1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

5,276 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,276
Reviews: 1,680
rAvg: 4.51
pDev: 9.76%
Wants: 2,591
Gots: 2,392 | FT: 182
Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery visit their website
Oregon, United States

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

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
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)

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-24-2006)
View: Beers (115) | 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: 5,276 | Reviews: 1,680 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MbpBugeye
4.7/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The pièce de résistance in a trade with xpimptastikx
Poured into a snifter.

A- A no so gentle pour yields a one finger head thats litterally the same color as the label. Its a bubbly dark brownish red. It fades into an amorphous sheet floating in the middle of a brown ring that leaves a little bit of lacing. The rest is so black theres nothing else that can be said really.

S- Strong, sweet, rich. Both coffee and chocolate come on hard in the nose. Swirling brings out the real character. Licorice, dark fruits like plums and fig, and bourbon-like alcohol.

T- Milky chocolate comes in up front and brings the coffee with it. Im picking up a little bit of the licorice in the middle right after some fruitiness. Fruits like in the nose, fig, plum, raisin. The fruitiness is brief, it gives way to more coffee bitterness.
The hops are only perceivable in the aftertaste for me. They are earthy and not overly strong.

M- Very creamy, medium carbonation. Dry and sticky.

D- Very good, the alcohol is very very well hidden. This beer is very sticky and the flavors linger for quite some time.

Photo of dancinwillie
4.33/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle.

Not much I can say that hasn't been said, but I'll give it a try anyway...

Pours black and opaque. Not a hint of light getting through, even around the edges. Minimal cocoa colored head, drops within a minute or so to a scant covering.

Aroma is licorice and cocoa in equal doses. A bit of a scent that reminds me of chocolate covered malted milk balls is also present. A tiny hint of roasted barley.

A bit of just about everything I would expect. Licorice, grains with a dark roast, chocolate. And it's all good. Real good. The thing that surprises me the most though, is the strong fruitiness. Not out of balance, but definitely a big part. A bit of sweet/tart plum, and to a lesser degree some cherry, really add another dimension. A minimum amount of hops, citric and sunny. They're faint, but provide a nice counter to this malt forward beer. I'm picking up only a little bit of alcohol.

Amazingly balanced, medium bodied, and unbelievably drinkable. This is a real treat. I have one bottle left, and will be saving it for a special occasion, to be sure. I rate the drinkability high however, because if I had more, I would drink this regularly! Cheers.

Photo of charlesw
2.65/5  rDev -41.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

So, yeah. We had an RIS tasting. This was to be the highlight of the event.

Black. Nice head that lasts. Perfect. Unreal. Beautiful. Opaque like nobody's business.
Smells like an RIS - rich, dark, sweet, chocolate, coffee and more coffee, burned mesquite.
Tastes like mesquite ashes and coffee grounds. Bleh. Little residual sweetness. Lots of dark and bitter things going on. Another over-the-top beer. Sure, i can see why beer geeks would go crazy over it but it's not anything like, well, a good beer. Where is the balance in there, hmm? I'd think it would need more sweetness and a lot more time before being released before it was even close to being ready.
Seems to me that the body is on the thinner side but that's prolly just 'cause i don't think it sweet enough (for balance with all of the other stuff going on). It would prolly be fine if you toned the flavors down.
I would not seek this out (or even drink it) if it were readily available to me except for trading purposes because you all are so crazy for it.

So, in terms of the RIS tasting this was SOUNDLY panned as being poorly made, unbalanced, not very interesting. My score, here, is greatly inflated compared to the remarks given on this one. Heck, it was one of only 2 or 3 out of 20+ bottles we drank where there was some left at the end of the night - and we had this one fourth. So not worth the hype it isn't even funny.

Photo of Ineedabeerhere
4.7/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From Notes.

Shared a bottle of this with the pops the other night. 2007 vintage alongside a chocolate cupcake with coconut buttercream icing.

I really like the way the 2007 is drinking right now. Too bad I never have/never will get to try the 2006.

Pours black as night with a healthy mocha head.

Chocolate cake (no, not the cupcake). Very intense and bordering on thick. Deep roasted malt and espresso, some bitterness coming through (not from hops). Bourbon presence is not upfront you have to know what you're looking for- it presents itself in a vague vanilla sweetness that aids in cloaking the alcohol. It seems to me that the licorice is more present than when I have had this previously which I would've thought would urge me to like it less- but that was not the case. (Because I'm not a huge fan of licorice)

Overall, The Abyss is the real deal- everything you want in an RIS from the flavors to the mouthfeel and beyond. It's great to see a beer of this caliber made in reasonable quantities such that people can obtain it without too much difficulty.

Photo of alleykatking
4.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 2007 bottle I got in a trade with mjl21...thanks once again for everything Mike!

A- Pours black in color with no other colors peeking through it as I hold it up to the light. Good 1 figner dark tan head that stays there for a litte bit before going down and leaving massive amounts of sticky thick lacing on the sides of the glass. Great looking beer!

S- Not much for any certain strong aromas in the nose. I smell a good amount of burnt malts along with a good coffee and chocolate balance with this. I can pick up on the licorice with this beer as well in the balance. Slight hint of alcohol in this one as well. Make my mouth water then I smell this.

T- I finally see what all the hype is about this beer. Nice big upfront of a chocolate and coffee malt to it. Some oakiness present I think as well. The earthy hops are faint in this but still come through just for a second before becoming nothing as the licorice comes through and dominates for a second. This beer is amazing and I'm not the biggest fan of this style but....well...wow this is fantasic.

M- Medium-heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is perfect with this beer as it melts across the palate in so many flavors. Leaves traces of chocolate and coffee with a little licorice on the tounge. A pleasure to have in the mouth and the aftertaste makes you want more.

D- This is a very drinkable beer of which I had more of this year. I can't get over how good this beer is. I only wish this wasn't my only bottle of this year. Thanks to Mike once again for the hook up and glad to take the advice and drink it now.

Photo of peck95
4.88/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was saving this beer for a special occasion. Today the 1 1/2 inch irrigation pipe going to my sprinkler system decided to bust. The end result was a flooded yard, driveway, street, and worst of all my basement. I spent 4 hours vacuuming water from my basement. Then my wife took it upon herself to open a bottle of Abyss and poor me a glass. I took a sip of this beer and thought what a perfect day. Then I had a few more sips and decided I needed to share my perfect day with other people.

Photo of DaveFL1976
4.88/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This brew was aquired via trade for an Andechs Dopplebock. While I was sad to see the Andech go into a UPS box, the very same bottle that I'd picked up from the monestary, packed ever so carefully, and then sent across the country in trade, I was indeed tickled to see a bomber of Abyss show up on my doorstep in exchange.

But is it worth it?

Hell yes. I will not get into Abyss' flavours, or how smooth and complex it is, or how it feels silky smooth on the tongue. All that notwithstanding, this is one damn fine stout. I love Expedition. The Abyss keeps all of Expedition's flavour, but smooths it out and makes it into a beer that's even stronger, but will be hard to find a tongue that doesn't like it. A really nice beer, and worth seeking out.

Photo of pepsican
4.1/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

07 batch, fresh. Pours black with a decent sized tan head. Aroma is very roasty with some chocolate. Flavor is very roasty as well. Chocolate. vanilla, coffee, smoke, and just a bit of the barrel aged flavor. Finishes creamy, little carbonation. Alcohol well hidden. Very nice but could use a little less roast in the flavor.

Photo of photomike
4.33/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep dark brown with a huge, very dark head. Thick, dry, fluffy lacing coats the glass with strong retention. Couldn't look better.

Smell is surprisingly mild for a beer that is robust in every other aspect. What is present is impressive, though, with a nice balance between coffee, chocolate and licorice.

The flavor is full of bready chocolate malts, coffee and a licorice character that borders on the fruity. Not overly sweet, this drys on the finish. Delicious.

Full bodied with aggressive effervescence that causes a slight burning sensation. Creamy and oily.

The flavors in this are so dense, and with the richness in body, this beer is a definite sipper. The alcohol is well hidden and the sweetness is just at the right level.

An absolutely fantastic beer that lives up to every bit of the hype. Easily one of the best stouts I've had, the weight on smell here is the only thing keeping this from being one of my most highly rated beers. Get it.

Photo of PBoegel
4.72/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had the good fortune of sampling a 2008 bottling during a recent trip to Seattle.

I am not going to be able to add much to the description of this beer that has not already been written.

I have enjoyed many Imperial Stouts, to date nothing has come close to this beer in the category, by a longshot.

I'd say I am just trying to be realistic in not giving it fives across the board, in that without having tried every RIS available I am trying to be fair. Still this is a world class and incredibly complex and delicious beer.

Photo of thekevlarkid
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ah... so ends an era. *Sigh* This was the last bottle I drank from my Christmas gift to myself from '08. Sadly, I foresee dark times and lots of cheap beer in my future. And so it was that I opened this final bomber on 4/20/09 and shared it with my good friend John to celebrate all I once was and all I hope to someday be again. Into our glasses the brew was a used-motor-oil black color. The two-fingers of wood-brown head displayed excellent retention as a skim and collar that left sticky lacing throughout the sample. The aroma was complex, full of milk and dark chocolate, dry cocoa, roasted malt, dark fruit, alcohol and oak. Rich, sweet and very appealing. The flavors were also outstanding and highly complex. Starting with chocolate and toffee it then went into dark caramel, alcohol, sweet pipe tobacco, lots of oak and coffee. The balance between the sweet malty elements and the bitter hoppy notes was superb. As it warmed the chocolate continued to waft forth, encouraging us to dink more. The mouthfeel was creamy and smooth, the body full and the carbonation on-point for a RIS. A joy to drink and surprisingly gulp-able, this was one of the finest beers I had ever tasted and it deserves to be honored amongst the best in the world.

Photo of stawn
4.78/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Pours a muddy brownish black into a snifter. Thick as paint.

S - Smells of molasses & alcohol.

T/M/D - Taste is unbelievably smooth for how it smells! Sweet, molasses, bitter at the very end and followed by a smokey flavor.

WOW! From start to finish there are SO many different flavors! They say licorice, but I don't catch that. Fuck, this Imperial Stout is everything everyone has raved about. Absolutely amazing beer.

Its smells so strong of alcohol and is completely hidden and very smooth. I could write something new every sip I take. If you can find this, its worth every cent!

Photo of tai4ji2x
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

thanks go to wasatch for this particular bottle.

22oz bomber with black wax on top. 2007 vintage. poured into tulip. tasted in late april 2009.

opaque, midnight black. coffee brown head is big and foamy. fades to a constant thin layer, or at least thick wisps and ring. thin rings of lacing at first, then mostly just some big patchy splotches.

aroma: mild oak and vanilla, hint of something approaching chocolate, but maybe more carob and coffee. molassess and caramel malt. hint of figs and dates. bourbon is very mild, melding nicely. whiff of mash acidity.

taste: caramel and roasted malt, with oak, vanilla and mild bourbon again. coffee, faintly mocha, with earthy hop, giving a moderate to bold bitterness with touch of mash and coffee-like acidity. light, dried cherry fruitiness peeks in before a very coffee finish. maybe a touch of licorice?

medium body (a bit lighter than expected, perhaps?), lightly syrupy, with moderate astringency in the finish giving texture and body. mild carbonation helps assist in creamy perception.


Photo of angelmonster
4.3/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage poured into my trusty New Belgium globe

Pours a big 3 finger dense head that looks like chocolate ice cream. Body is pitch black in color. Head retention and lacing are pretty good.

Smell is big on roasted chocolate malt and some coffee. Hops and alcohol are faint in the background

Taste is a very good balance of malts and hops. First the burnt, roasted malt is tasted, then the earthy bitter hops come in. The alcohol is present but not too much and leaves a slight warming sensation down the back of my throat. The after taste is of smoke from the oak and malt and some bitterness from the hops. Very tasty and complex

Head gives a nice creaminess to the beer. Almost perfect amount of carbonation, livens up the body making it rich but not too heavy

Drink ability is good. Very flavorful and rich but still semi session able. I love stouts and this one is definitely one of the best. It kind of reminded me of Stone IRS but with the benefit of aging. Will need to pick up alot more of these when the new batch comes out in the fall

*Update- had a 2010 vintage on 06/02/14, flavors seem to have dulled noticeably

Photo of bhalter8
4.58/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 2007 vintage to celebrate my actual birthday (thanks for the trade drseamus). I have had tastes, but have been looking forward to sitting down and enjoying this. Pours a dark/opaque black, no light getting through this one, and a solid 3 finger tan head. The aroma is a little more subdued than I had anticipated. Certainly a delicious smelling brew, with aromas of roasted malt, chocolate, and espresso coming through, but not as strong as some other imperial stouts I have had. The oak is even more subdued, maybe I served this a tad warm? The taste, however, was not subdued at all, a lovely compilation of all the flavors I enjoy in a good strong stout. A strong, sweet chocolate flavor up front, pairs nicely with the coffee flavor. These flavors mellow as you sip it, possibly due to the earthy oak flavor. Not sure where it comes from, but a nice tart bitterness kick comes through on the back end, in addition to a bourbony warmth. I still feel this could age longer, as I love when these stouts get even thicker in the mouthfeel. There is certainly an alcohol warmth that follows a few sips. Its hard to establish drinkability on such a big stout, but within its category, this is a pleasing stout to drink, and I thoroughly enjoyed sipping on it over the course of the evening. Looking forward to drinking more in the future for sure.

Photo of MrMonkey
4.4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared an '08 vintage with the girlfriend not too long ago. Reviewed from notes.

Pours an opaque black with a thick and creamy two-finger mocha head that fades extremely slowly to a skim coat and sticky ring. A few wisps of lace left behind.

Smell is just amazing! Lots of rich chocolate, bourbon, oak, molasses, and a hint of anise.

Taste is toasty oak and chocolate up front, before some bourbon and espresso notes. Alcohol heats up a little towards the finish, but quickly subsides before some molasses and a rich, chocolaty finish.

Thick, creamy, full-bodied mouthfeel.

Drinkable and extremely enjoyable. A world class sipper for sure. Psyched to see how this one will develop over time.

Photo of Steamhead
3.98/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

One fine Saturday brunch found myself and an '08 Abyss in a gastronomical mood. So poaching a few local, free range eggs to accompany a Herve Mons camembert and sweet pepper relish on marble rye sandwich, I felt this was an ideal time to stare uninterrupted into the Abyss. Aggressively pouring the thick elixir into the St. Bernardus chalice...I like to wake up high gravity beers as much as possible...I notice the tremendous frothy carbonation that sits atop for almost the entire session. This really sets it apart from the other contenders in its class. It helps to lift taste from being just cloying and heavy. Aromatically, it fills the room. There is almost a mist that surrounds the glass of purely hedonistic levels of licorice, brown sugar, coffee, vanilla and chocolate. A slight amount of boozy heat, but nothing a few years asleep in the cellar wouldn't resolve. It amazing to think how five years or so ago that beers of these proportions did not exist. Lucky us! This is the part that I like best...one long, slow contemplative sip without distraction. This creation is full of point-counterpoints of sweet/bitter, heavy/light, not enough/too much. The licorice is slightly prominent. The anise in absinthe comes to mind. Dark Horizon, that delicious licorice bomb, comes to mind. I have had this and the '07 on many occasions before now, but this is the first time I have really appreciated this character. I have become so enamored with bourbon in beers that I almost feel like something is missing. Though I feel like this is complete. The good folks at Deschutes realized their ideal. I like it. I would like to have cases of it. Dark Lord it is not. There is a creamy, earthy nuttiness on the finish that I really enjoy, but becomes increasingly difficult to get past the licorice. The alcohol is more evident and that is to be expected. World class beer that needs some time.

Photo of nectar14
4.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 2008 'vintage' 22 oz bottle at Toronado SD into tulip. Shared with good friend, sir Chadillac.

A: Opaque black, thick and viscous as it comes out of the bottle, with a dark tan/ light brown head of about 1 finger, settling into a thin foam and lacing lightly.

S: Big wows here, with grains, malts, esters, nuts, chocolate and a whiff of anise.

T: Big, dark roasted coffee, chocolate, malt and some bitterness from those and from hops. Full of flavors but not boozy or out of balance.

M: Again, balanced and full without excess weight. Exceptionally smooth for such a big beer. Hides its 11% well. Picks up bitterness on the finish, which gives it some palate traction.

D: High marks, very drinkable. Bottle went pretty fast.

Overall, a superb brew. Deserves all the accolades it gets. This is the second time I've had the 2008, and it was outstanding again. Worth seeking out. Best stout period.

Photo of ritzkiss
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle. 2008, split courtesy of Viggo - you're pretty much my beer hero now for every beer that I wished I had tried - you have it "sitting in your fridge".

Pours a viscous black, a finger of dark mocha head that subsides to pretty much nothing - par for a big stout.

Nose is smooth vanilla, roasting malts, milk chocolate.

Taste is ridiculously smooth. Wow, for the ABV this is so smooth and so delicious I could drink it all night. Smooth roasted malts, a good dose of molasses and licorice, just the right dash of woodiness, roasted malts that have the right amount of punch but not too much bitterness - just enough to make it deep and rich without being overwhelming.

Holy crap this beer is smooth and enticing, it could seduce me into just about anything. Thanks for the immense treat Eric, this made my move just so damn worth it.

Photo of david18
4.53/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer is as good as the hype about it. I've had it three times; all three in las vegas. It is amazingly dark, seductively thick and the taste is a perfect blend of hops, alcohol and roastiness. Not too hot and even good to accompany food. The bottle version is a little better than the tap but both are excellent.

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

2008 bottling, thanks to JessetheHutt!

Beautiful, viscous stout, just like the oughtta be.

An incredibly smooth nose that drove through my nostrils and into my brain. Delicious!

A kind mouthfeel with strong tastes of burnt coffee, molasses, black licorice, and even a little vanilla.

Absolutely wonderful and I would drink this smooth sucker every single day of the year but it did not completely knock my socks off. Fantastic nonethless.


Photo of PerzentRizen
4.6/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an unmarked belgian goblet at cellar temperature this beer has a pitch black color with a deep tan, frothy head.

The aromas are roasty and of dried fruit (figs, raisons, plums). There's plenty of deep roasted malt as well.

The flavors are rich and mildly sweet - more so than I would have expected. I really did enjoy the full and long flavors of this amazing stout.

The mouthfeel was thinner than I expected but great none-the-less. I think carbonation was perfect and the alcohol content made for the perfect consistency.

The drinkability was decent despite the 11% abv. I would drink this beer all day if given the chance (within reason of course). I will definately be searching this great beer out again.

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

2008 Abyss

Appearance-Pours thick and deep black beer with a two finger, creamy tan head.

Smell- Coffee with a deep bitter and dark fruits, some wood barrel. Hints of sweet licorice and chocolate.

Taste-An early rush of strong espresso coffee is quickly overwhelmed by wood cask and dark fruits. Smooth for the style with some creamy yeast and a surprisingly mild aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Big body and flavor without chunkiness of some barrel aged stouts.

Drinkability- Not sure how "drinkable" an 11% barrel aged stout can, but it is the smoothest I've had yet.

Great with a pipe or cigar.

Photo of scootny
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. A supreme RIS. Look is rich thick and lovely. Good head retention and lacing. 2007 bottling.

Smell is delight. Chocolate, roasted malt, burnt caramel, and dark fruits. Vanilla and cherries.

Taste is exceptional, superb. Smooth and rich with all of the nose and more. A bit more charcoal and burnt sugar. Definitely more coffee and yeasty pumpernickel. Vanilla and oakey rum. There is a tart cherry with more fruits and you can peel layer after layer like an onion and never exhaust the complexity of this brew. Feel is full and velvety. A mild creamy carbonaion and light syrup consistency.

Drinkaility is beyond the abv. You can put this one down like a Guiness but it hits hard folks so apply caution.

Thanks to my man hrking for this particular bottle. Thanks to WasTrinkenSie for my 2008 in the cellar.

Photo of Yesac
3.7/5  rDev -18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Solid black, no head. Brown ring around the edges. Lacing on the glass.

S- Strong alcohol present. Slight bourbon aroma.

T- Strong alcohol tingling presence. Sweet and very bitter. Strong coffee and roasted malts. Not much flavor going on here, I'm not impressed.

M- The alcohol has a tingling sensation on the tongue.

D- Alcohol is to over bearing.

The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 5,276 ratings.