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.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 312 |  Reviews: 226
Photo of Arbitrator
1.8/5  rDev -49.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

On-tap at the Toronado.

I had this under possibly the most perfect circumstances: it's my first beer from The Bruery, I didn't know anything about it, and my palate was clean (first beer of the night). I gave it a shot since I'd heard great things about The Bruery.

A: Pours a black body with a small cap of foam that recedes quickly and leaves no lacing behind. From the appearance I guessed it was some sort of high-ABV stout or black IPA. I was very surprised to find out otherwise on BA. A very weak appearance for such a low ABV and a dark witbier or whatever this is supposed to be.

S: Roasted malt, chocolate, earth, and chamomile. The last one was identified by the girlfriend, who really should be writing my reviews for me... I also picked up a strange cooked vegetable aroma. No orange peel in the smell.

T: Cooked/boiled vegetables were very strong, along with the chamomile tea component up front. Earthy, roasted malt in the mid-taste, and a thin chocolate finish with lingering vegetal aftertaste. Some kind of citrus character and clove. R-e-a-l-l-y strange, and neither of us wanted to drink it after a few sips.

M: Thin-bodied. No ABV buzz or burn. Moderate carbonation.

D: I know I should be constructive, but "WTF?" was my first reaction and it remains so.

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Photo of DrewZ926
2/5  rDev -44.3%

Photo of Bighuge
2.01/5  rDev -44%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Bigass head is created even with a careful pour. In the past, that has not meant good things for me. The bigass head fizzes away loudly enough so that my ears have no problem hearing it. The body of the beer is pretty black. Aroma is similar to a dank, dark cellar. Musty and stale. Upon sipping, I notice a carbonation problem right away. Very gaseous beer. Induces a lot of burps while drinking this. The flavors don't come close to the "freshly baked cake, ripe orange peel and alluring spice" that is promised on the label. It's more like some muddled black wheatiness and a little cardboard. Quite disappointing.

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Photo of david18
2.23/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Drank this at my neighborhood beer bar. I've liked everything else I've had from the bruery but this just does not do it for me. The color is promissing, very black, but the taste is much too fruity. The bar didn't have very much written about it so I had to guess the style. I would have pegged it as a fruit beer; maybe even a Gruit. As such, it wasn't that bad, altho not my thing. When I found out that BA characterizes it as a Belgian Dark, i think they missed the mark. Not enough Belgian character and much to much fruit.

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Photo of Thickfreakness
2.26/5  rDev -37%
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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2.28/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

750mL bottle to the Bruery tulip.

A: Pours with an enormous 4 finger cinnamon-sugar colored head, rapidly deflating. Fizzes out in seconds right before your eyes. The body is very dark, possibly black and 100% opaque. Absolutely no lacing and not even a film or collar. One minute after the pour, this beer already looks like it's been sitting out all night.

S: Average malts of lightly roasted chocolate mixed with a slight pine hop presence. Notes of broth and new leather make up the yeast contriubtions.

T & M: Overall, there is very little depth of flavor. Various spices, sasparillo, Tootsie Roll. Lightly tart and sour. Despite what the label says, little to no wheat or oats are noticeable to me, particularly in the mouthfeel, which is anything BUT creamy, despite what the brewery's description says. Black Orchard is fiercely carbonated. The bubbles strip the tongue of any and all flavor before I get a chance to even think about what's going on.

D: Awful. The mouthfeel absolutely kills this brew. It was bottle conditioned, so maybe something went wrong with that process. I sure hope so because, if not, this is a very poorly crafted brew. And now it's retired...

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Photo of rpstevens
2.3/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This bottle was received as an extra from a generous trader. Thanks.

Poured from the bottle into a dogfish head tulip. The beer pours a dark mahogany with a nice coffee-colored glow around the edges. There is a huge white head that fills the glass after the pour, but dissipates without leaving behind much lacing.

The smell is pretty mild, mostly spicy and malty notes. As it warms there is a little more orange/wheat presence, which is strange given the dark appearance of the beer.

The taste is oddly sour, almost acrid and chalky. The spice and malt is very present in the taste, with a little lemon perhaps? It is not a good flavor combination.

The mouthfeel is ok, the beer is carbonated and fizzy, which hide some of the strange flavors, but the middle of the taste has a strange thinness and emptiness to it. The alcohol is not very present, but the flavors really lower the drinkability for me.

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Photo of sheikyerbouti
2.3/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Aroma-some dark, roasted notes. A touch of chocolate with some plum like esters

Appearance- Dark brown, long lasting tan head

Flavor-Strong carbonic bite, med hop bitterness, low to medium malt flavor

Drinkability- I ended up pouring out my entire 750ml bottle of this due to excessive overcarbonation and general lack of any type of balance. They bill this as a black saison, when it doesn't have any saison characteristics. I found this very pedestrian for a commercial brewery, and as the second beer I have had from them, I would rather spend my money elsewhere.

Caveat Emptor

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Photo of joerodiii
2.39/5  rDev -33.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Dark brown with moderate head. Smells of prunes and belgian phenols.

The taste is odd. It's kind of like a watery trappist with some odd frutiness and a funky aftertaste.

There is a noticeable astringency, and the beer is highly carbonated.

I don't see drinking this beer again.

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Photo of tpd975
2.41/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a deep dark black with a tall tan head, took forever to poor. Great retention (too much) with spotty lace.

S: Light malts and dark fruits. Subtle yeast.

T: Not a fan. Dark malt, dark fruit, rotten cherries and an off sort of sourness.

M: Medium in body, very carbonated.

D: Not a fan of the flavor of this one at all. I am gonna forget that the Bruery is responsible for this one. Great brewer, not so great beer.

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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 jophish17
2.5/5  rDev -30.4%

Photo of DavoleBomb
2.52/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Poured into an snifter.

3.5 A: First pour yielded one hand of head. After my fourth round of pouring, I finally had a full glass. Black color. Two fingers of frothy tan head with pretty good retention and minimal lacing.

4.0 S: Surprisingly grainy, which I like. Roastiness, some toffee, and a touch of coffee. Subtle grassy hops, touch of burnt, and a slight peppery yeastiness. Fairly simple, but pleasant nonetheless.

2.0 T: Fairly powerful and unbalanced roastiness. I think I'm detecting some of the orange peel in the form of bitterness, joining with the hops and roastiness. Clove and pepper yeastiness. Pretty dry. This could benefit from a higher mash temp. Oats and brown malt are there and maybe a touch of chamomile. Really mismatched flavors. This doesn't seem to have any direction. Doesn't taste anything like a wit.

2.5 M: Lighter medium body. Carbonation was explosive in the mouth initially. I had to wait a while and drink half the bottle before it was acceptable. I never got to a point in drinking this that I was happy with this. Too thin, too carbonated, not particularly smooth.

1.5 D: Though the Bruery seems to be doing a bit better with carbonation levels now, late last year they overcarbed the hell out of stuff and this is none the different. I'm all about innovative, but they should have made a test batch of this first, then decided it wasn't going to pan out.

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Photo of rapidsequence
2.53/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750 capped bottle. $8.50 from Beer Run in Charlottesville.

Appearance: Really dark brown with ruby highlights in my tulip. Very fizzy. Big light brown head mostly fades to a thin rim. Almost no lacing.

Smell: Weird, I guess. Malty and oaty and a little chocolate. Some dark fruit. Its pretty spicy and theres some tart orange peel smell that's kind of sharp. Complex and, yeah, weird. Not bad though.

Taste: More weird than the smell. To start, everything about the taste is limited by absurd carbonation. OK, flavors similar to what I smelled-- slightly chocolatey, oaty, a little dark fruit, very spicy, tart orange peel. Some bready yeastiness in the finish. It all almost comes together, but not quite.

Mouthfeel: I like a highly carbonated Belgian, but this is like a Coke almost. Way over carbonated. Otherwise, the mouthfeel is also very thin and almost watery.

Drinkability: Overcarbonated, overspiced, over-reaching and underachieving. Its not really bad, but its not good, and I'll not buy or drink another one. It just doesn't work, and the closer I get to the bottom of the bottle, the worse it gets. The final insult is constant burping of subpar beer due to the carbonation.

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Photo of rudzud
2.55/5  rDev -29%
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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Photo of joepais
2.62/5  rDev -27%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle spit with friends poured into pint glasses. There was a short lived white head on a black bodied beer.

The first thing I got from the nose was a whiff of yeast followed by a ton of roasted malts. One person did pull some orange aroma but I couldn't. The flavor to me was pure roasted malts as well I think the problem was because it was extremely carbonated and the carbonation took away from experiencing anything else. It really didn't remind me of a wit at all.

I finished the glass but that was enough for me. I really hope their other brews are better. This was the first from them I tried, and I am not to impressed

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Photo of Phelps
2.63/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep, opaque burgundy, untouchable by light. Upon first pour, a massive head of light tan bubbles up and overpowers my tulip glass. It gets to at least three fingers tall, then continues slowly swelling and growing like a little volcano. Interestingly, it leaves zero lace behind. The second pour is more subdued, with a frothy and more manageable one-finger head that goes absolutely nowhere, though it's speckled with corn-flake yeast bits.

In the nose: wheat, apples cider, perhaps some grape and Belgian spice esters. It's a little subdued, but I guess that's what I should expect after two-ish years in the bottle.

A little bit of wheat, some grape juice, possibly some chocolate, very lightly dry and bitter upon the swallow. Some cola flavors emerge as it warms.

Highly carbonated, the bubbles prick the mouth before they break apart and fizz up like soda. The body's a silky medium-light, though it's hard to notice amidst all the bubblies. They're very distracting.

Meh. I know the back of the bottle says to enjoy Black Orchard fresh, but I can't imagine this one having been awe-inspiring when it originally came out. Perhaps that's why they retired it, hmm?

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
2.63/5  rDev -26.7%
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 JohnGalt1
2.66/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got this one as a very appreciated extra from Deadeye... thanks a ton Charles!! Pour with about 3/4 head brown head and 1/4 black beer that only shows deeep garnet where the stem meets the glass... for such a mammoth head, there was no hint of lacing and the head dropped very quickly.

Very light nose... hints of apple and some other yeasty phenols... not alot going on here... no citrus zest and really no "black malt" aromas either.

Flavor is not really any better... lite coffee malt shows... and the phenols are still very muted.

Waaaay carbonated... I just touched the cap barely with the capper and a loud ppfffssst... Body seems much too light... mehh.. glad I got a chance to try it, but it was really not that good. Thanks for the opportunity Charles!


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Photo of IdrinkGas
2.75/5  rDev -23.4%

Photo of largadeer
2.75/5  rDev -23.4%

Photo of AgentZero
2.8/5  rDev -22%
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 maximum12
2.8/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Big thanks to cloudskipper, who picked this one off my wants during the fondly remembered Secret Santa of '08. My first Bruery beer, & I'm looking forward to it.

Holy carbonation. Big huge head that needs to be poured very carefully into the glass & keeps right on popping & fizzing like pop rocks in soda for a good long time. Initial smell out of the bottle isn't very appealing, but it settles into a nice nose of blended spices.

OK. It's hard to get past the overcarbonation, causing the beer to jump & dance & shake its pants all over inside my mouth at every sip. Very distracting, & not appetizing. Trying to get beyond that aspect, this doesn't taste unlike a New Glarus Black Wheat that somebody mixed a mash of spices into. But they're hard to pick out over the roar of the bubbles popping atop the brew. Definitely get the wheat backing...

Man, I just can't get past the carbonation; glancing at several other reviews this seems common, & people don't seem to mind. Not I. I'm pretty sure there's a pretty good beer lurking underneath, but I'm going to have to give this one a frowny face.

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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]

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Photo of Mebuzzard
2.85/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Ok, what is this thing? Black Orchard and Belgian Dark are confusing to me, but i'm kinda dumb anyway.
Pours a dark reddish brown, with a huge head that isn't surprising after a huge "pop". Kinda loose head though, and it dies quickly. lacing. Nothings sticky like i've seen in other BDarks.
Aroma has a mix of fruitiness. Apple, citrus (green) and ...sage? Eh? Not sure. Perhaps the malt and yeast aren't getting along in here. I'll punish them by sending them to my belly.
Ok, a taste is a bit mixed as well. Black licorice, citrus, light bread, and a tinge of apple. Flat feel mid-way through. Light. not sure what's going on here. Just doesn't intrigue me enough to pour another glass (note: I have other beers from which to choose).

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Black Orchard from The Bruery
Beer rating: 3.59 out of 5 with 312 ratings