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The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

5,497 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,497
Reviews: 1,727
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.78%
Wants: 2,606
Gots: 2,670 | FT: 202
Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-24-2006

Aged in bourbon, Oregon oak, and Pinot Noir barrels.

65 IBU

Vintages (production numbers from Deschutes):
2006 - Released December 2006 (approx 90 BBL)
2007 - Released January 2008 (approx 350 BBL)
2008 - Released November 2008 (approx 350 BBL)
2009 - Released November 2009 (approx 600 BBL)
2010 - Released December 2010 (approx 600 BBL)
2011 - Released November 2011 (approx 600 BBL)
View: Beers (116) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,497 | Reviews: 1,727 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by GeezLynn:
Photo of GeezLynn
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle. Just enjoyed the 2010 on tap and wanted to check and see how this batch is doing. Fingers crossed.

A: Pitch black with no highlights and a big tan head.

S: Thick roasted dark malt, cocoa, coffee, lots of oak, and a slight dirt/mustyness.

T: Bourbon and cherry flavors jump out first, followed by charred malt, black licorice, molasses and dark chocolate. Oak has a strong mellowing effect and helps flavors meld. Cherry works okay with chocolate but is uncharacteristic of previous years.

M: Thick body, moderate mouth cling, with slightly high carbonation. Good, but not quite as velvety as some of the best (DL, Yeti, Hunahpu's).

Hmmm... there's a distinctive cherry flavor than I haven't picked up in this beer in the past, which makes you consider developing infection. Still a good beer, but doesn't inspire much confidence in the remaining bottles of 2009 I have. Score reflects both this bottle and previous ones. I did find myself bumping up the score as the bottle had more time to open up and will readjust after trying aged 2010.

More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
3.96/5  rDev -12%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Kevin R for this long time want, 2011 vintage. The abyss pours out like... an abyss. Seriously, it is black, oily, and inky as hell with a deep, deep tan head that froths up slowly like a crema on top of an overpriced espresso. Long lasting, as it slowly recedes but never fully goes away; truly a beautiful beer, and one of the darkest stouts I've seen.

Creamy and roasty coffee beans up front in the aroma. Very "nice" coffee, like the kind you get at one of those indie shops with the hipster, tattooed barista, none of that Meijer aisle 9 shit. Not as good as, say, Speedway, but still a nice coffee blend. There's an underlying sweetness, a la cream and sugar-y, with a bit of back-end mild smoke.

Roasted malts, cocoa, and black licorice make a small appearance; enough to be noticeable, but they really don't leave a lasting impression. I wanna say molasses is somewhere in there, too, but it could just be a conjugate of the overall sweetness and maybe I'm just reaching for some descriptors now. Abyss is coffee, all day; it smells good but isn't exactly that complex.

The flavor leads off like the aroma, like taking a sip of something that's been sitting on top of coffee beans for months. Oily, roasted coffee beans, again, followed up with a balancing sweetness that goes hand in hand with the creamy body of the beer. Abyss has a nice mouth feel; smooth and heavy with pretty damn good carbonation.

Roasted beans and roasted malt keeps pounding the flavor profile. Maybe a little bit of licorice here and some molasses there. But it's not layered quite like I was expecting. And I've made it through nearly the entire glass with basically no mention of barrel. Seriously - I know it's only 33% barrel-aged or whatever, but it does not show up in this beer, at all. Perhaps that's why the complexity suffers.

Here's my problem with Abyss. It's a great stout, really. If I could go pick this off the shelf anytime for about 8-9$ a bomber, I gladly would. I just don't see why people go bat-shit nuts over this beer. I don't understand the 4.55 cumulative average (at this time of rating) for this beer. It's good, but c'mon people, it's not *that* good, and I certainly would never go through the hassle of trading just to get it. When it starts seeing year-round distro, then maybe I'll buy some more.

Photo of mjpolzin
3.89/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Didn't like this one as much as I hoped. It was overly roasty and the wine barrel/liquorice taste was a little odd to me. I would be interested in trying this with a little age on it and I do see that Deschutes has a "best after" date on the bottle. We'll give it another shot down the road.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.76/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

"If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

--Friedrich Nietzsche

2006 Reserve. Obliterative black that threatens to suck all ambient light from the room. Okay, that's probably over the top, but the beer is aggressively dark. The molasses hued cap is one of the darkest I've seen and is a treat for the eyes. It's thick and rich and long lasting and does a great job blanketing the glass with sheets of finely bubbled lace. In a word: perfection.

The nose is very good without being an absolute stunner. It may be that my expectations were too high, but I expected something with more pungency and more complexity. I can appreciate chocolate fudge and blackstrap molasses. Where's the black licorice? Where's the bourbon? The label says 'aged in oak barrels', but it doesn't say whether or not those barrels previously held bourbon.

The Abyss is *definitely* deserving of the hype. What amazes me most is how it's such a gentle giant. It tastes as if this bottle has been aging for several years rather than barely one. The various flavors all get along beautifully together, as if they've had all the time in the world to get acquainted.

The alcohol delivers just enough warmth to let you know you're drinking a massive beer that needs to be respected. Completely declawing and defanging a beast like this one is never a good idea. In case you're wondering, the 2006 is drinking splendidly right now.

A huge amount of roasted malt (and assorted other ingredients) delivers flavors of dark chocolate, espresso, caramelized sugar, molasses, licorice and sugared vanilla bean. The depth and complexity is close to overwhelming at times. If you love RISs and have the opportunity to buy a case of The Abyss, do so. You won't regret it.

Sweetness edges right up to the 'too sweet' line, without putting a toe over. The key is a surprising amount of citric, sprucey, resionous hops. On second thought, given the region of the country in which these guys brew, I'm not a bit surprised. There's no doubt in my mind that the flavor deserves the ultimate score.

The mouthfeel is a veritable feast for the senses. Like almost every other attribute of this fantastically delicious ale, it finds that precise sweet spot between too much and too little. It's heavily silky and glassy smooth and... well, it's simply perfect.

I have gazed into The Abyss. I've also smelled it, tasted it and felt its creamy lusciousness. This is a Russian Imperial stout for the ages and is one of the finest beers that I've ever had the pleasure to imbibe. Believe the hype and buy all you can get your hands on. Bravissimo!

Photo of Redneckwine
4.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Fresh 22oz bomber into tulip

Appearance - This beer lives up to its name in the appearance department: black as the infinite void. A .5" dark tan head forms, then recedes slowly into a wispy, thick cap that leaves dark, sticky lacing.

Smell - Chocolate covered cherries come to mind immediately. Earthy, woodsy barrel notes creep in with estery, fruity spiciness.

Taste - Like the nose, semi-sweet chocolate cherry is front and center, then begins to bow out to earthy, woodsy, spicy, fruity, boozy barrel notes. Extremely complex. Roasted coffee and spice-bread-like malts come into play with suggestions of burnt-sugar and a musty yeast ghost note. Big alcohol is ridiculously well hidden; this beer isn't hot at all. A light touch of earthy/grassy hops becomes apparent, and the finish dries out very fast with charred barrel, fruity roasted malts, and light drying bitterness coating the mouth.

Feel - Carbonation is so light and gentle, but pervasive enough to carry this monster beer around the mouth beautifully. Full bodied and thick, but the carbonation makes this one extremely smooth, creamy, and absolutely sublime.

Overall - This beer is an absolute masterpiece; tastes like a barrel-aged chocolate covered cherry followed by about 20 other complex flavor notes, but dries out perfectly for a near-crisp finish. Obviously a lot of work, planning, and master-craftsmanship went into producing this beer - you can taste it in every sip.

Photo of warrendietrich2001
4.84/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a growler that I purchased an hour before drinking.
Aggressive pour into a glass made for imperial stouts.
About 3 inches of a mocha head that left a nice trail of lacing.
Color was very dark like a black coffee, head was a mocha color.
Looked delicious
Smell. Wow when I opened the growler was overwhelmed with the smell leaving bottle.
As I poured seemed to be overwhelming booze scent. Was afraid would not like.
As it warmed up really smelled cherries and chocolate, and I swear every once awhile I got a vanilla scent.
Taste. Thought I would just drink a glass ended up drinking 3 its that good. Did not notice any alcohol at all. A nice coffee taste with lots of cherry. First sip warmed my gut (I was drinking outside next to a fire and was cold). Could not help but think this is a great night cap beer or if I was camping the first beer of the morning.
This was a great beer and I am so happy to have drank it.
I normally don't drink a lot of Imperial Stouts but will be back tomorrow to refill the growler.
If anyone on BA can recommend a beer in this style that they like more than this please let me know as I would love to try it.

Photo of noproduction
4.17/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Let me get it out of the way... this beer just didn't live up to the hype for me.

Having said that, it is still a very good. In the glass, it's total darkness... living up to it's name. The aroma gives off amazing licorice, coffee/espresso, vanilla, molasses and chocolate flavors... but the actual taste really only follows through with the licorice and bitter espresso/coffee. There is a slight wine/cherry tartness coming through, which I'm not a huge fan of, but it's not overpowering.

The problem for me with The Abyss, is that no single flavor really shines through. All the flavors got lost in The Abyss? Ok ok... The overall flavor profile seems unbalanced and a little bit messy. It's kind of one-note with the espresso bitterness and licorice.

Many people have said this is great with a year or more on it, and it might be... but any truly great beer should get BETTER with age, but still be great fresh also. This just wasn't for me. Very good, but not great... and overall, not worth the $17.99 per 22oz bomber price-tag.

I think it would be amazing for Deschutes to do a 100% bourbon barrel-aged version.

Photo of Jimmeekrek
3.53/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Easily one of the bigger disappointments in my beer history. Maybe I drank it too fresh, but just kind of a mess. Not my thing, I guess. I love BA Stouts, this one is not going to make any best of lists, personally.

Photo of Sparty1224
3.92/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Serving: 22 oz. bomber poured into a Cigar City snifter. 2014 Reserve dated "Best After 11/10/15". Most likely about 2 months old at this point.

A: Pitch black, no light getting through. 1/4-finger light brown head. Looks real nice in the glass, much more appealing that the Black Butte Anniversary beers.

S: First thing that jumps out is the wine character from the wine barrels. Imparts a nice fruity, tart aroma, very bright. Next up is likely the cherry bark, as I pick up a strong bitter cherry and ripe fruit aroma. Not much vanilla or molasses. Not much bourbon.

T: So initially I served this a bit cold right out of the fridge and was getting a ton of bitterness, lots of dry, dark fruit, and lots of dry wine character. Aftertaste was very bitter and dry. No noticeable bourbon, oak or vanilla flavor. As the beer warmed, some complex layering came through. The cherry bitterness spread out, some vanilla and oak came through, and the beer started to balance out. Still very tart in the finish, and very, very dry and bitter for such a big BA stout.

M: Big, full, creamy. Very dry on the aftertaste.

O: Interesting expectations for this one. Top 50 rated, but lately has been getting a bad rap for some reason. Either way, went in with an open mind. For me, this beer does not live up to the hype, like many have been saying. The strongest barrel character, I think, comes from the wine barrel, and I'm just not a fan. 6% of bourbon barrel aging is non-existant and just a waste. Barrel character needs to be more present and balanced. Didn't pick up much vanilla or licorice, and instead got all dark fruit and bitterness. Way too dry for me. I think I may have had this too fresh, and for once, Deschutes may be right in saying "Best After" one year.

Recommendation: Given the notoriety of this beer, I think it's worth a shot for everyone at least once. Not exactly worth the price, though. Also, consider buying two with one to age, or just age a single bottle, especially if you don't like fresh, bitter imperial stouts.

Photo of WesMantooth
3.88/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2014 bomber into a Deschutes Teku glass in the 50 degree range

A - As promised. Pitch black. Lovely dark tan, frothy head that leaves significant lacing, and a 1/4" ring.

S - Not a lot going on for what I expected, but nice. Noticeable red wine notes and roasted malt. A bit of molasses and espresso. Very faint alcohol/ bourbon.

T - I honestly thought drain pour at first sip. After hanging with it for a minute, the flavors seems to grow on me. I think it is the initial blast of the wine barrel and licorice combo that really put me off, but they seem to start melding with the other flavors. This includes a lot of sweetness seemingly from molasses/brown sugar, and vanilla, sour cherry, coffee beans, some definite oak, and a touch of bourbon at the end. Finishes pretty bitter and tart.

F - Creamy texture. Medium carbonation.

O - In all fairness, this beer probably shouldn't be reviewed until it's "best after date" like Mirror Mirror. That being said, Mirror drinks much better right out of the gate. This beer is pretty harsh, and all over the place flavor wise. I really think my score on taste will be much higher when I drink my next bottle a year from now. It is very good, but hopefully it will reach the "world class" status that it has earned. Right now?… Nope.

Photo of mikebcpa
3.87/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

As others have noted this is a beer that probably benefits from aging a bit. Some of the flavors overwhelm when it's fresh out of the bottle.

Photo of DaverCS
4.94/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage

Appear dark black with a surprisingly nice 1 plus finger head. The head color is definitely dark white nearing a pleasant caramel color.

Aroma is rather tame. I primarily get the oak. I get some malt sweetness. Perhaps it’s the licorice.

Taste is rather on the dry side. I get a huge amount of oak. Tobacco flavors are definitely present. A good bit of carbonation is present. Very little alcohol presence. This beer is so well balanced. I get dark almost burnt espresso. While only a minor portion of the beer is aged in oak, I get this flavor primarily. Definitely on the dryer side. Coats the mouth beautifully. Excellent lacing. Some major hits of tobacco.

Overall, this is just a wonderful sipping beer. While the beer is still rather fresh, I can only see it getting better with age. I don’t normally care for stouts and this is the second best stout I have tried to date (behind BCBS). As it warms it keeps getting more interesting! I could see this pairing well with some smoked meats, maybe a brisket. I could also see it with a dense chocolate cake or a terimisu. I give it a 99/100.

Photo of micromaniac129
4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

My 1300th review happens to be the Abyss
What a wonderful beer. It pours like thick burnt motor oil and is capped by a deep mocha head.
The aroma is fantastic with scents of burnt malts, coffee caramel creams, molasses, dark stewed fruits and bourbon barrels.
The taste is equally up to par with a big roasty malt taste bourbon coffee molasses sweetness.
It drinks fat on the palate smooth and sweet.
Overall it is well balanced. I like the way all the flavor components balance each other and compliment each other. The only delta here is that there is maybe abit to much roasted burnt malt taste.
I love it I have two to cellar for next year.

Photo of Blaze5445
4.71/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013. Very nice brew from Deschutes.

Photo of Rice_Nate_25
4.27/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very complex. Tried one aged and one way before the recommended date. Definitely worth the wait, only gets better with time

Photo of evanfox81
3.06/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pay heed to the label. Age it.

Photo of Furlinator
4.39/5  rDev -2.4%

2013 vintage. Best after 08/16/14.

Pours opaque black. The 1/2 inch tan head fades to a thin cap on top and leaves faint spotty lace.

The smell is of spent coffee grounds, dark chocolate, vanilla, faint dark fruit and a hint of alcohol.

The taste is of bitter black coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, vanilla and faint black cherry.

The texture is heavy bodied and syrupy with low carbonation.

This is a very impressive coffee forward imperial stout. The taste improves as it approaches room temperature.

Photo of oberon
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Saved the best for last,rang inthe new year with this bad boy.Poured into a snifter deep and dark but not quite opaque,just a tinge of deep ruby when held close to the light,a creamy and very sticky deep mocha colored head atop that nver really left.Deep mocha coffee and vanilla tinged oak in the nose,I also picked up some roasted nut and dark fruit.Bitter chocolate and molasses flavor really hit from the onset,as it warms licorice really comes thru as well.An awesome creamy feel to the beer really coats the mouth and it goes down with ease.What a great sipper,just so much flavor and a creamy feel made me wanna drink another 22oz!A beer more than worthy of its lofty status.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Many thanks to MaltMaster420 and MSUBulldog for samples of this fine brew.

22 Ounce Bottle sealed in black wax.

Pours into a snifter just about as black as beers get. Totally opaque and all that. A very large, dark brown head rises from body. It remains bubbly for some time. Lace flecks dot the edges of the glass. The body looks increasingly oily.

A unique aroma of Honey Nut Cheerios ascends from the glass. Aside from that are the expected chocolate and coffee aromas, this time off course by the truck load. I’m quite pleased that I’m not finding any bourbon and just some nice hints of oak, mostly in the form of cherry and vanilla.

Flavor is a marvelous rush of chocolate and coffee. No hint of booze until it fully reaches room temperature and even then, the ABV is still well disguised. Mild notes oaken notes of Vanilla and a general fruit sweetness balance the bitter chocolate. Light amounts of maple and smoke.

Oily and full body. Leathery at times. Balanced but not without some hefty bitterness.

Drinkable in an extreme way, especially for such a big beer. I wish I had more of this. It’s delicious.

Photo of DanGeo
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Photo of steenkampa
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 Bottling

One of my favorites here, perfectly balanced huge stout. Slow drinker.

VERY dark, not too much carbonation, chocolatey brown head. Smells the way I believe a stout should.

Mild coffee / bourbon flavors, with a tiny hint of what I associate with anise.

I buy the max whenever I see this beer, and usually keep one for drinking THAT NIGHT, and the rest for the cellar...have several 2012s in there right now.

Photo of ricke
4.18/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage.

A: Pitch black (and I really mean pitch black) with a very big, brown head that leaves plenty of lacings.

S: A very pleasant, fine-tuned and balanced smell. Lots of roasted malts, some licorice and notes of dark fruits and chocolate. As the beer warms up, the bourbon notes get a little more prominent.

T: The taste is really good and showcases a good balance between lots of different flavors. There's lots of things going on here, but its still manages to come out as clean and easy on the palate. Plenty of sweet and roasted malts. Notes of wood and some charcoal. Some vanilla, molasses, burnt sugar and dark fruits. Even tough the beer is sweet, it's not as sweet as I had expected and definitely not cloying. The bourbon makes a subtle appearance every now and then. The finish is great with a pleasant bitterness to it and some warming alcohol, but most importantly a rather powerful and lingering taste of licorice that seems to lie as a separate layer of its own, detached from the the rest of the flavors in the finish.

M: Big body with a slightly sticky, but still smooth, texture. Carbonation is good.

D: A very good imperial stout. Well balanced and actually quite easy to drink. The contributions from the licorice in this one are a work of art.

Photo of jedschlueter
5/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of t2grogan
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Photo of CavemanRamblin
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 5,497 ratings.