The Stoic is Deschutes Brewing’s newest beer in their Reserve Series lineup (which includes such impressive brews as The Abyss and Black Butte XXIII). To quote directly from the website’s description: A prized, potent, Belgian-style Quad of stirring depth and complexity. Four nuanced fermentations. Aged, sequestered, in select rye whiskey & wine casks. Ergo a stoically brewed quad, with the spellbinding complexity of its medieval ancestors. Interestingly, they don’t mention that it’s brewed with pomegranate on the website (though they do on the beer’s label). I’ve been lucky enough to sample this both on tap (at Magoo’s in Salem, OR in a pint glass [oddly]) and from a bottle (at home in a Chimay chalice). My review will reflect the latter, though the experience was not materially different.
NOTES: 2011, poured from bottle into chalice
STYLE: Belgian Quadrupel
APPEARANCE: Golden orange, nearly clear
HEAD: About a finger of off-white head, dissolving pretty quickly to just a ring
LACING: Light lacing
NOSE: Pale malt, candied lemon peel, sweet wine, ripe yellow plum (some of that is likely the pomegranate, but I couldn’t identify that in isolation), very slight Belgian character.
TASTE: This is certainly a sweet beer, but saying that doesn’t really do it justice as this is in no way a cloying or syrupy sweetness. It’s more the sweetness that comes from ripe fruit than sugar or honey. Definite light malt presence, with more of the same notes I found in the nose. In fact, I doubt I’ve ever had a beer whose nose more perfectly indicated what it was going to taste like than this. Really not much like what I expected from a quad though.
MOUTHFEEL: Light to moderate body (lighter than I expected), with a sparkly carbonation that effectively balances the flavors and keeps things active on the tongue without feeling overly fizzy.
DRINKABILITY: Terrifying. This beer has virtually no apparent alcohol presence. Not knowing better, I’d have pegged it at 4-5% rather than its actual score of 11%. They were serving this in pints at Magoo’s for an incredibly low price, so I couldn’t resist drinking several. I was of course punished for this later, but I can’t imagine doing anything differently (I got four pints for what a bomber cost me at the local package store). I don’t think they really knew what they were serving, as this is pretty much just a local dive sports bar (that I like very much). I honestly wonder if they got that keg by mistake when they tried to order Mirror Pond or something.
Anyway, despite its flaws (most notably that it’s not really true to the classic Belgian quad style) I really, really enjoyed this beer. I can in good conscience only give it 3.5 hops, but on the Beerford scale of stuff I like to drink it’s officially cracked my top ten. Consider this the highest 3.5 hop review I’ll ever give. This is a great addition to Deschutes’ Reserve Series line. I look forward to next year’s release to see whether they’ll tinker much with the recipe.
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