Beer Review 0522: The Bruery Autumn Maple Belgian-Style Brown Ale

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Here in the United States, today is Thanksgiving Day, so I would like to wish all of my American readers a happy holiday! Hopefully, this is a day you will spend in the company of others you appreciate. To all my other readers, I’d like to bid you a wonderful day as well, and hope you will enjoy a review that goes hand-in-hand with the season we’re currently in here in Winston-Salem, NC. Cheers from my glass to yours!

The Bruery opened in 2008, the homebrew 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.

Located in Placentia, California, 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.

Autumn Maple, appropriately only available in the fall, is a 10% ABV (alcohol by volume) Brown Ale that features 17 lbs. of yams per barrel of beer. That’s a lot of yams — a barrel of beer is 31 gallons. Autumn Maple is also brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup, then fermented with The Bruery’s own traditional Belgian yeast strain. IBUs (International Bitterness Units) register just 25.

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Pouring produced an average size, creamy head that had a lasting quality. Color of the beer was a murky brown out of light; when held in light, the liquid became a nice ruddy orange-amber color, showing off the opaque cloudy body. Although clouded, there weren’t any visible particles or sediment. Lacing didn’t exist, which is to be expected for such a big beer, but the head was easily regenerated when swirled in the glass.

The aroma had the nutmeg front and center, along with syrupy sweetness from the molasses and caramel malts. This is a complex beer with notes of toasted bread, cinnamon, doughy and bready yeast, with hints of vanilla and brown sugar. The 10% alcohol is expertly hidden. Autumn Maple definitely falls on the sweet end and you’d figure this to be a pumpkin beer despite not having any pumpkin or yam in the aroma — that said, yam doesn’t really have much of a scent, so we’ll see if that is added primarily for mouthfeel…

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The spices are up front on the palate, hitting the taste buds with a blast of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. This pretty much is the story of the beer, with the other flavors playing interchangeable minor roles throughout different parts of the taste — some vanilla and molasses come and go, but the dominant sweetness is from caramel; there’s some definite maple syrup and the Belgian yeast adds the missing spice: clove. Yes, this is full-on pumpkin beer, without the pumpkin; the yam adds to the mouthfeel but it’s not quite creamy. The finish is a wash of cinnamon and maple syrup, with a gentle alcohol warmth. Autumn Maple is medium-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel and average carbonation that seems to work itself out as you near the bottom of your glass, which makes it take on a fuller, thicker mouthfeel.

Honestly, what I felt after trying this beer was like saying to hell with all those other 4-7% ABV pumpkin beers out there — this big boy has all of those brews covered, and then some. Without using pumpkins! Drink this brew and you’ll realize that what you’re actually after in a beer of this ilk are the spices, not the pumpkin. I dug this a lot because it is everything it says it is on the bottle, is a large ABV beer that doesn’t drink like one, and would indeed pair well with a Thanksgiving meal. Or just autumn, in general.

The Bruery Autumn Maple Belgian-Style Brown Ale, 92 points. Price: $12.99 US for one 750 ml bottle.

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