Take Deschutes’ Mirror Pond Pale Ale, double the strength to 11% alcohol and age 35 percent of it in oak barrels, and you get the cleverly named Mirror Mirror.
The moniker is a bit misleading. “Mirror” would seem to imply clarity and smoothness, but Mirror Mirror is a deep bronze color with a lot of complex, sometimes rustic, flavor. This limited-release beer isn’t as enchanting as the company’s The Abyss, though it’s vaguely in the same ballpark, flavor-wise.
At its core, this is a boozy pale ale, and that intense hoppiness is readily evident on the nose. The body, though, is more bluntly alcoholic than I’d like, and the effect when combined with wood is to make the beer (er, barleywine) overly sweet and a little oily. Has a tart, raisin-and-cherry-like finish that’s almost on the sour side.
I didn’t realize until after I’d opened it that Deschutes advises cellaring this beer until April 2010. I jumped the gun by 10 months; I can only wonder what that extra time might have done to help the somewhat at-odds flavors here coalesce. Certainly intriguing, to say the least.
B+ / $12 per 22-oz. bottle / deschutesbrewery.com