Deschutes’ Dissident (Batch 1, Circa 2008): This beer does not last long on tap, so it was a bit of good fortune that I got wind of it with time to savor a few pours. This Flander-style ale is Dechutes’ contribution to the pantheon of West Coast sours. Setting it apart to a degree, both figuratively and literally, is its use of the wily and wild Brettanomyces yeast. This wild strain of yeast, often maligned for infecting and undermining other beers, is reigned in and put to a great purpose in the Dissident. A beautiful, dark copper. A fruit-laden nose with a touch of ground grain. And a taste to follow these openers. This beer has a well-earned reputation. Lush-but-not-extravagant, the sour nose turns up the tartness and the tastiness on a bed of crimson-malt flavors. There is an almost-but-never-quite overpowering tension between the bright and the liquor flavours that integrates in the end and is much appreciated. The use of pinot and cabernet barrels play a part in amalgamating the flavors, and the wood notes balance, but don’t blunt, the resilient and welcome sourness of this beer.
Brasserie Dieu du Ciel’s Peche Mortel: I am always pleased to find their beer on tap. Meaning Mortal Sin in English, this coffee stout wrestles the purposefully-crafted high levels of char and alcohol and succeeds in merging the two into a bold-yet-cultured beer. This beer has a tight, dark nose that matches the tap color that gives up little besides a brown edged obsidian. Roasted, and it is a dark roast. Still, there is also a curiously clear focus in the nose juxtaposed with the brooding, reserved darkness. One big sip and the roasted note steps up, clothed (armored) in no mere facade of char. This has an honest and indefatigable charcoal note that isn’t a note, it is a personality disorder that I would like to take to the races. There’s cream and wonder, coffee and malts, and still a char of a capacity oft associated with Isla whisky that defines each moment to the next. The roast-and-coal flavors guide you with an ebon hand through the shadows of maltiness and a respectable current of alcohol. Not a beer for the meek, and that is why it is aptly named. This is one of those sins I am more than happy to pay for. Again and again.