Review: Deschutes Brewery Early 2019 Releases
A quintet of Deschutes brews has arrived on our steps in recent weeks. We’re rounding them all up here for your consideration.
Deschutes Brewery Da Shootz! – The cleverly-named brew is a new low-abv pilsner, designed with summertime firmly in mind. Pale as can be and ever so slightly hazy, it’s light and bright with moderated cereal and malt notes, gentle bitterness, and an ample lemon note that feels almost hefeweizen-like at times. Even Deschutes warns drinkers not to come to Da Shootz! with overly inflated expectations of what you’re getting into, and the brewery’s right: This is a simple, low-alcohol brew with a straightforward profile, though it’s done exceedingly well. I’d drink this over any light beer, any day, forever. 4% abv. A- / $8 per six-pack
Deschutes Brewery Red Chair NWPA (2019) – Packaged in January 2019. Aggressively hopped, with ample malt to back it up. This year’s “northwest pale ale” has a particularly cocoa-dusted bent, with notes of walnuts, dry grass, and a vague conifer note adding nuance. Red Chair has never been my favorite Deschutes bottling — I find its various elements a bit too scattered — but it works well enough if the weather is right (i.e. cold). 6.2% abv. B / $10 per six-pack
Deschutes Brewery Twilight Summer Ale (2019) – Brilliantly honeyed and nutty, this semi-sweet brew has a bolder construction than last year’s model, with a weighty body that’s closer to a brown ale than the blonde that it actually is. Toasty malt notes make an instant impact — and they endure for what seems like minutes, fading out with a slight chocolaty, coffee-dusted character. 5% abv. B+ / $10 per six-pack
Deschutes Brewery Botanic Ale – A new seasonal in the Just Tapped Series, inspired by the flavors of gin, with infusions of juniper, black peppercorn, coriander, lemongrass, and orris root. It’s an odd idea and indeed, the beer — made from a blend of pilsner and rye malt, plus Cascade hops — is initially a little difficult to properly parse. There’s an initial sweetness here that effectively masks the herbal characteristics, but only for a moment. From there, the spices kick in, and they’re immediately… weird. It’s grassy, with notes of camphor, overripe fruit, banana peel, and a spray of fresh green herbs. Little of that I would describe as “gin-like,” would you? 6.7% abv. C / $11 per six-pack
Deschutes Brewery Black Mirror – Deschutes has no shortage of black-as-night beers in its roster, and its latest, Black Mirror, fully fits the profile. This monstrous barleywine — with more types of malt and hops than I care to list — is barrel aged in bourbon casks for 11 months before bottling. Fans of The Abyss will absolutely love this one, its nose kicking off with a nutty, intensely wine-like character that positively screams alcohol. The palate is just as bold. A huge rush of licorice candy kicks things off, followed by notes of toasted walnuts, coffee bean, and more of that raisiny, red wine character. The beer is massive and its finish is lasting — I swear I’m still tasting it 20 minutes later — with those semi-sweet fruit notes hanging on for ages. It’s interesting and soulful stuff, but I think The Abyss has more nuance and offers more perennial, lasting enjoyment. 13% abv. B+ / $NA per 22 oz bottle