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The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

1,885 Reviews
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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

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,885 | Ratings: 6,702
Photo of mattster
4.43/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Opened 2007 Reserve 22 ounce bomber bottle, poured into Snifter glass.

Pours a nice black color with a caramel tan colored head of ¼", that dies down to a thin lacy head. Slight legs on glass (nice for a beer).

Smell is of dark coffee and burnt sugars. Taste is very nice. Not over powering on any facet: Chocolate/liquorice notes are accentuated by mild woody tones. Coffee finish lingers a bit, but it is quite pleasant. Fine bubbles are nice and give the beer a good mouth feel Even with the high (11%) alcohol, this is not a hot beer.

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Photo of Aimstatus
4.92/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: thick and black, very characteristic of a Russian imperial stout. It had a dark tan very thick pleasing head.
Smell: the smell was a wonderful combination of coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, and a hint of black licorice.
Mouth feel: very pleasant. No complaint what so ever. It was a medium thickness of a liquid. It was definitely one of those beers so smile with every sip, and you want every sip to last through the night.
Taste: wonderful, every smell you intake is encompassed in the beer it is wonderfully balanced with a bit of hops and creamy malts. Just in a word...perfect.
Drink ability: like with every time I have a good beer to review I want one now. Sad it only comes once a year, like Christmas, but definitely could have one everyday through out the day. Bit alcoholic of me I know

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

Appears a pitch black body with a large thicket of mocha tan head. By the way thanks to SurlyDuff my old roomie Geoff, from Morgantown, WV for sending his local breweries finest in my direction. By the way Geoff's screen name has nothing to due with Surly Brewing Company I believe it's solely based on his love for The Simpsons, as a shout out to Duff Man. By the way the head dwindles slowly forming chunky sporadic bands of lacing around my chalice, very nice.

Aroma contains dark roasted malts including anise, dark chocolate more of a bittersweet baker's chocolate note. Warming vanilla and oak barrel aging effects flowing strong but with some finesse. I'm not crazy about the oak barrel aging frenzy that's going on in the craft beer movement at this time, however this blended version brings enough of those characteristics without overshadowing the actual beer. Deep alcohol with fruit undertones doing this bee much justice.

Flavors are great, much more complex and straight forward than the aroma was. Soothing alcohol burn weighs heavy among the waves of dark chocolate and mild sweetness provided by underlying plum and fig sweetness. Herbal hops barely play a role here with a touch of bitterness, charred oak and vanilla with a touch of whiskey blend beautifully into one massive American Imperial Stout. Some coffee hints here but nothing blatant a lot more dark chocolate from the dark roasted malt character than anything else.

Mouthfeel is full bodied carbonation is timid amongst the large bodied brew, but definitely ample enough to stand up to it. Textures of bitter chocolate leave a drying bitterness over the palate, charred oak makes it nearly smokey but nothing like a true Rauchbier. Solid through and throught definitely silky presence to the overall feel.

Drinkability is effortless the glass will drain before your ready for it, it's easy to make it through a review without ever even stopping to take a note or complete a sentence. This brew kept my nose in the glass and my palate in touch with the contents of this awesome wax sealed bottled from the left coast. Another amazing experience I can carry with me in my beer journeys, thanks again Geoff!

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

2007 Vintage breached 9/6/2008 and served at just-above cellar temperature.

A: Thick and vicious, nearly black with a single-finger, tight creamy brown head that settles to a blanked and leaves polka dot lacing patterns all over the place when swirled or sipped.

S: Smoke/smoked meat, charred wood, tad of licorice.

T: Very similar to the nose: smoke, roasty bitter chocolate, sort of a palate-coating woody finish. There's also this subtle underlying presence of molasses throughout.

M: Thick, creamy and velvety. A perfect example of how I love my RISs. This baby is smooth. Mild carbonation. Perfect 10 here.

D: 11% ABV is masked really well. The velvet (almost biscuit-like) texture and smokey/sweet flavor could easily pull me through a bomber and a half, tho I'd probably be knocked the hell out if I finished two. Awesome representation of a RIS. Was not let down by this one. It's not the best beer I ever had, but its up there with the best of them.

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Photo of barefootbrewer
4.41/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: This beer poured a deep black color with a thick tan head. It is slick and oily. It even has "legs" that run down the glass when you swirl it.

S: The aroma is spicy. Licorice, malt and cinnamon are noticeable. The alcohol is also apparent.

T: This is a complex blend of malt, coffee, molasses and chicory with an alcohol kick.

M: The beer is heavy, slick and sticky - just what one would want.

D: This is a heavy drinking brew...but I swear I could drink it all night long!

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.92/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a thick, oily, black color. The head is half and inch in height, dark tan in color, and recedes slowly into a small cap of lacing. The aroma is of roasted malt, cream, graham crackers, dark chocolate, and hints of oak. The taste is burly, and bold without being over-the-top. Roasted malt, graham cracker, and cream open up the taste, leading into chocolate, and oak in the finish. There is a lingering roasted malt bitterness in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with appropriately low carbonation, and a velvety texture. This is a world class Russian Imperial Stout. I could certainly drink this again.

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

2007 reserve
Pours a thick jet black brew with a dark tan head that had a good amount of retention. The aroma was sweet and had a touch of chocolate and some sweet oaky vanilla notes.
The taste is very intense with a rich dark carmely sweetness blended in with the roasty, coffeelike tastes of the dark malt. Smooth flavor overall this beer finishes with a nice hint of oak and bourbon sweetness that segues into a warming finish. Very rich and complex yet neatly comprised this beer is an excellent example of the Imperial Stout style.
The mouthfeel was rich and full yet not too thick.
Overall an excellent beer that i will be adding to my cellar.

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

The Bottle is stately, simple, with a wax sealed cap. The label declares its vintage (2007). The Wax is a bit tricky to cut off at first, but soon comes off from around the cap. The beer pours slowly, with a viscosity befitting to its molasses heritage. The result in my glass is a deep brown opaque beer, with a brown head that clings nicely to the side of the glass. The smell of dark chocolate, and the mild molasses is countered by a woody and smoky odour.

The flavour is strong, muscling through anything, with a tastes of baker's chocolate, liquorice, with a mild to moderate hint of coffee. The woody, smoky flavour really comes through pleasantly, with just enough presence to add additional direction to this beer. The beer drinks smoothly, with moderate carbonation that doesn't sting, and a oily finish that clings to the mouth. This is really a beer to have with a desert such as a cheese cake, or perhaps as a desert in its own right. The ethanol remains hidden under the malts and tastes of roast throughout, making it very easy to drink more than you intended. An amazing beer from a quality brewery. Deschutes has really outdone themselves with this offering.

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Photo of Mauerhan
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

so after many months of waiting, a few tears, some convincing and a whole lotta bribes, my friend finally cracked open his bottle of the abyss that he has been aging since january.

an amazing pour. phenominal smell. the taste is an amazing ride from start to finish, although i believe that one thing that makes this beer so good is the lack of availability, it is still an amazing brew. gets even better as it reaches its optimal room temp.

i cant wait till the next release. do yourself a favor and pick up a few bottles.

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Photo of sevopie
4.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Black... as it pours, you can see a little brown at the edges, but its very dark. Darkest head I have seen in a beer yet, dark cocoa colored. Laces sporadically, but well.

Smell - Dark chocolate cocoa, wood, light coffee.

Taste - Burnt wood is the first thing that I taste, followed again by dark chocolate cocoa. Coffee starts coming out a little more, as does the licorice at the very end.

Mouthfeel - HEAVY and chalky, perfect amount of carbonation.

Drinkability - This one takes a minute to adjust to, but its fantastically chocolaty and rich. I don't know if this is as easily drinkable as some, but its smooth enough to sip effortlessly.

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Photo of corey0212
4.65/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Massive thanks to Monsone for including this in the Brews n' Books BIF!

Pours a sludgy midnight black into the glass, massive and dense mocha-colored head fades very slowly, leaves a healthy amount of lacing in the glass. Smell is like a charred campfire log, tons of scorched wood on the nose, spicy alcohol, molasses and extremely dark and bitter chocolate. Taste follows right along, but with some lighter/mellower milk chocolate flavors and a faint plum/dark fruit flavor. Moutfheel is incredible...thick and chewy, but silky, alcohol coats and warms the inside of the mouth, tons of lingering charred flavors, and a faint coffee aftertaste. Carbonation is completely spot-on for the style. This is an absolutely brilliant beer, and I'm so pleased I got the chance to try it.

Thanks again, Monsone!!!

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Photo of Cedromar
4.45/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First off, cheers to ATLBeerDog and gkatsoris, I don't know whose bottle I'm sipping on so my hat goes off to both of you.

What started of a deep black with 1 cm head quickly dissipated to a brooding black liquid with but a few black bubbles. This beer looks like a Daniel Plainview wet dream. A quick whiff triggers the flow of neurotransmitters back towards my brain telling me I'm smelling dark chocolate with hints of molasses, burnt coffee, and dark fruits. The first sip provides a lovely amount of chocolate with a syrup lightly drizzled over. It coats the mouth quite well and leaves me wanting more of it's creamy, but still chewy wonder. As it warms hints of bourbon, incredibly small hints mind you, come through. I could drink this for quite some time. It is definitely a sipper. I feel like this would be a beer served in the coldest portion of the afterlife and you would be surrounded by only the finest artists discussing each others work and mocking every beer snob that says this beer isn't rare enough for his palate.

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Photo of Jerzdevil1116
4.92/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber of the 2007 version. Drank from a pint glass. My gratitutde to jasinviso for sharing.

A: Big brown head settled into a layer of brown bubbles. Opaque black body. Nice cascading when first poured. An oily looking sheen left on the glass after each sip.

S: Plenty of roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a milder coffee and oaky presence. Alcohol became more prevalent as the beer warmed.

T: Very well balanced. Loaded with roasted malt and sweet molasses and toffee flavors. Bitter chocolate and coffee notes balance out the sweetness. Just enough alcohol to let you know it's there, but never overwhelming.

M: Medium bodied. Very smoothe. A slight oiliness coats the mouth and tongue.

D: Awesome beer. One of the best. Very smoothe and easy drinking.

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

2007 bottle. Cool wax dip and label. Right from the start, BOOM this brew is stellar. Dark rich smoke, oak, lavish and layered. But extremely balanced. I'm guessing the acidity and alc just marry up perfectly with the complexity and strength this brew posesses. Intensity but elegant. Could also age this brew for several years. A bit of sweet but almost dry. Oily cigar white smoke, deep and rich coco and coffee but still subtle. $14+ is what this retails for I guess? Worth every penny.

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

A : Pours a motor oil black with a thin tan head that leaves just a touch of lacing behind

S : A real rich aroma of roasted malts. Hints of licorice, coffee, and oak

T : Strong coffee flavor with hints of bitter chocolate on the finish

M : Smooth, creamy, hints of alcohol

D : An excellent beer that is a sipper. One that I'd definitely want more of.

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Photo of ASymon13
4.34/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a very very dark brown with some light passing through on the fringe. It also has a wonderful chocolate-brown head to it that recedes fairly quick and leaves no lacing. The aroma is wonderful. It is dark and roasty, yet with a sweet chocolaty undertone, along with a slight hint of anise. The alcohol is very well masked.

The roast is quite powerful on the taste and definitely is the most prevalent flavor, and it seems to give the beer a slight astringency. The sweet chocolate is still there though, preventing the roast from being overpowering. The alcohol isn't quite as well masked as the aroma indicated, and there is some decent hop bitterness throughout. It is definitely both balanced and flavorful. It has a medium-full body to it, but the carbonation is a bit low. Overall, I'm not sure if it quite lives up to its reputation, but is still an excellent beer.

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Photo of bbothen
4.58/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Took it upon myself to open a bottle at 2:00 pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Must have been the new Mudhoney cd I'm listening to. Damn rock n roll influences me every time..

22oz wax dipped bottle, as you all know, poured into a La Trappe snifter. Sample size is about 8 ounces served slightly colder than cellar temp.

Pours a deep deep pitch black with a nice big bubby & fluffy coffee colored head.

Malted milk, roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, raisin, & date aromas. Yum.

Dark chocolate, smokiness, roasted flavors, vanilla, considerable hop presence, slight oak, dark fruits, slight booze, & a bitter coffee finish. licorice? Lots going on here. I could find things all night. I just might.

Smooth and creamy with mild carbonation & lingering taste of the above.

As far as barrel aged 11% stouts go the drinkability is off the charts. Easy drinking & yummy. Having said that you might want to share the bottle.

Well I liked this. Look forward to buying more of the next release. Between Obsidian, Abyss, Black Butte, & Black Butte XX, Deschutes is making some top shelf stouts & porters. Recognize.

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Photo of brewjones
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. Bomber Bottle - 2007 Reserve

Dark, really dark, thick looking. The head was wonderful: creamy, large, and dark tan. Looked like chocolate milk on top. Aromas of coffee roast and sweet chocolate. The first sip was hard to get to through the large head but once I got there, it was worth it. Sweetness up front followed by a roatiness and slight bitter to balance this full bodied beer. Just enough carbonation to make is easy to palate. All the hype of this beer is true. Definitely a good one! Easy to drink but watch out, 11% abv.

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Photo of JoeMayo
4.4/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Thick, dark and rich-looking

S- It smells very sweet with molasses. Coffee and chocolate also come through.

T- Coffee and chocolate prevail with sweet subtle caramel notes. Some of the sweetness may be imparted from the alcohol.

M- Thick and syrupy with a slight alcohol warmth

D- Definately a beer to sip on

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Photo of mikeale
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured in to my Dogfish Head snifter.

A. Pitch black, mocha head.

S. Coffee, licoric, cocoa...

T. Roasted malt, espresso, chocolate.

M. Creamy smooth, warming alcohol, roasty finish.

D. A sipper but drinkable.

This is one of my favorite beers.

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Photo of supermanjace
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


When you think about the ingredients in craft brews, it is generally: malt, water, yeast and hops. Sure adjuncts come in from time to time, and you may get another amazing ingredient added, like Stone's 12th Anniversary's use of chocolate. But, at the end of the day, we're talking about a very small palate of ingredients. But ahh the array of things that those ingredients can do to your palate.

Herein a perfect example: The Abyss!

Dark as night, this pours like liquid chocolate. Thick and rich, it fills the snifter with something that looks so viscous, but is oh so smooth...

It smells of chocolate and licorice, roastey and toastey. It begs to be drunk, but you can't stop sniffing. Pass it along, person to person and invite them to revel in the joy you know you will receive upon first taste.

And then you sip... it fills the palate...chocolate and coffee immediately come through. You think about the ingredients and all you can see is the dark malts, how dark they must have been to produce this. And wow, it's balanced too. It's 11% but not cloying or sweet, not alcoholic or biting. The balance they achieved with the perfect amount of bittering and flavoring hops. There are no flaws in this.

My wife called it dessert in a glass. Not because it was sweet, but because it felt like a reward to drink. The snifter seems too small. For, while you can only sip this beer, you can not STOP sipping it. Each take brings you closer to the time when it will be gone, but beyond savoring it, you have no interest in taking your time.

Well done, Deschutes. You just make good beers. Mazeltov!

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Photo of ohmybock
4/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This bottle is vintage 2007. Just to set the record straight, I'm not a huge fan of imperial stouts, and I usually prefer ones that are flavored with espresso.

With that being said, the Abyss is definitely one of the better "regular" Impy Stouts I've tasted. It pours with a slight head that lingers until the finish. It smells of roasty/chocolate malt with coffee-ish notes. The flavor has similar characteristics, but with some dried, cocoa in there as well. It's not too sweet and is fairly balanced for the strength and style. The body isn't as heavy as I thought it might be considering the strength. Also, the barrel-aged character is well-hidden. More often than not, a barrel-aged beer tastes heavily of oak/bourbon/etc. Not so in this brew. It must be due to the fact (like the bottle says) that only 33% was aged in barrels. This is definitely the way I wish other brewers would incorporate their barrel aging. I liked this brew quite a lot so I can only imagine what other impy-stout-loving BA's might think of it. Recommended!

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

Served cool in a 5 oz taster. Reviewed blind against DL, KtG, P. Mortel, Stone IRS, B. Albert, Ky BS, Ten Fidy.

Pours a very dark reddish brown, compared to some RIS's it's far from black. Has a lovely dark tan head of persistent fine bubbles.

Very subtle nose with just a slight bit of roastiness and caramel aroma.

Great flavor, very complex with loads of low roasted malts and some caramel.

Stimulating hop bitterness, has a light mouthfeel in a good way. Slightly oily.

Drinkability is great. Very smooth and light, goes down easy.

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Photo of frazbri
4.58/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The Abyss 2007 Reserve poured black with a dense, chococate brown head two fingers tall. Lacing was excellent. Aroma started with a little smoke followed by cocoa, cola and vanilla. The initial flavor was Espresso. Bourbon, brandy and charcoal presented themselves afterward. Mouthfeel could be described as luxurious: a creamy full body with moderate carbonation levels.

The Abyss has earned its reputation. Deschutes delivers an impressive imperial stout. Special thanks to NitroGen for sending this to me. Cheers!

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

2007 22 oz. brown bottle with wax seal > Chimay goblet

Jet-black color, totally opaque, thick, syruppy pour with a one-finger deep, mocha brown crown, settles thick and creamy but with plenty of bubbles within. Dissipates slow but still looks pretty active. Very sticky lacing, hangs around.

The aroma is no doubt reminding me of chocolate brownies with fruit on the side. black berries, very deep fruity aroam rides just under the sweet, thick malt scent. Prunes, raisins, charcoal, fudge pops, rollo's, hearty grains and wet-earth rounds it out.

This is a highly sweet and chocolaty malt flavor that whacks the palate hard on the ass! chocolate-covered cherries, mocha-vanilla coffee, honey and caramel currents run together. Heavy, thick, bold feel with a balance achieved by herbal, dried herbs and a bitter, peppery hop. Dark fruit flavor's pop out later with black berries and cherries melding togather with the fudgy chocolate malt. A smokey wood and grains edge and heat that is agressive but not sharp pushes the attention away from sweet flavor's for a bit and adds complexity and depth. High grade complexity.

This is almost as full and heavy as it gets, only Bell's Expedition Stout is thicker in my estimation. almost chalky.

A big beast of a brew for sure.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
99 out of 100 based on 1,885 ratings.