The Abyss vertical tasting

On the 11th of January of this year the wife and I were invited along with about 16 other people to Jon & Sherri Abernathy’s home for one of the most epic tastings ever: Deschutes The Abyss Imperial Stout full vertical tasting, 2006 – 2013.

Epic is the correct word. Certainly there are similar tastings of equally exquisite beers, but bring in all 8 years beginning with the first vintage (2006) and they become very rare, and often epic, events.

The first order of business is a big thanks to Jon & Sherri for collecting, saving, hoarding, storing and, finally, sharing all of those bottles of The Abyss. Bless you Jon for starting discussions of carrying it forward in 8 or more year flights into the future (next year 2007-2014 unless some saintly benefactor shows up with some 2006).

Jon's menu for The Abyss 2006-2013 Vertical Tasting

Jon’s menu for The Abyss 2006-2013 Vertical Tasting

The guests were Jon’s work buddies, local beer geeks and local beer industry folks including Gina and Jason, great people and Deschutes’ social media team. There is of course some overlap between various groups. There were three folks who were not having beer.

We drank the vintages sequentially starting at the beginning with 2006 and ending with 2013, although a few people had already dropped off or were about to by the time we got to 2013. 😉

Deschutes The Abyss 2006 - its 1st vintage

Deschutes The Abyss 2006 – its 1st vintage

We had shared a bottle of 2006 The Abyss back in summer with some of these same folks at the 2013 End of Summer Beer Extravaganza. Jon’s bottle was a bit better aged than that one, which wasn’t bad in the first place. He only had two 22 oz bottles of 2006 so we were getting about 2 oz each. It was an exquisite beer.

I knew trying to keep notes on the nuances between vintages was beyond ridiculous and I wanted to focus on the beer. I was planning on checking them all in on Untapped but only made a few notes on the first few. 2007 was going to be the only vintage I had not yet tasted* and I wanted a few notes on it. Here’s what I said:

  • 2006: A: heavenly. Dry must, cedar. Choc, tobacco, vanilla. Amazing! [notebook and Untappd]
  • 2007: A: tar, tobacco. OMG Beergasm! Slightly more tobacco, slightly spicier in mid-finish [notebook only]
  • 2008: little sweeter; smoother [notebook only]
  • 2009: slight Brett “infection” After that I just checked them in with a five-star rating and got back to enjoying them.
Deschutes The Abyss 2007

Deschutes The Abyss 2007

Every single one of the vintages was exquisite despite its differences from its siblings. Perhaps it is also due to those differences. Drinking 2 pints of The Abyss is not something one undertakes lightly. Experiencing all of those one after the other over a few hours was priceless.

In 2009 Deschutes had a problem with some of their batches getting infected with Brettanomyces. I have had Mirror Mirror and now The Abyss from 2009 (all previous 2009 The Abyss i have had was not infected.) that were both “infected” and let me tell you that they were still exquisite beers—despite and because. For many fans of Mirror Mirror and The Abyss the 2009 infected bottles are their favorites.

After the 2013 there were still some bottles of assorted vintages that weren’t empty. I had another ~1.5 oz of 2006 and then the same of 2010. In all, I had had ~2 pints of The Abyss.

My favorites so far are 2006, 2007 and 2010. I believe 2009 has amazing potential and 2011 isn’t far behind it. 2012 and 2013 are, of course, tasty but are still young.

We have a bottle each of 2007 and 2008, which I got at the Deschutes Bend Pub on release day this year. That bottle of 2007 is the priciest beer per oz. that I have bought so far. We also have 2 bottles of 2012 and 12 of this past year’s vintage. Sadly, it will be several years before we can host a vertical of The Abyss ourselves.

Thanks so very much to Jon and Sherri for hosting this wonderful tasting and for sharing all of this The Abyss with us.

Orange bottle cap from Deschutes The Abyss 2006 [see Jon's post linked below for more info]

Orange bottle cap from Deschutes The Abyss 2006 [see Jon’s post linked below for more info]

Here is Jon’s recap of the evening at his own blog: Abyss tasting Some of his tweets:

 

Deschutes Brewery tweets:

 

* We moved to Bend in time for the 2012 release of The Abyss and had a flight of 2008-12 at the pub on release day, and this past year we had 2009-13, again at the pub on release day.

2013 End of Summer Beer Extravaganza

Untappd says to “Drink Socially” and that is exactly what we did. Saturday, 14 September, was the 1st Annual End of Summer Beer Party at Paul and Sandi’s. The show got under way at 3:30. In attendance were Paul and Sandi, John and Sherri, Sara and I, and for a while Mike “Curly” White and his family dropped by. We drank a lot of beer, most of it aged for a year or as many as 7, ate good food and had a Mario Kart race off on the Wii. Um, I sucked at it, as was to be expected.

The beers and the order we drank them in are as follows:

Midnight Sun Berserker (2012) – was a bit smoother than last time we had it almost a year ago. Aged nicely.

Midnight Sun Berserker Russian Imperial Stout 2012

Midnight Sun Berserker Russian Imperial Stout 2012

10 Barrel Precursor Imperial Red (2011 Small Batch Series) Bottle 780 of 2600 – bourbon aroma and quite tasty.

10 Barrel Precursor Imperial Red

10 Barrel Precursor Imperial Red

McMenamins Red Rum Rum Barrel-Aged Amber Ale – from a large mason jar as growler. Tasty.

North Coast Old Rasputin XV – Quite good.

North Coast Old Rasputin XV Russian Imperial Stout

North Coast Old Rasputin XV Russian Imperial Stout

Full Sail Session Premium Lager – This was the go to for palate refreshing.

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale – Aroma was smoky with a hint of bacon and maple. Not near as bad as I expected (or had heard) but still not good.

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ale – I could describe but do not waste your time on this beer. We all poured it out. Some had a few more sips than others but we all ended up pouring it in the yard.

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ale

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ale

Fire Cirkl Dragon’s Blood Braggot – This was also aged for a year and based on the couple of tastes we’ve had of fresh stuff over the last several months the aging helped it. Aroma of wild flower honey and a clear, deep garnet or ruby brown.

Jubelale 2007 – Interesting. Soft, woody, oaky. Pretty darn good for a six-year-old beer not meant to age.

Deschutes Jubelale 2007

Deschutes Jubelale 2007

Southern Tier Imperial Crème Brûlée Stout – Aroma of OMG; as in not good; artificial. Not as bad as the Rogue Voodoo Doughnuts but almost. Others (maybe most) quite liked it.

Oakshire Hellshire III – Mellower than 7 months ago. Quite tasty. Glad I have a few more bottles left.

Oakshire Hellshire III Stout

Oakshire Hellshire III Stout

Jubelale 2008 – Some almost off flavors and a bit musty. Did not age well. But, as Jon admitted, aging these was a crap shoot.

Deschutes Jubelale 2008

Deschutes Jubelale 2008

Jubelale 2009 – Pretty tasty. Not quite as good as the 2007 but certainly much better than 2008.

Deschutes Jubelale 2009

Deschutes Jubelale 2009

Rogue Big Ass Barrel Blackberry Ale – Definitely a Rogue. Blackberry, as the name implies. Quite drinkable but not great to me.

The Abyss (2006) – 1st year. Aroma of licorice and “softness.” Licorice, tobacco. OMG! This is what aged beer should taste like.

Deschutes The Abyss 2006

Deschutes The Abyss 2006

Fire Cirkl One-Eyed Ginger – I didn’t even try this one. There was very little I was going to put in my mouth after The Abyss.

[At this point Jon and Sherri left and eventually we slid in a few barley wines.]

Pelican Mother of All Storms (2012) – Quite tasty. I had heard that this was supposed to be quite hoppy but after a year or so it was fairly balanced.

Firestone Walker Sucaba (2012) – An excellent barley wine, as I already knew. The year it has been aging has changed it little. Thankfully we have another bottle just as old and will let it age another year or so.

Firestone Walker Sucaba 2012

Firestone Walker Sucaba 2012

See Jon’s post at The Brew Site blog for a slightly different take and more and better pictures.

We brought the Hellshire III and and the Sucaba. Next year we will have some better aged things to share. But seeing as we only started cellaring beers last September/October those weren’t bad choices. In fact, they are both damn fine beers. In the meantime, we have acquired a fair bit more and have found sources for more aged beers. I am definitely looking forward to next year’s end of summer party.

We had a great time and tasted many high quality beers and were exposed to a few we might not otherwise have been. For me, the 2006 The Abyss was definitely the highlight.

Thanks Sandi and Paul for such a fun day! Sorry we kept you up so late.