Bend, Oregon's Deschutes Brewery has slowly been making its way east, and this week its beers finally arrived in the Twin Cities--its first Midwest market (take that, Chicago). And when the brewery arrived, it arrived: Not only did it bring a crew of brewers, publicists, and other Deschutes evangelists, it brought Woody, their giant faux beer barrel on wheels, complete with disco ball (believe it or not, it's not as cheesy as it sounds).
Deschutes Marketing Manager Jason Randles has been enjoying his trip so far, noting the similarities between Portland and Minneapolis, especially when it comes to their similar beer and bike culture. "Minneapolis is a little more punk rock, though. But maybe that's just because I went to the Triple Rock."
Deschutes is introducing itself to Minnesotans starting with two beers: Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale, on draught and in 22-ounce bottles. If you've ever had Great Lakes Brewing Co.'s Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, you'll know what to expect with the Black Butte: Dark and rich and chocolaty, with hints of coffee. Mirror Pond, on the other hand, is a dry and bready, decently hopped, but just-sweet-enough 5% American Pale Ale. Compared to Rogue's offerings (that other just-outside-Portland brewery), Deschutes not only more than holds its own in quality, it will also make you smile at the price on those big bottles: $3.99.
The long-term plan, according to Randles, is to also offer the brewery's seasonal ales, Reserve Series, and even some selections from its hoptastic Bond Street Series sooner rather than later. For big beer lovers (and I mean big), it's good news: The Reserve Series, for instance, includes doubled up (and constantly evolving) versions of Black Butte and Mirror Pond.
Called Black Butte XXI (in honor of 21 years of brewing its flagship porter) and Mirror Mirror (get it?), the former gets straight to the porter point, brewed with cocoa nibs and 100 pounds of Bend roasted, freshly ground coffee, while the latter is a seriously thick, seriously potent barleywine, the 2009 version of which has been aged partially in pinot noir barrels. Needless to say, don't try to drink a bomber of either of these without a friend--either to share it or to help you off the floor.
For the time being, a limited number of bottles of both the XXI and Mirror Mirror are floating around the Cities (apparently the good people at Deschutes couldn't help throwing a few pallets on the truck). But when they're gone, they're gone, so keep your eyes peeled and your wallets at the ready (alas, these limited offerings understandably cost a little more than four bucks).
Deschutes is taking the wise path of catering to fans on all ends of the beer spectrum, brewing everything from über-quaffable summer session ales to giant hop monsters that would satisfy even the biggest big beer nut. Let's give 'em a warm welcome.