I haven't been shy about proclaiming my love for DESCHUTES BREWING's legendary imperial stout THE ABYSS over the years, in both verbal and written form. Every year on this blog or that blog, I write up a review of this year's model that proclaims this glorious beer to be the standard-setter for the rich, milky, chocolate and barrel-aged manna that can be a well-crafted imperial stout. I'm not exactly breaking new ground with this post, either. I busted out the 2011 version, and rather than wait it out a year and "lay it down" for aging, the way some folks say ya should, I drank it clean on a crisp June day, and then begged the gods for more. They never came.
I'll be waiting until December or so, I guess. That's when The Abyss hits the shelves, usually, and if it's not all snapped up immediately - some years are better than others - then you might still find some come January. I've even found a handful of bars that put this nectar on tap every year. That's the kind of bar where you might think about upping your 25-cent-per-beer tip a little, my friends - for they have the customer in mind. So let's get to it - Deschutes "The Abyss" 2011. Some things never change. Amazingly aromatic sniffs of vanilla and oak are the prelude to, you got it, rich and creamy tastes of same. The hops and the malt balance a sweetness you'd otherwise get from the 11% alcohol in perfect triangular symmetry. Chocolate and licorice, along with the oak and a faint and distant cherry taste form the core of the beer's construction as it warms.
As someone who feels that imperial, barrel-aged dark beers are a dime a dozen yet which is a style that only rarely touches greatness, I'm always happy to make this my go-to. It restores my faith in the style, after a year - every year - of scorched taste buds and that feeling of having been burned financially for having bought whatever this year's over-amped, over-hyped imperial stout or porter might be. They're never cheap, and dollars to doughnuts they're nowhere close to The Abyss in any way. They never are. 10/10.