Deschutes Brewing, out of Bend, Oregon, is the latest in a number of big, Western craft breweries looking to expand with an East Coast production brewery. Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Stone, and Green Flash have all moved East, while Lagunitas opened a second facility in Chicago. Rumor has it that Deschutes is narrowing its potential sites and focusing on the Southeast. Deschutes is a pioneer of American craft beer, and is already available in 29 states. The brewery started distributing in Washington D.C. and Detroit this year, but is hoping the new production facility will help them infiltrate other areas along the East Coast.
Meanwhile, back in Oregon, Deschutes has already broken ground on a massive expansion to its warehouse, and upgraded its bottling line to increase production. Since Deschutes will soon be in countless new beer shops, we thought we’d take this time to introduce new drinkers to the storied brewery. Here are our five favorite beers from Deschutes.
The fact that Deschutes’ flagship beer isn’t a pale or IPA, but rather a rich porter says something about the brewery. I’m not sure what exactly it says, but it says something. This is the porter that puts most stouts to shame; It’s full of chocolate and coffee notes, and creamy as hell. Look for it in bottles throughout Deschutes’ distribution. If you can get ahold of one of the anniversary Black Buttes, grab as many as you can. Black Butte XXVII Was brewed with cocoa nibs and molasses before sitting in a bourbon barrel for six months.
If you want to get a sense for what a Pacific Northwest pale is supposed to taste like, look no further than Deschutes’ Mirror Pond. This beer is all about the Cascade hops with grapefruit dominating the aroma and taste, balanced by a hefty dose of bready malt. Is it a fancy beer? No. An adventurous beer? Not in 2015, but listen, this is one of the American pales that helped define that particular style, and craft beer in general. Respect.
Deschutes does plenty of IPAs, most of which are stellar in their own right, but Chasin’ Freshies is a big, fresh hopped IPA brewed only once a year (in October) and released in big bombers. Deschutes takes the hops straight from the vine to the brew kettle to maximize the aroma and juiciness from the flower. This year, they focused on Lemon Drop hops, which give the beer a tart, almost sour, layer that’s unexpected but enticing.
Duschutes’ winter seasonal, Jubelale is a rich winter warmer that hits all the right festive notes with a little bit of roasted coffee, stone fruit and plenty of dark chocolate, all of which is tempered by a bitter edge. The annual release of Jebelale is how some of us set our holiday calendars. You can check out our full review of this year’s release here. Look for bottles from now throughout December.
Warm up with a couple of Jubelales, then move onto the heavy stuff if you can find it. The Abyss is Deschutes’ limited release imperial stout that’s aged for six months in bourbon and pinot noir barrels. The result is burly, at 11% and 86 IBUs, for what that’s worth. I mean, there are vanilla beans, molasses and cherry bark in here. Cherry bark. They release it every November, but it’s the sort of thing people tend to hang onto for a while, looking for the right occasion to crack it open. I’m still holding onto my bottle from last year.