beer black butte

Sometimes roommates suck; anybody living off campus can tell you plenty of horror stories. But other times, roommates are the best, and I have the distinct pleasure of living with one of the best of the best: Justin Perkins.

In addition to his many other endearing qualities, Justin loves alumni. Accordingly, alumni love Justin. One night a while back, Justin was out schmoozing and boozing with said alumni, and he met someone who worked for Deschutes Brewery. Justin mentioned how much he and his housemates loved beer, and the alum said he would send some his way.

The next morning, Justin was telling us about all this, but he said the alum was probably not going to remember and nothing would come of it. Fast forward a few months, and Justin brings home a package with a bomber of the Abyss 2013 Reserve Imperial Stout. We decided to taste this big beer as a house, and I decided I might as well throw another couple beers in and do a Deschutes review.

The Abyss is an intimidating beer. The cap is covered in black wax and at 11 percent ABV, it is no light undertaking. Abyss is brewed with black strap molasses, licorice, cherry bark, and vanilla. A portion of the beer is aged in oak bourbon barrels, another portion in new oak, and yet another in oak wine barrels. Damn.

The beer pours a deep black with no head. The aroma is dark and oaky. The taste is complex and difficult to decipher. At first you are confronted with hop bitterness and a stringent taste of alcohol. This morphs into a dark coffee flavor, and gradually, the malt and molasses come through. This lingers and dissipates into a bourbon-tinged burnt nut flavor.

The Abyss is absolutely amazing –  one of the best stouts I have ever tasted. No, this is the best stout I’ve ever tasted. It doesn’t get better than this. Honestly, I don’t recommend this beer because after it, everything else will just taste bland.

Next up to the chopping block is the Deschutes Obsidian Stout. This beer weighs in at 6.4 percent ABV and is a classic as far as stouts go. It pours a blackish brown with an inch or so of mocha head. It smells toasty with a hint of coffee. The initial taste is of coffee and chocolate with a light body and a smooth, creamy aftertaste. This is a perfect beer for cold winter nights, or maybe even a vanilla ice cream beer float.

Our final beer is the Deschutes Black Butte Porter. This guy comes in at 5.2 percent ABV and is the slightly less bold cousin of the Obsidian stout. The beer pours dark brown with a couple fingers of off-white head. The aroma is mild, maybe with some hints of chocolate. The beer tastes nutty and roasted with hints of chocolate and vanilla. It is very smooth and creamy. The malt body isn’t too strong, and this guy is definitely on the lighter side of a porter.

Ultimately, if you aren’t ready for a stout, but want something to warm you up, this is a very nice beer. Also, it is easier to drink than its bigger, bolder cousin. That just about wraps it up. The moral of the story this month is: roommates (and alumni) are awesome, especially when they give you beer.

Hanson Smith

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