Deschutes The Dissident: I Think I Finally Found Someplace I’m More Liberal than Jim

My Brother’s problems with sour style ales has been long, storied, and well documented, on this blog at least.  But I think I learned a little something about his and my taste last year at the Great American Beer Festival.  While we are very similar minded on many brews that we like, I think I like sour beers a little more than him.  Now I am the first to say that I too would probably pour the La Folie sour from New Belgium down the sink just like Jim did.  My palate for sours is quickly challenged and overwhelmed easily.  I just don’t get why anyone would like to drink a brew that tasted like a fermented gym sock.  You might as well go to your cupboard and pour yourself a glass of Balsamic Vinegar.  However used in moderation brettanomyces can add a flavor dimension that adds uniqueness and complexity that can enhance the drinking experience greatly…

I found this out last year at the GABF when Jim and I attended the Pints for Prostates Rare Beer Tasting.  I can remember four or five beers that I really liked that Jim could take or leave.  None that he’d pour out, but also none that he would seek.  I however found myself and my taste buds intrigued.  The Dissident falls into this category.  I truly loved the wine qualities of this barrel aged ale brewed with brett.

This was a slightly tart beer with many wine-like qualities.  It had a sweet tartness that finished clean and dry.  Its mouthfeel was more like a sparkling wine than a beer and its nose was full of fruit like pear, grape, and a touch of apple.

The flavor was, in a word, great.  While its flavor was light and crisp, it was more full bodied than say a great summer saison.  It begins fruity with a gush of grape and pear flavor then mid palate changes and becomes ever so slightly sour and tart, but never bitter.  Finally it finishes with a crisp and dry note that leaves the lingering tartness on your tongue.  It builds up a little as you drink it, but never becomes overwhelming, it just reminds you every sip of its wonderful complexity and outstanding flavor.  I paired this with a flatbread pizza from Brewforia and the heat from the buffalo chicken flatbread combined in a very wonderful way with the crisp tartness of the dissident.

So does this make me the dissident of the blog?  Probably not, Jim and I tend to think more alike than in opposition, but it is a place where our tastes differ somewhat.  I can’t wait to try my next well crafted and mild sour.


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30 Comments on “Deschutes The Dissident: I Think I Finally Found Someplace I’m More Liberal than Jim”

  1. January 5, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I’m not well versed in this style at all, but I’d give it a shot given the chance despite the gym-sockiness. Is that picture pretty close to how the beer looked to you? Its almost pink! Interesting!

    • Don
      January 5, 2011 at 11:10 am #

      This picture seemed to enhance the color a little. I remember this brew as more golden amber than the cranberry looking photo. Nonetheless it was very wine like and really well crafted IMO. If you can find it, scott, I’d highly recommend picking one up, I think you will like it.

  2. Matt
    January 5, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Awesome! it really is an amazing beer. Prob one of the more complex sours Ive ever had. Can’t wait to see how they taste in a year or two.

    • Don
      January 5, 2011 at 11:12 am #

      I really liked this brew Matt, and by not being so one dimensional in their use of brett it really was a complex and interesting brew. Glad you liked it, and let us know what they taste like with a little age on them.

  3. January 5, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    I totally appreciate your tastes on sours, all though it is a bit a harsh at times. I almost cried when I saw the picture of Jim dumping the La Folie, perhaps one of my all-time favorite beers. I view sours like I view spice food, it is an acquired tasted, but you have to have at least an inkling toward the flavor before pushing you palette. Growing up I hated spicy food, couldn’t stand even “mild” spiciness, now I really enjoy spice food, to a point. Definitely not a ghost pepper kinda guy….

    Keep trying new tart beers, I bet the more you try the more you’ll start appreciating the depth and subtle flavors in these beers.


    • Don
      January 5, 2011 at 11:18 am #

      Peter, do you have any suggestions that might be just a little milder than the La Folie, and a little less expensive than the Russian River offerings?

      • January 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

        Don, there are so many I love; to me a great sour is tangy, tart, and dry. I don’t like sours that are also sweet. some that are crazy sour:

        Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru
        Boon Oude Geuze
        Oud Beersel Oude Geuze
        De Dolle Brouwers Oerbier Special Reserva
        Jolly Pumpkin

        • Don
          January 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

          Not sure what I can actually get out here, but it is a list to strat looking for. I have the new Southern Tier oak aged Grand Cru Cuvee that I got as a Christmas Present, so I hope that is a great experience.

  4. January 5, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    I have to confess, I don’t have much experience with sour beers. And what little experience I DO have has been negative. And… and… wine-like beer with adjectives like “fruity” don’t particularly sound all that good to me.

    But I have to tip my cap, you do as good a job of selling that product as anyone could. I’d give it a try.

    • Don
      January 5, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      John, it definitely has a fruitiness to it with wine-like qualities, but it is still beer, and you can tell it is a beer. Much the same way lambics are beer, sours simply use a different yeast that imparts a unique flavor. If you love beer, it is definitely worth while to explore sours.

      • January 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

        It probably didn’t help that the few that I tried were served at a brewpub that went out of business due to their steep decline in quality.

        • Don
          January 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

          Yeah…John, you might want to try a good sour before you cast the whole lot aside!

  5. January 5, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Like you and Jim, I’ve had a hard time warming up to sours. But I do like the Dissident, quite a bit actually. I had it on tap at Brewforia and I’ve got a bottle in the cellar. As far as sours go, it’s tart, but very approachable, so much so that I found it hard to believe it was a sour—as the other sours I had to put down after half a glass or so. This sour had me ordering a second glass! If sours make you nervous, Dissident is one to try. It’s a gateway sour. :^)

    • Don
      January 5, 2011 at 11:39 am #

      I’d agree Chad, but I think more than being a gateway, it is simply a well crafted sour that has a full complexity and shows how wonderful the style can be. Rather than a “Gateway Sour” I would call this a “Model Sour”. It is what all sours should strive for complexity and balance that doesn’t overwhelm the palate with vinegar flavor.

      • January 5, 2011 at 11:48 am #

        Oooh, “Model Sour,” I like that. Yeah “gateway” might convey simple. Dissident certainly isn’t that. Complex, well crafted, yet approachable—yes. Simple—no.

        • Don
          January 5, 2011 at 11:57 am #

          Glad you like it! 😉

  6. Greg K.
    January 5, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    This and the Abyss are both on my list of beers to try this year. Hopefully will be able to find a friend out west to ship me some “yeast samples”

    • Don
      January 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

      Both good ones Greg. If I can find a bottle, I will let you know. Perhaps we can work a trade of yeast samples!

      • Greg K.
        January 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

        Let me know. Would love to get my hands on them. And always good to have a trading partner that can get stuff that I can’t and vice versa

        • Don
          January 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

          Yeah…I’d send stuff to Jim, but he never reciprocates!

  7. Gordon
    January 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Mmmm… Dissident. I had a couple glasses while it was in at Brewforia.

    Don, if you want to stay away from vinegar, you’re mostly talking about flanders red style beers, like La Folie or Duchesse de Bourgogne. My experience with Russian River has been mouthwatering, in every since of the word. Their sours are awesome, but I wouldn’t call them “model”.

    If you’re looking for a softly sour, complex beer, I’d recommend looking for stuff from Cascade (The Juggler is puckering, but most of their stuff is pretty mild.I don’t think they bottle their seasonal goses, but if you get over to Portland you should give one a try)

    Other good ones are Oro de Calabaza (or pretty much anything else) from Jolly Pumpkin. The Cantillion Gueuze has a softer sourness than most Belgian lambics (or most other Cantillion, for that matter), but it’s wonderfully complex. Some beer historians believe that the pre-1900 saison was similar.

    • Don
      January 5, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      Interesting Gordon. I’ll look for those brews as well. One good thing is if you are recommending them, they are probably available here in Idaho. Although I haven’t seen anything from Jolly Pumpkin yet at Brewforia.

  8. David
    January 5, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    I reckon I have been into craft beer for a little over 5 years now and i’m still trying to warm up to sour beers, but it’s not happening. It sucks, because they are the hot beer of the moment, and I feel that my beergeekery index is lowered a tad by the simple fact that I can’t fathom most of them. But, I also liked dissident, and agree with the wine like qualities. I agree wtih Gordon in his statement about Flanders red styled beers, they tend to be my least favorite. For alot of them, it seems like its a little gimmicky…just trying to out sour the next beer. I really enjoy the Russian River sours, especially Consecration. It just seems to have the right balance of sweet/tart.

    • Don
      January 5, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

      I agree David, it is about balance. I feel of the sours like I do the IPAs. So many brewers are willing to forget about balance in order to get as much hops as possible in there! How many IBUs are enough? 100, 400, 1000? 1000 IBUs. I know there is an IPA out there that touts this. No thank you! Same with sours. Balance is key and will deliver a fine drinking experience.

  9. Alex
    January 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Hey Don, I tried The Dissident when I was stuck at a Super 8 in Georgetown, CO on my way to the mountains about a month ago due to terrible road conditions. Fortunately, I had a small stash of beers in the car for the weekend. I know Super 8 is your turf for beer reviews, but I think there’s something about Super 8 plasticware that really enhances the flavor of a beer. Drinking The Dissident helped me ignore noisy neighbors and eased my frustration while waiting for the roads to clear. It tasted real good, too.

    I also love the Russian River sours, especially Consecration.

    • Don
      January 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

      Yes, the plastic of the cup makes for a magical drinking experience! I have actually stayed at the Super 8 in Grangeville so many times now, they give me a real glass when I go there! That’s pull my friend! 😉

    • Paulette
      January 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

      The Consecration is my favorite sour (so far), but it is a bit pricey. I’m always on the lookout for something new to try, so If I can locate this one I’ll pick one up (even though that pink color is off-putting).

      • Don
        January 5, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

        Well Paulette, someone else mentioned that, and I think that is just weird lighting. The one I had, as I recall was more of a amber color with a golden hue. I have tried consecration at the Rare Beer tasting, and thought it was overpriced for the flavor. Also I would have a hard time drinking a whole one. The Dissident however gave me none of those issues and I think it is less than half the price.

  10. January 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Sounds like my kind of sour: not too.

    I’ll have to try to grab one, but we don’t get much Deschutes out here.

    • Don
      January 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

      If you see it I think you might enjoy one occasionally Jim. It was unique and really good.

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