Deschutes “Jubelale” was first brewed in 1988. 2019 makes the 31st edition of this ale and every single year, without fail, I have tasted this stuff, gotten all gooshy, and bought a minimum of three cases, to get me by until July or so. No, I do NOT care that the hops recede after a while. No, I do not care if it was supposed to be consumed in a couple of weeks. No, I do not, as one reader suggested, back in 2011, think it’s “icky” when the hops fade. And, NO, let’s stipulate that it is not designed to be an age-worthy, lay-down beer. But it IS a seasonal beer and I have done everything short of bribery to try to get Deschutes to make it year-round.
No dice. “Seasonal, dude,” they have gently repeated, about, ooooh, twenty-two times, now.
OKAY…The Pour Fool is changing a basic paradigm and doing it…right now.
I’ve stated before, on Facebook and Twitter, that a major brewery from the Midwest had become a part of the Seattle market and the more I tasted their beers, the more I was bummed that the lofty rep was built on beers that I found uniformly “Meh“. I did, of course, not name names, because I have NEVER used names in complaining about ANY brewery, in the almost 11 year history of The Pour Fool. I never even wrote anything mildly critical about any specific brewery, winery, or distillery. And I could have.
RANT WARNING: Our daughter dropped into a small Washington brewery last weekend. She texted me and asked if I knew about it. I didn’t know much, so I went to their website. Seeing their logo, I instantly found a Problem: it was almost a direct, point-for-point reproduction of the logo of a large East Coast brewery. As they’re not in a large urban area, I assumed it was a simple mistake and sent the owner an email, explaining the situation. I was even nice about it.
The response: A ton of whining about how hard it is to run a brewery and how he has a family to feed and how I appeared to enjoy “wasting people’s time.”
Cider…I admit I have never been a huge fan, especially – My God! – of those bland, boring, low-ambition ciders that are basically just apple juice, quickly fermented, filtered, and bottled. It took me YEARS of tasting – for my old job as a partner and product buyer for the first extensive online beer/wine/liquor website – to even begin to appreciate most ciders. But then, ciders back then were NOT especially interesting, at least the ones our distributors carried. The very first cidery that knocked me for a loop was SeaCider, on Vancouver Island, and after that, Eaglemount, here in Washington. Then came a string of moderately compelling ones; nothing that ever rose to the status of Wow!
I’ve now posted on this website several hundred times and, in maybe a dozen of those, I’ve claimed I was “going to try to make this brief“…
You could live in Las Vegas for fifty years and you will never find a prop bet that is more of a sure thing than, “Steve Body will fail at ‘making this brief’ “.
I don’t have the Succinct Gene, much as I would like to. Robert B. Parker is one of my all-time favorite authors and he will succinct the ass off a thing. Not me. I’m spiritual cousins with James Lee Burke, another brilliant author who would never settle for fifty words when five hundred will do.
So, when I say I’m going to try to make this brief, the smart money is on giggling.
Mundane details. Every beer’s got ’em. Many go on for pages, like the fastener list for a space shuttle. But only ONE word matters, in choosing a beer, and it’s none of those. Quantity, in beer ingredients, does NOT = Quality, in any sense.
One of the FAQs of The Pour Fool, out of several thousand emails, in our first ten years, is this one or variations thereof…
“Can you help me understand hops? I know what they do but there are so many of them that I can’t keep them straight. How do they taste? Are they about more than bitterness? What’s the deal with these things, anyway?”
Well…how much time do ya have? This is a HUGE subject.
By now, you’ve read and heard quite enough wordplay about “Can Do” and the other dozen or so can-related descriptors that are applied to breweries which “buck the conventional wisdom” and put their suds into sealed metal cylinders. I’ll spare you another one and just observe that, if you are one of those benighted souls who STILL believes that cans are some cheap marketing trick or that you can “taste the can“, you should seriously think about getting with it. Cans are a FAR superior vessel, in nearly every way that matters, to glass bottles. They don’t suddenly spring leaks from the cap, don’t shatter and cover your floor or car or cooler with blood-seeking shards and stale beer aroma for two weeks, and they chill LOTS faster than do the traditional glass packaging.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a brewery, which shall remain nameless, tasting yet another desultory Brut “IPA” and whining to myself about the seeming inability of Northwest breweries to make one that even remotely measures up to the original, the template, as created at The Social Kitchen & Brewery in San Francisco, by brewmaster Kim Sturdavant. I tasted his two on tap at The Social in February of 2018, and was floored by the almost laughable 180-degree turnabout from the recent trend of milkshake beers and ales infused with all manner of wild adjuncts – gingerbread, marshmallow, pretzels, banana muffins, pancakes, cupcakes, guava, mango, maple syrup, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Lemonheads, slices of actual pumpkin pie, etc…the list goes on and on.
The people you see in the photo above…Are these the staff of the best brewery in America?
If you read this thing, you know that I frequently scoff at the whole idea of “Best“. All those lists of “America’s Best IPA“, “Best Breweries“, “Best Beers“, all, to be diplomatic about it, a load of brainless crap. Why? Because they are NEVER – EVER! – anything but a judging of what’s around on one particular day or whatever breweries, beers, IPAs, etc., that the author or panel of “experts” knows of…and nobody – NO-freakin’-body – knows every brewery, every beer, every IPA in their own region, much less the entire country.