Monday, February 11, 2008

The Abyss (’06 & ’07)

After the “Abyss-O-Mania” (as John Foyston put it) where all bottles of The Abyss in Portland sold out in less than three days, I wasn’t expecting to get any this year. Then, last week, my buddy Dave and I went to “Deschutes Night” at the Moon & Sixpence where I got to do a vertical tasting of this year and last years beer.

Brewery – Deschutes Brewery, Inc. in Bend, Oregon
ABV – 11 % ABV
IBUs – 65
Serving Type – Draft
The Abyss is the second beer in Deschutes’ “Reserve Series”. The first beer was an oak-aged barley wine called Mirror Mirror launched back in 2005. In 2006 The Abyss was released and became so popular, and won so many awards, that they decided to mix up another batch of ’07. However, it didn’t actually get released until mid-January of ’08, which may have had something to do with the über-hyping of this beer.

The popularity of may have something to do with the fact that it is aged in French oak, pinot noir, and bourbon barrels for 9 months. Also, Cherry bark and vanilla bean were added during the fermentation staged (dry-hopped).

Glass – Both were in a 10 oz. snifter glasses

Aroma – The ’06 had a very pronounced smell of dark roasted grains, coffee and dark chocolate. The ’07 was more subtle and rounded. The dark aromas blended, and complimented, the more delicate vanilla and molasses notes.
Appearance – This is where this beer earns its name. The color is so dark; you might as well be gazing into the hart of a black hole. This void in reality, from which no light can escape, is so enveloping that men have gone mad from staring into the nothingness. It also has a wispy dark tan crown.
Flavor – As in the aroma, the flavors of the ’06 were more jagged and aggressive. The younger was roasty, with hints of chocolate down the sides of my tongue. In he back it was a coffee or dark chocolate like bitterness, which got sweeter as the beer got warmer. Right down the middle was the pronounced taste of alcohol. The younger brother was once again smother, less bitter, and sweeter. The alcohol was more subtle and I was also able to pick out some licorice and floral flavors.
Mouthfeel – Both had a full body. The ’06 finished dry, while the ’07 finished wet with a lingering bitterness.
Final Thoughts – The 2007 was a more complex beer and yet easier and more enjoyable to drink. I definitely got the impression the ’06 kept fermenting and dried out the beer while the hops naturally mellowed out and their subtle contributions were overwhelmed by the roasted grains. It’s amazing to see what a year can do to a beer. I can see why this beer has such a cult following.


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6:18 PM  

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