TOP TEN ALES AND LAGERS
part three, third entries of each.
3. Deschutes Jubelale
When I lived in Portland, which I did for nine years, winter was a time we looked forward to in a certain sense. It was when the winter seasonal beers were released. Something to ease our pain, something to get us through all the rain, freezing and otherwise. The big three locally at that time were Widmer Winternacht, Full Sail Wassail and Deschutes Jubelale. And, for whatever reason, nearly every year, the JubelAle was the best.
For anyone that doesn't know, Deschutes is a really great brewery. It is my contention that, across their product line, they are the single best brewery on the entire West Coast. They simply do not make bad beer. Obsidian Stout, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, JubelAle; these were all classics when I lived there. And their product line is even bigger than that and has NO bad beers in the bunch, ever. Extremely high quality beer brewed to the highest level of the craft.
One of their former brewers, John Harris, is even a bit of a celebrity there in Portland. He created Mirron Pond, then went to a brewpub chain called McMenamins and created two beers; Hammerhead Pale Ale and Terminator Stout, both of which are famous and popular. After that he went to Full Sail and last I know he was still there. He brews up test batches that are pretty cool for the Full Sail pub down on the waterfront in Portland. Many are one off, and the only chance of ever tasting them is at that pub.
If we were lucky, we could find JubelAle on cask at either the Horse Brass or The Moon and Sixpence. Again, for those who don't know; a cask ale is an ale that is allowed to condition inside the cask. It's not really carbonated in the same way as kegged beer. The carbonation is allowed to develop in the cask and is softer, not so aggressive as kegged beer. To the average citizen, it seems like it's flat. And, it's usually served at cellar temperature, somewhere in the range of 58 F. Refrigerated beer is usually much colder than this. This is why you hear Americans call British beer warm and flat. To me, this is a compliment, because truly good cask ale is usually far superior to it's kegged counterpart. There's something about the sensation of bubbles scrubbing across your tongue that diminishes flavor. I've had many side by tastings with the same beer on cask and regular tap and the taste difference is sometimes astonishing.
Anyway, JubelAle is the shit either way. Winter is not truly here yet, but Deschutes is now distributed in LA at many, many places, so I think JubelAle will be here soon, even if I have to go to Beverages and More to get it. Besides, most of them come out right around now these days, not really in the winter anymore. American Octoberfest in a way, I suppose. The recipe changes year to year, but typically, all Portland Winter Warmers are strong amber ales that sometimes bear a slightly spicey note. Usually they do not use spices themselves, but it's been known to happen. The art on the label changes year to year for JubelAle.
Here's their writeup:Available October through December
Did you know that Jubelale was the first beer ever bottled by Deschutes Brewery? Highly anticipated every fall, Jubelale is in a category of its own with a flavor and following that is impossible to match. Dark crystal malt creates that “luscious” holiday note while the roasty flavor and bountiful hops excite your tastebuds, reminding you why Jubelale is the perfect holiday beer.
3. Widmer Bourbon Barrel BockNow, I have no really good photos for this one, because this beer was not really fully commercial and is extinct. So, gotta make do with a patchwork of photos of the brewery, a bourbon barrel and some Widmer products. This beer was never bottled that I am aware of. And the first time I encountered it was at the summer beer festival in Portland, maybe 6 or 7 years ago. I seem to remember also having it on tap locally. This was one of the best beers I have ever tasted in my life.
At that time, it was getting really popular to age beer in bourbon barrels; whiskey, scotch, whatever. Mostly with homebrewers though, because it's just far too expensive for commercial beer to do this. Basically, the wood of the barrel itself becomes impregnated with whiskey or whatever soaks in it. And, sometimes distilleries will sell these barrels. I believe this one used Kentucky wood. So, what, maybe Jack Daniels?
Anyway, the time of the beer fest was a big thing in Portland. And, the local breweries would usually try to outdo each other. There was a very good brewing scene, and these guys would want to really crush the other guy with the best beer. Which was great for us, because they'd try weird shit and make really strong beers and there was a whole helluva lot of really great brewing going on. This was released for that.
Widmer made a very nice Doppelbock, then aged it in those wood barrels. It soaked up some of the bourbon taste, some oak. It was fucking killer. Basically.
Sorry to say you guys may never get the chance to try this. But, if you EVER see someone making a beer and aging it in bourbon barrels, it's at least worth checking out. If the brewery sucks, they'll make a powerfully bad beer. But if they're good, it will make you cum.