I try not to make a habit of rhyming, especially in headlines, but the opportunity to rhyme “parachutes” doesn’t come around very often so I had to take a shot. Besides, it is actually relevant to our recap this week just stick with us to find out how. And the parachute reference also gives me an excuse to post a photo of Mimi at the National Free Fall Convention.
This was the first class of the winter semester of Cicero’s Beer School and both sessions were standing room only. Is it time to add a third? If the semester continues with these numbers I would suggest arriving early each week to get checked in and find a seat. And you could always order some apps while you wait for your first sample. Tonight’s guest brewery was announced in advance so many people were looking to taste Deschutes for the first time.
There have been tweets, and blogs, and discussions, and rumors, and notes on napkins, and finally the day is here…this time I promise, no crossed-fingers or take-backs…Deschutes Brewery is now available in St. Louis! The 24 year-old brewery from Bend, Oregon has continued its eastward expansion and is now sold in 19 states plus parts of Canada. If I studied geography more I could tell you the exact territory, but that map on the website doesn’t have any words on it.
Deschutes sent Brewmaster Brian Faivre to introduce their beers to the class and he came prepared with all the vital stats for each beer as well as a story about how he became involved with Deschutes. Do you remember that book “What Color is Your Parachute?” Your guidance counselor or grandmother might have told you to read it because inside those chapters you would discover what you are supposed to do in life. Well it turns out that Brian actually read it, and it worked. (See I told you I would get back to the parachute theme)
Brian has a degree in computer science and worked next door to Pets.com (if you don’t remember their sock puppet commercials I have included a medley at the end of the blog) back in the internet bubble era, but beer turned out to be his true calling (once he read the parachute book) and after studying at UC-Davis it was time to get a job at a brewery. So he packed up the moving truck with his girlfriend and moved back to her home town, St. Louis. But before they unpacked he heard Oregon calling, and his parents calling, so the young couple turned around and drove to Bend. I left out a few details that you can find on the podcast because we need to tell you about the fruits of Brian’s labor.
Mirror Pond Pale Ale (5% ABV, 40 IBUs)
She says- Mirror Pond is the biggest seller for Deschutes. It’s made with 100% Cascade hops. I found it to be a light, very easy drinking ale. It had a slight bitter finish but not offensive. Mirror Pond would compliment a variety of foods.
He says- I was shocked to hear that this was 100% Cascade hops because I felt the hop notes were toned down and subtle. This beer shows you that Cascade can play nice and not smack you in the face. Wonderful session beer and a great introduction to the brewery.
Black Butte Porter (5.2% ABV, 30 IBUs)
She says- Brian uses 2 types of chocolate malts in this beer, which gives it a nice roasty scent and flavor. This was a very drinkable porter that wasn’t too heavy. In fact, I thought it could even be sessionable. This would be a good one to offer to someone starting to explore darker craft beers. It wasn’t overpowering or filling, and had really nice chocolate notes. Brian suggested drinking it with BBQ and smoked meats. It would go well with chocolate desserts too. Well worth trying if you want a mild porter.
He says- Porter is not my favorite style, but I have heard so much about this beer I was truly looking forward to a sample. The nose is enjoyable with notes of coffee, but not overwhelming. The mouthfeel is my favorite aspect of this beer…it is smooth like a brown ale, but has just enough body to remind me of a milk stout. Very impressive, now I know what all the hype is about.
The Stoic (11 % ABV, 20 IBUs)
She says- This beer had a lot of different flavor profiles for a low IBU beer. It is brewed with 100% pilsner malts, beet sugar and Pomegranate Molasses. To add a further twist, they use a French Saison yeast and it is barrel aged using Rye & Pinot Noir barrels. It had a lovely light golden color and a slightly sweet aftertaste. If you like Quads, be sure to try this one.
He says- This is not a quad in the typical fashion. It appears much lighter in color than most quads and the aroma bounces from floral to funky. I love the use of French Saison yeast as it adds an extra dimension of flavors and helps balance the sweetness of the sugar additions. It drinks easy for 11% ABV so be careful with this one. Also it came across more like an imperial farmhouse ale than a quadrupel.
Hop Henge Experimental IPA (8.5% ABV, 95 IBUs)
She says– If you like bold IPA’s, you’ll love this one! This was a good “stand up and take notice” hoppy beer! It’s made with several forms of hops, including pellet and whole flower, and is dry hopped. I found it to have a nice blend and balance of pine and grapefruit tones. I know I’m going to try Hop Henge at home to see if it might rival my “go-to” IPA favorites.
He says- Wow! The dry-hopping on this beer is amazing. It was as if I stuck my nose in a freshly opened bag of hop pellets. I almost don’t want to drink it because I want to just hover over the glass and absorb the aroma. Five different hop varieties create an award winning beer that hop lovers will salute.
The Last Sip
Deschutes is certainly a welcome addition to the St. Louis beer market and we look forward to seeing many of their beers on tap at Cicero’s and a few in our fridge throughout the year. Right now most of the beers come in 22 ounce bombers, but six-packs are on the way in the spring. Also look for their special edition beers such as The Abyss Russian Imperial Stout. Cheers!
About the Authors: Mimi and Eric Griffith have been attending beer school for about 2 years now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports, homebrewing and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for nearly a decade and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, has more recently discovered flavorful beer, but is now proud to be called a hop-head. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007, this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!