The Bruery: Belgian-Inspired Craft Beer in Placentia, By Law

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Beer Orange County


Orange County native Patrick Rue attended Chapman law school and worked at a real estate firm, but it was just a matter of time before he turned to beer. 11 months ago, the longtime home brewer launched The Bruery with wife Rachel, specializing in Belgian-style beer. The Bruery is gaining well-deserved traction throughout the region, but to fully appreciate their mission, it’s worth a weekend foray to Placentia, a little known Orange County hood.

“We focus on more yeast character than hop character,” said Rue. “I didn’t think I’d made my name with hoppy beers since there are so many people producing hoppy beers.” Why Belgian beer? Rue likes the versatility.

Rue led us on a tour of the warehouse space. He and his team begin by crushing bagged malt and leaving the husks attached. They store h seven different hops, mostly German, which are kept at 10-below to maintain peak freshness. Malt is kept in a grist case for a few hours before brewing. It’s then mixed with hot water to form an oatmeal consistency.

Beer Orange County
The mash converts malt into sugar. They drain the sweet liquid from the grains and transfer the clarified brew to a boil kettle. Bring the liquid to 215 degrees, then introduce hops and spices. Most beers boil for 60–90 minutes. They anniversary beer, a 15% old ale, boils for 3 hours, creating “a rich less hoppy barleywine.”

A whirlpool holds the water and acts as a centrifuge. Proteins and hop matter flow to the center for 20 minutes. They’re removed and the beer is cooled to 60–70 degrees. Introduce yeast in the fermenter and the beer ferments for 14-20 days. Higher alcohol and sugar content takes longer. Sugar and yeast cause a secondary fermentation in the bottle. Four people can manually bottle 300 bottles in an hour. Most bottles are aged two months before The Bruery releases it for sale.

Beer Orange County
With barrel aging, brewed beer is transferred to barrels for anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. With Bourbon barrels, the flavor transfers in about a year. Bitter beer takes longer. The Bruery also utilizes Rye, Whiskey, Brandy, Chardonnay and Burgundy barrels. Rue sources Bourbon barrels from Kentucky and wine barrels from Napa.

After the brewing process is complete, a Corona pig farmer hauls off the spent grain, which is less expensive than trashing the grain and benefits the farmer.

Beer Orange County
We joined Rue at the tasting room to sample his full list, many of which are unavailable outside of The Bruery’s walls. The room is open on Fridays and Saturdays and has been known to attract up to 100 people at a time on Saturdays. The week’s options are listed on a blackboard.

Rue started us on Orchard White, an aromatic beer brewed with coriander, lavender and orange peel. He then transitioned to Saison de Lente, a seasonal beer timed for release with Lent.

Beer Orange County
This is when we got into some beers than are unavailable on the open market, including Hottenrath Berliner Weisse, a 3% German wheat beer named for his mother in law. It’s sour due to lactobacillus, which creates lactic acid.

Cuvee Jeune is a young Lambic that’s 6.5% ABV, made sour from three souring bacterias, including lactobacillus, pediococcus and brettanomyces. Rue said the beer is aged in Chardonnay barrels for 10 months and is 40% wheat and 60% barley.

Humulus Lupulus is the Latin name for hops, so Rue created the Humulus Blonde using Sterling and Summit (citrus-y) hops. He also handpumped a Humulus Blonde on cask that was infused with Simcoe hops and whole leaf Chamomile.

White Zin was Cuvee Jeune aged with Zinfandel grapes, with 7.5% ABV, colored pink from grape skins, a sweeter beer with “tannin bitterness,” to use Rue’s apt words.

Beer Orange County
We finished with an explosively flavored Melange #3, a blend of three Bourbon barrel-aged beers: equal parts Imperial Stout, Wheat Wine and Anniversary beer. It was rich and caramel-y and 15% ABV.

Beer Orange County
Of course a tasting room exists to market The Bruery’s beer. As a result, you can buy 750 ml bottles of every available selection: Orchard White, Saison Rue, Black Orchard and Saison de Lente.

Coming up, Tradewinds Tripel is released in May, brewed with Thai basil and rice. Autumn Maple arrives in September, brewed with yams. Last year for Christmas, they released Two Turtledoves. This Christmas, expect Partridge in a Pear Tree. Rue acknowledges that beer brewing started with German methods and hops, yeast, barley and water, but “as long as we’re using ingredients to taste good,” he sees no problem with experimentation.

The approach seems to be working. In 11 months, they’ve gone from owning 70 to 150 barrels and can now produce 4500 – 5000 barrels a year with the recent three-tank expansion. They’ve also started distributing to Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with plans to add Arizona and Colorado.

The Bruery: Belgian-Inspired Craft Beer in Placentia, By Law

717 Dunn Way, Placentia, CA 92870, USA
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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

“…a Corona pig farmer hauls off the spent grain, which is less expensive than trashing the grain and benefits the farmer.”
For the record, THERE ARE NO PIG FARMS IN CORONA! I have no idea where the spent grain actually goes or where the pigs are, but it is illegal to “farm pigs” in the beautiful city of Corona. Enjoy the brew! http://www.TeamCorona.com

The Melange #3 sounds amazing! Hopefully that’ll make an appearance the Craft Beer Fest in May; in the meantime, I’m very in love with the Black Orchard that I first tried at Riva.

I first heard about the Bruery at last year’s Stone brew fest. Their beer was my favorite of the ones I’d never tried. Also had the pleasure of meeting a couple of the guys at the LA Beer Fest at Sony Studios last weekend. They make absolutely fantastic beer!

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