Preface: This sample arrived in good condition, chilled and nestled in Styrofoam “peanuts.” The promotional material included has not been read as of this tasting. The fact is I can’t find it. So based only on my vague memories of their 2007 version, I will begin the tasting of Abyss 2008. (The wax dipped crown cap is romantic but needs special attention when opening. I started with a hop cutting knife from the hop farms of Elk Mountain, Idaho. The crown cap was dispatched with a nifty palm-size brassy Warsteiner promotional bottle opener.)
Appearance: I’ve seen motor oil lighter colored than this. My trusty Maglight at its tightest beam could not penetrate this deep dark brew. The head is the darkest creamiest creation of small to medium sized bubbles that hold their head high for an unusual length of time for a brew that posts a percentage of alcohol by volume at 11%.
Aroma: As soon as this bottle was opened I could smell the rich aroma of roasted grain. Initial impression is surprisingly light with a definite roasted grain impression. A second, deeper exploration of these aromas find under currents of chocolate and leather. That moment between lip and sip finds chocolate whispers.
Mouth feel: There is surprisingly light mouth feel (for an 11% abv brew) at first, and then the flavors kick in the mouth feel increases and crescendos at the flavor crest.
Flavor: Coffee, chocolate, molasses, smoke and tobacco all sing out. Each note is specific and distinct but all are sung in an impressive harmony of flavors that neither shout nor croon.
Finish: This has a surprising smooth finish. No astringency or dusty dryness, rather a semi-dry smoke roasted fading away.
Comments: This is not a World Wrestling Federation style of extreme beer. This is a well brewed high-alcohol brew. As I search for words to describe this brew I let my eyes wander to the label where I find, “The Abyss: Stout brewed with licorice and molasses with 33% aged in oak bourbon barrels.”
Also: “It’s dark. It’s deep. It’s 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 in further and further with each sip. The Abyss beckons. Enjoy the journey.”
The Brewery: http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/splash/default.aspx
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