Hey, it's still American Craft Beer Week! As our Twitter followers know, The Better Tasters of Spokane jumped into the event both feet first and drank our way through the current Deschutes Reserve Series.
This was the oldest of the lot -- from 2008 -- and you probably will have a hard time to track down a bottle. That's too bad, seeing it was delicious. An oud bruin, The Dissident mixed sweet and sour and delivered a punch right in the nose, and that was before even tasting it. Flavorful as it was, it was still drinkable; definitely one to sip on. I doubt I could have handled a bottle by myself, and splitting it amongst four people seemed appropriate.
I haven't seen a bottle in almost a year, but good news: A 2010 edition should appear in September.
Once every ten years, Deschutes digs out its Jubel, the newest (or oldest depending on your perspective) entry in the Reserve Series. Released in February, the ale still hasn't matured to its "drink after" date, but that's not to say it wasn't drinkable. In fact, it still tasted great. Go pick up a couple of bottles; age one (or more) and drink one (or more). We recently tried it with a Copper River Salmon, and it was great.
Black Butte XXI
Another one that hadn't reached its "best after" date was the Black Butte XXI. No matter, it still was an amazing ale. Think Black Putte Porter on steroids and you get the idea. The flavors of Theo Chocolate and coffee hit heavily with its big flavors and, not surprisingly, this was another one intended for sipping. After being out of stock for a while, it also seems you can find this in the stores again, so stock up.
This, I found, was the mildest Reserve, and probably the most refreshing, being based on the Mirror Pond Pale and all. Of course, mildest... With 11% ABV it's probably more correct to say the barley wine disguised any hints of booze rather well. I, for one, loved the malty tones of the Mirror Mirror.
It's still possible to track this one down around town -- Bottles has a few left -- but it seems to be going the way of the Dissident. Pick it up and enjoy it; the "drink after" date has just passed.
Considered by many to be one of the best ales in existence, The Abyss truly lived up to its name. This was the '09 edition and should still have been stored for a while longer, but with 11% ABV and more flavors than most, the ale packed a crazy good punch. Sip and enjoy this one; if you follow our order of tasting, it will be a great ending to a great night of beer.
Of course, you could always do a vertical tasting, but after having five of these bottles, I'm not sure you would be left standing.