Black Orchard | The Bruery

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Black OrchardBlack Orchard
312 Ratings
Black OrchardBlack Orchard

Brewed by:
The Bruery
California, United States

Style: Belgian Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.70%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by DoubleJ on 05-11-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 312 |  Reviews: 226
Reviews by Teleweizen2:
Photo of Teleweizen2
3.83/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes

Glass - tulip

A - pours an opaque black with a huge kakhi colored head. Good retention most likely due to the wheat.

S - nice roasty malt burnt sort of aroma followed by some fruity esters, raisen mostly some citrus as well, along with yeasty Belgian spicyness.

T - a great balance of some roasty bitterness, mild spices, and dark fruits. Dry finish.

M - the oats give it a very smooth creamy texture. High carbonation.

D - nice drinkability. Very quaffable at about 6% abv. Easy drinking ale that would be nice year round. Sorry to see this one go.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.5/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine Vol. II Issue IX:

Ah, the elusive Black Witbier--an emerging version of the Witbier.

Good foam with a moderate pour that crackles down to a thick rim of tan lace. A shade or two away from pitch black. Aroma ranges from light peppercorn and citrus peel, carob powder and toasted grain husk, to light licorice root and plum fruitiness. Needless to say, this is a very aromatic beer. Big on smoothness that comes from a really deep, crisp carbonation. Dry malt flavor to star, carob powder and dry toast. Pithy with citric, hibiscus-like orchard flavors of fruit skin and pit. Mild sweetness from the oats is deep within. Suggestions of anise, plum skin and green apple. Faint mineral, chalky yeast and earthy tones in the middle; modest hopping with a muted bitterness though the orange peel that seems to balance more. Bone dry finish with lingering spices and a light, peppery alcohol.

Beyond complex, though still easy to drink thanks to the smooth, dry character. An absolutely stellar beer that we were not ready for but happily welcomed.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.32/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased at Julio's. A 750ml bottle, poured into a tulip, served with the Easter ham. Dark brown/black color, tiny off-white head. Aroma of citrus and sweet malt. Nice taste of Fig Newtons and orange. The beer was very smooth, and was an excellent accompaniment to the ham.

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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....

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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.

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Photo of GarrettB714
4/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of magictrokini
3.83/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours nearly black with mahogany edges. Thick, creamy off-white head. Fruity aroma comprised of apples, apricots, and orange peel blended with holiday spice and spearmint. Intersting, complex taste. Brown bread, orange peel, cinnamon, and heavy with darker fruits (plum, raisins). Slight woodiness with an earthy quality. Balanced well with a licorice sweetness as the beer warms. Initially, this was very easy to drink, but it tended to "build up" making it a bit sticky and too sweet in the finish.

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Photo of kingcrowing
3.93/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml poured into a tulip.

Pours a deep dark black with ruby with a huge bubbly head that's slightly off white. Nose is very belgian with some nice malt.

Mouthfeel is awesome and huge, very sharp and smooth. Taste is really smooth and a bit fruity with some awesome belgian notes to it, great beer!

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Photo of virinow
4/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of ehammond1
3.53/5  rDev -1.7%
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 BranfordBound
3.09/5  rDev -13.9%
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 Beerandraiderfan
3.67/5  rDev +2.2%
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 SPRichard
3.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pitch black with mountains of a creamy tan head billow up upon the initial pour...excellent head retention throughout the tasting...ample lacing on my glass

these bottles must be highly carbonated because like others that have reviewed this beer i had a bit of a gusher, but knew that coming into things so i was prepared for the worst

plums, chocolate covered cherries, lavenderish floral scent creeps in there also

sweet with the lavender scent from the nose showing up to lighten things notes in the flavor profile...oats smooth things out... raisins soaked in coffee

average mouthfeel...the dark body makes you think it's a heavy beer, but it's a little watery, then again it's a wheat beer so it's somewhat expected

highly drinkable especially with some could probably finish off the 750ml bottle by yourself, but why not share this great offering from the Bruery all to yourself

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

Deep brown, nearly black. Big head with good ret and some lacing. Nice malts with a bit of sugar. ABV is moderate. Good caramelly malts with some belgian sugar. Medium body with mild carbo for a Belgian. Pretty drinkable. Could be an everyday casual beer except for the price tag.

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Photo of TheycallmeTim
4.22/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750 ml. bottle poured into Hennepin flute.

A--Darker than most belgian pale ales, this is pretty much black coffee in the glass. The foam, however, undeceives you from thinking this is a cuppa joe: mounds and mounds, maybe four fingers or so, of creamy tannish head billow up and endure at about half a finger throughout the tasting, with considerable lacing. My only bitch is that the bottle was a bit of a gusher, and I lost some liquid on the counter.

S--Plummy, very plummy to me, with some dark chocolate-covered cherries in there. Smells rich but light at the same time, as another, more floral characteristic creeps into the nose. What is that, like lavender? Hoping it comes through in the taste.

T--Wow, unexpected and almost totally different from the nose. The taste is somehow sweet and bitter in one go, with again that weird ripe magnolia or lavender scentflavor bounding in to lighten the whole thing. Can't pinpoint it, but I can say that there are more coffee notes than chocolate in the flavor profile, though they are gentle, with oats clearly making their presence felt by smoothing out all the flavors' edges. The wheat's spiciness is there with some faint medicinal esters, but they're held in check by the bitter notes from first the malt than faint echo of hops at the end of the tasting spectrum. The fruits that lend sweetness have switched from plums and cherries to more raisins, like raisins that have been soaked in coffee, which is one hell of a combo. Totally unique flavor--challenging but distinct.

m&D--Mouthfeel's average as even the smoothness imparted from the oats and the champagne bubbles can't mask the wateriness, though I'm not sure how you could avoid that in a wheat beer. It's just that it's so dark you expect a fuller mouthfeel. Drinkability is good as this is different without being annoying, if that makes sense. It's not overly challenging while still being memorable--pleasantly new, not EXXXTREME with three x's for excess.

Today was super bright and sunny and all the springtime flowers were beaming in it, but it was also windy and coldish for the season. Weather matched the beer perfectly, but even without it I'd recommend this brew. Wanna check out more of the Bruery's offerings.

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Photo of JosephThompson
3.5/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of Varkias41
4.25/5  rDev +18.4%

Photo of Metalmonk
3.29/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Unibroue tulip (am I to be shamed for possessing branded glassware?)...looks rather mighty in the glass, with a crackly, fluffy two-finger head of tight, tiny bubbles and a body of utterly abyssal black. The head hardly even moves, showing incredible retention. Wow.

I've smelled beers like this before, usually reckless U.S. attempts at a Belgian dark, or the bad side of Belgian stouts: a pervading mineral smell--rock-like, or penny-like--masking a grainy toasted-malt smell. Tiny hints of graham cracker and chocolate cake eke through.

The mineral element reigns in the flavor too. So does young/unripe fruits, lending an unwanted sourness to the beer. The spiciness noted on the label is barely there, and is dusty and soft in any case. Tart finish sports a robust citrus peel character.

I like the feel of this beer. It's gentle and caressing, somehow full despite having a very light weight. Coating and slick, but not even close to sticky.

I was so psyched when The Bruery's stuff finally arrived in our area--had read some good things about their beers and naturally, being a huge fan of 1) US craft beer and 2) Belgian beers, seemed like a brewery for me. But so far I'm not blown away; then again, I've only had one other, the Orchard White--which fares a bit better than this--but ultimately I was expecting more. Maybe I should stay away from their "Orchard" beers and just track down the others (including the much-hyped Black Tuesday)?

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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.

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Photo of whatname
3.75/5  rDev +4.5%

Photo of hreb
2.45/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

750 mL bottle poured into my newest Stange from Ringnes. Refigerator cold. Label indicates "Year Round" (availability?) (is it really retired?), bottle conditioning, and that it's best enjoyed fresh, but doesn't specify a best-by or bottled-on date. Furthermore it specifies a black wheat ale with oats and spices -- not exactly a belgian dark ale, more of a "black wit". We'll see.

Beer pours black with an immense chestnut brown head. Vaguely sour aroma. Overwhelming carbonation, especially for the style. Flavors are on the mild side. Really. The most impressive thing about this beer is that it dispels the notion that dark colored beers are heavy. The look of the beer is actually really pretty, but there's nothing more to it. I don't get moleasses or toast from the malt, nor do I get a big unfiltered wheat flavor. I don't discern any particular hop flavor, although the beer is definitely dry, so there must be something balancing out whatever grain is in there. I don't get spice, nor orange peel, and definitely not "baked cake". It is refreshing though, once you get past the overwhelming carbonation.

My first experience with The Bruery. I don't blame them for retiring this one bit.

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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!

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Photo of tempest
3.98/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at The Farmhouse in Emmaus, PA. Very interesting beer. It's sort of a cross - to my tongue - of a dry stout and a wit. On one hand there's black roasted malt cocoa flavor, but you always still get the light and sweet Belgian spice flavors like coriander and candy vanilla. Definitely worth a try and very good, but not quite up to the White Orchard.

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Photo of Crazydaddyo
3.5/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of BeerAmbassador
3.07/5  rDev -14.5%
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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Black Orchard from The Bruery
Beer rating: 3.59 out of 5 with 312 ratings