Normally, when two competing companies get together in America, they’re up to no good: dark rooms, whispering, and talks about screwing the consumer. In the beer industry however, the process and outcome is very different. Collage, for example, is a blend of four vastly different beers from two vastly different breweries. Alan Sprints from Portland’s Hair of the Dog brewed batches of Adam and Fred at Deschutes brewery in Bend. In turn, Deschutes Brewery crafted batches of Dissident and Stoic. These beers individually went into several different types of barrels: Rye Whiskey, Cognac, Sherry, Pinot Noir, Bourbon, new American Oak, and new Oregon Oak. After sufficient aging, these barrels were blended together and released in Deschutes collaboration series: Conflux.
Collage was one of the most anticipated beer releases of the year due to die hard fans of both breweries. The consensus was that if the components of this collaboration were so amazing, then the barrel aged blend could be much greater than the sum of its parts. Due to the rarity of this beer, I’ve only had 6 ounces of it so far. It’s hard to make a detailed assessment based on such a small amount of beer, but I can easily say that there is a lot going on. The blend of a strong ale, an old ale, a Belgian-style quad, and a Belgian-style oud bruin results in four huge beers competing for attention. The nose carries sweet, tart, and vanilla aromas. The body has a nice viscous foundation and the taste ranges from sweet to subtly bitter, a mixture of figs, prunes, and black cherries, and lot of barrel contribution: oak, vanilla, bourbon, sherry. This beast is strong in ABV at 11.6%, but in no way hot or overpowering. While I want to taste another right now, my other two bottles will be headed for the cellar and pulled out after the best after date stamped on the bottle: 04/30/2013.
The production run was extremely limited. There may a few bottles left on shelves, so if you see one, grab it. You will be paying a premium for the privilege though with 12oz bottles running about $11. Is it worth it? Every. Last. Penny.
* UPDATE: As of Tuesday May 29th, bottles are still on shelves, but only a handful here and there. I just saw a few at Zupans on SW Macadam, so I assume you can find some at a few other stores as well.