Not to re-review, but I got some samples of this year's bottling of Deschutes Red Chair...and that's where I have to stop typing. Because last year it was Red Chair IPA, as you can see to the right. And now Deschutes is calling it Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, as you can see to the left (and bottling in 12 oz.). Well...mostly they're calling it that, as you can see on the label and on their website. But as you can see on their website, they're still calling it Red Chair IPA.
"But Lew," you say, "that's just a blog entry from when they first introduced it, before the shaming of hop-crazed Cascadians forced them to ratchet down the labeling from an IPA because the hop resins contained in this delicious brew didn't leave scar tissue on drinkers' tongues! Don't hold Deschutes responsible!" Okay, maybe that's just a blog entry...but what about this? This is where Deschutes shows their Bond Street Series of "hop-forward ales," and where Red Chair (IPA) is shown as the May to September seasonal. (And don't tell me that's just at the pub, either: it's showing a 22 oz. bottle, instead of the 12 oz., and the NWPA entry shows Red Chair as the January to April seasonal.).
So what's going on? Are the beers different? Did they change Red Chair? Is it...less hoppy? Well...no. The beers are the same, just a different label. I'm deliberately making a mountain out of a molehill -- come on, we all know it's just that Deschutes hasn't got the kinks of the product switch to 12 oz./name change/portfolio shift out of their website, and who really cares: it's the same beer, and it's available three months earlier, so yay, you know? -- so I get a chance to tell you again...this effin' beer rocks, no matter what it says on the label. I mean, damn, this is some excellent, great-drinking beer, and I wish I had more than one bottle left. I wish really hard. Yum. Thanks, Deschutes. (Is it time for Twilight yet?)
Update: well...I was wrong. It is a different recipe. The "Northwest Pale Ale" is actually hoppier than the IPA version, at least, more IBUs. I did have that last bottle last night, though, and it definitely does taste great.
All opinions expressed on this blog are strictly my own; they do not reflect those of the publications for which I work.
I've been a full-time drinks writer since 1996. Currently I'm managing editor of Whisky Advocate magazine; a regular writer for Ale Street News and Massachusetts Beverage Business magazine; and author of four regional brewery guidebooks. Next time you see me at a bar or event or distillery, say hi.