Deschutes has Brett in some beer

Two days ago Deschutes Brewery posted a very interesting item on their blog, which I’m excerpting (the full post is worth a read, so go do that too):

But, we also had the Black Butte XXII issue and we have had recurring comments about sour 2009 The Abyss. Now, we have similar comments about 2009 Mirror Mirror. We have been very forthright and outspoken about 2009 The Abyss and we are here to report we, basically, have the same issue with 2009 Mirror Mirror. Gary clarified the issue on Ratebeer.com recently:

We have detected in our lab a similar condition to The Abyss 2009 where some (not all) of the bottles have brett in them. It is interesting in that there seems no way to tell short of general tendencies in storage conditions where the brett will develop to sensory detection levels.

At Deschutes Brewery we take these things seriously. We know many of the wine barrels we use will have brettanomyces (wild yeast that produces flavors that are not desired in some beer styles) in them (just ask any winemaker). Going forward, we have purchased a flash pasteurizer and all beer from barrels is now pasteurized (killing the brettanomyces) before it is blended with beer from tanks (that is not pasteurized). Then the final blend is bottle conditioned so all beer is alive when you get it. 2010 The Abyss was treated this way.

As for the Mirror Mirror or 2009 The Abyss, we will refund and arrange shipment for unopened bottles back to the brewery. As with any of our beers if someone has an unsatisfactory experience, we will make it right. Unfortunately, we cannot compensate for above market pricing paid over the internet or other “extra-market” sources, nor can we send a replacement beer in lieu of payment. Suffice it to say, however, we stand behind our beer and the experiences we deliver. You can contact us directly through our website.

If you frequent the BeerAdvocate or RateBeer forums, or other similar beer forums, you’ll likely have seen talk about this very issue: (some) 2009 vintages of The Abyss are infected. I’ve known this to be an issue for awhile as I opened up a bottle of 2009 Mirror Mirror a couple of months ago and the unmistakable spike of Brettanomyces was in the beer. Subsequent bottles of Mirror Mirror also had Brett in them, and I did try a bottle or two of ’09 Abyss and yes, it’s less of a “spike” (because of the over stout flavor profile) but it’s there.

Now, I happened to really like the Brett Mirror Mirror and I didn’t think the Abyss was that bad—certainly drier than it should have been but that’s the wild yeast at work. Since personally I don’t mind this as a potential issue in my other bottles I’m not going to ask for any refunds. But I have to give props to the Brewery for stepping up and offering those refunds in the first place, rather than trying to sweep it all under the rug. That’s definitely one of the qualities (besides the beer) than make Deschutes a great brewery, in my opinion.

Has anyone else experienced any Brett-infected Deschutes beers? Sound off in the comments.

But, we also had the Black Butte XXII issue and we have had recurring comments about sour 2009 The Abyss. Now, we have similar comments about 2009 Mirror Mirror. We have been very forthright and outspoken about 2009 The Abyss and we are here to report we, basically, have the same issue with 2009 Mirror Mirror. Gary clarified the issue on Ratebeer.com recently:

We have detected in our lab a similar condition to The Abyss 2009 where some (not all) of the bottles have brett in them. It is interesting in that there seems no way to tell short of general tendencies in storage conditions where the brett will develop to sensory detection levels.

At Deschutes Brewery we take these things seriously. We know many of the wine barrels we use will have brettanomyces (wild yeast that produces flavors that are not desired in some beer styles) in them (just ask any winemaker). Going forward, we have purchased a flash pasteurizer and all beer from barrels is now pasteurized (killing the brettanomyces) before it is blended with beer from tanks (that is not pasteurized). Then the final blend is bottle conditioned so all beer is alive when you get it. 2010 The Abyss was treated this way.

As for the Mirror Mirror or 2009 The Abyss, we will refund and arrange shipment for unopened bottles back to the brewery. As with any of our beers if someone has an unsatisfactory experience, we will make it right. Unfortunately, we cannot compensate for above market pricing paid over the internet or other “extra-market” sources, nor can we send a replacement beer in lieu of payment. Suffice it to say, however, we stand behind our beer and the experiences we deliver. You can contact us directly through our website.

5 Responses to Deschutes has Brett in some beer

  1. Heh, a little Brett might fix my main problem with most versions of Abyss: I find it way too sweet.

  2. Marshall Guthrie says:

    Opened an ’09 Mirror Mirror a few months back.. No Brett.

  3. Cory says:

    Filtration is murder, pasteurization is genocide. If Deschutes wants to contain their Brett problem, there are better ways to do it then installing a pasteurizer, potential destroying many of the flavors that make those beers good. Doing lab tests off the bottle line and barrels is much cheaper.

  4. Gary Fish says:

    Interesting that you use such inflammatory language. I think I was pretty clear in the post that the final product is alive when you get it. Both because we only pasteurize a small portion of the finished product and because the beer is bottle conditioned prior to packaging.
    Additionally, I stated that our very qualified sensory panel could not tell the difference between pasteurized and non-pasteurized beer with many preferring the pasteurized versions. I don’t know if you, personally, have ever performed such a test, but I certainly trust our panel.
    Finally, this issue has nothing to do with our sanitation practices, which are quite sophisticated, but rather the barrels we purchase from a prior use that bring the bugs in with them. We cannot detect prior to filling which will or will not display the characteristics. So, we made a significant investment, which seems controversial to some, to insure our consumers can have ultimate confidence in the beers they are so passionate about.
    Many breweries would not have taken the steps we did. We believe in our processes, our passion and, most of all, our consumers. We are not afraid of what we find when we seek new knowledge, particularly when it improves the beer.
    Thanks for the comment,
    Gary

  5. Cory says:

    Gary,

    I apologize for coming off so head strong about my standings on my last comment; it comes mostly from my lack of enthusiasm for pasteurization. The Abyss, Mirror Mirror, and Black XXII are some of my favorite beers that you produce (Dissident being my absolute favorite), and upon hearing the news of the installation of a pasteurizer in the brewery, I feared the worst and let my feelings get ahead of me. Again, I apologize; the internet can bring out the worst in us.

    I will say many thanks for informing me (and possibly others), on how you are handling the situation. Hopefully the transition goes smoothly.

    Thank you for the reply,
    Cory