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A Couple of Summer Quaffs

Wednesday, 01 May 2019 13:46
Beer drinkers toast various favorites at Bend, Oregon tasting room of Deschutes Brewery Beer drinkers toast various favorites at Bend, Oregon tasting room of Deschutes Brewery

By Dan Clarke

Over the years our publications have had a strong emphasis on wine. More recently---as in the last decade or so—we have expanded our beer coverage.

Deschutes Twilight 2019 bottle Picmonkey

While we’re way short of presenting comprehensive reviews of all those newly-released brews like some magazines and websites devoted exclusive to beer, we do bring you regular “Beer of the Week” opinions from ardent beer drinkers. In most cases, their commentary is like the banter between beer fans so often heard in brewpubs and beer-centric bars.

So, much of our beer editorial is the product of people who love beer—amateurs in the classical sense—rather than experts.  Of late, there has been one exception, however. Dr. Michael J. Lewis, an old friend, is an Emeritus Professor of Brewing at the University of California, Davis and you don’t get any more expert than that.  His “Point of Brew” columns now grace our electronic pages a couple of times a month.

From time-to-time we bring you something perhaps unusual about beer that we find interesting, like the quirky attempt to break a five-minute mile while chugging a 12-ounce beer before each of the four laps. At other times, we do reviews in a different form than our hallmark “Pick of the Week” format. Such is the case with our experience involving two Deschutes products last week.

The first of these is the current release of Twilight Summer Ale from Deschutes Brewery. It’s a seasonal offering that we tried and enjoyed last year. Not excessively hoppy at 38 IBUs, it weighs in at 5% alcohol. For us, the Twilight Summer Ale finds that elusive “sweet spot” between the merely thirst-quenching and the too-big (usually excessively hoppy). We found it bright and crisp, with a good hop/malt balance. Having run wine reviews for over 30 years, we’ve tried to avoid the flamboyant and cliché-ridden style that’s so easily, and appropriately, parodied. But sometimes a little creativity helps. In this case, we quote from the Twilight Summer Ale label, “Long Shadows. Crisp breeze. Looming darkness. With this easy drinking summer ale in hand, you’re ready for whatever the night brings.” We like that. Our own experience tasting this beer again last week didn’t lend itself to such creativity, but did put a smile on our face.

Deschutes botanic ale Picmonkey


We also encountered something new. Deschutes Botanic Ale rates 15 on the IBU scale, for those concerned about such things. The alcohol is a hearty 7%, but doesn’t seem excessive. Deschutes says it’s “inspired by a love of botanicals and gin . . . a lively union of juniper and hops joined by herbs, citrus and other botanicals.” Now this caught our attention. Your reviewer is a long-time gin fancier. He enjoys Martinis and gin and tonics.

Having recently sampled a beer said to have spent time in whiskey barrels that produced a negative experience for both the beer and whiskey aspects, he was skeptical. But what a pleasant surprise! This Deschutes Botanic Ale (poured from a 12-ounce bottle, as was the Twilight Ale), actually seemed to combine some of the best aspects of both beer and gin. Asked about what goes into gin, many people could accurately identify juniper, but would be hard-pressed to identify the panoply of other ingredients. We’d be included in this category. While don’t have a list of all the botanicals included in the brewery’s recipe, the overall effect seems to be a delightful combination of factors. Though substantially lower in alcohol than gin, this beer exhibits a rich botanical aroma and taste that might actually make it a fit companion to tonic.

Last modified on Thursday, 02 May 2019 12:58


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