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.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 226 | Ratings: 312
Photo of unclejimbay
4.32/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bruery Review, we performed a comprehensive sampling of Bruery beers courtesy of CampusCrew and Troywittaker on 8/13/2010. Cheers this was a great sampling and evening guys!
I reviewed all brews we tasted in order of sampling, info, and some minor notes for my future homebrew reference. These reviews are to serve as a comprehensive review of the beers as purchased during 2010, sampled 8/13/2010 with about a group of 8 tasters.

This was the order of sampling...

Saison Rue, 8.5% abv

Mischief, 8.5% abv

Tradewinds Tripel, 8.1%

Orchard White, 5.7% abv

Black Orchard, 5.7% abv
Described as a black Witbier, interesting twist on the style. Give a dark color with a dash of roasty malt character, but still drinks with a nice light body like a true wheat ale should. Unique idea and execution.

2 Turtle Doves, 12% abv

Coton (2010 Anniversary Beer) 14.5%

RUGBROD, 8% abv

Autumn Maple, 10% abv

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Photo of SLeffler27
2.96/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A tremendous dark tan, rocky head billows up almost entirely filling the large tulip glass, leaving little room for the dark brown, almost black beer below. While the head lasts a long while, never actually going away, there is little lacing deposited on the glass.

There is a clear presence of hops here, but an equal presence of soapiness brings this one down. Very little character or layering does no justice for this expected attributes of this style.

Black orchard is a sweet one note of maple syrup, far from expectations. One is left wondering if this was miss handled, or just a poor representation of this brewer. Regardless, one beer rarely reveals much about a particular brewer.

The medium body and slick texture do little to overcome the lack of carbonation. My guess is that all the carbonation exited though the pour. A light astringency buts an end to any enjoyment of this beer.

As a drinking beer this one is fine, but when weighed against the expectations of the style Black Orchard falls flat. There are plenty of good one layer beers with thin character available, so sadly this is a one shot deal.

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Photo of CampusCrew
3.63/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I hosted a Bruery tasting and we had 9 of the bottles collected. we had 4-6 oz samples. I'm reviewing these on memory from a few nights ago.

Hmmm, retired. We may of goten an infected bottle. Poured uncontrollable head and had a sublte sourness. Which by reading specs, it shouldn't. Black wit is a great idea. I wish they would bring this back and work on it. Still not a bad beer. Weak body but some good flavor.

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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 NCSUdo
3.47/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle

A: Dark brown body under a big fizzy tan head. No lace and no retention.

S: Caramel, toffee, some toasted hints, sweet, bit of coffee, grapey. Was really aromatic during the pour but kind of died down immediately afterwards.

T: Sweet up front, bit nutty, then some caramel and toffee before ending in a decent roasted bitterness. Honestly, the taste kind of falls apart.

M/D: Full bodied, high carbonation. Drinkability is so-so. An OK beer, not at all what the bottle advertised. The individual parts that are there are fine, but together in this beer, they present a bit of a mess.

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Photo of CHADMC3
3.88/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very deep mahogany, almost black with an enormous, deep tan head, a bit foamy, but packed densely with carbonation, which patiently gives way to a sticky lacing.

This beer deceivingly offers a big wheat and yeast aroma and the advertised candy/cake aroma is easy to identify. There are also hints of spice and oats.

The flavor consists of wheat, perhaps sweet chocolate; but also somewhat like black licorice or anise, somewhat roasty or coffee like, and only a faint hint of spice. I keep coming back to the licorice on the back of the palate.

On the light side in body with medium to moderate carbonation and a bit dry.

This is a good beer, but perhaps not spot on for the Belgian Dark category. Regardless, it is quite pleasant and has a lot to offer. Certainly something worth trying.

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Photo of taxguyjase
4.3/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Appropriately black for the name, cola colored head, mild carbonation except the head which reminds me of a coke, lots of sediment at the end. - 4.0/5.0

Smell - Sweet, malty, spicy, little bit of tart cherry and curant - 4.0/5.0

Taste - The wheat and Belgian spices blend well together. Sweet, but not terribly so. Cherry, caramel, blackberry and some breadiness. 4.5/5.0

Feel - Full, frothy, excellent mouth coverage and a mildly sweet aftertaste. 5.0/5.0

Drinkability - Excellent! Makes me want to take a road trip to Cali! 4.0/5.0

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Photo of czfreeman
4.3/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank July 27 2010 with my Dad, purchased in Greenville, SC.
Opening the bottle produces a nicely carbonated sound.
Pours very carbonated, thick creamy foamy tan head, color is black, head dissapates quickly, showing high carbonation.
Smells brown sugar, candied orange, malt, spices, orange juice,coriander,musty, grainy, oats,grapes(red) and cherry wood.
Flavor recalls orange, young merlot, oak, sharp sourness,smokiness, coriander,malt, funky cider-like apples, cherry is also appreciated. Very fruity, light and intriguing, opposite of its appearance.
Mouthfeel is light, carbonated, looks much darker and heavier super light on the palate as I take subsequent sips.
Overall very enjoyable, warming provided a new flavor spectrum and the carbonation was very llively and cleansing. Would drink again and now am interested in White Orchard

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

Poured into an oversize wine glass.

A: Coffee brown with nice clarity for being bottle conditioned. A small nougat head is soapy. It settles fairly quickly to a ring at the beer's edge. Leaves bits of lace.

S: The nose is light, with aromas of blackberry, orange, coriander and coffee.

T: Tastes like a Wit with a twist. Coriander and orange peel flavors do the bulk of the work. A light burnt bitterness adds complexity. There's some lemon and dark fruit at work too. Gets slightly acidic in the finish.

M: The body is dry and light and has just about the right level of fizz.

D: This is an interesting offering that is a nice variation on the Wit style. I'm glad I got to try it.

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Photo of billshmeinke
4.2/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Found this in a BevMo recently sitting on the shelf. Didn't get around to trying it before, so I picked it up since it's retired. Poured into a La Fin Du Monde tulip.

Fat 3 finger off white head. Dark black with amber hues towards the outer edges. Head snap, crack, and pops its way down to a decent foam cap.

The nose is pretty much composed of a semi tart fruity ester (apple) fragrance. I get some raspberries as well, and a hint of lactose.

The taste begins with a slightly lactic sweetness reminiscent of a milk stout that gives way to roasted almost chocolaty malts. The flavor ends on a fruity apple/raspberry note with a hint of champagne like tartness. Smokey sweet malts linger.

The mouthfeel is light bodied with a high level of biting carbonation (the carbonation is the only part of this beer that I'm not too fond of). Quite dry due to the high level of carbonation.

A very interesting beer that seems to march to the beat of it's own drummer. I can't think of a single beer it is similar to. I'm kind of sad that I didn't get around to trying this earlier as it is a really nice and different beer that I would definitely buy more of if it were available.

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Photo of Pencible
3.75/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured a very dark mahogany with fluffy light tan head.
S: It smelled like wild Belgian yeast with some coffee and cream, along with some brown sugar.
T: It tasted like coffee and licorice with roasted barley and bitter dark chocolate and black cherries. It had a light and dry bitter aftertaste.
M: It was watery with moderate carbonation.
D: This seemed like a Belgian porter, which was nice, but not the wheat beer I was expecting. I did enjoy the flavor and body, so it was easy to drink. Interesting to try, and enjoyable, but ultimately nothing too great.

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Photo of Krevee
3.12/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Drank: 23 June, 2010 @ My Home
Serving Type / Glass: 750ml bottle / Bruery tulip
Vintage: N/A
Price: $7
From Notes: Y

Foamed over for the longest I've ever seen. I don't think it would have stopped foaming had I not started to pour the beer into glasses.

A - Pours a dark dark brown, soda colored. Huge head that fades super quick. Minimal lacing.

S - Not a lot of aroma. Belgian yeast and dark malts.

T - Similar to smell. Just sort of meh. Nothing really stands out in the flavor. Just tastes like sort of a plain dark Belgian. Maybe some dark fruits and sweetness as it warms up.

M - Thin with extreme amounts of carbonation. Sort of feels like a soda.

D - Not to hard to drink. But this is probably the weakest beer from the Bruery's lineup that I have had, except for maybe Melange # Sechs. Interesting idea in theory but not very good in execution. I can see why they stopped brewing this beer.

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

750 mL bottle tried 21 Feb 2010.

A big thick tan head fills much of the 512 One snifter. Foam creeps out the top of the bottle until about half is poured out. Very dark almost black in color. Aroma of orange, coriander, chocolate. Aroma sweetenes as it warms. Sweet, slightly roasted, orange and coriander. Finish is warming, tart. Aftertaste is reminiscent of a chocolate covered orange. Warm tart ethanol finish. Medium body but oddly thin mouthfeel.

Not bad but not really compelling either.

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Photo of MrDanno96
4.15/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours almost completely black, with just some subtle hints of brown when held up to light. A finger of off-white head sits atop the quaff.

S: Hints of sweet dark fruit mixed with roasted malts and coffee. An interesting combination of aromas.

T: A good dose of fruit sweetness, especially cherries, up front. Touches of chocolate, coffee and smoke come through in the finish. As with the nose, the flavor is an interesting blend of complex tastes.

M: A nice medium body with some crisp carbonation.

D: An interesting hybrid between a porter, wheat beer, and Belgian Dark. The relatively low abv makes this a decent brew to drink over the course of a night. From time to time it's nice to have a beer with lots of complex flavor that won't knock you on your ass after one glass.

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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 saccro
3.03/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

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

T - 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.

M - medium bodied beer. Crisp from start to finish. Thefinish is also slightly dry.

D - 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. Couldn't really get into it.

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Photo of portia99
3.67/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml bottle poured into a Bruery tulip. Had to pick up one of these bottles before they disappear.

A - Pours a near opaque really dark brown with a huge, foamy, long lasting tan head. This is one of those beers that just foams up inside the bottle from being opened. Damn near impossible to pour - took 4-5 slow, gentle pours to approach a full glass of beer. The difficulty pouring is a negative, but it is a good looking glass of beer once you get it in there.

S - Quite a complex smelling beer. I get a huge hit of grape juice up front with some dark roasty malts, a hint of coffee like bitterness, raisins, oranges, prunes and some wheat. Very interesting.

T - Some dark malts, roasted coffee-like flavor, an unexpected tannic like tartness - almost red winelike in flavor. A strange combination of roasted flavors, citrus, wine, spices, wheat...very unusual. Not sure if I like this or not...still trying to figure this one out.

M - Pretty thin in body with tons of carbonation. Tart and a bit puckering in the mouth followed by lingering roastiness into the aftertaste. Unique combination of things going on resulting in a very strange beer for me.

D - Well, glad I grabbed a bottle before they are gone, but I don't think I'll be going on a quest to find any more of these. An interesting experiment, but one that ultimately fails for me...a small glass is plenty. Flavors seem to mesh as times and clash at others. I generally love the stuff the Bruery puts out, but this one was a disappointment and missed the mark for me.

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

sampled april 10/2010 as part of our giant bruery tasting. Viggo and ritzkiss provided the brews, so thanks to eric and eric!

750ml bottle.

pours fairly clear deep dark brown, nearly black, with a big fairly dense dark tan head. the head quickly drops to a thin long-lasting layer and leaves spotty lace.

aroma is good. bit of dark fruit. raisin and date. whole wheat bread. bit of biscuit. touch of chocolate. some character that reminds me of a belgian strong dark ale. hint of coffee.

taste is good. dark toasted multi-grain bread. bit of biscuit. light cracker. bit of orange peel. light coriander and cardamom. bit of coffee and dark chocolate.

mouthfeel is nice. medium-light body. medium carbonation level.

drinkability is good. nice balance. interesting. a nice dark wheat beer.

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

750 ml bottle, I think I picked this one up in Buffalo a while back. Good close out to the epic Bruery tasting.

Pours a hazy reddish brown, a bit muddy looking, thick off white head forms and settles down to a thick ring around the glass, good lace chunks stick.

Smell is neat, yeasty, some chocolate and a bit of floral, banana and some spice, fennel spiciness, wheat, lightly fruity, a hint of roast, some caramel sweetness.

Taste is nice, toasty up front, some wheat, chocolate, biscuit, a touch of floral, light caramel, malty middle, a bit of spice, very dry in the finish.

Mouthfeel is light bodied with medium to high carbonation, light and drinkable with enough complexity to make it interesting.

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Photo of Gmann
3.71/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Out of a 750ml capped bottle. Pours a very deep brown color with a huge airy light tan colored head that settles into a puffy cap. The aroma is of coriander, orange peel and that rotting produce smell that I associate with this style. The taste is that of a wheat malt with a nice belgian yeast flavor, good shot of candi and brown sugar, coriander, some tart apple, finishes with the lightest of bitterness. Defintely resembles a wit but I find that it does not have that spice profile that I don't like. The feel is light to moderate and way way to fizzy. This sucker is over carbonated. It probably helps subdue some of the wit flavors I don't enjoy but the carbonation burns. Overall a different wit style, but still a wit. The flavor is nice but the carbonation affects the flavor of the brew.

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

Big thanks to viggo for cracking this at our Bruery tasting. I've only had a handful of Belgian Darks, so while this is no Black Tuesday, I was still looking forward to learning more about the style.

Pours a very dark oaken brown, that borders on black and has ruby highlights at the very edges. An off-white head has great retention and puts down some nice lace. The aroma is mild but pleasant, with dark tree fruits, earth, brown sugar and dusty cocoa. The flavour is a bit simple, with a lot of dark fruit and a slightly tangy wheatiness, underlaid by earth and light spice. Moderate sweetness and restrained bitterness. Carbonation is still fairly high for its age, and the light body makes it a quick drinker.

For some reason Belgian Darks don't score that highly on BA, but this one was pretty decent. Its not overly complex, but it does make a nice 'lite' version of its bigger style brother.

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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 sweemzander
3.44/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle poured into a tulip. No bottled date. Huge thanks to mb2696 for the bottle!

(A)- Pours a near pitch dark brown; almost black color with the tiniest maroon highlights. Produced a huge foaming eggshell colored head that is taking forever to dissipate. Its just clinging to the sides of the glass not wanting to let go.

(S)- Kind of a closed aroma. Later on though, I get bunches of hay & wheat-like biscuits going on. Earthy, with bits of clay. Very grainy & dry; dusty floor kind of a thing. The tiniest essence of lemon, orange, & banana in the background; very subtle though.

(T)- Pretty much like the smell, only throw some dense oats into the grain-like profile. Rather earthy with some clay. Tiny tiny bits of the above mentioned fruits from the smell. Some plum starts to show itself 1/2 way through the bottle.

(M)- A good carbonation level & balance. Smooth, yet edgy with all the grainy nuances & earthy yet fruity background. An entertaining & engaging mouthfeel. Has a spiciness I cant pinpoint.

(D)- A fun and entertaining beer that doesnt just stay with one nuance or follow the style exactly. Rather earthy which I am enjoying. Probably meant to be consumed much fresher than this, but I enjoyed it at this stage. Not too rich or sweet; rather neutral actually. Would have like to see more fruits, but I think they got lost with the age.

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