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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Deschutes Inversion IPA

There are 5,237 Northwest-brewed IPAs. Or thereabouts. Of all beers, IPAs have become the signature style of the region. I recognized that this was the case when a co-worker ordered one at a pub. After ordering, she turned to me, wrinkled her nose, and said, "I don't like bitter beers."

Americans have come to associate the taste of tin with the "bitter" the tin-can beer companies told them they should fear. The flavor of hops, intense, green, and bitter (as in, say, a strong cup of Stumptown), fit the region like a glove. We don't fear organic flavors, we relish them. It is somehow appropriate that the last region of the country that still produces hops should become so delighted by them, and so we have our 5,237 IPAs to shock and delight our tongues.

So now we have one more, and from a brewery that already had an IPA--the woeful Quail Springs. I recall its much ballyhooed release. Obsideon, Black Butte, and Mirror Pond were the leading stout, porter, and pales in the state, and they meant to displace BridgePort with Quail Springs. There was no contest--QS was harsh and overly aggressive, with a palate offset by tannic malts. You might have thought you had accomplished something in finishing one; you didn't want another. BridgePort was unalarmed.

I am therefore not surprised that Inversion has crept onto shelves. The brewery apparently feels this beer will win converts without the hype.

Tasting notes
If they're not filtered out, hops will often cloud a beer, and so it was promising to find a murky golden-orange beer pour from the bottle. I expect the beer has some aroma at warmer temperatures, but I could detect but a hint of citrus in my refrigerator-temperature bottle.

As you would expect from a burly IPA like Inversion, the flavors are intense. Hops are the main note (again, as expected), a festival of citrus that contain notes of apricot and spice. The malt offers a nice biscuity complement and the alcohol seems to atomize the aromas in the mouth.

All intense beers are not created equally. Beer geeks love big beers because they do have intense flavors, yet finding the right balance is tricky. It's easy to make a good IPA; hard to make an exceptional one. I've now had two bottles on separate evenings, and my reaction was the same both times--the second the beer hits my tongue, it seems like a fully realized, perfectly harmonious beer. I can't call it a classic after just two bottles, but if I keep having that same reaction, Inversion will definitely be due for an upgrade.

(As for BridgePort, they might not yet be alarmed, but perhaps concerned. Though in truth, BridgePort's interpretation is much lighter and easier to drink in a session. You wouldn't want more than two Inversions.)

Hops: Unknown
Malts: Crystal, caraston (and ?)
Alcohol By Volume: 6.8%
Original Gravity: Unknown
BUs: 75



  1. Are you saying that Deschutes' barrellage-capacity endangers BridgePort should their Inversion take off? It seems like our beer is doing pretty well. There haven't been any drastic packaging changes for awhile (Widmer, Deschutes, Portland Brewing, Full Sail- All have had recent face-lifts) and we're still winning awards for our IPA. I'll have to try an Inversion to make a fair comparison, but until it comes in a 12-pack I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

  2. No. I mean that, in a state where each style has a dominant producer, IPA has been owned by BridgePort. You go to any pub or restaurant in the city, and if they have an IPA on tap, it's almost always BP.

    I don't actually expect Inversion to replace BP. It's too big to become the standard. However, it's good enough that it should start picking up tap handles pretty regularly. I hope--and expect--to start seeing it around town.

  3. I can't remember where I heard it, but my understanding was that Inversion was an answer to market share lost to Terminal Gravity and Lagunitas IPA.

    I love the Inversion, but Bridgeport has nothing to worry about for all the reasons Jeff mentions - it's a darn tasty lawnmowing beer, the standard for drinkable IPAs.