The Bruery

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Old Ale
4.08 | pDev: 13.48%
The Bruery
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Notes: Papier is our first anniversary ale, loosely brewed in the English-style Old Ale tradition using our house Belgian yeast strain. The traditional first anniversary gift is something made of paper. The Bruery is giving their loyal fans the gift of Papier, their first anniversary ale. Layered with complex flavors of dark fruit,vanilla, oak, and burnt sugar, Papier is a robust ale, surely the perfect beer to mark our first big milestone. Best for sharing, this beer is ideal for cellaring until you have a celebration of your own…if you can wait.
Reviews: 112 | Ratings: 231 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of DefenCorps
DefenCorps from Oregon

3.62/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from SB D&L from way way back.

A deep mahogany brown with reddish highlights, this beer has no head or lacing. The nose is sweet and oxidized, rich and caramelized. There's a little tobacco, a little butterscotch, a moderate amount of dark caramel and dark corn syrup, a little buckwheat honey. Sherry and a moderate toffee note are present. The palate opens sweet with some bitter dark brown sugar and burnt caramel. Leather, sherry, lots of sherry and some port are present. Boozy heat tempers the sweetness. Dark caramel, a moderate burnt sugar note and some almond skin tannins are present on the finish. Full in body, softly carbonated, this is lush on the palate and quite the boozy beast. Solid stuff - this style doesn't quite do it for me anymore, but this beer is solid.

Sep 04, 2019
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage; drank 4/1/16 @ Harvest Hop Haus.

Muddy purple/brown appearance.

Minimal tan head; no lace.

Strong notes of brandy & raisin in the nose, with a mild apple cider finish.

Flat, medium thick mouthfeel.

Brandy & raisin flavors up front; apple cider notes on the finish. Caramel notes emerged as this warmed.

This sweet treat is holding up quite well...

Jul 05, 2019
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Review from a pour at the Bruery Reserve Society Tasting November 19, 2011. Pours a murky brown, lighter tan colored head on it about 1/6" deep. Aroma was bourbon, toffee, caramel, raisin, maris otter and brown malt like heft to it.

Taste, wow, the original boozy cracker jack in the formula. Nougat. Burnt and turnt sugar, vanilla, oak, toffee, caramel, chocolate dipped raisin. For being just the essential base from which all solera will follow, this is surprisingly complex. I might not have liked it as much as say, Fruet, but its damn good, these things don't get enough love. Carbonation was nice and appropriately somewhat lesser than your average beer. There is a hint of dark fruit bitterness that is more present here than in others in the series.

Its a really good beer, and like all in the series, it covers the alcohol very well. I wish I had more than one of these left. IIRC the bottle is #775.

Jan 31, 2019
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Beersnake1 from California

4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is now 9 years old. Poured from fridge temp into big balloon snifter. Pours a murky brown with almost no head. Nose is nuts, figs, port/sherry, caramel, and raisins. Reminds me of an aged English barleywine. Taste is also along those lines. Nice and sweet, with a bitter backbone. Huge toffee notes, bourbon, figs, raisins, fudge, and candy. Definitely getting an odd bitterness and some oxidation. It's probably past its prime, but still tasting great. Mouthfeel is robust.

Oct 14, 2018
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Phil-Fresh from California

4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


A: Toffee like malt aroma, with some light dark fruits, with moderately light oxidative note.

A: Deep brown color, opaque, with a rocky tan uneven head that quickly forms a fine ring around the glass.

T: Lots of malt character with a toffee/caramel flavor, light dried fruits with a moderate oxidation, faint sherry flavor with noticeable alcoholic strength and a slightly sweet finish.

M: Full bodied with light carbonation.

O: Solid; the beer is starting to show some oxidization, but is still a very drinkable old ale.

May 24, 2017
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cvm4 from Mississippi

4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled #3427 of #4777

I'm going to go into this not expecting a fresh & vibrant beer. I know it has some age on it.

L - Pours a really unattractive muddy brown body with a head that you barely notice. For all that I know, the beer is basically flat. I guess the lack of a hiss when opening it should have been an indicator.

S - The smell is intoxicating! Gobs of dark stone fruits with rich caramel and candied syrup.

T - Taste is similar to the nose with oxidation brought into the fold. Aside from that, taste follows the nose.

F - Full bodied and light to almost no carbonation. Has a wet finish.

O - This has held up better than I was expecting. I big brew that, IMO is on the downward trend, but has somewhat held up to the test of time.

Mar 13, 2016
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stakem from Pennsylvania

4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

750ml black waxed bottle #4277 of 4777. Poured into a matching Bruery snifter. The brew appears a very dark brown with a khaki head that is comprised of very large bubbles. As the cap fades, it leaves spotty lace on the glass. Visually, this appears to be lacking carbonation.

Aroma is, lots of it then a hint of raisony alcohol and leather. Some caramel, molasses and a hint of oak. Yesterday I opened a bottle of Coton and the day before that a bottle of Cuir, both of them showcased deep layerings of oxidation. I get zero oxidative character in the nose of this bottle of Papier which is interesting considering this is the oldest of the 3 beers mentioned.

Taste has just as much dry, roasty chocolate flavor as the nose leads on. Then raisony alcohol and a firm herbal bitterness that lasts with an oily cling. There is plenty of malt character left tasting of caramel and almost a burnt molasses with enough residual sweetness to combat both the alcohol and bitterness. Only once the brew gets warm do I start to notice some mild oxidative quality but honestly, I am shocked at how little is present in comparison to Cuir and Coton.

This is medium to fuller bodied with light carbonation which I feel is fitting for this big sipper. For being 7 years old, I think its fantastic and holding up much better than some people claim, perhaps thats bottle variation and storage conditions playing into others experiences. For me, this is great and it tastes better than many of the others in the anniversary series.

Jan 11, 2016
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BeerImmediately from Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

6 years in the cellar. Broke out tonight for, well, no special occasion ... just continuing to clear the cellar.

Pours with no real carbonation... virtually flat. I'm ok with that.
Very dark brown to amber in color.
Aromas are full of rich, fermented fruit plus oak.. Dates, cherry, and raisin.
Mouthfeel is rich - not too cloying, as you might expect from a 14% beer... maybe it's the style.
Flavors are full of the rich fruits in the aroma, plus lots of oak / vanilla, and a bit of black licorice.

This one held up ok - no spoilage. Probably aged it too long, but was happy with the beer overall.

Nov 29, 2015
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ivegot3Dvision from Oregon

3.76/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Alright, I had this last night with a vertical of the anniversary ales... it wasn't the best of the lot unfortunately.

A - Opened the bottle to not much hiss. Poured into a Bruery tasting glass (the original printed ones), poured a VERY murky brown, mind you it had been sitting upright for a good few weeks. There was little to no carbonation, even when I poured it hard.

S - Smelled great, lots of dried fruits and caramel malts with a smattering of oxidation.

T - Tasted very similar to the nose, which is nice. Definitely oxidized over the years, but in a good way.

M - Chewy and somewhat thick because of the lack of carbonation, but I'm fine with that, it's the mouthfeel I wanted out of the beer.

O - It was good, I'm glad I got to try it, but I can't help but think that the 25/75 blend gave me a beer that wasn't as interesting and lasting as I had hoped.

Aug 09, 2015
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jlindros from Massachusetts

3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Been holding onto this for a looooong time, original batch from 2009, had all the other anniversaries so needed to crack this one. Shared with rudzud and kyle.

Original batch from 2009, bottle number 2006.

Pours no real head, super dark maroon brown color touch of mahogany light coming through.

Nose brings tons of sweet candy malt, toffee, nutty, candy syrup, lots of aged soft malts, little nougat, etc. Some oxidation is def there, not a ton but some, little candied raisin, mild oak, toasted oak no real bourbon or vanilla.

Taste hits with sweet candy, sharp sweet candy and caramel syrup, so sweet, syrupy mess and some warming booze, nutty toffee, etc. Little candied syrupy raisin syrup, little bitterness still. Mild oxidation, not much, and a little toasted oak also not a ton. Finish is sticky sweet, little more booze, more candied raisin and syrupy candy lingering.

Mouth is fuller bod, very syrupy and sweet, no real carb either, plenty of hot booze.

Overall better than expected, some oxidation but not a ton, bit boozy and very sweet.

May 16, 2015
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rudzud from Massachusetts

3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to JLindros for sharing. Bottle #2006/4777

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a nice dark crystal clear black hue with a very thin halo. Nice legs.

S - Aromas of sweet raisins, malts, sugar, oxidation, faint bourbon, no real alcohol.

T - Taste is lightly boozy, lots of oxidation, nice light bourbon, malty sweetness, nice light almost prunes, caramel, more oxidation.

M - Mouthfeel is very sticky and syrupy, little booze.

O - Overall this beer was really great to try, but yah definitely has fallen off. Glad to try.

Serving type: bottle

May 14, 2015
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Rollzroyce21 from California

4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

- 4 oz. pour from 750mL bottle into tasting snifter
- Bruery Tasting Room on 19-Dec-14

Nice dark toasty and roasty aroma. No bubbles. Plum sweetness. One of the better smelling brews I've smelled in a while. No carbo, but like a refined port with no booze whatsoever. Overall real nice, but would've preferred a bit more carbo and thicker body. I'm gonna say this one peaked.

Dec 23, 2014
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mdfb79 from New York

3.34/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Have had this bottle since late 2009 or so. Heard it was a boozy mess fresh, so sat on it for a long time in a proper cellar. 750ml bottle poured into my Bruery tulip. Bottle #3628/4777..

a - Pours a murky reddish brown color with light carbonation evident and a few bubbles of dark brown head. Looks a little oxidized.

s - Smells of sweet dark fruits, alcohol, molasses, bready malts, toasted malts, light caramel malts, bourbon, roasted malts, sugar, and light cocoa. Smell is pretty good, albeit strong.

t - Tastes of sweet dark fruits, figs, plums, alcohol, molasses, burnt sugar, toasted malts, musty earthy notes, light caramel, and wood. Tastes has more alcohol present than the nose. Super boozy.

m - Thick full body and no carbonation at all. Pretty hot still.

o - Overall this is super hot, even for me who likes hot beers. The last few years have been fantastic but the first anniversary beer is a bit of a boozy mess...maybe the 100% BBAing has helped more than I thought. More fruit and less caramel, I wouldn't say this is worth seeking out, and I love their anniversary beers. Better off just buying a Cuir or Bois.

May 16, 2014
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inlimbo77 from Delaware

4.21/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml, 2009 (3266 of 4777)
The Bruery tulip

A: Pours murky brown reddish color. Very minimal carbonation. Not even a collar. Alcohol feet.

S: Booze is still there, but muted. Caramel and toffee. Sticky toffee pudding. Dark fruits: prunes, plums, raisins, etc. As others have mentioned, oxidation is there.

T: Lots of dark fruit. Prune. Raisin. Some bourbon. Vanilla hints even though is partially aged. Finish has some lingering sweetness.

M: Medium full body.

Nov 18, 2013
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Alieniloquium from Florida

4.26/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into a taster. Bottle 1262.

Appearance - Deep murky brown. Chunky head. A few bubbles at the edge.

Smell - Oxidized sherry like flavors. Vanilla, caramel, some bourbon. Fruity. Oxidation is nice.

Taste - Oxidation is much more prevalent. Barrel less noticable. Caramel masked by lots of dark fruits. Slight acidity to it, but not oppressive.

Mouthfeel - Medium low carbonation. Slick and a touch bitter. Doesn't drink like its ABV.

Overall - These anniversary beers get better with oxidation. True solera method means later iterations could be really good in years to come.

Mar 09, 2013
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birchstick from Colorado

3.74/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a blackish raisin color without a head. Nose is caramel, sweet toffee, raisins and plums. Taste starts off with soy flavors that move to caramel malts. Dark fruits show up next with a slight bit of oxidized flavors coming through. Finishes with a toffee, caramel, oxidized Barleywine flavor. Mouthfeel is a little watery and thin. Overall, this is good, but there is definitely an oxidized presence. I wouldn't suggest holding to one for too much longer...

Nov 10, 2012
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billab914 from Virginia

4.06/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saved this one to open with my wife on our first anniversary Oct 1. It poured a murky brown color with noticeable sediment floating around. Almost no head and very still. Very thin tan ring around edges. Not bad for age and style, but not great either.

Rich dark fruits, oak and mild bourbon. Notes of plum and fig with a little cherry. It really comes together well and the flavors are very balanced with each other. Very nice for such bold flavors. Really great depth to it and surprisingly low on alcohol heat.

The sweet dark fruits are there throughout, but the cherry comes out even more in the taste. The oak comes out in the finish along with a hint of vanilla and bourbon. A little bit of bitterness is in the finish as well helping it from becoming cloyingly sweet. A little boozy in the finish, but very nice overall.

Mouthfeel is on the heavier side with very low carbonation. Carbonation is a little lower then ideal, but it is 4 years old.

Overall, a very good beer with a fantastic aroma. A little more barrel character in the taste could have pushed this one from really good to great though. I Wish I had one of the 100% versions to try. Very enjoyable beer to sip on for the occasion.

Nov 05, 2012
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bamadog from Ohio

3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Three years is plenty. Review is from notes taken on 10/12/2012, poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour is a murky and dark caramel brown; starts with pretty much no head, but just a thin, loose ring around the surface and a couple of strands of wispy lacing on the surface; as mentioned, the body is murky, hard to see through; body poured a little on thick and viscous as it hit the glass; a lone ring of lacing is left behind on the glass.

Smell: Wow. Huge and robust, and it's going to be a warm one, that's for sure. Plenty of big sweet caramel malts and that nice old ale spiciness; big booziness lies underneath; touch a sweet fruitiness

Taste: Just like the nose -- big and robust. The caramel malts are huge, sweet and dominant, almost overly so. It's really good, just really sweet. Big booziness with a touch of bitterness, reminiscent of a big DIPA bitterness with some orange peel; kind of a candied fruitiness that's big and ripe; some vanilla and oakiness.

Mouthfeel: Thick, oily and slick; unfortunately is pretty much flat. The only life comes from the warming alcohol. Belly is left warm from the booziness.

Overall: It's big and pretty bad ass, but it's one that I probably should have shared. The crazy sweetness is going to make it tough to finish the bottle. Probably shouldn't have waited so long as with some more carbonation to make it a bit more alive, it probably would have been a little easier to get down.

Oct 13, 2012
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RblWthACoz from Pennsylvania

4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a real murky and clouded brown. This one is mildly hot on the flavor, but certainly not as much as you might expect. The vanilla tones are nice, and I feel like they're the most pronounced of all the character, though nothing is really screaming at me here. This is a nice sipper. I have to be honest and say that I expected more from this one. But overall, it was nice.

Aug 31, 2012
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FosterJM from California

3.27/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1287th Review on BA
Bottle to Goblet/Wine
750 ML Black Wax

@Toronado SD

Split with JazzPatel, Ehammond1, MrHirschybar

**My 1st words when tasting this..DAMN IT**

App- A creamy dark brown with a bit of crimson around the edges and a bit of red in the center. Zero bubble activity with Zero cling or lace. Pretty flat.

Smell- I really felt this was losing its steam. Take a dubbel minus the yeasts. Had a lot of dark fruits with a healthy dose of raisins and caramel behind it.

Taste- Really not a whole lot to say about this one. The essence of the Old ale is pretty much gone. I got a creamy lifeless dubbel really. It was tasty but I have a feeling in another year when I do my 5 year vertical its just not gonna be good. Bourbon, vanilla are gone and its fairly sweet now.

Mouth- A creamy lifeless medium body. A low carbonation level on this one with the residual fruits and molasses taking over.

Drink- Not at all what I was hoping for. Really starting to show its age.

May 17, 2012
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Jwale73 from Rhode Island

4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml wax capped bottle. Bottle 2029 of 4777. Bottle opens with nary a hiss off the pop. Pours a brownish amber with no head and no foam at all. Nose expresses soy sauce, brown sugar, booze and molasses. Taste consistent with nose; however, some woody notes also come out. The overall flavor profile is quite sugary. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a slightly oily consistency and some residual heat at the finish. As anticipated, there is pretty much zero carbonation, but I didn't find that particularly off-putting, given the style. Overall, while the brew is definitely flat, and some soy sauce-like qualities are starting to come out. I found this to be quite an enjoyable sipper; however, definitely plan on sharing this with a few friends. That said, I'm not sure how well this will continue to mature with extended cellaring.

May 13, 2012
Photo of ehammond1

3.24/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle (2009)

The Bruery RS Initiation Party 2012

(Aged for 2+ years)

Murky, dark amber and caramel in color with not much visible carbonation. This leaves an oily sheen on the glass.

The aroma is quite nice, though a bit acidic, which I don't think was the brewer's intention. The sweet component of brown sugar, caramel, and toffee comes through nicely, along with a hint of red wine vinegar sharpness, unfortunately.

The flavor too is nice, well-rounded, and very drinkable. The sweet, complex flavors of brown sugar, molasses, caramel, and mild maple complement each other nicely. There's a hint of acid that isn't the most pleasant.

Medium to full bodied with low carbonation.

This was my first time trying this beer, though I imagine, at least this bottle, has seen better days.

Mar 23, 2012
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UCLABrewN84 from California

4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pour at the Bruery Reserve Society initiation party at The Phoenix Club in Anaheim, CA.

Pours a murky dark brown with no head and no lace. Smell is of malt, fruits, wood, and bourbon. Taste is of malt, dark fruits, wood, and bourbon flavors. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good old ale and a nice first anniversary beer.

Mar 18, 2012
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phichifiji00 from California

3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Rich dark brown with red hues. No head, no lacing.

Smell: Bourbon, brown sugar, sweet, raisins, figs, oak, vanilla.

Taste: brown sugar, sweet, raisins, figs, oak, vanilla, brandy.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, no carbonation, silky, smooth, boozy.

Overall: A good beer. I liked Coton and Cuir a bit better, but nice to finally try the original anniversary blend. Drinkability is good. Flavors/aromas are complex.

Nov 20, 2011
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ottovon from Arizona

3.77/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

shared with whiterascal for my birthday.

A: a murky, maroonish-brown with almost not head. looks like it isnt carbed much.

S: hints of bourbon, oak, and vanilla. i get a lot of molasses, toffee, caramel, and roasted malt. there is a bit of alcohol, and i get some chocolate as well. a bit of sweetness in the aroma. more bourbon comes out in the nose as it warms.

T: just like the aroma. molasses, toffee, and caramel dominate. i get some bourbon, oak, and vanilla, but they aren't dominate flavors. there is a bit of roasted malt and dark chocolate. some sweetness. i get dark fruits like fig as well. finishes a touch bitter like dark chocolate would.

M: medium with low carb. smooth.

O: this is a good beer for sure. nothing earth shattering, but a solid beer.

Nov 17, 2011
Papier from The Bruery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 231 ratings