As mentioned in my last review, I recently obtained some limited release Deschutes’ beers. To kick of this Deschutes series, we’ll be taking a taste, smell, and look at The Abyss 2009 release. This was my first time with The Abyss, so I have no other years to judge it on, nor can I compare it to a non-aged version. I can happily say that my first experience with The Abyss is with a well-aged bottle. If you are expecting a critical review, sorry, because this beer really rocked my world!
Deschutes has this to say about The Abyss:
A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate.
As for the great "drink it now or let it age" debate, we stand clearly on the fence. Distinct and delicious on release, the flavors meld and fuse into an entirely different pleasure a year on.
The Abyss has an ABV of 11%, and the 2009 has a “best after date” of 11/1/10, which, as of this review, was well past the date in which I drank it. It pours a beautiful creamy chocolate brown head that looks similar to the foam of a well-crafted mocha. The color is well represented by the name – an abyss. Pure blackness. Head – 10, Look -15. The smell was heavily of oak, molasses, chocolate, with only small hints of anise. As the beer warmed the citrus notes of the hops came through, and it was like a symphony suspended in its crescendo. Smell – 25.
The Abyss hit the palate with smoky, yet sweet, oak and chocolate flavors. The alcohol made itself known, but it wasn’t overpowering, and behind all those strong dark flavors was delicate citrus hop notes. The aftertaste reminded me of eating a high cacao dark chocolate bar. It was bittersweet, somewhat dry, and had an enjoyable warming. I only wished that the aftertaste lingered a bit longer. Palate – 10, Aftertaste – 9. Initially, I drank some of this beer cool, not cold, but cool. The beer expands well in the mouth, to give a strong mouth feel with good carbonation. The strong oak, chocolate, and molasses flavors hit and overwhelm up front and in the middle, followed by hints of anise and hops. The finish stays consistent with the aftertaste description above. As the beer warms the bittersweet flavors increase, and the dryness in turn follows more so at the end, but the warmth only increases the wonderful bold flavors. Flavor – 30.
I review a lot of IPAs, and I talk a lot about hops… a lot about hops. Some of you might even thing I never drink dark beer, and if I do it’s by accident, or I’m simply drinking a lighter colored beer in the dark. The truth is, some of my first craft beer loves were dark beers, particularly stouts and porters. Though, I do rarely drink them, I do truly appreciate their magnificence when done superbly. I not only found great pleasure in drinking this beer, but I was in sheer awe of the brewing craft. It’s beers like this that make me comfortable scoffing at the naivety of wine snobs who think beer has nothing more to offer than fizzy yellow carbonation. Deschutes Brewery created something magical with The Abyss, and I’m proud to have gotten the opportunity to finally try it. With a near perfect Overall Flavor of 49/50, the Beer Fusion gives Deschutes Brewery’s The Abyss…