Last night, post-OBF, I went down to the APEX Beer Bar in southeast Portland for the side-by-side tastings of the Deschutes Brewery and Boulevard Brewing collaboration beer—their White IPA (the Conflux series #2).
Not only did I taste the beers side by side, I also had a chance to talk to both Steven Pauwels and Larry Sidor (of Boulevard and Deschutes, respectively) a bit about the beer and the processes behind it. Interestingly, both recipes are exactly the same—or as “exact” as it’s possible to get considering the regional differences between the two breweries, availability of ingredients, and brewing equipment.
For instance, Boulevard uses pellet hops as opposed to Deschutes’ use of whole hops. I believe this is an availability issue—Oregon brewers have easier access to whole hops, for instance.
Otherwise, it sounds like the differences in brewing are as minimal as possible, and yet it was amazing how different these two beers turned out: the Boulevard version tasted to me like a pretty classic Belgian Witbier with a nice spicy hop zing to it complementing the Belgian spiciness. Deschutes’ version on the other hand has a bit of that Witbier character but is much more muted and has the hoppy character that you’d expect from a Deschutes brew (though a bit more restrained). Both are very good beers.
Of course, it was more than just the tasting; I also got the chance to meet Lisa Morrison and Jay Brooks, as well as running into Ashley Routson, and meeting several Deschutes reps. Afterward Lisa was kind enough to invite us (along with the brewers and some other industry folks) to her house, where we got to talk more beer (of course!) as well as wind down after a long day. (Thanks Lisa!)