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The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

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The AbyssThe Abyss

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5,504 Ratings

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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)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,504 | Reviews: 1,728 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of camil1mj
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured at the Westland, MI tasting on Friday night. 2010 vintage slightly chilled.

A: The name says it all. This one is deep and dark just like an abyss. Minimal head and lacing.

S: Lots of chocolate and licorice come through on this one with some alcoholic heat as well.

T: This one perfectly brings together the taste of anise and chocolate with some sweet heat a swell.

M: Nice and thick, just as I would want it to be.

O: This is one I have been waiting to try for a while and it did not let me down. I see whay this one is ranked as world class stout!

Photo of marikoangel
4.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The 2010 Abyss

A: It pours a dark black opaque with no real head expect for a small tan film that disappears quickly. There's not really a foam lacing, but the beers is thick and hangs to the sides of the glass.

S: There's quite a bit going on in this one. Molasses, brown sugar, dark roasted malts, bitter chocolate, pure vanilla extract, candied figs and prunes. There's also a savory touch in there. It's very mouthwatering. Balanced and tantalizing.

T: What a big complex beer! Roasted coffee, with some bitter hops running down the middle, bitter dark chocolate, vanilla, oak with some notes of bourbon in there; rich molasses with a savory, almost salty quality to it. The boozy notes open up more in there as it warms.

M: It has a full creamy milky body, that leaves a nice juicy, yet slightly chalky feel in my mouth. Low carbonation.

O: Oh my gosh! I can drink this one forever! It's such a great one to sip and savor. I feel like I'm spoiling myself drinking this one; it's so rich and decadent. What a treat! I can't wait for the 2011!

Photo of rlee1390
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle served at cellar temperature. (Note; had 2011 and review was very similar, except 2011 had less bourbon heat and more flavors from the wine barrels)

A-Motor oil black, one finger creamy brown head, some lacing (same)

S-Chocolate, molasses, roasted malt and some oak

T-Very chocolaty, and lots of molasses, some roasted malts and a little bit of bourbon. Ends with a crisp bitterness.

M-Heavy, smooth and no carbonation

O-A wonderful well balanced beer. Glad I was able to get a few via trade. Will be having a stout tasting in the winter and I can't wait to see how this one stacks up as so far it seemed wonderful.

Photo of angrybabboon
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for half of this beer

Note: 2009 vintage

Review adapted from notes taken 11/5/10

Appearance: Blacker than black, pours like oil but manages to form a remarkable brown head - the brown fluff sticks around, and it leaves behind a beautiful lace

Smell: Nearly as epic as they come - super burnt, charcoal... charred charcoal, if that even makes sense - leather, coffee beans, some sweetness, some hops

Taste: Harsh but delicious, deliciously complex - as the smell would suggest, tastes extremely burnt - burnt malts, roasted malts, char, chocolate, espresso, molasses, caramel - some spiciness beneath an extreme amount of bitterness - some wood and some bourbon, but they are insanely well-balanced with the rest of the flavors - very malty yet somehow not too sweet, which, in my opinion, should be the goal of every imperial stout

Mouthfeel: Very thick but not sludgy - extremely smooth, but comes off as slightly harsh because of all the burnt flavors - amazing nonetheless

Overall: Simply amazing fresh, and so much potential...

It's scary how good this beer is. If all of the harsh characteristics drop out after a year or two of aging, this will probably earn a permanent spot in my top 10 favorite beers of all time. It's so ridiculously good.

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

An excellent beer, no doubt. I don't know if I agree with its place on the top beers list, but just due to personal preference. I prefer a bit more bourbon barrel in my barreled stouts, but this is solid in all respects.

Pours jet black, living up to its name.

The barrel aging doesn't come through strongly for me, probably because only a portion is barreled, in either aroma or taste. Licorice, roast, molasses, a wonderful melding of imperial stout flavor. While I haven't had one in a few months, I don't recall it having much booze/alcohol in the nose or flavor.

Mouthfeel is solid, not quite syrupy, but thick and rich like it should be.

Overall, yes, one of the top imperial stouts, but perhaps not quite one of the top beers on planet earth. Close though...

Photo of SkiBum22
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep chocalety looking blackish brown. Rich khaki head. Completely opaque.

S - Chocolate, coffee, carmel, molasses, and a little smoke

T - Taste upfront is bitter roasted malts, a little bourbon and wood, and some molasses sweetness. Light licorice in the middle. Sweeter finish of molasses, raisin fruitiness and a hint of bourbon. Lingering roasted coffee bitterness.

M - Very thick and heavy. there's a good medium carbonation with a very crisp finish

O - This is the most complex stout that I have ever had. I would like to try one with some age on it.

Photo of bobbypaulson
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

got a bottle of this at zorbaz with friends. It pours black with a light brown head that is there after every sip. The smell is of bourbon and licorice and some sugar. The taate is mouth coating and warm. You can’t just drink this beer you need to sip it and enjoy it. This is a great beer.

Photo of tjkinate
4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Deschutes makes some great beers and this is their crowning achievement.

A: Darkest I have ever seen, absolutely no light can penetrate this beer. A hard pour into a snifter produced a beautiful two finger smoky brown and ashy head. Great lacing surrounded my glass and remained until I was finished drinking.

S: The initial smell has a coffee like aroma, but upon further examination this beers complex nature becomes more apparent. I could detect earthy tones followed by nuts molasses and hints of licorice.

T: If you are looking for the most robust, well-balanced and least forgettable Stout, than this is your beer.

M: THICK, like whole chocolate milk, coats the mouth and your entire throat during digestion. Carbonation was actually more prominent than anticipated.

O: FANTASTIC! I do suggest you share this with a friend because at least I would have a difficult time finishing this one.

Photo of SkipWeathers
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Can't identify any weaknesses. Consumed in a goblet.

A - inky squid black with caramel-brown head which dissipates bubble by bubble. Fun to watch.

S - wood-like, syrupy, maple tree essence

T - multi-faceted; it took me a while to make the connection with my taste buds, but it is like Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee and Kahlua with milk chocolate essence, licorice added. Alcohol very smooth and creeps up on you. Very rich; something holiday-like about it.

M - it's like the feeling you get when you rest a chunk of good dark chocolate on your tongue and let it melt. Very velvety and good.

O - I am so glad I got impatient and drank this by myself. Character flaws I know. If I was sentenced to death I'd have a hot dog with mustard and a bottle of this. Last sip...

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

Intro: Split a 22oz. 2010 vintage with a friend in snifter glasses.

Appearance: Deep dark rich virtual black with a thin (maybe ½ inch) chocolate brown head that dissipates rather quickly.

Smell: A great, rich, complex aroma that entices you to taste. Initially, I got the rich coffee, subdued molasses and licorice. Followed by a roasted coffee or nutty fragrance. The alcohol is hidden nicely behind the many layers of fragrances. Your mouth starts to water in anticipation of the first taste.

Taste: Not to be disappointed, this is one great tasting beer from first sip to last drop. In the foreground is coffee, followed by a whole host of flavors more subdued. Vanilla, toffee, licorice, molasses, and several underlying components that leave you guessing. One of the more complex tasting beers that I’ve had. One impression that I got from the initial sip was that of the dessert tiramisu.

Mouthfeel: Extremely well balanced. Slight warming from the alcohol but not off-putting in the least. Not a noticeable aftertaste or oiliness. Very pleasant.

Overall: One of the most enjoyable beers I’ve had. A great dessert beverage. I’m not a coffee lover but I loved this beer. Not a chugger but a sipper. Possibly in my top 15-20 beers to date. Will definitely have again and try to keep a little around for that special occasion. If you can find it, you should definitely try it.

Photo of cptnspeed1
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A bottle of the 2009 vintage, the fourth in my friend's miracle case that *knock on wood* has produced 4 or 4 non-infected bottles. Poured into a snifter.

A: From the bottle comes a dark brown, but appears black in the glass. A 1/2 inch of dark tan head tops things off before dissipating.

S: Roasted malt with hints of vanilla, oak, and a touch of smoke. Licorice comes out strong as the beer warms.

T: Roasted malt again, but this time the licorice comes through a touch more. The vanilla and oak make an appearance 2/3 of the way through. The smoke isn't as present, but if I look for it I can find it. The big additions are a heaping helping of chocolate and a bit of coffee to round out the flavor.

M: A smooth texture to complement the thickness of the beer. A bit of heat creeps in at the end.

O: A pleasure to drink. I couldn't take the suspense any longer and had to see if it was infected or not. So glad it wasn't. Looking forward to my non-2009's that much more.

Photo of Jayli
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired from dunt via Support Your Local Team BIF so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!
This was a long time want, and I held on for a year..
2009 bottle poured in to my Portsmouth snifter
Best after 11.1.10

A: This beer pours a deep, dark, opaque black with a two finger of thick, rich creamy brown head. Head recedes at a moderate pace and leaves sheets of lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is deep oak notes, vanilla, bitter dark chocolate, and a touch sour. Infection worried me for a bit which delayed the opening, but after enjoying Cisco's Dark Woods this year, I figured even if infected, I would still enjoy this.

T: Taste starts with tons of oak notes, with some vanilla seeping through. Bitter chocolate, perhaps a hint of soured cherries, licorice and more vanilla are present - all the while, the undercurrent of oak notes still come through. Finish is a big citrus hop bite, charred malts, charred molasses and an alcohol warming. As the beer warms, the soured cherry notes become less pronounced and the coffee flavoring begins to border on espresso.

M: Fuller bodied, moderate carbonation, thick and slightly creamy, with a chewy finish.

O: Goes down easily, very tasty, filling, big kick, nice representation of style. I think there may have been a touch of infection in this bottle...but I have to say that I enjoy what I've dubbed the wild stout. It's two of my favorite styles lopped in to one.

Photo of pdeepak
4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap during Philly Beer week 2010, served into a tulip.

The mere sight of the pitch black pour with a fingers worth of tan head set my heart racing. Little did I know I was about to try one of the most sought after brews in the craft beer community.

Smells of chocolate, liquorice, molasses and a hint of coffee that became more pronounced as the beer warmed up.

I find it hard to put this beer down once I start drinking it as the taste and mouthfeel simply blow me away. Viscous but not difficult swallow, simply stellar.

Photo of pkeigs
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have had multiple vintages, this beer never disappoints, I would really like to try some of the 100% barrel aged version.

Pours black as night with a billowing mocha colored head, develops a decent rim and hangs out for a little while before dissipating to a light ring.

Smells like dark fruit, dark chocolate, and subtle notes of vanilla from the oak. Some great complexity but not quite enough barrel for my tastes.

Tastes much like it smells, greaty oily mouthfeel, coats every part of the tongue and has a wonderful finish. Lots of dark fruit and chocolate, little bit of caramel, little bit of coffee. A nice treat, and one that everyone should try at some point.

Photo of stxSS07
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber into a Duvel tulip. 2010 vintage - Best After 11/15/11. Split with lookitsmp

A- Pours a midnight black with a 1 finger mocha colored head that sticks around. Leaves excellent lacing. Alcohol legs present.

S- I get bourbon and barrel notes first off. Chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts follow suit with woody and vanilla notes persistent throughout. Smells a lot like KBS to me.

T- Sweet and dark chocolate malts initiate the taste immediately followed up with waves of barrel notes that are helped along by soft bourbon pushes. A giant coffee note makes itself known towards the finish and lingers pleasantly through the ending. Some huge flavors that are nicely balanced and differentiated.

M- Definitely thick and viscous, but not as much as a Plead the 5th or Dark Lord. I expected a bit more for the name Abyss. The carbonation is a bit more than I'm used to in a stout.

O- The Abyss definitely lives up to its' reputation as a world-class stout. I have this in the same league as KBS in my book.

Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a Darkness snifter. Shared with a fellow BA.
2010 vintage.

A- Two finger frothy brown head, dissipates to a nice bubbly ring around the glass, dark pitch black color, nice lacing and retention.
S- The aroma is pretty boozy but not off putting, coffee aromas come out up front followed but roasted notes, the aroma is fairly bitter with some hints of chocolate/cocoa.
T- The taste is similar to the nose, nice coffee flavors, roasted malt, slight vanilla taste, definitely taste the oak from the barrels, bitter aftertaste, molasses comes out as well.
M- Big mouth feel, thick and chewy, well carbonated, smooth in the finish, sticky on the palate.
O- This is definitely a solid quality RIS, it deserves the praise it gets on a consistent basis, would I say it’s one of the best in the World….No but I would drink this on more than one occasion. Looking forward to ageing a couple bottles and trying them in the future.

Photo of endincolorado
4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This bottle looks pretty formidable, and there's no easy way to get the black wax seal off the cap, so i've spent a few minutes chipping away with a steak knife.

The beer is thick and black with a nice finger and a half of creamy tan head that settles slowly. Lacing is predictably syrupy and copious.

Aroma is a welcome roasted coffee, cocoa, a definite molasses-sweetness, and a faint booziness in back.

Strong, burnt-toast flavors alongside dark-roasted coffee, dark fruit (blackberry?), molasses, vanilla, and some bourbon. Very tasty. No real sign of that licorice.

Mouthfeel is that nice viscous syrup-like texture I've come to expect from a well-crafted imperial stout.

An excellent offering- though this should definitely be shared (the bottle).

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

2010 reserve.

A: deep maroon color, wisp of head, thick lines of syrupy lace.
S: black olives, roasted red pepper, caramel, coffee bean, molasses and iron.
T: Cracker Jacks, red wine (a heavy Cab), tobacco, bitter chocolate, molasses.
M: silky smooth, viscous.
O: pretty much perfect, there were some really interesting aromas.

Photo of drowland
3.96/5  rDev -12%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber courtesy of mashmaster. Had this right after Sexual Chocolate. Awesome pitch black pour with a nice brown head. This one has more of the dusty chocolate characteristic and has a much bigger hint of grain to it. Roasty, bitter, and just a touch of sour American stout on the flavor as well. Quite nice, but not the best.

Photo of dnrobert24
3.35/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

It’s amazing how certain beers gain legendary status. Often times that beer is a Russian Imperial Stout. In this case, we have a great brewery brewing a legendary style. So, of course, if you are a fan of the brewery (and I am a fan of this brewery), you will be prone to give high marks. But, when compared to other RIS’s, the Abyss just doesn’t stand up. Certainly, it stands apart. It is unique for embracing the smoky side of dark malts and for giving us the ever-enduring anise licorice flavor, but the beer itself is just too thin. Where it gives smoke and licorice, it takes away fullness and chocolate richness. The Abyss is certainly a contender in the imperial stout throne room, but it is a minor god, if you are considering the great Olympians.

Photo of jbphoto88
4.11/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle of the 2010 reserve pours dark and rich into my glass. This beer is the absence of light with not even a highlight making it through the motor oil appearance. The head is gigantic for an 11% brew, cappuccino brown, thick and fluffy. It sticks to everything it touches. This beer looks exactly how an imperial stout should.

The nose is a mix of roasted grains, molasses and coffee with a slight hint of oak and licorice. It comes across slightly boozy which is a shame. I bet some longer aging would have mellowed it out nicely but who has that kind of paticence.

Love the flavors going on here. It starts with big grains and never looks back. Meaty malts that taste like everything from sweet caramelized breads to rich roasted coffee and chocolate. The finish is the slightest hint of that licorice with a firm vanilla oak flavor that rounds out the brew nicely. Wow.

The mouthfeel is equally as appealing with a lovely licorice bite and a mild carbonation. Smooth and chewy with a great boozy warmth in the finish. This is a solid beverage that was worth the several month wait since I bought it. I just wish I had another bottle stashed away to come back to in a few years because time can only make this one even better. Great brew Deschutes.

Photo of jmdrpi
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

served from the tap, in a 10 oz tulip glass.

appears pitch black, with thin mocha-colored head, that retained well and left a bit of lacing.

aroma and taste of espresso, bitter chocolate, and roasted malt. nice balance, not too sweet or dry. a bit acidic. very smooth creamy carbonation, thick body.

very glad I got to try this in a rare PA appearance.

Photo of lawlerj
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Mackenzie's in Minneapolis.

A - pours a deep chocalety looking blackish brown. Rich khaki head. Completely opaque.

S - strong coffee and dark chocolate aroma dominate the nose. Roasted malt, sweet and rich.

T - chocolate and coffee again, strong rich roasty flavors as well. So complex and so delicious.

M - almost like chocolate milk - rich and creamy, feels amazing.

O - overall, a delicious amazing beer. I'm glad that I got a chance to sample and will have to find it again.

Photo of amphion1065
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a tulip. Best by 11/15/2011, but I decided to be a greedy goblin and crack it open prematurely. Much obliged AD.

In an attempt to muster a head, I poured this one right down the center of my glass. Smooth move Ferguson - I was rewarded with a billowing, 2.5 finger coffee-colored head that just wouldn't go away. The beer itself was impossibly black, with a consistency that approached crude oil. Stunning.

Serious blackstrap molasses in the nose, tempered by a roasted coffee bitterness. Not so much coffee as coffee grounds, the elemental parts of a cup. Sweet, with just a hint of alcohol.

Bracing bitterness from the roasted coffee comes through in the taste. Deep sweetness from the molasses. Some chocolate, but what really sticks out is the vanilla presence from the -bal. There's just the slightest burn here - honestly, this could use a touch more alcohol, but as it stands it does a phenomenal job masking the ABV.

The mouthfeel is so, so good: thick and viscous, with just enough carbonation to help the flavors open up. This is a work of brewing art.

It's infuriating that this beer is so readily available across broad swaths of this nation. I'll be perpetually ISO until Deschutes distributes here.

Photo of sixthglass
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage.

A - Wonderful dark liquid, with a head for days.

S - Chocolate, coffee, carmel, molasses, and smoke

T - chocolate and coffee at the first, slight burn in the throat, and a dark fruit, burnt sugar in the after taste.

M - Its thick, not the thickest. Coats the mouth and leaves a smooth layer.

O - I deeply enjoy this brew, I was lucky enough to have a good 2009 vintage, Highly recommend this to anyone !

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