Friday, August 8, 2014

Barrel Aged Belgian-style Quads — Deschutes vs. Deschutes

The Stoic
(Malt Beverage Brewed with Pomegranate with 16.5% Being Aged in Oak Wine Barrels and 16.5% Being Aged in Oak Rye Whiskey Barrels)
(Best By 8/4/12) 
ABV 11% 

Not The Stoic
(Malt Beverage Brewed with Pomegranate Molasses with 15% Being Aged in Oak Wine Barrels and 15% Being Aged in Oak Rye Whiskey Barrels)
(Best After 4/22/15)
ABV 12% 

On a recent trip to Portland my brother-in-law pulled these two beers from his cellar for a battle. It's worth noting that we failed to drink The Stoic before its "Best By" date and we jumped the gun on Not The Stoic by drinking it before its "Best After" date. That's just the kind of rebellious, rule-breaking beer drinkers we are. Deal with it.

My sister and her husband were guest tasters for this battle which was conducted blind for all but one of us.

Beer #1 (The Stoic) was orange with aromas of honey and pomegranate juice with the distinct quality of many sour beers we've tried. The flavor was sweet and fruity with some oak tannins and the finish was dry and slightly tart.

Beer #2 (Not The Stoic) was reddish brown with a complex mix of banana, cola, dried fruits and dates on the nose. The flavor continued with more sweet dried fruits and dates and the finish had smoke, coffee, wine barrel funk and a savory herbal quality.

I don't think any of us were blown away by these beers. Both were interesting and unique but neither made us say "wow!" The Stoic had definitely turned a bit sour. I think this had to do with the beasties from the barrel-aging taking over. But the sour quality didn't make the beer bad, it just tweaked the style a bit into another category. We've had many intentionally sour beers that were not nearly as good as this unintentionally sour beer. Regardless, if you are hanging onto a bottle you might want to open it soon just in case yours is starting to turn as well. I guess the lesson here is: pay attention to Deschutes date recommendations!

Not The Stoic was a completely different beast. It was extremely complex and had a body not unlike a rich red wine. The aromas were also reminiscent of some red wines.

Although a couple of us wavered, in the end the battle was a draw with myself and my brother-in-law choosing Not The Stoic while Ellen and my sister chose The Stoic. The ladies both preferred the slightly tart and acidic beer over the rich and sweeter beer. My B-I-L explained his pick with one word, "juicier," and I sided with the beer that I felt was most complex and unique.

It will be interesting to see how NTS changes in the bottle between now and its "Best After" date. In the meantime, if you are impatient NTS is tasting pretty decent right now.