BEND ORE. (CarlinTheCyclist.com) Usually the ride is about the ride and the beer is just a chaser, just a part of the day, the experience, the journey. But when you are riding in Bend and reporting on Deschutes Brewing Company, the beer takes on a more important role. Damn. I hate it when that happens. Thus became my experience with Deschutes Fresh Squeezed.
The path to a cold Deschutes Fresh Squeezed
As I wrote in my previous post about riding the Deschutes River Trail with Deschutes Digital Marketing Manager Jason Randles, I was in Bend to do a report for my employer WSLS -10 in Roanoke about the Deschutes Brewing leadership team. Deschutes had recently decided to locate its east coast facility in Roanoke. We knew it had made a huge impact on Bend, a similar sized city, and we wanted to evaluate the possibility that Roanoke might see some of the same growth Bend had enjoyed, at least in part due to Deschutes.
Enough of that. Back to the beer. Jason invited me to ride the Deschutes River Trail with him and even provided a sweet, Santa Cruz Tallboy which made the ride even more enjoyable.
As we rode, we talked about the lava rock formations, the trout fishing in the river and the whitewater rafting and kayaking for which the region is also famous. But we also talked about beer. In fact, as part of my television reporting for this story, I had learned more about beer production than I ever knew existed.
It all comes down to hops.
As we took our behind the scenes tour back at the plant, Jason opened a door that led to a refrigerated room filled with bags of hops. Fresh hops. Imagine swimming inside a beer – make it an IPA – and being able to smell the liquid around you. That’s what it was like walking into that room. Jason explained that Deschutes uses fresh hops in many of its beers where other brewers often use a pelleted version for convenience, expense, flavor and other things I don’t understand.
The take away is that when you say a beer is hoppy it is loaded with hops. Duh. The air in this room was as hoppy as air can be. News photographer Lee Friesland, an avid craft beer drinker, was memorized as we stood there. It was like he never wanted to leave.
The Beer and the moment
As we rode along the river, my new knowledge of the brewing process trickled to the front of my consciousness. At lunch the day before, Jason shared that their new (ish) beer, Deschutes Fresh Squeezed had surged to the front in terms of popularity among the company’s offerings. It had passed both Mirror Pond and Black Butte which are also fine brews and the likely subject of future posts here.
The company describes Deschutes Fresh Squeezed thusly: A juicy citrus and grapefruit flavor profile. As if fresh Citra and Mosaic hops were squeezed straight into the bottle. The brew is 6.4 percent alcohol with an UBU of 60.
I had neglected to bring a water bottle on the ride, but when it was over, instead of water, I was still thinking about the smell back in the hops room. Jason had other commitments and had to move on. But Lee and I — our video and interview segment now shot, were ready for a beer. It had to be a Fresh Squeezed.
Let me just say that seldom do so many lines intersect to create such a perfect moment of thirst quenching delight. I looked up some reviews of this beer on line. Some described “a hint of pine.” One called it “a malty mess.” (Really?) Still others referred to its fruity nature and its “stickiness.” Sadly, most of those observations are beyond my palate.
Here’s the way I looked at it. We were in Bend. I had just ridden an unbelievably gorgeous ride on a dream bike. My “beer-ucation” was peaking after a couple days of immersion in Deschutes culture. And that smell was still stuck in my head. At the end of that ride, all of those lines created an intersection and I was standing in the middle of it. I was ready to be run over by a fresh load of hops.
Here’s to a great beer at the perfect time.