It seems apt to compare Mirror Mirror to the Olympics, seeing that both only come around every four year. Where they differ, however, is that you actually miss the beer when it's not here. You want to see it again, and spend your time with it. That's more than one can say about the Olympics.
Because the Mirror Mirror is a glorious thing. It's 11% ABV of barley wine, equally excellent on tap as it is from a bottle. Of course, a barley wine isn't necessarily everyone's cup of tea (bad turn of a phrase there), and this can be a challenging one if you don't like the heavier beers. It packs a punch.
Yet, violent as it may be, it's beautiful to look at. Deep ruby red, with about a finger worth of head. It's inviting. It tells you to sit down and relax. Everything is going to be OK.
Sniff it, and you'll pick up sweet notes straight away. Hints of vanilla and caramel, and even some red wine. And the booze, it is right there, playing around with citrus undertones.
Flavor wise it hits fairly hard -- a bit of aging will make it a face-slapper -- with a warm, malty flavor as deep as its color. It's sweet, but not overly so, and has just a bit of a burn toward the back of the throat.
Throughout you can pick up on all of the usual suspects: the caramel is quite present, and in a sense you almost feel like you're drinking a red wine mixed with a pale ale. (Which is a mix I am now intrigued enough to try.)
It's a sipper, certainly, and that's a good thing. This is a prolonged experience into awesomeness.
I haven't seen the Mirror Mirror on shelves in Spokane yet, but my assumption is that it'll be here sooner rather than later if, indeed, it is not here already. Pick up a few bottles for tasting, and a few for aging. And do give it a drink if you see it on tap: it's a trip into the good life.
Vote for Deschutes Mirror Mirror (2014): It’s your civic duty!