As the weekend unwinds (and what a weekend it was) I found myself planning and preparing for another date with deserts of Utah. Searching for a beer to review this week, the Abyss Imperial Stout from Deschutes Brewery hit a personal note with me.”Gaze not too long into the abyss, lest the abyss gaze into thee.” Edward Abbey -The Desert Solitaire. If you’ve ever stood at the rim of a large canyon and peered beyond into the vastness that lied ahead in what seemed to be and endless measure of distance, then you likely understand this overpowering feeling. Maybe Deschutes Brewery was on to something and had exactly this in mind with The Abyss.
This 2014 reserve edition of the Abyss pours to a deep black color with a medium frothy brown head, that retain a decent lacing along the glass. This impressive Imperial Stout with an 11.1% ABV has a power of it’s own and that too like the immortal words from Ed Abbey warns of drawing you in. This rich malt beverage is brewed with black strap molasses along with cherry bark, licorice, and sweet vanilla that pack a strong combination of powerful flavors. With all those sweet ingredients the one stand out character to the Abyss for me is the distinct oak aged bourbon barrel taste that dominates the entire drink from front to back, along on the very tail end of the follow. The balance and feel are a light carbonation or at least it seems that way to the strong bourbon taste that completely again is all I can think to tell you about with this Imperial. Maybe that’s the catch, as I relate back to that quote from Mr. Abbey? “Gaze not too long into the abyss, lest the abyss gaze into thee.” As I continuously drank and could only think of the strong flavor, the 11.1% ABV started to sneak up on me. Maybe that was this Abyss’ way of gazing into me?
As I continued to read my maps and study the upcoming canyons that we will soon negotiate, I couldn’t help but have an overwhelming and relaxing feeling completely fall over me. Now do I credit that to the beer, or the experience as a whole? I don’t know exactly what I wanted from this beer, but I am completely satisfied with decision of routes that my friends and I will soon be on and the thought of the night skies we will soon sleep under that were determined by this session of good beer, maps, and guide books.