Ah, the good ole’ tap-takeover. Nothing beats them when one of your favorite breweries is the one hogging all the tap handles. They’re fun events that bring people together, plus you get to drink a couple of beers that aren’t usually on the normal list of offerings . Often there’s some free swag involved, too, so you can’t really lose.
Such was the case a week or so ago. Deschutes Brewing took over the taps at the London Gastropub in Monrovia, CA late last week and offered up some really fine beers. Of course, I’m biased in that I came of drinking age in Oregon and make sure to hit up Deschutes' locations in Bend or Portland every time I’m back home. In this case, the beers came to me, more or less, which is essentially the definition of winning at life.
They offered up a set of beers that highlight what Deschutes does best: offer a range styles and beer types that all check in as solid or better. Here’s what was available that night with the stats from our leaderboards added:
I’ve already pronounced my love for Mirror Pond and while Chainbreaker is nice for the lighter fare, I passed on it as well. Fresh Squeezed is excellent but also in my usual rotation. Prioritizing, I took a stab at Cinder Cone, which was on nitro, IRA, Foray, Jubelale and the latest Black Butte Porter Anniversary release, XXVII. *Note: I did not have a full pour of all of these for it-was-a-work-night reasons.
- Cinder Cone on nitro: I like trying non-stouts on nitro simply because you just don’t find that many. I’ve liked Deschutes’ Red Chair Pale on nitro in the past. Unfortunately, the nitro sort of buried the classic notes of Cinder Cone. It was fine, but I like it better in standard format.
- IRA: the BAR is not inspiring, but I thought this was a nice effort. There are enough hops present to balance out the toasted malts. It’s a bittersweet red with a touch more sweetness and it fits the mantra: solid beer.
- Foray: this was my first time with this beer and I have to say, I was really impressed. I had a nice punch of hops and tasted really fresh. There were citrus notes present on the front end and the finish wasn’t overly bitter. The Belgian yeast wasn’t overstated and blended in to the beer nicely. It was a tad light in the mouth, but really enjoyable.
- Jubelale 2015: this winter veteran was just released and I was happy to be having my first of the season. It’s a little competition I have with my best friend and, well, he wasn’t so happy for me…
As per usual, this beer was great. It’s a little early to be drinking a winter ale, but what the hell? It starts off with caramel and cocoa notes, then finishes with a touch of bitter hops. This beer is never bad.
- Black Butte Porter XXVII: this is the beer I was most excited to drink as it’s expensive by the bomber and somewhat hard to find. Like many breweries with big regular lineups, the limited releases are where you’ll find the gems. This beer did not disappoint.
- Appearance: a deep, dark brown that's essentially black with a finger of foam and some noticeable lacing (4.25)
- Smell: notes of vanilla, bourbon and toasted malts are prevalent with hints of tangy fruit (4.5)
- Taste: chocolate wins, but there’s some vanilla, bourbon and cloves. The finish has a little bit of tartness thanks to the apricot puree and pomegranate molasses (4.5)
- Mouthfeel: big and full in a good way! There’s nice, lingering finish that invites the next sip (4)
- Overall: as expected, this was not to be missed. The beer offers layers upon layers of flavor and has no weaknesses. I’m generally not a porter fan but this exceeded my expectations, which were already high (4.25)
This lineup was everything I was hoping for – lots of good beers and a couple great ones. For a guy with ties to the brewery, it was nice to have it poured in my backyard, over 800 miles away. I was fortunate to meet with Deschutes’ rep, Brock, who shared lots of insights about the brewery, the beers and we were able to reminisce about some of our past favorites. Making connections and finding shared interests are just part of the fun of an event like this.
So do yourself a favor: follow your favorite pubs, bars and breweries on social media and keep an eye out for the next great beer event in your neighborhood. Chances are, you won’t be disappointed.