I just finished watching the Showtime series, The Tudors, on Netflix. I finished the very last episode of the heavily stylized drama loosely tracking the life and times of monarch Henry VIII. The last episode was kind of sweeping, as it featured flashbacks of Henry's life set against majestic music. And I would love to, somehow, work the show into this beer review but I can't think of a way. Mirror Pond Pale Ale is nothing like royalty. Its elegance is quiet and it announces itself not to trumpets but to strums of acoustic guitar.
My first ever Mirror Pond was earlier tonight. I had known about it through Shaun and understood my partner-in-crime here to be a big fan. It's now easy to understand why, but the first sip was very understated. Though I was expecting an initial flashover of hops, instead what I got was a wealth of malts, marked by some earthiness and a speck of sweet caramel. Hops gradually come into the picture, building with each return sip until they become dominant. This is good because the tangy grapefruit bitterness comes as a pleasant surprise before becoming the focus. Like all great pale ales, eventually Mirror Pond offers that initial nip on the tongue, prior to gratifyingly balancing out. The color was a hazy burnt orange and the nose carries easily identifiable tropical hops and baked bread. Its mouthfeel is somewhat full and a bit robust. This is one of the more heavily-malted pale ales I've had but the plentiful hops maintain its vibrancy.
Unlike King Henry VIII, Deschutes is not out to invade you (in their case, it would be with hops), destroy you, or dislodge your head. They quite well disguise the hops then gradually release them, ultimately providing a formidable hop experience, which is what you want out of a great pale ale, and expect out of one that's west coast style. Despots may wish for something more elaborate. But this is clearly a beer fit for a king.
4.5 of 5 stars.