poured a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. It had a "best after" date of
11/15/2011 (one year from the bottling date?). It cost $15.99 ($0.73 per
Appearance: Absolutely pitch black body with a small dark brown,
foamy/frothy head. It laces and retains well considering how heavy and
old the beer is.
Smell: Sweet aroma of black licorice, vanilla, and cherry.
Taste: I got this bottle of Deschutes The Abyss (2010 Reserve) in a
trade with my friend Ryan in San Diego back in January of 2011. I
cellared it immediately and planned on drinking it later that year, but
for whatever reason I kept putting it off. Now, nearly three years after
this beer was born, I finally decided to drink it and I’m kicking
myself for having waited so long. It’s everything I look for in a
barrel-aged imperial stout, but without any of the weightiness or
edginess of a fresher vintage.
There’s a lot going on in this beer, though that’s not surprising
considering it’s brewed with licorice and molasses with 1/3rd of it aged
in oak and bourbon barrels. Imperial stouts of this caliber tend to be
rare and expensive but this one definitely deserves all the merit it
receives. It begins with a luscious, sweet flavor of dark cherry. It’s
almost tart in a way, like raspberry, but without any tartness. Some
chocolate syrup flavors come through towards the middle, then changing
to something more bitter on the backend. Big imperial stouts like this
tend to be highly hopped for balance, but The Abyss is only 65 IBUs,
giving it balance, but keeping the hops in check. There’s a delicious
woody/vanilla flavor on the finish, which I like to let linger on the
tongue to savor. The alcohol has mellowed nicely and has faded into the
background and probably accounts for the vanilla and woody character.
This beer is basically everything an imperial barrel-aged stout should be, and is one of, if not the best example of the style.
Drinkability: While Deschutes The Abyss is a big beer at 11% ABV, with
three years under its belt it’s aged remarkably. The alcohol has
mellowed to the point that it’s just a subtle warming sensation in the
background. The body itself is pretty full, though the mouthfeel is a
little thinner and cleaner than I was expecting. It’s calm and soft and
goes down smooth with no burning or warming sensation. It leave a lovely
aftertaste of licorice and roasted malt, yet it’s not drying or
cloying. I probably should’ve saved this for a more special occasion
than an ordinary Tuesday night.