Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Deschutes... finally!

We've waited and waited, and finally, the famed Deschutes brewery out of Bend, Oregon has arrived in Minnesota. To start, they are sending us two of their awesome year round beers in 22oz bottles: Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter. The Mirror Pond is an easy drinkin' American Pale Ale clocking in at 5.0%. Generously hopped with Cascade hops, this one starts sweet from the malted barley and ends crisp, dry and slightly bitter. The Black Butte is a rather deceptive brew: from the dark, opaque pour, you would expect the beer to be rather thick and heavy, but this is a very approachable and highly drinkable porter. Flavors of dark chocolate and coffee lead to a dry and crisp finish. Incredibly drinkable at only 5.2%. Both of these beers are absolute steals at only $2.99 for a 22oz bomber!

We were also incredibly lucky to get in very limited quantities of a few of their reserve beers. First off is their Mirror Mirror Barley Wine. This is more of an English-style Barley wine. Big, sweeter, chewy flavors of toffee, caramel and raisins up front give way to a drying, oaky and slightly warming finish. The slightest bit of juicy hops dance throughout to keep things interesting. This one is brewed only once a year... we have the 2009 vintage in now, but once it's gone...

We also got in some Black Butte XXI. This bad boy is their Black Butte Porter on some serious steroids! It's an imperial porter infused with cocoa nibs, coffee and then a portion of the beer sees oak aging in Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey barrels. At 11% this beer is not to be taken lightly, but despite it's alcohol, is quite drinkable. The roasted malt, coffee and cocoa blend seamlessly on the palate and the barrel aging gives it just a hint of vanilla oak tannin to round things out on the finish. Again... this one is very limited.

Finally, the Deschutes crew was nice enough to send us a very limited quantity of their Jubel 2010. This is their famous "once a decade ale." I was incredibly excited to try this one. Jubel is an American Strong Ale clocking in at a hefty 10%. The nose is absolutely beautiful: resinous and slightly earthy hops, toasted caramel, brown sugar, toffee and the smallest hint of spice. The pour is deep, nearly opaque ruby/brown topped by a creamy, rich dark khaki head. The flavor is quite balanced, if not a tad young right now. The creamy, slightly sweet toffee malt and the bitterness of the hops blend rather seamlessly. The only knock I have on this one is that the alcohol presence is a tad strong at the moment... not to worry. The beer has a "best after" date of 1/29/11 on the bottle. Jubel 2010 will cellar with the best of them.

All three of the reserve beers are extremely limited, are priced at $11.99/22oz and will cellar gracefully. Buy 2! One for now, and one for 3 years from now.

That's all for now! No come on down and support your local craft beer retailer!



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