bitter (n) - An English term for a well-hopped ale, most often on draught. Although examples vary widely, the name implies a depth of hop bitterness. There is usually some acidity in the finish and colour vanes from bronze to deep copper.By "depth of hop bitterness" one should not read "bitter," which is rather confusing, given that hops are bitter and the name of the beer is bitter. Bitters (noun) are, nevertheless, not particularly bitter (adjective).
They are, in fact, the first in a triumverate stretching through best bitter and terminating and extra special bitter (ESB). Bitters are the sessions of the bunch, weighing in at 3.5 - 4% abv. Best bitters are stronger 4-5% abv, and ESBs positively robust at up to 6% abv. So a traditional bitter will have a layered hop profile, with lots of aroma and flavor to go along with noticeable (if not agressive) bittering.
A good bitter is hard to make, and one of the best was Bachelor Bitter, Deschutes' first (and still available at the brewery). It morphed into the less interesting and bottled Bachelor ESB (which is probably confusing at the brewery), and for years Deschutes has offered no bottled bitters for those of us on the west side of the Cascades. Until Twilight.
Pours out a slightly hazy honey with a fluffy head. The aroma is a delicious bouquet of scents--floral hoppiness, caramel sweetness, and a touch of peppery spiciness. I wasn't at all surprised to learn it was dry-hopped with Amarillos. (Amarillos are the hop of the moment--all brewers seem to have fallen in love with them. They have a grinding, raspy quality typical of high-alpha hops I don't find pleasant in high concentrations, but as a dry hop, Amarillo is dandy.)
As for the palate--well, Twilight is an impressive follow-up to Bachelor Bitter. They have hedged their bets, giving it a bit more oomph than is strictly legal for the style. Yet even at 5% it has impressive creaminess. The brewery employs four hops (only the Amarillos are identified), and the flavor is layered right through the aftertaste, as the volatile dry-hopped aromas waft around your mouth.
Although clearly a session, it has the gravitas of a larger beer. The image of a well-engineered 4-cylinder car came to mind--small engine, big performance. Deschutes has the knack of creating exceptional beers that wow drinkers without overwhelming them. The kind of beer you hold up, halfway through your third, and remark, "Damn, that's really a good beer." I imagine that if you took a half rack to a party, everyone would congratulate you on your good taste. Consider it a recommendation.
Hops:Three unknown varieties and Amarillo dry hopping.
Alcohol By Volume:5.0%
Original Gravity: Unknown
Other: 2003 GABF Gold Medal in the bitter category