I’ve now posted on this website several hundred times and, in maybe a dozen of those, I’ve claimed I was “going to try to make this brief“…
You could live in Las Vegas for fifty years and you will never find a prop bet that is more of a sure thing than, “Steve Body will fail at ‘making this brief’ “.
I don’t have the Succinct Gene, much as I would like to. Robert B. Parker is one of my all-time favorite authors and he will succinct the ass off a thing. Not me. I’m spiritual cousins with James Lee Burke, another brilliant author who would never settle for fifty words when five hundred will do.
So, when I say I’m going to try to make this brief, the smart money is on giggling.
One of my very favorite – as in permanent Top 5 – beers for just sipping and enjoying is Fort George Brewing’s uber-fine “The Optimist”. It’s an IPA and sports serious hops presence but emphasizes all the floral and citrus and spice and stone fruit flavors of which hops are capable, instead of just cranking up the pine resin and grapefruit and herbs of most American IPAs. It’s INTERESTING. In a universe of one after another after another after another blandly bitter, one-note hoppy ales, it’s Interesting! THAT, folks, is no small trick.
Even my homies at the brilliant Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon, had never precisely and definitively nailed that alt-IPA, though they have flirted with it a LOT, with Chasin’ Freshies and Fresh Squeezed and Lil’ Squeezy and any of that three stands head ‘n’ shoulder above 95% of all the IPA-ness on today’s clogged, Hop-centric Market. But something that does it like The Optimist? Or Oregon’s stunning Best Imperial/Double IPA, Ninkasi’s immortal “Tricerahops”? Just missed it by a hair…
Deschutes “Only Slightly Exaggerated” IPA was brewed as a drinkable adjunct and promotional support for Travel Oregon and their “Only Slightly (More) Exaggerated” campaign, a tourism and business promotional project designed to introduce more Americans (and foreigners, too. Oregon’s Not Buyin’ The Bullshit about immigrants) to Oregon’s places and products.
This campaign has featured wonderfully whimsical artwork and presentation and a very Oregonian lack of self-importance. Oregon is, shockingly, kinda, uh, FUN…and Travel Oregon is looking to counter the near-universal image of the O state as a haven for armed survivalists and super-earnest environmentalists who chain themselves to trees and lobby for personhood for the Yellow-Bellied Marmot. People in Oregon DO shake it loose, and rather more frequently than we all think and that side of the story deserves to be told, too.
Deschutes tells it succinctly in this bottle.
The brew-wonks at Deschutes decided to tell their own Oregon Tale using a brilliant, new, but so far underexposed hop varietal called Sabro, the former HBC 438 experimental hybrid. This new flower was developed by the Hop Breeding Company and released in 2018. Sabro is an aroma hop that sports a fat bushelful of fruit and citrus flavors. It’ll give ya tangerine and coconut and bright tropicals and stone fruit aromas, with a distinct note of – hold onto something! – Bourbon barrel(!), underpinned with subtle cedar, mint, and something like, maybe, vanilla ice cream(?)(!). To say that this newbie bud is unusual is a vast understatement. And in this beer it sings in tight harmony with its Pips (as in Gladys Knight and The) Amarillo, Triskel, and the enigmatic HBC 431, another experimental variety that shoots out screamin’ earth, peach, berry, tropical fruit, and herbal notes. My old flame, Amarillo, ties up all this Lupulin Majesty into a round and approachable package that shows just-right bitterness, married artfully to just-right florals, citrus, and spices.
And riding all that bounty like Emilia Clark on a CGI dragon is that coconut and Bourbon and tangerine from the Sabro extravaganza. This is a genuinely voluptuous ale. It slides across the tongue like buttered silk, with a feather-light texture but booming flavors. Honestly, it’s a tad breath-taking, as compared to the mild surprise of the occasional Very Good IPAs we all find in bars and pubs (and breweries) or the grinding tedium of the zillion iterations of All Herbal/Grapefruit/Resin IBU Excess we find in MOST contemporary American India Pale Ales. I took that first sip that I pin so many hopes on, when trying any new beer, and was asked by The World’s Greatest Woman, “What? Is it that good? I’ve seen your WOW face before…but not that often.”
Yes, darlin’ girl…it is THAT good.
You could say, in response to this next bit, that it’s stoopid for me to claim that Deschutes – one of the nation’s most consistently excellent breweries – is On A Roll, after thirty years in bidness and at least 26 of those in which they’ve almost literally spewed out beer after beer that either redefines an existing style or creates a new one. But…Deschutes is ON. A. ROLL. Seriously. They have somehow managed not only to turn out another ale that carves out new stylistic territory within what is becoming a mined-out IPA landscape but managed, too, an even more artful trick: they’ve created a beer that actually perfectly – PERFECTLY – evokes the spirit of the collaboration they’ve undertaken with a non-brewing organization. Look at the artwork of the Wallowa wallpaper above, copied straight off the Travel Oregon website. Watch the GORGEOUS, magical video embedded above. Imagine that aesthetic, that vibe, that atmosphere, made into drinkable form, and then taste “Slightly Exaggerated” IPA. If you don’t get that connection, I submit you may have a hole in your soul.
This is a bottle of Magic…one of those beers. From one of those places. At one of those times when we all could really use a little touch of Something Wonderful. 99 Points
Hey! Under 1000 words. That’s progress!