Been wondering where The Abyss is? Wonder no more—Deschutes' annual imperial stout release is set to take place Thursday at the Bond Street taproom, around a month later than usual. The barrels run on their own schedule, after all.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Abyss in bottles, a yearly release that's become a regular Thursday-afternoon fall tradition for Bend's diehard beer fans. This time around, it's a heavy stout accented with flavors of blackstrap molasses, vanilla beans, cherry bark, and brewer's licorice from Italy. It's not 100 percent barrel aged, but rather a blend of several different barrels, with 11 percent of your bottle aged in regular oak barrels, 11 percent in Pinot Noir oak, and six percent in oak bourbon barrels, all for six or so months. This results, as Deschutes puts it, is a beer "as profound, infinite, and unfathomable as its name suggests."
Our local brewing giant is taking one step further into The Abyss this year, although you'll have to wait a little longer for it. Borrowing a page from other big-name imperial stout releases like Goose Island's Bourbon County Barrel Stout and AleSmith's Speedway Stout, Deschutes is planning to release two special Abyss editions that should leave barrel-heads salivating. Unlike regular Abyss, each variant is 100-percent barrel aged—one in Cognac barrels, one in rye whiskey barrels, both for over a year. It's a "Remarkably Limited Release," according to the labels, and word on the street is that only around 200 barrels of each were produced.
Expect to find bottles at the Bend and Portland brewpubs (and nowhere else, probably) early next year. In the meantime, come on down to the pub on Thursday to grab some regular Abyss bottles, load up on some bison sliders seasoned with Abyss-seasoned steak sauce, and—this is the important part—enjoy a taster flight with samples of every Abyss release from 2011 to 2015 on tap. (Rule of thumb: Older vintages have less alcohol kick and more complex flavor profiles.) See you there.