Alabama seems to be the last place to distribute great beer. Deschutes is one of those breweries that doesn’t distribute here, and it makes me terribly sad. For so long I sat and read reviews of beers like the Black Butte Porter (a brilliant porter, really beyond belief), the Fresh Squeezed IPA (a citrus heavy IPA), and the Mirror Pond Pale Ale (a really hoppy pale ale, just the way I like them.) Luckily, I have really nice friends that share the same passion for craft beer as I do. My friend Alex, fellow enthusiast and beer snob, recently moved back to Alabama from Louisville, but not before he grabbed a mixed six pack for me of some Deschutes brews that were available. I was fortunate enough to get three different beers: Mirror Pond, Black Butte (::tears of joy::), and, the beer I’m drinking today, the Chainbreaker White IPA. I read some reviews online before I drank, and they were mixed and honestly made me cautious, but I still drank anyway. This wasn’t the best beer I’ve ever had, but it also wasn’t the worst. Here are my thoughts:
I will preface this by saying that I’m not a huge fan of Belgian Wits or Wheat beers. The label basically says that this beer is a Wheat with hops added to create something “different.” The whole thing was just a glorified Belgian Wit to me, but that could just be my snobby opinion. To me, if it smells like a Wit, and if it tastes like a Wit, it’s probably a Wit. I know that might come as a shocker, but I call them how I see them, and this one was seen as a Wit. Nothing fancy, not a White IPA, just a hoppy Wit. Plain and simple.
Anyways, this beer pours a hazy yellow color, hazy from the Belgian yeast used, with about two finger widths of off-white head that created some nice lacing on the glass. On the bottle, Deschutes gives you pouring instructions, like most Unfiltered Wheat beers do (i.e. Harpoon’s UFO, Boulevard’s Unfiltered Wheat, etc.), and they tell you to pour two thirds of the bottle into a glass and swirl the remaining beer. This allows the yeast that has settled at the bottom of the bottle to be incorporated with the rest of the beer; giving a creamy, almost bread-like, taste component. If you’re not familiar, adding this yeast to the bottle allows the beer to continue to ferment while in the bottle, also known as bottle conditioning, to promote a rise in alcohol levels and freshness in the beer. The yeast keeps working until the bottle is open. See, drinking beer IS science, mom! The scents in this beer were where this gets a little tricky. I was picking up on a lot of pine, citrus hops, and some floral notes; this is usually trademark of an IPA, but like I said, this was no IPA taste wise. That Belgian yeast also showed up in the scent as well; adding in some doughy notes to even out the profiles.
Taste is where the beer started to grab my attention, but not for long. Upon first sip, I got a lot of floral and citrus hops, so I began thinking “alright, here’s the IPA I was expecting”, but then that starts to fade and I started to pick up the Wheat flavors that were advertised. There were nice citrus hop flavors combined with some really nice pine notes and spices as well, but the generic Wheat beer flavor became too much for me to enjoy. It really dulled the whole beer down for me. As the beer continues, you still pick up on some of the light hop flavors along with the slight pine; I couldn’t really get past the creaminess that the Belgian yeast gave it, so this was a bust to say the least for me. I’ve come to have high expectations for Deschutes, and this is by far their weakest link.
The mouthfeel was also pretty odd. It settled on your tongue like how you would expect an IPA hybrid to settle. (Maybe? How many of those are there?) Really soft on the tongue but with moderate carbonation. This was another one of the high points for me. I’m a stickler for carbonation and this one was actually really nice. There wasn’t an overpowering, uncomfortable feeling as it rested on the tongue; nor was it just like holding water in your mouth. It had a light body to make it somewhat refreshing. I guess if you’re into weird beers that really don’t settle on one style, this would be the one for you. Not sure I would buy a whole six pack of this, but drinking it at a party because it’s there and free wouldn’t be bad.
Overall, this was a big miss for me. There wasn’t any clear conclusion, to me, as to what this beer was supposed to achieve. Not quite an IPA and not quite a Belgian Wit. A mixture of the two is no good by my standards. Maybe this would be good if it was really hot outside and you were already drinking? I’m not too sure, I can’t really seem to think of a good reason for drinking this unless it was given to you. Oh well, Deschutes makes plenty of other FANTASTIC beers that I could choose from and drink for days. I think I’ll do that… I have two Black Butte Porters in the refrigerator that are screaming “we can cleanse your palate!” I will let them.

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