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Deschutes Red Chair NWPA

January 13th, 2011 beckel

Today I have a brew from Deschutes Brewing that I have been wanting to try since last year. Deschutes, being new to our market at the time, didn’t send any of  their Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale into our market last season so I had no choice but to buy it today from Lake Wine & Spirits and rejoice. Named after the oldest operating lift at Mt. Bachelor in Oregon, this hop centric Pale Ale garnered the title of “Worlds Best Pale Ale” from the “World Beer Awards” in 2010. While I find the aforementioned organization’s lack of judging details and award selections somewhat dubious it is always nice to get recognition. This batch states best by 4/19/11.

Pours a distinctive reddish copper hue that is mostly translucent, with a modest amount of bright white lacing creating a very nice appearance. Sweet malts hit the nose first, followed by notable bitterness, gentle citrus and fruity hop esters, finishing with a bit of alcohol. There is a somewhat odd grain ester in the aroma that I can’t quite place but is slightly off putting. Bitter notes hit your tongue quickly and are followed up with grassy and lemon hop esters. Cereal grains hit you mid palate with a variety of flavors including oat and wheat. Unfortunately these grain notes include a variety of muddled and somewhat flat grain notes, that I don’t find particularly enjoyable. The sip finished with plenty of bitterness, which does a pretty good job of saving this brew, but so far this one leaves a bit to be desired. As my palate gets used to the flavors the less refined esters seem to be further hidden by malt sweetness, brighter fruity hops and bitterness. For further examination I grabbed another bottle which I found to be quite a bit more palatable, but again that is probably just because I am getting used to the flavors. Overall this  brew has some nice grain notes, modest fruity & citrus hop esters and a good deal of bitterness. After drinking a few more bottles I’d say this is a decent brew but it just isn’t as clean and bright in both hop and grain profile as I expected from the products description. This brew will likely be enjoyed by most, but I would like to see it refined a bit, or who knows maybe I had a batch that wasn’t treated optimally. If you enjoy hoppy ales this 6.2% ABV brew is a decent choice. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Deschutes Red Chair NWPA

Deschutes Black Butte Porter

October 22nd, 2010 beckel

Today I have another solid ale from the fine folks at Deschutes Brewery, and another brew provided by Lake Wine & Spirits as part of their Citizen Six Pack. Deschutes started distributing to our fine state of Minnesota just over half a year ago and boy have I been pleased about that. Hailing from Bend, Oregon Deschutes makes some very enjoyable year round beers and some simply fantastic specialty brews such as their Imperial version of this brew, last years (which was distributed this year) being entitled Black Butte XXI [review]. Unfortunately this years Black Butte XXII will not be distributed but some lucky Oraganites were able to sample it at their brewpub. To keep it brief XXII was brewed with a chocolate that creates a film after sitting for a while and Deschutes did not want to ship a product that they believed did not meet their quality standards. While very respectable I was quite disappointed because this year they also added chillies and orange peel. After sampling Great Divides Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti [review] which is also brewed with a tiny bit of cayenne pepper I am now a sucker for any Imperial Stout brewed with peppers. While not as overwhelmingly fantastic as the Imperial version of the brew Deschutes Black Butte Porter is surely a tasty and drinkable brew. Lets get to it.

Pours a pitch black hue that is completely opaque. About two fingers of tight tan bubbles are produced and fade after a few minutes leaving a very small amount of lacing and some residual head. Aroma is of strong coffee, rich semi-sweet malts and a hint of caramely sweetness. Flavor starts with coffee, followed by a variety of grain esters and malty bitterness. Some hop esters are present and add a nice gentle citrus quality but are easily dominated by roasted malts and the coffee and bitter malt flavors they present. Body is a bit heavy but close to medium making it very reasonable for the style. Mouthfeel is smooth and gently creamy making this flavorful beer far too easy to drink. Luckily it comes in at a rather sessionable 5.2% ABV because any fan of dark beers and coffee could drink this brew all night. As it warms the more the creamy malt esters shine through creating a very palatable beer. If you enjoy dark beers and are into coffee esters you may have just found your new every day beer. While nothing mind blowing this brew from Deschutes is still a simply delicious porter that most people will enjoy. A solid beer regardless of season. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Deschutes Black Butte Porter

Deschutes Black Butte XXI

September 18th, 2010 beckel

Today I have an exciting ale that I passed up buying a few times, but after reading a review from my friend Derek I couldn’t help but grab a bottle. Deschutes who brew out of Bend, Oregon craft some seriously solid ales, and if the aroma of this one is any indicator, I am pretty confident it will be awesome. This Imperial incarnation of their Black Butte porter was first brewed on their 20th anniversary and after it’s success they couldn’t avoid brewing it again.

Pours a very deep black hue that is completely opaque. Producing about two fingers of tight light chocolate colored bubbles that fade with in a minute or so leaving very little lacing and small amount of perpetual bubbles on the surface of the beer. Smells immensely of chocolate, coffee, very sweet malt, gentle roast and little bitterness. Flavor is of rich coffee, sweet chocolate, solid roasted malt esters, modest smokiness, malty sweetness, light alcohol, and a bit of bitterness in the finish. Body is medium, lightened a bit by a slightly creamy though viscus mouthfeel. Though this beer is a solid 11% ABV the complex flavors and massive malt esters easily disguise it, though it becomes more apparent as the brew gets closer to room temperature. This is one impressively smooth and delicious Imperial Porter. The brightness of the chocolate and coffee esters is simply fantastic and makes perfect sense when you note that this ale was brewed chocolate beans and coffee. Not to mention that 20% is aged in Bourbon barrels and blended back in. While I didn’t notice it at all when initially consuming this a bit cold, as the beer warms the alcohol esters become more reminiscent of the aforementioned Bourbon. Over all a seriously amazing take on the style and something I would happily drink any day. A fantastic brew and something any lover of chocolate and coffee will be all over. Can’t wait to get my hands on next years. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Deschutes Black Butte XXI

Deschutes Hop in the Dark C.D.A.

July 21st, 2010 beckel

While this is the first beer from Deschutes Brewery I have gotten around to writing about it is certainly not the first I have enjoyed. Hailing from Bend, Oregon Deschutes first hit our market a few months ago and has been a welcome addition with tasty year round brews such as their Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter which are available in both 6-packs and very reasonably priced bombers at around $3. Today I have a brew from their Bond Street Series, a series of hoppy ales that started at their brewpub. Cascadian Dark Ales, India Brown Ales, India Black Ales; whatever we want to call them are definitely the style of the moment but simply from the aroma I already have high hopes for this ale. Lets see how it goes. This very carbonated ale quickly produces over four fingers of tight light chocolate bubbles that quickly open up into large bubbles even when carefully poured down the side of a glass. Color is a very dark brown hue that is completely opaque. Aroma is a lovely contrast of dark roasted malts and bright bursts of citrus and floral hops that can be smelt from a foot away. The play between aromas creates a variety of esters from chocolate to bitter dark malts that is quite enjoyable. Consumed at room temperature diverse notes of plum, grapefruit, lemon, orange, roasted malts, coffee, and a solid bitterness are present. Making for one diversely flavored ale. I put the bottle back in the fridge to see how the flavor would change served a bit colder and I must say the balance between smooth roasted malt and wonderful grapefruit forward citrus is much cleaner and more well defined. The contrast between gently sweet but equally bitter roasted malt and the wonderful bitterness and vast variety of citrus esters produced by the Cascade, Centennial and Citra Hops used in this ale are really quite fantastic. Body is full but not overly heavy with a slightly syrupy mouthfeel. At 6.5% ABV this ale is full of flavor, but not so strong you can’t have a few. For those interested in the style I think this was a very enjoyable and approachable take on it. If you enjoy buoyantly hoppy ales and roasted malts you might just be in heaven. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Deschutes Hop in the Dark C.D.A.