Black Orchard
The Bruery

Black OrchardBlack Orchard
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Belgian Dark Ale
3.62 | pDev: 14.09%
The Bruery
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Black OrchardBlack Orchard
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Reviews: 226 | Ratings: 312
Photo of u2carew
3.8/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pulled from the cellar. If I knew it was no longer brewed I might've left down there!
A) Pours with a finger thick head then settles to about half an inch and keeps. Tan colored lacing across the top. Opaque body. Sticky lacing on the drink down.
S) Classic Belgian notes - yeasty, raisin. Roasted grains.
T) Smoky. Hints of coffee. Raisin.
M) Medium light body. Chewy. Alcohol warmth.
O) An alright brew. As the label says its a twist on a witbier, but the style is a Belgian Dark Ale. I would say it falls somewhere in between but closer to a witbier with some dark grains thrown in for coloring.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.52/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle (2008)

Thanks for sharing this with me, Alucard4!

(Aged for 4+ years)

This one's a gusher! Be ready!

Very dark brown but not quite black in color. Lots and lots of visible carbonation--a huge, persistent, small-bubbled head. Leaves the glass messy with irregular stick. Pretty enough.

Earthy aroma along with some definite citrus zest and some very mild banana and clove characteristics. This doesn't smell nearly as old I would have imagined it would, though there's a bit of musk character to it--it actually comes together somewhat nicely.

The flavor is similar to the aroma, with brown banana bread crusts combining with earth, citrus zest, some very mild funk, and spice character.

Medium bodied with high carbonation.

I never though I would get to try this one. Happy for the opportunity, though once is enough.

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Photo of mactrail
2.83/5  rDev -21.8%
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]

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.67/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up some bottles of this at Sun Devil Liquors in Tempe, seems like the only place that ever keeps this on the shelves (including Bruery Provisions).

Pours a light black, dark brown color, but not the kind of thickness black of a stout, or even a porter. Mild 2/3" head on it, a lighter brown color to that even. Complex aroma, sweet, coriander, anonymous other spice notes, mild citrus rind, green apple, etc. . .

Mild tartness, average sweetness, miniscule cocao powder like notes, throw maybe a unique or underutilized type of fruit aspect to the tang that is barely cognizable. Pepper/peppercorn notes also present. Just when you think it won't get any more complex, another descriptor comes to mind because of the tastebuds sensing things in waves with this beer.

I think its pretty good stuff, definitely different. A good bottle to break out for someone who has had a lot of different beers, as a dark wit is probably not something most of us come across every day.

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Photo of AdamBear
4.46/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A-black with a thick light tan head

S-very strong scent of plums and red grapes. Slight scent of burnt chocolate.

T-comes in with a simply wonderful taste of dark fruits and cocoa beans. The after-taste is strong of dark roasted coffee beans. What a unique and complex taste. 

M-medium creamy carbonation with a creamy finish

O-well this is quite an interesting beer. I cant think of any style that suites this beer. It's so unique and the flavors are so...bold. 

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Photo of Dope
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: A dark brown pour with a ridiculously huge and foamy light brown head. Fades somewhat quickly at least, it still takes several pours to fill the glass halfway. So bubbly that it has started foaming out of the top of the bottle while I type this. Even 20 minutes later it's still overflowing. It's so fizzy you can hear the crackle from the glass! Hopefully it's not infected. Almost no lacing.

S: Wheaty, with some sweet orange and raisin.

T: Hmph, lots of wheat like a witbier but with some roasted malt and coffee. A hint of dark fruits and earthtones.

M: Quite watery, and extremely effervescent.

O: A unique beer, that's for sure. I like some mix and match styles like Black IPAs for example, but this one falls a bit flat. It's roasty but too watery. Wheaty but the spices seem to mostly get drowned out. Way too high carbonation. Not horrible but nothing special either.

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Photo of jsanford
3.15/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml bottle into a Bruery Tulip Glass.

A - Pours a dark black with a fluffy khaki-colored head that settles to a slight haze.
S - Subdued aromas of wheat, banana, chocolate, carob and perhaps just a touch of spice (cinnamon maybe?).
T - Similar to the nose, nice flavors of chocolate, banana. and wheat. Definitely an "off" metallic character to this, though, not surprising given the age of this one.
M - Crisp and a bit fizzy with a medium body and too-high carbonation (again contributed to the age).
O - Not a bad beer, I just wish I had been able to try it fresh.

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Photo of AgentZero
2.8/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Cola colored beer with a bit of tannish foam. Didn't really love much on the sides.

S - A lot of malt, with some earth. Weird spice. Not a great start.

T - This beer is average at best. Kind of strange and bad tasting. A bit of caramel, some spice, strange tea flavors. Don't care for it.

M - Too much carbonation, medium bodied.

O - Not a particularly good beer. Seems like something they either just made to made, or perhaps some sort of experiment that didn't go well. I'll pass in the future.

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Photo of JustinMatthew
4.47/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First off this beer is retired (sadly) and I've been obviously lucky to find it. This pours pure black with a tiny thin tan color head. Not much of a smell but what I am getting is something like a red wine. Tastes of fresh citrus, yeast spice, and a blast of pinot or rich fermented grapes. This beer somehow ending in a very evident coffee stout like flavor, Very strange. I would love to come across another bottle of this. Very good.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.46/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle poured into a Bruery Tulip glass.

A - Pours a dark brown with a huge, explosive light brown head that recedes quickly.

S - Roasted malt, ripe fruit, spices, leather.

T - Coffee, malty, dark fruit.

D - High carbonation, average body. Very lively in the mouth.

O - Not really sure how I feel about this one. A mixed bag for me.

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Photo of phichifiji00
3.8/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: black. Pours 1/2 finger head that quickly fades. Very minimal lacing.

Smell: roasted malt, oak, leather, smoky.

Taste: roasted malt, oak, leather. Just as it smells.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Moderate carb. Crisp. Slightly astringent.

Overall: very drinkable. A mild rauchbier. Very good.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.91/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A – Ruby cherry cola with a bone-white, creamy head. Great retention and lace.

S – Mineral, roast malt, raw flour, orange zest, and salted caramel.

T – A really interesting combination of acidic citrus and roast. Starts with soft malt and lemon, lightened by a spritzy carbonation. It’s a shade darker in the center with coffee and cocoa cola. Lime and caramel finish the drink along side a soft lingering roast.

M – Bright, light body with a refreshing carbonation.

O – Delicious with great drinkability. I really liked the roast caramel character.

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Photo of DovaliHops
3.65/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brownish-black. Scent is strong wheat with dark fruit and red grape aromas. Slightly nutty. Taste is ex.actly as it smells. Mouthfeel is light bodied and dry. Drinkability is fairly high. Overall, not my favorite bruery beer. But it's decent

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Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Served a dark brown-black color with a finger of frothy white head. The head faded down slowly leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - The aroma was a mix of roasted chocolate malts, wheat, spices, and some slightly-sweet burnt aromas.

T - Started out with some mild wheat and burnt chocolate malts. Through the middle, some spices and some burnt chocolate flavor comes through with a bit of sweetness. The finish is a mix of roasted and burnt chocolate and some wheat flavor that lingers.

M - Medium-plus bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth and fairly dry from the burnt flavors.

D - Pretty drinkable. Interesting mix of the dark flavors with the wheat flavors. That being said, if just felt a bit off overall.

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Photo of HopHead84
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


On tap at The Bruery. Snifter.

A: The beer appears a brown that borders on black with a finger of beige foam.

S: Moderately roasted malt with a little chocolate. Bread is evident with accompanying biscuit notes. This smells like a brown ale, but it smells pretty good.

T: Toasted bread with biscuit and a light nuttiness. There's a light roasted malt presence with earth and a touch of chocolate. This tastes like a brown as well.

M: Lower medium body with upper moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy.

Overall: I enjoyed this, but it didn't seem at all Witish. It's a tasty brown ale.

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Photo of BeerAmbassador
3.07/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

So I went to the store the other day looking for a Bruery beer, mostly because I knew next to nothing about them and have been hearing a lot of positive things on BA lately. I chose Black Orchard because of their lower priced bottles this one seemed interesting to me. I haven't had a good dark wheat beer in a while. Unfortunately I should have done a little more research first. Had I known that this was a retired beer with no date on it and 5.7% ABV I might have thought twice and picked up one of their other beers. That being said, I don't think this beer was bad per say, just probably past it's time. If you look back at early reviews they are pretty favorable and the recent ones seem to be a little more on the negative side. So I am going to try and take that in to account when I talk about this beer, no sense in penalizing the brewer because I bought the beer months after it's prime.

Beer pours a three finger tan head that dissipates kind of quickly. Not much lacing or foam left on top. Carbonation seemed a little bubbly and fizzy much like a Coca Cola. A bit of concord grape on the nose along with roasted grain and a touch of spice. There is a decent amount of complexity here. Flavors follow suit, but unfortunately there is not a lot of integration between the malt and the alcohol. It actually tastes a little hot to me, which is strange because it is only 5.7% ABV. Mouthfeel is not what I look for in a beer like this, too coarse and fizzy, not the creamy mouthfeel you want in a Belgian style beer. Overall this was not a very impressive beer and I don't think I will be able to finish the 750, but since it is a retired beer obviously not meant for aging, that's not really their fault. I will definitely try again with The Bruery.

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
2.63/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a dark brown with an light tan head that recedes quickly and leaves no lacing.

S: Not what I expected. Nose reminds me of a red wine in the sense that it's a dry smell, almost as if there's tannins in it. Also getting some sour funk, must, ripe dark fruit, light grainy malts, some orange peel, spices, and maybe some bitter chocolate malts.

T: Again, not what I expected and the flavor is definitely different for the style. Upfront flavors are ripe fruits including grapes, which gives it a almost a funky/musty flavor, citrus, and green apple. It's broken up by some spiciness and grains, but it's mostly muted. Finishes with some malts, but again, it's very light. Finishes very dry.

M: Medium body; medium-high carbonation; lean texture.

O: Bought this on a recommendation of a store owner. If I knew it was a retired beer at 5.7% ABV I probably would have passed. It reminds me of a red wine, but not a good one at that. It's drinkable, but if you have a bottle drink it now or throw it away.

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Photo of KrautAficionado
3.16/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A very dark brown colored brew with a large tan head that fades steadily but requires patience. The last pour found a good amount of yeast in the glass. I don’t get wit aromas but rather roasted notes and light chocolate with some yeast. While not big the nose is pleasant and interesting. On the other hand the flavor does have notes of wheat and coriander. I also tasted anise, over ripe apple, sour vegetable, and dark Russian bread. Warmer temperature helps and maybe the solids of yeast do, too. But not enough. Perhaps this beer tries to break new ground and perhaps it just tries to do too much. Either way it falls short of expectations. A beautiful bottle and label can’t save a mediocre beer.

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Photo of Thickfreakness
2.26/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Been cellering this one since I purchased it a couple of years ago. Poured into a tulip glass.

A- Really fizzy pour. Very carbonated!!! Khaki colored three-finger head that fades away fairly quickly and leaves no lacing. Black Wheat beer... Hmmmm... kinda novel idea.

S- Orange peel, burnt caramel, barely a hint of banana and coriander. A touch of sour fruit on the nose... maybe some roasted wheat or coffee trying to come thru. Not very pleasing to the nose. I really was hoping this was gonna impress me... nope!

T- Coffee, burnt grains, and some sour fruit. Nothing about this says wheat beer. No orange, no coriander, no banana or freshness. Tastes more like a thin coffee porter than a wheat beer at this point. I probably waited to long to drink this.

M- Sour, bitter, thin and overly carbonated. I think I taste a little soap as well. This is pretty bad.

O- I remember buying this and thinking... What a great idea! Awesome discription! Now I'm thinking... No wonder they stopped making this! It's really crap!

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Photo of THECPJ
3.73/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: dark brown almost black with 1 finger mocha head

smell: wheat, molasses, sweet

taste: molasses, sweet, coffee, wheat

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium body

overall: very interesting roasted wheat beer. glad I got to try it.


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Photo of Geuzedad
4.12/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared a 750 with GalenGeueze. I was sad to hear this beer was retired.
Beer poured a dark brown with a thick 3 finger tan head that dissolved into an oily looking lace.

Smell was sweet fruit, wheat, funk, spice, and an almost dark chocolate?

Taste was really different. A bit of wheat, fruit, and chocolate, followed by a dry hoppy bready finish.

Zesty carbonation pushed this over the top. A creamy rich mouthfeel combined to make this very enjoyable.

As this was so different from what we have drank it ranked up there as a beer we would drink again. Unfortunately it is a retired brew and I had apparently purchased the last one. I would love to drink it again if I were fortunate enough to find it.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3/5  rDev -17.1%
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.

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Photo of BranfordBound
3.09/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle bought on sale in Mass., no idea when this beer was brewed (or when it was retired, for that matter.)

Pours a stout color brown with a voluminous three finger tan head which fights to stay put. Leaves pretty decent lacing.

Muted aroma of roasted malts and traces of spices.

Taste seems very off from the description on the label. Drinks like a session stout, slight roastiness and chocolate, and ends with a touch of fruit and has a finish very similar to red wine, odd.

Lighter end of medium bodied, slightly wet.

Easy drinker and refreshing, for sure, but age does not work well with witbiers. If you have a bottle left over, drink it up because I feel this did not benefit from age as the spices and fruits are heavily muted and the red wine/tannic finish is off-putting.

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Photo of rudzud
2.55/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Actually saw this bottle, and 5 more, on the shelf at KJ Baarons two weeks ago and bought one. Didn't know this was retired, let alone two years old? At first I thought this might be infected due to the amount of carbonation, but upon reading reviews I guess this is the norm.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a deep deep brownish black with light barely visible along the edges. Atop this was a massive three finger fizzy head that faded to a quarter inch blanket and never really less than that.

S - Some light spicey yeast notes. thats pretty much it. Not getting any dark fruit notes unfortunately.

T - Some very, very light wheat flavours. Not gettign much in the way of dark fruits. Some light spicey citrus notes. All in all, a bit of a letdown.

M - Wow is this stuff over carbonated. Incredibly distracting here with its prickly carbonation. Actually, almost thin/watery feeling as it warms up.

D - Average I guess. Its easy to drink, sure, but that doesnt mean I want to keep drinking it. Such a shame, I was pretty excited when I saw this only to be incredibly let down.

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Black Orchard from The Bruery
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 312 ratings