Orange County’s The Bruery celebrated a momentous occasion Monday, brewing its 1,000th batch of beer. As they’ve done with prior landmark releases, they hosted a homebrew competition to determine what the celebratory beer would be. The winner? “BRYEIAN.”
The pitch black, fiercely hoppy ale gets its moniker from (and is pronounced like) its eponymous creators’ names—Bryan and Brian—with an added nod to the flaked rye and malted rye that are included in the recipe.
“We had some really great beers advance to the best in show level at the competition, but we kept coming back to this one,” recalls Bruery CEO Patrick Rue. The Bruery, known largely for its Belgian-influenced beers, seems to almost pride themselves on the fact that they don’t have an IPA in their lineup, so the thought that they were going to brew a black IPA initially posed a challenge. “Stylistically, it wasn’t really a fit for us, but we couldn’t stop tasting it,” Rue continues. “It was the best beer there.”
That said, they’re careful not to call it a black IPA. Mentions of the phrase were quickly silenced and corrected to a less popular term for the style—Cascadian dark ale—so as to keep up appearances. (Matt Olesh, The Bruery’s Director of Retail Operations, brilliantly suggested “Placentian dark ale” as a play on their home town of Placentia, but it sadly got shut down because it sounds kind of disgusting.)
Bryan Keas, 38, and Brian Pramov, 31, are both involved with the Rock Hoppers Brew Club in Castle Rock, Colorado (just outside of Denver) and they were randomly paired together for a homebrew competition back in 2011. The resulting
black IPA Cascadian dark ale went on to win, and they enjoyed it so much, they decided to recreate it in 2012, this time bumping up the ABV a touch and adding rye to the malt bill.
Pramov saw The Bruery’s Batch 1000 competition listed on the American Homebrewers Association website and decided to enter the beer, originally called Night Ryder, on a whim. Not long after, he learned of their win in the same way the rest of us now get our breaking news: social media. “I was in Home Depot, getting equipment for a kegerator I was building, and for whatever reason, I checked Facebook, and there was the announcement from The Bruery. I think I scared a few people because I let out a little scream in the middle of the store. Then I called Bryan.”
Brian and Bryan got flown out to sunny SoCal to brew BRYEIAN on The Bruery’s system, making about 200 barrels’ worth, which will see distribution throughout California and Colorado exclusively come August 12. In addition to the aforementioned rye, the beer is accented by Midnight Wheat and Carafa II malts. “We wanted it to be as dark as possible, but we didn’t want to turn it into a hoppy stout,” Keas explains, “so we went with de-husked grains and added them late in the process to lend a little flavor, lots of color, but not much roastiness.”
And no blac… ahem, Cascadian dark ale would be complete without plenty of Humulus lupulus. “We’re both big hopheads, so there’s a boatload of hops in there,” boasts Keas. “We went with Simcoe and Northern Brewer for their spicy quality, which played well of the spiciness of the rye, and topped it off with Centennial and Cascade.”
To those dreaming of the opportunity to have their homebrew scaled up and made at The Bruery, it may be awhile yet. “Batch 2,000? Maybe in a year and a half or so?” guesses Rue. “I’m not sure when, but we will definitely have more [competitions] in the future. We’re all homebrewers here, and this helps us stay connected with the homebrewing community, which is very important to me.”