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Compared to other barrel-aged beers, this one blocks out the sun.

I

 knew I was in love with craft beer the moment I took my first sip of The Abyss by Deschutes Brewery. Seasonal, black as the darkest night and lovingly aged in wine, whiskey or scotch barrels, The Abyss isn't just a beer. It's the taste of possibilities that only grows better with age. For the last decade or so, I have gotten a bottle of The Abyss on my birthday, then opened it on my next birthday. The first year I did that was sad.

Deschutes is obviously the godfather of the brew community in Bend and the old guard that still takes chances on a recipe...never content to coast on their reputation alone. They took chances with the The Abyss, delicately crafting the Imperial Stout with blackstrap molasses, licorice, vanilla beans and cherry bark. Basically, it's like drinking a chocolate covered cherry floating in coffee and a few drops of bourbon.

The beer is thick. You have to take your time and respect The Abyss or it will fight you. There's so much going on with each sip that you should be writing the Great American Novel while drinking it. The oaky and woody vanilla scent makes you imagine lying in the grass with puppies. The finish goes quickly like a half-forgotten dream. The Abyss defines the entire genre of imperial stouts and will destroy all who try and take the crown.

You should be drinking this beer in an ice cave in Antarctica—or just in Bend last winter. It will warm you like you crawled inside a hollowed out tauntaun. This beer is perfect and my easy choice for Best Barrel Aged Beer.

Wanna see all the area's barrel-aged beers in action? Check out the Little Woody Bend, September 1 & 2.