Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Bruery Orchard White review

I finally got to try a new beer from a brewery I hadn't seen here in Colorado until just recently. I had stopped by Liquor Max in Loveland Colorado to look at their fine selection of Belgians and other beers. I spotted another witbier in the cooler that had a high rating listed below it. My interest in witbiers these day are high and I jumped that the chance to try a beer from The Bruery from Placentia, California in the heart of Orange County. This bottle looked a lot like a wine bottle (perhaps on purpose) and was called Orchard White.

The Bruery's Orchard White weighed in at a moderate 5.7% ABV and was bittered to just 15 IBU so I knew this beer wasn't going to be heavy on the hop side. Witbiers can vary quite a bit for this style. Breweries tend to throw in a wide range of spices and try several different strains of Belgian yeast. This beer had gotten some good press and I wanted to see for myself how it tasted.

The bottle suggested serving this witbier fairly cold at 45 degrees in either a fluted glass or a wine glass. I chose the fluted glass as I admit I don't own any wine glasses. Orchard White poured darker than other witbiers I've seen. This was not a pale yellow but rather nearly orange. In the glass it appeared to look like apple juice with a very fizzy white and short lived head.

The head built up quickly and filled nearly half the glass but just as quick as it built up it faded down to nothing. This beer was highly carbonated. There were a lot of bubbles in this beer and the dissolving foam sounded more like champagne than beer. Swirling the beer in the glass yielded no extra head and there was absolutely no lacing from this beer.

The first pour out of this 750ml bottle was surprisingly clear. The label stated that this beer was unfiltered and bottle conditioned. I thought for sure it would (should) be cloudy but it wasn't. That would soon change, however, as the 2nd and 3rd glass got cloudier the deeper into the bottle I sampled. Just look at the picture close up, does that look cloudy to you?

Aroma: I noticed a more sweet but spicy aroma from this beer. The Bruery must be using a different strain of Belgian yeast than I've seen in most witbiers. The aroma was a bit floral and citrusy. The label suggested there was a hint of lavender in this beer - perhaps that was what I was smelling. It didn't have a wheat-like aroma like some wits but was more dominant on the spice (coriander) or lavender. I could detect a hint of orange peel in this beer as well.

Mouthfeel: I felt a sharpness hit the front of my tongue right from the start. The carbonation was very noticeable as it spread throughout the palate. Not only did the look remind me of champagne but also the feel. The bubbles would eventually subside later in the sampling but the initial pour was quite lively. The beer has a semi-clean finish with a very mild bitterness and a bit of a slippery feel. That may be due to the oats that were added to the brew.

Taste: Here is where the floral aspect of this beer comes through. Orchard White raises the bar a bit on the spices. Missing is the wheaty funk that some wit beers have but rather this one was nearly tart with sweetness but stopping just shy of it. As the smell hit me right before I tasted this beer I was already prepared for a sweet sensation. This beer was light bodied and refreshing. It could be a session brew as I was able to finish the entire 750ml bottle over the course of an hour with no problem yet it felt like a bigger beer.

I found myself wanting to just sip this beer. Due to the amount of carbonation, if I drank it too quickly I'd start to burp easily. After finishing the entire bottle, the beer left me with a very pleasant glow.

What's been interesting about sampling witbiers a lot these days is the variety that comes with this style. Apparently the taste in witbiers can go from grassy / biscuity to floral and sweet to strong and spicy. That's why sampling many different brands can be so much fun. Like Forrest Gump says, it's "like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get".

Midway through the sampling, I paired this beer with some sharp yet soft cheddar cheese. The sharpness of the cheese countered the sweetness of this witbier perfectly and I enjoyed the pairing enormously. I had a couple of those Baby Bel cheese rounds in a wax shell. It was just the right contrast for this beer.

I enjoyed this beer a lot and will gladly give this beer a big thumbs up. The spices were balanced well but I found myself wanting something different by the end of the bottle. I can only handle so much spiced beer in one evening. Enjoy this one in moderation. One or two glasses are fine. This one is one of the better wits. Anyone know of an example of a really outstanding wit they could tell me about that may be available in the Rocky Mountain area? I'd be interested to find more good examples to try.

Related articles:
- New Belgium Mothership Wit review
- Samuel Adams Imperial White review
- Oskar Blues ships to California

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