Back in 2015 when Deschutes announced it was releasing variants of their famed imperial stout I was immediately on the hunt.
After weeks of checking in with local bottle shops and secret spots I came to the sad realization that the bottles were not being sent to my area and that it was going to take some work to get them. In the end I was successful in my mission, but when the announcement was made that variants were coming in 2016 I took no chances. I called in favors and had a friend grab bottles from the source in Bend, Ore. and send them my way.
Little did I know that Deschutes stepped up their production levels and that bottles would soon appear on my local shelves. Go figure. Either way I was stoked to get my hands on a few bottles of each.
My last review was of the Scotch barrel-aged version and today I am busting open the brandy barrel variant. Generally, I let the standard The Abyss sit for a few years before opening,1 it but with the variants my patience is thin so I am cracking my first bottle.
As expected it pours jet black with a chocolate milk-colored head. After a vigorous pour I get a couple fingers of head in my Teku glass that stay around for longer than expected. A few anxious whiffs of the glass bring a nose that is very reminiscent of regular The Abyss: molasses, raisins and figs, oak, cocoa and a faint hint of coffee. The Scotch version had a big fudgy brownie batter character where the chocolate note on this version is more of a bitter baking chocolate or powdered cocoa. The brandy starts to come through in the finish along with a heavy oak character. The tannins from the barrel combined with the 64 IBUs really push the bitterness that lingers forever in the finish.