Can't see your car under the snow? Must be time for The Abyss.
One of Deschutes Brewery's most well-known brands, the 11th edition of The Abyss barrel-aged imperial stout made its official debut last Friday at the Deschutes pubs on Bond Street and Portland's Pearl District. It will eventually be shipped across the nation, from the sun-soaked beaches of San Diego to the bone-frozen plains of Minnesota, with beer nerds nationwide clamoring for a bottle or two. But Oregonians always get to try it first—preferably at the bar, with a vertical tasting "library" of The Abyss from 2012 to the current year, along with a bonus glass of Abyss '16 on nitro.
As always, The Abyss is actually a mixture of several stouts. It's brewed with black strap molasses and licorice, with vanilla beans and cherry bark added. Half of the results are then barrel-aged—21 percent in oak bourbon barrels, 21 percent in oak wine barrels, and the remainder in brand-new Oregon oak barrels—and the mix is what's provided in the wax-topped bombers.
Deschutes rocked the boat a little bit last year when, alongside the annual Abyss, they produced two "remarkably limited" variants—one aged in rye barrels, the other in cognac barrels. The brewery's doing it again this year, this time with a few new barrels.
The Abyss Scotch is, as the name infers, aged in barrels from a few different distilleries in Scotland. Assistant brewmaster Ryan Schmiege calls it "the most multifaceted liquid truffle ever fashioned," and he might not be exaggerating, either. Imagine regular Abyss, with all that chocolate and thickness, paired with some hot caramel and toffee flavors. At 12.2 percent, it's the ultimate winter warmer. The Abyss Brandy is no slouch, though, coming out of wine-distilling barrels from France. Expect a fruitier punch with this 13.2-percent sipper, with cinnamon and cherry partying it up in the glass with the wood and brown-sugar flavors.
All the variants are available across town, ready to unleash their gifts upon palates across Central Oregon. What's more, the Bond Street pub still has some bottles of the 2015 rye-whiskey and cognac Abysses in stock. For those who missed out on it last year, the rye variant is a must-try—a year of age has made it a perfect beer for cold weather.