Review: Deschutes Brewery The Abyss Aged Stout 2010 Edition

Deschutes’ annual release of The Abyss (2008 release reviewed here) has been languishing in my cellar for months… but that’s not a bad thing: Abyss carries on it a “drink after” date, not a “drink before” one, suggesting that this is the rare beer that improves with age. With the 2010 edition, I did a little side-by-side comparison with a bottle of Abyss 2009, which I’ve cellared for more than a year, to see how a new and an old bottle measure up.

In keeping with the house style of this whiskey-barrel-aged stout, Abyss 2010 is overwhelmingly heavy with dark chocolate, wood, and big coffee character. It’s got a very smooth body, rich with velvety texture. Beneath the surface, you’ll find curious notes of ripe green olives, especially fragrant on the nose. Overall it’s nearly as lovely as the 2008 edition, a complicated and quite delicious beer that was as fun to drink as it was hard to find.

In comparison, I was surprised to find that the 2009 Abyss (rating as drinking today: B) is aging rapidly. The body has become quite foamy, and the coffee notes have taken a more burnt character. The 2009 has an even more pronounced olive character, and the additional green pepper notes it has aren’t entirely pleasing. Hate to say it, but young Abyss is, today anyway, proving to be more drinkable than the vintage bottlings.

11% alcohol by volume. 65 IBUs.

2010 Edition: A- / $12 per 22-oz. bottle / deschutesbrewery.com


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6 Responses to Review: Deschutes Brewery The Abyss Aged Stout 2010 Edition

  1. Good to know. I just picked up two bottles of the 2010 vintage and I was wondering about the aging. I’ve always drank my Abyss’ young and I have yet to be disappointed. Au revoir aging.

  2. I once had a bottle of non-alcohol Beck’s that I accidentally “aged” in my closet for about half a decade. Only found it while cleaning out my damn closet.

    Chilled it in the fridge for a few hours and poured out this magically golden liquid. It had some very suspicious-looking sediments floating in it, so I decided not to drink it. However, upon sniffing it I noticed some extremely complex aromas. Lots of sweet raisins, apples, and vanilla.

    I’m just sad I never got the chance to taste it, but that’s when I realized the profound effects aging can have on a simple drink like beer.

  3. Guys, this review may be a bit misleading, as there is some information that the author might not be privy to about the 2009 release. Deschutes had a rancidity issue with some of their ’09 batch leading to off-tastes when aged. I’ve been lucky enough to have my bottles of 09 come through like champs. If you can get ahold of well-kept older releases (especially ’07) it’d be well worth you time and effort.

    I can’t disagree that the 2010 is spectacular, but please don’t give up on aging well-made beers, especially stouts. I think that this 2010 will be fantastic a year from now or longer. Just make sure you store it upright and in a place where the temperature isn’t fluctuating a lot.

  4. I thought any malty, high-alcohol beer — e.g., imperial stouts — generally aged well and improved for a good five years?

  5. Thanks for this note, Alex. I’m not sure if rancidity was an issue here, but you raise an excellent point: The longer a bottle of anything (wine, beer, etc.) is aged, the greater the possibility for something to go wrong.

  6. I never said I was giving up aging. I said in this instance I was since it doesn’t appear to matter. Besides, on some beers/wine aging doesn’t necessarily always make things better. I have always considered whether or not the aging process is important to me and a lot of the time I feel that the time spent aging did not justify the final result. I’ve had some stouts that have aged for 6 years and while they may have been better than their release date, I’m not convinced that they were good enough to justify a lengthy aging period. The same can be said for wine. You may age a case of say, silver oak, and of that case maybe several bottles are in good shape. Once, again I’m not against aging. To me though, I’d rather not put in the effort and care required to do so, especially since I don’t have a permanent residence where I can control temperatures and the other conditions required for proper aging. Maybe in ten years I’ll reconsider.

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