You can tell The Stoic is kind of a big deal because of all that damn wax around the cap. For a minute, I thought I had stumbled across one of those wine bottle candles Goth kids used to make in college. I’m gonna be honest here—by the time I finally chiseled my way through it, I was thoroughly pissed off at the world and ready to give this beer a sub-par score just on principle alone. Alas, the beer beneath all that wax won me over with its malty, oaky goodness.
It’s been a few years since Deschutes has released The Stoic. The bold Belgian quad made such an impression when it hit the shelves in 2011, that it inspired an imitator within the brewery dubbed “Not the Stoic.” Anyway, the one on the market now is the original version, a quad brewed with pomegranate. Some of the beer gets aged in wine barrels, some of the beer gets aged in rye barrels, then the beer comes back together to form this rosy colored brew that definitely tastes like it’s been sitting in oak barrels for a while.
The beer looks beautiful and smells even better thanks to a wonderful whiskey nose. As for the taste, I don’t get any of the aforementioned pomegranate, but I don’t think I really know what pomegranate tastes like, so maybe I just can’t pick it out. The real issue though, is that there’s not much room for any fruit to stand out in this beer, because there are so many things competing for your attention. The whiskey takes a front seat, spicy and hot, and there’s some acidity that comes through, probably from the wine barrels, which also contribute plenty of oak tannins as well. Meanwhile, there’s a rich, malty mouthfeel that delivers strong notes of caramel…oh, and there’s some heat from the high ABV too. There’s even a little smokiness on the back end of the sip that’s almost Scotch-like.
Yeah, like I said, there’s a lot going on here. And it works. The Stoic is complex to the point of confusing, but it’s always tasty, and it’s an excellent example of the style. It’s so good, you could almost justify all that damn wax.
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery
City: Bend, Oregon
Style: Belgian Quad
Availability: Limite, 22-ounce bombers