Vote on an experimental beer at Deschutes Brewery

Perusing Deschutes Brewery’s Now Pouring page tonight, I was very surprised to see this:

Mirror Pond Pale Ale Experimental Trials!

We here at Deschutes Brewery are always looking at ways to improve our beer, this includes our flagship brand Mirror Pond Pale. We are trying to provide a pale that has more hop flavor and aroma. We would like to enlist your help to pick the pale that is most desirable. You will be presented with two 10oz snifters and a comment sheet on which you will be ask to pick the one you like the most and rate it. Feel free to leave comments. Thank you from Deschutes Brewery. $4.25

A couple of things. First, I think it’s pretty remarkable that they would solicit customer feedback like this for a flagship beer. That’s pretty progressive. Second, I don’t, however, necessarily think there’s anything that needs "improving" or "fixing" with Mirror Pond Pale Ale.

I’m not kidding. Look at the awards they list for the beer on its page, for one thing. Open a bottle up for yourself, for another.

I’ll do some research on this to find out more—including stopping at the brewpub to sample and rate the beers myself. How could I resist?

6 Responses to Vote on an experimental beer at Deschutes Brewery

  1. Beau says:

    It’s probably less about "improving" or "fixing" and more about dealing with a heavily Cascade-reliant beer, unfortunately. I figure they’re probably experimenting with high alpha bittering and maybe supercharged aroma to save on hops.

    Hopefully they don’t stray to far from the original formula. Mirror Pond is probably one of my favorite pale ales ever.

  2. Jon says:

    Ah, good point… the "hop shortage" angle didn’t even occur to me for some reason. I emailed the Brewery to find out more, but that’s a good thought.

  3. Jeff says:

    It’s not clear to me from the text that they would change Mirror Pond–is it clear that they wouldn’t be adding a second pale to the lineup?

    In any case, I think beers should evolve. When John Harris’s recipe was unleashed on the public over a decade ago, it was a revelation. But in 2008, an all-Cascade pale must share shelf space with dozens (in, admittedly, the right beer store). So to keep its edge, I think Mirror Pond could afford a wee bit more oomph. Perhaps another hop style for complexity, more hops later in the boil for richer flavor and more intense aroma. You could amp up the beer a bit without losing its character.

  4. Jon says:

    "We… are always looking at ways to improve our beer, this includes our flagship brand Mirror Pond Pale."

    That’s what I’m inferring from, but it’s entirely possibly as well that it could be a new beer based on MP.

    (I should be getting an email response from the Brewery sometime this weekend, BTW.)

    Good points though, Jeff… I guess I’m having a "New Coke vs. Coke Classic" kind of flash. 🙂

  5. Gary Fish says:

    While it is nice to have all the speculation, and our announcement does not give much background on why we are experimenting, I assure you we are not trying to "re-invent" anything, nor are we suffering any kind of crisis with Cascade hops. We found a creative formulation change that produced a Mirror Pond that tasted different; good but different. Is this a direction we should think about going (after all, it has already been pointed out, evolution is good.) or not? We never want to assume we are "good enough". In either event it is always nice, and fun, to ask those whose opinions we value the most, our customers. We have held these "polls" before at our pub and customers have gotten quite a kick out of it, and we got some valuable information.
    I’m interested in your opinion as well. Be sure and let us know.

  6. Jon says:

    Thanks for updating, Gary! I appreciate your taking the time to do so.

    I’d never seen one of these customer polls before, that’s why it was blogworthy to me. Ultimately, evolution is a good thing, and I didn’t mean to get all reactionary as much as I did at first. I’ll be interested to see how things turn out, for sure.