Monday, December 9, 2013

Talking with the Folks at Deschutes about their Winter Releases

Hop Henge is one of Deschutes many releases this winter.
Like that neighbor down the street that starts in early November covering their home with Christmas lights,  Deschutes Brewery goes all out for the holidays, with a whole slew winter releases.  What's the motivation and story behind these beers?  I had a chance to talk to a few of the folks at Deschutes about this.  Well OK, I e-mailed them questions which they were kind enough to answer, here's a wrap up of what they had to say about the key beers in their winter line-up.
light show together,

 Jubelale Winter Ale

As Jason Randles, Deschutes PR/Social Media Director describes it, “Jubelale is a beer we have brewed for over 25 years and the first beer we ever bottled. The brewery started off as a brew pub in downtown Bend in July of 1988. We brewed Jubelale for our first holiday season and hand bottled it for patrons in 750 mL wine bottles. Deschutes began by brewing traditional English style beers when first opening so Jubelale was the natural choice of winter beers to brew, being that it is winter warmer/strong ale, typically brewed for the holidays. If you look closely at this year’s packaging, that first bottle is hidden in the artwork.” 

 Co-brewmaster Cam O' Connor added, “We don’t change the Jubelale recipe despite the rumors that we do. The raw materials vary from year to year so there are some slight changes in flavor because of that. We do select a different artist each year to create a unique piece of art that we then use to create the packaging."

And indeed, Jubelale is the traditional, malt forward, dark roasted and spice winter ale which I've enjoyed a few times this winter.  Be sure to check out it's extensive history and artwork over the years on the Deschutes website here.  It's available in Northern California now through December.

Chasin' Freshies

Fresh hop flavors and aromas are a big part of Deschutes beers, so it's no surprise that one of their big winter releases is a big hop forward IPA.  As Cam O' Conner describes it, "Jubelale is our “winter/holiday” beer that fits the traditional style of a heartier, winter style beer. Chasin’ Freshies is a fresh hop beer that can only be brewed in September when the hops are harvested fresh from the field. The snow on the Chasin’ Freshies label is a reference to its namesake and practice of chasing the fresh powder that falls on our nearby ski hill, Mt. Bachelor.

Deschutes changes the fresh hop variety from year to year.  Last year, Cam O' Conner tells me they used Heirloom Cascade hops, while this year's version feature fresh Amarillos.

Red Chair North West Pale Ale

They call this a Pale Ale up in Oregon, but in most other places it would be considered an IPA.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, especially since this truly is one of the Pale Ales I seek out when it's released in December.  The good news is that it's available through May.  As Adam Birdwell, Sales Account Specialist at Deschutes describes it,  "This beer boasts a hop bill flirting in IPA territory but uses 7 select malts to smooth it down. A personal favorite of mine but also the judges at the World Beer Awards: Red Chair won best beer in the world in both 2010 and 2012."

Hop Henge Experimental IPA
Like any good brewery sales rep, Adam Birdwell urged me to "look for our Hop Henge Experimental Imperial IPA. This beer changes year-to-year as the brewers experiment with different hops and hop combinations. It is truly a massive hop bomb but stays true to our style with solid malt presence to balance the beer."

I picked up a bottle this year and this year's version is a grapefruit peel monster.  The slightly sweet malt backbone does it's best to balance with all those hops, but all in vain.  An excellent example of the classic West Coast IPA.

The Abyss
Of course, winter is the time where Deschutes releases The Abyss, a Oak Barrel Aged Imperial Stout that need no introduction to beer geeks.  Pick up a bottle if you can find and enjoy, or let it age if you can resist the temptation to open it up.

If you haven't noticed, I'm a pretty big Deschutes fan. 

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