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The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,976 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,976
Reviews: 1,644
rAvg: 4.51
pDev: 9.53%
Wants: 2,528
Gots: 2,234 | FT: 155
Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery visit their website
Oregon, United States

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

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
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)

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-24-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,976 | Reviews: 1,644 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by cosmicevan:
Photo of cosmicevan
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

really excited about this one...so going into this with some high expectations. 2010 bottle.

a - if you ever want to make a statement about the ability to age your beer and specialness of cracking it open, waxing the cap would be it. i cut the wax with a straight razor and made work on the waxy cap. after a little bit of work it came off and revealed "Bravely Done" on the inside of the cap...another nice touch. poured a generous portion into my oversized snifter. gorgeously silky black with a soft tan creamy head. leaves a nice spotty trail of lacing when swirling the glass. so far, so good.

s - malty chocolate with a subtle bourbon tease. non offensive and not overly boozy at all. every part of the flavor compliments every other part.

t - YUM. caramel, chocolate, roastiness, subtle wood and bourbon.

m - smooth and bready with a nice bourbony tingle. the wood effect is subtle and creamy and the mouth is cooling.

d - as a really big fan of black ops, this is a beer that brings back that same joy of discovery as my first taste of that beer. i'm glad that i have a few more bottles of this and i'm glad that i opened this now. i only wish this was easier to come by for me. it is beautifully balanced and a real treat in every way. a really fantastic beer. this beer stepped to the plate, pointed at the fences...and then hit a home run on the first pitch.

--- edit --- 2011-11-30
4.5 - 4.5 - 4.5 - 5 - 5
really excited to try the 2011 version of this. thanks a ton brad for zipping this out to me as soon as it hit your shelves! SUPER appreciated.

a - pried the wax and removed the cap...bravely done. filled my cbs snifter. ah...there she is in all her golden silky black glory with that creamy mocha head, seems a bit more frothy than last years. my mouth is literally watering.

s - BAM! milk chocolate roasted malt perfection. i'm not getting the bourbon as much, but looks like the mix is a bit different. the label says with cherry bark and vanilla with a mix of small percentages aged in various barrels (oak bourbon, oak, and oak wine). definitely tamer than last year...i can pick out a bit of the cherry and white wine, but the bourbon is not in the smell at all...and the oak is overall more timid...

t - again, the first thing that jumps out at me is the lack of that bourbon blast. thick decadent chocolate with some mellowing from the oak. the wine seems to shine through most on the flavoring from the barrel and there is a slight hint of cherry.

m - smooth and creamy

o - overall, still a solid beer. that being said, i don't understand how they could've played with such a perfect beer and changed the blend. i guess i'll have to hold my 2010's a bit tighter since 2011 is different and lacks a lot of what i love about 2010. still great, just not as great. much more milk chocolate.

--- edit --- 2012-02-17

5 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 5

VINTAGE 2008! (thanks pintplease)
pried the wax off to reveal a 20th anniversary (1988 to 2008) cap. excellent. opened carefully and filled my deschutes snifter.

a - stunning. deep black with a creamy mocha tan head...milkshakey lacing. doesn't get any better than this.

s - deep rich chocolate milk. creamy...perfect.

t - amazing. decadent. the bourbon has been perfectly blended and this is a slice of godiva chocolate cake.

m - unreal feel. creamy and smooth.

o - abyss is my favorite beer. the 2010 blew me away, the 2011...not so much, 2009 i don't like to talk about (infected) but the 2008...OH 2008. what a year! and the time on this beer is simply perfect. this is a real treat and i'm psyched to have 22oz all to myself! iso this beer!

cosmicevan, Feb 07, 2011
More User Reviews:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.8/5  rDev +6.4%
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!

BuckeyeNation, Feb 02, 2008
Photo of tectactoe
3.94/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

tectactoe, Jul 21, 2013
Photo of Furlinator
4.39/5  rDev -2.7%

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.

Furlinator, Aug 22, 2014
Photo of oberon
4.63/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

oberon, Jan 01, 2011
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.6/5  rDev +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.

DaPeculierDane, Jun 03, 2007
Photo of DanGeo
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

DanGeo, Jan 01, 2014
Photo of steenkampa
5/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

steenkampa, Aug 08, 2013
Photo of ricke
4.2/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

ricke, Aug 02, 2009
Photo of jedschlueter
5/5  rDev +10.9%

jedschlueter, Feb 26, 2014
Photo of t2grogan
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

t2grogan, Oct 06, 2014
Photo of jono0101
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

jono0101, Dec 24, 2013
Photo of brownbeer
4.25/5  rDev -5.8%

brownbeer, Feb 14, 2014
Photo of Schlais
4/5  rDev -11.3%

Schlais, Jun 12, 2013
Photo of Tiernan
5/5  rDev +10.9%

Tiernan, Dec 18, 2013
Photo of hopsleeroy
4.33/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Spent an evening with a 22 oz 2007 bottle watching John Cusak movie 1408. Good combo.
A-As black as expected by the name. Very minimal Brownish head. Very viscous and thick. Laced nicely while I darnk it.
S-Dark Chocolate, vanilla, boozy fruit scent as warms, Scent is becoming more complex as it warms.
T-Strong roast/coffe at first, sweet Dark cocoa/molasses, and hop bitterness. As it warms, a mild oak flavor and bourbon are more noticeable. Some fruit but very minimal.
M-Coats thoroughly but not as viscous as expceted mouth. A little more carbonation than expected.
D-Could drink these all night if the 11% ABV wasn't hiding in there. Alcohol is well hidden in the taste-not hot at all. And the beer improves as it warms making me want to drink more.

hopsleeroy, Mar 26, 2008
Photo of Spaten454
4/5  rDev -11.3%

Spaten454, Jun 14, 2014
Photo of weatherdog
4.45/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2009 bottle brought by Gonzoillini at a recent tasting

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a tulip glass

It poured a impenetrable midnight black with a darker mocha 2 fingered head with large soapy bubbles resting on top.

The nose was pretty heavy on the roasty malts with a little bit of chocolate thrown in. A little bit of alcohol was wafting up as well.

The first thing I picked up was this pretty heavy fresh oak character; much more than I was expecting with only 33% being aged in oak. It had a decent amount of warming alcohol that was mixed in with pretty strong roasted malts. Not too much bourbon character but I was able to detect it when I went searching for it. After the glass warmed up closer to room temperature is when I was hit with a strong licorice taste.

I thought the carb was a little too high and a bit distracting. It also is noticeably thinner than many other RIS which in this case was a good thing that made it highly drinkable and not too filling by the end of my glass.

I would really like to pick up a bottle of this and have it in a year or two to see how it ages. Once the oak and alcohol mellow a bit more I can see this beer being mind blowing.

weatherdog, Jan 14, 2010
Photo of Dabeel
3.75/5  rDev -16.9%

Dabeel, Jun 05, 2013
Photo of Clonies720
4.64/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Deschutes The Abyss 2012. Dated "best after 11/01/13". 22oz bomber poured into snifter glass. 11.1% ABV.

Appearance: Motor oil black. Chocolately tan head

Aroma: Black liquorice, oaky effervescence, chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, an almost peanut butter like aftertaste. Medium-Low carbonation. Full-bodied and thick on the tongue. Very malty with a slightly spicy kick at the finish. The wood is very noticeable and creates subtle nuances in the flavors similar to the aroma.

Overall: Fairly tasty, but Deschutes is definitely right for stamping each bottle with a "best after" date to signify this beer should be aged before being drank. Luckily, I have two more bottles of this so we'll see how it develops over the next few years! Cheers!

Clonies720, Apr 12, 2013
Photo of SanFranJake
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After all the hype, wait and hunting, I finally found it and it was/is worth every bit of praise!
Served from deuce-deuce into snifter after having been in my backpack for 30 minutes, so was not frosty but not room temp either.
I can't add anything that hasn't been said already but for posterity sake, it's a deep dark IS that is rich and complex, loads of chocolate and coffee and was like heaven.
I essentially killed it on my own over an hour and a half (with the wife trying a few sips) and it got better with each passing minute as it warmed up.
By far the top 2 beers if ever had and probably #1.
Glad I stocked up while I could and have a supplier who can send to me from PDX, because this is amazing!

SanFranJake, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of delaced21
4.25/5  rDev -5.8%

delaced21, Sep 07, 2014
Photo of Krafty34
4/5  rDev -11.3%

Krafty34, Aug 13, 2014
Photo of SkiBum22
4.72/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep chocalety looking blackish brown. Rich khaki head. Completely opaque.

S - Chocolate, coffee, carmel, molasses, and a little smoke

T - Taste upfront is bitter roasted malts, a little bourbon and wood, and some molasses sweetness. Light licorice in the middle. Sweeter finish of molasses, raisin fruitiness and a hint of bourbon. Lingering roasted coffee bitterness.

M - Very thick and heavy. there's a good medium carbonation with a very crisp finish

O - This is the most complex stout that I have ever had. I would like to try one with some age on it.

SkiBum22, Aug 15, 2011
Photo of readicculus
5/5  rDev +10.9%

readicculus, Dec 14, 2011
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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 4,976 ratings.