Beer for the Weekend. Deschutes Welcome Wagon comes to town!
This time of year is typically pretty slow. Cabin fever begins to wear on people. Winter is beginning to settle in. More than likely, if you are reading this on the website, you long for pitchers and catchers to report because this signals that spring is almost here!
This time of year is also a slow time for beer releases. With spring around the corner I know I will have plenty of opportunities to sample many new beers. But what to do until then? We’ll, this week I got lucky as Deschutes, whom I wrote about last week and enjoyed immensely, had a rolled out their welcome wagon here in Columbia on Wednesday. When breweries have tastings, they typically bring along some of their higher end beers, followed up with supporting cast from the brewery available to talk beer. As much as I enjoyed the beers they tapped, I enjoyed the conversation with the folks behind the scenes. From representatives to marketing, they normally have a lot of good stories. If you get the opportunity to go one of these events by any of the breweries, it is a must to attend because they are always a blast!
While chatting with them, I was able to get more of a definitive answer about what had caused the delays in Deschutes arrival to Missouri. It was not the expansion so much as it was getting the wrong shipment of grains. When a brewery orders grains, it normally comes by the truck load. The truck driver, at the time of the delivery, is to give them a sample of the grains for them to test. If the grains pass, they obviously keep the delivery. I they are wrong…well, the truck driver ends up taking then back. Last spring, a truck driver on delivery gave Deschutes the grain sample and had it tested, and it tested well! They kept the grains. Unfortunately, the test grains did not come from the truck he hauled, and they ended up with the incorrect order. This set them back as they had 30 batches of beer that were no good. They had to start all over and play catch up just to fill orders, and had no way of including shipments to new territories.
I also enjoyed hearing them talk about other breweries. The craft beer crowd is very much a close family. The Minnesota rep for Deschutes, Dave, mentioned the first trip they had made to Kansas City to meet with Boulevard. They showed up unannounced, were welcomed in with ipen arms and spent about 4 hours “sampling” Boulevard products. A lite bit after this meeting, both head brewers began talking. Deschutes was impressed with Boulevard for their wheat beer base and Boulevard was impressed with Deschutes for their IPA’s. That is when they thought they should combined them, and the collaboration for the White IPA was created by both breweries!
Well, enough with the stories. Let’s actually talk about what I drank. There were 3 stops in Columbia and each place had one beer to try. After 90 minutes, they move to the next spot. The one I wanted the most was Deschutes Abyss, their imperial stout, but that was of course, at the last spot. Stop number 1 had the Black Butte XXIII, the barrel aged version of the porter I described last week.
The Black Butte XXIII comes in at 10.9% ABV. It poured a as dark as a stout with a thin, toffee colored head. The aroma had lots of distinct barreling fragrances, most notably vanilla. Beneath the barreling, were hints of the orange peels and very subtle peppers. You also got subtle hints of how strong this beer is from the aroma. This beer was the easiest to review mainly because it was the first of a long evening and also the strongest.
The flavors which came out of this beer are remarkably well blended. Each sip is the same as the last. Balanced roasted malts hit your mouth first and as you let the taste linger on your tongue the orange peels added while this beers was aged real shine through. As the beer finished you had some light warmth from the elevated alcohol levels but a strange dryness I had never experienced. Once you finished a sip of the beer, there was no taste left on your tongue. I knew peppers were added to the beer while being aged, but had never tried a beer where the peppers finish this way. Also, for as strong as this beer is, it was very easy drinking and smooth. Deschutes Black Butte XXIII is a unique and tasty beer. So much so in fact the is may well be a top 5 beer all time for me!
The next stop was just a hop, skip and a jump away, so we made our way to try Deschutes Hop Henge IPA. Originally, I was not real excited about this beer. I like IPA’s a lot but knew with a imperial stout waiting for me at the last stop, it may be better for me to skip this sitting altogether. Well, that did not happen, and I am glad I went.
The photo is hard to see due to the dimly lit bar, but this poured a golden red color, very clear and had a nice clean white head with some excellent retention. Aroma is a thing of beauty, loads of hops, numerous varieties of floral, citrus and piney hops. Exactly what you hope for anytime you have a IPA. This beer came in at 8.5% ABV but was well hidden. Hop Henge had a very sweet malt base but over shadowed by the aggressive hop bill. Very nice bittering and loads of flavor hops help tie this beer together for another easy drinking, high ABV from Deschutes. So good in fact, I had two!
To end my evening, we had to head downtown to get the beer I have been waiting to try for a very long time now! Deschutes imperial stout, The Abyss! Here is my write up. As I mentioned, I just had 3 big bodied beers before I got a chance to have The Abyss. Also, I ordered this beer, got up to speak with the Deschutes folks again about some other Oregon breweries. About 45 minutes later I came back to find one of my buddies sipping on my beer. I didn’t get to really enjoy it the way I would have liked. So I am going to have to wait and buy a bottle to properly do a write up on it! What I do remember is that was good! But that is all I got for you!
Anyway, next week, I hope we finally get Boulevard Chocolate Ale in Columbia. Would like to do a write up this very unique brew. Last years was very good so I have high hopes for this years! One more interesting thing to note. The City of Bend, Oregon, where Deschutes calls home, is a city of 80,000 people. In this city, they have 12 breweries! Sounds like a good place to retire!
Until next weekend, Cheers!
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