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The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,836 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,836
Hads: 6,432
Avg: 4.49
pDev: 18.04%
Wants: 2,872
Gots: 3,496 | FT: 320
Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout | 12.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-24-2006

Aged in bourbon, Oregon oak, and Pinot Noir barrels.

65 IBU

Vintages (production numbers from Deschutes):
2006 - Released December 2006 (approx 90 BBL)
2007 - Released January 2008 (approx 350 BBL)
2008 - Released November 2008 (approx 350 BBL)
2009 - Released November 2009 (approx 600 BBL)
2010 - Released December 2010 (approx 600 BBL)
2011 - Released November 2011 (approx 600 BBL)
View: Beers (163) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of The Abyss Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,836 | Hads: 6,432
Photo of Jwale73
4.47/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to blisscent for sharing this one. Served in a standard pint glass. Poured an opaque black with a mocha-colored head. Scents of chocolate, coffee, brewer's licorice and malt hit you in the face. Taste is consistent with nose, with the addition of vanilla and a subdued, balanced oakiness; just enough to enhance the flavors without dominating. Finish has a light hoppy character. Mouthfeel was silky without being viscous, and alcohol was well-hidden. The Abyss is by far one of the most drinkable RIS's I've had the opportunity to try. It goes down deceptively smooth and leaves you wanting for more. I plan on opening the bottle I was able to procure (thanks msubulldog25) sometime in the late Fall/early Winter and I am anxiously anticipating how this brew is going to continue to develop.

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Photo of raiser
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - dark black with orangy colored head. Mine didn't pour a huge head as some have described, in fact I found it lacking.

Smell - chocolate, coffee, licorice, bourbon

Taste - chocolate, coffee, molasses, a touch of licorice, not overpowering. I didn't care for it right out of the fridge, but as it warmed the taste and complexity both intensified. My wife agreed. I would say the smell was initially better than the taste.

Mouthfeel - good carbonation and smooth creaminess.

Drinkability - I think this needs to age more. I can see where it would/could/should be in the US top 5, but I wasn't as flabbergasted as I thought I should be based on the high rating of this beer. I actually preferred the Stone IRS for drinkability both on taste and cost, probably the 2 most important factors in choosing something to drink regularly. However I bought a few of these and plan to try it again after it sits for a while.

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Photo of maximum12
4.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bless swnicholson & WeisGuy for my first two bottles of The Abyss. As a Russian Imperial fan, I was eager to try this. Managed to wait a whole couple of weeks after getting them to pop the first open.

The Abyss slow pours like liquid black licorice out of the wax-sealed bottle. Small, dark head with an inviting smell, faint coffee & sweetness.

Holy son of Lincoln. One sip & I'm hooked hard. The sweet creaminess, lightness despite the iron-black heart, & tiny hint of bourbon peeking through after the parade is almost passed. This packs a seriously yummy punch. Surpassingly tasty, eminently drinkable, feels like pure bliss slipping over my tongue & down my throat. 11% ABV? Whatever. I may not even notice when I fall down the stairs. Or care.

Wow. This beer not only lived up to the hype, it's way over-the-top surpassed it. This is Darkness-quality sipping stout. I'll be seeking this beer out as long as Deschutes can pump it out. Speaking of which, this is my first experience from the brewery, & I'll be seeking out more of their brews.

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Photo of Tilley4
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to both revkibosh and tayner for sending these my way...

This may be the most beautiful stout I've ever seen...It literally glugs out into my Duvel tulip looking very foreboding with a midnight black appearance and slowly forms a thick creamy 3 inch head that is very dark and persistent....

Heavenly aromas of rich dark luxurious chocolate, sweet plump figs, gooey inviting blackstrap molasses, strong dark coffee, smooth luscious vanilla and rich red cherries greet me as I take my first smell of this brew...I'm overwhelmed by this brew...

The taste is just as good as it smells plus some... This is just stupid... Seriously, everything pales when compared to this... In my opinion, this is what KBS and other highly touted Imperial Stouts aspire to be...its just on a different level...

Deliciously creamy and rich, dark and smooth, robust and luxurious... Does that about describe the mouthfeel?

I could drink this until I passed out with no problem... Its ridiculous...do you get the general idea that I love this brew? 2 more bottles await me and I'm going to hold on to them for a while and see how they age....

This is my second Deschutes brew and they've both kicked my ass...

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Photo of Hojaminbag
4.61/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this in a trade from CCRIDA. Thanks! I'm pumped my friends and I get a chance to try this brew.

The abyss. Jet black, completely opaque. Nice frothy coffee colored head. Decent retention, some nice lacing.

Some sweet molasses smell in the nose, roasted malts.

Chocolately, sweet mollasses and caramel. Roasted character. Some fruity flavors come through in there. Coffee shines in the finish. Very tasty. Alcohol is barely noticeable at all. Mouthfeel is good, just the carbonation and body you would expect.

Good drinkability here, a great beer all around.

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Photo of bkilpatr
4.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass. 05/19/08. 2007 reserve. Cool label, and the cap is covered in black wax.

Pours thick and pitch black with tinges of maple brown around the edges. A moderate pour produces a soft three finger light chocolate-brown head. The head fades back slowly leaving some beautiful lacing around the glass. Aromas of toasted malt, milk chocolate, and lightly roasted coffee. There's also some toffee and oak in there.

Oh wow this tastes amazing! Slightly sweet milk chocolate, molasses, and caramel up front. Finishes with bitter dark chocolate, medium roast coffee, and a somewhat bitter hop taste. Very nice roasted malt character throughout. Some dark fruits come into the palate as well, notably fig and date. Underneath all that are smooth oak and bourbon flavors from the barrel aging. The bourbon flavor is very subtle but adds a nice dimension to the flavor. Overall, a VERY nice balance of flavors.

The feel on this beer is equally impressive. A nice balance of thickness and carbonation. It's smooth and creamy, but not so thick that it's chewy. The carbonation is spot on, and it's nice and dry. It leaves a thin sticky coating around my mouth. Drinkability is great for such a big beer, though it is a bit filling. It really goes down smoothly. It's not too thick and sticky, and the bourbon flavor stays in check. And the high ABV (11%) is almost nowhere to be found.

Overall, an amazing beer and excellent RIS. Definitely try it if you get the chance. I've got an extra that I'm keeping for a bit to see how it develops.

EDIT (08/25/08)
Opened another bottle after three months. Both aroma and taste have more vanilla, caramel, and oak/whiskey now, with a hint of butterscotch. A bit more cherry in the taste also. The chocolate and coffee are still there, but are subdued a bit. Still amazing and holding up very well.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I split this bottle with Stopper. Poured at cellar temp into a snifter. The beer pours pitch black with very thick and viscous tan creamy head of 2 cm foams up easily and fades to an edge layer. Leaves windowpane lattice as it recedes. Aroma is molasses and roasted malt mixing with brown sugar and some faint grassy hops in the background. First sip reveals a fairly thick body with smooth text and mild rolling carbonation. Flavor is rich with roasted malt and brown sugar, molasses, but not a lot of oak. Beer gets a little boozy on the finish with some warmth and peppery bite. This is a nice hearty brew, not for the fainthearted.

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Photo of shivtim
4.16/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to aforbes10 and kdoc8 for sharing/securing this bottle. It was the highlight of a recent get-together in South Bend.
Pours into my glass like muddy oil, deep black, with a foamy mocha head that gradually fades. Excellent lacing. One of the best looking beers I've seen.
Nose is rich malty chocolate and alcohol. Taste is toasted firey malts, sweet earthy raw sugar, with some alcohol on the end. Lingering roasty goodness. Mouthfeel is spectacularly thick, rich and smooth. Overall a very nice brew, exceptional but not perfect.

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Photo of deepsouth
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this beer poured the deepest black with a large cascading head with lots of legs and the beer clings to the side of the glass.

this beer smells like heaven. roastedness, coffee, chocolate, molasses are all present in the nose.

this beer tastes like molassas, espresso, marchiano cherries, pitted fruits, dark roasted malt with a bourbon finish.

the mouthfeel is slick and oily. it' is appropriately carbonated and sticky.

i could drink this beer all the time although the high abv would prevent me from drinking too much.

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Photo of kmelwing
4.87/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted this beer from a a 22 ounce wax dipped bottle.

After I spent a few minutes chipping the wax off, I poured it into a mug and was rewarded with an awesome aroma of coffee, caramel, and chocolaty overtones. The first sip was even better.

I managed to finish the entire beer within about a half hour, which was perfect. This is definitely a beer that you want to sip and enjoy, as it has dark complex flavors that really make you comprehend what you're drinking.

If you're a fan of dark beers, this one will knock your socks off, no questions asked.

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

2007 bottle, served in a big wine glass 59 F/ 15 C.

Completely black, thick dark tan head that stops shrinking at a quarter inch, finely textured sticky lace.

Robust smell of dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee, an impression of Oreo cookies, and milder notes of smooth molasses/ rum, purple grape, vanilla, and hints of citrus and floral hops. Cohesive and very nice.

The taste is even more powerful than the smell. Penetrating dark roast that builds in intensity, with citrus hop flavor and bitterness. Sweet caramelized sugar and toffee, well balanced by roast and hop bitterness. Like the smell, an impression of Oreos. Molasses and a bit of alcohol suggest rum. Very long finish mainly of bittersweet dark coffee.

Smooth and silky, with some slick oiliness. Quite drinkable.

Great beer, I enjoyed this.

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Photo of dfillius
4.45/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed in a snifter, 2007 vintage.
A: aggressive pour yields 1/2 finger of dark tan/brown head that subsides quickly to a ring. Pitch black; the abyss indeed!
S: Coffee, molasses cookie, rye bread?, chocolate, citrus hops, baby back ribs?, quite complex.
T: Very mellow with bitter flavor from roasted malt lingering, but just in periphery! Flavor is so balanced and enduring. Some smoke perhaps, tiny licorice note late in the game. Not my favorite RIS, but very good.
M: Smooth and dry, perfect carbonation.
D: Only one bottle for a few of us. Same with any RIS in a 22oz. bottle though. Tasty.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle from russpowell via trade. Thanks for the opportunity. Black "wax" sealing material.

Poured into a heavy glass chalice, formed a 1/8" dark brown head above the totally opaque dark brown/black brew. Head is quickly morphed in a swirly skim or small bubbles, with moderate amounts of leggy lace. Aroma is deep rich dark malts, chocolate and coffee, with vinous fruit character over lurking alcohol wisps. Taste mirrors, with the hearty malt sweetness allowing some fruitiness to peek through in the middle, and then alcohol just eases into play at the close. Mouthfeel is creamy and almost evaporates off the tongue in the back of the mouth, and drinkability is only slowed down by the glimpses of acrid coffee in the aftertaste. Looking forward to these with some age on them.

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer is very big. I got two, one to drink right away and the other to save for a special occasion after letting it age a bit. When it pours out it is very thick with a nice head. The bubbles seemed to look like a sea of golden pearls swimming around. The taste is dark, strong woody bourbon flavors with a smooth coffee taste. The finish is warming with a good presence of alcohol.

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Photo of Graham21
4.73/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black with a nice caramel 4 mm head at first; turned to nice lacing. Carbonation very good.

The nose is immediateley espresso like with chocolate, alcohol and a hint of smokiness and burnt malts.

Immediately I picked up on bitter coffee, nuts and smokey meat flavors. Chocolate, nutmeg, roasted malts, and black liquorice also identified.

Medium bodied and surprisingly drinkable.

Well rounded and complex

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Photo of idResponse
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

OH Deschutes, if only you would bottle this beer year round and make enough to serve the masses en masse!

This is my second serving of this lovely brew in my lifetime. The first one was on tap, and so far the bottle almost lives up to the tap... but you know how it is between bottle and tap...

This is dark... like old motor oil... thick as oil as well... and well, kind of oily looking. The head is sort of short lived but a rich caramel brown. The lacing sticks well to the sides and stays around the edge.

It smells like a sweet rich fresh package of licorice... real licorice, the stuff you get from europe, not red vines. it's like inhaling sugar through the nose! oh this is divine!

This is hands down my favorite russian imperial stout, ever. it's sweet and mellow and rich and wonderful all at the same time. The alcohol is barely noticed. It's really like liquid licorice. It's almost like drinking jaegermeister without that bitter bite.

The mouthfeel is a little on the flat side and a little dusty but not much. This isn't something you can guzzle, you have to slowly sip it like a fine wine... hell, the ABV is right there!

it's VERY drinkable. I could have these fill my fridge and never tire of it. I think I could pair this with just about any meal.

Seriously, if you see this beer, buy all of them off the shelf and take them home. This beer is amazing!

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Photo of csmiley
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Comes out very dark brown and opaque. The edges of the glass reveal some dark ruby hues. Head was moderate showing good retention and lacing.

S - A good amount of roasted notes are first apparent on this brew. The supporting aromas are milk chocolate, espresso, and dried fruit. On the very tail end there is some alcohol mixed with a hint of metallic aromas.

T - Roasted flavors are big and out front in the flavor. That translates into a serious bite on the first sip. Once the roasted bite starts to fade, some milk chocolate and espresso flavors really start to smooth things out. Dark fruit finishes up the flavor. There is also a steady warm alcohol flavor throughout the taste.

M - Medium to full bodied with great carbonation. Finish is bitter given the huge roasted profile. Aftertaste is one of those that just keeps hanging on and never really lets go.

D - Drinkability is good. The high abv does not really show at all. This one makes a good sipping beer. Highly recommended if you can find it.

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Photo of SaltyLime
4.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - impressive dark black with dark cocoa colored head

Smell - chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, just a bit of booze

Taste - bliss; chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and add molasses

Mouthfeel - perfect carbonation and creaminess, silky smooth

Drinkability - if it wasn't for the dang ABV, I would love to drink this all day/night/year long

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Photo of JonathanL7890
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 Bottle enjoyed at a unofficial BA Tasting.

Poured a motor oil black into a DFH snifter.
Light head.
Lacing and some graininess on the side of the glass.
Aroma was hoppy and some chocolate and roasty notes.
Taste : Wow! what a complex profile. I can't describe them all. Chocolate, coffee, nutty. As I continued to drink it and it continued to warm more flavors arose. This is an incredible brew!

The alcohol was very well hidden by the mouthfeel and the strong flavors.

I can't wait to drink this after a year or so.

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Photo of bort11
4.26/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to sirk0rebreg for this one.

22 oz wax sealed bottle poured into an imperial pint glass. Thick looking chocolate colored head. Good retention leaves a sticky ring of lace on the glass. Color is a pure black. Light will not penetrate this darkness.

Smell is darkly sweet. Molasses and coffee aromas mingle. Taste is predominantly charred wood sweetened with bitter chocolate.

Mouthfeel is a creamy full body. this is a pretty filling beer, I wouldn't drink one on a full stomach. A great evening sipper to be sure.

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Photo of gford217
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to tayner for sharing this with me! 22oz bomber poured into a snifter. 2007 bottle tasted on 4-12-08.

A: Pours jet black with a rather large, thick frothy tan head. Head settled with good retention and an unbelievable amount of lacing. Fantastic looking beer.

S: Initial smell is of dark chocolate and roasted malts with a hint of molasses. Smelled just the slightest bit of alcohol, though mild and pleasant.

T: Wow is this a wonderfully complex beer. Slight initial bitterness gives way to a roasted chocolate malt taste with hints of nuts and coffee. Slight bitterness returns for a smooth aftertaste.

M: Medium mouthfeel with a slight carbonation that tickles with tongue.

D: Smooth mouthfeel and balanced taste make this an extremely drinkable stout.

2006 bottle, tasted on 8/11/09.

In short, this one has aged beautifully. Lots of dark roasted malts, bakers chocolate and espresso. The toasted character has mellowed a bit and it's probably a touch better than it was fresh. Fantastic stuff and showing no signs of going downhill.

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Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.08/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to nflmvp for this bottle. Cheers. 2007 vintage poured from the cellar. Pours black with little head. Smells of rich roasted malt and coffee with a hint of chocolate. Tastes of the coffee and roasted malt; I don't detect much of the barrel aging. Mouthfeel & drinkability is affected by a bit of an etoh burn. A sipper for sure but very good. I have been on a stout kick recently & I think this is a step below KBS, BS, and Peche IMO. I have a bottle to age so I will see what time does to this beer.


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Photo of CoalCellar
4.48/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22-oz bomber into my trusty tulip glass....

A: Black as the deep bowels of space... Light....not coming through this baby....

S: Alcohol, chocolate, molasses. I could have spent 5 minutes just smelling this beer.

T: Delicious. All the standard RIS stuff (coffee, chocolate, cocoa,), but wait....the taste continues on the back of your tongue....licorice...molasses...do I taste some vanilla and bourbon? One of the most complex tastes I've had in a long time.

M: Thick and syrupy, liquid licorice oozes over your tongue.

D: Very drinkable. I could sip this baby for ages....if only it wasn't so precious and scarce. Find yourself some of this beer, and lock it in a safe.

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Photo of Derek
3.87/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 release.

A: Black with a dark tan head, little retention, slight leg. I know it's strong, but I expect a stout to have more of a stand-up head.

S: Coffee, black strap molasses & plenty of alcohol.

T: Dark roasted coffee (ie. charred like a starbucks), black strap molasses, steelie-metallic flavour, roasted graininess. Good bitterness, alcohol is quite warming. Well-crafted, but personally, I'm not fond of the flavour.

M: Moderate body is really well-attenuated; dry with a roasted acidity.

D: The alcohol is a little much.

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Photo of willjschmidt
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bomber (2007 release) into a Stone IRS glass.

A: Pours jet black with a thick tan head and lots of lacing.

S: Roasted malt, molasses and a hint of sweetness.

T: Lots of layers of complex flavors. I got chocolate, molasses, anise, and roasted malt. Not as much coffee or espresso as is often found in an RIS. It is all very well balanced with a nice hop presence in the finish. Probably the smoothest and most well-balanced RIS that I have had. The alcohol is also very well hidden. I rarely found it popping through, even at 11%.

M: Creamy, full bodied, low amount of carbonation.

D: It's a sipper but a damn fine one. Sit back, relax, and take your time to enjoy the Abyss.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
99 out of 100 based on 1,836 ratings.