Beer of the Week: Deschutes The Dissident
In honor of our Halloween hangover, we'd like to share a beast of a beer. Imagine a brew so big and bad that it has to be quarantined from the rest of the beers at the brewery. This beer is so dangerously contagious that the brewer rents a dedicated, second set of bottling equipment to guarantee against cross-contamination. The brew's alcohol punch rises by a point with every release and is only unleashed on the public every two years! And, it tastes of ghoulishly delicious ... delicate tart cherries?!
Ok, so maybe the bark is worse than the bite. The Dissident, from Deschutes Brewing, is an Oud Bruin, also known as a Flanders-style brown ale. This style is known for its "sweet and sour" flavor profile, with wild yeast and bacteria contributing tart flavors alongside a malt profile of toffee and caramel. Deschutes' example of the style ferments for 18 months in isolation from the rest of the brewer's projects, so as not to expose wild and sour elements into other beers. The Dissident spends a portion of its life cycle aging in used pinot and cabernet barrels for added complexity. While the wild yeast "brettanomyces" and souring bacteria do their work, the brewers add cherries from Central Washington to the mix.
The resulting beer is a complex blend of vinous red wine notes, tart cherry, earthy yeast character, a lightly puckering sourness with hints of leather. A slight caramel backbone brings balance to the beer, but plays second fiddle to the fruity, wild elements of the brew. An adequate frame of reference might be local favorite Russian River Supplication, a brown ale aged in pinot barrels with sour cherries, wild yeast, and souring bacteria. At 11.4% abv, The Dissident has a touch more body, sugars, and heft than the 7% abv Supplication, but a side-by-side comparison teases out the differences in yeast behavior, cherry character, and barrel presence.
The acidity of The Dissident makes it a nice pairing for fatty or creamy dishes, while the cherry and caramel character work nicely with desserts. Deschutes' President recommends pairing the brew with "anything chocolate, the darker the better." Adult trick-or-treaters, you have your marching orders.
The Dissident has just begun to trickle into better beer shops in S.F., and will become increasingly available over the next week. A tasting of the brew, alongside 14 other highly acclaimed beers from Deschutes, will take place this Friday evening at the Jug Shop. Details and reservations, here.