Drinking Dissident Beer

Ganda Suthivarakom

As is our wont, we SAVEUR editors were working in the office late last night, so Hunter and the kitchen staff left us a big, delicious, comforting pot of Columbian puchero, a hefty stew chock-full of beef, pork, chicken, and cassava. It was warm and filling and hitting the spot — I was wondering what sort of bottle we should open up to sip with it when Beth Kracklauer, our suds-loving deputy editor, blurted out, "Beer! Beer and stew!" Luckily for us, Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery had sent along a bottle of their just-released 2010 reserve brew, The Dissident.

My goodness, what a beer this is! If you're used to lawnmower lagers, when you first find out that this reddish-brown ale is brewed with whole cherries, wild yeast, and souring bacteria, and then long-aged in oak barrels, you might think, "Geez, they threw everything — including the kitchen sink — into this swill." And you might want to dissent from The Dissident.

And then you taste it, and it's just gorgeous: deliciously tart and refreshing like a good Flemish sour, funky as a barnyard with all that brettanomyces yeast, and fruity and full from those cherries, with a nice drying tannic note and some real gravitas from the high-falutin' French wood. Barrel-aged sours like this one are perfect food beers, meant for sipping and for considering how their complex flavors interact with and enhance a meal. Last night's delicious stew was all the better for this crazy quaff.