Fearful Symmetries

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11 June, 2017

In the Pines, In the Pines: Pacific Wonderland by Deschutes Brewery



This may very well be my first review of a Deschutes brew. I've certainly had beers from the Portland brewery – their porter and stout – but, for the most part, it's been simply a brewery from Portland that brews a lot of eyepahs for me. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, they go their way and I go mine.

But a few months ago I noticed Pacific Wonderland Lager at Woodman's and I figured I'd give it a try. The brewery apparently decided to do something a little out of left field by brewing a lager and making it a year-round offering. At first I figured it for an eyepul but, upon closer inspection, I noticed that the hops were all German. Granted, one of them, Tettnang Mandarina is citrus flavored so there is a nod to the American hopping regime.

This whole fascination with citrus-flavored hops and very hoppy beers is kind of like Apple products for me. Despite owning Windows computers, I recognize that Apple makes fine equipment. So it's not that I dislike Apple computers, it's more that the people who use them are often times assholes who feel the need to be dismissive of Windows, talk up the usually chimeric advantages of Macs, and make sure you are aware of just how conspicuous their consumption is.

On a recent episode of a beer-related podcast one of the hosts talked about having spent some time in Europe. If I recall, this personal said that he became pilsnered-out to which his co-host remarked something akin to it must have been a relief to return to the States and have a beer with flavor. Right. Because malt and Noble hops are tasteless and beer never had flavor until about ten years ago. What a jagoff. I have no problem with fruit-flavored hops; it's the people who fetishize them and say that without them a beer has no flavor.

So back to Pacific Wonderland. Would it be a lager hopped like an eyepah? Adhere to European tradition? Was something wonderful going to happen?

The beer had a lovely straw color but was oddly hazy. Not exceedingly so, mind you, just unexpected. My pour gave me a medium head of frothy, white foam that, pleasingly, lasted a good amount of time. It was nice and bubbly.

Taking a whiff, I found it to be a little Old World and some New. Some biscuity malt was joined by a variety of hoppy scents including herbal, a dash of pine, and faint lemon/citrus. Not a bad start at all.

I found the taste to be similar with a nice, light cracker maltiness. From the Old World I tasted some herbal and spicy – almost Saaz-like – hoppiness and from the New there was some pine with a dash of citrus for good measure. I will reiterate that all of the hops are German - Hallertau Herkules, Hallertau Mittelfruh, and Tettnang Mandarina.

The finish was crisp and quite dry as that piney hop flavor prevailed although there was a touch of citrus in the background. It was also rather bitter with black pepper and herbal flavors lurking beneath the pine. Schaumhaftvermoegen was everywhere with webs of white lining my mug.

I have to give Deschutes credit for trying to bridge the traditional and the new by brewing a pils that uses all German hops yet including newer ones that have trendy, fruity flavors. However, this beer just did not appeal to me. There was too much pine taste to it. (They likely came from the Herkules hops.) The beer's light body and restrained maltiness seemed defeated by the rather cloying resiny taste. I've had other pine-tasting/spruce tip beers which I enjoyed but here it was almost overwhelming. On the plus side I liked the fruity hop flavor which was more of an accent but nevertheless contrasted deliciously with the herbal and spicy hop tastes and complemented the biscuity malt well too.

Junk food pairing: Pair your Pacific Wonderland with a bag of Jays Garlic and Onion potato chips and a brick of pepper jack processed cheese food product.

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|| Palmer, 3:06 PM

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