Orange County1 is not a bad place to be if you are a fan of craft beer; easy access to the great brews coming out of San Diego, close to an emerging beer scene in Los Angeles and a number of great breweries here in our own backyard. Bootleggers, Noble, Bottle Logic, Valiant and Cismontane are some of the more known names in the area but The Bruery takes the cake for most Orange County beer nerds.2 The Bruery has been churning out their high ABV offerings since 2009 and have grown into a nationwide name in the craft beer market.
While The Bruery is known for there massive beers like Black Tuesday and its variants3 it is also well know for being one of the first breweries to offer an exclusive membership club. Nowadays there are hundreds of breweries offering some sort of exclusive membership deal but back in 2009 The Bruery was a trendsetter when they announced the Reserve Society. The Reserve Society was a way for locals to guarantee themselves any and all of the limited releases The Bruery was to put out in the coming year.4 The $200 membership included some Bruery merchandise, a discount card to be used at The Bruery, access to member’s only events, access to purchase members only beers and even a few bottles to take home at the beginning of the year.5
The Bruery’s membership program is now in its fifth year and has grown quite a bit. There are now three levels of memberships including the Preservation, Reserve and Hoarders societies. The Hoarders Society is the most exclusive club being that it is invite only and has the smallest membership numbers of the three clubs. The Hoarders have access to a few very limited beers each year that no one else gets a chance to purchase. These Hoarders only bottles have become the most sought after bottles in the Bruery line up.
Blue BBLS was one of the Hoarders only releases in 2014 and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a bottle. Blue BBLS is a blend of Black Tuesday and Tart of Darkness that was aged in bourbon barrels with blueberries. Being that Black Tuesday is one of my favorite beers and I absolutely love sour beer I was very excited to try this bottle.
I crack open the bottle I am met with the massive sweet smell of Black Tuesday. As I pour the beer into my The Bruery-branded tulip it appears jet black with very little carbonation. It pours like motor oil with a small khaki brown head appears then quickly dissipates.
I quickly bury my nose in the glass and am met with a massive array of flavors. The distinct bourbon, toffee, dates, vanilla, chocolate and alcohol of the Black Tuesday are all there. The addition of the blue berries give it a wonderful jammy fruit character that when mixed with the Black Tuesday comes off like a fruit filled chocolate pie soaked in booze. I am not picking up much of a sour quality but it could be masked by the other massive aromas coming from the glass.
The time has come and I finally take a sip. The first thing that I notice is how delicately the sour note is incorporated. I had expected a big sour kick to the beer and it was more of a slight tinge of sour that just added a layer of complexity. All of those big Black Tuesday characteristics that were present in the bouquet were all accounted for in the first sip. A huge unfermented sugary sweetness mixed with bourbon, vanilla, rum-soaked raisons, chocolate and off course alcohol were all front and center. The blueberries added a very noticeable fruitiness that really complimented the base beer. The sour character was just enough to be noticeable in the mid palette but did not distract from the decadent flavors of the Black Tuesday and blue berries. The sweetness from the malty base beer lingered along with a noticeable amount of booze bite.