Saturday, March 6, 2010

Deschutes Brewery: Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale

If you follow 801onTap's Twitter account, you've probably noticed that I drink a lot of Deschutes beer. Out of Deschutes' plentiful selection, I frequently find myself going for their Mirror Pond Pale Ale. This beer is definitely one of my go to brews. It's a full flavored and straight forward pale ale, which in my opinion goes great with a variety of foods and tastes right in any season. Because of my affinity for this pale, when I saw Deschutes' seasonal Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale I felt like I had no choice to pick up a six pack. I mean, I enjoy this brewery's year round pale ale so much, I figured I might also find this seasonal release delightful.

To start, I find the label for Red Chair interesting. First this Bend brewery has dubbed this beer a 'northwest pale ale'. I can't say I've ever seen a beer print that term on a bottle. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for 7 years I find beers from this region to expand the traditional definition of 'ale' and 'lager'. Especially pushing the hop barriers to the extreme. Knowing Pacific beers to be mighty hoppy, I was surprised when I saw that the label for Red Chair read as follows: "Not up for a full on hop assault? Red Chair NWPA is a smoother ride. Seven select European and domestic malts make a surprisingly plush satin turn on the way to a citrusy hop kick. Edges out, layers in. " Hmmm. What's going on here?

After a thorough tasting I can inform our limited readership that this is a hoppy beer and despite the label, exhibits almost no malt flavors. The tasting didn't answer the questions raised by the bottle description. So as a result I was forced to do some research. After scanning some Deschutes literature I found that this brew has an IBU of 60; higher than most pale ales. So what's with the print marketing accentuating the malts? Apparently Deschutes wanted to make a traditional Pacific Northwest beer (a.k.a. hoppy) but without the harsh bitter bite. Ok, that makes sense. I feel like that doesn't come across through the packaging. Oh well. Either way, I must say that the addition of all the malts was a success on that front. Even without a strong malt taste, adding seven types of malt does make the aftertaste quites smooth despite the heavy does of hops. Eventually the silky feeling fades back to a lemon and pine hop finish. It all comes together for a nice complete tasting experience. Red Chair is definitely different from Mirror Pond, but both are quite tasty in their own regard. Red Chair is certainly good enough in my book that you can start to look for it on 801's Twitter account update from January to April. Cheers.

No comments: