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March Beer Club

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I won't lie, this was a really good night. I went a solid week and a half without beer before completely falling off the wagon this past weekend (as planned, to be sure) and drinking a bunch of beer (and bourbon, and moonshine, and other stuff) during Fat Weekend (a gathering of portly individuals from across the northeast, and some points west, for drinking, fun, and fatness). Now here I am a few scant days later, drinking more beer (again, as planned). For the uninitiated, beer club is a gathering of beer-minded individuals from my workplace who get together once a month for beer and revelry at a local BYOB. This time around, we returned to a classic Beer Club venue, Jimmy's BBQ. Lots of smoked meat, dirty corn, beer, and fun was had by all:

March Beer Club
(Click for larger image)

Meat induced thoughts on each beer are below. This is for posterity, so I will be sure to be honest, though you might want to take this with a grain (or giant block) of salt, as this BYOB wasn't a hermetically sealed isolation chamber that is ideal for precise tasting notes. Caveats aside, here we go, in order of drinking, not necessarily in order pictured:

  • Kaedrin Fat Weekend IPA - This year's batch finally got that Simcoe and Amarillo loving that I've been trying to get for a few years. My only issue is that I'm still getting a handle on this kegerator operation here, so I feel like I frittered away a significant amount of aroma in the process of trying to get the carbonation and pressure right. I think I've figured out this process well enough that I won't ruin future batches, and it's not like this one turned out bad or anything. Indeed, just a few of us housed 3 whole growlers during Fat Weekend (we would have done so on Friday night if I didn't insist we save one for Saturday). So yeah it was good, and it compared somewhat favorably to tonight's IPA lineup, which was considerable. I'll give it a B for now, though I think it could easily go higher with some slight tweaks to recipe and kegging procedure.
  • Dogfish Head 90 Minute - The old standby, I feel like the last couple times I've had this, it hasn't been quite the mindblower it once was for me. Still a rock solid brew, though I might downgrade it to a B+
  • Maine Lunch - One of my contributions. In case you can't tell by the first three beers of the night, we overcompensated for the past couple of beer clubs and brought a shit ton of IPAs this month. Not that I'm complaining, as they were all pretty damn good (to spectacular). This one was a really nice citrus and pine take of the style, in competition for my favorite Maine beer. B+ (though it might go higher outside of this setting)
  • Petrus Aged Pale - Nothing like a sour to cleanse the palate, eh? A very nice oak aged sour beer, something I've had before, and one of those things I'd use to help convert the heathens to the world of sours/good beer. B+
  • DC Brau On The Wings Of Armageddon - Many thanks to Dana for rocking the DIPAs tonight, including this rarity (at least, to us PA folk), which turns out to pretty much live up to the hype, a super piney, dank take on the DIPA, nice body, really well rounded and delicious beer (along the lines of those Pipeworks IPAs I had a while back). Really fantastic, and I hope to someday snag a few fresh cans of this for myself. A-
  • Sixpoint Hi-Res - Alright, so we're getting to a point where specifics about given IPAs are starting to blend together in my head, but I my thoughts on this one are that it comported itself very well in this rather strong lineup of IPAs and DIPAs, actually better than I was expecting (though I'm not sure why, as Sixpoint has always been a pretty solid brewery for me). We'll go with B+ and leave it at that.
  • John's Homebrewed Porter - A relative newcomer to beer club, John made his first batch of beer in about 20 years recently. He went with a pretty straightforward porter that, to be sure, turned out well. But he's working on some interesting stuff in future batches, including a port wine soaked oak beer, possibly even a wile beer, so I'm quite looking forward to it. B
  • Alchemist Heady Topper - Yeah, we've already beaten this one to death before on the blog.
  • Bell's Hopslam - Another one we've covered before, but I certainly ain't complaining, as I do really enjoy this beer and this is the first time I've ever had it out of a bottle. Thanks again to Dana, who brought a crap ton of DIPAs tonight.
  • Ken's Homebrewed Coffee Porter - No real coffee added, but it used some sort of special coffee malt. Not sure if that's malt soaked in coffee or something like that or if it's just roasted to a point that it gives off coffee character, but whatever, it came through well in the beer and did not overpower it at all. Granted, coffee porters aren't really my thing, but this seemed to work reasonably well. B-
  • North Coast Pranqster - A nice little Belgian pale ale, very sweet for it's relatively middling ABV, but still well carbonated enough that it works really well. I enjoyed, and it fit after all those IPAs. B+
  • Widmer SXNW - It came in a fancy box, so it has to be good, right? Well, it's made with Pecans, Cacao beans, and Green Chiles, so I was fearing another hot pepper beer, but it turns out that the dominant character came from that cacao. Huge chocolate notes in the nose, with a corresponding taste. The chiles are there, but in the background, just providing some complexity. Overall, it's an interesting beer, though not one I'd really seek out again. B
  • Humboldt Black Xantus - So I didn't realize this when I bought it, but this is apparently one of them barrel aged Firestone Walker beers, even if it's bottled under the older Nectar Ales brand. That barrel aging comes through loud and clear, and it's quite nice, but there's also apparently a coffee component that also shows up, though it's not as dominant as, say, BCBCS. One of my favorites of the night, though not quite Parabola levels awesome (but still regular beer levels awesome). A-
So there you have it, an enjoyable night had by all. Already looking forward to the next installment of beer club...

Nebraska Sexy Betty

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In my grading system for this here blog, a B is actually a pretty good score. It's not going to melt your face (that's, uh, a good thing for me) but it's unambiguously good beer that is worth seeking out. So the fact that every Nebraska Brewing Company beer I've ever had has been a B in my book isn't a hideous disaster, but it's starting to get a little tiresome (Indeed, I see that my previous foray into their beer contains a similar lament). Granted, this is only my fourth beer from them, but on the other hand, buying four of Nebraska's reserve series beers means that I had to seek council from a local loan shark (because I already have three mortgages and the bank has long since cut me off). I don't normally factor price into my reviews because it's all about the taste. But in general, when shelling out $20+ for a bottle of beer, I can at least talk myself into thinking it was a worthwhile affair. For whatever reason, Nebraska, while never truly disappointing, has also never really delivered in that respect.

In the grand scheme of things, this doesn't really matter because I'm just some dork on the internets, and like a dope, I keep coming back for more. Like Jay suggests, I should really just admit that I've been beaten here and leave it be. In this case, I talked myself into the purchase because it's a barrel aged imperial stout, truly one of my favorite things in the world, and while I'm a BA nut, I really haven't had many Brandy barrel aged beers. And this one boasts 50 year old American Brandy barrels, which sounds pretty cool to me. Alas, it was not quite as Sexy as it sounded, though again, it's not really bad either.

Nebraska Sexy Betty

Nebraska Sexy Betty - Pours a dark brown, almost black color with a finger of light brown head that fades relatively quickly. Par for the course so far. Smells of rich dark malts, roast, a little caramel, maybe a hint of that Brandy barrel, but it's very faint. Taste is similar. It's got a big roasty note, maybe some chocolate, grainy stuff, and if I really look for it, a hint of that Brandy coming out a bit towards the finish, but again, not much in the way of oak. If I didn't know this was barrel aged, I might not pick it out blind. Mayhaps a 50 year old barrel has already given all its going to give? Mouthfeel is full bodied, well carbonated, heavy but still a bit nimble (perhaps that Brandy lightening the mood a bit), though definitely still a sipper of a beer. Overall, it's a solid imperial stout, but I would have really liked to see more barrel character. B

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a snifter on 3/1/14. Bottled 09/23/13.

Apparently the initial incarnation of Sexy Betty used 50 year old Cognac barrels (so French, not American brandy), was sufficiently more rare, and more highly regarded too. Whatever the case, I don't know how much more Nebraska you're going to see on this blog. Maybe in another year or two, I'll forget again and decide to take a flier on Black Betty (the base beer for this one), but I wouldn't hold my breath because I have to figure out how to dodge this loan shark for a while.

HaandBryggeriet Odin's Tipple

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Odin, the chief god of Norse mythology, is associated with war and death, but also wisdom and poetry (amongst other things). I'll have what he's having. But then, we should be careful. Odin once drank from the Well of Wisdom, but to do so, he had to sacrifice one of his eyes. So, have you got what it takes to tipple with Odin? I'd like to think that I do, but I'm a little disappointed with my choice of drinking vessel, as I did not have any giant fucking ram's horns laying around (like Odin has on the label). I'll just have to make due with this snifter glass and this Mjolnir thing.

I've heard some conflicting things about this Norwegian beer from HaandBryggeriet. Some folks have noted that the recipe can change from year to year. It's labeled a Dark Norse Ale, but the Shelton Brothers website sez they use "wild yeast", which is something I didn't really get out of the beer (though perhaps that flavor I attributed to chalkiness is really more of a funky, musty thing?) To my mind, this is definitely in the mold of an Imperial Stout, wild yeast or no. Whosoever tipples this beer, if they be worthy, shall possess the power of Odin!

HaandBryggeriet Odins Tipple

HaandBryggeriet Odin's Tipple - Pours darker than a politician's soul (sorry, watching House of Cards tonight), black with a finger of brown head that quicky resolves into a ring around the edge. Smells of rich dark malts, chocolate, caramel, a hint of roast, maybe even some coffee. Taste is very rich, much larger roast here than the nose would imply, coffee too, maybe a hint of chalkiness, but plenty of rich caramel and chocolate too, and for a beer this big and rich, it's got a good ofsetting bitterness, especially in the finish. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, well carbonated, a little pleasant booze. A bit burly, so the 500 ml packaging is a good fit and hey, it's a cold winter over here at Kaedrin HQ, so burliness is welcome. Overall, this is a really fantastic non BA imperial stout. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (500 ml capped). Drank out of a snifter on 2/21/14. Batch 487.

I've got to haand it to these wacky Norwegians, they're pretty good at these dark beers. I should really take some time to explore more of their catalog.

February Beer Club

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Tonight was beer club, a gathering of beer minded individuals from my work who get together about once a month at a local BYOB for good company and libations. As per usual, a good turnout, with a good representation from the core team, but also some very welcome new faces. About half of us are, at this point, avid homebrewers, so discussion veered into a rather nerdy realm from time to time, but that's all good, and there was also a nice contingent of non-beer drinking peeps who were bemused by our nerdery, but steered the discussion other ways as well. Good times had by all.

February Beer Club

For the sake of posterity, initial thoughts on each beer are captured below. As you might guess, conditions here are not ideal, nor did I always drink a full portion, so take this with a gigantic grain of salt if you dare. Or not. I am pretty awesome, so I'm sure these inchoate notes are all you'll really need. In order of drinking (not necessarily in order pictured):

  • Heavy Seas Gold Ale - A pretty basic Blonde Ale, comparable to most macro slop, but a step above such extremes. B-
  • Kaedrôme Saison - This is drinking well, though it still has not carbonated as well as I'd have liked. I don't know if this is because the yeast is just so old and overstressed or if it's because it's been so cold lately and my cellar is just so cold that it's taking the beer a while to condition. Whatever the case, the flavors are at the right place, and there is enough carbonation to make it drinkable, it's just that I wish there were more. B
  • New Belgium Lips Of Faith - Coconut Curry Hefeweizen - Holy curry, Batman! At first, the curry seemed to overpower everything else, but as I drank and as it warmed (we had some of this later in the evening as well), the coconut and hefeweizen notes came out a bit more. Its a very interesting, weird beer, but I don't think it's quite the right combination of flavors for beer. C+
  • Stone Matt's Burning Rosids - I think you all know how much I love me some saisons, even weird, incoherent takes on the style, but this one seemed to be filled with a sorta burnt rubber band aid flavor that overpowered everything else. Perhaps not totally undrinkable, but I'm really, really happy I only tried a smallish sample of the stuff. D
  • Green Jack Rippa - I've seen this around and been curious about an "English Triple" beer, and it was an interesting beer, though it came off as being incredibly boozy, which is a bit odd for an 8.5% beer. To be sure, that's not a whimpy ABV, but it's also not something I'd expect to be quite so powerfully boozy. It had a nice malt backbone too, but not enough to stand up to the booze. C+
  • Ken's Homebrewed ESB - A light take on the style, though perhaps it just seemed that way because we had this after the boozy bomb previously mentioned. Still, very easy drinking stuff, malt forward but quaffable. B
  • Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale - Now, this beer club group occasionally visits an authentic (at least, to us Yanks, it seems so) British pub called The Whip Tavern. They have this rather spectacular dessert called Sticky Toffee Pudding, so hopes were somewhat high for this beer. To be sure, I was tempering my expectations by the fact that a lot of English ales, even stuff like this that is flavored with adjuncts, come off with hints of diacetyl, but in this case, my fears were unfounded. It's nowhere near as good as the actual dessert, but it had a really nice toffee/caramel character that worked really well for the beer. B
  • Chimay Tripel (White) - A beer I've obviously had many times before, and it's just as good as ever, though I seem to have veered away from a lot of the Belgian styles that initially hooked me on good beer. Still, this is a nice one. I'd probably downgrade to a B+, but it's still very nice.
  • Starr Hill Psycho Kilter - A nice take on the Scotch Ale style, certainly not a top tier effort, but a nice, malt forward, relatively low carbed beer that doesn't quite bely its relatively high 9.3% strength. B
  • Kaedrin Bomb and Grapnel (Bourbon Oaked Version) - This is the version of my RIS homebrew that was aged on bourbon soaked oak cubes. In this version, the charred oak really comes through strong. Not a ton of bourbon, though it is there. The charred oak is pretty strong at this point, which makes me think that perhaps I should have soaked the oak cubes in bourbon for longer than the 1-2 weeks I employed. Still, this turned out well, though the blended version seems to be the best version. B+
  • Lost Abbey The Angel's Share (Bourbon Barrel Aged) - A beer I've had and reviewed before. It is still pretty fantastic stuff. A-
  • Deschutes Jubelale - Another beer I've had a few times this year, and it's a nice winter warmer style beer, malt forward with lots of spice, quite enjoyable (and surprisingly did not suffer from a no doubt beleaguered palate at this point in the night). B
And that just about covers it. Already looking forward to the March beer club, where I'll be able to share some Fat Weekend IPA...

Dark Hollow

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This is a beer that's been on my radar for a while now, and I finally pulled the trigger. My interest primarily originated from the name of the semi-local (let's call it regional) Virginia brewery, which is Blue Mountain Barrel House. What can I say, I've got a one track mind when it comes to barrel aged beers, and this place sounds like they'd do that sort of thing. Indeed, brewmaster Taylor Smack (perhaps the second best brewer name in the business, just behind Wayne Wambles of Cigar City fame) cut his teeth working at the Goose Island brewpubs in Chicago. You know, the folks that do Bourbon County Brand Stout? As barrels go, they source from four of the big guys (Makers Mark, Four Roses Yellow Label, Wild Turkey, and Elijah Craig), which represents a nice cross section of the market. So that's a good pedigree, though it also sets the bar pretty high (to be sure, I didn't know this before I drank). Fortunately, this was pretty good stuff:

Dark Hollow

Blue Mountain Barrel House Dark Hollow - Pours a black color with half a finger of quickly disappearing tan head. Smells strongly of bourbon, with some oak, vanilla, cocoa, and caramel pitching in and just a hint of roast and chocolate. Taste is also bourbon forward, very sweet, with a more prominent roasted malt character pitching in the middle, cocoa, but that's all overtaken by the bourbon, with some caramel, oak, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy. A little booze makes itself known, but nothing unpleasant. Overall, this is a solid bourbon barrel stout, but not quite BCBS levels. Perhaps an unfair comparison, as Dark Hollow is doing its own thing and it's definitely something I'll hit up again at some point. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 2/8/14.

Certainly a brewery I'd like to sample more of, including a beer called Local Species, which is a Belgian pale ale made from the second runnings of Dark Hollow mash (and also aged in Bourbon Barrels). Color me interested.

Dark Lord

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Let's start this review off right with a stupid meme:

True Detective Meme 1
True Detective Meme 2
True Detective Meme 3

So unfortunately, I'm going to have to play Rustin Cohl (i.e. McConaughey) to collective beer nerdery's Martin Hart (i.e. Harrelson). Despite all the accolades everyone seems to hand out, I did not particularly love this beer. It's not awful or anything, but it's one of those beers that's hyped to high heaven or at least, it used to be... The hype has slowly been shifting to the ever more rare barrel aged variants, though this regular, non-BA version still commands pretty high ratings and ridiculous prices in the secondary market.

For the uninitiated, Dark Lord is a massive 15% ABV, coffee-infused imperial stout made by Three Floyds in Munster, Indiana, and it's only available at the brewery on one day out of the year (aptly titled Dark Lord day). This is a practice that has spread to just about every other brewery that has a big imperial stout release (think Darkness day or Hunahpu's day). It's very much a publicity stunt, though it's also more of a festival than a beer release (though the beer is the primary motivating factor), what with lots of other beers on tap and live music and large crowds. Attendance is capped at 6000 tickets, and there are apparently huge lines (according to these guys, the wait, even when they had a ticket, was three hours) and lots of beer sharing and trading and other hijinks. Allocation is 3 bottles per ticket (for the math impaired, that's 18,000 bottles), so it's not like this is a particularly rare beer, it's just that the distribution is limited.

I got my bottle in a trade with a gentleman from Chicagoland and have been holding on to it for a rather long time. Part of the reason for this is that everyone says the beer gets better over time and that it's cloyingly sweet and boozy when it's fresh. This particular bottle was a 2012 vintage, so it's had almost 2 years to mellow out. Was it worth the wait or the hype? Not really. I certainly wouldn't mind trying a bottle of fresh stuff (or any of the BA variants (like that will ever happen)), but this definitely did not live up to expectations.

Three Floyds Dark Lord

Three Floyds Dark Lord - Pours a gloopy black color with a minimum of head, barely a cap of tan head that quickly dissapates. Smells of caramel, brown sugar, a slight hint of coffee and roast. I rather liked the nose, at least at first. Taste is super sweet, sugary, some rich caramel, lots of sugar, maybe brown sugar, very sweet, not much in the way of roast or coffee, and did I mention that this was sweet? As it warms up, the coffee comes out a little more, but it feels like I'm drinking over-sweetened coffee. I don't think the age has done the coffee any favors, and it certainly doesn't stand up to the rest of the beer. Taking my cue from Rainier Wolfcastle: like the goggles, the coffee and roast do nothing. The onslaught of sugar and sweetness is unstoppable. It'd be almost admirable in its extremity if it was a little more balanced. Mouthfeel is full bodied, heavy, low but appropriate carbonation, definitely a sipper, some booze, but not overly hot or anything... The sweetness is hard to overcome if you're trying to house a bottle by yourself, so this is perhaps something you'll want to share. Overall, I can't help but be a bit disappointed. Its not bad, but its nowhere near my favorite top tier stuff. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 15% ABV bottled (22 oz. waxed bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 1/31/14. 2012 vintage, red wax.

So there you have it. I'd obviously rather be drinking this than a lot of other beer, but at the same time, it doesn't seem worth the hoop jumping that it takes to get a bottle (directly or indirectly). Back in the day, this was what I'd call a white whale beer, something I never expected to get my hands on, and with the ever shifting goalposts of beer nerdery, it seems that the regular Dark Lord has been slipping in reputation of late. As mentioned before, the barrel aged variants are a different matter, and to be sure, I could see the added complexity (and age) doing wonders for this beer (alas, I have severe doubts that I'll ever sample that stuff). Indeed, when I got towards the end, instead of powering through the last few ounces, I poured some bourbon in the remaining brew, and it actually allowed me to finish it off (this is pretty sad, really, but hey, it worked). Then I went to bed, because damn. Even spreading this out over a few hours, it was kinda tough.

January Beer Club

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Just in the nick of time. This was scheduled for earlier in the month but got delayed due to snow and other such things. But we persevered, and Beer club marched on. For the unawares, beer club is a gathering of beer minded folks from my work, who get together once a month at a local BYOB for beverages and fun.

January Beer Club 2014
(Click for larger version)

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer are below. As per usual, these are off the cuff responses with no formal notes, so they're basically useless for you, but I'm including them anyway because why should I care what you think of my drunken recollections of these beers? In order of drinking (and not in the order pictured above, and there are definitely a couple beers not pictured at all because I took the picture early and didn't feel like updating it later and why are you so confrontational about this, it's just a thing, and fine, you want to fight about it? Let's do this thing. Or not. Whatever. What were we talking about?)

  • Stone Double Bastard - Probably not the best beer to start off a tasting with, but it worked just fine, and it was as good as I remember. Which is to say, it's good, but not mind blowing. B+
  • Unibroue Éphémère - This is not as apple-flavored as I remember, though that character is still fully present in the beer, which is a pretty solid Belgian Wit style affair and would make a great summer beer.
  • Boxcar CarKnocker IPA - The uber local (i.e. within a couple miles of my house) brewery's take on a standard IPA, it's decent, but not quite as good as their original (kinda, sorta Belgian style) IPA. B-
  • DC Brau The Corruption - A beer I reviewed in more detail just yesterday.
  • Bell's Midwestern Pale Ale - A fine offering, but perhaps sampled too late in the the night, as it sorta suffered in comparison to the other IPAs. B-
  • Boxcar Belgian Tripel - One of uber-local Boxcar's best beers, it's still a pretty straightforward Belgian style tripel. Along those lines, it's pretty good. Not a top tier effort, but quite nice. B+
  • Element Brewing Dark Element - A rather nice India Black Ale (or whatever you want to call that hoppy stout style), this sucker had just a hint of roast, a nice malt backbone, and plenty of dank, piney, resinous hops. One of the best of the night. A-
  • Ken's Homebrewed Hybrid Thingy - A sorta beer/wine/mead hybrid, this was made with some barley, copious amounts of honey, and muscat grapes. This is some crazy Dogfish-head style shit, but it actually worked pretty darn well. Clocking in at around 10% ABV, this thing didn't feel like it at all, making it dangerously easy to drink. B
  • Kaedrin Bomb and Grapnel (Blend) - This is the version that contains a blend of straight RIS and Bourbon Oaked RIS. It turned out pretty darn well, though the oak character is a bit muted here. I don't know that I'd be able to pick it out blind, but regardless, it turned out pretty well and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Look for a triple feature (with all the variants) soon. I'll give it a B+ for now, though it could easily be higher.
  • Spring House Satan's Bake Sale Mint Chocolate Chip Stout - One of my contributions, this was a fascinating sorta Girl Scout Thin Mint beer. Not sure if I would have reacted so positively if I drank the whole thing by myself, but it's a perfect beer for the setting. The mint chocolate chip character comes through strong, but not in an overpowering way. Very nice, and I enjoyed muchly. B+
  • Boulevard and Sierra Nevada Terra Incognita - A whiskey barrel aged beer that shows off that character pretty well. I still think that stouts and barleywines work better on that front, but this was certainly a fine effort. B
And that just about covers it. Good times had by all, and I'm already looking forward to the next installment (which should be sooner, rather than later... hopefully!)

Gazing Into The Abyss

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Finally. I know that if I call this a white whale beer, a million neckbearded beer dorks will descend upon Kaedrin HQ with righteous fury, but it's been several years of near misses for me, so it was a hard fought victory for me. For those of you in the distribution range or who don't live in a state with archaic booze law (i.e. states that allow you to have beer shipped), you've got it easy. Well Deschutes distributes to Philly now (apparently one of the few east coast places that gets some Deschutes), so I've finally got my greedy paws on some of this stuff.

So what's the big deal? Well, The Abyss is a monster 11% ABV Imperial Stout, and when you gaze into it, it gazes back. It's actually got quite the recipe. Brewed with black strap molasses and licorice, finished with cherry bark and vanilla beans, and partially aged in oak barrels. From what I can tell, this changes each year, but the 2013 reserve is 6% aged in oak Bourbon barrels, 11% aged in oak barrels (presumably new oak), and 11% aged in oak wine barrels (Pinot Noir, I'm told). Some earlier vintages have left out the cherry bark and vanilla beans, and also had a slightly higher barrel percentage (and I gather that the Pinot Noir barrels have only been around for a couple years as well), but I ain't complaining, cause this is decent stuff:

Deschutes The Abyss 2013 Reserve

Deschutes The Abyss 2013 Reserve - Pours pitch black with a gorgeous finger of brown head that gradually subsides to a cap with decent retention. Smells heavily of roasted, dark malts, perhaps some of that molasses and vanilla pitching in as well. Nice complexity in the nose, I keep picking out new notes. As it warms, there is something bright but not quite fruity in the nose (perhaps the wine barrel or cherry bark?) Coffee, chocolate, sugary caramel, It just keeps coming. The taste starts off with that rich caramel, but that quickly evolves into vanilla, then chocolate, a heavy roasted malt character, finally leading into a relatively bitter finish (bitter both from hops and from roast). I don't get a lot of direct oak or Bourbon, but the barrel aged character does sorta come out in the rich mouthfeel of the brew. Speaking of which, the mouthfeel is rich, thick, and chewy, full bodied but reasonably well carbonated. The bitter finish dries out the mouthfeel a bit, but it's still a big, rich beer that will coat your mouth and linger for a bit. Overall, this is excellent, even if it's not quite ticking my favorite stout checkboxes, it's still really impressing me... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (22 oz waxed bomber). Drank of of a snifter on 1/18/14. Best After 08/16/14.

Zuh? Best After 08/16/14? It turns out that it's just fine to drink fresh, but they claim it will age very well too, though it'll be "entirely different" a year on. So you're saying I need to hunt down another bottle? It looks like it. I could definitely see that bitterness mellowing out over time, and perhaps some of those other elements becoming better incorporated.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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