Monday, January 05, 2009


To start this review I'm going to have a steal a section from a post written by Aaron Goldfarb, who writes an excellent, hijinks-filled beer blog called THE VICE BLOG:

Brewers, if you want me to buy your product, here’s a few simple and cheap things you can do to dupe me into purchasing it:

1. Cork the beer and add one of those cheap metal caps and twisty things.
2. Cover the cap and neck in that cheap Reese’s peanut butter cup-like foil.
3. Put the bottle in a cheap cardboard box.
4. Call it a limited bottling and perhaps even add numbers to the label or aforementioned box. It doesn’t even matter if it is that truly of limited of bottling.
And one more expensive thing you can do to dupe me is to barrel your beer in something else.

Aaron and I - and I suspect many of you - are cut from the same cloth. This is much the same approach that I took to record collecting during my most insane, over the top purchasing years of 1987-91, and it's kind of where I'm at beer-wise twenty years later. I know it's wrong, but more often than not this sort of who-cares-what-it-costs purchasing ethos yields some incredible beers. "Price as a cue for quality", we called it in business school.

DESCHUTES' newest whopper, THE ABYSS, is one of these kind of beers. It's not numbered nor is it in a box, but it not only has beer dorks far & wide rushing across the west coast to find it, it has even inspired "one only per customer, PLEASE" signs at various retailing establishments. At least that's what the guy at Whole Foods told me on Friday when I bought it. He was proud because his store is willing to sell more than one to a customer at any given time. "That's the Whole Foods difference".

The worst part of this beer was trying to get the wax seal off of it. I know - the wax seal! We used fire to burn it off. That did the trick. Then it was time to get down with The Abyss. On the pour, it filled the glass with utter blackness. See that picture above, taken with a camera phone? Nice work, hunh? That's the beer I drank. First whiff - whew, licorice and chocolate! First drink - wow, bourbon and, and, and molasses! This beer positively coats the tongue in rich, thick molasses. It's smooth and amazingly delicious. At 11% it's not at all for the meek, but I had just returned from the longest run I'd ever done, and I was in no mood to skimp, be healthy nor to practice temperance. The alcohol is in the aftertaste, but not in a strong, eye-watering way. It is a rich, chewy, chocolate bourbon beer bomb. The stout that made me a man.

I absolutely loved THE ABYSS. Totally met the hype and then some. My wife said she'd start regularly drinking beer with me again if they all tasted like this. Unfortunately, they don't. 9/10.


Aaron said...

Insanely jealous. I'd love to try this one, unfortunately we still don't get Deschutes stuff in NYC.


Chipper Dave said...

I'm becoming a big fan of Deschutes. First they wow'ed me with their Black Butte XX and now The Abyss simply blew me away. Both are simply excellent! I must admit I believe I enjoyed the Black Butte XX a bit better than The Abyss but it was very close. I highly recommend this brew if you can get some.

Matt Navarre said...

Translation of that snippet of Aaron's

1. Install a new bottling line.

2. Add another machine to that bottling line.

3. add *another* machine to that bottling line.

4. Lie to me, baby.

We looked into doing corked-and-caged for our Belgian styles and decided that (besides not having room), it boiled down to an expensive headache. It required a whole 'nother bottling line, which if you want to do it fast requires *space*, or 8-10 people to do about 60 cases an hour.

Looks sweet, though. I'll admit that. But cork-and -cage packaging is not an indication of quality, even though I fall for it too and I know better.

Oh, and corks, the cheap little caps and twisty things and individual cardboard boxes? Not cheap.

And, yes, I realize Aaron was employing sarcasm to point out our susceptibility to pretty packaging, I think.

And Abyss? money. Especially with that tasty packaging.