This Saturday, a contingent of the H&H Collective visited Orange, California for The Bruery’s annual Reserve Society Initiation Party. Tickets to this event were collected by dropping two bills for The Bruery’s Reserve Membership or being a plus one of one of these high-rollers. Twenty-three of So-Cal’s diamond brewery’s rarest productions were flowing freely out of taps guarded by lock and key. Unfortunately, expletives of frustration and anger were also flowing freely out of attendees’ mouths after waiting in 1 hour lines to receive 2oz pours of these beers. To put it nicely, this logistical nightmare made waiting in a 2-hour “It’s a Small World” line for the third time in one Disneyland visit seem like a worthwhile investment of time. The beer served at the event, including The Bruery’s 18% Chocolate Rain and Melange #3, fell under the “once in a lifetime” category. If it takes what seemed like a lifetime standing in line to try these brews, I’m not going to lose any sleep over not trying them again.
For more information on the event itself, check your second favorite beer blog for violent rants and an official apology from Bruery owner Patrick Rue. We at H2 would like to remove ourselves from this slamjam and speak of a lesson learned at the event. At a dog-eat-dog booze gather, we at Hooch & Hops learned that sharing is survival. In order to endure this event, members of the group adopted a divide and conquer approach. We had folks waiting in the Chocolate Rain line, the “nobody really wants those beers, but get them anyways” line, the bathroom line, even the Vegan Taco Truck line. Free agents not currently in line would scramble to whatever sentry had reached the front of a queue and squeeze in to fill up on whatever came dripping out of the tap, flying out the roach coach window, or… going in to the bathroom. Mass sharing of purloined goods would promptly commence. It was cheating, but this was an every man for himself event and cutthroat tactics were embraced by all. Instead of waiting in lines for one tasting, H&H members simultaneously waited in 6 lines for dozens of tastings.
After sharing food truck cuisine, 2oz samples, and good will with many, I walked away with a head cold and a hangover. I probably wouldn’t have had either of these if I didn’t have friends to infect me with both winter germs and alcohol. I also wouldn’t have had the chance to try dozens of flavors that I will never try again; I wouldn’t have gotten my money’s worth; and, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy what was, logistically, a complete cluster.
Because of sharing, I will not be one of the hundreds of zealots tearing The Bruery apart on beer blogs for poor forecasting of attendance and crowd dynamics. Along with stumbling away convinced that The Bruery is producing some of the best Belgian inspired ales in the United States, I also walked away convinced that life lessons can be found in 2oz pours of 36-proof brew. Drink Better, and share a few of The Bruery’s more available offerings.
At 8.5% ABV, Mischief is a Hoppy Belgian-Style Golden Strong Ale. This wickedly good golden ale is fiendishly dry-hopped with American hops to add a layer of complexity and mystery to its fruity, dry Belgian-style character. Citrus and resin diabolically combine with ripe melon, pear and slight peppery spice in a precariously effervescent mixture.
Saison Rue is an unfiltered, bottle conditioned, Belgian/French-style farmhouse ale. This is a beer of subtlety and complexity, with malted rye, spicy, fruity yeast notes, biscuit-like malt backbone, and a slight citrus hop character. With age, this beer will dry out and will become more complex with rustic notes of leather and earth from the contribution of a wild yeast strain.