Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Deschutes Abyss

Deschutes Abyss, the brew that beer geeks cant stop talking about. A reserve stout that clocks in at 11% ABV, Abyss is brewed with licorice and molasses, then aged in oak and oak bourbon barrels .
From the label: Its dark. It’s deep. Its mysterious. This imperial stout has immeasurable depth inviting you to explore and discover its rich complex profile. The flavor of this special brew draws you further and further with each sip. The abyss beckons. Enjoy the journey.
Consequently, it is one of the most highly rated beers on Beer Advocate and has won numerous awards, but due to its small batch production and Deschutes’ limited distribution, it is nearly impossible to get on the East Coast. So of course this was the first beer that came to mind when Jeff and I were invited to a friend’s tasting party, where each guest was asked to bring a unique craft beer.

Deschutes flat out wont ship anywhere further East than the Midwest so buying from their site was right out....we had to resort to other more creative tactics which shall remain nameless for the sake of propriety, but yadda yadda yadda, after much conniving, two bottles arrived some weeks later, mummified in layers of pink bubble wrap and crumpled newspaper. Each was sealed with an impressive looking coating of black wax. We decided to save one bottle for the tasting party and open the second that night…you know, just to make sure that it was alright.
Out came the special glasses and we quivered in anticipation as we broke the wax seal and popped the cork.

The beer poured into the glass like a jet of black ink. Even when held to the light, the liquid is astonishingly deep and dark, its opacity relieved here and there by hints of red. Its thick, creamy brown head dissolves quickly, leaving the surface impenetrable and mysterious…..just as the label promises.

Aroma: all about oaky wood and black cherries, with rich notes of caramelized sugar.
Taste: Starts off sweet, but evolves into a strong and bitter coffee flavor, balanced out with just a hint of booziness (surprising in light of the brew’s high alcohol content).
Mouthfeel: Rich, almost creamy, but light, not cloying.
In a nutshell, it presents itself as sweet but the sugar steps aside in favor of deeper flavors. Or as Jeff astutely put it; It starts off like a Belgian and then turns on you. For me, Abyss is definitely an after dinner beer, something to be lingered over on its own, or paired with a complementary chocolate dessert. But watch out for the 11%. One glass of Abyss is like drinking three Guinesses at once, and just like its namesake, it is not something to be taken lightly.

Now the big decision….will we generously introduce this lovely prize to the other guests at the tasting party, or will we end up buying something else last minute and saving the second bottle for ourselves? Only The Shadow knows….

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