Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Tale of Two Pale Ales

For my first official beer reviews I was quite unsure as to what to discuss.  So I ventured to my beer fridge for some inspiration, hoping for some thirst quenching goodness.  My beer fridge is completely loaded with awesome brews, but immediately I saw the Deschutes Red Chair NWPA and I suddenly remembered that I also have a Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale.  So I thought those two brews would make for a great beer blog review.

What I know about the brewery:  Well, not that much.  It's not a brewery that is readily available here in Indiana.  Nestled in the town of Bend, Oregon, Deschutes puts out world class craft beers.  They are well known for their imperial stout called The Abyss, which I do have, but haven't tasted yet.  Including the two beers I am about to discuss, I have enjoyed a whopping total of 5 beers from this brewery.  Each of them have been pretty solid.  Find out more about Deschutes Brewery here.

So let's talk Pale Ales.  First up was the Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale.  Here's what the beer geeks at and Beer Advocate have to say about this brew.
Choose your vessel:  For most pale ales, I tend to go with a standard pint glass.  We will get into glassware in a future post, I'm sure you are excited about that one. 

The Pour: This beer pours a nice amber color with a small white head that sticks around for a bit.  Some decent lacing (the white stuff that sticks to the inside of the glass) is visible. 

Aroma: Quite interesting for a pale ale.  Initially it smells of sweet malt with just a touch of citrus hops.  Maybe a touch of honey as well in the nose.  

Mouthfeel:  This one is surprisingly light with medium/light carbonation.

Taste:  Sweet malt up front, quite complex malt profile compared to most pale ales.  There is a citrus hop in the middle with a touch of pine that is quite common with Northwestern Pales.  Finish to this is pretty nicely balanced between sweet malts and bitter citrusy hops.  

Overall:  A much more malt forward pale ale than I am used to.  American Pale Ales tend to showcase the hops whereas English Pale Ales are known for their malt profiles.  This one resembled a good mix of the two styles.  Malty sweet with solid hop punches to keep you intrigued throughout consumption.  This one was very smooth and easy drinking.  Was gone before I knew it.  Would definitely enjoy this again sometime.  Thanks to my buddy John for sending this bottle.

On to the Mirror Pond Pale Ale.  Again, here is what Beer Advocate and have to say about this brew.  Solid reviews.
Choose your vessel: The standard pint glass.  I chose the Wynkoop I Heart Beer glass for this know....I heart beer.        

The Pour:  This one poured a hazy copper color.  Thin white head and again, the decent lacing on the glass.  The head went away a little quicker than the Red Chair.                                                      

Aroma: Straight up piney hops with maybe a little pineapple and citrus in there, but pine predominant.  Getting a little bit of sweet caramel as well.  But really, the pine is what I get most of in the nose.           

Mouthfeel:  Pretty light again, which is not surprising given the relatively low ABV of 5%.  Medium carbonation, some nice bubbles here.  Love me some bubbles.                                                       

Taste:  Again I just get a lot of piney hops up front, which is generally not my favorite hop flavor.  The citrus/pineapple sneaks in the flavor in the middle and the finish has a touch of caramel malt which helps to soften the pine from the palate.  Reminds me a little bit of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.                                                                     

Overall:  Pretty solid Pale Ale.  My tasting notes revealed that as I drank this one the more I enjoyed it.  Was quite impressed with the complexity of the beer given it's low ABV.  An incredibly sessionable pale ale, pretty sure I could burn through a six pack in a matter of a couple hours.  Really good flavor for 5% ABV.  Special thanks to my big sis, Lori, for sending this brew to me.  Feel free to send more sis!!

In the end, quite a contrast for two beers in the same Pale Ale category.  One that features a sweet and complex malt profile with hops in the background, and another that is very hop forward with a touch of malt to balance the hop bitterness.  Just shows the versatility of craft beer.  Two beers in the same family that taste completely different from each other.  They are certainly unique brews.  



  1. Great first review(s)!! Looking forward to many more (even your take on the proper glassware).

    Keep 'em coming!