The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

1,751 Reviews
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,751
Hads: 5,986
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 8.44%
Wants: 2,727
Gots: 3,147 | FT: 273
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 (149) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,751 | Hads: 5,986
Reviews by brewandbbq:
Photo of brewandbbq
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006

Pours opaque black, with a brown, rocky head that reluctantly swells up to the surface. A good inch-plus of dense foam at the peak before decention. Thick webbing of lacework clings to the glass like brown cobwebs.
Aromatics are loaded with rich chocolate, kona roast, and brownie batter. Slightly warming in the nose with a faint oaky dryness.
The mouthfeel is thick and chewy, but not overly so. Incredibly smooth and silky.
Intense chocolate and espresso on the pallet. Probably the most chocolate I've ever tasted in an RIS. Fudgy and decadent.
Hopping is subdued and there's no bitterness to speak of or citrusy resins.
What follows through on each sip though, is such a well integrated beer. Everything seems so balanced for having such large flavor components. Melded.
A faint bourbon note as well as some slight oak come through on the exhale.
Finishes warming, chocolaty, and with a hint of viniosity.
A terrific beer, but it could use some heavier blending with more of the barrels. A bit subdued in that aspect. (1,039 characters)

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. (2,330 characters)

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! (2,637 characters)

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. (291 characters)

Photo of TheCondor
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is my 300th beer review on Beer Advocate. I figure each one of my reviews takes about ten minutes, give or take. That's 3000 minutes reviewing beers on this website. That's 50 hours, a decent workweek for most people. I'd probably add in another 50 hours posting, looking at posts, etc., plus countless more spent drinking beer and reading my print subscription of BeerAdvocate. Needless to say, I have spent a lot of time and effort on all this.

Side poured from the pint bottle, 2014 edition, into a pint glass with standard vigor.

Appearance - As black as the Marianas Trench, just like I expected it to be. Nice two finger mocha head that dissolves rapidly but leaves intensive lacing on the glass. Big dominating presence. Love the packaging, simple but gets the point across.

Smell - The smells mentioned on the side of the bottle can all be detected: bourbon, oak, dark fruits, booze, and a huge dose of chocolate. There is also intermixed some vanilla and molasses.

Taste - Even better than the nose. Massively complex. All of the scents of the nose are present on the palate. The dark fruits, vanilla, chocolate, and spices all make their appearances. Amazing!

Mouthfeel - Finishes smooth, big, rich, and with a touch of booze warmth. Goes down real easy, much better than an 11% ABV would suggest. Low carbonation, big body.

Overall - This is an excellent beer, fully deserving of the 4.5 rAvg and the 100 rating from the BA community. I don't have to explain a lot. Just go get the beer and drink it. (1,524 characters)

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. (1,452 characters)

Photo of Jconradt
4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I picked up of 2010 purchased at a local grocery store (Fred Meyer). It should be on your bucket list if you're a fan of the dark, well worth tracking down. First year it was good but not exceptional. Two years later it started having more complex flavor and mouthfeel. By 2014 it's hands down the best stout I've enjoyed . Looking forward to cracking a 2014 vintage in a few years to see how it compares. (407 characters)

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. (1,166 characters)

Photo of smb
3.95/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

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

Having said that, it's still 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., but they seem to be against 100% barrel aging for whatever reason. (1,189 characters)

Photo of dertyd
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours jet black wIth the smell of dark chocolate covered blueberries or cherries, the taste is very dark chocolate covered fruit with a nice lingering bitterness you can taste the wine and the oak in the end very very very great beer (233 characters)

Photo of schmidtmattsays
3.49/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2014 vintage on tap at Hopleaf. Now I understand the reason for a "best after" date on the Abyss bottles- this is clearly way too fresh and hot. Liquid black liquorice - taxing to finish. (187 characters)

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. (215 characters)

Photo of Bigdoc91
4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured a nice chocolaty colored head. Aroma comes off sour, most be the 11% of it aged in wine barrels.

Taste: Sour hits you first. Fruity/cherry components come through in the middle with a nice oak smoky (BBQ) flavor as it goes down your throat.

Outstanding beer. Wish I had another one. (293 characters)

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. (2,044 characters)

Photo of martyl1000
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

OMG, am I luck, or what? Never thought I'd ever cross paths with this legendary brew.

On tap at The Blue Moon for MCBW, which has been the best event of the week, by far, I might add. Good work, Blue Moon!

I'm having this next to KBS and Black Butte XXVI, and I have to say this is the best of the three. Man, wow! (I'm actually surprised by how less blown away I am by the KBS.)

And can I mention again what an insane lineup this is here at the Blue Moon, today?! (467 characters)

Photo of WesMantooth
3.78/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | 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 seem to grow on me a little. 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 only be higher when I drink my next bottle a year from now. It cant really get worse I think. This is good, but hopefully it will reach the "world class" status that it has earned. Right now?… Nope. Not even close for me. (1,349 characters)

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. (142 characters)

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. (1,117 characters)

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. (645 characters)

Photo of mikedogg195
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is very difficult. I had a vintage fight 2010-2014. The 2011 and 2012 was best. If you are to rate this, i suggest letting it age at LEAST two years. (157 characters)

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

I made an account for this beer. I'm not going to review this traditionally, but I do have a story about this beer. Had a shitty day, and stopped by a gas station of all places and found this, sitting there among bottles of malt liquor and trash. I have no idea why, but the price was $4. It looked good and I didn't know what it was so I thought it was some kind of gimmick. Malt liquor that is packaged like the good stuff. It was literally in the middle of the malt liquor rack. I bought one and spent the next 3 weekends buying 2 for each day, savoring the living shit out of this amazing beer. How is this $4? How? This weekend, the gas station was out, so I headed to a couple places and actually looked this up. Oh, limited time batch... find it at another place EIGHTEEN DOLLARS. I saved about $84 because of that gas station. No idea what the owner was thinking, but I sure as hell appreciate it. (905 characters)

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. (36 characters)

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 (126 characters)

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

Poured a chocolatey head that stuck around for the drink. The smell was fruity, boozy, very strong cherry scent. When you taste, you initially taste the cherry, then the bourbon. Just the right consistency for a imperial stout. One of the most complex brews I've had. (267 characters)

Photo of Jonada
3.67/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2014 Reserve. Best AFTER 11/10/2015. 650ml bottle poured into a snifter

Appearance: Pours a dark brown (black once in the glass) with 2+ fingers of a dark tan, creamy head with good retention. Body is opaque.

Smell: Roasted malt, chocolate, butterscotch, toffee, vanilla with a hint of bourbon.

Taste: Roasted malt, coffee, black licorice, hint of black currant. Theres an odd, strong bitterness that lingers long after the finish and is somewhat off-putting.

Mouthfeel: Fuller end of medium bodied with a somewhat creamy mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Overall: Good, but definitely doesn't live up to its ratings. The weird bitterness also detracts a bit from it as well. (682 characters)

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 1,751 ratings.