11/2/19: The Bruery's Vermont Sticky Maple

1:32 PM

We've entered November. This is typically a slow month for the blog--straddling the blowout seasons of Halloween (in October) and Christmas (starting pretty immediately after Thanksgiving and running until December 25th). Over the years, I've tried to throw up a few Thanksgiving-themed beers, but this year I'm doing something else. Maybe it'll carry through until November 2020 and become a thing? Who knows.

I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month for the second year in a row and, let's face it, most of my writing tolerance will be going to attempting to meet that fifty-thousand word goal. But, I don't want to let the blog fall by the wayside so, why not focus on beers that I'm certain will bring me joy to write about. Enter, Maple Beer Season.

See, I love maple syrup. It's my absolute favorite flavor and it's a great addition to many things, especially beers. But, not every brewery utilizes it wisely. Hopefully I won't find an instance of that this month but, if I do, I'm sure I'll at least appreciate the effort.

Okay, now that you know what's going on around here for the next few weeks, let's get right into it. Today's beer is The Bruery's Vermont Sticky Maple.

The Bruery (a name inspired by the family name of founder Patrick Rue) was founded in 2008. Headquartered in Orange County, CA, the family- and friend-run brewery strives to bring passion and creativity to every beer they craft. Be sure to hit up their "About Us" page if you want something far closer to the full story.

Vermont Sticky Maple (which you can buy online for delivery if you live in California, apparently), is an 11.3% ABV behemoth of an imperial stout that's been aged in bourbon barrels. Oh, and the whole thing features an addition of maple syrup from Vermont's Butternut Mountain Farm. Adjectives the brewery uses to describe the stout are "decadent," "bold," and "sticky." Sign me up.

The maple is big and strong on the nose. Perfect. If a brewery doesn't know how to brew with the stuff, the bouquet is usually the first place where this becomes apparent. The Bruery, it seems, knows exactly what they're about. I also get dark chocolate from the stout itself, vanilla and oakiness from the barrel in which the beer was aged, and, importantly, a good bourbon-sweetness (which is totally distinct from the maple) and booziness. If I continue to hunt for aromatics (and, of course I do), I get slight coffee, a touch of parchment (strange, I know, but, here, heavenly) (probably a product of the barrel), some charcoal (definitely from the char on the barrel), and, lastly, some unplaceable dryness. In case you can't tell, I'm a big fan of the stout's bouquet. Purrl is, too. She gave my bottle fourteen whiffs. It's always nice when she and I are in agreement.

Now for the real deal--the flavors present in the brew. Man, you should see my face after a swig. This is, handsdown, the single best-tasting beer I've had in 2019. Maybe ever? I'd need to revisit a certain brew or two to know for sure. Okay, okay. Let's get to it: The maple is perfectly represented here. It's sweet and sticky, exactly like real maple syrup is supposed to be--none of the artificial, store-bought garbage. It blends perfectly with the bourbon sweetness (without being cloying!) and it's the flavor that lingers the longest before the long, dry and warm finish. There's chocolate, there's caramel, there's vanilla, charcoal, and more bourbon. But, most importantly, there is maple syrup that's good, strong, and perfect.

Sticky Maple's mouthfeel is big and bold. It's expansive. It feels like a stout worthy of its aromatics and flavor profile.

I'll try not to toot my own horn too much when I talk about the memory this is dredging up, but, as you'll see soon enough, it's impossible not to talk about this thing I'm proud of because that's what the memory centers around.

I homebrew my own cider. For the most part, I've become fairly disillusioned with commercial cider--what I make is much closer to what actual cider's meant to be. The very first cider I ever brewed is still the best cider I make (hell, I have a batch of it ready to head into bottles tomorrow) and the first batch I ever made of it was the best. I call it Lumberjack's Pride. It's a maple cider that routinely becomes an applewine.

The first time I brewed it, I used maple syrup that Michelle's dad made from trees her family tapped on their homestead. For every batch since, I've used store-bought pure syrup, but that's just not the same. That 2015 Lumberjack was magical. Michelle, who typically isn't much of a cider/beer person (she's more a cocktail kind of woman) still compares everything I brew to that first time I made Lumberjack, and everything since pales.

That first batch, which rang in at some 8% ABV, tasted like those maple candies you can find in certain stores or in amish country (hey, I live in Ohio). While the other years of the cider have all been great and the maple's shone through brilliantly, none have quite lived up to that first year, brewed with maple syrup made by Michelle's family. I say all this because Sticky Maple tastes a lot like my 2015 Lumberjack's Pride.

The Bruery's Vermont Sticky Maple is the beer I can most readily recommend to everyone. It is that damn good. I cannot believe that the stout in my can lived up so perfectly to my expectations. But, I'm glad that it did. I'm giving it an obvious 10/10. If you see it, if you ever see it, don't you dare hesitate to grab some.

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