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

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Ratings: 34 |  Reviews: 23
Photo of BeerNemesis
2.71/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bran Reserva | 375 ml. | 8.5% ABV | 2010

Brewer: Birrificio Montegioco
Style: Supposedly it's a Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Glass: wine glass

Between Coca-Cola and vinegar. No head, no lacing.

Very tannic, vinegary, like red-wine.

The vinous quality comes to the forefront, quickly followed by an unpleasant acetic undertone, and a slightly malty finish.

The was a "pop" upon opening, but virtually no carbonation to speak of.

There is very little harmony here. Vinegar dominates, while all other flavors take second fiddle. The tannic quality is at first interesting, but ultimately you realize it's monodimensional.

Would I get it again?:
No. It's an awkward hybrid between wine and beer that retains the weaker qualities of both, and the virtues of neither.

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Photo of Bung
2.83/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

375ml. Very dark brown/burgundy pour. Pretty much no head, just a few tan bubbles.

Aroma is straight up acidic grape, with some oak hints. Fairly boozy.

Taste is also very vinuous. Plum, black cherry red wine vinagrette. Just a slight earth, peat and dark chocolate in the finish, very brief finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth and medium bodied, but there is zero carbonation. Sweet, sour, dry and short. Definetely warming. Struggled to finish half of this quite honestly.

This just leaves me asking where's the beer? If I wanted a merlot I would buy a bottle of it. For the cost of a 750ml bottle of merlot, I would expect more as well. I guess you could call this a sour, but it is listed as a Strong Dark.

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Photo of drpimento
2.9/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Opened the interesting bottle cap with a plastic sealing plug mounted inside it with a nice "pop". Poured with at first no head, and then, a very fine light brown, fine foam and no lace. Color is an almost opaque, clear very dark brown with garnet highlights. Aroma is heavy red wine and malt, sour, and a little dark ripe fruit. No hop. Flavor is the same, but in a way kind of two dimensional. Body is ok, but maybe better carbonation could have made this beer a little more interesting. Finish is dominated by the tart wine characteristics. Not a session.

 558 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Review from 3/2011 notes. Poured into a Black Raven pint glass. Pours a dark red brown amber. Moderate medium tan head and light lacing. Whoa! Very vinous, dark fruit and wood aroma. Flavor is very similar to a red wine, with tannins, a bit sour, grape and light and dark fruits. Carbonation not very noticeable and neither is the malt. The vinous quality doesn't really work for me. Nicely made, but not that much to my taste.

 427 characters

Photo of nick76
3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is my rating for a beer called just Bran but I guess this is the one that this sites wants me to rate. The aroma is toasty and fruity with coffee and malt. The appearance is deep brown with a tan head. The taste is like the aroma with a somewhat funky taste but overall it's like a stout. The palate is smooth. Overall it's interesting but not lovable.

 357 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, near black body with a creamy, wispy, off-white head.

Smell: Dark, roasty malts smelling of dark chocolate, barley, and caramel transition into a more wine-like aroma of slightly tart, concentrated fruits and oak.

Taste: Dark maltiness with tastes of chocolate, roasted barley, sweet caramel, and half-n-half soaked licorice. Enter the creaking wood. Pinch of tobacco. Vinous, tart fruitiness with flavors of grapes and dried black cherries. Hint of vanilla. More oak showing through, becoming quite plentiful. Touch of lactic sourness on the otherwise fruity, oaken finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium-low carbonation.

Drinkability: It's interesting; some beers grow on you the more you drink, but with this brew, it's just the opposite.

 779 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Jon for bringing. Brown with white bubbles in the head; lacey. Sourish from the cherry which is a bit of acid requiring food, under average mouthfeel. Malty including chocolate malt. Kind of sweetish. It said barleywine, but this category is the suitable one. Pricey for a just OK Belgian.

 296 characters

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of GeezLynn
3.52/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Dark chocolate brown with slight red hue to it, almost like a raisin. Sparse tan head appears briefly before receding to the sides of the wine glass.

S: Ripe, vinous berry smell, along with some oak and some musty funk. Just a little caramel malt in there, but not much in the way of typical beer smell. The aroma reminds me of Jolly Pumpkin's La Roja.

T: Oak and funk are most apparent initially. There is also a good dose of acetic tartness, tannins and fruity red wine flavors. Along with the tartness, it's a little sweet, but the malt is really hidden behind the other big flavors.

M: Body is full and the carbonation starts out almost frothy. As it loses carbonation, it becomes a little thinner and more wine-like.

This was an interesting beer. Very flavorful and worth trying. Not all that drinkable though and not something I would go for again. Would rather just have a nice glass of cabernet.

 910 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.

 462 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

 670 characters

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