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. If you remember, the brewery’s 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’s 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 any more.