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