1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

Educational use only; do not reuse.

5,646 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,646
Reviews: 1,752
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.78%
Wants: 2,636
Gots: 2,835 | FT: 230
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 (154) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of The Abyss Alström Bros
Ratings: 5,646 | Reviews: 1,752 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of HopHead84
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


2010 vintage on nitro at the Portland pub before my flight. 

A: Appears impenetrable black with a gigantic light brown creamy head. Great retention. Looks like a beast, like a gaping crevasse affording the viewer a glimpse of nothingness and totality simultaneously. 

S: Aroma is anise and a moderate roasted malt profile with big blackstrap molasses notes. Dark chocolate is pervasive, and there's an earthy quality present. 

T: Rich and decadent, the beer boasts a big blackstrap molasses presence accompanying bitter dark chocolate, roasted malt, and some booze. The bitter chocolate finish is warming and dry. The beer strikes a nice balance between dry and sweet. Simply delicious. 

M: The nitro mouthfeel is silky and smooth, the body is full.

Overall: Outstanding batch this year. Not overly aggressive and great flavor.

Photo of bsp77
4.87/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Almost pitch black with strong initial head that dissipates but leaves lots of bubbly lacing.

Smell: Massive amounts of molasses and licorice. Nice layers of oak mustiness, coffee and light citrus.

Taste: Oh my God, this is unbelievable. The sweet molasses and licorice complement the harsher roasted qualities of coffee, char and dark chocolate. The partial oak aging imparts an extra Bourbon-like layer, as does the slightly bitter and citrusy hop finish.

Feel: Extremely smooth with low carbonation and a thick full body. Nice dry and warming finish.

Drinkability: Simply fantastic. Maybe the best Imperial Stout I have ever had. Now I need to find another bottle to cellar.

Photo of mjyoung
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 reserve poured from a 22oz bottle. Shared w/ scottfrie and bbb099. Major thanks to scottfrie.

A: Poured dark, with a pleasingly thick head. The foam was a nice dark brown, very cohesive laving little in the way of lacing.

S: A strong smell of roasted molasses and malt. Very complex with a strong hint of chocolate and a little bit of wood in there as well. Not a hint of the alcohol I know to be there.

T: The taste follows the smell with a fair amount of fidelity, but not with the same order. The chocolate comes through quite well and there's a powerful hit of molasses. There's a bit of a different flavor which is probably the licorice. It packs quite the complex suite of flavors.

M: A nice full body which sits comfortably. It goes down very smoothly. This bottle has been aged for a few years so that's to be expected.

D: I would undoubtedly drink more, and because it's so smooth and strong this would be a dangerous proposition. I wholeheartedly approve. This will be the standard to which I hold an Imperial Stout.

Photo of Mdog
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black, good head and good lacing.

Smell: Roasted, chocolate, woody, coffee.

Taste: Big chocolate sweetness, some vanilla, bourbon note, underlying fruit flavors.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thick stuff.

Drinkability: Have to be careful, so tasty I'll drink it too fast.

I first had the Abyss a few years ago on a ski trip to Idaho. The bar served PINTS of the stuff. I was impressed then, and I'm still impressed now. Big, tasty beer, lots of sweetness and lots of flavors to process. Seems more bourbon-y now than I remember. Good stuff!

Photo of birddogg66
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage. Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

A- Very dark, black to dark brown, with no other colors emerging in the presence of light. The billowing head consisting of S-M bubbles has a beautiful color of chocolate milk, and a good amount of lacing holding on to the glass.

S- A roasty malty nose appears early with a little bit of an anise, probably from the licorice, emerging deeper into the glass. A small amount of dark chocolate, a touch of alcohol, and a bit of a woody smell is there too.

T- A note of rich chocolate, with a touch of alcohol warmness starts out on the palate. A taste of smoked wood, coffee flavors, and an almost a whisky flavor really comes through a little deeper into the glass as it warms.

M- Abyss has a very thick, rich mouthfeel, the molasses really has a nice impact on the mouthfeel. Very little effervescence dances on the tongue.

D- I was really impressed with this beer. I know that the 2009 Abyss has had it's problems with infection, and I thought after the trip across the Pacific, this one had no chance. But much to my surprise, and happiness, this one had none of the characteristics of other reviewers who have had an affected bottle. If you can pick up this bottle, I would say go for it!! Wonderful complex flavors come out in this beer. One of the best I've had.

Photo of Brabander
4.18/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

We drank this beer after our epic beertasting with the westy redcap and the extra8 of over more than 20 years old. After that the abyss had the big problem to impress us...but it did!

It was a 2009 bottle with no infection! The bottle was a gift from my BA buddy Jeffo. Thanks Jeff!!!!

Poured in a small tasting glass the beer looks very nice. Creamy head.

One of the better beers of this style in my opinion. Coffee and dark chocolate smell and taste. Goood!

Photo of stewart124
4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 vintage

Pours pitch black with centimeter of dark tan head.

Toasted pecans, molasses and some bourbon in the nose.

Some sharp roasted notes and dark caramel with raisins but this is otherwise very smooth. Huge coffee and bitter chocolate characters along with some strong bitter afternotes. Very complex character of roasted malts and a bitterness

This gets smoother as it drinks. No hot alcohol notes. Some sweetness from the leftover sugars. It doesn't get much maltier than this. Outstanding imperial stout.

Photo of pdoran10
4.24/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Fresh 2010 vintage poured into a snifter. three fingers of light brown rocky head. this and hunaphu are the best looking imperial stouts i have seen.

Smell is earthy hops, a bit of alcohol heat, some oak. not all that inviting.

taste is much more appealing than smell. Amazingly complex, Roast and vanilla up front gives way to fusel alcohol heat, oak, molasses and licorice linger in my mouth after a few sips. a ton of tasty flavors going on here.

Really great creamy mouthfeel with moderate to high carbonation. Exceptional on the tongue.

this bottle is super fresh and a bit hot. I will be generous with my rating here as I can see this being more drinkable with a few months of age on it.

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

Here it is. I purchased this bottle of the 2009 vintage early in 2010, and have been savouring it for as long as possible. I feel my 1,000th beer review on BeerAdvocate was a suitable time to crack it open. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours in a sinewy curve, a black and oily body. Even the pour seems heavy, although once it's in the glass and has settled, it's remarkably fluid. Head is huge and boisterous to begin with, leaving quite a dark mass of brown bubbling on top, and cascading down the sides of the glass. Lacing is thick, sticky and intricate. It's a fantastic looking beer. There are few better that I've laid eyes upon.

Nose is that absolutely classic American imperial stout melange of bourbon barrel, vanilla, coconut sweetness and raw, aggressive blackness. Rich and thick, with enough almost corporeal aroma to stick around, dancing inside the nostrils for a long time. holy crap, what an astounding nose.

Taste is where this starts to set itself apart from the general flow of the style. Here, the liquorice starts to assert itself, giving a sharper character to the palate, along with the dark and brusque roasted bitterness. The sweetness has all but dropped out in the flavour, although the bitterness in the back gives hints of overcooked chocolate cake. Feel is phenomenally good. Smooth and silky, but leavened by the almost physical character of spicy anise.

Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. What a way to celebrate #1000. This is a truly phenomenal and exceptional beer, with such classic characters mixed with such uniqueness and a full-bodied head-pound of complexity and flavour. There's a reason this is so well regarded, and it's totally deserving of its place in the craft beer zeitgeist.


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

It's Dec 2010, and this is a 2008 bottle, so take that into account for this review.

A: Black as night with a thin tan head. Decent retention.

S: Dark Malts with Coffee, Chocolate and Black Liquorish.

T: Simply amazing. Super smooth, roasty and a bit of smoke. Not as much chocolate or coffee as one would think, but I assume that's due to age. Alcohol is not present in the taste at all. Some brown sugar, vanilla and wood.

M: This is tops as well. Smooth, well carbonated, and creamy. Nice full body, with no alcohol tinge.

D: Love this stuff, and this bottle has been sitting in my cellar since release. Only one of these left, and I'll finish it as part of my vertical next year. Wish I could find more.

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

22 oz bottle, 2009 reserve. "Best after 11/1/2009." Thanks Mike.

Appearance: Yup, completely opaque. No highlights. Brown head is thick and soft looking. Sticky brown lacing. A damn good looking beer.

Smell: Coffee, bittersweet chocolate, licorice, oak, leather, tobacco, earth. Alcohol too, a deep whiff stings the nose a little.

Taste: Roasty coffee, slight fruitiness, and oak. The licorice comes through and I'm getting the leather again. Not really too bourbony. Bitter ethanol, then a dry, roasty finish that lasts. The aftertaste becomes a little cake-like. Its rich and complex, but not a chocolatey or sweet bomb like some big stouts.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation is well done, giving the beer a bit of a creamy, foamy feeling in the mouth. The body of the beer feels on the thin side, at least up front, but gets thicker and chewier on the way back.

Drinkability: A great, complex imperial stout. Damn glad mine wasnt sour.

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

A big shout out to my Sasquatch friend from Oregon for sending me two of these -

Poured From 1 pint 6fl oz bottle - 2010 reserve -best after 11/15/11

Poured a dirty oil black with one finger head that dissipated quickly leaving behind a thin tan lacing , decent carbonation.

Smell - Toasted malts , anise , licorice

Taste - Wow this brew blew me away , The first sip was molasses with warming bourbon, licorice and toasted malts, mild coffee hints ,with maybe a touch of vanilla.

Drinkability - considering this is a 11% abv brew the drinkability is extremely high - every sip gives you hints of complex flavors - you can taste a lot of great things in this if you enjoy it slowly very well balanced and blended brew.

Photo of Urbancaver
4.31/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- beautiful dark black with brown frothy head

Smell- smells like coffee and roasted malts

Taste- Tastes of coffee chocolate with strong malty backbone. Hints of bourbon but well balanced

Mouthfeel-ell carbonated and has a nice feel

Drinkability- downed 2 4 ounce pours in no time...

Photo of wisrarebeer
3.73/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is uncharacteristic of me to open such a young beer. I should have let it age for another 15-20 years. In my opinion it could use it.

2007 Reserve. Thanks to The Queue for this one.

A: black, opaque, with nice deep caramel lacing around side of glass and very thin lacing on top
S: hot (EtOH), burnt licorice, and medium nose
T: good beer with burnt licorice and nice but somewhat metallic, bitter finish - definitely can taste the EtOH and is a bit on the hot side in general, decent stout but could use a bit more depth (seemed a bit one-dimensional with burnt flavor) and barrel taste
M: good but metallic bite in finish is a bit distracting
D: good but again metallic bite and alcohol makes this a sipper

Photo of busternuggz
4.1/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The infamous 2009 release. I didn't detect any sour notes though it was incredibly dry, may have been a "partially infected" bottle?
Poured from the bottle into medium sized (12 oz) tulip glasses & shared with a friend.
Deep brown-black color with a creamy 1/2" mocha head, settled down to a thin layer after a few minutes. Left some lacing.
Smells rich and inviting, with mostly a chocolate cake character, a little molasses as it warms.
The taste is incredibly dry, rich, and complex. Baking chocolate, dried coffee grounds, soil-like earthiness, some ash, oak, licorice root, a tiny bit of vanilla now and then. Molasses notes (without sweetness) come out more as it warms. A bit too hoppy at first, but it mellows out after a while. The aftertaste goes on for quite a while and bounces around through all of the flavors. Tasted its best near room temperature.
The texture is medium bodied but near room temp became thicker and a little syrupy, still finished dry though.
The super dryness and earth & ash notes take down the drinkability, it would have been hard to drink the bomber on my own.
A very interesting beer, it was not at all what I expected. I've had a couple of imperial stouts I would say I like better, but for its uniqueness and complexity this (possibly infected) Abyss certainly stands out.

Photo of Ynot2
4.23/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opened a bottle of 2009 and was half expecting the sour smell. The smell did not hit me so I felt a little relief.

The pour into a small snifter was black with a finger of tan head.

The smell was a mix of licorice and Bourbon.

The taste settled down pretty quick and remained about the same after about five minutes of warming. More smoked coffee flavors than anything else. No burn to speak of.

Mouth is creamy and full.

An easy drinking stout.

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

Re-review, 11/1/11, from notes. 22oz 2010 bottle, sampled 10/31/11 and split with a good friend.

A: Opaque and the darkest of browns, with a mocha colored head that looks like rich milk chocolate...small bubbles on the head and surprising staying power for a high abv BA beer.

S: Bourbon, hints of oak, lots of molasses and dark anise notes...epic amounts of dark roasted malts in the form of bittersweet chocolate and light whiffs of coffee.

T: A touch of boubon/booze gives way to epic amounts of darknesss...dark malts, dark chocolate, dark sweetness in the form of molasses and licorice...the roast qualities are assertive on the finish with coffee-like bitterness...just enough oak presence to make itself known and blend beautifully with the other flavors.

MF: Extremely creamy and silky, full mouthfeel with good viscosity and a light to medium dryness on the finish.

O: Almost exactly a year since this bottle was born, its near perfect. 11oz is plenty, as I would prefer a touch less booze, but its extremely drinkable and tasty right now.

Photo of jwilly03
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed a Nitro 2010 Abyss at the Bend Public House on December 1st...liquid bliss!
Rich and creamy from the first sip to the last, and what a great nose. Served in a snifter so all of those glorious aromas can gather in the bulb, hit your nose, and tell your brain that this is going to be a great experience! Very much a beer I will enjoy until the last keg blows! Cheers!!

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

Not much more I can add other than that I just had a nitro tap at the Pearl brewpub. Hint of marmite on the nose and ovaltine on the palate as the silky elixir slithered down my throat. Sublime.

As much as others may suggest food pairings, resist the temptation and enjoy it on it's own. It deserves your full attention.

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

New serving type tick! Seriously though, nitro-Abyss '10 on tap at the Pearl brewpub in Portland was a thing of beauty. Having it side by side next to the tap version was an eye-opening experience. Huge thanks to ramnuts for hosting me and taking me around to try these awesome beers.

A: Pours, as does the regular version, a viscous-looking black with a menacing dark mocha head. The bubbles are fine, cascading up the glass as is characteristic of a good nitro pour. The retention is great, and the lively appearance is exquisite to behold.

S: Unlike the tap version, the sweeter elements emerge here. I typically find nitro beers dull and muted, but here the aroma is still pungent. Strong emphasis on anise, dark chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, and a smattering of espresso.

T: As in the nose, the sweeter flavors take center stage. It's almost candy-like, with a concoction of dark chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, and anise. I seem to pick up marshmallow here, too. Espresso, vanilla and bourbon flit in and out, but the woodiness of the tap version is barely detectable. Near the top of its category.

M: Much smoother than the tap; the fine bubbles give it a creamy, velvety texture. They also suppress the astringency in the finish, seemingly enhancing the sweetness. Bu there is still enough hop presence to prevent it from becoming treacly. Can't criticize anything here, except that it has a mild heat to it.

D: Abyss was the beer that made me interested in craft. I've tried dozens, probably closer to a hundred, barrel-aged imperial stouts since then. I have a small nostalgic fondness for this one, but I feel it's justified given that Deschutes actually hit it out of the park on this one.

If I had to rank the beers in the flight, I'd say...

'10 nitro and '07 tap (tie)
'10 tap
'09 tap
'08 tap (it was still boozy for some reason)

Photo of Ginacow
4.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

OH MY!!!This is a great sippin' brew for the winter season. It is amazing this year and I would definitely put it on my list of THE beer to purchase for all of my friends and family this holiday season. It's a bit sweet, smokey, rich, thick and everything an imperial stout should be. Cheers!

Photo of cbarrett4
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The most perfectly crafted beer I have ever consumed (again)!

This review is for the 2010 release. Tasted with 2010 nitro, 2009, 2008, 2007 releases at the Portland Deschutes brewpub on December 1st, 2010 (Abyss release day!) Sadly they sold out of the limited number of 2007 and 2008 bottles within an hour!

2010 regular tap: showing very well, though youthful with a ton of astringency that will mellow with bottle age. This baby is heavy, rich, unctuous, and lively! The aromas and flavors definitely dwell on the dark and somewhat evil influence of dark, bitter chocolate with fruit notes from the licorice and hops. Tons of freshly ground espresso beans on the nose and palate. Also, there is a rich note of oak with grippy tannins on the palate. Sports a finish that goes on and on and on....

2010 nitro: same as above just slightly more texture and less astringency. Great for drinking now while the bottle and regular tap are a little intense. (Too bad it won't be around long!)

2009: tasted several times over the last year, and this was my latest taste. Still very young with emphasis still on rich tannins and hops. Needs 1 more year of cellaring!

2008: my personal favorite. This vintage is a little slutty ~ lots of rich chocolate on a polished and more subtle texture than the newer vintages. Cellaring has definitely made an improvement!

2007: if the '08 were an Oregon pinot, then '07 would be Burgundy. This vintage is smoky, velvety, yet subtle with more of the fruit and licorice notes present; also has a lot of espresso and some hints of toasty oak. My second favorite!

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

2009--not infected!!!

All I have to say is whoa. Great stout here, and it realy distinguishes itself from the other big stouts.

Black as hell with thick creamy brown head. Nice lacing. Nose is a rich combination of chocolate, coffee, smoke, leather, and other dark malty notes. Flavor is huge, very complex. One of the big flavors that sets it apart is a distinct smokiness to it, which I like a lot. Some wood, dark roasted malts--coffee, chocolate--some dark fruit to it. It all plays together really nicely, definitely one of my all-time favorite stouts. Not cloyingly sweet like some others.

MF is good, thick, creamy, chewy. Maybe a hair lighter than some of the big hitters. Really a pretty easy drink (and super enjoyable). The smoke and roast to it balances out the sweetness in the malt nicely. This is what imperial stouts should be like.

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

2009 Bomber poured into an Appalachian mini-pint.

A - Pours dark as night with a small brown head that dissipates to only a few patches of head and a ring around the outside of the glass, leaving only spotty lacing.

S - Rich coffee, molasses, licorice, and chocolate notes. As it warms more and more booze comes thru. No hints of infection in this one. I must have gotten lucky.

T - Lots of deep roasted flavors up front slowly giving way to hints of chocolate, coffee, and other dark, earthy, flavors. Finish is pretty hot from all the booze with a lingering roast. Flavors were pretty well balanced but the heat from the alcohol is a bit much after a few glasses. I enjoyed this one but not as much as I did when I had it on-tap during philly beer week.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Strong burn from the booze with a heavy roasted finish. It was a bit overwhelming after a few fills of my glass.

D - Fairly high. Opened this one last night. I figured if it was infected I would rather find out now rather than later. Luckily it was fine. I enjoyed this one a lot. It was still a little too hot for my liking but it was still very nice.

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

I got this bottle from a friend who brought this back from Oregon. It was the 2009 release. It says best AFTER Nov. 2010. Now I read about the 'infected" batches. So let's find out...

I poured this into my favorite glass and got a wonderful shiny black body as it poured and an equally opaque body with a rather robust tan head. It goes away gradually as I type but leaving lace as it goes. A good start.

The nose? Will this tell me anything. It is chocolate, malt and yes some bandaid.

Taste is...(drumroll) Very bitter at first with a dark coffee finish. Wow!!! This is a strong flavored beer. It is like double charcoal. I know that is a made up term, but I struggle for words here: charcoal, oak, bitter, malt, cocoa. The flavor remains in your mouth for a while. No need to hurry this one. Drinking this bomber by myself. The second glass is way better. More creamy mouth feel, flavor is changing for the better.

Mouth feel is similar to another I had recently. It feels like there might be some cocoa granules in the mix. Not all that carbonated and not as "thick" as some others. Alcohol is not bashful. All in all I don't think this is one of the infected ones which I felt were described as being a little sour. This beer is different than most stouts I have had. It is not as sweet, but then again this one has already been around awhile. I hear rumors that Deschutes may come to the Midwest. I would like to try another one. For me to wait a year after bottling to drink a beer is rare. I am not patient.

The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 5,646 ratings.