Tart Of Darkness | The Bruery

368 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Tart Of DarknessTart Of Darkness

Brewed by:
The Bruery
California, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Batch 2 was aged in spent Black Tuesday barrels.

Added by ajcobb24 on 06-22-2011

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 368 | Ratings: 2,412
Photo of LloydDobler
4.79/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Pours a dark cola with a full finger of matching sizzling, tan cola head. The nose is that same funky sour I usually get from a good Flanders. The sour really punches you in the mouth to start off. Late whispers of signature stout malt and richness climb on the back of the tartness and ride it out. The mouth is surprisingly clean. My first venture into this sour stout style and I love it!

 391 characters

Photo of floridadrift
3.49/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black with light brown head. Beyond the obvious sour notes, the taste lingers with slight bitterness to it. Smooth mouth feel and easily drinkable. An imperial sour stout at its finest. A crowd pleaser for the stout and sour guy.

 235 characters

Photo of Yabu
4.26/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Bruery

I'm barely getting into sour's.

The nose was great, I could smell the sour!

Very tart, yet a full body . I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I thought it was more Tart than last years version. (I had a bottle of ToD vintage 2014.)

Definitely a MUST if you are at the tap room.

The bottle at $19.99 is pretty worthwhile, provided you have at least a friend to share it with.

 396 characters

Photo of Extol
3.33/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Appearance - dark purple sort of color. Smell - grape scent. Taste - tart bomb. But tastes like grape medicine. Kind of gross. Not what I expected. Overall - only drink if you like grape medicine, I wouldn't get this again.

 223 characters

Photo of SoCal_Matt
4.46/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage served in a Teku glass.

Appearance is very dark brown with a reddish tint on the edges. You can tell that it is has a good amount of carbonation as you pour it. Sour cherries on the nose with some roast and a bit oaky. Sour cherry dominates and it's mouth puckering - in a good way - with roasted stout and oak flavors underneath. Feel is medium bodied, highly carbonated, and crisp. Overall, this is an excellent beer, just know it is very, very tart.

 466 characters

Photo of hophugger
4.51/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a surprisingly dark color, with a tinge of purple at the edges. Aroma is of fresh berries. Taste is very complex, with souriness, berries, cherries and a saltiness that is very nice. There is something at the end that resembles maybe caramel, but it is soothing and sweet. I will have to try this one again, as this beer is so complex, that I cannot get all of the flavors together, WOW !!!!!!!

 400 characters

Photo of teromous
3.82/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The bottle has 6/23/15 etched into it.

Appearance: It is a dark brown beer that appears black in the glass with a fizzy but thick light brown head that is reminiscent of a rootbeer float. Some spotting on the glass but no real lacing. The head fizzes down to a thin sheet of foam very quickly, and eventually recedes into a ring with islands of bubbles along the surface.

Aroma: It has a very rich tart aroma. It smells like crushed sweet tarts and cherries. After smelling it for a while I start to pick up a light scent of alcohol and I actually get a bit of toasted caramel. The caramel scent is not very pronounced but it makes for a more interesting aromatic character. The dominant character is the tart souring fruit smell.

Taste: Extremely sour. This literally strips the skin from my palate. It is like sucking on a lemon and although it doesn't really taste like a lemon that is what this is the most similar to, for me. It's hard to really pin down an exact flavor to the beer because it is overwhelmed with sheer sourness but it does have an overall nice quality that contributes to what one might consider to be taste.

Mouthfeel: I think this has the mouthfeel that most people expect when they read "Tart of Darkness." It is not balanced at all. This is a one sided conversation between you and tartness and you are the recipient. There is a fair amount of mineral presence in the beer; a bit like limestone. The beer is definitely a sipper because of the strong sourness.

Overall: I was impressed by the beer. It delivers a good punch of sourness that sets the bar very high among its peers. I didn't get any roasted character from the stout base beer or any oak flavor. The bottle says "Dark - Roasty - Sour" and I feel like they could have omitted the "Roasty" part. I did enjoy it and I would recommend it to sour lovers. I don't think this would deliver anything special to stout lovers as the only contribution it made to my drinking experience was a darker appearance and a light bit of toasted caramel on the nose. It is an interesting an unique beer.

 2,078 characters

Photo of MUTINY
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into my Duvel tulip.

A: Pours a nearly-opaque black with vibrant amber highlights around the edges when held up to bright artificial light. 3/4"light-tan head that recedes quickly. Retention is above average, lacing is poor.

S: Very mild overall. I primarily detect a promising amount of lactic tang along with some plummy & figgy fruit character. There is perhaps a milk chocolate note as well, with a slightly boozy anise quality. This is a much more muted nose than I was hoping for/expecting, although what's there is quite nice.

T: Comes on with a pretty strong lactic tartness that lingers into the mid palate. Mid palate features vinegar & a musty grape quality along with fairly pronounced oak. Underneath that, I'm finding overripe strawberry & cherry. The finish is again sharp & pleasantly tart with a bit more of an oaky anise quality. Not the deepest-flavored Bruery Sour that I've tasted, but it's definitely well-crafted & enjoyably tart.

M: Lowish-to-moderate carb married to a light, slightly creamy body. It's all rather appropriate given the flavor profile.

O: This brew is really rather enjoyable. The sourness brings a nice brute-force to an otherwise straightforward palate.

 1,230 characters

Photo of Onemoresolo
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Oh boy! I'm really treating myself here. My first Bruery sighting in CT, had to give it a shot. Bottled on 6/23/15. Here we go!

Look: Tan head quickly dissipates into nothing. Beer is dark brown with ruby highlights

Smell: Sourness and roastiness dance together, complimenting each other more than I honestly expected. I'm getting sour cherries, strawberries, bitter dark chocolate, oak, dates; it's very vinous in an earthy way, like a fine Burgundy.

Taste: Follows the nose, with the addition of a cranberry/tart Pinot Noir flavor as well. That fades out into a deep chocolatey/roasty stout backdrop with a lovely oak aged balsamic aftertaste. Yes, some people will read balsamic and think of it pejoratively. If you've ever had real, barrel aged balsamic, you'll know that I mean that description in the best way possible. The stout base becomes more prominent as the beer warms up, but it's delicious all the way from cellar temp to room temp.

Feel: Thicker than the gueuzes I've been drinking, but this definitely isn't Ten Fidy motor oil status. For the style, this is perfect. It's medium bodied, which lays a perfect backdrop for the acidity to work its way through my whole mouth.

Overall: I know these reviews read like a crazy Robert Parker Wine Advocate review, but this sort of beer definitely deserves deep contemplation. I wasn't sure what to expect with this beer, but it definitely delivered here. It wasn't cheap, but I'll definitely snag another sometime in the future.

 1,494 characters

Photo of makeyourself
4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 edition from bottle.

Poured into a small brandy snifter. The smell of course is more sour than it is stout. The look is more of a dark almost reddish sour and it not your typical pitch black stout. The taste first start off with the classic sour taste where its gives off a tart vibe. As you continue to drink the sip, it finishes off as stout and you get the stout characteristics at the end. ToD is for sure more sour than stout in almost every category. The only stout characteristic this beer has is the finishing taste you get from a sip and maybe the dark color that it gives off. I did notice as the beer got warmer, the stout finishing taste was more prevalent. Overall this is a great tasting beer and ecstatic that this can be found every right now.

 765 characters

Photo of eifster82
3.99/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 version.

L - Dark, but not viscous. The head dissipates quickly.

S - Cranberries beat up your nose, with subtle oak smell at end.

T - As the name suggests, very tart. Very sour. Fruity, abundance with cranberries and cherries.

F - Lighter than one would expect if basing on look of the beer. Sour after taste leaves your lips puckered.
O - This is a very sour beer. But the ingredients work well in what the beer is supposed to be. Sour fans would love this one.

 476 characters

Photo of mdolin
4.44/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 edition - shared with @rjleveque1 in tulip glasses

L - Little to no head, slight coffee colored lacing. The beer has a very dark color, just as you would expect with a stout.
S - rich cocoa and sour/black cherry and raspberry. Reminds me of a slightly sour Dr. Pepper.
T - Sharp acidity with lingering oak characteristics. Surprisingly refreshing. This is where the stout characteristics go away.
F - Does not sit heavy on the palate as a stout would normally feel. Coats your mouth with the wild yeasty characteristics, but makes you want to go back for more.
O - My first experience with The Bruery. Always heard great things and I would definitely go back for more. There are a lot of great sour beers on the market that don't run $20+ a bottle, but I think this proves to me they are at least worth a shot. Great opportunity to try beers that you don't see in the market. Next up, Or Xata!

 899 characters

Photo of BucannonXC5
4.01/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Type: 750ml bottle (25.4 oz.)
Glass: 26th anniversary Karl Strauss pint glass
From: Beer Advocate’s heresy22
Price: N/A
Purchased: N/A; Received May 21, 2015
Consumed: June 27, 2015
Misc.: Bottled on May 1, 2014

Thanks Chris!

Poured a mahogany (even purple?) opaque color with one finger of tan, rocky head,
which thinned out right away. Minimal lacing on the sides of the glass. Below average retention on the top all the way down. (Sight - 3.50)

Smelled tart cherry, Sweet Tarts, Smarties, strawberry (wishful?), red apple, cider, faint plum, chocolate late, cocoa powder (I think), black cherry and faint sour milk. (Smell - 4.25)

Tasted sour cherries up front, followed by tart on the tongue late, chewy sour ball candy, strawberry, red apple cider, purple grape, sour plum juice. Then (it really seemed like all of a sudden) I got some sugary chocolate, oak, light toasty malts, cocoa nibs and toffee. (Taste - 4.00)

Medium body. Creamy-to-oily texture. Lively carbonation. Abrupt, astringent finish. (Feel - 3.75)

This was very interesting. I got like 85 percent sour and 15 percent stout. Very sugary and sweet. I don’t know how one could finish a whole bottle, but I’m going to try. (Overall - 4.00)

4.01 | 90 | A-

 1,236 characters

Photo of justinp444
4.87/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a tulip has a very quickly dissipating brown head with a dark black body and brown edges. Smell of of apple cider, tart cherries, peaches, vanilla, and oak. Tons of fresh fruit characteristic and a tangy sour that bites your nose. Taste is of sour apple cider, grapes juice, vanilla, and a slight end of oak. Fantastic, takes some time to adjust to the sour as it is powerful, but it is super smooth and juice like with lots of sweetness and just a bit dry. Medium mouth feel with a medium body. 2014 vintage.

 521 characters

Photo of kkleu357
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Dark purple mostly black body. Don’t really care for the smell. I’m the only one getting this, but I get a grape cough medicine smell. Luckily, the taste was very good. No medicine. Tart sour roasty flavor. Mild oak flavor. Interesting to be drinking a sour stout.

 268 characters

Photo of ivegot3Dvision
5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a review of the 2011 bottle I had the privilege to try at Society Member Monday. I was expecting a 'meh' beer, but it definitely was much better than I expected. I really wish I could get about 20 cases of this... please?

 229 characters

Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.24/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a very dark brown with a thin one-finger off-white head. The head dissapates extremely quickly leaving virtually no lacing.

S - Aroma is vinegar and tart cherries.

T - The flavor is tart cherries, vinegar, and white grape. There is some leather, light roasted malts and oakiness midpalate. Finish is even more tart cherries and lemon.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Very dry finish.

O - This is a nice blend of fruity and vinous. I'm not really picking up any of the stout flavors aside from the malts. Mouth puckering good sour.

 555 characters

Photo of ThreeLions
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml split with hab11 in treehouse tulips.

Look: Good carbonation. Umm. Hmm. What can I say? Poured from the bottle looking like Coca-Cola with less carbonation. Carbonation quickly runs away leaving no head, no lacing whatsoever. 7% abv. This beer looks sort of thin and lifeless. Stillborn beer? Stepped outside and the beer has some redeeming qualities. Much darker than originally appeared. Good oils coating the glass.

Smell: tart chocolate covered sour cherries. Almost green apple or crab apple smells too. Not a big fan of this style of beer but I like the brewery so hopefully it will be good.

Taste: Hmm. Much better than anticipated. Heavy malt vinegar with lots of cherries and chocolate. Very vinegary with a lot of chocolate and cherries. Looking for other flavors but as of yet they have not come through. It is.like drinking a cherry cordial marinated in balsamic vinegar. It is interesting and not terrible. I almost feel like making a salad and pouring this over it but then the chocolate comes back. I really do feel as though I am drinking a sad dressing. Again, not awful nut not my cup of tea.

Mouth: Good oily Resinous medium body.

Overall: as a general thing I simply do not understand this style. If this is your type of thing then I would suggest getting a bottle because for what it is it does a very good job. If you don't care for this style don't expect this beer to change your mind. Overall pretty good, great even just not for me. Also hab11 just reminded me thus was aged in Oak barrels. I got no barrel presence whatsoever. No oak tannins from which this beer could have greatly benefitted. Not for me but maybe for you.

 1,696 characters

Photo of Derek
4.51/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 Edition. Pours a nice head that subsides to a thin ring of retention, shows some leg. It is tart, nice solid body. Roast is subtle, like dark chocolate covered cherries.

 176 characters

Photo of bnes09
4.83/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Dark brown, translucent ale. Thin, off-white head with minimal retention or lacing. Typical for the style.

Tart vinegar, berry, slightly roasted aroma.

Assertive acid flavor but very well balanced with the mild roastiness, and smooth oak. Lots of berry, primarily black currants. As it warms, subtle sweet dark fruits notes begin to emerge. Prunes and blackberries come to mind. Very complex and super well balanced flavor.

Medium bodied. Dry feel. Makes the mouth water. Moderate carbonation.

Hard to tell this beer is a stout. The presence of roasted malt adds some wonderful dark flavors, although not as aggressive a roastiness as most stouts. Simplicity, subtlety and elegance are characteristics this beer brings to the table better than any stout and almost any sour ale I've ever tasted. Truly a boundary breaker and a testament to demonstrate where craft beer can go.

 894 characters

Photo of Beer-Revelry
1.98/5  rDev -52.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Poured into a Duvel snifter glass.

2013 vintage

The beer that made me realize, I do not like this whole sour beer fiasco.

A - 4.5 - Poured an incredibly dark brown, pretty much to the point of jet black in color. Formed a half finger of quickly dissipating, medium tan colored head. Extremely weak head potential and retention. Nonexistent lacing.
S - 2.75 - Acid. Tons of acidic, tart cherry and white grape. Wine, vinegar, and perhaps an EXTREMELY distant malty aroma.
T - 1 - Good god, I could barely stomach a few sips, let alone drink an entire glass. Extremely acidic grape and vinegar, fades into a somewhat malty finish. The malt combined with the vinegar and tart grape creates the taste of what I can only describe as a combination of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Horrid.
F - 3.5 - Medium body.
O - 1.5 - I guess some people are really into this whole sour beer craze, and I can imagine there's probably a huge following for this type of beer, but for ME, I'd rather spend a fraction of the cost and get myself a bottle of vinegar and a bottle of soy sauce. Has definitely opened my eyes to the fact that I am indeed not a sour drinker.

 1,156 characters

Photo of Catracho5
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle poured into a Bruery tulip glass

A: Pitch black, no light coming through, minimal tan colored head retention, no lacing, slight carbonation, a little thin looking.

A: Sour bomb, vinegar, tart, cherries, raspberry, lots of aroma, no alcohol, smells more tart than roasty, not picking up any stout characteristics on the nose.

T: Tartness up front, sour grapes, pear, green apple tartness, a hint of oak at the end, alcohol is well hidden, not getting any stout characteristics on the flavor, all sour and tartness.

M: A little on the watery thin side, balanced carbonation, dry finish.

O: Very good, I was hoping for some stout characteristics to come through but did not get any. All sour, green apples, pears, a well made beer.

 749 characters

Photo of SierraFlight
3.83/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle shared during #bottlecherwednesday at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach. Poured into a tulip. Appearance is dark opaque brown with a finger of tan head that settles to a collar and leaves sporadic, spotty lacing. Aroma is sour cherries, roasted malt, oak, and chocolate. Taste is sour cherries and dark fruit, surrounded by roasted malt and chocolate sweetness, and a drying oak and grape finish. Medium body, slightly creamy texture, average-plus carbonation which is good for the style and weight of this beer, and a puckering, tannic, drying finish.

 559 characters

Photo of 2dogbrew
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not what I expected. Definitely more of a sour than stout, but it was enjoyable. I expected to pick up some typical roasted character of a stout, but that didn't seem to be present.

 182 characters

Photo of leroybrown10
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a small creamy looking tan head. Head dissipates quickly leaving little lacing behind. Some deep red and brown highlights when held to the light.

Aroma is heavy acetic acid. Some tart cherry. Roasted malt and oak at the end.

Tart cherry, mild roast malt and and some lacto funkiness. Some oak and leatheriness. Fruity on the back end. More cherry as well as grape, lemon, raspberry and gooseberry.

Tart mouth feel with some dryness at the end. Induces a slight pucker but is not overly sour. Medium carbonation. There was a noticeable hiss when I popped the cap.

Overall a good beer but not exceptional. At $20/bottle, I am not likely to try this again. It is supposed to be a stout/sour hybrid, but I only picked up hints of the stout flavors. Blind taste test, I would have identified it as a straight sour/wild ale.

 854 characters

Tart Of Darkness from The Bruery
4.16 out of 5 based on 2,412 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.