Recently in Deschutes Category

Black Butte XXVI

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Bend, Oregon brewers at Deschutes started their brewery off with a pretty standard porter for a flagship beer. In the current craft beer bonanza, this wouldn't be that unusual. Boring, even. But considering that Deschutes opened 26 years ago, this was actually a bold choice. Fast forward twenty years, and they could see that it was the right choice. That's when Deschutes started brewing up a special anniversary beer to celebrate their success. They took their old flagship, amped it up a few notches, chucked in some adjuncts (different every year, but usually including chocolate), and aged a portion in old Bourbon barrels.

This year's iteration (their 7th) is a complex blend of ales incorporating adjuncts like pomegranate molasses, cocoa nibs, and cranberries. 50% was aged in Bourbon barrels, and the final product clocks in at a hefty 10.8% ABV. So grab yourself a plate of mashed potatoes and start sculpting yourself a butte*:

Deschutes Black Butte XXVI

Deschutes Black Butte XXVI - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of tan head. Smells of brown sugar, caramel, marshmallow, maybe a hint of roast and chocolate, with some of that bourbon, oak, and vanilla. The taste is very sweet, hints of roasted malt, chocolate, a light caramel, molasses, marshmallow character that intensifies as it warms up, maybe even some tart, fruity notes (presumably that cranberry peeking through, and that also gets more prominent as it warms). Mouthfeel is well carbonated, on the lighter end of full bodied, feels more attenuated than your typical BBA porter. It's certainly not thin, and not really dry, but it doesn't have that huge, chewy mouthfeel either. It is, however, very well balanced. Overall, this is an excellent, well crafted beer. It's not like a lot of BBA porters, but it's still really good. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10.8% ABV bottled (22 oz waxed cap). Drank out of a snifter on 8/8/14. Best After 06/16/14.

I still can't help but wonder what a full BBA version of this (or their famous Abyss) would be like, but I guess that's not to be. As it is, this winds up being rather unique, so you can't fault them for that sort of thing. Also, someday I'll remember that Deschutes uses a "Best After" date on their big beers like this.

* If I actually knew what a butte was, I would have totally cooked up some mashed potatoes and gone all Richard Dreyfuss on that stuff. In fairness, a nice plate of meat and potatoes would probably be a decent pairing for this, so it's not a totally unrelated reference. Well, probably not, but work with me here.

Deschutes Mirror Mirror

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This beer originated when a transporter malfunction sent bottles of Mirror Pond Pale Ale into an alternate universe where it was revealed to be more like a double batch of that staple beer that was partially aged in Oregonian Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, and Malbec Barrels. Also, the Federation is an evil empire, Kirk is a dictator, and Spock is a pirate (with a goatee!) Wait, I seem to have mixed this up. I was supposed to make a Snow White reference and not let my true nerd flag fly. Oh well, what are you going to do? Ok, stop that. This is why we can't have nice things.

Um, yeah, so this is the third time this beer has been released, and the previous edition in 2009 had some infection issues. Fortunately, this new batch appears to be sound, and I've had a hankering for a good barleywine of late, so let's trek into this sucker:

Deschutes Mirror Mirror 2014 Reserve

Deschutes Mirror Mirror 2014 Reserve - Pours a deep, dark amber brown color with a finger of light tan head that disapates slowly but surely. Smell is pure barleywine, lots of dark vinous fruit aromas, rich caramel, and maybe a hint of oak. Taste hits with lots of that rich caramel, maybe some of that oak in the middle, less fruit than the nose, but it's there and it comes through more in the finish, which also has a bitter note to it to even things out. That fruit takes on a more vinous, tannic feel as it warms, but it also develops a bit of a boozy bite as well. Mouthfeel is rich, creamy, low but appropriate carbonation, not quite full bodied, but the richness and booze keep it in the realm of a sipping beer. Overall, this is a well executed barleywine worthy of a look. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11.2% ABV bottled (22 oz black waxed cap). Drank out of a snifter on 5/9/14. 2014 Reserve Vintage. Best After: 2/24/15.

Dammit, I forgot about those stupid "Best After" dates. I was going to say that while this is really good, it's not a transcendent experience or anything, but I could see this aging really well. Alas, I doubt I'll snag another bottle of the stuff, but I guess you never know.

February Beer Club

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Tonight was beer club, a gathering of beer minded individuals from my work who get together about once a month at a local BYOB for good company and libations. As per usual, a good turnout, with a good representation from the core team, but also some very welcome new faces. About half of us are, at this point, avid homebrewers, so discussion veered into a rather nerdy realm from time to time, but that's all good, and there was also a nice contingent of non-beer drinking peeps who were bemused by our nerdery, but steered the discussion other ways as well. Good times had by all.

February Beer Club

For the sake of posterity, initial thoughts on each beer are captured below. As you might guess, conditions here are not ideal, nor did I always drink a full portion, so take this with a gigantic grain of salt if you dare. Or not. I am pretty awesome, so I'm sure these inchoate notes are all you'll really need. In order of drinking (not necessarily in order pictured):

  • Heavy Seas Gold Ale - A pretty basic Blonde Ale, comparable to most macro slop, but a step above such extremes. B-
  • Kaedrôme Saison - This is drinking well, though it still has not carbonated as well as I'd have liked. I don't know if this is because the yeast is just so old and overstressed or if it's because it's been so cold lately and my cellar is just so cold that it's taking the beer a while to condition. Whatever the case, the flavors are at the right place, and there is enough carbonation to make it drinkable, it's just that I wish there were more. B
  • New Belgium Lips Of Faith - Coconut Curry Hefeweizen - Holy curry, Batman! At first, the curry seemed to overpower everything else, but as I drank and as it warmed (we had some of this later in the evening as well), the coconut and hefeweizen notes came out a bit more. Its a very interesting, weird beer, but I don't think it's quite the right combination of flavors for beer. C+
  • Stone Matt's Burning Rosids - I think you all know how much I love me some saisons, even weird, incoherent takes on the style, but this one seemed to be filled with a sorta burnt rubber band aid flavor that overpowered everything else. Perhaps not totally undrinkable, but I'm really, really happy I only tried a smallish sample of the stuff. D
  • Green Jack Rippa - I've seen this around and been curious about an "English Triple" beer, and it was an interesting beer, though it came off as being incredibly boozy, which is a bit odd for an 8.5% beer. To be sure, that's not a whimpy ABV, but it's also not something I'd expect to be quite so powerfully boozy. It had a nice malt backbone too, but not enough to stand up to the booze. C+
  • Ken's Homebrewed ESB - A light take on the style, though perhaps it just seemed that way because we had this after the boozy bomb previously mentioned. Still, very easy drinking stuff, malt forward but quaffable. B
  • Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale - Now, this beer club group occasionally visits an authentic (at least, to us Yanks, it seems so) British pub called The Whip Tavern. They have this rather spectacular dessert called Sticky Toffee Pudding, so hopes were somewhat high for this beer. To be sure, I was tempering my expectations by the fact that a lot of English ales, even stuff like this that is flavored with adjuncts, come off with hints of diacetyl, but in this case, my fears were unfounded. It's nowhere near as good as the actual dessert, but it had a really nice toffee/caramel character that worked really well for the beer. B
  • Chimay Tripel (White) - A beer I've obviously had many times before, and it's just as good as ever, though I seem to have veered away from a lot of the Belgian styles that initially hooked me on good beer. Still, this is a nice one. I'd probably downgrade to a B+, but it's still very nice.
  • Starr Hill Psycho Kilter - A nice take on the Scotch Ale style, certainly not a top tier effort, but a nice, malt forward, relatively low carbed beer that doesn't quite bely its relatively high 9.3% strength. B
  • Kaedrin Bomb and Grapnel (Bourbon Oaked Version) - This is the version of my RIS homebrew that was aged on bourbon soaked oak cubes. In this version, the charred oak really comes through strong. Not a ton of bourbon, though it is there. The charred oak is pretty strong at this point, which makes me think that perhaps I should have soaked the oak cubes in bourbon for longer than the 1-2 weeks I employed. Still, this turned out well, though the blended version seems to be the best version. B+
  • Lost Abbey The Angel's Share (Bourbon Barrel Aged) - A beer I've had and reviewed before. It is still pretty fantastic stuff. A-
  • Deschutes Jubelale - Another beer I've had a few times this year, and it's a nice winter warmer style beer, malt forward with lots of spice, quite enjoyable (and surprisingly did not suffer from a no doubt beleaguered palate at this point in the night). B
And that just about covers it. Already looking forward to the March beer club, where I'll be able to share some Fat Weekend IPA...

Gazing Into The Abyss

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Finally. I know that if I call this a white whale beer, a million neckbearded beer dorks will descend upon Kaedrin HQ with righteous fury, but it's been several years of near misses for me, so it was a hard fought victory for me. For those of you in the distribution range or who don't live in a state with archaic booze law (i.e. states that allow you to have beer shipped), you've got it easy. Well Deschutes distributes to Philly now (apparently one of the few east coast places that gets some Deschutes), so I've finally got my greedy paws on some of this stuff.

So what's the big deal? Well, The Abyss is a monster 11% ABV Imperial Stout, and when you gaze into it, it gazes back. It's actually got quite the recipe. Brewed with black strap molasses and licorice, finished with cherry bark and vanilla beans, and partially aged in oak barrels. From what I can tell, this changes each year, but the 2013 reserve is 6% aged in oak Bourbon barrels, 11% aged in oak barrels (presumably new oak), and 11% aged in oak wine barrels (Pinot Noir, I'm told). Some earlier vintages have left out the cherry bark and vanilla beans, and also had a slightly higher barrel percentage (and I gather that the Pinot Noir barrels have only been around for a couple years as well), but I ain't complaining, cause this is decent stuff:

Deschutes The Abyss 2013 Reserve

Deschutes The Abyss 2013 Reserve - Pours pitch black with a gorgeous finger of brown head that gradually subsides to a cap with decent retention. Smells heavily of roasted, dark malts, perhaps some of that molasses and vanilla pitching in as well. Nice complexity in the nose, I keep picking out new notes. As it warms, there is something bright but not quite fruity in the nose (perhaps the wine barrel or cherry bark?) Coffee, chocolate, sugary caramel, It just keeps coming. The taste starts off with that rich caramel, but that quickly evolves into vanilla, then chocolate, a heavy roasted malt character, finally leading into a relatively bitter finish (bitter both from hops and from roast). I don't get a lot of direct oak or Bourbon, but the barrel aged character does sorta come out in the rich mouthfeel of the brew. Speaking of which, the mouthfeel is rich, thick, and chewy, full bodied but reasonably well carbonated. The bitter finish dries out the mouthfeel a bit, but it's still a big, rich beer that will coat your mouth and linger for a bit. Overall, this is excellent, even if it's not quite ticking my favorite stout checkboxes, it's still really impressing me... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (22 oz waxed bomber). Drank of of a snifter on 1/18/14. Best After 08/16/14.

Zuh? Best After 08/16/14? It turns out that it's just fine to drink fresh, but they claim it will age very well too, though it'll be "entirely different" a year on. So you're saying I need to hunt down another bottle? It looks like it. I could definitely see that bitterness mellowing out over time, and perhaps some of those other elements becoming better incorporated.

Quick Hits

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When I started this blog, I was generally looking to write about every new beer I tried. I learned a lot, which was the point, but I'm also sure it was boring. Being the 3583756th blog to review Sierra Nevada Pale Ale isn't particularly constructive or, frankly, all that interesting. I don't want to read that, let alone write it and inflict it upon you. So what I'm getting at here is that I might not review every beer I try anymore, and I might do more posts like this, with just a few quick hits on mildly interesting beers I've had lately. In fact, this has been happening for a while now, and it's part of the reason I feel like everything I review is really good - I'm not putting much energy into those bad beers. Anyways, I'm sure you're devastated by all this, but I'll try to make up for it by drinking and reviewing interesting beer and maybe even writing things that aren't just reviews. So for now, let's just look at a few beers I've had over the past couple months, but which haven't inspired posts of their own:

Marooned On Hog Island - 21st Amendment

21st Amendment Marooned On Hog Island - Jay loved this and I always fall in love with 21st Amendment's artwork, but then, I'm not a particularly big fan of oyster stouts either. Something about the salinity that most of them have just doesn't work that great for me, though it can make for an interesting change of pace. This one pours a black color with a finger of tan head. Smells of sweet roasted malts along with something I can't quite place (brininess? Presumably the oysters...) Taste is straight on stout, sweet with plenty of roasted malt and that briny oyster character coming through towards the finish, which retains a bitter roast too. Mouthfeel is very nice, well carbonated, lighter bodied than I'd expect, but still substantial. Overall, it's a solid beer, but it didn't hit me in the gut like I wanted. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.9% ABV canned (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass.

Duck-Rabbit Wee Heavy Scotch Style Ale - Man, Duck-Rabbit sounds like it'd be right up my alley - a brewery specializing in dark ales? Sign me up! And yet I'm almost invariably disappointed by their wares. Granted, I haven't had anything other than their regular lineup, but still. I like Scotch ales, but this one doesn't feel like the style at all. It pours a deep, dark brown, maybe copper color with a finger or two of fluffy light tan head. Smells rather odd, kinda like a soda. Caramel and fruit are there, but perhaps a uncommon yeast character is showing up as well. Taste is similar, plenty of caramel, some fruit, and that soda-like character from the nose. Mouthfeel is more carbonated than expected, and I'm guessing this has a higher attenuation than your typical scotch ale. I mean, it's not dry, but it's nowhere near what a Scotch ale is supposed to be either. Feels a little unbalanced, sloppy, though it's not at all unpleasant. Overall, I guess I'm just not feeling this one. Certainly not a bad beer, but a little disappointing and not really on-style. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass.

Milwaukee Brewing Louies Resurrection

Milwaukee Brewing Louie's Resurrection - I got a pair of these beers in that trade that brought me a bunch of Three Floyds, and I had one right away that was pretty darn good. Not mind-blowing, but a really nice bourbon character mixed with a typical malty red ale. Solid stuff, but then I think I let the other one sit around for a bit too long. It pours a brownish amber color with a finger of off white head. Smells of toffee, caramel, light bourbon. Taste hits with that toffee and caramel right away, very sweet start, rich flavors, mild bourbon character, some euro hop flavor. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, very easy drinking. Overall, a very nice beer. Not going to expand consciousness or anything, but good. B+ (fresh) or B (not so fresh)

Beer Nerd Details: 7.5% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter.

Green Flash West Coast IPA

Green Flash West Coast IPA - This one would probably qualify as a boring review of a regular beer, but it happens to be my first Green Flash beer ever, which is surprising given their wide availability in the area. Will have to seek out more from them. This one pours a deep orange color with a finger of white head, plenty of lacing. Smells like an IPA! Lots of citrus and pine hops. Taste follows the nose, a little more crystal malt character than I was expecting from a "West Coast" IPA, but as an east coaster, this does not bother me at all. Again with the citrus and pine, maybe some herbal spice too, nice bitter finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, crisp, easy drinking stuff. Overall, solid beer! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.3% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass.

Deschutes Obsidian Stout - This one came to be via my first BIF trade (which is something I'll explain in a later post). Pours a very dark brown color with a couple fingers of fluffy, light brown head. Smells like a sweet stout, caramel malts and some roast apparent, but also maybe some floral, citrusy hops. Taste starts sweet, with a light roastiness emerging quickly and lasting through the finish. Some floral and citrus hops make themselves know, but they're not aggressive, just adding a nice complexity and balancing bitterness to the brew. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, with a slightly yet pleasant astringent character, medium bodied. Overall, it's an above average stout, more along the lines of what I look for in a stout. It didn't blow my mind, but it's a worthy brew. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.4% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass.

So there you have it. Tomorrow, we return to the realm of amazing barrel aged monsters, so grab your broad sword and strap on a shield, things are going to get elemental up in here.

Deschutes The Stoic

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Deschutes doesn't seem to officially distribute here... and yet, I see them pop up from time to time, and I felt pretty fortunate to snag a bottle of The Stoic at a local bottle shop. Truth be told, I didn't even realize it was a Deschutes beer until I looked at it a little closer, but that wax dipped cap and classy label caught my attention right away (seriously, that's just a gorgeous label). Now I just need to find a way to get ahold of some Abyss. But I digress.

The Stoic is a Belgian-style Quad, brewed using pomegranate molasses with 16.5% being aged in Pinot Noir oak barrels and 16.5% being aged in oak rye whiskey barrels. It's definitely a little too pale in color for a quadrupel style beer, though that alcohol and mouthfeel are on-point and nobody really knows what a quad is supposed to be anyway, so let's call that a wash. The truth is that this is a unique beer, and boy is it tasty.

Deschutes The Stoic

Deschutes The Stoic - Pours a clear, surprisingly light golden orange color with a finger of white head. Definitely not a traditional quad appearance, but then, quads are a style that's not really a style, so whatevers. Big, complex aromas. I get that peppery Belgian yeast strain in the nose, but I'm definitely picking up the whiskey and oak too, and maybe even a vinous character from the wine barrels too. The taste is very sweet, with a little of that richness that I typically associate with whiskey barrel aging, and plenty of booziness too. There's a lot of subtle flavor elements going on here that I can't exactly place, I'm sure some of it is coming from the pomegranate and/or wine barrel aging, but I'm not really picking that up explicitly. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, with that richness from the whiskey barrel peeking out, but not quite taking over, making this a little lighter than expected. It's pretty well carbonated, but there's a hint of stickyness in the finish. I get some of that warming alcohol character too. Overall, this is a very good, complex, interesting brew. As a Quad, I don't think it make sense. It feels more like a tripel that's been kicked up a few notches and barrel aged (reminiscent of Curieux). Regardless, I like it! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (22 oz wax dipped bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/20/12. Label sez: Best By: 08/04/12 (so apparently a little past it's prime, my bad!)

I will, of course, be on the lookout for more Deschutes. Despite their stealth distribution in the area, I think I should be able to find some more, though I have no idea if anything as high profile as The Abyss will be available anytime soon.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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