On June 27, 2008 Deschutes Brewery out of Bend, Oregon began an annual tradition that, if you knew what was good for you, you would respect and honor every June: their birthday reserve porter, in honor of the brewery’s anniversary. These are hardcore, chewy, strong, powerful, dark, robust, high gravity, limited edition dark ales. And each year they try something a tad different with additions to make each year’s commemorative batch unique. When I moved to Chicago in September of 2013, GOD HIMSELF guided me to a menu at a bar that revealed to me the XXV on tap. My decision to order a goblet required less effort and time than electing to pour a bucket of cold water on my own mother if she caught on fire (sorry, Mom). It remains to this day one of the best beers I have ever tasted. I even snapped a photo of it with my shitty cell phone camera without any intention of ever posting it on BaDoink.
This review is for the 2014 bottle released last year, FYI. I anticipate the 27th will be released along with Deschutes’s golden birthday in a few weeks. With a pinch of sadness I must reveal that the XXVI is not quite as good as the XXV, but that is simply because my taste buds don’t prefer the ingredients. The XXV had more vanilla, sweet, and nutty flavors while this one is more on the sour berry side. But for the goal Deschutes set out to accomplish, this beer is perfect.
It is black, with a tart aroma of cranberries that strikes first before a milk chocolate scent joins it on stage. A two-finger thick, tan, creamy head materializes with the pour and settles down slowly and evenly. The flavor upfront is a very tart combination of cranberries and pomegranates, which after marking their territory make room for bourbon, punctuated by a dry finish with cocoa, malt and cappuccino. Its texture is thick, creamy, fizzy and slightly bristly. Delightful. There is no sting of booze here. The aftertaste is a smooth, pleasant, milk chocolate, cigar, coffee and bourbon mixture with a mild bitterness. Be advised: the aftertaste will be devoted to you for a long time, so you better learn to get along. The lacing that remains in the glass is thick, velvety, tenacious, and reminds me of Natalie Portman’s nether region: it captivates my gaze and commands my every synapse to send a signal to my consciousness which tells me all I want to do is lick it.
I have this ale listed as a porter/stout even though it is clearly categorized by Deschutes (and pretty much every other labeling entity) as a porter. Yes, I realize these are “two different styles” of beer, so before you leap into the comments section below to slander and mock me for getting these styles “mixed up” like an obnoxious, pimply Star Wars nerd showing off his geek-penis by telling me how you know Greedo shot first, please place your intimidating, inflamed loins at bay and read further.
And Han shot first, so go fuck yourself with your own head, and choke on the contemporaneous evacuation of your bowels.
There is contention in the beer community about what makes a beer a porter or a stout since they are so similar. A common dividing line has been drawn using the mixture and ratio of dark malts for each respective style. The BJCP appears to use a combination of the IBU’s, the ABV, and the SRM value (Standard Reference Method, which measures how much light can pass through the liquid) to make the determination. My guess is Deschutes adhered to the BCJP guidelines here. Through my research I have found that the historical definition of a stout which separates it from a porter is very simple: it is a porter, but much stronger and heavier. In fact a stout used to actually be called a “stout porter”. And since this porter has 10.8% ABV, and has a flavor powerful enough to make you flinch as you likewise would if a nude midget unexpectedly and without provocation cock-slapped you in the forehead, I personally consider this a stout. But that’s just me. Call it whatever you want. And if you have a problem with my categorization of it, find the nearest OFF and FUCK IT.
Overall: 9/10 (I rate the XXV at a 10)