Friday, March 8, 2013

Deschutes River Ale

The folks at Deschutes gave me a heads up on this project back in fall, and, well, I was excited. One of my favorite breweries, jumping right into the Session Beer Project with a solid entry? Fantastic. And after waiting, after twiddling my thumbs as my samples got held up by a Great Plains it is. 

Beautiful white head over a red-tinged golden body. Bright, peppy nose of grass and flowers, and a zesty freshness. A good gulp -- because you don't sip a beer like this, you've got to get it into you -- is like a pale ale dialed back a bit, and true to the nose: bright, zesty, with that grass and flowers backed by malt, flowing down to a bitter finish as the beer drains down the back of my throat. There's a nice fresh lingering flavor memory in my mouth.

This rings it. Like a bell, not a fence. It takes me back to my very first post on session beer, which was one of my first blog posts on Seen Through A Glass, January 31, 2007. Have a look at what I thought session beer was...and still do.

1. Alcohol under 4.5%. Once you get above 5%, things change, in my long experience with beer. Below that, you can drink at a moderate pace and not get heavily flummoxed. I always say that session beer is beer you can drink while you're playing cards, without worrying about gambling away your house.

2. Flavor in balance. A session beer can't be insanely hopped, syrupy with residual sugar, or funkier than hell. The whole idea of a session beer is that you can drink them smoothly glass after glass without anything cramping your palate. Plenty of flavor is fine, but nothing overpowering.

3. The beer doesn't overpower the conversation. Session beers shouldn't make you interrupt the conversation and start geeking about how marvelous the beer is. Session beer is more about backup than topic, it's something you drink while you're talking, not something to talk about.
4. Reasonably priced. There are some very quaffable beers out there that are, for some reason, wicked expensive. If you can afford to do sessions with them, God bless you. The rest of us? Reasonable is the keyword.
Well...this rings it. Like a bell. At least, I think so: Deschutes does price their beer reasonably.

More importantly, this is, for me, as validating as the Samuel Adams Belgian Session beer was a year ago; validating for me, for the SBP, for the idea I had that the time had come, the time was right, for session-strength beers to bring more variety to craft beer. I gotta tell you; when Deschutes gets on it, you know you've got something. Now...if Sierra Nevada would get on they could do an awesome Bitter under 4.5%.

1 comment:

  1. I love how you ended that with a friendly challenge to Sierra. The best part about craft session beers to me, is that it starts to limit my miller lite friends' excuses for not expanding their horizons. Plus then I don't have to play beer pong with a $60 case of beer. Because that's just as much a crime as drinking AB-Inbev!


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