Review: The Dissident (2010), Deschutes Brewery

The Dissident ('10)
Deschutes Brewery — Bend, OR

  • Style:  Brown Ale, Flanders Style (Sour)
  • Bitterness: 30 IBU
  • ABV: 11.0%
  • Malts:  Not provided
  • Hops:  Not provided
  • Special Ingredients:  Washington cherries, brettanomyces, and lactobacillus
  • Sampled:  10oz. snifter 

Description:  "Finally…. perfection. After nearly two years aging in isolation, 2010 The Dissident has reached its pinnacle. Deschutes Brewery’s only wild yeast beer, brettanomyces and lactobacillus “critters” (a technical brewing term) create a distinctive Oud Bruin, Flanders-style sour brown ale, with a fruity aroma and flavor.  Along with the wild yeast “critters”, which help to create a strong Belgian flavor, this lavish brew has whole central Washington cherries - pits, stems and all – (which, by the way, our brewmaster picks out personally during family vacations, to the tune of much eye-rolling from his children) added to the mix.  The result? A beer that’s anything but conventional."  — Deschutes Brewery

Random thoughts:   I sampled The Dissident on 12/1 at the Deschutes Portland Pub with fellow beer bloggers Angelo and Margaret (Brewpublic) and Charles (An Ear for Beer).  While this review is late, I wanted to document my notes on this unique beer, which was last released in October '08.

If you haven't tasted it or bought a bottle yet, you're out of luck—it's gone.  If you live in Bend, you might find it at the Bend Pub.  I've only recently come to appreciate sour beers after my visit to Cascade Brewing Barrel House.  I think there are just two camps when it comes to sour beers, "love 'em" or "hate 'em".  I'm a member of the former. 

Here's a snippet from Deschutes' press release that explains the complexity in making this beer.  "Due to the wild yeast , The Dissident required special treatment and was held in isolation under lock and key apart from the rest of the brewery’s beers to avoid any cross-contamination. A secondary bottling line was also brought in from an outside contractor to facilitate The Dissident’s bottling and insure the beer and wild yeast never touched the brewery’s machinery."

The tasting:  Dark golden orange in color with a white head (that was almost gone by the time it was brought to the table).  Aroma of cherries, light acid, and a mild "funk" (it's hard to describe).  Overall, an unusual, but nice aroma!  Flavor of tart cherries and oak.  Hops were not really noticeable amongst the other flavors.  Light to medium bodied with light carbonation.  It had a smooth and creamy mouth feel, which surprised me because I expected a high "pucker" factor.  Although it's 11% ABV, the taste of the alcohol was completely masked by the flavors and the sour sensation.  Overall, very drinkable.
Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again.  I'm a newbie to the world of sour beer and I loved The Dissident.  I wish I picked up an extra bottle to cellar when I had the chance.  I wonder how this will taste after aging for a year or two.  Hopefully, we won't have to wait two years for the next release of The Dissident.  But if we do, I'm sure it will be worth the wait!

Did you get a chance to taste The Dissident?  What did you think?

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  1. Nice post Sanjay. Better late than never (of course I never got around to reviewing it)! Wow, that picture of Dissident makes has a pinkish hue! I don't remember that! I never did get any of the '10 in the bottle, did you?

  2. Thanks Charles! I didn't pick up a bottle, and now I'm kicking myself for it. I won't make the same mistake for The Abyss.


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