The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

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The AbyssThe Abyss

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1,767 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,767
Hads: 6,100
Avg: 4.49
pDev: 17.82%
Wants: 2,788
Gots: 3,230 | FT: 282
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)
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,767 | Hads: 6,100
Photo of Griffin2
4.31/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a pitch black into a taster cup. Smells of chocolate and bourbon. Taste matches the smell with lots of chocolate and bourbon. It was a little boozy, but an awesome stout.

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Photo of LAp
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This review is of the 2014 vintage. I'll be honest about my bias up front: this is my favorite beer, period. Pours pitch black with a mocha head. Smell is complex, with hints of chocolate, licorice, coffee, and cherry. Taste is equally complex, with the coffee of the nose receding a bit as the cherry expands into a deeper, richer, dark fruit taste. Like many good, complex beers, the complexity only expands as the beer warms. Mouthfeel is thick and rich, like an imperial stout of this caliber should be. After trying the initial 4-5 ounces in isolation, I had the remainder paired with a dark chocolate-cardamom-cherry-ginger cake. This beer is a meal (with dessert) in itself, so no need to pair, but if so, it definitely matches complex, savory desserts well. Could not recommend more highly.

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Photo of KennyDorsch
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage....smell the cherry right off the bat..pours black with a thin head...taste....fantastic.......oaky,chocolatey goodness..bought 5 of these last year and am glad i did....a great barrel aged offering from Deschutes

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Photo of govlady
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 bottle (best after 11/10/15): bought two and looking forward to trying it again around the holidays

Appearance: Pours pitch black with a head of lighter brown foam

Smell: smoky, bourbon

Taste: smell a lot of chocolate right off the back, with a hint of the bourbon coming through,

Mouthfeel: very smooth, medium bodied, not too thick, but not too thin

Overall: solid BA beer. im looking forward to trying it again after aging it for a year or so.

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Photo of Buschyfor3
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz pint on draft at River City Drafthouse, Louisville, KY

A: Deep, pitch black body; dark mocha head about a finger and a half thick when it arrives at the table; good head retention.

S: One can definitely tell this is a barrel-aged stout from the get go as the woody/oak presence announces itself up front; roasted notes in the vein of fresh ground coffee, breakfast toast; dark chocolate; dark fruits.

T: Palate is greeted with an initial dose of oak, which wraps around a strong, roasted bitterness akin to french press coffee; dark chocolate adds a moderating dose of sweetness before a flash of dark fruits (cherry, raisin) breaks through, adding a nice, vinous character; earthy, maybe even a touch of tobacco; the oak really opens up as the glass warms, and I start to detect faint hints of caramel and vanilla late on. Really enjoyable.

M: Creamy mouthfeel accentuates the complexities on the palate.

O: Fantastic. Great barrel aging qualities - oaky, toasty, dark chocolate and dark fruit, wine-like characteristics. A kiss of spiciness from the booze on the finish but the ABV is kept well in check. A wonderful package for all lovers of stouts and barrel-aged beers.

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Photo of jason3125
4.48/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This beer smells of drunken cherries and vanilla with notes of licorice and a wine barrel finish. Taste of toasted malts and wine barrel. Overall a great beer.

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Photo of chasisthedevil
3.94/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2011 Vintage - This was my first experience with Abyss, I had very high hopes and I still do. I have a fresh bottle I'm waiting a few more months on and will try soon. The 2011 vintage had very little in terms of complexity for me, smelled like coffee with very light licorice, tasted like liquid smoke. The biggest highlight was the look which was significantly better than any other part. Overall this was a letdown. I hope to revisit this review when I open the fresh bottle.

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Photo of incandenza
4.31/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is my first of two bottles from the 2014 vintage (best after 11/10/15):

Appearance: Pours pitch black with a thick head of tan foam.

Smell: Light smokey/roasted smell with the faintest trace of bourbon.

Taste: Smokey and roasted, prominent flavors of rich dark chocolate with the slightest hint of bourbon and licorice. Really just not sure how I feel about the balance of flavors

Mouthfeel: not too thick, but still very rich. An incredibly smooth beer

Overall: a complex beer that may need to be aged longer before I can enjoy it properly.

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Photo of kacytennic
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

smell roasted, chocolaty, malty, hoppyness. Strong chocolaty character and good hop aroma. Strong head ,hints of bourbon and vanilla, with a nice hop bitterness finish.

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Photo of SerialTicker
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

First bottle was $18. Didn't want to drink it, so went back to the restaurant in Sandusky, Ohio after a second visit to Cedar Point where I got the first one and was given the next one for just $10. Massive thanks to the owner of the restaurant for this one. I've been looking forward to this beer for quite a long time... and now I have a base to compare my next bottle to in a year or two. Both bottles have a 11/10/15 "best after" date, so I'm breaking some rules drinking this one early.

Appearance: Pours what I'd expect -- a pitch black color with a surprising finger of a creamy, dark brown head... it's called The Abyss for a reason. Sipping down the glass there's actually quite a bit of very nice thick lacing. This is a beautiful looking beer, especially at 11% ABV.

Smell: Man, is that ever interesting... this is an Imperial Stout you need to smell to really understand. Though the bottle says this beer is only aged 11% in wine barrels, I'm getting a significant amount of wine on the nose -- it's a definite, readily apparent warming-to-the-nose, dark red wine smell. There is the slightest hint of oak in there, but I can't say I smell any actual bourbon from the bourbon barrel aging, which is a bummer, for sure. The wine aroma seems to be the most pronounced thing, at least to my nose, and then a deep roasted coffee kind of vibe as well. Of course, this beer smells pretty damn boozy. I can feel the warmth in my nose. I may also get a little bit of the licorice that's listed on the label, but it's faint. There's also apparently molasses and cherry bark in here, but I don't get the former, at least. The cherry bark may be adding to that fruit and roast aroma. I enjoy the smell of this beer, but I feel like the wine manages to take the forefront, which is both surprising and a bit disappointing.

Taste/feel: This is quite a lot different than the smell, and honestly, a letdown. All the flavors coming together makes this beer a bit of a mess, in my opinion, but thanks to Deschutes' ridiculous brewing expertise, it manages to still taste pretty damn good regardless. This beer hits with some alcohol and wine tartness right away. A little oakiness comes in through the middle, and the beer finishes extremely roasty... too roasty. Honestly, like-burned roast, and it sort of gives me an off-putting almost acrid bitterness. The very end of this beer has a deep, deep, deep coffee roast vibe. I mean like putting a teaspoon of coffee rinds in your mouth sort of bitterness, and it keeps me coming back to the beer for all the wrong reasons. I really shouldn't be wanting to get a flavor out of my mouth. I mean I guess I'm fluffing it a bit... it's not THAT bad, but it's certainly not something I enjoy. The feel is actually not super full-bodied -- it's moderately high in body with a pretty pleasant carbonation that is super subtle and barely there.

I enjoy this beer a fair amount, but I am definitely not blown away. The Abyss just has too much of a wine barrel vibe to it. While I can certainly enjoy some beers aged in wine barrels, this one would likely be better without it. It goes in with all the flavors meddling together in a not-so-great fashion, and finishes with a bit of an off-putting intense burnt coffee bitterness. I would certainly recommend trying this beer simply because it's one of the most loved beers on this site, but I would recommend more-so drinking this beer after its "drink after" date, which I intend to do with my second bottle. Hopefully by then that intense bitterness mellows out, and I expect it to. Very good beer, Deschutes, but you definitely have done better work... I may be the only person in the world who prefers Black Butte XXVI to this beer, at least right now. I'll edit this review when I have my second bottle of The Abyss in a year or so.

Mid-bottle update: As the beer's warmed up after about forty minutes or so, the wine barrel-y nose has changed a lot. Suddenly I get more of a milk chocolate sort of aroma with a fair amount of oak and a little more bourbon. There's definitely some dark fruit in there as well, which only adds depth. Adding a quarter of a point to my smell rating because of that. Additionally, the intense roast bitterness fades a tick. It is still very strong, but it detensifies as it warms. For that reason, I'm giving the taste and overall ratings a quarter of a point bump up as well... I should have known not to drink this beer immediately out of the fridge. Its sweet spot seems to be about 40 minutes at room temperature before drinking.

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Photo of West08
4.69/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Yeah this beer is awsome. Definitely be looking for this one again. Nice dark chocolate and roasted malt which for me is what stouts is all about. Very good brew. You won't be disappointed!!!

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Photo of SaucedBoss
3.76/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Black, golden foam, foamy
S - Roasty, Chocolate, Boozy
T - Smell was stronger than taste. Did not have a big flavor profile. Fairly balanced.
M - A little too flat for my liking, very smooth.
O - After all the hype, I was underwhelmed. Not as complex as I hoped.

Bottled in October of 2014 (drank August 2015)
Served at 50 degrees in pint glass

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Photo of OrtheusMaximusRex
3.93/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I'm sorry all of you cult followers of the Abyss. It is just too much for me to the point where it borders on beer versus some kind of dessert liquor. I think following at least the German beer law it not beer.

I respect it. It is beautiful in the glass, I feel it simply has too much going on. This is the 2014 consumed in 2014. Poured into a smallish snifter type glass. Consumed from chilled, about 45 up to room temp.

I have another 2014 in reserve I'll try later this year.

A = deep black, it is the Abyss after all
T = burgundy, dessert liquor, licorice, chocolate, cherry, woody taste, reminder me of a beer version of German dark chocolate brandy-filled 'beans'
S = a nice dessert liquor smell with some beer notes
M = a little syrupy in my opinion
O = 4

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Photo of MaltLickyWithTheCandy
4.54/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A lot going on this beer. Pours pitch black with a decent amount of head. Smells mostly of dark chocolate malts and dark fruits. Little barrel presence, not much bourbon coming through. Fairly sweet and dry. Great stuff here. Can see why it's a crowd favoirt

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Photo of One1Asterisk
4.2/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is one seriously complicated beer. The nose is overwhelmingly wine and oak barrel. Pouring it into a glass displayed characteristic inky stout darkness, viscous and clingy on the glass. The taste was complex, but very agreeable. I don't feel anything overpowers the other in the taste, it's quite a nice stout. I'm happy to have tried it, and consider it 'ticked'.

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Photo of jws7968
2.77/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The most disappointing beer I have ever tried. I was looking forward to trying this and the wine smell and taste turned out to be too overpowering for me.

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Photo of Jconradt
4.9/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

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Photo of TheMarkE
4.59/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bourbon, oak, pinot noir, cigarettes, and leather. Complex and tasty. I gave the 2014 version a score of 3.75ish, and I started to give this year's a 4.0, but as it warmed it became a 4.5. Good stuff.

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Photo of cjgiant
4.67/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle dated best after 11/2015:
Found an extra bottle, so decided to pop one before it indicates. Will revisit the review when I have it aged "appropriately".

Pour black with thick bubbly head growing high on a somewhat vigorous pour. The brown head reduces to a foamy ring, with a gossamer coverage of the surface of the beer. Lacing is significant. Very nice.

Nose is dark chocolate with a hint of smoke, a cocoa (hot chocolate) smell with perhaps a hint of vanilla. I also get a very light hint of alcohol, and also a light cherry-like note.

Taste hits on dark roast coffee and the oak up front. These somehow come together to give me a dark chocolate taste. I also get a tart note that I think was the cherry-ish smell I got, but I can see being the wine influence, as there is also a tannin-like dryness that comes with it. The beer is smooth throughout, and the flavor is thick/deep, but the feel is not. Carbonation is so light, but nicely so, I this case. I think perhaps the bourbon/alcohol influence add a nice level of heat to cover for any lacking tingle of carbonation. That said, the bourbon taste is nicely hidden, and is far from the forefront flavor for this beer. Edit: when the beer warms close to room temperature, the cherry comes out a bit.

Definitely a wonderful beer. I opened this after limited time in fridge, sou it was proper temp at the time, I think, by accident. Can't wait to try the next bottle.

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Photo of Prasm
4.64/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours dark as night and very thick. Smells of caramel and molasses - though not super expressive. Tastes of caramel, molasses, smoke, and spice with a creamy thick mouth-feel that is absolutely outstanding. This is one of the best brews I've had the privilege of tasting.

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Photo of Jonada
3.67/5  rDev -18.3%
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.

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Photo of arlo19
4.05/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this a couple weeks back but forgot to review. I remember being disappointed with this overall. In particular, the taste was all dry oak and not well balanced.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.99/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle, 2013 vintage, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a half of a finger of caramel-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that partially covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Wow! Delicious, earthy, rich, inviting! Massive aromas of roasted malt, imparting notes of freshly baked dark bread, followed by tons of molasses, brown sugar, licorice, hints of coffee, smoke, wood and vanilla. Complex and delicious.

Taste: Wow! Just…wow! Spectacular! Phenomenal! Outstanding! Exactly like the beer’s aroma. Massive aromas of roasted malt, imparting notes of freshly baked dark bread, followed by tons of molasses, brown sugar, licorice, hints of coffee, smoke, wood and vanilla. Complex, earthy, rich, inviting and delicious!

Mouthfeel: Chewy and smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 11.0%, there is amazingly, very little in the way of alcohol on the palate. The alcohol is incredibly well masked.

Overall: This is a spectacular American Imperial Stout! Complex, rich, earthy, amazing! One of the best beers I’ve ever had! I totally understand the hype this beer has.

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Photo of don1481
4.51/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Burnhearts.

Appearance: So, so dark. A very thin tan head delicately floats on top of the beer. Stunning.

Smell: oh my. Chocolate,vanilla, and a faint hint of coffee. This smells fantastic.

Taste: coffee, bitter chocolate ring through on this. This is exceptional.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, bitter coffee aftertaste.

Overall: I have two bottles of 2014 in my cellar. I cannot wait to see how this is post best after date.

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Photo of witschen
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Very good. Stood up well to the competition at our rare stout tasting. Whereas I have a tough time getting behind wine barrel aged stouts, this being only partially aged in wine and otherwise in liquor barrels balanced this out nicely. Sour is cut with the other booze.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
99 out of 100 based on 1,767 ratings.