How the time flies, and more Deschutes

Ack! Has it really been two weeks since my last post? That’s too long. I’m out of the country next week, so we’ll have another interruption soon, but I’m going to try to fill the space between now and then with regular updates.

Last week I attended the release party for the 2009 Deschutes Abyss Imperial Stout, at the Deschutes Portland Brewpub. A couple hundred people turned out for a 2PM event at a pub to buy beer at $12/bottle. Only in Portland, I tell you.

The Abyss, for those of you who haven’t encountered it before, is an Imperial stout. It’s brewed with molasses and licorice, and a third of the final blend is aged in oak casks. This is the fourth release.

I failed to bring a camera, but the line formed outside from the roll-up doors on the south side of the building and streched around a little past the main entrance on the west side. At 2, the roll-up opened and the line was moved inside to snake from the front desk past the bar and virtually all the way around the dining room. Servers passed out tasters of both the new release and brownies made with the beer, and Portland brewmaster Cam O’Connor introduced the beer and gave a toast before sales commenced.

Along with our six-pack we took advantage of the bar special: short pours of the ’08 and the ’09 Abyss. The 2009 was young and primal, with up-front notes of roasted grains and bitter chocolate. The 2008 was a different animal, creamy and soft, with a deeply complex nose. The phrase that jumped to my mind was “tobacco milkshake.” I have just a single bottle of the 2008 in my cellar, but if the 2009 moves in that direction I will not mind.

There seems to be reasonably adequate supply of this beer in the Portland market. While some stores have allocated their supply, most of the larger groceries around town have several cases, a week after release. While the price is significant, for a beer, I tend to think of this more as wine: at 11%, serving size is smaller (I usually open Abyss as a dessert beer for friends), and the beer certainly cellars well. If I liked even a handful of $12 wines as much as I like this beauty, I’d save a bundle on wine…

2007 and 2009 Abyss bottles

Side-by-side comparison of the ’07 and ’09 Abyss. The primary difference is the addition of the “Best After” dating. The 2009 also has the major advantage of being full of beer.

Abyss, now with Best After dating


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