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Mirror Mirror - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
Mirror MirrorMirror Mirror

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,419 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,419
Reviews: 481
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 9.91%
Wants: 440
Gots: 596 | FT: 93
Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: waltonc on 04-29-2009

30 IBU

Bottled/kegged vintages:
2005 - Released February 2006
2009 - Released April 2009
2014 - Released April 2014
View: Beers (116) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,419 | Reviews: 481 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Vdubb86
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage

Thanks to hannydawg for this beer (correct me if someone else brought it)

This beer pours an orange body, very light foam on the head. This beer smells as if some brett funk has gotten into it. There is some clementine on the nose as well, but the musty brett smell is actually working pretty well with this beer. The taste has brett in it, but it comes out like a caramelized saison. I rather enjoy the level of funk that comes with this beer, I thought that it meant that I wouldn't enjoy it. I was pleasantly surprised by this mistake and would definitely have it again if I could be promised this level of brett in the beer, to which I found much delight.

Photo of mjyoung
4.72/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drank 2/2/11. Sat on this one for awhile before drinking. I drank it fresh, but neglected to review it.

A: A deep amber color, very pretty. This beer catches the light quite well and has a nice, thick lingering head.

S: Sweet caramel and honey notes with an underlying hint of hops. There's also the ever-present smell of oak barrels. Superb.

T: Finishes with a hint of alcohol heat (8 months after the best after date!), but has aged PHENOMENALLY! After hearing from a few folks with tainted batches I was slightly concerned, but there's no hint of brett. There's a slight hint of fruit (apricot?), but dominated by the oak overtones and liquor. I love it. I can't wait to try the other bottles I'm sitting on...

M: Smooth and creamy, perfectly carbonated. It's probably lost a little bit since it was bottled, but I didn't review it fresh so I can't be positive. Very good.

O: FANTASTIC. That sums it up rather well...

Photo of arizcards
4.52/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bomber from Magnum's in September 2009 for $12.49. Best after April 2010.

Beer poured a reddish brown with a decent head on the initial pour.

Nose is wonderful, toasted oak, floral hops, and raisons are prevelant.

Taste is near perfection, raisons and some light brown sugar compliment the huge malt backbone. The floral hops are strong enough to nicely compliment.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, creamy, chewy, perfect for sipping.

Overall this beer is a gem. I have patiently waited for some time. It was well worth it! This bottle was definitely not infected with brett as others have reported!

Photo of claspada
4.29/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I have had both the infected an non-infected batches so I will compare them below. The rating is for the non-infected version.
2009 courtesy of HimerMan via massive 3 case trade.
Aromas are quite "thick" and complex. Dark robust toffee and caramel maltiness with still a substantial amount of pungent earthy hops, although they are not quite discernible because they have mellowed and are masked by the heavy maltiness. As it warms you get a little vanilla and more discernible breadiness and faint oak and alcohol as well.
The taste is so vindicating after sampling the infected batch earlier this year. Waves of bready and dark caramel and brown sugar and maltiness assaults your palate. Luscious is the only proper descriptor; a little orange blossom honey flavors mixed in as well. The hops add a little bitterness on the backend but only helps to keep the malt balanced. As it warms you get some more of the vanilla and toast from the oak and the alcohol comes out a little as well but adds a nice bite, not offensive at all. Mild dark fruitiness of plum linger in the background.
Mouthfeel is thick and chewy but unlike some syrupy barleywines (which I tend to dislike), this has full and ample carbonation which only adds to the drinkability and enjoyment on my tongue. Overall this is stupendous and one of the best barleywines I have ever had. You may have to take the risk to acquire one despite numerous being reported infected.

2009 Version in a trade. Shout out to ericb18 for the trade. (Unfortunately infected)
Aromas of... woah Brett. Tons of cherry and fruitiness. Disaster, but this could still be good we'll see. Tart sourness and light oakiness is also present on the nose. I can detect some alcohol phenols as well.
The taste begins with a solid toffee and brown sugar maltiness. Next you get a slight bid of tart sour cherries and an orange citrus tang. The brett infection has clearly overtaken the flavors here but the beer is still good. I have to ding the rating because the flavors are clearly not what the brewer intended them to be over 2 years ago when this was brewed. As I enjoy and sip this seriously thick monster, I can appreciate the wood aging flavors more and more and the solid/flavorful toasted breadiness becomes more apparent.
Mouthfeel is seriously full still and quite sticky because of the high ABV and underlying alcohol. The Brett allows this to finish extremely crisp and dry despite the high ABV. Above average carbonation, especially for such a high ABV offering. This is the second 2 year aged beer (Ithaca Old Habit Rye Ale) that I have had which was infected with Brett but I still totally enjoyed. I thought I hated sour beers, but hey I use to hate high IBU beers as well. I guess if it is adequately malted no beer is off limits for my palate. On second thought I am not going to judge this beer to style just as it tastes and it's still quite tasty. Bring on the sours!!!
Addition: This becomes exponentially too sour and harder to drink so I am lowering my overall and mouthfeel ranking to correspond.
Infected rating: 4 - 3.5 - 3.5 - 3.5 - 4.

Photo of waltonc
1.78/5  rDev -58%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

If by "imperial series," deschutes means "infected," then this beer is as advertised. This beer was great when fresh, but fell off a cliff in spite of the label's claim that this it should be aged. Smells heavily of cilantro, as well as a dash of orange and mint. An unfortunate combination that spoils any enjoyment I would have otherwise derived from sipping this brew - which otherwise could be slightly enjoyable in spite of the brett funk (a la BA Dipsea w/Brett). Unfortunately the cacophony of of clashing notes in the small makes this bottle of Mirror Mirror undrinkable.

Overall, yet another deschutes disaster. I look forward to Deschutes hopefully turning it around this year with the Black Butte XXIII release.

Photo of Gushue3
4.55/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from a trade with HEADYGLASSdotcom

A- Pours a red/amber out of the bottle and sits dark cloudy red/rusty color with big white head. Good head retention and moderate retention

S- Sweeter smell at first. Malt and caramel more prevalent as it warms. A tiny slight bit of tartness after its warmed up .

T- Sweet upfront with caramel and and malt with a little bit of hops in the middle. finishes sweet and lingers with a sweet and bitterness.

M- big on the mouth. Heavier mouthfeel that feels creamy as well. very smooth.

O- Awesome. Looks great, tastes great and feels even better. There might be a little funk in here but I'm really glad i kept this one... Wouldnt mind more of this to let sit.

Photo of litheum94
3.6/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Note: this is clearly one of the infected bottles, but I found the flavors interesting enough to review.

2009 bottling. Best after 4/20/2010. Reviewed on 2/15/11.

Reddish-brown body. Big frothy brown head that settles to a thin cover.

Brett infection was evident as soon as I opened the bottle, as the sour aromas started fuming out. Underneath that are tones of oak and bourbon. Some vague fruit tones.

Big, Brett sourness. Tart and dry. The original beer is lurking underneath. Oak, caramel, bready malts, bourbon and hops all have a presence. At first, the sourness is jarring. But as the beer warms and my tongue acclimates to the Brett, the flavors actually start working really well together. The sourness and the barrel flavors work especially well together.

I know this isn't the beer that Deschutes envisioned, but it turned out pretty good. The sourness and the hop bitterness are almost in a battle with each other, and the other flavors fill in the holes. It would be nice to see a brewery attempt a sour barley wine...

Photo of TMoney2591
3.33/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a tulip glass.

Thanks to Alpar for sharing this bottle!

I will resist the urge to make the Snow White reference here...but not the urge to mention it. So there. Anyway, this stuff pours a murky ruby-amber topped by about a half-finger or so of off-white foam. The nose comprises vague horse blanket brett, ruby reg grapefruit, orange zest, and a healthy dose of caramel. The taste holds notes of brett (now more spider-webby than horse blankety), orange flesh, mashed potatoes, parsley, and caramel. Gotta say, this was not a very pleasant flavor combination here. The body is a hefty-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a dry finish. Overall, I was in no way impressed with this brew. It wasn't entirely bad, per se, but I do not feel like partaking again in the near future.

Photo of thagr81us
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared during a small Charlotte BA tasting with marine1975, caSSino, CarolinaKevin, and GehenHerzog. I picked this one up while out in Cali for the Bruery RS Party, so I have to thank womencantsail for shipping it over to me! 2009 Vintage! Served from bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Poured red-orange with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, wood, and a sour note (uh oh...). The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, slight sour (at least it was only slight), wood, and peat. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was okay, but it definitely had some sort of infection in it. The sour aspect did fade slightly upon warming up but was definitely still present. The aroma and flavors were decent, but definitely not awe-inspiring. Would love to try one that isn't infected/off in the future for comparison.

Photo of angrybabboon
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review adapted from notes taken 9/19/10

Appearance: Light brown, very hazy and intimidating - epic-level head that leaves memorable lacing

Smell: Kind of smells like a sugary dark bread, but it's more complex than that - there is alcohol in the nose, but it is buried under caramel and hints of dark fruits

Taste: Simply put, this is everything I could ever want in a barleywine - borderline ridiculous malts that kind of taste like biscuits thrown into a blender - caramel, toffee, bread crust, brown sugar, toasted notes - sweet, but the sweetness works with the intense level of malt - some subtle hops for slight balance, but this is clearly intended to be a malt bomb - some dark fruits and alcohol, too

Mouthfeel: So heavy that it kind of reminds me of maple syrup if maple syrup didn't have a maple flavor - viscous and smooth, perhaps a bit much

Overall: Amazing, but not something I could drink everyday

Drinking this was like eating a meal. When I had it, it was the best barleywine I had ever had. Currently, it is still at the top of that list. It's complex and extremely heavy, but all of the flavors work well together.

Photo of cosmicevan
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 reserve. Thanks to 2beerornot2beer for hooking it up!

a - Deschutes is a classy brewery. Presentation of a waxed bottle with a classy label is a great start (and a bit of a pain to open). As I pried the wax off (which was double layered) and began to open the beer, foam started creeping from the now cracked top. As I got it open there was a soft explosive foaming but was controllable and I quickly filled my oversized snifter with the reddish almost pinkish fluid which had a generous frothy cream colored head. Lacing was present but left traces and not full evidence of it's former presence. Beer is attractive.

s - I could immediately smell the beer as soon as it opened. Fruity tart caramel and vanilla malt smells. Oak is present as is a variety of caramel and tart candy.

t - Bold vanilla oak flavor at first. Finished a bit sour/tart. Very caramel and toffee flavored with a big boozy oak bourbon tint as well. This beer is no joke, but the booze is hot.

m - Tingly from booze and somewhat heavy.

o - Overall, in the handful of Deschutes beers that I've been fortunate enough to sample, I have noticed a consistent vanilla caramel twist or flavor on everything that they do...and I dig it. It adds a nice touch of class to the beer and is a flavor that is very pleasant to me. Mirror mirror is another beer to solidify my thoughts that Deschutes is a world class brewery. Every beer wreaks of quality. This is a fantastic barleywine and it is nice to taste a barleywine with a big vanilla and oak dominance. Another winner.

Photo of Retsinis
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally popped one of the two bottles I have. Been looking forward to trying this one for a while.

The bottle is of course waxed dipped sealed, and after clearing off the black wax & popping the 2009 cellared bottle, I poured the beer from the 22oz bomber into a Bruery tulip glass.

The beer pours a deep orange amber copper brown, with a ruby red hue. A small, but nice tan head very lightly rose a half inch, then faded quickly, which left some nice lacing on the glass.

Strong aromas of caramel, floral hops (surprising after two years) and oak. The alcohol is barely detectable, great aroma for the barley wine style.

The flavors in the taste are balanced and layered. Flavors of oak, bourbon, brown sugar, toffee, caramel, and even the hops still come through as kiss of herbs or dipped pine needles.

I don't get a whiff of infection, but if it has any, it has only enhanced the flavor profile. Some warmth from the alcohol, but it is well masked.

The mouth feel is full bodied, thick, and creamy. Lightly carbonated, but just right for the style and the age. Smooth as hell.

Overall, one of the better barley wines out there. Great balance, well masked heat, and layered flavors notes. It has cellared well, and looks as though it will continue too, glad I still have another bottle.

Photo of csmiley
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Muchos gracias prototypic

A - Pours medium amber with a slight red tint. The medium tan head rises to about 2 fingers and sticks around for a couple minutes before diminishing to a decent sized cap. Lacing is average. So far so good.

S - The words tart and sweet come to mind. Sweet is dominant though. Starts with cooked caramel and dark fruit. Some light citrus comes into the picture with hints of blood orange. Midway it shifts to apple and pear aromas. It's funky on the tail end. The apple turns overly tart and earthy notes finish it off - oak and mustiness. Alcohol is present midway to finish.

T - Flavor starts out malty with caramel, sweet bread and fig. Some tea shows as well. Alcohol is much more noticeable in the flavor. Oak is fairly constant and plays a nice supporting role in the overall flavor. Raisin and plum come through in the middle. It's funky on the end just like the aroma. Some sour apple and old wood. It actually works out pretty well.

M - Fuller bodied with medium carbonation. Finish is warm and complex with complimentary notes of both sweet and sour.

D - Drinkability is impressive given the abv and obvious infection. Expectations were on the low side and I must say I'm shocked at how much I enjoyed this brew. At 11%, it's a one and done beer. I'd definitely give this another try though. I think Deschutes is onto something here (even though it wasn't intentional). Barrel aged wild barleywine.

Photo of Rayek
4.42/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a 2009 bottle decanted into my favorite snifter, after a great struggle removing the thick wax covering the cap.

A: Deep copper with a significant haze. A small, but dense copper hued cap falls fairly quickly to a patchwork film. Leaves a fair amount of lace.

S: Extremely vinous at first. Toffee, pine, leather and oak join with the dark fruits to create nice complexity. Alcohol adds a light brandy-like tingle.

T: The nose falls seamlessly into the flavor. Bittersweet toffee, raisins and prunes provide sweetness. Bitterness is pronounced, but not too powerful. It packs a pine and black tea bite. The oak comes on late to aid the pine flavor. Alcohol adds a system permeating warmth, but not a ton of heat to the flavor. Finishes with a lingering bitterness, plus some toffee.

M: The heavy body is dense and a little chewy. The carbonation level could stand being a little less vigorous.

D: This is an excellent barleywine. The flavors are extremely well balanced, while the alcohol is well masked outside of the warmth it brings to the body. The aging made for a very smooth and easy drinking nightcap.

Photo of prototypic
3.9/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 Reserve

I heard this was infected recently. Might as well get to it.

Mirror is a bright copper color. It's quite hazy, and has quite the crimson look when held to light. A soft, off-white head covers the surface. It never stretched over a finger in depth, and was relatively quick to recede. Lacing was light.

One whiff reveals this bad boy is indeed infected. The funk is definitely present. Honestly, it still smells pretty good. I know it's not there intentionally, but I like it. I do. There's a nice, strong caramel malt base. It smells a little sweet. The barrel aging certainly imparted a strong oak character on the nose. There might be a little vanilla, but it's tough to tell through the funk. Alcohol is noted, but isn't too strong for 11%. Honestly, it still smells good to me.

The flavor is likewise pretty friggin' impressive...even though infected. Funk seems to be present first and foremost. It has that classic barnyard thing going for it. There's a certain amount of muskiness, as well. Caramel malts are sweet and provide a sturdy base. The clash of caramel and funk is a little odd, but it tastes good. It really does. Oak comes through fairly strong and adds character. Light vanilla is noted as well. Fruit flavors of grapefruit and orange are noted. They add depth and work well with the other flavors. Alcohol definitely comes through. It doesn't feel too hot, but you can taste it. Nonetheless, good stuff. Who knew this would still be damn tasty being infected?

Mirror, Mirror has a full body that's nice and smooth. Carbonation seems light and helps in that department. I wouldn't go so far as creamy, but it's not far off. Drinkability is above average. Despite the infection, this is a pretty tasty beer. The flavor is big and intense. Nevertheless, the abv is big and the flavor doesn't hide it that well.

I regret not jumping on this bottle earlier. But, I must say that it's impressive for an infected beer. The funky flavor works surprisingly well with the English Barleywine elements. I'd love to try a fresh, non-infected bottle for comparison. Speaking for this infected release, don't shy away from it. It's surprisingly good.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Behavior is a mirror in which everyone displays his own image."

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

2009 Reserve. Gorgeously glowing maraschino cherry red when backlit with the fiery ball of the rising sun. The upper third of the snifter is filled with a creamy chunk of toasted almond colored froth that is impressively long-lived, especially given the ABV and the barrel-aging.

The aroma is classic pale-malted American barleywine. Golden orchard fruit macerated in its corresponding fruit brandy is the olfactory focus. Oak isn't appreciated at this point in the proceedings (35% aged in oak barrels).

Mirror Mirror gets its name from the fact that it's essentially a doubling of the Mirror Pond Pale Ale recipe. My preference is for more mid-range (caramel malty) and slightly darker barleywines, but this one could be interesting. After all, Deschutes is one of the best in the business.

First of all, this big beast has aged exceptionally well. It's interesting that the label has a 'best after' date (4/20/10) rather than a 'best before' date. If the mouthfeel hangs in there, it should be good until well into 2012... and beyond.

Specifics include sticky-sweet apricots with a thin caramel coating, orange and grapefruit zest, a modest amount of oakiness, and a splash of top-shelf brandy. Warming brings out more flavor intensity, a few more flavor nuances, and smooths out whatever (very slight) rough edges were present during the first several ounces.

The mouthfeel was most likely a solid 4.5 when the bottle was newly waxed. Nearly two years since the release has almost certainly have taken some toll in terms of size and viscosity. It's still damn good and makes the beer a pleasure to sip and savor.

Even though Mirror Mirror Reserve 2009 doesn't rise the stratospheric heights of their finest ales, Deschutes has done a great job with this primarily pale-malted American barleywine. Here's hoping Reserve 2012 is in the works at this very moment.

Photo of corby112
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage

Pours a dark mahogany/chestnut brown color with golden orange hues when held to a light and a two finger yellowish beige head that has good retention, only slowly fading into a lasting ring that leaves rings and spots of soapy lacing behind.

Earthy, leathery malt aroma with a prominent barrel character as well as hints of toffee, hazelnut, rye, biscuit, sweet alcohol and dark fruit notes. Lots of earthy oak tannis and strong vanilla presence in the nose. I'm also picking up hints of raisin, fig and plum.

Medium bodied with soft carbonation up front and slight oxidization. There's a good balance of earthy oak, smooth vanilla extract, toffee, rye and caramel. The oak flavor is very strong and slightly overtakes the sweet malt character. There is some sweet alcohol flavor but the ABV is well masked with no heat or warmth in the finish.

This beer would have been amazing but the slight oxidization leaves a lingering aftertaste that is slightly metallic/sour/cardboard like. It is very faint right now but I can see this beer becoming awful if it develops much further. It's only slightly evident up front but as I go through the bomber the aftertaste becomes more displeasing. Considering it's faults this beer still tastes pretty good but I would recommend drinking your '09s sooner rather than later.

Photo of Stigs
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, split. served in Tulips.

A - pours with a short lived thin layer or offwhite foam, settles to a ring with some random wet spots of lace around the glass. the beer is slightly cloudy, burnt amber in color.

S - tons of caramel, plums and figs, booze...lacking some depth

T - very sweet, with rich caramel malts dominating and bringing some honey soaked bread, oak, and vanilla. hops are turning slightly stale and oxidizing, but in a good way. hefty dose of alcohol still near the end. this *may* have a slight bit on infection noted in the vintage, as there are some present slightly tart fruit notes and a bit of aspirin, though its not distracting and slightly complimentary.

M - medium bodied with fizzy moderate carbonation. finishes well on the dry side from the sweetness, which is cut into sharply by a burning alcohol sensation.

D - solid all-around, though maybe i cracked this a little too soon, fearing the worst. the flavors and especially scents are still a bit muddled and struggling to be noticed.

Photo of sprucetip
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes. 09 bottle reviewed in late spring or early summer of 2010. Beautiful, active, clear, with copper/amber/reddish color. Fizzy white-ish head fades fast and leaves no lacing.

Richly sweet and caramel malty, but with layers of fruity and floral hoppy goodness adding depth. Fairly boozy and hot, but this should fade with time. ... some peaty/smoky notes emerge late.

Like the nose, very rich with sweet caramel maltyness. Moderate hoppy bitterness and hot boozy influence are also strong, with fruity hop flavors mostly buried. Very good, but again, likely to get much better.

Stings a little from the heat and possibly carbonation. This mellows into a thick, viscous richness, followed by emergent bitterness and a drying finish.

'Tis a sipper, for sure, but a very special tasty one. Heaps of complexity. Pretty well balanced. I'm glad I've got a few of this batch aging.

Photo of BigTomZ
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage

A: Pours a deep murky amber or copper color with just under 2 fingers of head.

S: Smells malty with caramel and dark fruits. No signs of infection, just a good barleywine.

T: Taste follows the nose. Malty with caramel, raisins, figs, and some hops still present. Some alcohol heat is present, but with a high ABV and less than 2 years on it I expected that.

M: Definitely thick and a bit sweet, but no more so than expected for the style.

D: Adequate carbonation make this pretty drinkable for a slower drinking style. I had no problem finishing a bomber and would have had no problem polishing off another.

Photo of MasterSki
3.95/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Decided to bring this to the Goose Island bottle share after hearing of the infection issues. Best AFTER 4/20/10. Served in a taster glass. Thanks to Nanoslug for the bottle.

A - Pours with a finger of yellowish foam that features good retention, and leaves behind spotty lace, a thin cap, and a thick collar. Nearly opaque orange-brown body.

S - Bread, toffee, booze-soaked cake, light alcohol, and a faint oak and vinous note which I think is from the barrel-aging and NOT infection. Most of the citrus aroma that this had on-tap has dissipated, but the backbone is heavier in grain character and is not overly sweet. There is a faint bit of sweet oxidation character that is complementary.

T - Taste is initially caramel and vanilla sweetness, then morphs into bready malt, light alcohol, and finishes with some residual hop bitterness, and a faint vinous sour note which I attribute to the French Oak wine barrels.

M - This is one of the thickest beers I've had in recent memory. Full-body that is chewy and heavy on the palate. Sufficient carbonation tingle keeps this from being a chore to drink. The sensation lingers but isn't overly sticky. There is some residual warmth after a few ounces.

D - This is a pretty solid beer, but could actually benefit from a little more time in the cellar. Unfortunately, with the publicized brett infection it'd be a serious gamble to sit on bottles any further. I've never been blown away by this beer, but I would order it if I saw it on-tap somewhere. Alcohol keeps it to "sipper" level status.

The being said, I think people are attributing the wine barrel-aging characteristics to infection, when it's actually intended by the brewers. Brett infection will lead to overcarbonation and gushing (as the brettanomyces converts residual sugars to CO2), as well as off-flavors (band-aids, horse, cheese), and a thinned out body - none of those were observed here.

Photo of OakedCanuck
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter

I cracked this one the very same day I found out about a possible infection. I couldn't detect anything that would be indicative of any sourness. This dark red to brownish beer has a decent sized head on it that dissipated after a few minutes. The nose and taste go hand in hand (or I guess it would be mouth and nose!). Lots of sweetness on both the nose and palate, with candied sugar hanging out at the back. Dark fruits, vanilla, and distinct woodiness to it lends to a nice strong mouthfeel. You almost feel like you have to work at this beer, like it is challenging you to conquer it. Awesome beer, can't really say much else.

Photo of tewaris
4.21/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

English Barleywine (my opinion)
30 IBUs

22 oz "bomber" with a best after date of 04/20/10 poured into a snifter on 02/03/11. Was thinking of holding on to it longer but infection talk around this one had me wanting to get the most outta the $12.99+tax that I spent on this one. Having had it I say it was money well spent!

Deep, glowing, reddish-copper colored with good clarity, Mirror Mirror poured with a big light tan head that had surprisingly good retention and lacing. The head never really went away although it shrunk into rather bubbly clusters. Amidst all the news of infection, I am wondering if this could be a borderline case with all that nice bubbles on it. Regardless, the looks are perfect. Oh, and did I mention that the label is one of the classiest?!

Admittedly, I was fishing for funk in the aroma, of which I didn't get any. A relief. What I got were strong notes of dark fruit and brandy. Soft oak, lots of toffee, massive caramel, and some alcohol that gets sharper with warmth. Plenty of sweetness too. I can't say why is it classified as an American Barleywine because to me it smells like a solid English Barleywine, and Deschutes too lists pretty low IBUs on this one (merely 30; compare that against 90 IBUs on Bigfoot).

Dried fruit's peel is a pretty good adjective for taste - sweet and rich with appropriate bitterness. Raisins, figs, and wood dominate. Very well integrated ale with no booziness that sometimes affects barrel aged beers. Decent bitterness keeps everything in check towards a medium finish and slightly bitter aftertaste with nice and sticky sweetness on the lips.

While it seems a tad thin at times, considering it's been conditioning and attenuating for sometime now, it's just fine. Some tannic notes are felt that might be lent by oak - good, and cleansing, and never harsh. Very easy and nice drinking ale for its magnitude and in general. It would suck to have missed its glory because of infection issues. I can't say what age could do to it but because Deschutes has acknowledged infection, I suggest, drink it now!

Photo of brewcrew76
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage
Best after 4/20/10
35% Aged in Oak barrels

A - Hazy orange ruby with an interesting looking creme beige head that settles into a thin layer of foam.

S - Sweet malt with some dark candied fruits, oak, vanilla. The hops have faded but are still noticeable in a candied type way. The oak adds a nice touch.

T - Sweet candied fruits followed by some hop bitterness and candied citrus hops. Caramel, vanilla, oak, molasses and more lingering candied fruits.

M - Medium full body, smooth, on the edge of sticky but never gets there. Some alcohol warming.

D - I feel like this could verge on the sticky, sweet hop mess type barleywines but then the oak comes in and rounds it out perfectly. Very nice.

Photo of Pahn
3.99/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into Duvel tulip. Bottled 4/09, "best after" 4/10, drank on the first day of 2/11. 1252L. Thanks to generous BA codewarrior for trading me this bottle!

Appearance: After an epic battle with the admittedly classy black wax, free pour yields a frothy, one inch, yellowish head that dissipates quickly leaving a small ring around the surface and no lacing. Pours a hazy orange ruby and leaves little lacing.

Smell: I opened this today because I'd heard of 09' Mirror Mirror had some brettanomyces infection issues. The smell from the bottle after popping the cap alleviated my fears pretty fully; just signature American barleywine deep caramel malt and some faint oak.

In the glass there's very full, banana-like raisin notes, plum, with some faint orange-like hops. As it warms, it gets very chocolaty, malty, and pastry-like. Smells how you want a barleywine to smell.

Taste: First sip: the flavor is smooth as silk up front, creamy and caramely, with a very estery and subdued-hoppy finish. I feel heat in my chest afterwards but don't taste a hint of solvent. Great balance.

In further sips, there's a minor cola sweetness up front, and a good, rich melding of flavors with a lot of development from start to finish. There's an unfortunate, somewhat chalky aftertaste like orange-flavored children's vitamins that makes me want to subtract 0.5~1.0 points every time it comes up. The hop contribution in the main flavor is beautiful, but that aftertaste is simply unpleasant.

If it weren't for that dominating orange flavor, and the aftertaste instead settled into those beautiful pastry notes in the nose, this beer would be approaching perfection. It packs a lot of flavor, and the 35% addition of oak aged beer really does provide a nice smoothness. With the aftertaste, the question is "3.5 or 4.0 for taste?" while without it the question would be a serious, "is this 5.0 or 'just' a 4.5?" I'm giving it a 4.0 because the journey toward the unpleasant orange-chalk finish is populated by so many good, deep flavors.

Mouthfeel: Full side of medium bodied. Predominantly creamy and occasionally juicy. Moderate carbonation. Lots of lasting heat. Unpleasant chalky aftertaste again brings the score down.

Drinkability: This is a good, even a great, beer. I would balk at buying it again because I think the choice of hops and their continued influence even after 2~ years doesn't really agree with me.

While the beer has definite flaws, I can't say I'm disappointed by my first taste of Deschutes beer. Despite how hung up I am on the aftertaste, there's really tons of beautiful flavor here, a (mostly) great mouthfeel, and a world class aroma. It's obvious that these guys know how to make good stuff, and I'm even more excited to try my bottle of Abyss.

Mirror Mirror from Deschutes Brewery
94 out of 100 based on 1,419 ratings.