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The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

5,504 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,504
Reviews: 1,728
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.78%
Wants: 2,608
Gots: 2,676 | FT: 202
Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

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

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

65 IBU

Vintages (production numbers from Deschutes):
2006 - Released December 2006 (approx 90 BBL)
2007 - Released January 2008 (approx 350 BBL)
2008 - Released November 2008 (approx 350 BBL)
2009 - Released November 2009 (approx 600 BBL)
2010 - Released December 2010 (approx 600 BBL)
2011 - Released November 2011 (approx 600 BBL)
View: Beers (116) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,504 | Reviews: 1,728 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of lurpy1
4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Blue Nile. Dark black pour, hints of red peeking through. Smell, whoa, molasses, cocoa, malt. Did I mention alcohol? The Abyss doesn't do much to mask the alcohol; like the Honey Badger, it don't give a shit. No matter. Thick dense flavor waves of all of the above, with fruit coming in now and then. Thick and syrupy without being cloying.

Great drinking experience, one of the best stouts I've had.

Photo of dcloeren
4.87/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Split a bomber with my girlfriend on the first "cold" night this year.

Pours an absolute pitch black (much like I would imagine the actual Abyss to look like...) with 2 fingers of creamy dark tan head. Pretty good retention with thick, thick legs and some pretty lacing for sure.

The aroma is absolutely amazing! Dark chocolate, dark roasted malts, licorice, rich bourbon, molasses, a touch of vanilla and some great oaky notes.

The taste follows the nose but blends all of the flavors together extremely well! Rich dark chocolate and roasted malts, sweet and thick molasses, licorice, some vanilla, oak and delicious bourbon.

The mouthfeel is incredibly silky, full bodied, low to medium carbonation and chewy. Absolute bliss as it coats my tongue with each sip. Great heat from the booze with each sip. Wouldn't mind it being just a tad bit thicker... but still, this is like sex in my mouth every time I take a sip.

Overall, this is one of the best beers I have ever had. This is the first one that I have opened since I bought and had my first one back in January. Absolutely amazing. Can't wait to get some 2011's to add to my collection. Will definitely be opening a few more of these throughout the holiday season/winter.

Photo of stormywaters
4.48/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

abyss 2010

poured a very dark brown with dark head.

Smelled of chocolate and coffee, there was more chocolate than coffee smell, which i prefer since im not a coffee drinker.

to quote a movie, "tastes just like it smells, Delicious!"

Overall this has been my favorite imperial stout, but i have yet to be able to compare it to the aged old raspy or a founders brew.

Photo of CanadaBlue
4.92/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 Reserve in my Duvel Tulip.

I've been saving this for a while, and boy, was it worth it! Too bad I don't have more left (note to self: must buy more than one to save).

It's dark. It's thick. It's rich. It's complex. It's woody. And now it's gone.

This is just what a barrel-aged Imperial Stout should taste like. The balance between all the elements is just right.

Photo of jgagne
4.08/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010
Thanks to inlimbo77 for this one.
Poured into 10 oz Cigar City Snifter

A-Opaque black body with very nice dark brown head.

S-Very strong hints of bitter chocolate and dark fruit.

T-Wow this beer is intense. Great creamy smooth at the tip with a nice deep dark chocolate finish. Extremely bitter and delicious.

M-Sits heavy and very creamy. Low carbonation.

O- What a great beer. Strongly suggested. Lived up to its name for me.

Photo of quirkzoo
4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to allforbetterbeer for sharing this
Reviewed from notes

2009 infected batch

Pours a very thick black with a dark tan head. The smell is richly caramel and deeply toasty with a tartness I am assuming is coming from the infection. The taste is more of the same. It is sticky thick and coats my glass like robitussin but manages to not be cloying. Really deep and complex brew that is accented by a touch of infection but it doesn't take over. I really want to try it fresh now.

edit 1/3/2011

Had a fresh 2011 bottle and loved it even more than the aged version. The smell was much more complex so I bumped that up from a 4 to a 5. Really complex nose with licorice, caramel, toast and some dark fruits. This also bumped the overall score up to a 5 in my opinion. Just an overall great brew, glad I picked up a couple to enjoy.

Photo of iflah45
4.36/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank over the weekend, review from notes. Pours like motor oil...no exaggeration. Very very viscous and black as night. A vigorous pour yields a modest 1 finger brown head that quickly recedes leaving a small mocha ring.

The nose is a little less intense than I had expected. Rich dark chocolate, subtle licorice, vanilla oakiness. Some moderate bourbon notes (not as upfront as I like). Hints of cherries, dark malts, and a little booze kick.

The taste is wonderful...slightly sweeter than my favorite, Parabola...but it was a welcome sweetness. Very chocolate-forward complemented with a great vanilla/oak/bourbon character...blends amazingly and a delicious smokiness lingers as an aftertaste. Really enjoyed sipping this.

Not as thick and chewy as expected from the pour. Very creamy and velvety. Coated my mouth leaving the smokey aftertaste. Some booziness but not overpowering.

AWESOME BEER...I am obsessed with barrel-aged stouts! thanks to GregSVT for hooking me up!

Photo of Mississipping
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours quite viscous (almost glugs) and completely black.  No highlights, no edges, no hues.  A small brown head sits atop the ... well ... the black abyss.  Thins out to leave a thin film and moderate lacing. 

S: Aroma is comprised of dark chocolate, toffee, dark fruit (raisin, plum, fig, cherry), and a bit of vanilla.  Surprisingly sweet up front.  The sweetness competes with roasted barley, dark malts, coffee, anise, and bourbon.  A touch of hops and booze as well.  Really and damn complex beer that smells fantastic. 

T: More roastiness than even the smell would lead you to believe.  Roasted barley, char, burnt malts, anise, espresso, spent coffee grounds.  Oddly, the taste and the aroma are opposite one another in their dominant qualities.  Roasty and slightly bitter up front.  Transitions to a sweeter finish with toffee, vanilla, molasses, and semisweet chocolate, along with subtle dark fruit that match the smell well.  Bourbon and booze are subdued, but the sweeter barrel characteristics are evident. 

M: It's thick, what can I say.  The pour prepared me for the coating qualities of this beer.  It's heavy and sits well on the tongue.  Swallows are almost forced a bit to get it down, but not due to harshness or unpleasantness.  It's just pretty darn viscous.  Carbonation was a little higher than I expected, but combated the thickness a little to make it nice and creamy.  Really feels fantastic as I rolled it around in my mouth. 

D: Ideally, I could sip on this forever.  Realistically, it's not that easy to put down.  It's a big beer and it carries a punch.  Super complex, heavy, viscous, but absolutely delicious.  It's a sipper for sure, and takes some time to put it away, even when split among friends.  I really, really enjoyed this one and look forward to the next bottle I can get. 

Photo of jmarsh123
4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a 2010 vintage into my snifter. Pours a jet black with a thin tan head that fades into a wisp.

Smells of chocolate and roasted malts. My cold is preventing me from picking up more subtle smells, but from what I can tell it's great.

Some great roasted tones hit the palate immediately and I can tell the journey to the bottom of this glass is going to be sublime. Just a touch of booze near the end along with a very smooth incredible chocolate flavor. Finishes with a little roasted bitterness. This may be one of the best stouts I've ever had.

Viscous without approaching cloying at all. Low carbonation levels, but enough not to be flat. Like drinking chocolate milk.

Amazing beer. I've been waiting a while to open it and I'm glad I still have several more left.

Photo of notsoprobeer
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Essentially black in color with a dark tan head that dissipated slowly. Amazing aroma full of coffee, molasses, vanilla, and bourbon. The flavor has many layers and I noticed different things as it warmed up. I tasted molasses, roasted malts, coffee, and dark chocolate. It’s heavy in body and lightly carbonated. It has a very creamy mouth feel and is incredibly smooth! It finishes with roasted malts and some alcohol that provides a nice warming touch. For an 11% ABV beer, the alcohol is very well hidden. It's incredibly drinkable now and I can only imagine how great it will taste in a year!

Photo of DaveJanssen
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottles split 3 ways. Part of 06-10 two night vertical. 09-10 day one, 06-08 night two. Reviewed 29 January 2011.

2006

Ar: Strong chocolate, toasted nuts, sweet powdery chocolate, amazing, very smooth, dark fruit, strong nut, earthy, hazelnut, very strong chocolate. The strongest and best Ar of 06-08.

Ap: Dark tan head, black, good lace, this had the lightest colored head and was the prettiest

T: Very mild smoke/burn, toasted nuts, good dark caramel, chocolate, lingering pleasant char/roast, very good

M: Medium body, low/medium carbonation, creamy and smooth, very light alcohol warmth, good dry finish

O: Great chocolate, the best of the three, perhaps more mild bourbon/barrel character than later batches

Photo of eric5bellies
4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drank from my Duvel tulip

A - Pours a deep Ebony colour witha two fingered tanned head that retains well

S - Chocolate, vanilla and some dark fruit, with a little molassis.

T - Massive flavours of expresso coffee, dark cocoa and stewed dark fruits. Sort of has an over riding vanilla flavour. The end is an expresso, toffee flavour that lingers real well.

M - Full body with minimum carbonation

O - A must try because of its fantastic balance.

Photo of raznug
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2009
Appearance: Abyss pours a black color with about an inch of light brown head and a small amount of lacing down the pint.
Smell: It smells of roasted and chocolate malts no hint of it being sour.
Taste: This is just how I remember having it in May of 2008 when my son was born. It has a delicious malt backbone that smack you in the mouth like a stout should. Roasted and chocolate malts with some dark fruits like figs and raisins. I can still taste some alcohol which I love even though it is 2 years old.
Mouthfeel: Abyss coats the tongue like you would expect a great stout too, it lets the flavor linger well into the next sip.

Photo of Adrianized
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 reserve opens with a hiss and poured into a snifter.

Pours absolutely pitch black and leaves a one finger mocha head which settles to a bubbly film.  Only a little lacing.

Right up front I get milk chocolate, light coffee, vanilla, prunes and other dark fruits, roasted malt, toffee, and a nice warming touch of bourbon oak barrel.

Initially I taste dark roasted malt and bitter dark chocolate.  The middle is espresso beans, cocoa, caramel/toffee and the licorice begins to come thru.  Finishes with a bitterness from licorice and pure dark chocolate.  More lingering bourbon as it warms. Complex and very rich, so well balanced.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with incredibly fine, effervescent carbonation.  Incredibly smooth and creamy.

Overall, although I'm not crazy for bitter licorice stouts, this was extremely tasty and very much worth the hype.

Photo of BobCS
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: opaque and nearly black with brown foam

S: rich malty aroma punctuated with chocolate and roasted notes

T: rich and complex blend of sweet malt and plenty of chocolate as you'd expect. The label mentions licorice, molasses and aged in bourbon barrels but all of these flavors are balanced so as not to dominate. In particular I don't get a pronounced bourbon character, possibly it is coming through more as a vanilla note. But, the flavor is fabulously rich and complex.

M: full bodied, creamy and warm, but not at all hot despite the high ABV

O: it is amazing to me that so many strong flavor components are melded in a rich and complex beer without letting anything dominate - this beer takes on a bit of a chameleon -like character as a result as a different nuance peeks out with each sip. Rich, dark, sweet, complex and very easy to drink. The richness hides the 11% ABV very well.

Photo of dgugliuzza
4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22 oz bottle into a snifter

Pours black with a thin layer of sandy brown head. Many medium sized bubbles clustered in the center of the glass. Good head retention for a barrel aged beer.

Smells of oak soaked roasted malt. Dark chocolate and toffee notes. Heavy bourbon and dark fruit followed by vanilla. Bold, dark and complex while maintaining a great barrel aged balance.

Silky bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate and vanilla unpeel layer by layer on the tongue. Sweet in the middle with a bitter bourbon oak finish. This is the perfect desert/special occasion beer.

Creamy smooth mouthfeel. Great viscosity and overall bold presence. Leaves you quenching for more after each sip. Alcohol is well hidden which makes for easy drinking for such a big beer.

Incredible barrel aged stout. It was everything I was expecting and more. Bold, rich and textural. Surprisingly easy to drink with a near perfect balance. Every aroma and flavor is flawlessly layered. This is a must try for barrel aged stout lovers. I know I will seek it out again and again.

Photo of jisom123
4.87/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Shared at DLD 2011.

Smells like sweet caramel and molasses on oak. Very rich smell. The head retention is about what you wold expect for this style/abv, not much going on, but just the right amount of carb.

T: tastes like it smells. Delicious.

O: This is one of the best beers I have ever had. Its rich, smooth and tastes wonderful. Similar to FW14, but less barrel taste.

Photo of Thehuntmaster
4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

650 ml bottle 11,0% Abv.
2010 Vintage
Served at room temperature in a tulip wine glass.

Appearance: **** me... This is like motor oil in a bottle. Pitch black, even during the pour. Absolutely no light gets through this, not even my extra strong LED torch yields penetration on the edges!
A rough pour yields a large, creamy coffee brown head that lasts pretty well and leaves great lace for the Abv.
This is honestly the most perfect looking beer I can imagine!

Smell: Massive nose. Sweet melted dark chocolate, chocolate fudge, heavily roasted coffee, molasses, roasted malt, bourbon, vanilla, hints of toasted coconut, charred wood and dark fruit combine perfectly. As the beer warms a hint of cola and some hops are noted.

Taste: From the first sip there is no question in my mind that The Abyss is going to earn full marks in the taste department. Absolutely huge flavour, perfect mixture of sweet, roasted and bitter. Dark chocolate, chocolate fudge, tons of coffee and molasses, roasted malt, some dark fruit (dates and burned raisins), a touch of liquorice, bourbon, vanilla and oak. The Abv. is not totally covered, but is very well integrated into the flavour profile.
Initially the beer is sweet, but moderate bitterness and dry roasted character keep it balanced.

Mouthfeel: Heavy body, pretty thick and oily with perfect smooth creamy carbonation.

Overall: I ended up paying about 70US$ for this bottle, but boy was it worth it! The Abyss certainly lives up to the hype and I will make every effort to get another (500) bottle(s)!

Photo of Tucquan
4.26/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Had this on 2011-03-05 in Lititz at Bull's Head at a BA event (from tasting notes). 2010 Vintage. Had this again on 2013-09-26 from a 2013 Vintage bottle in Columbia, PA.

Revised review from 2014-09-26

A - Opaque dark brown/black with a brown 1-finger head and moderate lace.

S - Dark roasted and smoky/umami malt, coffee, molasses, black licorice.

T - Rich dark roasted/charred grain, malt and alcohol sweetness, espresso, chocolate, black licorice and black currant flavors. Finish is char and chocolate with significant roasted bitterness, chocolate, black licorice and some sweetness for balance.

M - Heavy body and light carbonation yields a creamy milkshake feel.

O - Complex flavors and a great feel. A top notch Imperial Stout for sure.

Original review from 2011-03-05

A - Black body with a dark brown head.

S - Dark roasted and smoky grain, coffee, molasses, black licorice.

T - Boozy, astringent dark roasted grain, expresso and chocolate, black licorice, molasses and mild black currant. A very bold flavor indeed.

M - Heavy body and light carbonation yield a creamy milkshake feel.

O - I quite enjoyed this beer even though I'm not a big fan of black licorice.

Photo of Gushue3
4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage shared with my girlfriend. Last beer before school starts tommorow...

A- Pours black as night and has a 1 and a half finger mocha chocolate brown head. retention is fantastic and the body completely opaque. The head is not very thick and frothy leaving very heavy lacing. Stouts do not look any better than this.

S- very big malt notes followed by chocolate and piney hops. Roasty notes are there as well as a small black licorice, but very small. Very nice scent.

T- Nice complex dark flavors in this one. Big sweet malt, chocolate and medium darker roast coffee are prominent upfront. Fig Newton like dark fruit comes out toward the middle which takes you to a medium bitter and semi sweet finish. Tiny hint of alcohol on the finish as well. Lots going on in this one.

M- Definately heavy with a smaller amount of carbo. Thick and creamy at every sip. And thats exactly how to drink this one, slowly

O- Fantastic beer to end my "summer" with. I have tried and tried for a while for this beer and it lived up to my expectations. Cant wait to get my hands on more and older vintages.

Photo of vikings1988
4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is the beer that got me into micro brew style beers. The fact that it is aged in an Oak Barrel really adds that little extra kick of flavor. Hands down my favorite beer. It has great aroma, taste, and appearance. Even the bottle is a work of art. If you have not tried this beer you are missing out on one of the greats. Im blessed to live in the same city that brews this masterpiece.

Photo of ChrisPro
3.95/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage opened ~May 30, 2011

nice cherry and sherry aromas with molasses there. Very little coffee and licorice, but the bourbon is still around. Tastes okay still, but has a really rough finish. Lots of acrid roastiness along with some definite cardboard oxidation.

This beer is definitely oxidized which makes the nose great, but the finish is tough to bear. Still great but I'm glad I didn't wait any longer on this bottle. I have had it fresh to 6 months numerous times and think that that's the way to go with this beer.

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2010. Drank before the best after date(could not help myself had to try this beer!)

poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: Great looking stout! Pitch black dark motor oil colored body of this beer. 1 finger of dark mocha brown head. Not really expecting any head on this beer as thick as it looks while it was poured.

Smell: Roasty expresso, smokey like acampfire and charred oak.

Taste: Big roasty expresso and rich dark chocolate notes. It tastes just like it looks intensely dark. Smokey and roasty for sure, i think some leathery and earthy notes are tasted also. It got a mild hint of booze that starts midtaste and goes thru to the finish. As this ber warms the black licorice and molasses seem to immerge from the deep roasty malts and give a sweeter taste to the beer. Might be some raisins in there also.

Mouthfeel: This beer is full bodied with a carbonation thats stands on the high end of low carbonation; almost moderately carbonated. This beer is so thick that it is almost syrup. Almost perfectly carbonated.

Overall: Really awesome beer. This beer shows that Deschutes puts alot of "TLC" into the reserve series beers. The beer is well made and well named! I can see why it so high up on the lists on BA.

Photo of smchenry75
4.23/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This will be my first Abyss (2010). What a better way to pass the time while I sit in the garage and brew some cream ale. This puppy pours black as night into my New Belgium snifter with a 2 finger dark mocha head that looks like it might stick around for a while. It smells of chocolate and coffee.

The first sip is solid but a bit bolder than I was expecting. The initial taste is of dark chocolate and coffee, licorice and possibly wood with some alcohol presence. As I continue to drink and things warm up, the coffee, licorice and oak are really coming out. Things are starting to sweeten up but not overly so. I'm not tasting any bourbon.

In the home stretch as the beer really warms, the licorice, oak and alcohol are dominating and some hop bitterness is coming through.

This is a very solid RIS that reminds me quite a bit of Stone's IRS. Very good overall but I'd like to store one of these guys away in the cellar for 2 to 3 years and see what some age does to mellow
things out a tad.

Photo of UMNbeerhunter
4.82/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Mackenzies and poured into a Deschutes snifter on 5/19/11. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a beautiful viscous black with a mocha colored head that very fluffy and dissipates moderate lacing on the glass.

Smell is a thick hit of roasted malt and chocolate then some toffee and raison/dark fruit at the end. Very nice.

Taste is tons of roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee. Very nice!! Fruit and tobacco as well. This is one of the best tasting stout I have ever had.

Mouthfeel is medium in weight. Carbonation is very well done with the weight. Nice tingle with it.

Overall this is one of my favorite stouts and in my top 5 beers. I would like a stronger head but awesome no less.

The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 5,504 ratings.