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The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

4,967 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,967
Reviews: 1,644
rAvg: 4.51
pDev: 9.53%
Wants: 2,526
Gots: 2,230 | 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: 4,967 | Reviews: 1,644 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

Sammy, Feb 10, 2008
Photo of t0rin0
4.15/5  rDev -8%
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.

t0rin0, Feb 18, 2008
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.85/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

UCLABrewN84, Mar 11, 2011
Photo of djrn2
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

djrn2, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -11.3%

zestar, Nov 04, 2013
Photo of spycow
5/5  rDev +10.9%

spycow, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of Thorpe429
4.63/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

Thorpe429, Apr 28, 2009
Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -16.9%

acurtis, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of nmann08
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

nmann08, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of metter98
4.41/5  rDev -2.2%
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

metter98, Jan 02, 2014
Photo of Texasfan549
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

Texasfan549, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of brentk56
4.63/5  rDev +2.7%
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)

brentk56, Feb 09, 2008
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 BEERchitect
4.55/5  rDev +0.9%
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.

BEERchitect, Oct 04, 2007
Photo of kjkinsey
5/5  rDev +10.9%

kjkinsey, Dec 02, 2011
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Phyl21ca, Apr 08, 2008
Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -16.9%
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

GRG1313, Dec 15, 2013
Photo of mikesgroove
4.95/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

mikesgroove, Feb 18, 2008
Photo of ygtbsm94
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

ygtbsm94, Dec 30, 2011
Photo of jaydoc
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

jaydoc, Nov 13, 2013
Photo of womencantsail
4.55/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Shocking that I have not yet reviewed the Abyss. This is a tick...review of the 2007 vintage generously shared by Jacob at the Bruery.

A: The pour is a viscous elixir, nearly black in color with a solid finger's worth of mocha head.

S: A wonderful combination of roasted malts, licorice, coffee, and sweet, creamy chocolate. A few notes of oak, vanilla, and maybe even dark molasses.

T: Lots and lots of chocolate and roasted malts up front. There is a subtle woody character that comes through nicely, along with a hint of bourbon, vanilla, and licorice. Wonderfully balanced between the sweet and roast/bitter flavors.

M: The body is silky, smooth, and creamy with a low-ish level of carbonation.

D: This is probably my favorite vintage of Abyss, and with good reason. So many great flavors and so easy to drink. It's really too bad this year's developed an infection.

womencantsail, Aug 10, 2010
Photo of Knapp85
4.28/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

Knapp85, Sep 28, 2012
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.05/5  rDev -10.2%
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.

ChainGangGuy, Mar 04, 2008
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
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
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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 4,967 ratings.