So, on the eve of Dark Lord Day, my pre-festival pump priming continued with some indulgence in my first Deschutes Brewery beer, the Mirror Mirror 2009 Reserve. Deschutes is an Oregon Brewery that hails from Bend, Oregon. This is a beer Shaun sent me back in 2009, but one I was aging it a bit, saving for a special occasion. After all, it is housed in a bomber and is an 11% brew: it's meant for sharing, not getting buzzed beyond belief at home alone and calling your ex. I digress.
The brewer describes Mirror Mirror as a barrel aged morphing of its Mirror Pond Pale Ale. By the time they finish the oak barreling on this, I don't think there are many detectable pale ale elements. The nose contains a rich caramel and it pours a modest head with a honey color. Carbonation is not excessive. It offers plentiful caramel and bread-like malts. It smells like pumpkin pie and other spices, nutmeg and maybe a bit of cinnamon. The mouthfeel is lush, rich and dense as it leads to a long, malty finish. Toast is present in the flavor profile. Perhaps a hint of hops from the original pale ale are what cut the finish a bit but the IBUs in this are minimal, and certainly negligible after the oak barreling.
PROS: A smooth, elegant, polished beer that should be consumed first in line, or on its own.
CONS: Any attempt you make to finish off the night with this when you've been consuming beers north of 8% all evening is foolish.
VERDICT: A standout. Even if you are hammered going in, you won't want to turn this down if your friend offers it to you. Just don't make Shaun and I be your template for the proper enjoyment of this.
* * * * stars. A complex and highly enjoyable brew.