Black Orchard | The Bruery

226 Reviews
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.

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Reviews: 226 | Ratings: 312
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 UCLABrewN84
3/5  rDev -16.4%
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 brentk56
3.27/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a black coffee color with an overflowing head (the bottle was a gusher) that fades quickly without much retention or lace

Smell: Brown bread aroma with hints of oatmeal cookies, licorice, milk chocolate and plums

Taste: Very bready, up front, with a combination of brown bread and oatmeal spice cake flavors; by mid-palate, a sour citrus and green apple flavor starts to dominate and, after the swallow, earthy and mineral tones enter the fray

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body but ubstructively fizzy

Drinkability: While the beer is ambitious I fear The Bruery doesn't have everything down pat on this one; the flavors don't come together, in large part, as the fizzy mouthfeel obstructs the flavor profile; I would like to try a good bottle of this, sometime

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.68/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a deep hazy brown color ale with a quite large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of funky yeast with some fruity ester and some great Belgian malt also noticeable. Taste is a very well balanced mix between some floral malt with notes of funky yeast ester and a great malt backbone. The spices are well integrated in the mix and don't play such a prominent role. Body is quite full with great carbonation. Very well done and definitely underrated from this fine brewer.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.8/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a near black color with a nice head. Pretty good lacing on the way down. The nose is quite aromatic, with some nice pepper, roasted malt, light citrus, and a bit of coffee. The taste brings in some really nice spice and yeast as well as some mild roast. Good, light mouthfeel with nice carbonation. Really a unique bear and another success.

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Photo of jlindros
3.63/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Huge honkin head, which is good for The Bruery. Head fades quickly. Very dark brown color with a little light coming through and hints of ruby red.

N: Some Belgian Ale like aromas, sweet malts, hints of yeast, hints of dark roast and coffee, a little oat, and light fruit.

T: Taste is much lighter than I thought. Some sweet malts, Belgian malts, light sugar, some boozy taste which is weird for less than 6%. Some roast and coffee, hints of black patent and oats. Slight spices, but light.

M: Much lighter than I thought on the mouth. Good carbonation.

F: Still semi sweet and syupy. Spices come through a lot more on the finish. The roasted malts also do well at the finish as they did before. Slight spicy hop presence. It dries off well after the swallow.

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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 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 BuckeyeNation
2.89/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Murky cherry cola with a lousy looking crown of sandstone colored foam that isn't the least bit sticky and doesn't leave even a scrap of lace. A loud 'pffft' on crown cracking allowed me to catch what began flowing out of the bottle neck within seconds. That same foam is currently erupting in slow motion all over my kitchen counter. Not a good start.

The Bruery designed Black Orchard as a black witbier. That's an intriguing concept, but it doesn't really smell like one. The beer is dark malty, earthy and spicy. No orange peel or chamomile is appreciated. Coriander is questionable. Nothing is very well-defined and the aroma is more interesting than good.

As always, it's hard to ignore a craptastic mouthfeel to assess the flavor on its own terms. First, a nearly flat Autumn Maple. Now a thin, fizzy Black Orchard. These guys better get their quality control in order if they have any hope of being a successful craft brewery.

Although it never really comes together into anything worthwhile, the building blocks of a pretty good beer are in there somewhere. Specifics include brown bread, steely caramel, anise, ground clove, tart citrus peel (not recognizable as orange) and a spiciness that is most likely a combination of chamomile and coriander. An opportunity lost... yet again.

As is usually the case with excessively bubbled beer, the carbonation went from frenetic to nearly flat without spending any time in the acceptable zone. I can't even guess what an optimally bubbled ale would feel like since this one is so far from optimal.

What else is there to say? On one hand, I feel bad about giving such low scores to a beer that isn't as the brewers intended. On the other hand, I've given a significant amount of money to The Bruery and have been burned twice. As always... caveat emptor!

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Photo of billab914
3.47/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my Lost Abbey stemware. Poured a dark brown color with a small fizzy khaki colored head. It almost looked like pouring a soda into the glass. The head faded after a few minutes to pretty much nothing and didn't leave any lacing on the glass.

The aroma has a malty,sweet, dark fruit smell to it with wheat, grapes, raisins and spices all present. The taste has wheat up front with the dark fruit and grapes coming through midway. The finish has some spice and more grape flavor to it.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and moderately creamy and silky from the oats. Carbonation is above average and really shows in the finish. Drinkability is decent, it's an interesting beer but not one of my favorites from the Bruery. I did like what the oats added to the mouthfeel but overall it was just an OK beer. I enjoyed drinking it but probably wouldn't buy again.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.11/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Found this bottle at the local Green's for 7 dollars so I thought I would pick it up and give it a shot. Served chilled and poured into a large wine glass, this one was consumed on 1/16/10.

The pour was huge, massively carbonated with head filling three quarters of the glass on the first pour.Dark black in color and the head a mild tan, it looked the part right away. Head faded back and left really no lace in its wake but kept a nice cap on top. Aroma was light,nearly non existent at times, but when it was picked up it was light oats, touches of dark fruit and a hint of cocoa. Again though the big problem here was how light it came across. Flavor was more of the same, it just was too light and when you picked it up it was going in too many different directions which really caused it to come across as slightly a mess. But Mess is a strong word it was more bland then anything. Still well carbonated but I just could not get past searching for the flavor.

Overall the weekest of what I have had from the bruery by far.

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Photo of smcolw
3.22/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Overcarbonated, impressive starting head but it dies quickly. The bottle bubbles over (twice!) after the initial pour. It dies to a near no bubble surface. Very little lace. Dark brown color where no light shines through.

Strong yeasty aroma. Smells (deceptively) like there is strong amount of alcohol.

The flavor is very malty without sweetness. There is a sourness from the brew. Some nice chocolate malt comes through. Light hop flavor. Relatively thin body, but this might be from the high carbonation.

Overall, it is a clear miss, but worth seeking out.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.21/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black in color with a nice tan head.

S: Roasted malt and slight spice. Not too much happening here.

T: More complex than the nose, but not overly so. Again, the roasted malts, a bit of coffee, and some ever so slight sweetness.

M: Decent body, very plentiful carbonation.

D: Certainly not bad, but not something I'd want to drink a full 750 of. Better than the Orchard White.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.5/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 3/27 notes.

a - Pours black with lots of head...about three fingers with good retention.

s - Smells of Belgian yeast and spices.

t - Tastes a bit sour and bitter, with more yeast and spices.

m - Light to medium body with little carbonation.

d - Thought this was a decent Belgian. Some nice spices and yeast for a typical Beglian smell and taste, but nothing really stood out about it. I'd try it again and it's worth a try, but I wouldn't actively seek it out.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.52/5  rDev -1.9%
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 vfgccp
3.91/5  rDev +8.9%
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 jwc215
4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, poured into tulip glass:

Pours black with a large tan head that descends to a rocky cover. Spots of lacing stick.

The smell is of dark bread, roast, chocolate cake with a hint of orange peel and coriander.

The taste is of dark bead, chocolate cake, some tartness and light orange and herbal/pepper spicing. Dark character dominates, but with a subtle "wit" character - works well, very interesting/creative. There is a slight hint of alcohol in the finish.

It is medium-bodied, with somewhat effervescent carbonation. Oats impart a creamy smoothness.

An interesting brew...unique...a dark, Belgian-esque brew with a hint of white beer character. Another creative, well-done beer from this brewery!

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

12/23/08- Purchased at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle with a batch number on the back label. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Deep brown kind of sooty colored black...maybe dark gray. About a 3 fingered head and very large bubbled. Very light traces of lace with some spotting and light lines.

Smell- Nose of higher roasted malts a touch of sugar and some dark fruit scents.

Taste- As it warms a pretty nice grape flavor comes into play. Seems a bit more potent then the abv suggests. Malts are fairly roasted and lightly sugary with a very mild hoppy input. The grape flavor and light plum stands out the most though.

Mouthfeel- Foamy and higher carbonation level makes the first half tougher to consume than the second. Medium mouthfeel and very light aftertaste.

Drinkability- Carbonation made it a bit of a challenge in the beginning, but everything evened out and what you end up with is a pretty good tasting brew.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.2/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Beer served in a Bruery tulip because I can. Beer is brown and clear with a big brown head of medium and large bubbles that rallies to form some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is sweet and mild overall, it smells kind of like candy.

I wish they would bring this beer back. The Bruery is too young to have retired beers. Beer is light in body and has a roasty back end, not much sweetness up front but there is an odd almost lactic note to the back of this beer. Carbonation is moderate on the palate but the more I drink / allow it to warm up, the less I am enjoying this beer. Ultimately I don't finish it and just go to bed.

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.63/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: poured a dark brown with brown highlights and a 2 finger head that left good sticky lacing.

S: big belgian yeast aromas with molasses and faint chocolate accents. There also seems to have a little oats and brown sugar.

T: belgian yeast and oats strike first on the palate with slight chocolate and roasty accents. The taste has good smoke flavor.

M: light to medium body with lots of carbonation that had a sweet smokey thin finish.

D: very drinkable belgian style beer that you could even have in a hot summer day. I got to say I was a little dissapointed on the overall experience though.

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Photo of Gavage
3.77/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: black in color with a 1/4" head that breaks apart quickly to a spotty surface foam. No lace develops.

Smell: wheat, spiciness, and an overall earthy tone create a nice aroma for this beer.

Taste: nice malt profile that create a pumpernickel bread flavor. Wheat, hint of licorice, allspice, clove, and a mild earthy tone round it out. Bitterness is mild overall.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer. Crisp from start to finish. Thefinish is also slightly dry.

Drinkability: this is a slow sipping beer based on the flavor profile rather than alcohol content which is lower than expected. One bottle was more than enough in a session.

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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 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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Photo of Wasatch
3.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml Bottle

Poured into a chalice a deep brown/black color, very nice carbonation, a nice foamy two-finger head which disappaites quickly, with some minimal sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some yeast, getting a slight roast note, some spice's. The taste is sweet, malty, yeasty, slight chocolate, alittle bit of spicy. Medium body, this brew is very carbonated. Drinkable, glad to finally get a chance to try it.

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Black Orchard from The Bruery
3.59 out of 5 based on 312 ratings.
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