Nick Carr on November 17, 2014 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Deschutes Brewery Location: Bend, OR Style: Strong Ale ABV: 6.7% IBU: 60 Hops: Nugget, Cascade, Willamette, Styrian, Tettnang & East Kent Goldings Malts: Pale, Crystal, Extra Special, Carapils, Roasted Barley Appearance: Deep Brown With Ruby Edges; Mocha-colored Head Aroma: Malty-Sweet with Pervasive Earthiness & Notes of Spices Flavor: Malty-Sweetness is Big & Smooth; Notes of Coffee, Molasses & Complex Fruits Mid-Palate; Finishes with Surprising Hoppiness & Dry Aftertaste Availability: Fall/Winter Seasonal Pairs With: Spaghetti & Italian Meatballs, Venison Tenderloins, Shiitake Mushrooms, Double Gloucester Cheese, Toffee Apple Crisp I figured it was time to start the reviews of winter ales for the season. So, my next 7 or 8 reviews will be an exploration of the winter and Christmas season. I have to tell you I’m pretty excited, there’s nothing better than a good winter warmer. To that end I figured I’d start off with one that’s been around since 1988, Deschutes Jubelale. This beer has a history that includes a lot of firsts for Deschutes. Way back in 1988 it was their first seasonal. That same year it was the first beer they bottled, by hand no less. Gary Fish and his employees bottled a first ever run of 750ml bottles from the taps at the Bend Public House. Any homebrewer who has bottled their own beer is probably shaking their head right now at this messy and meticulous prospect. That must have made for quiet the long day. After a three year stint in Portland Oregon, where the project was shepherded by Blind Enterprises, the Jubelale was returned to Bend and Deschutes new production facility, becoming their first packaged six-pack. Along with these many firsts came the 1995 idea of having a new regional artist take a crack at the packaging artwork each year. The artist is selected early in the year by a panel and then allowed to run with most auspicious of creative endeavors. From painted storms, quiet winter scenes, painting with light, collaborations, and even creating a art out of scraps of past Jubelale labels, (you can see these past labels and read about the artists in this PDF on the Deschutes website), each year brings a highly anticipated interpretation of the Christmas libation hidden within the bottle. Shop Deschutes Brewery on Amazon This year’s label was features a couple sledding in a valley, against a mountain backdrop, while their dog runs alongside. It was created by twins Lisa and Lori Lubbesmeyer through a process of layered fabrics. The Deschutes website even talks about local amateur meteorologists using each year’s label to predict the coming snows. Whether this has any more (or less) credence then thicker acorn shells or the width of the banding on tiger moth caterpillars (which interestingly has been found to be 80% accurate since 1950) is hard to say, but it is a fun local legend and surely gives the local pub patrons plenty to discuss as the colder weather settles in. This beer hasn’t gone unnoticed in the critic’s arena either. Its wins include an 1990 gold in the Great American Beer Festival and silver the following year, gold in the 2006 World Beer Championships, and a silver in the Australian International Beer Awards in 2006 and 2007. Actually after finding all this cool stuff out about this beer I was very surprised that I hadn’t come across it in earlier years. Maybe it was there and I just missed it, who knows, but either way my first sip of Jubelale will be right now, for this review and I’m excited. The Pour and Aroma Off the pour the color is a rich deep brown with ruby-like edging hinting at its depth of color. When held up to daylight that complexity is brought to full form in a beautiful red garnet. A little murk and the deep color keep the far side hidden, but it’s a magnificent looking color, with low carbonation drifting off the bottom. An excited mocha colored one-inch head rises. Very malty-sweet in the nose, coming through as molasses-like and burnt-biscuit notes. Has a pervasive earthiness to it. Muddled, hard-to-define spices dancing close with raisin, warming alcohol, fig, and fruity esters. Mouthfeel and Taste Mouthfeel is nicely smooth with medium body. Malt is big and sweet at the front. Much of the dark and dried fruit smells picked up in the aroma don’t translate into the taste. Coffee whispers, molasses, charring, and slight complex fruitness play across mid palate, before dropping of the back with a surprisingly aggressive hop bitterness, which extends long into the drying aftertaste. A warming alcohol presence throughout, bids comfort in the face a cold winter’s evening. Finishing The Impression Serve this beer, and all winter warmers for that matter, at around 50-55°F to get all the subtle complexities packed within. Plus, it’s cold out, no time to be drinking something at refrigerator or icebox temperatures. I could definitely see enjoying this beer in front of a cheerful fire as darkness and cold crept close, at the end of a winter’s day. But, it’s equally pleasant as the harbinger of such nights, on these crisply cool autumn evenings. If you have that early yearning (as I did) for the complex robustness of the winter warmer even though we’re only about halfway through Fall. Pick up a Jubelale it will absolutely tickle that itch. Cheers!