The Specialist is a new barrel-aged reserve series beer from Deschutes Brewery available in 22oz wax dipped bottles only at the brewpubs in Portland and Bend, Oregon. If you remember, their last reserve series pub-only offering was “The Cultivateur” a sublime barrel-aged wild farmhouse saison that was our pick for the Best Oregon Beer of 2014. The Deschutes reserve series also features more well known beers like The Abyss and The Dissident but a smaller more limited batch of beers like Planet Rouge, Big Red and now The Specialist have also sneaked out in even smaller batches.
I merely speculate, but, The Specialist may have some heritage in the new AltBitter collaboration between Widmer Brothers Brewing and Deschutes, or perhaps vice versa. As I wrote about AltBitter, it is a blend of Imperialized versions of Widmer’s Alt and Deschutes Bachelor Bitter aged in Kentucky Bourbon Barrels. The Specialist is Deschutes 4th Pub Reserve Series beer and is also an Imperial Bitter with parts aged in Bourbon, Pinot and Sherry barrels. Was part of this experiment used in the AltBitter? Who knows, but I did happen to pop-in to the Deschutes Portland brewery a few months back when the brewers were trying the single barrel versions of The Specialist and trying to come up with a blend and I can tell you the finished product is a melange of the three that tastes very little like a bitter or English-ale at all anymore.
Veronica Vega, Deschutes Assistant Brewmaster and Head Brewer at the Bend Brewpub says of the Pub Series “This creative outlet is where our brewers are able to dream. It is where we are given the free reign to try something we’ve never done before, fail, learn, and present to you, in rare, barrel-aged, small-batch offerings”
The Specialist surely wont be around much longer at the Deschutes pubs if you want to try it. For a little more background Veronica Vega blogged about the creation here: http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/blog/2015-01-15/bitter