Once in a while, this wine guy gets an opportunity to sample new craft beer releases. I’m happy to have one now to recommend: Red Chair NWPA (Northwest Pale Ale), the new seasonal beer from Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon.

Deschutes says Red Chair (6.2% ABV) is named after the oldest operating lift at Mt. Bachelor. They call it their debut Northwest Pale Ale, though not unlike the last year’s Red Chair IPA. I never tasted the IPA; so, I’ll take their word for it.

This one sits in the glass with a copper color and a loosely foamy head. As I sniff, I pick up hints of citrus, bread, caramel, and herbal lemongrass. Sipping reveals more toast and citrus. Dry, bitter hops emerge but don’t overpower. A malty counterpoint asserts itself then gives way to more hops in the finish.

I relate to it as a cross between an IPA and an American pale ale. It is medium bodied and well balanced, with a hoppy personality moderated by malty qualities. I’m told Red Chair began as an experimental beer to test new hops and hopping techniques. Additionally, seven European and domestic malts are key to the formula. The success of the experiment shows in the final product.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised Red Chair cleaned house the World Beer Awards. The brew will be available from January until April in six- and twelve-packs and on draft throughout the 16 states where Deschutes beer is distributed.

About Rich

I first became interested in wine while I worked in numerous liquor stores during college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the years following college, I researched, tasted, traveled to vineyards in California and Europe, participated in countless tastings. I began writing about wine in 1995 with a column in Out Front Colorado. For me, wine is more than a drink. It is food. It is a connection to the earth. It is culture. There is just something amazing, even magical, about the transformation of grapes into wine. It is also remarkable how drinking wine with food enhances the taste and enjoyment of both. Appreciation of wine has become an integral part of my approach to life, which emphasizes balance, respect for nature, physical and emotional health, and an appreciation of our nature as social beings. In 2006, I was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.