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The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

1,876 Reviews
For Trade:
The AbyssThe Abyss

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.20%

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)

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-24-2006

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Reviews: 1,876 | Ratings: 6,662
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared with Dave at the Brick Store Pub. Soapy head on dark chocolate colour. Yeast in a rich aroma, Bourbon is not as prominent as licorice, yeast, mollasses and chocolate. Taste is coffee,mostly. Roasting and charness and a bit of wood. Drying mouthfeel. Second bottle two months later, noticed soupy pea head of dark brown.And fuller body.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.84/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2010 reserve.

Pours an absolutely pitch black with a small 1 inch tan head that fades to a small film on the top of the beer. Spotty ring lacing around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, molasses, vanilla, licorice, and cinnamon. Absolutely delicious smelling. Tastes of dark roasted malt, bitter coffee, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. Subtle hints of licorice and cinnamon on the finish. Very thick and creamy in the mouth. Drinkability is out of this world. A great beer to sit and sip on for a prolonged period of time. The ABV is well hidden in the taste but it sneaks up on you in the end. This is really a beer that you can only have one of at a time. Overall, a truly exceptional beer. I am glad I have a stockpile of these in my cellar.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2008 Reserve; Pours black with thick coffee and dark chocolate nose. Huge dark coffee/dark chocolate/rich roasted malt flavors and characteristics. Interesting light bitter hop in the mid palate. Strong coffee and dark chocolate finish. This ale is very well made and with pleasant burnt espresso and dark chocolate flavors with big coffee/chocolate finish with hints of bitter hops. (This review was done in 2009)

REVISITED May 22, 2009 with a 2009 Reserve a few months after the tasting that gave rise to previous comments. Suffice it to say that bottle here tasted was huge with chocolate/coffee-espresso/licorice character and flavors and with a creamy mouthfeel and character lacking in the previous bottle. I'm a stout lover and this may have been one of the nicest stout experiences I've had since I tried the 2003 Imperial Russian Stout that Stone broke out at it's 2009 Winterstorm (best stout I've ever tasted). This one is my number one "available" stout. Try it!

REVISTED December 14, 2013 with 2013 Reserve. Beer has gotten significantly more hopped and has lost much of it's mouthfeel and intense flavor. Still a very nice and well made beer but my over all rating has now gone from a 4.7+ (under the old rating scores) to a 3.75; still very good but not "outstanding." This was once a standard by which others could be judged. No more; the world has caught up with and surpassed Abyss. JMO

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Photo of t0rin0
4.18/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 edition, 22oz bottle. Grabbed this a month ago and decided to drink it the other night with some friends. I really enjoyed it but I wish I had bought 2 bottles as this beer really needs to sit a few years.

It looked awsome when poured into the pint glass. It was incredibly dark with no light coming through. The head was dark brown heading on black and was very thick and sticky. Great retention and lacing. I let it sit for about 10 minutes to warm up as it was too cold and the head didn't budge. This beer truly begs the question "It's like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black"

The smell was strong of fresh oak. I beleive the oak used was fresh and hence my comment on this could stand to age for a few years. It had that strong peat smell that you would get in a young scotch. Also there was tons of wonderful black raosted malts and some dark sweet chocolate coming out of the glass at me. Even the foam smelled of RIS. The aroma of this beer was wonderfully strong and inviting, just young. No alcohol on the nose.

The taste was almost as good as the smell but the strong oak presence wasn't quite balanced as well as it could be by the malt. My estimate is 3 more years in the closet and this beer would get all 5's in a review. The rich roasted flavors and the nice sweet chocolate blended together well. There was some alcohol in the taste which did get more pronounced as the temperature rose but the oak also came out with the heat. So despite 11% abv it was still tolerable.

Very thick and viscous and wonderfully drinkable. It will catch up with you though so be sure to enjoy it with someone or make it your only drink of the night. Remember, that even though the bottle is $10 or $11, buy a couple to age.

2008 edition purchased at Hollingshead's a week ago. 22oz bottle.
A - 4.5 S - 4.0 T - 3.0 M - 3.5 D - 3.0

It was nice to try this beer again after a year and even though I've had this years vintage on 2 occasions prior to tonight, I hadn't actually given it enough attention to take good notes on. I'll say this: this beer is a huge let down after last years.

Pours the same as the other vintages, pitch black, nice dark brown foam, good retention, good lacing. Both lacing and retention could have been better but nothing to complain about. Looks very nice indeed.

This years vintage is much heavier on the roasted malt and thats evident in the aroma. Coffee and chocolate with a harshness that I remember from the 2007 that comes from the oak and booze. A little harshness (basically synonymous with freshness) is alright in a big stout in my opinion. No real complaints here either except the overdone coffee qualities.

Flavor is interesting. Maybe my palate has changed considerably but I remember the 2007's flavors blending a bit better. The coffee flavor dominates but is completely seperate from the chocolate, the oak (fresh oak), and the booze. I guess thats what aging is for. Also, very dry and bitter, too harsh to enjoy thoroughly.

Being dry is usually a good indicator that the body is going to be thin and this is no exception. Not thin in an absolute sense but thinner and less viscous than the 2007. Low/med carbonation, just right. Over all the beer is nice, but again a let down.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.55/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

the 13th highest rated beer on BA huh? cool! had the pleasure to try a 2009 vintage side by side with a 2010 (lucky me, i know). the 09 was slightly lacto infected and so off just a bit, but smooth and rich and decadent and one of a kind, but ths review will be for the 2010 vintage. it pours an absolutely black abyssal color (hehe) with a fairly good size mocha head for a 2 year old beer on oak. doesnt let a lick of light through. smells insane. mental. especially as it warms here. smells really really dark malty roast. some espresso notes, fruity pipe tobacco, raisins, bourbon, old oak, and plenty of alcohol. wow. flavor is spicy up front, with notes of licorice and black pepper even. it mellows to a quick second of something sweet, but it isnt the molasses. i cant place it, and im drinking it too fast trying to figure it out, so for now suffice it to say a dark fruity sweetness, but just for a moment. maybe pruple grape even, like jolly ranchers, but not artificial. i just dont know. then comes the bourbon woody vibes. bigtime. the complexity here is through the roof. feel is deadset perfect. perfect. it starts sharp and strong, with a foamy rising expansion in the mouth thats like a whispy cloud passing quickly by. it feels so light because of this, airy even, but the body upon close assessment is not as heavy as you might think. scarily drinkable. it winds down with a very smooth alcohol burn, like a very fine glass of scotch at room temperature. aftertaste is espresso and oak and booze. im amazed how the carbonation still is active after 2 years and a some time on wood. mellow, but certain. overall im not sure this is the 13th best beer in the world, but i am confident its the best imperial stout ive ever had, and im not sure what i would change about it. the sex appeal here is massive. a wonderful bottle of beer, and i will look forward to my next. i will relent and say it is indeed worth the hype!

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Photo of metter98
4.4/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is absolutely jet black in color. It poured with a thin dark tan head that died down, leaving delicate lacing covering the surface and a collar of large bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderately strong aromas of dark, roasted malts are present in the nose along with notes of oak from the barrel aging.
T: The taste starts out with lots of flavors of roasted malts and is accompanied by complimentary notes of bourbon, cherries, dark fruits, molasses and oak flavors. The roasted malt flavors linger from start to finish. The cherries become a little stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and slightly dry on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: As a mixture of blends, this beer is extremely well balanced and doesn't have any one dominant flavor. The taste is very complex.

Note: 2013 Reserve

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Photo of Knapp85
4.27/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2010: This poured out as a deep jet black oily looking brew, it forms a nice even sized brown head on top. The lacing is scattered and and has a light amount of retention. The smell of this beer is loaded with dark malts and some herbal notes. In the mix there is also a good amount of barrel aged aromas coming off of this one as well. The taste was really nice, sweet bourbon-like notes with some fresh oak in there too, there is also plenty of smoked and chocolate flavors in there. The mouthfeel is thick and oily, very smooth and highly drinkable. Overall I was hoping to get more of the Licorice flavors from it but regardless it's a killer brew. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.56/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Where many, and more "Russian" imperial stouts try to whelm the palate with complexity and variation in taste, Deschutes take a more somber, more "American" type of attitude when it comes to the style. Its classic American-ized taste makes in drier, less fruity and less spicy taste. Yet it makes the beer better? Here's why...

The pitch black concoction pours like 30 weight motor oil as it layers into the snifter. Seeming like the beer wouldn't develop a head, several more seconds are needed to appreciate the coffee-like creme that slowly forms on top of the stout. Not known for significant lace, the beer is caught somewhere between becoming a frothy, heady beer and a still, brandy-like appearance.

The nose melts the senses as the aroma of strong espresso, cocoa, and burnt toffee seduces the olfactory senses at every turn. Roasted walnut, light campfire, near-bourbon alcohols and savory sherry notes of aging come to live as the aromas search for complexity and the beer warms to release its pleasantries.

Flavors are even bolder as the beer builds and its power is felt- giving an intense espresso-rich, bitter chocolate early taste while bourbon-like vanilla melds into the caramel malt taste. The complexities are rich and varying and do offer only a glimpse into berry, plumb, and fig flavor, if only for a second. Walnut oils and coffee oils seem to give the beer its bitter balance even though we know they are hop-derived.

It's ultra-thick and weighted feel offers a creamy buffer, especially with its deeply embedded carbonation. Finishing very warm, lightly tangy, and thinned by alcohol, the its lingering finish satisfies the sweet tooth with dessert-like satisfaction.

Even without the high rate of complexity, the simple richness of Abyss lives up to its name- offering up a one-dimensional dialogue of roast and sweet while only glimpses of complexity decorate the periphery. But its such a succulent and delicious taste that those complexities are simply not needed.

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Photo of brentk56
4.65/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a pitch black color with the firmest mocha head I have ever seen; sticks almost permanently and leaves plenty of lace

Smell: Charcoal, grapefruit, espresso, dark chocolate, licorice and molasses; a touch of oak, but less than I expected

Taste: Right from the start, the grapefruit citrus jumps out and tangoes with the traditional espresso and dark chocolate flavors that would be more expected in a RIS; once they settle in, the sweet and fruity, black currant flavors burst forward; after the swallow, there is a burst of alcohol, followed by a strong roasty element but the finish is pure grapefruit hops

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, almost viscous, with moderate carbonation; considerable warmth after the swallow

Drinkability: This is a great beer, with plenty of complexity and an unusual take on the style; it will be interesting to re-visit in a year, when the hops settle down (which I did, by the way, but the hops still made their presence felt while allowing the coffee and chocolate flavors to shine in their complexity)

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Photo of largadeer
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage.

Appearance - Pitch-black. 2 inches of chocolate-colored head forms upon pouring, with incredibly good head retention for such a high gravity beer.

Smell - The aroma is almost chocolate chip cookie dough-like; it has notes of chocolate and vanilla with a backbone of sweet, biscuity malt. Oak is noticeable but fairly subdued, while the addition of licorice provides subtle spiciness.

Taste - Sweet doughy malt, molasses, burnt toast, sharp oak, bittersweet chocolate and bourbon - very dessert-like in flavor. Licorice lends a spicy, refreshing kick to an otherwise sweet profile. A deep roasted bitterness appears in the finish, long and coating, providing a drying contrast to the initial sweetness. Remarkable complexity and yet so drinkable.

Mouthfeel - Full and creamy. More amply carbonated than most Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Bchung52077: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a huge dark brown color foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of vanilla, light smoke and huge black chocolate notes is pretty intense but well balance as well. Taste is a sublime mix between some black chocolate, some light smoke, molasses, some oak and bourbon. This is a very well balance mix with no flavour taking over and completely overshadowing the rest of the flavours. Body is full with engine oil consistency but with a creamy texture as well and good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Not being a big fan of imperial stout usually I must admit that I was really impressed by the craftsmanship of this one.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.39/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz black wax sealed bottle. The Abyss is a brew which has narrowly escaped me on a few past occasions, but thanks to the kindness of the good doktorzee, I now have in my possession the 2013 Reserve version - a frontal lobotomy, as it were. It's about a month until the ironically specified 'best after' date, but I think that they'll understand - my mother passed on early this morning, and so many things about this offering resonate in our shared world. This one's for her, full stop.

Into my Tamarack Brewing (such nice gentlemen!) shaker pint glass this falls, appearing nothing less than a veritable titular incarnation in its 'colour' (absolutely no light filters through this nightshade in June, awwww), with a slim handful of puffy, roiling, and creamy chocolate milk head, which leaves a solid paint job of Dofino Havarti cheese lace around the glass as it slowly backs down.

It smells of dark chocolate ensconced dehydrated cherries , bready caramel malt, salted toffee, dried black licorice, raw dark demerara sugar, woody vanilla, and herbal, leafy, and slightly grassy hops. The taste is big, richly sweet chocolate, edgy, vegetal, and almost smoked-seeming molasses, plain toasted oak, a hint of red wine lees, warmed Rice Krispie squares vanilla, a bit of wet ash, Nordic licorice, bing cherry bushes in bloom, an ethereal (the best kind) bourbon barrel essence, and somewhat bitter leafy, earthy, and dead grassy hops - the big alcohol is but a gentle touch, when you are bracing for a well-deserved smack upside the head.

The carbonation is actually fairly active, in a neat little frothy manner, the body medium-full in weight, the cocoa character smoothness firmly pushing the issue in the face of the gritty, muddled blend of woody, boozy, and hoppy neighbourhood kids. It finishes more off-dry than I had been anticipating - the aforementioned bitter players compelling the chocolate sweetness to unravel even further.

Well, the hype around the Abyss might be just that, hype, but that shouldn't detract from the fact that this is a heady, soul-steadying, and, um, 'complicated' Imperial Stout, one engendered by its outright drinkability (before the after, eh?), and further enabled by the expertly integrated, north of 10 points ABV. Like the special person of my heart and mind, this is strong, American, unapologetic, and duly faded to black. R.I.P., with much love.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.65/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Version. Thanks to azbucfan for setting me up with the bottle.

G: Poured into an oversized brandy snifter.

A: Pours motor oil black. The head is a caramel-color with a bit of a crimson streak and plenty of bubbles. Excellent lacing.

S: Plenty of dark espresso, ripening into a malty sweetness. I can definitely make out some of the brewer's licorice. Clear scent remains from the bourbon barrels, although I can only make out a bit of the oak.

T: In addition to everything from the nose, a bit of burnt chocolate, in addition to slightly-burnt coffee and roasted dark malt.

M: Incredibly creamy with low carbonation. Very full-bodied.

D: So smooth and complex; this is a good one to sip for quite a well. Nice addition to the great week I'm having celebrating my 25th birthday. So far, I've had Dark Lord and Pliny the Elder. We'll see how many top ten's I can fit into this week.

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Photo of emerge077
4.46/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Generously shared by Jay23, review from notes.

Purely opaque, obsidian black, glimmering in the light. Slow cascading tan foam, it's surface has a creamy texture. Puffy concentric rings of sticky lace hang on the walls of the glass.

Ashy tobacco, woody oak in the nose. Not much sweetness, it could use a little chocolate to balance. It would get a 4.25 if possible.

Big smoke presence, dry roasty malts, chocolate, licorice, and dry tobacco leaves hanging aloft in a Kentucky barn. Earthy char with very well integrated notes of oak. Not picking up huge amounts of bourbon, reflecting the partially bourbon-aged blending. This is most welcome, and lends itself well to an impossibly silky mouthfeel, without harsh spirits crowding in.

Feel is creamy and robust, without getting syrupy. Nice dry finish. 11% was completely hidden, this was a fantastic Imperial Stout, glad I had the chance to try it.

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Photo of zeff80
4.47/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color. It looked thick like oil. It had a small, light brown, foamy head that left some thin lace on the glass.

S - It smelled surprisingly fruity, like a Belgian ale. Also, sweet chocolate notes with hints of licorice.

T - It tasted of tons of chocolate and sweet caramel. Some licorice and coffee flavors emerge, too, along with the fruity flavors.

M - It was smooth and very soft. A medium to full-bodied beer.

D - This is a great RIS and quite drinkable despite the high ABV. Really a great brew.

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Photo of kojevergas
4.03/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Brown glass bomber with waxed pressure cap served into a Gouden Carolus goblet in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. I had this on tap recently, less than a month ago - and I liked it. Let's see how she holds up when I have a higher volume and more time. Purchased at an off-license adjacent a Whole Foods in Colorado. Cost was 10.99 USD.

A: Pours a half finger head of tan colour, good cream, good thickness, and decent retention considering the ABV. Colour is a solid nontransparent black.

Sm: Rich chocolate, caramel, nuts, wonderful cream, vanilla, toffee, and light roast. Rich and decadent. Exquisite. A moderate strength aroma. Definitely a pleasant and inviting one. I can't wait to sip this.

T: Exquisite rich cream on the open, with a consistent chocolate tone throughout. Creamy and brilliant. The roast is a bit understated, but nevertheless enjoyable. It's quite cocoa-y. No coffee is present, except in perchance the finish, where it adds yet another layer of complexity. Exquisitely balanced. The caramel is just about perfect for the flavour profile - not over or understated. The nuts from the aroma never seem to make an entrance, but I think this is a good thing. Some vanilla. Heavy toffee. The alcohol doesn't come through. Most prominent - let me emphasize - is the richness of the flavours, predominantly chocolate and cream. It's really damn good.

When I look for them, I find the oak and bark notes, but they're rather subtle - which was definitely the right approach.

I don't detect molasses or licorice. Just sayin'.

Mf: Delicately smooth and incredibly delightful. Quite creamy - to its benefit - and wet. Near perfect. Not too thick or too thin.

Dr: Very drinkable for the ABV (and even the style). It's a notch above even most beers in the style. They went the distance for this one.


I've copied my original on-draught review below; it was removed from the site during the duplicate serving type review. My current 4.28 rating reflects the bottle review above, not this tap review, but I thought the additional notes might be of use. The review was dated 12/11/11, but I can't remember exactly when I actually took the notes.

Served on-draught into a 5 oz sampler glass in Orange, California. This was the 2011 vintage. Expectations were wildy high due to its reputation. Reviewed from notes. I don't recall the price.

A: Pours a half finger tan colour head of nice cream and good thickness. The retention is bad - attributable no doubt to the high ABV. Colour is a solid black.

Sm: Chocolate, toffee, coffee, nuts, cream, and caramel. A mild strength aroma.

T: Chocolate/toffee form the flavour base alongside the subtle roasted malt foundation, with coffee and caramel atop and about. Fantastically milky - which I didn't expect. Perhaps cream is a better descriptor, but it isn't so in the Bailey's sense. Very complex without compromising its balance. Quite rich. Wonderful. Built very well. Bravo.

Mf: Smooth, creamy, and wet. Suits the flavour quite well. Not too thick or thin.

Dr: Highly drinkable; very rich and complex. I wish it were more available. It's marvellous on tap. I'd have it again.


12.22.14: Truncated notes for a 2011 vintage: the cherry bark makes it unique. Still a hell of a beer.


11.02.15: Brief impressions for a 2014 vintage (Best before 8 days from now):

Pours a gorgeous silky head of tan colour. Retention is superb. Body is a predictable black.

Aroma brings the cherry bark to the fore, with subtle hints of caramel and chocolate. There's no overt oak or vanilla, and this is nowhere near as complex as I remember.

Taste brings decadent cherry bark, rich dry chocolate/cacao nibs, a hint of licorice/anise (not a flavour I adore), and cream. No oak or vanilla really comes through, but I do get a hint of port/dessert red wine. It's balanced, sure, with an aptly subtly dry and coarse mouthfeel, past vintages have been far more intricate and subtly executed. Still, the cherry bark is amazing, and this is well-balanced. Texture is creamy, but could be softer. Carbonation is perfect.

This isn't my favourite vintage, and I do think this beer has gone steadily downhill since about 2010, but it's well worth trying even at its high price point. Formerly, this was the one beer I'd always buy multiple bottles of every year. Now, I think I'll be scaling back.


12/31/15 2014 vintage:

Love the cherry bark as always, and the raw chocolate character is wonderful.

High B

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Photo of oberon
4.63/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

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Photo of oline73
4.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this on-tap at the black friday event at Capone's. Poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours black with a half finger of tan head. There is some very nice lacing and a good amount of retention.

Smell: Cocoa and roast with mild coffee. Sweet smells of molasses and some dark fruit.

Taste: Unbelievably smooth. Roasty cocoa and coffee notes up front. Quite sweet, mild dark fruit notes. Very smooth.

Mouthfeel: The body is thick with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: This beer is just awesome! Lives up to the hype. Very smooth, sweet, and roasty. I will definitely have more in the future.

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Photo of nickfl
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review #1000

A - Pours with one finger of medium brown head on top of an opaque, black body. The foam settles quickly and leaves moderate lace.

S - Lots of chocolate with notes of molasses, earthy licorice, smoke and some vanilla.

T - Sweet chocolate and caramel up front with a little bit of molasses. More chocolate and molasses in the middle with some licorice coffee coming in. The beer finishes with lots of earthy chocolate and spice notes as well as pine hops and coffee. Lingering malt bitterness mixes with bitter chocolate, tobacco, and lots of smoky whiskey.

M - A thick, oily body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - There is a lot of earthy, spicy complexity here, especially in the finish. The aroma really doesn't have much going on until the beer nears room temperature, but once it does the molasses and licorice really begin to come out. I don't get as much whiskey character as I expected, but there is a bit in the finish and it seems to add another note of underlying complexity to what is already a complicated beer. I imagine this would age very gracefully.

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Photo of jlindros
4.83/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this as part of the Central New England BA meetup #1.

A: Super dark, light can't even escape it's grasp. Pours with the viscosity of dark matter in liquid form. I swirl it a bit, and see legs so long it would make Cheryl Tiegs blush. A small but very dark thick head rises on the pour and seems to sit there, enjoying the beverage on it's own.

N: Loaded with roast and chocolate. I think I could give it to a few bakers and they would be satisfied for years. The rich stout aroma it gives off also adds a nice touch.

T: Taste is just, ooohhh, ahhh! Super rich, creamy, thick, dark, delicious. Again tons of bakers chocolate and roast, but also adds some dark chocolate, a little milk chocolate, tobacco, coffee, toast, a slight booze, and that aged stout smooth flavor. I think Marlboro cigarettes would love this beer in their commercials. It's so thick and rich it just seems to fill the pours all over my mouth and lingers with the deliciousness. Semi sweet with some malty flavors as well.

M: Thicker than blood, which is in turn thicker than oil apparently. Very little carbonation, good for the style, but so thick I think I need to chew it before i swallow.

F: Looong lingering roast and chocolate finish, as it coats the mouth well. It's still semi sweet, with more bakers chocolate and milk chocolate at this point. It also has a bitter stout like earthy roasted char flavor.

Amazing stout, perhaps my favorite now. It's very good, hides the booze well, and is much more drinkable than Black Tuesday or Dark Lord.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.76/5  rDev +6.2%
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!

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Photo of Kegatron
4.61/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber from the 2007 release. Split with fellow BA HopDerek. Thanks Derek!

This guy lives up to his moniker right off the bat, pouring an absolutely impenetrable pitch black. Probably the darkest Stout I've ever seen and I've seen em' pretty darn dark. The finger width of head is a nice crispy burnt dark tan color that beckons you to dive in and see how far down this Abyss goes. It retains into a beautiful full, creamy layer that leaves just thick swathes of lace down the glass. It's just a handsome looking beer and one that I could gaze into for hours on end. The aroma is a little more subdued than I would have originally thought. First notes are of sweet chocolate, espresso, some dark acrid fruit sourness, and roasted malts which are then followed by some of the barrel character, vanilla and a slight oakiness. There's a lot going on but that big bouquet just isn't quite there though.

The taste is full of big burnt bold flavors. Rich notes of chocolate, coffee, molasses sweetness, burnt dark fruits, licorice, charred roasted malt, some vanilla notes. I love the dry, lingering combo of burnt and hop bitterness and the overall way all that dark, roasted character is magnificently balanced by various notes of sweetness. The mouthfeel has a full and creamy feel that slides across the palette and down the throat. And that 11% ABV is so very, very well hidden. I think that any kind of alcohol presence just kind of retreats in the face of this guy's flavor profile.

This is a fantastic RIS, in its own way, and I'm glad that I've got a few extra bottles of this, as I'm sure it will age beautifully. Full, rich flavors and a fairly easy drinkibility for a beer its size, guarantees that this will be one Abyss you'll want to fall into again and again.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.95/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 vintage, 22oz bomber served at cellar temperature and poured into a pint glass

A - Poured a hugely thick and evil looking jet black molasses looking sludge into my pint glass, hitting the bottom of the glass like a thud. Such a rich dark color, there was no chance at all of any light coming through this one at any point what so ever. A huge dark tan colored head rose up from the depths of this one reaching a height of easily three inches which never really did settle down to much, leaving a constant pillow of brown of top that at the most settled down to around an inch and a half. Very nice cascading of the foam when this was poured, almost like a nitro-tap pour, very full. The side glass lace was tremendous, leaving behind thick stringy webs of brown that coated the entire glass, and to be honest were still coating the glass the next morning when I woke up. This was one serious monster to be reckoned with, and I can see where its name came from, it looked like anything that fell into here was never coming back.

S - The aroma was spectacular, engaging, and simply full beyond expectations. The first thing I noticed was how sweet it was, tons of sugar here in the aroma, thick molasses like smells that really sweetened it up. Mixed in were the slightest hints of French roasted coffee and dark chocolate, really giving this that big dark aroma that you look for in the style. It never really did lighten up any, as even an hour into the bottle it was still evolving. No hint of any alcohol in here at all, which was insane to think about. It really had the aroma that was pegged as a dessert, so rich and full, and soo sweet. The only thing I could say was as it warmed it started to let off some more coffee notes along with a noticeable hint of vanilla that again confirmed how sweet it was.

T - I really do not even know where to start with this one. I had waited a long time to try it, and have read all the hype and was really hoping this would be as good as I wanted it to be, I have to be honest, it was better! I really have not had many things that were as good as this one was, I am not even half way through my review and I know the score here is going to be a perfect one, but enough of that. The first flavors I was picking up were rich caramel and molasses sugars that were layered upon a coffee like base. This gave it such a rich, complex and sugary profile that I was not even sure what was going on. As it warmed subtle notes of chocolate and licorice started to come though and blended in very well, keeping it sweet, but at the same time confirming its dark nature. Hints of vanilla were then layered on top of that, so complex, but at the same time, so simple and elegant. This was like the mother of RIS's for me. Towards the finish you could pick of trace flavors of oak in it that was evidence of its aging. The finish had a surprising amount of dry bitterness to it, that really caught me off guard being how sweet this was for the entire session, but this was nice really drawing it out and letting it bring you back in again for another round. In a word amazing.

M - This had to be the thickest, smoothest and creamiest beer I have ever had. I crave a good stout that has the consistency and feel of a chocolate shake, this almost one upped that, really setting a bar so high that I do not know if I can ever find something that can top it. The carbonation was superb, really putting a show and giving it that silky feel. There was no, none, not even a though of this being anything but a superb offering. Insane really how good this was.

D - I was waiting for this category to make mention of the fact of how good this was as a night time sipper. Now the bottle says 11%ABV, bit heck it could have been 5%. There was just no hint of it anywhere in here. Which is amazing if you thick about it. I sipped on this one for a good hour, and by the end it was probably close to room temperature and was just as good a when it came out of the cellar. This was just amazing. I really would love to be able to have this one on tap, in my house, once a night it is just that good.

Overall the style is easily one of my favorites, and bounces back and forth with an IPA for the top really, and this was the best I have ever had. It was just perfect. The aroma was perfect, the taste, feel, appearance, everything I just could not think of anything that could improve here as it was the epitome of the style and I am so glad I waited so long to try this one as my palate has really evolved and allowed me to appreciate this one more fully. Could not think of a better selection for my 800th review. This was perfect and anyone who can get this and does not try it is a fool.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.01/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 Bottle.

Appearance: Pours a black body with a small, fizzy, short-lived dark tan head.

Smell: Aroma of dark roasted malts with notes of licorice, molasses, and a shot of alcohol. A good measure of oak in there without overdoing it, which is always nice to see.

Taste: Flavor loaded with roasted dark maltiness. Plenty of dark chocolate syrup, toasted marshmallows, and spicy anise. Relatively mild sweetness throughout. A taste of coffee that grows exponentially as it warms. Reasonable oaky presence. A strong, earthy bitterness helps balance the heavy malt. Tiny hints of bourbon. Chewy, earthy finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Seriously, this is a fairly well-made imperial stout. Absolutely stupendous? Nah, but better than most.

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Photo of mactrail
3.1/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pouring this you get a surprise-- it's so black, oily, viscous, and nearly foamless it made my wife laugh. She poured a dose to taste-- and given the choice finished off the Modern Times Monsters' Park IS instead.

Tarry, charred taste is endless. Mouthfeel is like a serious liqueur. Plenty sweet, but after a few hesitant sips, the bitterness is more dominant. Roasted malt and burnt sugar no doubt, but it's mostly charcoal. Sourish barrel tang with a brief malty sweetness, then-- oh, I get it-- the Abyss.

I don't get the attraction with something so nearly undrinkable, even though the flavors are quite intriguing until the bitter medicinal quality catches up. From the 22 oz bottle (2014 vintage) purchased at Liticker's Liquor in San Diego. The price was eye-watering but I felt obliged to try it, but once will be enough.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
99 out of 100 based on 1,876 ratings.