Winter, to borrow a heavily-used catchphrase, is coming, and breweries across Bend are busily preparing their seasonal offerings for what will hopefully be a season heavy on the snow and light on the black ice. In the case of a couple old standbys though, the preparations have been taking place three or four years in advance.
As evidence of this, look no further than Paxton Project. Released by 10 Barrel last week, the latest in the brewery's "Fancy Beer Series" (a title that's nothing if not accurate) is a collaboration between Bend-based brewer Tonya Cornett and Sonoma, California-based chef and beer writer Sean Paxton of homebrewchef.com.
Simply put, it's a Belgian-style imperial quad that's been aged in port wine barrels since November 2012—back in 10 Barrel's "indie" days, so to speak. A couple of different yeasts were used in the fermentation, and the barrels also have flavors of orange, chocolate, and cinnamon in the mix. And alcohol too, considering this sucker clocks in at 16.6 percent ABV—more than most wines. "The layers of flavors we built into the base beer, as well as the alcohol and barrel contributions, have mellowed out over the past four years, creating a cohesive depth of flavor," Cornett says.
Paxton Project is $15 a bottle and available at the Bend pub—but why stop at 16.6 percent when one can move on to 47 percent or so? That's what's on offer from Black Butte Whiskey, a collaboration between Deschutes Brewery and Bendistillery that's also three years in the making.
Team-ups between breweries and distilleries aren't anything new; over in Ireland, Jameson has been doing them for a few years now, sharing barrels with places like Fat Head's and Great Divide Brewing in Denver. Black Butte Whiskey is Bendian through and through; however, a malt whiskey that was double-distilled using the wash from Black Butte Porter. It's great neat or on the rocks, demonstrating ample roast and honey character—something to sip on by the fire after dark. It's $13 for a 1.5oz pour at the brewery or $79 for a 100ml bottle at local liquor stores, just in case you're holiday shopping early.