Not two peas in a pod: Deschutes Inversion IPA and Class of '88 Porter | Bleader

Not two peas in a pod: Deschutes Inversion IPA and Class of '88 Porter

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I recently got a sample bottle of the Deschutes/Great Lakes collaboration Class of '88 Imperial Smoked Porter, and when I decided to try it alongside the Deschutes Inversion IPA, I expected the porter to be the more interesting of the two. And it's excellent—more on that later—but it was the IPA that really impressed me. The label says, "Paradise is stumbling upon our whole flower hop room and inhaling. Inversion is as close as you can get without knowing somebody." And the aroma is pretty incredible, with intense floral hops and a malty sweetness.

The maltiness is also evident in the color—a deep reddish amber—and, most importantly, the taste. Though Inversion is made with six varieties of hops and weighs in at 80 IBUs, it's not overwhelmingly bitter. The hops are very present, but the biscuity maltiness balances out the subtle piney, citrusy bitterness nicely. When the bitterness really kicks in on the finish, though, it lingers. You could almost pretend this is hoppy amber ale rather than an IPA. Either way, it's a beautifully complex beer.

The Class of '88 imperial porter is part of a series of collaborations that Deschutes is doing to celebrate its 25th anniversary: they're working with other breweries around the country that were also founded in 1988 to create one-off beers. The first was a barleywine produced with North Coast Brewing Company and Rogue Ales; the next and final one will be a Belgian-style strong golden ale made with Goose Island, which will be released later this year.

The porter pours dark and clear, a bit reddish, with a thin head that disappears quickly. Both the smell and taste are smoky, with a woodiness that reminds me of a campfire. There's also a slight acridness that tastes better than it sounds, but still wasn't entirely pleasant. Other flavors included raisins, bitter chocolate, and molasses. It's been out for about a month already but is still widely available at Binny's and other liquor stores (the Inversion IPA is even more widely available, and unlike the Class of '88 porter, will be around indefinitely).

Julia Thiel writes about booze every Wednesday.

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