Deschutes Brewery,

Bend, OR

USA

Preface:

This one’s been sitting in the refrigerator for about a month, at least. There are no markings on the bottle or the label that would give me any idea about when it is “good until.” However it does tell me that the brew is aged in oak barrels (33% aged in oak and oak bourbon barrels), brewed with licorice and molasses, and is 11% alcohol by volume. The promotional material on the bottle reads “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. Enjoy the journey.”

It’s 1030 in the morning on a Thursday. I can hardly wait…

Appearance:

I have never ever seen a head on a beer as dark as this. The brew itself is too dark to see through. The head is a combination of medium size in very small bubbles that “lace” beautifully on the glass. If the color of this brew is coffee, the color of the head is hot chocolate.

Aroma:

The first impression of this brew is not overpowering. The second impression brings the aroma of patent malt to the forefront. That patent malt aroma develops to be something quite obvious.

Mouth feel:

It would be an understatement to say this is a full-bodied beer. In fact, the body lasts all the way through the finish. It is not a thick cloying body though. It marches right through and leaves quite a pleasant sensation at the end.

Flavor:

The moment between sip and lip offers just a hint of the patent malt impression in the aroma. There is sour cherry-toffee-singed sugar candy medley of flavors followed by a slight metallic tang and astringency that sweeps the palate clean.

Finish:

The finish leaves more in the aspiration than on the palate. For such a full-bodied beer it is remarkably quick in its departure.

Comments:

Quite honestly, I could not find evidence of oak in either the aroma or the flavor… Nevertheless, this is an impressive Imperial Stout.

I especially appreciated how the flavors are not crushing in their sensational impression. There is a fine balance that could be, perhaps, attributed to the nap this brew takes in the bourbon barrels.

The slight astringent finish was remarkable in its brevity and effectiveness in refreshing the palate. At no time is there is any sharp spike of alcohol to spoil the enjoyment of the flavor.

The brewery Site: http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/Brews/Reserve+Series/default.aspx

What others say…

RateBeer:

http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/deschutes-the-abyss/65832/

Beer Advocate:

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/63/34420