There are certain weird circles of the craft beer movement that refuse to acknowledge that one of the primary motivations for bending the old elbow is to get at least a bit of a glow going. And these buzz-deniers exist at both ends of the preferred-ABV spectrum. There are the session-beer zealots who insist that as long as your beer is below five-percent ABV, it is basically just extra-invigorating water that can be safely drunk round the clock. Then there are the tough people who mock the session-beer pansies for their inability to hold their liquor and/or control their intake. They just happen to prefer 10-plus-percent beers for the wider range of flavor, and also maybe because after a long day of toiling for the Man, it feels good to grab something with “Imperial” in the title and be Emperor of The Couch.
Yesterday, at The Copper Door in Tacoma’s Stadium District, I sided with the big beer people, sipping slowly and thoughtfully Deschutes Brewery’s boldest brews during a special brewers night honoring the Bend, Oregon’s biggest creations. Norm Cartwright, Deschutes infamous beer rep, was in the house, describing the sizable suds and distributing Deschutes schwag and Corn Nuts.
“The idea for this Deschutes big beer night was a combination of mine and Norm’s,” said Craig Moore, proprietor of The Copper Door. “I was sitting on two kegs of The Abyss Imperial Stout, a keg of the Not The Stoic and a keg of Black Butte XXVI, and I contacted Norm and asked if he’d be in for a night of Deschutes’ big beer specialty keg releases, and he said, ‘Let’s do this.’ Norm brought in the Mirror Mirror, Jubelale 2015 and we also put the Red Chair on nitro.”
Throughout the night Cartwright worked the room, chatting with distributors and drinkers about all things Deschutes.
“You won’t find any of the beers but at The Copper Door tonight. Craig, you have been so patient, so patient not tapping these kegs. I appreciate it,” Cartwright remarked, bringing out laughter in the room. “The Black Butte XXVI has been aging since July. It was barrel-aged eleven to twelve months, re-blended, fermentation again, then into your glass. You’re tasting bourbon and oak, plus Baker’s Chocolate. It’s a tribute to our Black Butte Porter, our flagship porter at the brewery.”
Cartwright told the story behind Deschutes’ Jubelale 2015 creation. Back in 1999, the Deschutes Brewery in Bend got robbed, but a keg of Jubelale fell out of the getaway truck. It was buried in snow for a couple days. When the melt came, the keg was discovered behind the brewery. Deschutes owner Gary Fish tapped the keg. The liquid froze in the keg, but the concentrate sank to the bottom. The concentrate was delicious. Fish created a special super Jubelale with the concentrate, releasing it in 2010. Deciding not to wait another 10 years, Deschutes released the super Jubelale 2015.
Cartwright also had a story to tell regarding Deschutes’ Not the Stoic. The Stoic, a Belgian quad released by Deschutes – a product of four nuanced fermentations, then aged in rye whiskey and wine bottles – was unveiled in 2011. The beer bloggers bashed it, claiming it wasn’t a true Quadrupel. The Stoic was swallowed up in the black hole of beer, never to be seen again. Deschutes said screw the bloggers and revived this Belgian quad with its Not the Stoic a year ago. It boasts ingredients such as candy sugar, beet and date sugars, and pomegranate molasses, then rested in Pinot Noir and rye whiskey barrels for 11 months until the flavors grew to their complex apex. “It’s a great beer, high octane – give it a shot,” encouraged Cartwright.
“Mirror Mirror barleywine — this big one was released in 2005, but you’re tasting last year’s version,” explained Cartwright. “It’s a double batch Mirror Pond, aged barleywine style — It’s a monster.”
Last but not least, The Abyss Imperial Stout: a pitch black Imperial Russian Stout that’s thick as mud and 11 percent ABV, is arguably the Northwest’s most sought-after seasonal beer since its inception in 2006. “It has won gold medals across the country and across the pond,” said Cartwright.
Those who enjoy a good malted beverage know that this time of year is all about lighter, crisper brews. What a treat to big in May. Thanks Deschutes and The Copper Door.
THE COPPER DOOR, 12 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma, 253.212.3708