At the end of 2023, Oregon’s Deschutes dropped a handful of new (and re-) releases, including the re-revamped version of its highly prized Dissident sour, tasted here next to a vintage version of the same beer from 2019, the last time it was made from this recipe. Let’s check them out.
Deschutes Brewery The Dissident 2023 – After several years of experimentation that involved marionberries, raspberries, and peaches, The Dissident sour has returned to its original recipe, built around Oregon cherries (though at a lower abv and losing the wax seal around the cap). Tart but approachable, it’s a classic blend of brisk sour cherry juice and brooding malt, some oak tannins creeping into the finish. The light body and punchy fizz provide a backdrop of “grown-up soda,” the late game making room for gentle notes of apricot, lemon curd, and orange wine — though this lacks the gravitas that previous versions of the beer have offered. 9.6% abv. B+ / $14 per 22 oz bottle
Deschutes Brewery The Dissident 2019 – With 4 years of bottle time on it, The Dissident shows itself as bigger in every dimension: darker in color, heavier fruit, richer body, and more depth all around. The appearance of nutty almond notes make for a fantastic companion to the sour cherry core, here less sharp and acidic than the 2023, ultimately delivering a slightly sweeter version of the brew. It works wonderfully well, lingering on notes of pistachio and milk chocolate en route to a round but lip-smacking finish. Will The Dissident 2023 make such strides if you keep it in the cellar for the next four years? Only one way to find out. 10.5% abv. A / $NA
Deschutes Brewery Jubelale Winter Ale 2023 – We haven’t reviewed Jubelale since its 2017 release, so I was excited to see how the classic wintertime brew has developed over the years. Answer: More than I expected. First, the spice here is even more restrained than memory suggested, giving the bready body more focus and keeping the darker fruit notes significantly at bay. Ever so slightly sour as it develops in the glass, with a strong, unsweetened chocolate overtone and a boldly toasted finish that evokes tannin, leather, and some charred wood elements. I was less enchanted with Jubelale this time around the block, though whether that is due to recipe changes or my taste (d)evolving, I’m not sure. 6.7% abv. B+ / $12 per six pack
Deschutes Brewery Fresh Squeezed IPA (2023) – This IPA launched in 2014 and seems to have undergone some changes since then — and notably it has lost a hyphen. It’s now “Fresh Squeezed,” not “Fresh-Squeezed.” As modern IPAs go, it remains on the malty side, darker in color than most modern versions, lightly nutty but bright with citrus, bordering on mandarin in quality. Soothing caramel notes build on the finish, giving the fade-out a rounded, nutty finish that’s almost nougaty — and less IPA-like than I might have thought. I didn’t get so much depth the first time around; whatever’s been done in the last 9 years, I think it’s for the better. Still 6.4% abv. A- / $11 per six pack