The Bruery + 3 Floyds Rue D’Floyd : Black Lord
GODZILLA VS SPACEGODZILLA
Beer collaborations abound. One of the first American sour ales I loved was Marrón Acidifié—an imperial Oud Bruin—a collab from The Bruery and Cigar City. This beer was for me, a big success. Two up and coming craft brewers from different markets, coming together to make something that represented the sour program from The Bruery as well as the wood aging expertise of Cigar City.
Now, with The Bruery coming together with 3 Floyds, brewers of many great hoppy beers like Alpha King, and Zombie Dust, as well as much sought after darker offerings like Moloko and of course the (in)famous Dark Lord. A pairing with the brewers of massive imperial stout Black Tuesday and its variants Mocha Wednesday, Chocolate Rain, and Grey Monday, could only bring a HUGE dark beer with bold adjuncts. When it was announced that members of The Bruery’s Hoarders and Reserve societies would be able to buy both collaborations between these two craft beer titans, Rue D’Floyd and Floyd D’Rue, excitement was palpable. Perhaps not since Godzilla teamed up with Mogeura to fight SpaceGodzilla have such powerful forces combined for the cause of awesomeness.
Then came the reality. These would be dark beers, imperial porters, and they would be trebuchet bombardments of flavor, each coming in over 14% ABV. Rue d’Floyd is aged on bourbon barrels for 1 year and finished “with vanilla beans, Portola coffee, TCHO cacao nibs and cherries prior to bottling”. Sounds amazing right? But then this sobering note: “Please consume by 6/30. This beer may contain Lactobacillus. Please keep refrigerated”. Yikes. These beers were brewed at The Bruery’s facilities, where recently infected bottles such as White Chocolate and Cacaonut have caused the Orange County company to issue the rare explanation of the problems and issued credits for beers that were sold with active, unintended microbes. This was in our opinion a stand-up thing to do. A practice not followed by all breweries that sell expensive, infected beer. They also seem to have stepped up quality assurance, testing the heck out of their beers for problems, not wanting to sell bad beer or deal with crediting angry customers.
TOO BIG TO FAIL
Testing for problems sounds good, but what to do when you have spent thousands on supplies and time, had another brewer fly out to collaborate at your facility, and invested a year barrel aging not one but two beers, both of which were promised to members of your pre-paid beer societies as exclusive to them. Lots of money was given to The Bruery in anticipation in part of the 3 Floyds collaborative bottle, and now they have found it is possibly infected with Lactobacillus, the bacteria that gives sauerkraut and Berliner Weisse their signature sour elements. Not an intended element for a chocolate, coffee based porter.
So with all the investment put in to these beers, contrasted with all the investment put in quality assurance and building a brewery with a reputation for doing right by its customers, what does one do with a beer that might go bad? The solution they came up with to resolve the conflict between expectations and the bottom line on one hand, and reputation on the other: a ‘Drink By’ date.
As stated earlier this is an imperial porter, weighing in with 14.4% ABV, aged on bourbon barrels for 1 year, then piling ‘roids on ‘roids Lance Armstrong style, added vanilla, coffee, cocoa nibs, and cherries. The pedigree is there, hopefully these two breweries who use roasted malts to brew much sought after stouts can do the same for porters. And there is that perky lacto problem, will it be a problem tasting the beer 3 weeks after its release, in early May of 2014?
The nose, or scent of the beer is always the first thing we take note of, as it can inform a lot of what is coming, as well as alert us to potential problems. Thankfully, the aromas coming off Rue are nothing but delicious coffee, chocolates, vanilla, dark fruit and a hint of alcohol. Amazingly the oil black beer pours with a modest chocolate brown head, unusual for a beer of with such high alcohol content. Considering this aged a year on bourbon barrels, the solid, if fleeting carbonation is a welcome surprise.
Tasting this thing brings huge flavors. Sweet bourbon flavors up front with subtle oak start off, followed by roasted coffee elements, a kick of vanilla and a hint of bitter coffee and booze in the sweet finish. As it warms even more oak comes forward, and the finish reveals the tart cherry flavors which meld with the other elements to make an amazingly delicious and complex brew. Just stunningly good. No trace of a lacto infection is present at this time to my palette. Loved this beer.
Rue D’Floyd was consumed on May 2nd, 2014. Fresh, this beer is a perfectly complex blend of vanilla, coffee, chocolate and tart fruit nearly overwhelming yet highly drinkable. Quite simply, The Bruery 3 Floyds Rue d’Floyd is most delicious porter I have ever tasted. As a lover of stouts, I am happy to say that this big porter tastes better than even Black Tuesday, or Dark Lord. Obviously, the potential infection will keep most craft beer fans from tossing a bunch of these in the cellar. But that may be a good thing. Coffee and vanilla flavors are notorious for fading, meaning no matter if the infection is prevalent or not, Rue D’Floyd should probably be drunk up as close to bottling date as possible. And even if it does eventually take on some acidic notes, didn’t porters historically have a bit of a tartness, or a sour element?