Deschutes Brewery – Obsidian Stout

This past week I bottled my first stout.  I posted about the recipe and the brewing process on here; however, as some of you may know, I tend to start getting very interested in the style I’m brewing as  I brew and begin to get close to consuming my homebrew.  Of course, the upcoming cold weather has resulted in an influx of big stouts on my shelves.  This past week I went to the store for a weekly pick up and ended up getting all stouts.  I’m sure I’ll be posting about some of those, but what I really want to see is how good my stout turned out.  I took a few little sips of the uncarbonated sweet coffee stout, and I think it has real potential.  If it turns out anything even close to this one from Deschutes, I’ll be quite happy.

I always feel a little funny reviewing stuff that comes from the west coast.  This beer is rare where I’m from.  You don’t see a whole lot of Deschutes anywhere in the area, so when you see a beer like this in your local store, you pick it up.  In my mind I’m thinking I have blogging gold.  This is something people are going to totally want to read about; however, if you live on the west coast, I’m sure there are others who are asking why I’m reviewing such a common beer.  Either way, I was really excited to see this beer in my area, so I couldn’t help myself in buying it.  Hopefully some of you on the west coast won’t mind me reviewing something less than interesting to you.

This isn’t the first beer I’ve had out of the Oregon based brewery, but it may have been one I’ve been looking forward to the most.  When I think of Deschutes, I don’t think of one of the rarest breweries; however, I do think of a very well respected brewery.  Thanks to a beer trade, I actually have one of the more rare or sought after beers from them in my collection right now: The Abyss.  I’m certainly looking forward to opening that one up. Obsidian, on the other hand, gets its name from an obsidian flow that comes from  Newberry Voclano not far from the brewery.  Evidently the black volcanic glass covers more than 700 acres.  While the actual recipe has nothing to do with the actual obsidian flow, they do use the water that comes off the Cascade mountains.  They tout is as having a rich roasted malt flavor and smooth black color.  All components that make me quite happy with a good stout.

This one pours out a super dark black coffee color with only a minimal pleasant tan espresso head on top.  The snifter I used may have kept the head down, since I saw some other photos online where the head is quite ample.  Anyway, the head doesn’t hang around too long; instead, it diminishes quite quickly and it basically seems like you have some espresso foam swirls on top.  The beer doesn’t really result in a whole lot of lacing; however, there is certainly a ton of sticky residue that clings to the side of the glass.  Of course the beer is far to dark to get a sense of clarity, and you can’t see how abundant the carbonation is at all either.

The aroma of the brew is filled with tons of rich roasted scents.  The coffee and espresso aroma is quite strong overall as well.  These two components are big things I look for in a stout, and aspects I’m hoping to have in my brew as well.  There is a light dark chocolate aroma that comes in to compliment the big roasted coffee smell.  The sweet malts are certainly there, and you get a nice amount of hops as well.  Evidently this beer comes up to 55 IBUs which makes it just enough to seem like it might balance out some of the big sweetness.  There is also some very light scents of both citrus and oak that could help play into the composition.

There is typically a clearly dominant component to every beer I drink, and this beer is clearly dominated by a roasted flavor throughout.  The flavor profile starts off with your typical sweet malts; however, the roasted flavoring is there even at the start of the beer.  The light roasted notes and mellow chocolate flavors lead into the middle of the beer.  The cleanest and most refreshing point of the beer is right in the middle.  It evens out into a sweet chocolate malt flavor with minimal roasted flavors.  This doesn’t last long though because the roasted flavors come back with a vengeance.  The coffee flavors also come in huge with a lot of bold espresso flavors.  There is some fairly big hops that help to break up the big roasted notes.  The bold roasted coffee flavors lead into the completion where you get an almost charcoal finish.

The mouthfeel features a well carbonated beer with some light syrupy quality near the end of the brew.  The huge roasted flavors really dominate most of the palate, but the other flavors are quite complementary to the rest of the flavor profile.  Despite having a near charcoal finish, the beer manages to have it’s fairly clean and fresh moments.  I would still certainly say this is a fairly big and slightly heavy beer.

I would almost call this beer a warm up for my tasting of The Abyss that will come sometime over the winter here.  I’m sure my beer won’t have quite the big roasted quality this one does, but I would be more than happy if I can get mine somewhere in the vicinity of this one.  I would recommend picking up anything you see from Deschutes on your selves, but this is an especially good stout for sipping.  With all the big roasted notes, you will want to take your time with it.

Teacher Grade: B+



  1. Where the hell did you find this? Give up the goods! I used to have Deschutes at-will when I lived in MT and WA. This is a crazy good regular line-up beer. Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond are regulars that rock the party, too. I have heard Deschutes might be inching their way over here. It can’t be too soon.

    • I found it at Schneiders over by Union Station. They don’t have a huge selection, but you I found Maine Beer Co, Bourbon County, Alesmith, and this sole bottle of Deschutes.

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