Lisa Morrison on Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Single-Hop Pale Ale
First Brewed
July 1988
Malt Varieties
Pale, Cristal, Carapils, Munich
Hop Varieties
English Ale yeast
Mirror Pond Pale Ale pairs great with all things cheese - cheese pizza, beer cheese soup and jalapeno cheese dip to name a few. It also pairs well with spice in a variety of ways such as spicy meats, hummus platters or vegetarian kimchi ramen. For dessert, it goes well with spiced flavors like pumpkin pie.
Lisa Morrison on Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale

W hen I first met Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, it was a gloriously sunny late-spring day in the early 1990s.

A few of our beer-loving friends already had tasted this seasonal Deschutes offering, and despite their delighted “warnings” about its hoppiness, the bitterness really took us by surprise. Even back then, the Pacific Northwest was known for its bracingly hoppy beers, but according to our friends, Mirror Pond hit new heights in lupulin levels.  

Perhaps we were giddy from the extra vitamin D in our sun-soaked bodies that lovely spring day, but when those pint glasses came to our table, it seemed like they were filled with sunshine.

We raised our glasses to our lips and it was love at first sip.

A sublime balance of citrus zest, grapefruit and pine with just the right balance of bready malt sweetness to keep it in check, we simply couldn’t get enough of Mirror Pond Pale Ale – but we certainly tried that whole summer.

The seasons changed; Portland’s summer-blue skies turned the more ubiquitous gray, bringing the stereotypical drizzle. Mirror Pond’s wintry sister, Jubelale, started making an appearance. And while Jubel’s richer, maltier, warming notes were welcomed, many of us weren’t ready to say farewell to Mirror Pond until spring. Upon realizing that I would be waiting months for that glorious nectar to once again touch my lips, I recall experiencing a funk that, until then, I had only felt when forced to buy those sad, anemic tomatoes at the grocery store for the first time after enjoying my homegrown ones all summer long.

So later, with spring flowers pushing up through the Portland mud, we began to anticipate Mirror Pond’s arrival. I hesitate to admit it now, but I became a “chaser.” I’d call – daily! – all the places that we suspected would be getting those first kegs of Mirror Pond, hoping to be among the first to find it. It became a bit of an obsession. And, finally, my dogged determination paid off! The sun started shining again, and, like that lovely Central Oregon lake that is its namesake, Mirror Pond Pale Ale once again reflected those glorious sunny days in our glasses.

Apparently, we weren’t the only ones seeking Mirror Pond, and perhaps all the hounding paid off. In 1996, Deschutes graduated Mirror Pond to year-round status, and around that same time Mirror Pond joined its sibling, Black Butte Porter, as the co-flagship beer for Deschutes.

Lisa Morrison.

Is it legit for a brewery to change or add a flagship beer? Why not? Times change, tastes change, beers change. Heck, a Deschutes representative I spoke with while making arrangements to pour Mirror Pond for #FlagshipFebruary at my beer bar, Belmont Station (ironically, one of the places I’d frequently pester in my beer-chasing days), said they also now consider their current best-seller, Fresh Squeezed IPA, as a “third flagship” beer.

People change, too. These days, I spend very little time writing about beer, but I still love turning people on to great beer and it is my bar that now provides me a vehicle for doing just that. Today, I am the one answering phone calls from chasers, and I smile as I detect the excitement in their voices as they ask whether a certain beer has shown up. I love seeing the anticipation on their faces when that perfect pint is placed in front of them.

More than 20 years might have passed since I scoured Portland’s beer bars in search of the first Mirror Pond of the season, but the memory of that simple joy still makes me happy, as does the beer itself. In the cacophony of never-ending new releases and ever-changing beer styles, these old standbys sometimes get overlooked. I’m just as guilty as the next beer lover: Until I put Mirror Pond on tap at Belmont Station for #FlagshipFebruary, I couldn’t have told you the last time I enjoyed one. But there it was, a glass of Mirror Pond in front of me – crisp, clean, uncomplicated. And despite the stereotypical gray skies of a Portland winter’s day, I could’ve sworn I saw sunshine radiating from my pint glass as I took that first delicious sip.

Lisa Morrison is a veteran beer writer, educator and evangelist based in Portland, Ore. She is currently co-owner of Belmont Station Bottle Shop and Biercafe, where she still loves to “talk beer” with anyone who will listen.

Flagship beers were chosen by the individual writers with no input from the #FlagshipFebruary partners or sponsor breweries.

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