By Margaret Lut
We all have memories of various first time experiences. Our first kiss, our first apartment and for beer enthusiasts, there is no fonder memory then our first taste that turned us on to craft beer. Drinking your first brew and savoring the taste is a first that will last a lifetime. Maybe it was the citrusy palate of a pale or IPA, or the robust mouthfeel of a rich porter or stout. Whatever it was, you will never forget your first tasty beer.
I remember my first encounter with enjoying and appreciating craft beer. It was the spring of 2000. I had a friend that liked to drink craft beer and I would try one from time to time. For the most part I was not a fan. From a household of Polish immigrants, the beer of choice for my father was a standard European premium lager. These light beers were devoid the assertive hop profile associated with Pacific Northwest brews. My first impression of the local beer choices were that they were often either too bitter or too strong for my taste. But then, one day, it happened. I took a drink and was amazed at the flavor that was filling my mouth. A slightly hoppy taste that was smooth and not harsh on the palate. It was kind of citrusy, floral, and surprisingly refreshing. It was a beer that was well balanced and very drinkable. This beer was no other than Deschutes’ Mirror Pond Pale Ale. It is beer that is generous spiced with Cascade hops and at 5% ABV makes it a brew that a first timer can easily enjoy.
Once I got my palate acquainted with the flavor of Mirror Pond, sampling and expanding my palate with different brews became quite enjoyable. I had found a new appreciation for beers that I was skeptical of in the past. My taste buds had evolved to understand the different flavors that hops, malts, and yeast had to offer a beer.
On a resent visit to Deschutes in Portland, I was excited to find a fresh hop version of my so-called “first” beer—a Cascade fresh hopped Mirror Pond. This beer was a fresher, grassier version of Mirror Pond with a warm, pleasing, easy drinking, balanced malt backbone. This brew also emitted a big fresh floral hop aroma that was very pleasing to the senses. One of the exciting things about Mirror Pond’s solid recipe is that it is has been transformed into the winter barelywine “Mirror Mirror.” Since then, other Deschutes brands have intrigued my palate such as the roasty Black Butte Porter, the robust Obsidian Stout, and some special Reserve Series releases like the tart Dissident Oud Bruin, the chocolaty barrel-aged Black Butte XX Imperial Porter, and the indescribably flavorful Abyss Imperial Stout.
These days I enjoy a sampling the gamut of brews from near and far and find great pleasure in seeking out and distinguishing the flavors that each has to offer.
Please feel free to comment on your first beer experience that turned you onto craft beer.
Margaret Lut’s tongue is fluent in the Polish language and has enjoyed sampling more than fifty beer styles from around the world.