The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

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The AbyssThe Abyss

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1,751 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,751
Hads: 5,994
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 8.44%
Wants: 2,728
Gots: 3,152 | FT: 274
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: 1,751 | Hads: 5,994
Photo of MaltLickyWithTheCandy
4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
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 (258 characters)

Photo of One1Asterisk
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
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'. (369 characters)

Photo of jws7968
2.77/5  rDev -38.4%
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. (155 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 TheMarkE
4.59/5  rDev +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. (200 characters)

Photo of cjgiant
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
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. (1,447 characters)

Photo of Prasm
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
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. (274 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)

Photo of arlo19
4.05/5  rDev -10%
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. (163 characters)

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.99/5  rDev +10.9%
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. (1,214 characters)

Photo of don1481
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
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. (430 characters)

Photo of witschen
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
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. (269 characters)

Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - The was quite black with bubbles along the sides of the glass.

Smell - Smooth bourbony chocolate nose.

Taste - The initial taste was very dark chocolate. Cherries, oak, molasses. Toward the back, the beer is dry chocolate with a slight warming sensation.

Mouthfeel - The low carbonation allows the stout to stick to the roof of the mouth.

Overall - This is a great stout. I would be hesitant to call it elite. (430 characters)

Photo of Droopy487
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I hate giving perfect scores. I really do. But, the look was great. What else do you want? The smell was of heaven. The taste was very nice. You can taste a lot going on. Very well thought out beer. Not boozy. Nice barrel notes. I's perfect for what it is. A+. If you don't like complex stouts then I guess you won't like it. (336 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 RStaff4
4.71/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle was between 6-7 months old.

Appearance: Completely dark, name describes this well.

Smell: This was a winner. Even after some months in the fridge, there was a good amount of bourbon on the nose. There was a sweetness from the vanilla as well.

Taste: Bourbon hits first, which is followed by dark chocolate and coffee. There was surprisingly no burn that followed from the bourbon. The vanilla comes through, but more on the nose, than taste. The big sweetness is from the molasses, which is very distinguished. At the end there was quite a lot of cherries. I felt as the beer warmed, I tasted this more.

Feel: very soft feel, for this abv I was surprised it wasn't more viscous.

Overall: With all hyped beers I like to keep an open mind, but this one lives up to the hype. Definitely one of the best in its class. (828 characters)

Photo of Moses_Malone
2.82/5  rDev -37.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Had 2014 version on draft. I don't understand this beer's popularity. It tasted like bitter teriyaki sauce. No barrel character either. I realize it is expressly stated that the beer sit a year before being consumed, but I'm not sure how much better 6 more months or even two more years can make this. (301 characters)

Photo of dabone
4.61/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 2013 bottle. Thick and dark black looking with a creamy tan head. Complex aroma of coffee and bourbon. Taste is a combination of chocolate and coffee with bourbon notes. Excellent texture, very thick but soft on the pallet. Excellent choice. (255 characters)

Photo of Austin32
4.66/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this really lived up to the hype for me. I was able to taste almost every individual flavor listed on the bottle with the exception of the licorice, which you could smell very easily. Probably the most complex imperial stout I have ever enjoyed. (250 characters)

Photo of MichialTanner1
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In 2010, I had bought a bottle of The Abyss that was apparently part of the 2009 batch that was determined to be infected. This is the first time since then that I have seen it on the shelf here in Central Texas, bought two 22 oz bombers for $16 each. Label says "best after 11/10/15". I'm going to drink one now and let the other stew until November, at which point I will revisit this review.

Served in a snifter, this one is black as coffee with a finger of head about the color of the label, a fitting foreshadowing of the name and the taste. A fine net of lacing stays at the top of the glass. The smell is coffee, tobacco, vanilla. Taste is consistent, but the molasses is fairly prominent along with that almost smoked woody flavor that you taste in a good BBQ brisket. As the name suggests, the flavors run deep and complex with something new to find with every sip. I am not detecting the red wine so much, but that may be flushed out with the suggested aging.

If this one gets better after 11/10/15, I need to return to the store where I found it and stock up. $16 now sounds cheap. Again, will update this in November (with much anxiety in the meanwhile) to see if one of the best I've ever had actually improves. (1,236 characters)

Photo of bluejacket74
4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle, 2014 vintage, label says best after 11/11/15. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch frothy tan head that stayed around for a while. There's also a bunch of lacing. Aroma is great, the brew smells like molasses, red wine, oak, coffee, chocolate, burnt/charred malt, and a bit of vanilla. The taste is pretty good too, there's burnt/charred malt, coffee, chocolate, molasses, licorice, red wine, oak, bourbon, and vanilla flavors. Lots of bittersweet goodness! Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's coating and creamy with moderate carbonation. I've been waiting a while to try this, and I wasn't disappointed! I liked this brew a lot, it's going to be hard for me not to drink my other bottle before the "best after" date. I'll definitely buy this again the next time it's released. $14.99 a bomber. (857 characters)

Photo of Gasc0igne
4.24/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 Reserve. Consumed @5 months old.

A: cola pour, terrifying maw of darkness no colour on edges held to light, copper-brown large head, small bubbles, excellent lacing, settles to a light cap atop the beer, medium-long retention
S: heavy espresso front, sweet vanilla, heavily charred fruity wood, bit of bourbonesque liqour, charcoal, toasted marshmellows, roasty roasty malt!
T: burnt coffee, very bitter dark chocolate, bourbon sweetness for a brief moment before moving into a strong milk chocolate carries through to light tart fruit before finish, dry charred oak finish, a slight salty licorice throughout too,
M: medium-full bodied, satisfyingly coating, low-medium carbonation, feels thin to me, slightly ashy finish
O: consumed young, bitter as expected but nowhere near as much alcohol as expected, will revisit on enjoy after date (852 characters)

Photo of chrisjws
4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 Vintage, drank in December 2014. Served in a snifter at approximately 50F.

A: Pitch black. Small amount of light at the edges. Half a finger of brown head. No alcohol legs seen.
S: Coffee, chocolate, toasted coconuts, vanilla, pipe tobacco, spicy rye, faint bourbon. Some red wine shines through after taking a couple whiffs. Awesome smelling beer.
T: Bold chocolate and coffee upfront. Bourbon in the aftertaste. A lot of the stuff in the nose comes through as well, a lot more subtle. Combines very nicely for a very enjoyable taste.
M: Coats the mouth. Big mouthfeel and low to medium carbonation. Very rich beer. Goes down extremely smooth.
O: This was fresh, I can only imagine it'd get much better with age. Excellent example of a barrel aged stout. (761 characters)

Photo of MissSmisje
4.61/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: opaque black, zero light coming through a tulip glass, mocha head with great lacing. S: coffee, cocoa and some oak all very balanced and melded. T: roasted malts, coffee, cocoa, milk chocolate, oak, all balanced, pleasant bitterness in the finish. F: excellent mouthfeel, thick but not oily. (294 characters)

Photo of blankenhoney
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 Abyss, with a best-after date of August 2014, enjoyed from a snifter today, 4.7.15

A: Rich, slightly viscous black with a billowing, frothy mocha head. Looks fantastic

S: Definitely a wine-forward nose: lots of red wine, oak, and wood shavings. Also some cocoa powder and a thick bitterness.

T: Dominated by bitter dark chocolate, red wine, charred oak, and a touch of bitter coffee. No bourbon character, which is not a surprise given the blend described on the label. Reminds me of Wineification, but with a bigger body, more bitterness, and more wood. Definitely on the woodier and heavily charred side.

M: Thick and creamy, with an extremely dry and quite bitter finish. Really enjoyed the contrast between the smooth mouthfeel and the very charry/bitter flavor profile.

O: This is an exceptionally well-done beer that I really appreciated, but still one that I didn't enjoy that much. I loved the way the pinot shines on the nose and is present in the flavor profile, but this beer is a bit woody and too charred for my preferences re. stouts. Nevertheless, I'd recommend that people pay attention to the best-after date: I had a bottle of this right after the 2013 came out, and it was just way too bitter too even drink. But the beer's improved a lot since then, and I can see this getting even better in another year. (1,335 characters)

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