I was going to stop beating the drum for session beers--at least for a few days--until I had one last night at Deschutes that knocked my socks off. It's called "Experimental Cascade," and the experiment is dropping back their venerable Cascade Ale from 4.5% to 4%. As a bonus, it was dosed with late additions of Crystal and Amarillo hops. The result is easily one of the best small beers I've had--and a beer that can stand toe-to-toe with anything out there in terms of complexity and flavor.
The hops are what make it sing. Even though Deschutes miniaturized Cascade, they left the BUs at 28--which, even in a small beer isn't excessive. But those late additions give the beer a huge nose and intense hop flavor. Somewhere closer to the herbal side of things--coriander, cumin, pepper--they were also zesty without being citrusy. The lightly caramelly malt was on the dry side, and the beer finishes crisply--perfect moreishness. If this beer were regularly available, it would quickly become a mainstay of mine. A really wonderful treat. For those of you who admire the elegance of a well-made session, get over to Deschutes, stat.