Bend, Oregon's Deschutes Brewery is a constant source of wonder to me. I'm a big fan of their basic products, especially Inversion IPA, Black Butte Porter and Jubelale. Those three alone would keep me an adherent for years to come, but Deschutes is never content. They're constantly finding new and exciting ways of keeping beer interesting.
Their latest experiment, the Conflux Series, is something I hope other breweries consider in the coming years. Realizing beer fanatics aren't limited to just the Pacific Northwest, Deschutes has partnered with breweries all across the country to combine ingredients and brewing styles. I had the pleasure of tasting No. 2, a partnership between Deschutes and the Boulevard Brewing Co. of Kansas City, Missouri.
As the labels explains, Deschutes unites with "fellow craft beer zealots separated by distance, but not passion, to create unlikely one-time-only collaborations." No. 2 is a white India pale ale crafted with orange peel, coriander and "spices." It's "a fortuitous meeting of Deschutes' hop skills and Boulevard's deft wheat touch," and comes in at a whopping 7.3 ABV, so be prepared to give the keys to someone else after downing this (it comes in a 1 pint, 6 ounce bottle).
Despite the relatively plain-looking label, this is one wonderful beer, folks. On initial pour, it has a pale, yellow, slightly cloudy color, with a medium-sized head. The flavor is crisp and sweet, with a nice finish. It's very reminiscent of a summer beer. What really makes this beer fun is that, on the second pour, when you get to the sediment, it's like you're pouring a completely different beer. All of a sudden, it's so thick you can't see through it, and the sediment makes it look like a hefeweizen. The taste is still fresh, but now it has the intense spice of a Christmas ale. Even with repeated tastings over the course of an hour, the flavor never dissipates.
Anyone who knows me knows that my current favorite brewery is Stone. But if Deschutes keeps taking risks like this, I may just have to change alliances.