If you think that these beer reviews delve into the arcane and has a pretentious nature, well buckle up because we are taking those ideas into overdrive in this segment.
Today I’ll be reviewing five beers that I will consider ‘special’. By ‘special’ I mean these are beers brewed with a unique and artsy flair that are often entered into contests or presented for special occasions.
One type of special beer uses a Randall process. What this is means is they take a beer, run it through a filter full of stuff (such as orange zest, coffee beans, or whatever the brewer finds in between his sofa cushions), and ingrains that flavor into the basics of the beer. I think I have discussed this process in a previous post, but no harm in re-introducing it.
The other type of special beer is one that is barrel-aged. This just means the beer is aged in a wooden barrel for some period of time. You can imagine these are rarer and more expensive beers because of the time and care it takes to make this beer in mass quantity.
So let’s look at five beers that you will never see on the shelves of your local store:
1. Deschutes - Jubelale (Randall style with coconut and coffee bean)
6.7% ABV 65 IBU
This is an excellent winter ale offering from our friends from Deschutes. This beer only peaks it’s delicious head out during the winter time, so if you see it in the stores, stock up!
The Jubeale alone is a fantastic beer, but the Randall style is aMazing, which a capital M for MMMM. The coconut and coffee bean is an excellent mixture and enhances all the flavors this dark ale has to offer. If you ever see this beer poking around….oh sorry you can’t.
2. Sumerian - ISA (Randall style with prange peels and dirt)
4.9% ABV 45 IBU
Well, not all Randall styles work. I guess you also need a good beer to start with. Sumerian, out of Redmond (near the home of Microsoft) is a little beer place that will probably stay little with poo beer like this. An ISA is an Indian Session Ale, which just means it is an IPA without as many hops. Sounds like a Pale Ale? Anyway, the shitty little step-brother of an IPA probably will not be enhanced with citrus zest of any sort, and this is no exception. Sumeria may be the first real civilization on earth, but their existing relatives in Redmond show why their ancient civilization did not last.
3. Deschutes - Stoic Belgium Quad Sour (Barrel Aged)
11% ABV 20 IBU
Deschutes likes to do fun stuff and experiment with things, so that’s why they show up in this post often. Also I went to a specialty beer place recently and that is what they had.
Anyway, 11% is no joke. Sours are strong to begin with, so you can imagine a ‘Quad Sour’ would be…well..quad as much. With quads like this, I bet this beer can squat 600 lbs.
This is good beer that is very smooth for a sour (I think due to the barrel aging process). Sours can be very tart and bitter, so this is a great offering for people who wince whenever they eat Sour Patch Kids. I liked this brew, I really did, but it is pricey. It cost me around $9 for a 12 oz, and that was a bit too much. That is the cost of doing business I guess.
4. Fremont - Summer Ale (Randall style with lemon zest and some other crap)
5.2% ABV N/A IBU
I have reviewed this summer ale before and it is good. A light, refreshing brew with a nice 5.2% bite to it. But the Randall style kicks it up a notch. Lighter ales, such as IPAs and pales, really benefit from a Randall style with citrus-like peelings. This Fremont ale not only embraces the citrus nuances of the zests, but takes it out for a date and brings it home for a nightcap. I wish more breweries bottled Randall-styled beers, but maybe they can’t. I don’t know, maybe there is some science that prevents this. Anyway….I feel like I am talking to myself…..oh the rating..
5. Deschutes - Black Butte Imp Porter (Barrel Aged XXIV)
11.5% ABV 60 IBU
Yeah, yeah, another Deschutes. If you paid me some money, I may diversify my portfolio. And the Black Butte…well we all know I like their flagship beer and porters are just plain tasty.
But this beer…well…it is different. If the Black Butte is a Mustang, this guy is a Ferrari. If the Black Butte is Jon Kitna, this thing is Joe Montana. If the Black Butte is Jar Jar, this dude is (Yoda*Obi-Wan)^ Qui-Gon Jin.
In other words this is simply the best beer I have ever had.
So dark, rich, smooth, great fore-taste, great after-taste, great taste, strong bite, and overall wonderful drinking experience. Deschutes is on their 28th iteration of this beer and I had the 24th. I have had the 25th and 28th and they are all amazing, but this 24th one is the best I have had. Not sure if the aging process helped it (came out in 2012) or if that year’s ingredients were better (they put different things in it every year), but regardless they all are amazing. Also it is not that expensive for a 11% beer that is rare to find (about $7 for 16 oz).
If you ever find it in one of your hoity-toity taverns, try it.