For certain beer-lovers, patience is a tangled virtue. We know that most bottle-conditioned brews only improve with age, yet we always end up opening shortly after we buy ‘em. Witness The Bruery, a boutique craft brewer that has fully embraced the experimental nature of barrel-aged, bottle-conditioned beers. The impulse after you pick up one of their pricey 750ml bottles is to reach for the opener. And with the seasonal release of the Rueuze, their winter brew, this urge feels amplified. The label’s text hones right in on the palate of the sour beer-lover, boasting that the beer inside comes from a careful mix of different, separately-aged sour blonde ales blended together to create a truly complex beverage.
And even though we know that the funky, sour elements that define this gueze-style beer will only improve with age, patience did not win out.
In the glass, the Rueuze appeared slightly opaque, a light, golden-white color with surprisingly little head. On the nose, hints of sour and funk, but unlike other barrel-aged beers, the aroma isn’t aggressive. Instead, it whispers a quiet invitation to sip.
The taste, however, amps the volume. You get a near-instant hit of bright, lemony sourness, with a prickly mouthfeel and defined notes of lactic acid that pucker in the finish. The flavors of hay, straw, and tart lemon and orange scream to the fore—it’s clean, yet deep, with a sourness reminiscent of a Berliner Weisse. A touch of horse blanket comes out as it warms, but it’s not as complex or funky as most gueze-style beers, which we missed. That absence, of course, will develop with time.
Our advice? Give this one a few months to reach to its full potential. Then give in.
Brewery: The Bruery
City: Orange County, Calif.