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The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

Educational use only; do not reuse.

5,487 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,487
Reviews: 1,726
rAvg: 4.51
pDev: 9.76%
Wants: 2,607
Gots: 2,656 | 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: 5,487 | Reviews: 1,726 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of nickfl
4.33/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review #1000

A - Pours with one finger of medium brown head on top of an opaque, black body. The foam settles quickly and leaves moderate lace.

S - Lots of chocolate with notes of molasses, earthy licorice, smoke and some vanilla.

T - Sweet chocolate and caramel up front with a little bit of molasses. More chocolate and molasses in the middle with some licorice coffee coming in. The beer finishes with lots of earthy chocolate and spice notes as well as pine hops and coffee. Lingering malt bitterness mixes with bitter chocolate, tobacco, and lots of smoky whiskey.

M - A thick, oily body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - There is a lot of earthy, spicy complexity here, especially in the finish. The aroma really doesn't have much going on until the beer nears room temperature, but once it does the molasses and licorice really begin to come out. I don't get as much whiskey character as I expected, but there is a bit in the finish and it seems to add another note of underlying complexity to what is already a complicated beer. I imagine this would age very gracefully.

Photo of krisandajt
4.58/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Split a bottle of this (2010 vintage) with mymrnngjckt at AuRant's. Big thanks to Teddy for hooking us up with this great beer!

Appearance: Poured from the bottle, the beer is thick, viscous, and a deep dark black. Even with an easy pour, the brew had a good inch of creamy, mocha colored head. The retention was good, and the retention was impressive.

Smell: Nice roasty quality, lots of sweet chocolate. There was some light coffee, but not too much. Really balanced overall...smells great.

Taste: Lots of sweet milk chocolate with a nice roasted malt quality. Not too much in the way of coffee which actually surprised me as I have come to expect some coffee flavor in big stouts. Surprise <> disappointment, this is a great tasting beer.

Mouthfeel: Full body, great creamy texture, smooth and very easy to drink. Ain't nothing wrong here.

Overall (Drinkability): A great tasting brew, and definitely one of the best stouts I've had. Lots of flavor without any single quality being overwhelming, and drinks very well. Absolutely recommend.

Photo of Schmittymack
3.8/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage (knowing it was infected). Poured into a SA Perfect Pint glass. Poured a jet black with a creamy brown head and sticky lacing. Aroma of malt, coffee, booze, and a little bit of something funky. Taste of coffee, booze, and a bit of tartness/sourness. I don't know why people think this is a terrible beer ('09 vintage): though not what other years' vintages have been, this one is definitely quaffable in my book. Will be interesting to see how the rest of my '09s evolve.

Photo of colts9016
4.9/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Marcellar put the Abyss on Nitro and it is awesome. Poured into a snifter at 47 degrees. From my notes I write this review.

Appearance: The head is a dark tan color and is foamy and creamy; furthermore, the head has really good retention with lacing on the glass. There is a lot of carbonation in the beer, visible from the sides of the glass. The clarity of the glass is opaque; it is like trying to look through tar. There is a lot of lacing on the beer glass.

Nose: A nice roasted malt, strong coffee, and chocolate aromas. There is a molasses like note with floral ester, resin, biscuit, and toffee. There is also a slight port aroma to the beer. You can smell the burnt character in the beer and the oak. The bourbon barrel age in the beer comes out very brightly and aromatic.

Taste: A very rich roasted malt, oak, espresso, chocolate, and a molasses are the initial flavors. In the background of the beer there is bread, oak, toffee, and a burnt character in the beer. The age in the bourbon barrel give the beer balance and flavor. The hops is subtle but there is floral, pine, and a hint of grapefruit.

The mouth feel is a full bodied brew that is very creamy, coating, and smooth.

Overall: The body of the beer is thick and the finish is full and last for a while on the palate. The beer is very well balanced and beautifully made. With beer being poured on a nitro tap, it just brings a whole new level the beer. There is not much to say, other than a great brew.

Photo of joecast
4.83/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 Lucky to try this at the deschutes tasting at high times in costa mesa.

Viscous black beer. Looks like the bubbles struggle to make it to the top but a thin dark tan head forms. Swirling in the goblet looks like it's in slow motion it's so heavy.

Smell is absolutely phenomenal. So mellow with a mix of chocolate and molasses syrup. Not too sweet though and was expecting a bit of oak or something but it was just so smooth. It may have just combined into something else where the sum if the parts no longer resembles the whole.

Taste as well us just completely mellow. So smooth, alcohol is nonexistent. Again, as with the taste it's difficult to identify individual components in the beer as they seem to have evolved into something unrecognizable to me, though thoroughly enjoyable.

Wow, just wow. Was able to do a side by side with some 2009. The 09 had a slight acetic sharpness to it, though behind that the beer was still very good. The 07 though is amazing.

**edit 26/12/11**
enjoyed a bottle of 2008 which has completely lived up to the high expectations i placed on it. as good as the 2007. wonderful stuff.

Photo of Blanco
4.22/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

black with a small head that disappears rather quickly. smells boozy up front with the malt coming through in the end. slight hint of soy sauce but not a lot. chocolate as well. flavor is complex, bourbon is non-existent, which is a disappointment. hints of vanilla, chocolate and oak. Nice complexity. Warming sensation. The strong ABV is apparent, but not from a boozy taste. mouthfeel is thick and the beer coats the entire palette and kind of sticks around leaving an everpresent aftertaste. Overall a nice sipper. Not my favorite imperial stout, but a good beer either way. Just wish this actually had SOME hint of the bourbon I was expecting, based on the bottle's label.

Photo of dfclav
4.53/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ok so I managed to snag a few bottles of the 2010 release and held onto all of them until I just couldn't wait any longer. Tonights the night.

Poured into a snifter...

A - total ink black, the name suits the beer quite well. A medium pour yields a one finger sticky head. Tremendously thick lacing coats the glass and doesn't go anywhere.

S - bakers chocolate, anise, oak, roasted malts, vanilla and bourbon. Very complex, more smells find their way out of this beer with each sniff.

T - the first sip brings a nice balance of dark fruits, roasted malt, oak, and bourbon. The flavors combine very well and bring about a dry, hoppy finish. The slightest hint of espresso, I am pretty shocked to see all the reviews of smelling and tasting coffee...i could be having an off day but it's just not prevalent.

M - wonderfully silky smooth with a great amount of balance between everything that leaves the alcohol hidden very well. Hop twang and carbonation are perfect.

O - next time I will share this brew with many friends, as it is too much for one person. This is a very well crafted brew and much deserving of the hype, but it's not the best stout i've ever had. You should let this age more if you have the 2010, though.

Photo of GuruDel
3.85/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 Bottle split 3 ways into a tulip

Jet black pour into a tulip with a mocha 2 finger head

S: charred malt, dark chocolate and leather or tobacco.

T: Got lots of roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate and some coffee grounds. I am not sure what I was expecting but this wasnt it, still a good stout, but I guess I am getting used to bourbon barrel aged stuff too much. Sweet molasses came through on the finish.

M: Big chewy thick stout, with great mouthfeel. Coats the mouth and enjoyable to sip.

O: gonna give this one some more time, i have a few more bottles left that I want to see how this does over time.

Photo of grover37
4.63/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from a tasting on 1/28/11.

Appearance (4): A finger of thick, brown head. Mostly small but some larger foam bubbles that reduce to a thin layer with a thick ring. Little lacing.

Aroma (4.5): Roasty with a bit of chocolate and pine.

Taste (5): Dark chocolate and a burnt malt that leaves a lingering char. Chocolate is very prominent up front, and there is a slightly sweet middle with a mocha note.

Mouthfeel (5): A very thick, chewy mouthfeel. Full bodied.

Overall (4): Very good but a bit boozy. This one would definitely benefit from a few years in the cellar. Still an excellent RIS.

Photo of evanlarkin
4.8/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

poured into a Darkness goblet.

By the time the foam hit the edge of the glass, it was sitting around a finger and a half, a chocolatey light brown color. The beer itself is jet black, even if I put it between me and a window. The foam gradually cuts itself down into a light covering with thick lace.

Sweet and licorice-y, with the molasses coming in loud and clear too. the oak/bourbon is fairly subtle but present. I could imagine someone mistaking the licorice and molasses for chocolate.

Sweet, like a liquid molasses cookie. licorice in the background, slightly masked by oak flavor. Hints of bourbon and chocolate, with just a touch of coffee. There is a very very light hop bitterness, just enough to balance with the sweetness.

Syrupy and thick. Chewy certainly comes to mind. Low carbonation, and very full body. Coats the mouth and doesn't let go, forcing me to savor it forever.

I think this may be my favorite sweet stout. It really is amazing. Everything about it screams deliciousness. Probably one of the best beers I've ever had.

Anybody want to volunteer to make Abyss ice cream?

Photo of kbnooshay
4.43/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 edition. Poured a super dark brown color. In the glass its black with no highlights let through. Vigorous carbonation when poured. You get the layered bubbles washing down the glass in sheets similar to a Guinness pour. Lacing is spotty and nice. Head is a masterpiece! Right now its an inch and a half high. Super frothy head that holds shape pretty well when you fuck with it with your finger. Pretty brown.

Smells of super dark roasted malt with vanilla, oak, licorice, coffee and chocolate.

Cant taste the alcohol but its very warming to my throat. I was at first hit with coffee and roasted malt. A nice bitterness follows reminiscent of a dark bitter Belgian chocolate. Wood flavor is just how i like it, only a hint that adds to the overall complexity. Not overpowering like the oak in a 5 year cellared oak aged yeti. Awesome cream aftertaste. Super smooth mouthfeel. Nice carb.

The thing about this beer is how complex it is without any one flavor becoming overpowering. Bourbon is just hint but that is okay. All the flavors work amazing well together. Licorice is also lightly noticeable.

Photo of BeerBuckeye
4.68/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 Reserve into a snifter.

A - Pours a dark, used motor oil black, plenty viscous, with a creamy, tan, 2 finger head with a good amount of lacing. Not a ray of light penetrates this beer.

S - First smell is a bitter cocoa, like baker's chocolate chips, with hints of caramel, some dark fruit, and just a touch of bourbon.

T - Wow, lots of tastes going on here. Up front is a bit of dark fruit and that baker's chocolate. In the middle comes that oakyness from the barrels before fading into a delicious, roasted coffee taste. This is such a complex beer! It's like it actually changes the way it tastes as it goes through your mouth. Absolutely remarkable.

M - The beer was full, but silky. Some of that bitterness lingered in the back of the throat, and I just now remembered that this beer is 11% ABV, because the alcohol is completely hidden. I love the way this beer permeates through the mouth and pretty much hits every taste bud.

Overall - Phenomenal. A great beer deserving of the hype. The most interesting thing about this beer is how much different is tastes from it's smell. I found the smell lacking to be honest, but when you take a drink of it, every single little flavor comes out. Remarkable beer. Glad I had the opportunity to try this.

Photo of Ghenna
4.15/5  rDev -8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010, poured from a bomber into a snifter type glass.

Pours the deepest black I've ever seen- not a tinge of amber to be seen around the edges of this glass at all. Head lingers, minimal lacing. Despite that though, the aroma of charred malt is (surprisingly) not present. What I do get it the nose is a good deal of alcohol- not offputting, it just lets you know what you are getting in to. Fair amount of roast in the nose, as well as some nuttiness and dark chocolate. Did I mention it smells boozy?

Taste pretty much follows the smell. Lots of roasty character, coupled with nuttiness and chocolate. There is a lot to this beer, definitely not the beginner. The booze is strong with this one- which makes it a sipper for sure. Despite that, not overly syrupy.

This is, ultimately, a quality beer. A ton of flavor, this is what an Imperial Stout should be. My only regret is that I did not purchase more than three bottles, so I can age them.

Photo of Gavage
4.95/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: pours a dark black color with a 1" head that lingers around a while. Spotty lace develops.

Smell: roasted malt, dark chocolates, licorice, vanilla, and a hint of bourbon create a wonderful aroma.

Taste: follows the nose as roasted malt base is big. Dark bitter chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, dark fruit sweetness is soft, licorice, and alcohol is strong and warming. Bitterness is quite strong for the style.

Mouthfeel: heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smooth and creamy at the finish. Aftertaste is very long as the flavors glue themselves to the tongue.

Overall: this beer creates an incredible experience as you can sit and slowly sip a glass of this beer over the course of an hour. Absolutely a great flavored beer - this was the 2010 version.

Photo of dookiepower
3.55/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Abyss from a 22oz bomber bought at whole foods.

Appearance- Poured like motor oil into my goblet, nice and thick looking. It had a nice mocha colored head to it with nice retention and a little bit of lacing.

Aroma- Lots of dark caramel malts, dark chocolate, dark fruits, anise, black licorice, and a nice hoppyness. Unfortunately for me the beer had a great aroma but fell through for me on the taste department.

Taste- Starts out with a myriad of beautiful caramel note, that morphed into a nice dark chocolate astringency, then moved into a very deep and bitter black licorice, and anise that seemed to overpower the back end way to much and turned me off a little bit.

Mouthfeel- The mouthfeel to this beer was a great silky texture that flowed over the palate, and the carbonation carried over enough to keep the beer moving. Mouthfeel was another nice touch to this beer.

Overall- A beautifully made beer, that I can tell was made with great care and talent. Perhaps not the imperial stout for me, but I enjoyed it for the greatness that it could achieve for me in the future.

Photo of Janderson91
4.83/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage poured into a snifter. Enjoyed on 03/26/11.

A - Absolutely pitch black, looks like motor oil, which is a good thing. One finger milk chocolate colored head that leaves good lacing. Great looking beer.

S - Chocolate, coffee, licorice, bourbon, vanilla, oak and alcohol. Very good stuff.

T - This is the most complex beer I've ever tasted. Coffee and vanilla and wood initially. Moves into some dark chocolate and bourbon. Finish is a good roasted barley flavor and also some vanilla is present again. This is excellent.

M - Mouthfeel is near perfect. Nice and creamy and thick with slight carbonation.

O - Overall, this is one of my favorite beers I've had the pleasure of tasting. So complex and alcohol is pretty well hidden. It's quite rich so it's good to have someone to split it with. Really enjoyed it, can't wait to see what some age does to it.

Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.22/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle:

Pours jet black with tan head that quickly fades but leaves a little lacing.

Smell is on the sweeter side with brown sugar, slight dark fruits, and just a hint of oak, and alcohol.

The taste is of dark fruits, burnt chocolate, a little oak. On the back you pick up just a tad of alcohol and an overall taste of almost a chocolate covered marshmellow...mmmm :)

The mouthfeel is pretty insane and very thick as it warms up.

An amazing beer but definitely a treat and not a regular drink.

Photo of coldwarkid
4.68/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

BAM my first review in probably a year. Sorry BA community. I figured I had to make a comeback with this amazing beer. I'm listening to Animal Collective's Strawberry Jam and Tom Waits' Real Gone while drinking it and it's a totally radical experience.

The legendary 2009 Vintage

22 oz wax dipped bomber aged in my cabinet. I couldn't believe that it had been more than a year since I bought these two bottles. Poured into a Bruery tulip.

Appearance: Pours completely pitch black with a big frothy cocoa colored head. I was amazed the carbonation was so perfect and vigorous even after a year. Impressive lacing for an 11% ABV, that wax dipped seal totally did the trick. This is the darkest, most opaque beer I've ever seen in my life--I'm holding it up to a halogen desk lamp and not one shred of light is coming through. The abyss is the perfect name for this beer, I feel like I bought a bottle of water from the river Styx.

Smell: Like a Tom Waits song - boozy, dark, complex, and completely badass. Notes of bourbon, molasses, cocoa, licorice root, and sweet pipe tobacco. Dayum.

Taste: The taste is blowing my mind: dark chocolate, oaky bourbon, molasses, coffee, dates, a faint tartness like rum soaked cherries. I cant even detect the alcohol. A lot of times I have problems with imperial stouts tasting a little like soy sauce or beef jerkey. This beer does not have that problem. In fact it has no problems.

Mouthfeel: Super silky and creamy. Not cloyingly sweet or syrupy, due to the perfect carbonation.

Overall: I haven't had too many rare beers and beers on the top 20 but for now this is probably the best beer I've ever tasted.

Photo of johnnybgood1999
4.55/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to StoutAsian for this one. My friend had two bottles and kindly gave one to me. Oh, and it was his last bottle, very kind.

2010 vintage

A: I see why it's named the abyss. A beautiful pitch black, with no light penetrating this brew. A small cocoa colored one inch head.

S: Slight hint of bourbon, chocolate, coffee, and molasses.

T: This beer is truly a picture of balance. Burnt malt hits first, mixed with a slight hint of bourbon. Next, sweet, dark chocolate flows over the middle of the palate, while blending in with pleasant licorice notes. The bourbon backs off of the middle of the tongue and is replaced by the vanilla sweetness of French oak barrels. Lastly, bourbon really heats up to blend perfectly with all this beer has to offer.

M: For those that have had Yeti and Bourbon County Stout, this feels almost between the two. It is super smooth, yet not as heavy as BCS.

O: A myriad of flavor, artfully crafted to superbly balance the chaos that could erupt with so much going on. Very, very, well done and deserving of a top ten spot, based on my limited experiences.

Photo of jethrodium
4.45/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle. Pours a dark black with light just coming through at the edge when help up to the light. Small light tan head with good retention that leaves a decent amount of lacing on the glass. Aroma is chocolate, licorice, molasses, and bourbon. Alcohol is fairly strong on the nose as well. Initial taste is sweet, dark chocolate going into more molasses and licorice. A little bit of oak and bourbon as well. Finish has a decent bitterness and a decent amount of alcohol. Medium body. Light carbonation. Great beer.

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

Wake up. Think beer. Take wiz. Wash well. Shave things. Knot tie. Burn toast. Eat mush. Think beer. Drive stick. Honk twice. Shake fist. Drive more. Drink sludge. Think beer. Work hard. Take walk. Eye girls. Shoot shit. Think sex. Walk more. Sing song. Eat cheese. Work less. Doze off. Dream beer. Wake tired. Leave work. Drive car. Flip bird. Fart once. Find store. Buy beer. Dash home. Lock door. Find glass. Cut wax. Pop top. Pour slow. Take sip. Smile wide. Drink more. Laugh some. Praise beer. Drink more. Call John. Dial wrong. Get nuns. Swear twice. Hear shock. Hang up. Pray once. Drink more. Find Web. Post thread. Read rants. Take wiz. Curse Wales. Drink more. Feed fish. Pass out. Dream beer.

On a more relevant note, I purchased this 22 oz. bottle of 2010 Reserve at Jubilation Wine & Sprits in Albuquerque for $13.99. Poured into a large wine glass because that's all I had. It was phenomenal. Took wiz. Dreamt beer. The end.

Photo of JonnyDiablo
4.6/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Awesome Beer! I Loved it.

Look was dark and deep just like the name suggested. Great creamy head.

Tasted of rich malt and mahogany, deep dried dark fruity middle with smooth oak finish.

mouth feel was silky and the light carbonation made me want to hold it in for ever.

Photo of LiquidCucumber
4.58/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks from joshuacavett. Split with two friends.
Infamous 2009 batch.

A - Dark and foamy, pours with a thick head that looks similar to chocolate mousse going into the glass.

S - Roast and bourbon right up front, a little bit of dark fruit on the back.

T - Roasty bordering on smoky; slightly chalky and very woody. Bourbon galore, but not as overpowering as some. Some dates/raisins in there too. Little bit of soy sauce.

M - Smooth and creamy. Fairly dry and not at all cloying like some giant stouts can be.

D - I hope Deschutes distributes to Ohio soon... I want more of this. On KBS release day I feel this stout is superior.

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

2009 bottle of The Abyss. Picked up via a great trade.

Appearance - Poured a chocolate/almost midnight black color. A rich tan head formed as I poured. A nice meringue moonscape formed as the head receded. Little to see to comment on the carbonation as no light can penetrate. Lacing forms as the head resolves to a notable ring.

Smell - Sweet aroma, mixed with some espresso and dark chocolate notes. Some roasty qualities come through as well, as it warms a bit more. (I only had this in the fridge for about four hours total, so I think this is the prime tasting zone for it).

Taste - Chocolate, licorice some slight bourbon dryness as well greets your tongue as you pass it over your lips. So much to take in. Break it down. A coffee sweet entrance gives ground to a strong malty middle. The finish is hoppy, with the 11% ABV making its appearance as you close out this grateful sip.

Mouthfeel - What a creamy mouthfeel on this one. Lush, dense, crisp on your tongue as the hops clears way for the next sip.

Drinkability - wow. So inviting, so dense, so drinkable. All of the great qualities of a creamy stout with the depth of an aged offering. I didn't get the sense at all of a brett contamination that I've heard about (and may have experienced at a past tasting). This was well done. My personal preference would be to let your 2009s sit for another year or two to allow the hops to further round out this offering. An excellent sipper right now, sure to improve with more age. Excellent.

Photo of Pahn
4.9/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle into Duvel tulip. 2010 vintage. Thanks to codewarrior for trading me this bottle.

Appearance: Free pour yields a frothy, one and a half inch head that dissipates steadily leaving a big ring of lacing. Pours black with red brown highlights. Leaves occasional large sweeps of lacing that travel slowly back down into the liquid on the beer's giant legs.

Smell: From the bottle: chocolate and coffee. From the glass: Chocolate cake, molasses, some surprisingly fresh and potent (and welcome) hops, a mild but already growing fig/date/ambiguous dark fruit note, some coffee beans.

There's a lot going on (and all of it good) at the start, but with time it just keeps getting better. This might be the best smelling beer I've ever experienced... the smell keeps developing, with vanilla sweetness coming up, then nuttiness, dark, bold coffee and chocolate notes, more lush, earthy hop aromas mixing with dark fruit, etc.

Smelling this beer is like holding an auction, where the bidder had you won over long ago but he just keeps throwing in more money for no reason. This beer is out of control; the complexity is endless, but every note is heavenly.

Taste: The first sip is coffee ice cream, some chocolate, and roasted malt. Moderate bitterness throughout. Great mix of coffee, chocolate, and roasted bitterness in the middle (with a hint of oak), leading to a coffee-with-cream sweetness in the finish. Chest warmth is the only indication of the 11% ABV here--there's no booziness whatsoever.

The flavor was good, perhaps even "exemplary of an imperial stout" at first, and I was ready to drop a 4.0 or 4.5 to praise this beer, like Founder's Breakfast Stout, for perfecting conventional flavors even though it hadn't blown my mind. Then, as with the smell, the flavor really opened up, and ventured deep into 5.0 territory. All kinds of new flavors prominently emerge; the various dark fruit notes from the smell, licorice, tobacco, vanilla, all carried along by that perfect amount of hop-and-roast bitterness (bottle says 65 IBUs, which is indicative of how it actually tastes). It's deep, refined, and insistently delicious.

Like many of the great beers of the world, The Abyss continues to generously reveal more beautiful nuances throughout the bottle. This beer is a masterpiece, and deserves every bit of praise that it gets.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, very creamy, just enough carbonation. The bitterness aids the flavor by (among other things) keeping it from getting too rich, and it aids the feel by keeping things nice and lively.

Drinkability: With the effusive praise in the "Smell" and "Taste" sections, I think you can guess that I am not having any trouble consuming this beer, and would happily buy more.


I occasionally talk about my time "visiting the abyss" when I mention my self-destructive college/grad school antics, or general hatred. While I can see that one would want to drink enough of this (very strong) beer to go to the abyss, I would say that this Abyss is a much friendlier place. Sort of reminds me of the Kids in the Hall Simon Milligan sketches, in that The Abyss is less hellfire and more "here, let me shower you with gifts far beyond your expectations, and here's even more to boot."

The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 5,487 ratings.