Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

Black Orchard | The Bruery

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
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:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 312 |  Reviews: 226
Photo of djeucalyptus
3.69/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours a beautiful rich dark chcolate hue, near black, with raisin and aubergine highlights. A tall mocha-tan head is foamy, bubbling away fairly quickly to leave a thin collar of foam, unfortunately leaving absolutely no lacing.

aroma is interesting and enticing. belgian yeast spice and some muddled dark fruits: dates, cranberries and raisins... and some spices - pepper, chicory, cloves. coriander? maybe... and not really picking up any citrus notes. Still smells interesting on the whole, even if a bit murky.

Taste is just a step down from the aroma. What comes across as fruity gets mellowed into an earthy woodiness with a hint of smoke. caramel comes through with some generic citrus, a bit of brown sugar, and some spices. cardamom and cloves. Some toasted bread and belgian yeasts. but everything is just a bit unrefined and haphazardly tossed together. Doesn't quite build up to the crescendo of these flavors I long for.

medium body... this is one carbonated brew, but in a bit of a funky, almost soda-like way. The carbonation fails to build creaminess and doesn't really help carry any flavors - it's more harsh and prickly, until it quickly fades away.

Interesting aroma and flavor profiles. An interesting take on the style. An interesting bottle. Fairly easy to drink, and goes down pretty smooth. But it just doesn't quite come together how I'd hoped. Feels like a jig-saw puzzle that's been half finished. Not sure I'd be compelled to purchase another any time in the near future.

 1,505 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.66/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into a glass over time.

A- Orchard black is not quite black but pretty much dark with a mixture of dark brown to black. A nice head quickly erupted climbing up the glass. After this faded it left leaving a pattern of lace on the glass. A very dark wit/BDA.

S- This wit had scents including coriander, clove and a mix of wheat and citrus. Some breadiness with warming along with orange and some maltiness. Some dried fruits including apple.

D- An interesting wit with the dark look coming through in taste with dark ripe fruits and the apple coming through. Some clove and cinnamon with a nice bready quality. Some roasted malts come through ever so slightly.

M- This black orchard is medium bodied with a tremendous amount of carbonation found in the white orchard as well. The flavor is not as pronounced than in the white version even though they are technically different beers. Starts crisp and finishes dry.

D- A good bottle to share with some close friends. The carb could get to you after a while. The alcohol does not get in the way. Warming brings so much more to this one. Give it a try if you see it.

 1,123 characters

Photo of callmemickey
4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle at Copone's

A: Dark brown body, tan/khaki head, lots of head, good retention, some lacing

S: Wheat, belgian yeast, orange peel, some roasted malt.

T: An interesting take... citrus and orange peel, wheat throughout, the roasted malt in the nose isn't as heavy and leads to a very delicate dark beer... characteristic belgian yeast lingers

M: Light-medium body defying the color's indications... smooth flavor transitions, clean finish.

D: Fairly drinkable. A nice complement to the Orchard White.

 507 characters

Photo of dsa7783
3.82/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Gingerman, NYC...
Appearance: Light-poerter hue, thick head and lacing, dark opaque brilliance...
Smell: Mocha on the nose, hints of dark chocolate...
Taste: Light-porter flavor more than a Belgian Dark... Essences of mocha, cappuccino, cacao, dark fruits and raisins.
Pretty drinkable, went down well...
Not bad at all...

 332 characters

Photo of mfhlucky13
4.45/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Huge, explosive head that lasts. Dark, dark, dark. Yea the name is "Black". Wow.

S; Yeasty, bread, spice with hints of burn fruit and dates.

T: Slightly sweet, light yeast, bit of sourness and burnt orange peel.

M: Smooth, nice bubbles dancing on my tongue.

D: An easy drinker, very enjoyable. I'm becoming a big fan of The Bruery.

 340 characters

Photo of JohnQVegas
4.16/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown slipping into black, lush, densely creamy 2-finger light brown head that lasts. Beautiful pour.

Nose is a bit floral, clean wheat, some yeasty zest, and just a hint roasty, maybe even smokey - it's there, but it doesn't overwhelm. The end results is a refined wit-like nose that hints at the dark color rather than being dominated by it.

taste is similar - floral, wheaty, with just a bit of smokey roastiness underneath. Some creamy yeast is noticeable. Lemon zest pokes out; finish is clean and light. Best black wit I've had, and the only one that succeeds in not bashing the drinker over the head with the "black" part of the beer.

Mouthfeel is soft, fluffy, creamy, makes the light body feel bigger than it is. Nice, but would like to see just a bit more zing in the carbonation.

Overall a fantastic effort, superbly drinkable and done with both simplicity and finesse.

 895 characters

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!

 1,811 characters

Photo of SShelly
4.08/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a growler on my way down for the AFC contest.

Pours dark, deep brownish black with a HUGE pillow of head, decent retention, super fluff.

Smells fruity with a mild amount of roast, very mild aroma.

Flavor has some fruityness to it but also a very subtle roastiness, very enjoyable beer with fairly high carb, really bounces around the mouth. There is also a certain earthiness to this beer that is hard to quantify.

Patrick is really picking up steam with his regular line of beers!

 495 characters

Photo of flexabull
3.91/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Grabbed this one from City Beer in SF. I've been curious about the beers from the Bruery...

Pours a dark black color, with a huge off white head.

Aromas are mostly of spices that I can't really pin down. It's also a little floral, with some cream and chocolate.

Taste is crisp and a little bit dry. Some cola, sweetness, cream, chocolate malts, and dark biscuits and bread. Finish has a little hop bitterness. This is pretty complex and tasty.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, a little prickly at first sip, but a nice creamy thick feel is there too.

Drinkability is good. A nice Belgian Style beer. I'd say, closer to a black beer. It's got a lot of nice flavors, and is not to heavy. Well worth trying.

 702 characters

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.

 617 characters

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

750 ml bottle purchased from Beverage Warehouse in Marina Del Rey for eight dollars, split with friend Drake on 1/4/09, poured into my Chimay goblet, not black like the name might lead you to believe but a very dark brown, thin 1/2 inch creamy beige head that sticks around for a few minutes, minimal lacing, smell has orange peel, coriander, roastiness, bread, and wheat, flavor is much the same with fruit than roast, unlike the smell, gets more citrusy as it warms, chewy in the middle, spice and fruit in the finish, slightly sweet, citrusy, mildly roasted mouthfeel, medium bodied, nice level of carbonation, could drink this whole bottle myself, good drinkability, could get filling after a while but light for its appearance for sure, have not had many dark wits before and this is good, it is drinkable for how it looks and pushes the envelope on an otherwise sometimes boring style, will be drinking again, recommended

 927 characters

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

Pours a dark mahogany with a huge fluffy light tan head.

Smell is the weakest part of the beer, smells slightly of dried fruits, sweet malts and just a overall over ripe fruit. Slight dark bread as it warms.

Taste is fruity, with a slight roast, and a nice tartness in the finish. Slight citrus/orange flavors.

Okay mouthfeel and easy to drink. Good winter/fall session beer.

 378 characters

Photo of bitterthebetter
4.33/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep dark opaque black with off white heady, very frothy and active, structure of a Belgian ale with big fluffly head, yet it goes down faster than most Belgians

dark malt, apples, spices, slight chocolate

smooth malty body upfront with slight raisins and notes of apples leading to chocolate malt, slight oats flavors, sturdy spices, slight lemony notes on the finish, slight hops and dry malt notes. coriander taste as it warms up, and some floral notes tucked in there as well

medium bodied, not overly sugar, a lot a depth and complexity, enduring finish with a slighty spicy edge to it, in a good way, layered and balanced

a really intriguing beer, lots of layers of malt, spice, fruits, hops, and slight yeasty notes. if it was served blind I wouldn't think it was made in the USA. A lot of complex flavors and excellent balance make this a great beer to sip on and enjoy slowly, deciphering its nuances. probably excellent with a cigar, but alas I do not have one. very original, and I cant think of another beer that has this kind of profile, so very much worth a try

 1,087 characters

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.

 500 characters

Photo of Brewsmith
4.03/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a growler fill at the Bruery. Aroma is spicy from the coriander and a little fruity from the yeast. Color is a dark brown, almost opaque, with a big fluffy beige head that stays around. Malty with a little fruityness coming through at first, before the wit character comes through. Light and refreshing, with a little extra richness from the darker malts. Balanced and very drinkable.

 389 characters

Photo of BarleyMine
3.39/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured this into a wide mouth wine glass. It's a good thing because the head foamed up instantly and aggressively atop an opaque black brew, receeding rather quickly leaving little lacing. Smells of wood with slight resiny notes and hints of caramel and rasin. The taste follows the nose with a woodiness that opens into a toasy, porter-like flavor as it sits a bit. Has some grainy tones to it with a subtle malty sweetness and a slight piney-hoppy finish. Medium bodied with gregarious carbonation. Gets better as it sits for a minute or two.

 544 characters

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.

 957 characters

Photo of ccrida
2.89/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

750ml bottle poured into my large Gulden Draak tulip, Black Orchard is black with a massive, crackly (think rice krispies) sand head that leave very light, scattered lace. Served at cellar temp, the first pour was almost all foam, and while I waited for it to subside, the bottle slowly over-foamed, but not to much in the few minutes that I wasn't paying attention. I've had dark saisons before, but never anything claiming to be a dark wit...

Smell is spirtzy/mineral laden, with pithy citrus, ginger snaps and molassass, with hazelnuts coming out as it warms. Good and rather unique, but I preferred it at cellar temp, when it was sweeter, rather then room temp.

Taste is a little jarring after soaking up the aroma for awhile, bitter and malty, with the chared black (patent?) and caramel malt dominating the esters, it's really just a roasty bruin. It reminds me of a very early homebrew I think, there is a strong nuttiness to it that just doesn't work for me, like amaretto. The richness of the dark malts, which are way more then the accent note I hoped for, negate any of the drinkability benefits of a wit bier, and generally make this one a chore for me.

Mouthfeel is thick for the size, light and bubbly at first but syrupy on the swallow.

Drinkability isn't what I hoped for, the dark malts are way to overwhelming for the base wit. I've enjoyed some of the dark saison's I've had, so the issue is more execution (primarily dark malt choice IMHO) rather then concept. Of the 4 Bruery beers I've had so far, I dug the Autumn Maple and Trade Winds Tripel, thought the Orchard Wit was ok, and wasn't to impressed with this one. For the price and overall experience, I wasn't impressed, and won't revisit. It was getting late and I was tired, but since I really wasn't enjoying it much, I ended up dumping the last 12 oz or so....sure it was kinda of pricey, but it wasn't good, and I'd rather save my body for something better...

 1,946 characters

Photo of StoutSlayer
3.96/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this beer on tap at Fathers Office in Santa Monica while visiting a friend. As I've read in other reviews this beer it was extreamly carbonated. In fact, coming out of the tap they had to use 2 glasses to fill up my glass because the head wouldn't subside! Interesting. The appearence was inviting when I got it back to the table, black as night, and a small but tight head with super small bubbles. At first taste I didn't get a whole lot because of the carbonation, and the fact that I was honestly excpecting a sweet thick beer as I have been used to. But by the third or forth gulp it was clear I loved this beer. Unfortunately after a week after having this beer I'm giving my review and I can't remember all the flavor notes, but I do remember this... It had the darker toasted flavors of a stout or porter, but was absolutly refreshing with a very light mouthfeel. Some friutyness, but it was subdued. Honestly I think the beauty of this beer is that despite the very light mouthfeel it retains great flavor. There where plenty of other great brews on tap but I kept coming back for the Orchard. Some might find the carbonation a turn off but I think it really compliments this beer. All in all a unique treat.

 1,221 characters

Photo of Jwale73
3.53/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received from Mauerhan in an awesome trade (thanks Topher). 750 ml bottle served at 50 degrees in my DT tulip. Foam slowly erupted off the cap pop. Three inch tan-colored cavernous head sizzled, crackled and popped as it slowly settled into a cloud-like cap. Some sheets of lacing, but poor adherence. Color was deep burgundy brown with absolutely no light penetration. Nose was primarily belgian yeast and candi sugar in the tulip, but picked up a vinous/berry-like quality off the bottle. Buttery character presented in the mouth. Flavors were slightly masked by the carbonation, but as it dissipated I was able to detect the same berry-like/vinous quality in the nose. Also picked up a spice profile I can't really tease out. Mouthfeel is between light and medium-bodied (but closer to light), but a little too over-carbonated, which adversely affected the mouthfeel; some astringency also detected along the back of of the cheeks.. Fairly easy drinking brew once the carbonation dissipates slightly. If this could be addressed, I would rate this as 4's across the board.

 1,074 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had a bottle of Black Orchard sitting in my fridge for six months now. Let's see what a touch of age does to this.

First off, go towards the sink and open the bottle there, the beer will gush out like a champagne once opened. Pour into a Delirium tulip and get an ebony beauty with a billowy head on top. Some bits of sediment float in the body and look like strawberry seeds. But in dim light, I can ignore that. There's more chocoalte cake mix in the aroma in the bottled version, with the usual orange slices and spcies. The taste is a little more mellow than Orchard White...I think the darker malts used in this make it so. There's a lot of carbonation in this beer, but it's not over the top on the palate; it's felt more in the stomach. Once you pour then dregs in, the mouthfeel becomes smoother.

Is this the evil twin of Orchard White? If so, welcome to the dark side of Orchard.

 897 characters

Photo of abfraser
3.38/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

UPDATE: Had this on tap last night at CBS and my opinion hasn't changed. Ironically, I was perusing the new copy of BA mag while drinking and noticed the Bros gave this one an A. I respectively disagree--I don't get it.

A: Dark brown with decent cream colored head on pouring. Massive carbonation

S: Wheat, spice, a bit of sour

T: Nice spice, wheat/malt. Good flavor but nothing really memorable

M: Carbonation is through the roof. It's mouthfeel is little different than champagne. It's also very dry. The two of these together mean it's pretty palate-cleansing and neutral

D: Decent drinkability, but the carbonation levels are little too high to drink too much of it.

This is the second Bruery beer I've had (Saison Rue was the other) and I must say that I can't see what the hype is really about. I have the Tripel still left to try, so we'll see if that changes things. This is a decent dark wheat beer. Can't say that I recommend you go out and find but if it's somewhere you are, go for it.

 1,003 characters

Photo of paytoplay
3.85/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

99% head, then the bottle bubbled like a volcano. Took 30 minutes to pour a glass. Dissapointing but maybe just my bottle? Interesting belgian style wheat. Some dry herbs. Low Alc is nice. Balanced and dark roasted herb aroma. Lingering bark wood type aroma. Ok brew. Not sure I want a 750ml of it. Maybe better served in bombers.

 330 characters

Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.13/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: snifter. deeply opaque mahogany. nice tan head, good retention. very light lacing.

S: I get some nice sours. big citrus tones from the wheat and orange peel. major spices.

T: very yeasty, tastes like a spice cake. great citrus flavors from the wheat. nice sours, reminds me of a buckwheat belgian beer I had.

M: medium bodied. carbonation is a little high. very effervescent.

D: very nice impression from a new brewery. good style and very drinkable.

 457 characters

Photo of OlieIPA
3.85/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A pleasant gift from Pehlman...and enjoyed in my garage with good friends.

A: Poured into my favorite snifter (I love that glass, anyways); a small amount of white colored head with carbonation that was clearly evident. The color was similar to prune juice or Dr. Pepper.

S: A mixture of spices and orange peel.

T: Dark fruity/citrus flavoring with subtle mixture of spices.

M: A lot of carbonation...a bit too much for me. It actually distracted me and took away the a lot of the positives this beer had.

D: Above-average.

Overall: After being a little disappointed from the Levud's (Bourbon Barrel), this beer produced by the Bruery definitely made up for that one. This beer is very good and I would recommend it to anyone.

 732 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.