Beer Review 0458: The Bruery Bois 5th Anniversary Old Ale

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Editor’s Note: Beer 6 of 7 in my birthday beer week, in which I celebrate my birthday by reviewing beers I’ve sat aside for the occasion. I turn 31 on August 14. I advise you to celebrate your birthday accordingly, too!

2013 sees The Bruery (Placentia, California) celebrating their 5th anniversary. Bois, French for wood, is a gigantic beer that comes in at 15% ABV (alcohol by volume) and is 100% aged in bourbon barrels — along with that large alcohol content, comes a hefty price tag; Bois cost me $32.99, the most expensive beer I have ever purchased!

But the story behind the beer is unique and puts that price tag in perspective. First, a little about The Bruery: the company is the home brew product of Patrick, Chris, and Rachel Rue. Patrick and Chris are brothers; Rachel is the wife of Chris. The first home brew batch the three made was an amber ale with Cascade hops; as the years went by, Patrick, who was going to law school, saw his beer passion become bigger than his law studies. He decided the rest of his life should be dedicated to making beer, so he got loans and started The Bruery, which is a fusion of his last name, and well… Brewery.

Most of The Bruery’s beers are considered to be experimentations brewed in the Belgian tradition. None of their beers are filtered or pasteurized; all are bottle conditioned and use a proprietary Belgian yeast strain.

All of The Bruery’s anniversary beers are named after the traditional gifts given for wedding anniversaries, i.e. the first beer, produced in 2009, was named Papier (paper), the second, in 2010, called Coton (cotton), and so on. Now, the really unique thing about these beers, is that while they are brewed the same way each year, using the same recipe, a style of blending called the solera method is used. In the solera method, the final product is a mixture of the ages of beer, meaning that today’s review, Bois, contains newly brewed beer along with threads of each of the previous four releases. So while the beer is brewed the same, the final result each year is different, and the average age of the brew always goes up.

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SO, Bruery — the wax job on this bottle is really nice looking and all, but this is the mess us beer drinkers have to create just to get into the bottle, never mind all the wax that will get into the bottle when you pry the cap off. Just sayin’. The benefit here is that by the time you get through this thick layer, the beer will be at just about the right temperature to fully enjoy…

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The pour on Bois shows a head that is slightly above average in size, soapy and almost frothy, and very fizzy. It quickly fades to nothing, and the beer itself is murky, muddy brown. The average drinker might not find this appealing, but I am marveled by it; the clouds seem to float in layers within the beer. No particles or sediment are present, and I’m surprised by that considering how muddy this is. Lacing did not exist, but there were alcohol legs that lasted days when swirled.

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On the nose, this is MASSIVE. Tons of molasses and burn sugar, toffee, and caramel. And a large note of alcohol grabs your nose and basically punches you in the face. This beer is not for the timid. The bourbon is a beast, spicy and with lots of vanilla; there are also plenty of dark fruits, jammy raisin and grape, and it all wraps up with a bready, earthen yeast that has just a hint of orange peel. As it warms, it takes on a fruitcake/Christmas cookie aroma that plays so well with the tidal wave of alcohol and bourbon. Wow!

My first thought on my first sip was “this pushes the limits of beer right to the edge.” Sweet vanilla extract and bourbon mingle with fruitcake, while the alcohol takes hold immediately. Bois WILL make you sweat, it’s a feeling in your body; it will take your entire attention span. Intense sweet caramel, burnt brown sugar, molasses, Christmas cookie, even some cinnamon delight the tongue. The complexity is amazing and as it warms, it even starts to take on a bit of fudge brownie. The finish is super hot but well-rounded with dark fruits, oak, dark chocolate, and maple syrup. I could pour this on my Belgian waffle at breakfast. And hey! That Belgian yeast does indeed come out as the beer continues to warm, introducing some snazzy candied orange peel to the flavor profile.

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Not mincing words here: this is one of the best beers I have ever had. I’m fully aware of how hot this beer is in terms of alcohol, and yes, I believe it is a bit hot at this moment. That’s what aging is for, and believe me, I’ll be getting another bottle. Consider this one worth the premium!

The Bruery Bois 5th Anniversary Old Ale, 98 points. Price: $32.99 US for one 750 ml bottle.

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