Monday, December 24, 2012

A Collage of Deschutes and Hair of the Dog

The spirit of the holidays is one of collaboration.

You can find evidence of this spirit in the touching way that Clark Griswold and Cousin Eddie came together for an epic Christmas Vacation in 1989; with that in mind I embarked on a journey to discover a beer that epitomizes collaboration in it's very essence.

Rising to the top of the collaborative pyramid was Collage, a joint initiative of Deschutes Brewery and Hair of the Dog Brewing Company. The first brew released in Deschutes' Conflux Series, I was intrigued by the Collage from the instant I heard about...and let me tell you why.

Thanks to Rick, I like unique and boozy beer. You can't get more unique and boozy that Collage. Two years in the making, Collage stands true to it's name as a blend of four of the most unique beers that the breweries offer: Deschutes' The Stoic and The Dissident, and Hair of the Dog's Fred and Adam.

As if blending together four super unique beers wasn't enough, the brewmasters then aged the beers for 24 months in a variety of cask barrels, including rye whiskey, cognac, sherry, pinot noir, bourbon, new American Oak, and new Oregon Oak. Left with more than 100 distinct barrel-aged rounds, the brewers crafted the final blend to reflect the collage of patience, time, and collective curiosity.

So here we go.

Brewery: Deschutes Brewery and Hair of the Dog Brewing Company
Style: American Strong Ale Rating: 92, Exceptional Rating: 99 Overall
Serving: 12oz Bottle
ABV: 11.6%

Appearance: Upon pouring into a belgian glass, the Collage had very little head and appeared lightly carbonated.  The beer golden with a slightly pinkish hue with moderate cloudiness evident throughout.

Smell: Delicious and fascinating at the same time. Depending on the breath, I got alternating notes of whisky and sour beer, a nice contrast between sweet and sour. The variety of spirits notes were inviting but I found the beer to be a bit intimidating on the nose at the same time.

Taste: The first sip of Collage is smooth, until it hits you in the roof of the mouth with a sweet and tangy punch. I wasn't sure which booze influence to pick up from the barrel aging, but I did get a nice oakiness on the finish. This beer almost has a tannic quality to it. Crisp might be a good descriptor.

Overall I found the Collage to be quite unique and enjoyable. With the barrel influence, I wanted it to be a bit darker of a beer but in that respect, the beer then may have overpowered the aging program.

I enjoyed this beer while watching a Gonzaga basketball game; my notes indicate that the beer is "spicy like Gonzaga hoops." Pick up a bottle when you want something different and get lost in the collage.


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