malty, smoothing things out and leaving the overall impression of red wine.

Light, tingly carbonation with no fizz. The big medium body likewise reminds of red wine.

I’ve been wanting to try this forever, and am glad I got the opportunity. A very nice, flavorful Italian brew.

 929 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a cloudy and opaque deep burgundy color ale with light bubbly head with minimal retention. Aroma of sour and oak notes are pretty intense with distinctive sweet barley notes also noticeable. Taste is a unique mix between some vinous tart notes with light cherry (which may originated from the oak) and some sweet barley notes. Carbonation is low with a full non-filtrated body and no alcohol was showing. Very particular, complex and challenging.

 461 characters

Photo of DrBier
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of rixcat
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of SLeffler27
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours rich silky chocolate to become black in the glass with a slight almond head.

Has the aroma of tart cherries with some oak, similar to a merlot. The aroma is not quite what one would typically expect from the style, but rather enticing nonetheless.

Again, this is not what I expect from a BSDA, but enjoyable. Bran Reserva is quite tart and acidic. As found in the nose, it is closer to merlot. The finish is quick and light.

A light body, dry, with slight carbonation.

Enjoyed from a B.United tulip while eating pasta with spicy tomato sauce. Also enjoyed it on its own, but it was better with food.

 609 characters

Photo of clickpush
3.69/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour: 375ml bottle to wide-mouthed glass. Beautiful rich color, red and brown, the color of horse-chestnut skin. Very nice color. I'm not overly impressed, however, but the still nature of the beer. I would like to see some sparkle in this - I have had plenty of barrel aged beers that don't lose all their carbonation, and that would have contributed greatly to the experience with this beer.

Nose: Great aroma, right upon opening the bottle. Fruit, barrel aged funkiness, almost like a subdued Rodenbach. A hint of vinegar, but nothing offensive.

Mouth: Flavors are very surprising. Not as sour as the aroma would have you believe, but much more by way of roasted malts. You have the touch of wild yeast, you have remnants of a porter-type beer, vanilla and tannins from the barrel. Definitely complex. Still nature of the beer warrants a detraction though. Would love to have the flavors pounded into my tongue by carbonation. I'm used to these wild ales being over carbonated, and there's a reason for that... it works!

Good beer, overall. Perhaps would have liked to have drank this fresh. I'd guess it's about to years old.

 1,132 characters

Photo of tpd975
3.67/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to ibrew2or3 for this one.

A: Pours a brownish black hue with a very small head. Little to no retention with no lace.

S: Very wine like vineous earthy notes with a touch of roasted malt. Hints of sour as well.

T: Light sourness at the start. Hints of yeast, roasted malt and chocolate. Oaky wine like finish with notes of dark fruits.

M: Medium in body, very low on the carbonation.

D: Not bad we had the non reserva version a week ago which tasted a bit better.

 475 characters

Photo of Domingo
3.6/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this per a recommendation from the staff at the Tampa Whole Foods. I've never seen this before or after.
Pours a reddish brown color without much of a head. You can pick some foam up with a swirl or when you sip, but it's minimal. The color is really unusual. It's pretty vinous as the red has some nearly purplish highlights.
The smell is of a Belgian sour ale, like a Flanders Red or Oud Bruin. Citric and a little bit funky, but with some sweet dark grain notes. The nose on this in particular is potent, and nice.
The flavor falls somewhere in between the styles I noted earlier. Sweet and sour, with balsamic flavors. Vinous flavors are there, along with a little citric and leather. There's a hint of wood that comes out with some sips, too. However most of the flavors hit initially and the finish is bone dry and lacking a bit. Strange.
Mouthfeel's as expected. Slick, but with a little bit of foamy texture to add substance.
I split a 16oz bottle and that was a fair serving.
Not bad, but the abrupt finish is a hair disappointing. Seems like a middle ground between the two Flanders beer styles.

 1,109 characters

Photo of ATPete
3.54/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

375ml bottle

Pours a dark mahogony brown color with a small tan head. Burnt malt, tart cherry, charred wood and a certain sweetness i cant quite place. Low carbonation, the beer lays boarderline thin in the mouth. Overall very sweet with a vinegary sourness and a late acrid bitterness/metallic quality i didnt find very enjoyable. Easy enough to drink, definitely interesting but not something i would pick up again, especially due to its very steep price tag.

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Bran Reserva from Birrificio Montegioco
Beer rating: 3.79 out of 5 with 34 ratings
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