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Belt’s Beer Garden: Just Deschute Me

Descutes’ Only Slightly Exaggerated & Hop Henge

Deschutes is one of those breweries that I really enjoy. I’ve checked in over 30 of their brews on Untappd and end up trying almost every new beer I see from them available in my area. But, somehow, I have neglected to write about them these past five years doing BBG.

The Bend, Oregon brewery has been around since 1988 and can be found in nearly 60% of the States (29 of 50). They have been featured three times on here, most recently in early August, but before that, I hadn’t written about them in over four years. And, to apologize for that long gap between reviews, I wanted to make up for that by having both beers today come from Deschutes.

Today I have one of their newer releases, Only Slightly Exaggerated. This collaboration with Travel Oregon was brewed with Amarillo, Sabro, Triskel, and #431 hops. A six pack runs $9 with each bottle packing a 6% ABV and 50 IBU.

After that I have their Hop Henge Imperial IPA, which packs a punch with an 8.3% ABV and 90 IBU. Hop Henge has massive amounts of Centennial, Chinook, Cascade, and Galaxy hops and costs $10 per six-pack.

Up first, Only Slightly Exaggerated.

This IPA poured a slightly cloudy copper straw color with a very little amount of head building up. The airy, eggshell white foam never reached a fingers’ length up and quickly disappeared, leaving just a few bubbles in a ring around the edge of the glass.

On the nose, this brew smelled very light and a little watery. Citrus and floral notes lead the way, with notes of hibiscus, pine, and a slew of fruits (like mango, lemon, and tangerine) peaking through. Behind is a light malt backing with some sweeter bready notes.

My first taste began with a light rush of carbonation that prickles the back of my tongue before fading. The beer is on the lighter side and has a more water and thinner mouthfeel to it.

From there, the juicy flavors begin to take hold. And, as the aroma had foretold, it was the lemon, tangerine, and mango that lead the way. However, there is a coconut flavor that really kicks in midway through and is quite the unexpected addition.

You don’t see many IPA getting coconut flavors without them actually adding the fruit into the beer itself. So, the fact that there’s such a big pop of coconut strictly from the hops is quite interesting. However, it mixes in really well and adds a unique flavor to this brew.

But the taste, like the smell, is rather subdued and features more subtle characteristics that blend into an easy-to-drink IPA – especially for those that aren’t fans of bitter ones. It’s a great starter level IPA.

As the beer progresses, the hops start to show off their other characteristics too. Those floral notes appear in the second half and merge with some light pine before the beer starts its decent.

Slightly Exaggerated finishes on the drier side and has a lingering hoppy twinge with some citrus rind bitterness to it that slowly fades away after everything else.

Overall though, this was another winner from Deschutes. If you aren’t sure about IPAs or are trying to get into them…this is certainly the beer for you! It’s easy drinking, has lots of great flavors, and the price is certainly right.

After that lighter IPA, it’s time to step it up a notch. Next I have their Hop Henge Imperial IPA that’s geared more towards hop-heads.

This DIPA poured a deep copper, almost amber, color with just over a finger of white bubbles building up. The head lingered for a little while before fading into a light dusting across the top, lacing the glass in some spots as it does so.

Hop Henge doesn’t try to hide the massive amount of hops it has packed inside. The aroma features bold notes of resinous citrus – peach, papaya, and grapefruit – along with white grapes and, interestingly enough, black licorice. Behind the hops some caramel and biscuity malts that try to balance the beer out (which they most likely won’t).

The first swig begins with some light carbonation before beer, which has a heavier, thicker mouthfeel, attacks my taste buds.

Those hops blast my tongue with a hoppy bitterness basically from the moment my palate can register them. However, despite the early assault, a lot of really good flavors begin to come through.

Sure, there’s the typical pine and resinous coat across my tongue that accompany a lot of beers with this level of hoppiness…but there are also a lot of other great aspects and flavors that slowly begin to creep forward.

Joining the sticky resin and pine are some stone fruit flavors (apricot and peach), grapefruit rind, and a brut-like white grape aspect that only shows up every few sips or so. There is a peppery spice that is joined by the black licorice flavor later on before the tastes begin to fade.

The hops aren’t the only ingredients in the beer though. The malts do pop up towards the backend with notes of caramel, toffee, and a bready sweetness that does well to eliminate some of the bitterness but nowhere near all of it.

As Hop Henge starts to fade away, the bitterness quickly departs as well. There is a moderate dryness and some of that clingy resinous feeling left behind but none of the hop flavors or bitterness stick around.

I can see this being a difficult beer for those that don’t like IPAs or hops…but if you do, Hop Henge is one of the better Imperial IPAs available year-round. You get a multitude of flavors from the hops, a manageable bitterness, and a very clean finish. Plus, the higher ABV is completely hidden and isn’t even noticeable until the booze hits you with a nice buzz as you’re nearing the end of the bottle

If you hate hoppy beers, this isn’t the beer for you…but, if you’re a hop-head like me, this is a very, very good Imperial IPA.

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