Reviewed by Ron DeGregorio
Happy New Year once again, everyone! We hope that 2014 brings you joy, happiness, safety, good health and especially good beer! Today’s review is another gift from my lovely fiancé, Kristen. This beer was extremely high on my wish list, as I have never enjoyed anything by The Bruery, and I am a sucker for a good stout and a real sucker for a great sour. You could say I am a sucker for the pucker!…..I’m sorry.
The Bruery, out of Placentia, California, started like most other breweries; out of a passion for home-brewing. From their humble beginnings, they have grown to become known for their artisan craft concoctions. They have very rich and colorful labels, fun names, and have great review scores across the internet. I have been eying their bottles at my local bottle shop for some time, and I have to thank Kristen for coming through big time for me!
Tart of Darkness is part of The Bruery’s “Provisions Series”. According to The Bruery, “Our Provisions Series collection features a variety of small batch beers that will only be made once. They are sold through our Reserve Society as well as a limited selection at our Provisions store in Old Towne Orange.”
Here is what The Bruery has to say about their Tart of Darkness: We brewed a stout (no, not Black Tuesday, this one is only 5% abv if you can believe it), but we then decided to throw it into oak barrels…and added our special blend of souring bacterias and yeasts. The result is a perfectly tart yet awesomely dark and roasty sour stout. Not a style you see too often – and in our opinion, not a style you see often enough.”.
Let’s see what I thought of Tart of Darkness.
Tart of Darkness is every bit as black as the night sky. It is absolutely opaque and as Cory put it, almost a “squid-ink” like color. Oddly enough, it did not have that thickness or slickness that often accompanies a stout, as it did not really coat the glass. It seemed much thinner in appearance, and had a very thin white head. Truly a beautiful color.
The smell on the Tart of Darkness was very different than what I had initially anticipated. Instead of roasty or chocolate notes, as found in most stouts, the first aromas I picked up on were actually of red wine. Deep, rich fruit aromas with a defined tartness. A very pungent alcohol aroma is present as well, but not in an over-the-top way. It compliments those red wine notes.
I have to tell you, initially I was apprehensive about tasting this beer. Though I love stouts and sour style beers, I just was not sure what to expect from a combination of the two. I am so happy to report that my fears were instantly calmed. This is a tremendous beer.
As the beer flooded my mouth, rich, deep chocolate and roasty aromas flood my nose. I was so pleased to finally come upon those characteristics that make a good stout within this beer. It is almost as though the whole experience completely changes once you have begin drinking the brew. A completely new and different aroma profile develops and really threw me off, but in a great way.
The description on the bottle mentions that the beer is a “contortion of flavors”, which at first reading, I thought that was a strange choice of wording. They were spot on. At first sip, everything that makes a wonderful stout, well, wonderful is present, but just when you are getting comfortable with the stout flavor profile, BOOM, the sour profile comes crashing in.
The sour characteristics are strong with this one (read in Emperor Palpatine voice, please). My entire face did a sour pucker, and I was so pleased. I was shocked at just how well the sour characteristics and the stout profile blended together, but they absolutely did. There was almost a peanut butter flavor that developed, the peanut butter flavor you find in Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch (I know, that’s strange, but it was delicious).
Tart of Darkness really was a contortion of flavor. The whole experience just kept changing and shifting, and really took my palette on a roller coaster ride of a drinking experience. I absolutely loved it.
I give Tart of Darkness a 95, or a solid A. It was the first time I had ever had a beer quite like it, and it was one that I would recommend to absolutely anyone. This beer will not be seen again, as it is a one-time offering from The Bruery. If you see this beer, don’t hesitate. Buy as many as you can. This is a perfect example of a well-crafted beer with a wildly complex flavor profile. It is one that you want to share with a friend so you both can just sit back and discuss the ride your taste buds are taking.
Have you had any beers from The Bruery that you enjoyed? Ones that you thought missed the mark? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, thanks for checking us out!