Deschutes, Jubelale Review
Looking for a great winter beer to get you through those freezing cold winters? Deschute Jubelale just might be the one for you.
By Ron Scott on Mar. 25, 2016
Winter is upon us yet again, and with it come the winter ale offerings from nearly every brewery, including the legendary Deschutes Jubelale. As the various pumpkin-infused autumn beers begin to fade from store shelves, they’re almost instantly replaced by their darker and more belly-warming counterparts. It’s long past the time to set aside those citrusy pale ales and light lagers and delve into some bottles of heavier, more robust beers.
A Brief Deschutes Jubelale History
Sometimes, it pays to go with something from a very well established brewery, as Deschutes has proven here. Originally crafted by John Harris (who now runs Ecliptic Brewing in Portland), this ale was first brewed in 1988 and bottled by hand by a staff of only ten. Since then, things have changed a lot for Deschutes. Bottling was moved to Portland in 1990 until the new production facility in Bend was ready in 1993. The recipe has never changed, however, and the team at Deschutes has kept this beer true to form for 27 years.
This is essentially a take on a holiday punch called Wassail (rhymes with fossil). The word originates from the Old English, “Waes Hael”, meaning to be whole, or of good health. This was considered to be the appropriate toast when offering drinks. It was also the go-to beverage to serve carolers (or wassailers) who’d come ‘round to spread holiday joy.
There have been many variations on the style over the years, but it has always been a fruity, spiced concoction, usually served warm. It would typically include baked apples and be similar to a mulled cider, but more recently its style has been adopted by beer makers who’ve leaned more toward darker fruit flavours, like fig and plum.
The packaging on the Deschutes Jubelale bottles had remained relatively similar from its initial run in ’88 until ’95, when Deschutes decided to highlight the work of local artists by commissioning a completely different piece of winter-themed art to adorn the label each year. The familiar faces of winter are almost always present. Think skiers, snowballs, and ice skaters. This process is overseen by owner and president Gary Fish, and the artist is selected as early as January, when the recent batch is (in some cases) still on store shelves. The team carefully reviews multiple portfolios and stipulates only that it must be “different and distinct, festive and wintery, and will look brilliant on a label”.
This year, Deschutes has commissioned local Bend, Oregon artist Taylor Rose to design their festive packaging. It features some hikers along a river filled with trout. Rose used digital tools as well as traditional artistic means such as watercolor, pen, and ink to create this year’s work. Commenting on her final product, Rose said, “I wanted this illustration to be all about the beauty of adventuring on a cold snowy night. It’s called ‘First Tracks First Cast’ because there’s nothing more special than fresh snow, cold water, and company. I’m so honored to be amongst such a fantastic family of Jubelale artists.”
Deschutes Jubelale Review
At 6.7% abv and clocking in at 65 IBU, Deschutes Jubelale is certainly sturdy enough to warm the soul on a chilly winter night! This lovely ale pours a deep amber with a light beige head. The dark fruit flavor definitely runs the show in tandem with the medium to heavy malt profile (where crystal malts are front and center), followed by a bit of spice on the finish.
Deschutes makes finding this excellent ale easy for you, offering a tool on their website to show you which locations nearest you offer this beer, either bottled or on tap. Available now through the end of the year.
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