March 16, 2014

Deschutes Abyss Complete Vertical Tasting Notes

Overall the thing that blew me away by this vertical was the complete lack of oxidation. Even the first batch, 2006, was relatively free of oxidative effects. This is a good and bad thing. Personally, I like a little oxidation. It adds sherry/port, dried fruit, and a bevy of other effects. On the other hand, it was fantastic to taste a BA imperial stout without negative stale oxidation too.

Bottom Line: I love this beer with 4-5 years on it. The roast and booziness has mellowed, but there is still an impressive roast malt character and body along with some vintage flavors.

Deschutes Abyss Complete Vertical: 2006-2013

Deschutes Abyss Complete Vertical: 2006-2013

Tasting notes below:

2013: Coffee grounds, caramel malts and a somewhat harsh booziness. Light vanilla oak presence that stayed constant throughout the entire vertical. Astringent roasted finish.

2012: The fullest bodied of the bunch. chewy black licorice, cheap rum and bittersweet chocolate.

2011:  Still a bit fusel-y, but starting to show some vintage flavors. Raisins, black chocolate and spiced rum.  The fullest bodied and sweetest of the bunch. Astringent roasted finish almost totally gone.

2010:  Sweet cuban coffee, brown sugar, and port. Less sweet and more integrated than the 2011.

2009: Most bottles of this vintage were infected and this was no different, however, it was substantially less than most we’ve experienced. Was much drier with a distinctive red wine quality. Still chocolatey, but not near as sweet. Was some folks favorite, but I found it too dry to allow it best qualities to shine through.

2008: Belgian chocolate, raspberries and oak-induced vanilla and coconut. Perfectly balance of sweetness. Amazing.

2007:  More roasted than the 08, presenting more of a coffee flavor. Caramel and vanilla, but overall a subdued bottle.

2006: Very coffee forward and bitter. The same flavors as previous years, (chocolate, caramel, sherry, etc) are present, but muted. Comes across a bit flat.

barrel aged imperial stout vintage

Abyss 2013: This young’in has a ways to go


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March 16, 2014

Deschutes Reserve Series Tasting

On Saturday I attending a tasting hosted by Jonah Edwards that covered the entire series of the Deschutes Reserve beers. This includes Abyss, Dissident, Black Butte, Jubel, and their handful of one-offs (Stoic, Green Monster, Class of 88, etc). It was an epic day and I did my scholarly best to take tasting notes. I’ll post them over the next few days.

Oh and did I mention the food? There were Abyss Cupcakes, Dissident Pate, and Chainbreaker Queso. Absolutely killer to say the least.

I’ll be publishing my tasting notes on the individual verticals in subsequent posts. Get excited!

Jonah made this pate. Literally made the gelatin topping out of Dissident. Possibly my favorite tasting experience of the day. It was that good.

Jonah made this pate. Literally made the gelatin topping out of Dissident. Possibly my favorite tasting experience of the day. It was that good.

Chocolate Cupcakes with frosting made from Abyss butter.

Chocolate Cupcakes with frosting made from Abyss butter.

The 7th Inning Stetch. The Abyss lineup in the back.

The 7th Inning Stetch. The Abyss lineup in the back.

The closers, the entire Black Butte vertical

The closers, the entire Black Butte vertical

So delicious, and so necessary…





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March 15, 2014

Vintage Beer Porn

I’m finally getting around to moving some photos off our camera, and thought I’d post a few from Bill Young’s epic New Years Eve Vintage Beer Party. Most bottles were courtesy of the ever generous Jonah Edwards.

Bottle of 1902 Bass Corker King's Ale

Blackberry Jam, blackstrap, tobacco, leather, and raisins. Utterly outstanding.

Courage Russian Imperial Stout

Tobacco, Smoke, mushrooms, and molasses. Drinkable, but over the hill.

Vintage JW Lee's Barleywine

Held up remarkably well. marmalade, honey and sherry. Notes of cellar must. Still like a bit younger (10-15 years)


bottles of vintage beer

A small glimpse of the offering’s at Bill Young’s NYE Party


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December 12, 2013

Jagged Mountain (hopefully) Brings The Vintage Beer Heat

It’s a little known fact among non-beer drinkers that many beers actually improve with age. Really, no different than a fine wine or a wheel of cheese. This may come as a surprise because, after all, beer has always been touted as a beverage that’s best drunk fresh.  But if a beer has the right criteria, namely high alcohol (at least 8%), or is acidic/sour, it ages at a considerably slower rate than your typical 5% pilsner. In a well designed beer, time enables unique new flavors to emerge, such as sherry, port, amaretto, dried fruit, or even vanilla. So, forget your experience with the skunky old Heineken you found in your garage; these beers evolve into something that can go toe-to-toe with a fine Amontillado or Maderia wine.

And it’s at one of the country’s most respected breweries, Kuhnhenn, a tiny brewery/B&B in Warren, Michigan, that some of these ultra-strong, cellar-able beers are being brewed. Located in a defunct hardware store, their beer is only available locally, but is so popular that beer geeks regularly make cross-country pilgrimages to get it. In fact, it’s so sought after that at one point, its Raspberry Eisbock was ranked the #1 beer in the world on No small feat. And In 2010, their English barleywine, Fourth Dementia, won gold at both the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. We’re talking about some serious street cred.

The reason their beer is so exceptional – and most of their customers will agree – is because they typically age them for a decent period of time prior to being served. And they’re brewed with the correct technique and ingredients that allow them to stand up to time in the cellar.

But what does a Michigan brewery have to do with Denver? Well, as Denverites are well aware, we live in one the greatest cities in the world.  So, when Wayne Burns, the brewer from Kuhnhenn, decided to strike out on his own and open a brewery, it’s no surprise he chose our fair city. Along with Michigan-bred friends, RJ Banat and Randy Stinson, he opened the doors to Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery last month much to the excitement and anticipation of local beer buffs.

Housed in an old brick building at the corner of 20th Street and Lawrence (about three blocks from Coors Field), this brewery is a real beaut. With a warm pine bar, plenty of high tops, and windows overlooking the action outside, the location will clearly be a hit. An astounding 20 taps are installed and though only 4-5 are currently being utilized, they’re looking forward to having most of them pouring very soon.

Given Burns’ pedigree, it’s easy to expect him to focus solely on making age-able, high ABV beer, but the strategy is instead to brew a wide range of styles that will cater to the beer-diverse LoDo crowd. And unlike the one-and-done model of many new breweries, Jagged Mountain plans to have a series of “house” beers  available, in addition to rotating “experimental” offerings. The anticipated regular offerings include a black IPA, saison, Scottish ale, American IPA, and a double IPA, and what’s been on offer so far has clearly showcased that their brewing abilities aren’t limited to high ABV bruisers.

That being said, they do expect their niche to be their experimental beer. These will trend toward barleywines, imperial stouts, old ales, and eisbocks; and if Burn’s work at Kuhnhenns is any indicator, they’re going to be huge; upwards of 15-20% ABV. If this were to happen, it would certainly fill a local niche that has been lacking.  The only CO brewery making these kind of beers is Avery, but in extremely limited amounts (not to mention being fairly cost-prohibitive). Time will tell if Jagged Mountain can reach Kuhnhenn’s legendary status, but what’s been put out there thus far is a good sign. Here’s hoping.

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