Revisited a bottle of 2012 Abyss, an Imperial stout brewed with black strap molasses, liquorice, with cherry bark and vanilla added with 6% aged in oak bourbon barrels, 11% aged in oak barrels, and 11% aged in oak wine barrels. It was just as impressive as last year, and mellowed out a bit.
Final Rating: 4.56/5
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a snifter. Acquired in a trade. 2012 vintage.
A- Pours a chocolate colored body that’s transparent on the pour but opaque once in the glass. The head is mocha colored and rises to about 1.5 fingers before slowly reducing to leave a plume of foam. Leaves blotchy lacing. Beautiful.
S- The stout characteristics are light on the nose with toffee, coffee beans, and milk chocolate coming in a little. The oak is definitely present and dominates here – fresh oak with a slight fruityness to it – is that from the cherry bark or the wine barrel? I’m not sure. What I do know is that it’s unique and inviting. Vanilla and bourbon sneak through but you really have to strain for them.
T- Upfront I get a big flavorful punch of bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, toffee and molasses. This eventually develops into a dark fruit, almost tart woody note that is was definitely brought on by the wine barrels. The bourbon and oak characteristics definitely show themselves on the follow through – vanilla-caramel brought on by the bourbon and a fresh wood flavor mesh with the other flavors to really make this beer complex. The finish has that PERFECT lingering roastyness that I get in all world-class BA stouts. It lingers for at least a minute afterwards (reminiscent almost of burnt toast, but in a savory delicious way).
M- Medium body, but this does not at all take away from the experience. It doesn’t have the motor-oil consistency of BCBS, but it’s not TOO thin. Low carbonation.
After finishing this bottle, I can really see why it sits at the top of the top 250 list. The complexity of this beer is unmatched by any other russian imperial stout I’ve ever tasted, and that’s really the shining point of this brew. It’s not simply a BA stout, or vanilla RIS. It’s a world class blend that is like none other. A must try.