Deschutes Brewery Week: The Dissident

Deschutes Brewery WeekMuch has been written already about Deschutes Brewery’s The Dissident—for instance, here, here, and here—and indeed, there is much to write about. This is easily the boldest beer Deschutes has ever brewed, for a number of reasons:

  • It’s the first beer they brewed with wild Brettanomyces yeast. This is a dangerous yeast to have around a conventional brewery, so they kept the beer isolated—literally under lock-and-key—and brought in a separate, dedicated bottling line, all in a huge effort to avoid cross-contamination.
  • The style itself—a Flanders Oud Bruin—is a departure for Deschutes’ signature English- and American-style ales.
  • They let this beer condition and ferment for 18 months—something almost unheard of in the American craft beer industry.
  • 20% of the beer was aged in cabernet and pinot noir wine barrels, and cherries from Washington state were thrown in for good measure.

The DissidentWith that kind of pedigree, it’s no surprise the Brewery released this under their Reserve Series, in wax-dipped 22-ounce bottles retailing at $10 per bottle. At 9% alcohol, this is a beer you won’t soon forget.

Appearance: Brown-colored with a generous beige head. Nice deep crimson when held to the light.

Smell: Sour cherries, sour in general (though not unappealing), a touch of funk. Some Belgian candi sweetness. More Belgian yeast subtleties emerge as it warms.

Taste: Tangy, sour, and a little bit horsey right up front. Puckery! A cherry tartness and a taste of wood (cherry pits?). Sour! You don’t taste the alcohol at all… Some green apple tartness, tannins, the spiky tart-tangof underripe raspberries. More of the horsey Brett comes into play particularly in the back of the mouth as it follows the sour and other notes.

Mouthfeel: Tart, puckery, a very fine fizz of carbonation. Finishes fairly dry, and leaves a tangy aftertaste.

Overall: Very different, very good… I can’t judge on the technical merits (my experience with sour beers is pretty limited), but I think they’ve pulled off an amazing beer.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores an overall grade of A-. (RateBeer is still unavailable at this writing.)

And, as a bonus, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the wax leavings:

The Dissident wax leavings