Conflux No. 1 is probably the rarest beer I have ever tasted. It’s a collaboration between Deschutes Brewery and Hair of the Dog that’s been in the making for years. Conflux No. 2 actually came out last year, but Conflux No. 1 needed time. Lots of time. A year in barrels, multiple barrels. It started as four separate beers — Hair of the Dog submitted some Adam and Fred and Deschutes brought a special batch of the Stoic and the Dissident. Everything was put in barrels — bourbon, pinot noir, and fresh oak. And then they waited and blended and blended and waited. And this Collage is what they came up with.
Collage smells woody and like leather with wine and cinnamon. Sarah compared the smell to Cantillon Faro. She has very specific references. When it was cold all I tasted was leather like Adam. There is some caramel and vanilla. As it warms there is more chewy dark fruits. The sour Dissident pops up here and there with a vinous flavor. Now it’s like a leathery red wine. There is nothing cloying about the sweetness. It’s not viscous at all. Collage is dry, but like whiskey not wine. At the bottom of the glass the whiskey and the booze really comes through.
The only complaint anyone can muster is that Collage is too complex. Has too much flavor. Is all over the map. But isn’t that the point? It’s a blend of four distinct, bold brews; it’s going to be bold and layered and there will overlapping and stand out flavors from each one. It’s a collage, not a painting, or a sketch.
I went down to the Portland brew pub on release day last week. I thought I would only get a bottle or two, but I walked away with my allotted three. Why pass up on your one opportunity? This beer is only going to get more interesting with time. Right on the side it says it will be best in April of next year. We’ll see what happens then.