Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Deschutes Brewery/Hair of the Dog Brewing Company - Conflux No. 1 (Collage)

Last year, two of my favorite breweries, Deschutes and Hair of the Dog, announced that they were planning a collaboration. While I was pants-crappingly happy when news of the collaboration broke, I have to admit I was a little taken back when they announced what their collaboration beer would be. Rather than getting together and brewing a new beer, Deschutes and Hair of the Dog chose to do a sort of "best of" beer, blending 4 of their beers (2 from each brewery) together and then running the result through an extensive barrel aging program. This idea was definitely original, but the beers being used just didn't seem to make sense together. Those beers are:

1. Hair of the Dog's Adam: A beast of an Old Ale, weighing in at 10%. When I tasted it, I picked up notes of raisins, spices, wood and tobacco.

2. Hair of the Dog's Fred: A big Golden Ale from Hair of the dog, also clocking in at 10%. When I had it, I tasted honey, apricot jam, candied orange and some hop resin.

3. Deschutes' The Dissident: One of Deschutes' highest rated beers (as well as one of the hardest to find), The Dissident is a sour brown ale that is released once every two years. I have a bottle that I'm holding onto and planning on opening in the near future. Other tasters have noted brett, anise, cherries, lemon, vanilla and wood.

4. Deschutes' The Stoic: Another member of Deschutes' Reserve Series, The Stoic was released for the first time last year to rather mixed results. It's a Belgian Style Quadrupel brewed with pomegranates and partially aged in wine and whiskey barrels. I'll be tasting this at a later date as well. Other tasters picked up notes of cherry, banana, clove, pomegranate and wine barrel.

After blending these beers (I don't think they released what the actual percentage of each beer used was, though it would be interesting to find out), the result was aged in rye whiskey, cognac, sherry, pinot noir, bourbon, new American oak and new Oregon oak barrels. You know, standard stuff.

Alright, so just to recap, this beer is a Old/Golden/Sour Brown/Quad aged in every barrel known to man. And this is going to If anyone else was brewing this, I would have stayed far, far away, but with Deschutes and Hair of the Dog behind the wheel, I had faith that this wouldn't be gross. There was really only one way to find out though, so I picked a bottle up at Bottlecraft and gave it a try.

Collage pours a deep chestnut color with some ruby highlights. A thin creamy head coats the beer and leaves sudsy patches on the top. The smell, not surprisingly, has a ton going on. I picked up a ton of dark fruit and whiskey upfront with notes of pomegranate, fig, raisin, apricot brandy, cabernet, bourbon, a good amount of wood and some faint traces of chocolate. Yowza! I don't think I've smelled anything as complex as this in a while.

The taste surprised me with a good amount of tartness throughout, I'm guessing due to The Dissident. I got a huge amount of dark fruit flavors in here as well as some syrupy pomegranate flavors, pinot noir, raisin, a cranberry-like tartness near the finish and some charred wood. As far as picking out the individual beers, I'd say The Dissident and The Stoic were the most evident with Adam definitely making an appearance in there somewhere. Fred is definitely the most tame beer of the bunch and I think it got overwhelmed by the bigger beers in here.

So does this Old/Golden/Sour Brown/Quad beer work? I'd have to say it did. I don't know how, but somehow this crazy concoction was super complex and pretty tasty. It was far from being my favorite beer from either of these breweries, but it was an interesting experiment, nonetheless.

Final Grade: B+

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 38

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