Beer Review 0530: The Bruery Oude Tart Flanders Red Ale

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The Bruery opened in 2008, 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.

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.

Oude Tart is The Bruery’s take on a Flanders Red Ale — a quick visit into this style of beer, as we don’t review a whole lot of them: a Flanders Red Ale is a type of sour ale that uses wild organisms (Lactobacillus) to produce sour flavors. The beers are typically aged in oaken barrels for long periods of time, and often different ages of beers are blended together to get the final product. Oude Tart is aged in oak barrels from 6-18 months; it is then blended to achieve its taste. The beer uses red malts to achieve its color — it comes in at 7.5% ABV (alcohol by volume).

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The pour spills out a very small, eggshell colored head that is soapy in texture. It doesn’t have much lasting power, fading to some large bubbles atop the beer very quickly. The beer itself is a dull, somewhat murky brown out of light, but when held to a bright light, is a beautiful, vivid shade of ruby red. There appeared to be a slight haze to the body, but there weren’t any particles or sediment. There was a fair amount of yeast resting at the bottom of the bottle. Lacing was a no-show, but that was to be expected with a beer of this style.

The nose is excellent stuff — plenty of tart cherries exist up front, with a touch of woodsy oak. Oude Tart is vinous (acidic) but still maintains a bit of sweetness with some caramel malt. There’s a vinegar presence here but it seems refined and doesn’t wrestle with the other scents too much. Yeah, it’s pretty simple stuff, but wonderfully done. I couldn’t keep my nose out of the glass, and that’s saying something for a person who doesn’t tend to care for sour smelling (or tasting) beers…

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So let the surprises continue. I really liked this brew. It’s fairly tart up front, with a splash of sour cherry, but the cherries have a thick backbone to them that is undeniably brown ale. There’s even a bit of tart dark fruits, like a sour grape or tart prune; the palate becomes quite dry and is hit with apple peel and some cranberry. The finish comes on quickly, issuing up a fading hit of sour on the swallow, and unwinding with deep notes of oak, funk, and leather. Oude Tart is medium-bodied, with a light, very dry mouthfeel. Carbonation is exceptionally low.

While a sipper for sure, the subtle complexities that exist within this brew are really tasty. I really loved the oak finish, and for the first time ever in a beer, I get the leather flavor. While I’m not too crazy about sour beers, this has some backbone to it instead of just being out to slam the palate with as much sour as possible, and that’s the kind of thing I’m after in every single beer I try, not just the ones that don’t fall within my preferred flavors. Very impressive, The Bruery!

The Bruery Oude Tart Flanders Red Ale, 90 points. Price: $9.99 US for one 750 ml bottle (I got this one on deep discount, as Bruery beers have a tendency to sit on shelves in my area.)

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