This is, of course, it. The ale we wait for all year. Christmas Day might be December 25th, but the highlight of the holidays for a true alehound is the day Deschutes' Abyss hits the store. This insanely rich and complex imperial stout, rich on malts, molasses, anise and bourbon-y goodness; it might come in at $11 a bomber, but oh is it worth it.
Keep in mind that this was tasted about a year before the "best after" date, meaning that come November it will be even better. I don't know how, but it will.
It pours black, deep and foreboding, with a creamy, light brown head. In a sense it stares you in the eye, daring you to sample it. Seriously abyss-like.
The nose hits you with bourbon and molasses first, giving hints that the 11% ABV is waiting for you. Keep sniffing, and there are subtle hints of chocolate and anise. Coffee. Oaks. It does not stop; there is about a million things going on here, joining together in a crescendo of harmony unlike anything I can remember.
The taste hits the tongue like a whip. Molasses first, which explodes into a potpourri of aforementioned flavors. They lace the tongue and the mouth, almost caressing the tastebuds with a tickle. The body is full and disappears down the throat smoothly, with a finish lingering in the mouth. Slowly you feel it wane, comfortably, almost warmly, inviting the next mouthful to come.
This is a sipping ale. Of course it is. Treat it with respect, and the 11% won't floor you. It hits surprisingly lightly; downright comfortably. While not a winter warmer per se, this certainly warms you through the winter.
So. The Abyss, in case you haven't figured it out by now, is good. Very very good. Even at this stage I'd say it's better than last year's vintage, something I would have thought would be impossible. This is what a great beer should taste like, and it's no wonder the Abyss often is named in the top 5 best ales in the world.
Finding bottles at this stage is difficult, though we've heard Huckleberry's might be seeing some more today. We found a good stash of bottles at Rocket Market last night, but they were going fast, and the cashier said he expected to see them all gone by the end of the evening.
World Class Beverages' Beer Spy will, if nothing else, tell you who carries it, though obviously they don't have access to the stores' current stock.
The important part here is to go find the bottles. Anyone who don't love this year's Abyss don't love beer, and in all likelihood don't love life either.
Word has it Hill's will have it on tap at some point. Fingers crossed we will see that soon.