Monday, September 24, 2007

Mirror Pond: New Look, Same Beer

As many of you know, I have a pretty big soft spot in my beer-loving-heart for all things Deschutes. As an Oregon boy, through and through, it seemed I was practically raised on Black Butte Porter and, of course, Mirror Pond. In fact, before moving to California I was pretty sure Mirror Pond invented the Pale Ale.

The bottle to the left here is the 'old' bottle they've used for years, showing the iconic Three Sisters mountains, which are located West of Bend, where Deschutes crafts their world-famous beers. I love this region of the state I grew up in, have wonderful memories of vacations there when I was in college: camping near Tumalo Falls, swimming at Klein Falls, climbing Smith Rock and rafting down the Deschutes River - not to mention the hikes around the area. All this means something to an Oregon boy, and seeing the picturesque mountains on the bottle of Mirror Pond was pretty cool.

So imagine my surprise when I read they'd be changing their label. My first impressions were not good, as I'd imagined some hostile takeover in Bend and these new labels would be some modern funk with neon-greens and varying shades of hot-pink. Oh, the thoughts were bad and I remember saying something under my breathe about 'chage for change sake' and some other cold thoughts.

Ah, the good news. Deschutes wasn't taken over by mad marketers and a corporate strategy gone awry. I received my package from Deschutes a few days back, along with their marketing material, and was genuinely impressed, not only with their new logo, but the rationale behind it. You see, the "Mirror Pond", pictured to the right, is actually in the city of Bend, at Drake Park. The artistic rendition seen on the old label isn't a picture any of you could go out and snap. Notice, the clear lack of moutains in this picture. (oh, if you click on the picture you should see the full size image I borrowed)
"Mirror Pond is in our front yard," said Deschutes founder, Gary Fish, "and we wanted to show our customers just how beautiful it really is."
The new bottle is consistant with the artwork on all of Deschutes year-round beers (their Reserve and Bond Street lines have a different look altogether), as you can see on the bottle to the left. It seems to capture the artistic rendition of a clear day in early fall, with trees in the process of dropping their leaves. You'll also notice the label's dominate color scheme has gone from a cold-blue to a warm reddish-brown. Yes, Deschutes did good on this new look, and we can all be happy that they didn't see any need to change what is on the inside.

I did learn a couple cool facts about the beer in my press kit.

- "First brewed in 1997, it's the only Oregon craft beer made exclusively with locally grown, whole flower Cascade hops..." I admit, I really don't know how much any of us should be impressed, in case they're 'overstating' something fairly benign, or if this is as cool as it sounds. I love the idea that they're using local hops, just not sure how 'local' local is, if you know what I'm saying.

- "Named one of America's ten best beers by Playboy" - who knew?

- "Mirror Pond also won a gold medal at the Brewing Industry International Awards in 2002." - Industry recognition means a lot, in just about any industry.

So, yeah, this is my mix of "new label announcement" and a stroll down memory lane. If any of you are from the region, please remind me of the name of the hot springs up there. That was a fun stop while in college too, a quick lesson that not all people should be naked. Also, if any of you can convince someone in the brewery to send me a few bottles of all three of their fresh-hopped beers, I'd be very appreciative.