Each time I visited the Morris Beer Store or Four Seasons, I couldn’t help but notice the newcomers on the shelves. The beer was made by a Brewery I had heard of a lot on the beer forums and I never thought it’d be available here in corn and bean land. Deschutes Brewery out of Bend Oregon had finally released some of their famous beers here in Illinois.
I think it was about in the middle of January when I spotted the first sixpacks staring back at me from the shelves. There were three styles available: Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Red Chair NWPA and Chainbreaker White IPA. I finally broke down and picked up a sixer Mirror Pond Pale Ale for review for this evening because it was the style that I was in the mood for. Maybe it was cabin fever or spring fever, one of the fevers that coerced me to choose it in spite of its run of the mill 5% ABV. I grabbed a sixer and paid the man.
There was the reputation of the brewery based on what other folks reported. I had a faint memory of tasting their Inversion IPA I picked up in St. Louis last year, but after rereading what I wrote about it, I was hoping I didn’t purchase another fluke, one that didn’t conform to the style, one that I’d drink just enough of to get through the review and then switch to a different beer.
I started doing some research and it was rather heartening to read what people were saying about this beer. I had entertained some thoughts about this being one of those working class beers like Schlitz and Old Style were back in the ‘60s (Yuengling?)
Was Mirror Pond another SMaSH beer (Single Malt and Single Hop) like New Albion? The brewery’s website confirmed that a number of different malts used in the recipe. Things were getting rosier. I was quite optimistic.
When beer time arrived, I grabbed the first nicely chilled bottle and poured its contents into a Perfect Pint glass.
The beer poured and raised up a ginormous yellowish 2” head. The liquid was a reddish copper color, crystal clear with a lot of vigorous carbonation. There was hardly any aroma so I dispensed with the nasal hunt for any hop aromas. As the foam head settled down, it took on the look of meringue.
The first sip was odd but only in the fact that it wasn’t what I was expecting. There was a light to medium mouthfeel and a delicate sweetness and as the charge went down, it seemed to take everything with it. I thought, “What did I just taste?” I had to have another sip as a reminder. I did this through the first four sips.
What I had was an easy drinking beer with a light flavor of malts and just a hint of hops. The finish was rather dry and all that remained after the swallow was slight taste of light caramel. That would be the use of Carapils that the brewery specified was used in this recipe. That slight caramel flavor carried this beer. (I dated a girl named Cara Pilz back in high school.)
Some yellow citrusy notes poked up for a look around with each sip but didn’t stay long enough to be identified. The 40 IBUs are hiding behind the malt and there’s just enough of a kick to make the beer that much more enjoyable. Lower the IBUs to say 25, and we’d have a completely different tasting beer.
I initially had thoughts about comparing Mirror Pond to Dale’s Pale Ale, but after a half a glass of MP, it would be like comparing dogs to wolves. Dale’s had more of a heftier mouthfeel (a bigger malt bill) and a noticeable twang of hops at the swallow. It also packs 6.5% alcohol as well.
Then I thought to compare MP to Sam Adams New Albion. NA was also a light, easy drinker almost reminiscent of a witbier in its characteristic taste. But the color was quite different. Very yellow and hazy. The only trait shared by these two beers would be ease with which they go down the gullet.
Then I wondered how MP would compare to an American lager. Nope. This beer didn’t have that sharpness and malt character that lagers have. This beer stood alone. Except in the examples cited by the BJCP, where it stands as an example of the pale ale style.
This beer has a lot going for it. First off, as stated, it’s a real easy drinker. The liquid feel in the mouth is not very thick but packs enough of a taste punch to make the drinker want to have more. Weighing in at 5% alcohol, the beer would fit in perfectly as an after work refreshment or a patio party staple. One could conceivably down the entire sixpack in a long session and not bat an eyelash.
If you plan on serving Mirror Pond at one of your gatherings, make sure you have enough to go around. More people will ask for seconds of this beer and more people will dare to try it. And, ya can’t beat the price.
Taste: Delightful. A pleasant tasting lightweight.
Smoothness: Slick as a brass bannister.
Drinkability: Bring ‘em on. Who’s counting?
Bang for the buck: Good. Slightly below the going rate for good craft beer.
Amount paid: $8.99/sixpack
Get it again? Yes and yes. Again and again.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It’s light. (sip) It’s not bad. (sip) Not bad at all. I was expecting it to be bitter but it isn’t. (sip) It’s really not bad. (YES! An un-bad beer! A beer for the masses! Open the sluice gates!)
Mirror Pond Pale Ale [1:31]
Deschutes Brewery [4:22]