Class Of '88 Belgian Style Ale
Deschutes Brewery

Class Of '88 Belgian Style AleClass Of '88 Belgian Style Ale
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Belgian Strong Pale Ale
3.85 | pDev: 10.91%
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Class Of '88 Belgian Style AleClass Of '88 Belgian Style Ale
Notes: Michigan Riesling and Oregon Pinot Noir grapes age with whole flower Mt. Hood hops and pilsner malt in Muscat casks. The fruit aroma unites with Belgian yeast esters and oak for a crisp, dry, and slightly tart flavor.
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Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 146
Photo of tigg924
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours clear, gold in color with 1/2 inch head. Taste is chardonnay, grapes, dry riesling, apricot, hay, and touch of wood. One of the most wine like beers I think I have ever had. A lot lighter bodied than I would have thought with slight bitterness. Good, but I prefer other Deschutes beer more. Glad I gota chance to have this one though

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Photo of stevoj
3.21/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Bottle from Albertsons. Very much dominated by the wine grapes, light and fruity. Does not remind me of a Belgian at all. Sour essence without the sourness.

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Photo of spacecake9
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought mine a year or so ago and threw it in the cellar.
Poured into a Westmalle chalice.
A - Pours clear, looks like apple cider. Small head that settles immediately.
S - The aroma is not strong but is wine-like.
T - I really like the wine flavor notes that come from the barrels. The tartness is perfect for me. The 10.9 ABV is well hidden.
M - Medium mouth feel. Crisp dry finish.
O - I love Belgians, and I like the twist Deschutes has put on this beer. I would buy more if I could.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle into snifter. Best after bottle date 12/06/14.

A: Pours a clear light apricot color with a short finger of soft white head that faded into a thick and lasting collar.
S: Spicy and fruity yeast leads followed by vinous and musty notes of wine grapes. Both the Riesling and pino are noticeable in their own way, followed by sweet and raisiny muscat. There is an underlying peppery quality along with a touch of alcohol.
T: Similar to the nose with tons of vinous grapes, sugary fruity sweetness, fruity yeast, and tons of peppery and spicy yeast. Sweetness sits on my tongue until the swallow. The finish is crisp and has a light white wine tartness. You can really taste the individual components.
M: Medium-full body, tingly and crisp carbonation, sweet and peppery mouthfeel with a lighter, drying finish.
O: I loved the complexity of the different wine grapes, but the sweetness and yeast character were a little heavy for my taste. An excellent beer, however, and very unique in flavor. Definitely very wine-like.

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Photo of TheHopsman
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured... Slight head with a nice rush of bubbles all along the sides of the glass. Amber color with orange and pink hues. Floral grape smell like that of moscato and pinot wines. The booze is definitely present in the smell and the taste. Dry and tad bit tart. Got a taste of raspberry as I licked my lips. Carbonated and crisp mouthful. Felt like I was drinking wine more so than beer. Decent. Been any better if I had aged it longer? Perhaps.

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Photo of KFBR392
3.81/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance. Poured with a finger of head which stuck to the sides of the glass. Very pretty beer, amber golden transparent hue. Bright active carbonation.

Smell: ripe fruits and sweet white wine characteristics all over the nose. Pears, apricots, tangerines, pineapple, and cantaloupe come in waves throughout. Some dry stone fruit and fresh oak flavors add a welcome transition in the aroma. There is a slight boozy burn which helps accents the heavier ripe fruits and biting oak.

Taste: soapy effervescent fruits open on the palate. Lingering sting of some boozy meshes well with the white wine and oak profile on the body. Just a touch of mossy hops add an extra exotic kick toward the back end of the body. Yeast and leafy greens really shine on the finish and linger on the palate long after drinking.

Mouthfeel: the oak and sharp carbonation add some extra dimensions to a sweet white wine mouthfeel on the front.

Overall: this is a very good effort by those involved. Barrel character took well with some boozy and fruit profiles that mesh well. Lingers long on the palate after drinking. Age has suited this brew.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.52/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle. Poured a lighter amber color with a big, frothy, bubbly head. Aroma had some Belgian elements to it as well as a fruitiness. Flavor was phenolic and fruity. Finishes rather sweet. Maybe I got some wine character. I think most of the wood blew off by now. Interesting with a bit of age on it.

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Photo of Fooditems
4.8/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This beer follows what I seek in beer. Flavor comes first and innovation second. When I pay $17 for a beer Its because I want something that is entirely different from what I can get for $2. This beer gave me a full complex flavor that hit every part of my palate and did not skimp on the nose either. Boo to critics, stick to your IPAs and Ris's.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.24/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: poured into a Duvel tulip to a slightly hazy light orange topped by a finger of dense white head that retains well and leaves some lacing
S: smells of melons, oak, white grape juice and a slight tartness
T: taste is oak, fruity esters, slightly spicy, grapes, bready malt, and a slight tartness. swallow is more oaky wine barrel, tartness and grape flavor
M: medium in body with light and soft carbonation with a drying finish
O: lots of complexity and great flavors. Maybe not the most true to style Belgian Strong Pale but it's very enjoyable and drinkable. the flavor profile on this beer seems to be closer to wine than beer as well. my only gripe would be Deschutes practice of putting a best after date on this beer.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.79/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a medium coppery amber with a fine one finger white head with good retention and lots of lacing. Aroma of white wine, apple juice, bready malt, mild port notes. Flavor is also dominated by dry white wine, with white and red grape notes, light oak barrel, subtle bready malt and Belgian yeast that are almost completely dominated by the vinous character, vinous finish with light grassy hops. Medium bodied with nice peppery carbonation. An interesting Belgian inspired ale that clearly shows the influence of the wine barrel aging. I drink wine rarely, much preferring the taste of beer and this one reminds me that my tastes haven't changed. Quite interesting and well made and nicely blended white wine and ale flavors, but I probably wouldn't have this again; simply not my style. This was an interesting series and I'm glad I had a chance to sample all of them.

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Photo of arizcards
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber from TW Arrowhead back in February for $15.99. Best after 12/6/14.

Beer poured a golden orange with a nice controlled fluffy white head that is hanging quite well and leaving some lacing behind.

Nose is predominately white grapes with a classic pilsner malt sweetness.

Taste is dessert wine, sweet without being cloying. Riesling and Muscat grapes are crafted expertly on top of a huge pilsner malt backbone. I am not catching the imperial pils taste as the Belgian yeast strain imparts some notes of apple and pear.

Mouthfeel is light and pretty smooth.

Overall this is an expertly crafted beer that has resulted into an interesting convergence of wine and beer that has worked very well. This makes an excellent dessert beverage or would pair well with apples and a lighter cheese.

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Photo of dradair
4.61/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was very impressed with this beer. It comes from two great companies, but I am not a huge wine fan so the Riesling and Pinot Noir grapes turned me off. It ended up being amazing.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
3.81/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Class of '88 Belgian Style Ale pours a golden color with a small lacing head. There is a dry aroma, sweet, and very much like a white wine. Big white wine flavors, with a barley noticeable crisp malt backbone. Good flavors, nice body. Overall it's a carbonated white whine.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Newhall Refinery in Newhall, CA.

Pours a hazy orange with a foamy bone head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is slightly tart with malt, grain, wine grape, grape juice, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with slightly tart malt, wine grape, acidic, and wood flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of wood bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with an interesting sourness that works well with the wine barrel aging.

Serving type: on tap.

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Photo of DIM
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

a: Clear, golden apple juice color; pours with a short lived fizzy head.

s: Musty grape skins, apple cider, huge oaky tannins, funky yeast.

t: Kind of sweet up front, light sugar and grape juice. This is quickly overrun by a nice combination of bitter grape skin, oaky tannins, and funky yeast. Pretty dry overall.

m: Light bodied with short lived, aggressive carbonation.

o: Dry and tasty, I like it a lot.

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Photo of mactrail
3.29/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pale amber in the glass with some attractive foam. Interesting cidery nose. Spritzy on the tongue.

Sugary and sharp. Grape punch with a dash of bitters. This just tastes sweet and fruity to me, with an unfortunate acidic twist. Bitter finish with grape skin tannins. Alcohol pounds the brain. Drying Belgian yeasty sensation with a bitterish aftertaste. Except for the bitterness, this is more like a very strange champagne.

This tastes like a $6 white wine with a spritzy touch from Trader Joe's. But at eighteen bucks, this is not one I will try again. Or anything in this series. From the 22 oz bottle bought at Liticker's Liquor in San Diego.

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Photo of Scotchboy
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Black-waxed bomber split into white wine glasses with the wife.

A: Gold, mostly clear, with two fingers of head that fade pretty quickly. Minimal lace.

S: White grapes and apple, a fruity nose boasting lots of sweetness. Muscat is prominent and brings suggestions of orange/orange peel. Faint oaky presence reminiscent of vanilla and brown sugar. Very vinous and white wine-like, with some booze thrown in for good measure.

T: More muscat grapes and white wine characteristics. Sweetness is cut significantly by some surprising dryness, though its not extreme. Woody wine barrel characteristics meld with some fruity tartness and Belgian yeast funk that finally makes an appearance. Light sweet alcohol, reminiscent of a dessert wine or Riesling. Moderate (sweet) malt body as well.

MF: Starts sweet but definitely turn more dry, which is a good thing. There is some malt presence, some booze as well, but not enough to cut the body down from full. Dry finish for sure.

O: I'm impressed. Sure, its not an A+ for my palate, but its pleasant and very well executed. Fruity and vinous, I see something unique here, and I like it. 6-8oz or so is perfect for me.

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Photo of russpowell
4.71/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Best after 12/16/14; couldn't wait

Pours an effervescent amber with 2 fingers of pearl white head. Stays effervescent, perfect lacing & head retention

S: Pineapple, tartness, sourness. pears & jammyness, plus sourness

T: Slight sourness, pears, red grapes, a touch of Chardonay & then pineapple & pink grapefruit up front. I catch some of that Muscat sweetness as this warms, pears, dryness & pleasing tartness & leafy hops. Finishes super dry, a touch of concord grape & finally a little booze

MF: Medium body & crisp carbonation, terrific balance, warming at a point or two, never hot

I need to go buy a bottle or 2 & age this; terrific now, would love to see where this goes. So damn drinkable for the ABV. Didn't expect to love it so much & if I had known I would have bought way more!

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

the newest of a great series in both spirit and output. another beer/wine hybrid, this one with three grapes in the mix, pinot, muscat, and riesling. they claim a dry finish, and while this isn't dry, it isn't sweet either, and for muscat casks, I'm satisfied. blonde in color, maybe a faint pink hue, not a ton of head but some airy sparse white bubbles. grape and apple combine on the nose, very fruity, how can this be dry i am wondering, but sure enough it comes out that way. brilliant execution of a far out idea. belgian yeast just adds to the fruitiness in the taste, and aside from the awesome finish, i am most impressed by the relative lack of alcohol presence for being so close up against 11% abv. its a great success really. the grapes add a lot, and i think they nailed both the grain bill and the yeast, its clean and bright, and light for what it is. unique for sure. renews my faith in beer/wine crossover brews. still somehow hoppy too, which stokes me up. well done.

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Photo of colforbin73
2.92/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

the bottle says best AFTER 12/16/14.... so, maybe i should have waited. but tbh, just release it closer to the optimum date, why sell something that is definitely not good for a year?

the pour is not very exciting, bronze color with seemingly no carbonation. clear liquid, well filtered, but not enticing.

the smell is alcoholic and very fruity pointing to the grape varieties added to the beer and the aging in Muscat casks... the muscat is pronounced, but if you did not tell me, i probably would not have guessed that is what it was.

the taste follows suit, it is underwhelming to be honest. there is very little bitterness, the drink is really thin, flat tasting with more aromatics and estery notes penetrating the roof of the mouth than there is anything to appreciate on the tongue. chalky.

it's boozey, and it doesn't leave a bad aftertaste, that is the best i can say of this brew.

generous grader

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Photo of bierdeflanders
3.12/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

S: fruity, grapes, hints of spice in the background with some champagne notes.

A: copper, very clear with bright carbonation.

T: fruity, with some oak notes, dry finish

O: very easy to drink for a 10.5% bier. body is light to medium with a bright carbonation.

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Photo of BeerRangerBrooks
3.89/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: wow, so clear. The clarity in the apple juice color is amazing. I feel like I am about to drink martinellis sparkling cider around the holidays. nice white head that disappears fairly quickly. Not as fast as champagne, but no sticky, staying around characteristics of many beers.

S: Very winy. Sweetness on the nose with some underlying alcohol. The Muscat is so present. A much different nose than I anticipated. Lots of barrel notes, but no Belgian yeast esters to really speak of.

T: Very delicious. Quick and prickly on the tongue with a acidic, Riesling finish that represents the tart characteristics mentioned on the bottle. Barrel notes are quite nice. Coming from a stout filled winter season with bourbon barrels, this is a refreshing, woody wine barrel that is lighter and more earthy. The actual flavor of the grapes is astounding.

M: Very inviting, soft with some wine like characteristics. Spritzy and refreshing, especially for being 11%. so very drinkable.

O: This beer pushes some of my comfort levels of wine essence in beer and multiple barrel aging. A little sweet for me, but I tend to be a hop head and the grape/muscat barrel in this replace that general idea. The high abv is very nice, since the price is on the higher end. I look forward to cellaring this beer, one bottle for a year and depending on development longer for the next bottle. MUST try from two powerhouse breweries in a great collaboration.

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Photo of LambicPentameter
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed on tap at Bier Station as part of a Deschutes promo event. First I've seen it on tap around Kansas City after recently began seeing bottles of it on store shelves. Served in a small Belgian tulip glass.

Appearance - Pour yields a sudsy white head with a decent number of larger bubbles, about a finger thick. The foam begins to dissipate pretty quickly, leaving me with just a rim of light suds around the edge of the glass and zero film on top of the body. The color is a beautiful deep amber orange with firey reddish highlights where the light refracts. Zero cloudiness whatsoever, giving it a jewel-like quality. Lacing is visible, but spotty and sparse on the side of the glass.

Smell - A nicely complex aroma, with notes of pinot grape must, oak tannins, and some lighter but pronounced hints of vinegar and apple cider that suggest a nicely tart taste awaiting me when I dive in. As it warms, the barrel element becomes a bit more pronounced, leaving the fruitier phenols behind. Overall, very bright and actually rather clean for something where the barrel is so detectible.

Taste - Up front, there is a twinge of tartness, like fresh orange juice, but without the orange flavor, but that fades away pretty quickly in favor of notes of pear, dry apple cider and Chardonnay. The notes of vinegar that I got from the aroma are less present now, but there is a hint of a spicy element, like nutmeg or cinnamon lying underneath the predominantly fruity characteristics. I wish this was a bit more tart/sour, but it's amazingly easy to drink for a 10% abv beer. There are really no esters to speak of, and I'm surprised it's not sweeter, given that the barrels used are from muscat, traditionally a dessert wine.

Mouthfeel - Light bodied and low carbonation with a mostly dry finish and no lingering aftertaste.

Overall, I'm a big fan of this beer. While I'd like a bit more acidity and sourness, it's overall very well balanced and with just enough complexity to make it interesting. I bought a bottle before running across it on tap, and now that I've had it fresh, I think I may sit on the wax-dipped bottle for a bit to try and see how the flavors develop. With some luck, the time will coax out some of that extra tartness I'm looking for, of course it doesn't sound like this one has any wild yeast/bacteria intentionally added, so any of that tartness would have to come from innoculation from the muscat barrels in which it was aged.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Forget where I picked this one up, but it is at all the usual haunts now. Pours with a short lasting white head... only spotty lacing.. the brew is fairly clear .. looks like apple juice.

Nose is pretty much overwhelmingly sweet phenolic/estery/oaky wine barrels.. No other way to describe it. Tons of barrel essence with plenty of pale maltiness that is punctuated by a light clove presence and huge overripe apples and pears.

I thought this was going to be waaay sweeter judging by the aroma, glad it isn't. Flavor has a pretty pronounced oaky presence.. the wine barrel essence leans toward a tartness that helps round out the maltiness and fruity yeasty esters. This is pretty interesting.. Not sure I will drink too many of them because I am not a big wine guy, but this is well done.

Light/medium body with a big mildly abrasive carbonation.... Sorta tannic/wine burps.

I am not a big fan of wine barrel aged beers in general, but I see the pieces of something special here... I am interested in trying the Goose Island take on it.

3.5's across the board.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.26/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

This pours a very bright light gold with no head of foam, no lacing.

The smell is yeasty, oaky, fruity..very fruity. a nice set of aromas.

The taste has a fruity dryness that borders on being tart. Other flavours I note are from the oak, and a spiciness that kind of reminds me of cinnamon; kind of.

Mouthfeel is okay...the carbonation is on the low side and the lightish body makes the mf...okay.

This is one dry drinking son of a gun that does not bring the goods, imho. I'm gonna have to say, Class of '88 wise, this is on the bottom of the 3. Firmly.

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Class Of '88 Belgian Style Ale from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 146 ratings