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The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

4,873 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,873
Reviews: 1,641
rAvg: 4.52
pDev: 9.51%
Wants: 2,487
Gots: 2,209 | FT: 156
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,873 | Reviews: 1,641 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sfoley333
4.75/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into a Duvel snifter. Poured inky used motor oil black with a thick 2 finger tan head. Smell is an abundance of sweet chocolate, smoke, coffee, and an alcohol with a nice hop aroma cutting through. Taste is very heavy espresso flavor with rich dark fudge and molten chocolate cake sprinkled with coco powder, a hint of anise and alcohol finished with a slight vanilla oakiness. Mouthfeel is full body thick with a chalky grit texture. The carbonation is smooth and more carbonated than a lot of of IRS but not over carbonated. While full flavored and high in alcohol you would think that it would be low on drinkablity. However it really is tasty and best for a dessert sipper, and could be drunk with a slowness best for enjoying but one will suprised when its gone that they still want more.

Vintage 2007

sfoley333, Jan 23, 2008
Photo of dnichols
4.78/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I poured a waxed and capped 22 ounce bottle into a chalice.

A: I poured an absolutley black body with a richly dark chocolate sticky head composed of varied sized bubbles. The head receded leaving an even cover and supporting a dense and even curtain.

S: It had rich aromas of varied chocolates (milk and dark), dark and ripe fruits, roasted malts, creamy molasses and a woody smokiness.

T: It had a richly complex mix of well balanced flavors that were a real taste treat. The sweet dark roasted malts give off a creamy blend of chocolate flavors that are then well complemented by the bite of hops that remind me of drinking bitter sweet coco flavored campfire coffee. Interlacing the chocolate and coffee flavors are ripe dark fruits, toasted brown sugar, and an espresso like hop bite.

M: It is a thick, smooth and creamy full-bodied brew with a sweet front and pleasantly bitter back. There is a warm clean finish and a slight and pleasant coco and bitter aftertaste.

D: This beer finally revealed to me the promise of a finely crafted stout. I have the same joy drinking this brew that I have drinking a chocolate latte on a hot afternoon or a rich dark roasted espresso on a cold winter morning. It would be hard to drink more than two in a setting but I would dearly love to try...again and again.

dnichols, Jan 22, 2008
Photo of GreenWBush
4.88/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Haven't posted a beer review since i've been in Oregon. I suppose this is a good first one. I've been waiting for awhile.

This pours out inky, black as night. Slow gurgles of carbonation. A poolish consistency to the bubbles, zebra stripes of lace on the glass.

Nose is molten milk chocolate, blackstrap molasses, vanilla. Undertones of caramel, maple syrup, heavy cream. Imposing.

Taste is ridiculously smooth and harmonized for such an imposing beer. A sweet, thick, under attenuated fudge bomb blobs up your gullet with all aforementioned aromas caressing your tongue simulataneously. Other than a few booze vapors on the nostrils, this is unbelievably free of alcoholic heat.

Seems nearly formless because of the beautiful craftsmanship. Powerful, amazing. Even at fridge temperature this thing seems warm and uber viscous.

I had planned on grabbing a few bottles of this to age for a long while, but why? This seems nearly perfect the way it is. Enjoy now until 2010.*

*Please disregard the Wine Spectator doucheyness

GreenWBush, Jan 20, 2008
Photo of younger35
4.83/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up a case of this delicious nectar yesterday at the Coop for a bargain $8.49 a bottle. This brew is one of my favorites and I’m lucky to have access to it. Drank from my Black Butte Porter pint glass. 2007 Reserve.

Appearance- Pours a super dark murky brown that leaves a fantastic one finger dark tan head. Head slowly recedes to leave a nice cap and collar but not a whole lot of lacing.
Smell- Big and roasted with loads of bittersweet chocolate and hints of vanilla bean. Coffee and bourbon mix to produce a wonderful scent of extra strength Bailey’s Irish Cream. Cherry, licorice and a tiny bit of sweet molasses finish off the nose.
Taste- Deep roasted malts start like the nose with loads of bittersweet baker’s chocolate with a soft vanilla contradiction. The licorice is plenty noticeable but I don’t get much molasses, maybe a little in the sweetness of the aftertaste. A double shot of espresso shows in the middle along with a nice kick of cherry. Finishes with the lingering flavor of bourbon soaked wood and vanilla.
Mouthfeel- Thick and rich with a smooth cashmere feel and light carbonation. A bit of warming is present as well from the alcohol.
Drinkability- This is a big beer (11% ABV) but it drinks a bit smaller. The alcohol is well covered and this thing is loaded with flavor. The vanilla and oak in it are some of my favorite flavor characteristics that beers can have and none are better at it than The ABYSS. Highly recommended!

younger35, Jan 19, 2008
Photo of jakon
5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 Reserve

The first thing I do when I pop the cap is put my nose down there and give it a deep whiff. Wow. Smells like chocolate cake infused with coffee and bourbon.

As I pour, I notice that the head gathers steam very quickly, and is easily the darkest shade of brown that I've ever seen sit atop a beer. Its viscosity is evident as you watch the bubbles form and settle. This beer is beautiful. All Imperial stouts are black, but this one just has that little extra something to it.

The aroma is remarkably similar to the Obsidian Stout. If I had to give somebody a quick, generalized description of the overall aroma, I'd say that it's a cross between Oak Aged Yeti and Obsidian Stout. There's just so much going on here. It's got the coffee presence of the best coffee stouts, tons of bakers chocolate, oak, bourbon, and that's all I'm able to identify at first.

The taste is just plain decadent. Pleasingly bitter, a touch of sweetness, and that oak/bourbon presence to make you really feel as though it's a special occasion. The alcohol itself is nearly imperceptible behind this abundance of competing flavors. As it warms, the coffee and chocolate take about a half step back and allow the oak and bourbon to really shine. With that, a hint of vanilla exposes itself in the aroma and then in the taste. The molasses really comes through in the lingering aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is milky. Not a lot of carbonation. This is a dessert beer for special occasions. Truly decadent and complex. I'm not sure I've ever come across a beer that held a more fitting moniker than The Abyss. The only thing I can imagine improving this beer is age. As a youngster, I really think it's perfect. My favorite Imperial stout to date.

jakon, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of SargeC
4.88/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2007

Appearance: Midnight black with a dense, brown head. The head lingers for a long time and the liquid coats the glass well.

Smell: Complex, roast malt aroma with hints of molasses, hops, toffee, caramel and vanilla. Slight alcohol undertone.

Taste: Subdued sweetness with a touch of bitterness to provide balance. I can taste a slight bourbon presence and limited oak character, but neither overpowers the brew. The finishing alcohol flavor provides a nice bite and warmth.

Mouthfeel: Full body. Velvety smooth with a slightly oily quality. The flavor truly lingers.

Drinkablity: Very powerful brew. Well crafted and worthy of the respect it gets.

SargeC, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of klewis
4.08/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Crosling for this 2006 bottle.

A: Pours a thick pitch black with a moderate tan head that settles to a halo of large bubbles.

S: Mocha coffee, chocolate, and hazelnut aromas. Very nice smelling, but the nose isn't quite as big or complex as some RIS's.

T: A big and complex flavor with coffee, chocolate, anise, and a bit of alcohol. The earthy flavor from the oak lends a slightly astringent taste to the beer.

M: Thick and full-bodied with light carbonation. Creamy and smooth with a subtle warming effect.

D: A very nice beer, but it falls short of the hype for me. I'd get more if I saw it on the shelf, but I won't go out of my way to trade for it again.

klewis, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of ccrida
3.9/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 vintage bomber poured into an imperial pint, The Abyss is pitch black and viscous, with a large, dark tan head, tight and creamy, it leaves thick foamy lace.

Smell has notes of bakers chocolate, coffee grounds, caramel, hay and a little must, with a hint of day old dirty socks as it warms, which I obviously don't care for! Actually, I assume that's the oak, in spite of how it comes across to me.

Taste is strong, rich and super complex. Lots of roast, coffee grounds, only a slight touch of caramel sweetness and grassy hops, and alcohol on the bitter, dry finish. The label states it's brewed with licorice and molasses, but I can't say I particularly notice any of those flavors, a testament to how complex this is. It also states it's 33% aged in oak and oak bourbon barrels, and while I don't get any of the bourbon barrel flavors such as vanilla, there's plenty of oak, more so as it warms, even though I served this at cellar temp.

Mouthfeel is very thick and creamy, very nice.

Drinkability is pretty good, in that there is endless depth to this sucker, revealing a little more with each sip. On the other hand, it's so thick and rich, I'm sure most non-beer geeks would take one sip say whoa, to acrid, no thanks! I'll certainly have more of these, particularly once they age, but I'm not in a hurry to have another one tonight, or any beer for that matter.
I bought 1 bottle of last years on my first weekend in town, before I heard the hype, by which time it was long gone. I still haven't touched that bottle and have been eagerly anticipating this year's release. Worth the wait, but I'm in store for quite a bit more waiting for the rest of this years stash, which needs more time to round out and soften. Although I wouldn't want it to get any oakier, which is clearly a risk.

ccrida, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of RedDiamond
4.78/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deschutes is a relative latecomer to exotica and extremes. While the other guys were adding boatloads of spice island voodoo, barrel aging in tropical hardwoods, and recreating recipes first recorded in hieroglyphics, Deschutes was just brewing beer. Their craft is largely dignified (Bond Street service notwithstanding) but still finds its place on Main Street, Cascadia, not Brussels-on-the-Nile. The Abyss was their first beer of its kind brewed with spices and aged in wood. And the alchemy worked. The Abyss is a sublime drinking experience, a noble beer. Yes, it's big. But this isn't just a bad boy beer. It's a bad boy beer that can beat the crap out of your bad boy beer.

Its dominant expression is one of coffee. There's actually more coffee here than most espresso stouts, especially in the aroma. The head is also unusually dark, like bread crust on a loaf of dark rye. The molasses and licorice never step far enough forward to define themselves, preferring instead to mingle in the background. Likewise, the presence of alcohol is remarkably concealed.

The body is as black as a beer gets - like a black hole in a glass. The mouthfeel is oily and plump. The finish and aftertaste are extended with a long dry wash of roast coffee bean. The finish shows great polish and is almost as good as the main taste profile preceding it.

After enjoying a pint on draught and being utterly entranced by its considerable charms, I returned the next night to try it again - just to be sure. Perhaps not surprisingly, the keg was tapped out. So I bought a bottle ($10.50 at the bar) and took it home. The bottled version was not as transcendent as the draught though still exquisite. The finish was less regal and more brief, and the flavor a bit more charred. I noted very little yeast at bottle's bottom.

But in both instances The Abyss proved itself as among the best beers anywhere. It is a champion. A Gretzky, a Man 'o War. The stuff beer dreams are made of. Can't wait for next year.

RedDiamond, Jan 16, 2008
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.6/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 vintage.

Pours jet impenetrable black with good tan head with incredible lace. The nose is a great mix of coffee, molasses, cream and dark malts. First taste brings coffee to the front, creamy bitter chocolate through the middle with more coffee. The finish has a great subtle hop bitterness. Roasted malt feel to the finish. Mouthfeel is sublime, not too thin, but if anything I would like it to be slightly thicker. Drinkability is remarkably high for an impy stout. The 11% is nowhere to be found. Awesome brew, and I am excited to do a vertical of the two vintages one of these years.

AKBelgianBeast, Jan 16, 2008
Photo of BeerTruth
4.75/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been on a RIS kick lately. I was lucky enough to get Dark Lord and Kate the Great in trades and this is just another big one to add to the list.

2006 vintage thanks to lou91 courtesy of the "Roll Out the Barrel BIF".

22 oz. bottle poured into a nonic.

Pours the darkest of dark with a big two finger fluffy mocha colored head. Loads of stickiness left on the sides of the glass after this one slowly descends. A thick and creamy head remains atop the Abyss throughout. This is how a beer should look. The smell on this one is damn powerful. Big chocolate and coffee up front with a sweet cherry, vanilla, and fig aroma as well. Lots of molasses and brown sugar with an unfortunate booze like smell that appears. The bourbon and oak are definitely there, but that's expected. Enough already, time to put this one down. Wow, first word that comes to mind after first sip is "complex" for sure. Wood smoked dark chocolate with a big french roast burst up front. The barrel aging of this beer truly shines. An almost Amaretto sweetness finds it's way out from underneath the big smokey flavor. Big oaky dry aftertaste with lingering dark fruites on the tongue. I really want this beer to be heavier, but it's still damn thick. Mild carbonation fits the style just right. I'll choose this over Dark Lord for sure, but it really is a toss up between The Abyss and Kate. Big thanks again goes out to lou91, unexpected treat for sure. I look forward to how a fresh "2007" version compares.

BeerTruth, Jan 15, 2008
Photo of nbree00
4.8/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

All must bow before the impenetrable darkness that is "The Abyss". This beer has had a great deal of hype in my circle, and yet some how managed to exceed all my expectations. I had a friend say that it was the best stout ever brewed and after trying it I can honestly say he's not far off.

This beer pours like crude motor oil, about as dark and thick as it gets. I was surprised by the brownish head that reached higher in height then the beer in the glass, amazing, as some stouts seem to be low in carbonation not this one! Maybe the wax has a role in not letting any air escape although its a bitch to cut off.

The taste is simply divine, dark espresso and bitter chocolate flavors mix with a hint of the oak barrels. This being an imperial stout and having such a high ABV, I was surprised that I really didn't taste any sweetness and hardly noticed that I was quited sauced after just one glass. This beer is really a symphony of its complexities, and I myself will from this day forward refer to it as the best stout ever brewed and you should to!

nbree00, Jan 13, 2008
Photo of Murchmac
4.35/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a piece of work.

The bottle has this andy goldworthy de young museum thing going. The wax is annoying but worth the effort.

Pours an opaque dark coffee black, a nice looking head on it that falls into tan lacing around the glass. I put a mag light up to it and it didnt shine through. If you stare into the Abyss long enough the Abyss stares back at you. (cliche?)

I must suck, I usually can smell things, I couldnt smell anything in this besides the oak, coffee, chocolate, molasses, and a little vanilla.

Tastes immediately of cocoa, vanilla, then warms up to coffee, chocolate, roasted malts. You can taste the oak coming through.

Great lingering aftertastes of coffee/expresso, not much carbonation. Just a well rounded beautiful beer that leaves you with an amazing lip smacking aftertaste. The alcohol and bourbon taste comes through in the end, but very sweet. The abyss will bite you like mike tyson and your ear.

Great mouthfeel. Great Beer. Good times.

Murchmac, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of GimmeAles
4.75/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

9 month-old bottle. Pours pitch black into the Double Bastard glass capped by a tight, mocha-colored 1.5 fingers of foam. Head dissipates to lonely wisps on an inky black sea.
Aroma is heavenly: molasses, brown sugar, and caramel with dark-roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate present. Green, herbal hops are still evident revealing how massive this beer is in every direction.

Whoa baby, this is rich! Like Italian-roast coffee beans dipped in molasses then rolled in cocoa powder. Hints of wood, vanilla, and bourbon are faint but present and become more forward as it reaches room temperature. A burnt grainy edge and and herbal hop bitterness (maybe some of the licorice talking?) balance out the massive sweetness.

Huge, slick mouthfeel is so luxurious that while not ‘drinkable’ in the traditional sense, it wouldn’t have stopped me from opening another bomber if I’d had one. Enough alcohol warmth to noticeably dry out the chewiness. Watching the snow fall outside my window on Christmas Day while enjoying this creation is a rich experience indeed.

A king among beers. Huge and brutish, yet with a refined, style. So incredibly happy this is coming back in a few days, several more bottles will soon join m cellar.

GimmeAles, Jan 10, 2008
Photo of brewcrew76
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to JoshD for this one.

A - Pitch black with about 2 fingers of bubbly dark brown head.

S - Chocolate, roasted malt, a touch of molasses, some oaky tannins and vanilla. Licorice and more molasses become more noticeable as it warms.

T - Chocolate and roasted grains with molasses and licorice. Some oaky tannins along with vanilla but not much bourbon presence. The molasses and licorice are subtle and add a nice dimension.

M - Thick and chewy without being syrupy.

D - The 11% ABV is not very noticeable but very warming. Slightly different than most RIS's which makes it interesting.

brewcrew76, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of blackie
4.83/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

finally convinced myself to crack this one open after a close Wolfpack win over Davidson

2006 Reserve

a: The pour into a small snifter produces a gorgeous one finger dark mocha head. A slow recession leaves a nice layer and ring around the glass. A quick swirl of the glass easily revives the head. The beer is essentially black in color.

s: Upfront is a range of roasted espresso and bittersweet chocolate malts complimented by a smooth vanilla oak presence...very creamy and very well rounded. Gentle licorice and candied booze notes in the background. Strong note of cherries soaked in brandy, coated in very dark chocolate. In regards to the effects of the barrel aging, the oak takes center stage while the bourbon lurks in the back. Reserved complexity is key here.

m: Excellent mouthfeel, with a lusciously full body carried by a perfect, gentle level of carbonation. Love that it's full and smooth without being overdone.

t: Where to start...every component of the beer seems to be nearly flawlessly stitched together. Rich, earthy bittersweet chocolates melt into flavors of oaked vanilla and smooth roasted barley. Perfect level of sweetness. Great earthy hop presence supports the malt while allowing all the complexity to come through, adding a gentle to moderate bitterness in the looong roasty espresso finish. Creamy, complex, excellent.

d: Even when warm, the ABV is never more than a compliment. An excellent beer for a cold winter night.

from zrrbrrt in either BA Anny or No BS Beta, in the cellar fridge since

blackie, Dec 22, 2007
Photo of Overlord
4.22/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

THIS REVIEW IS ONLY FOR THE 2006 AND 2007 YEARS. THIS BEER IS GOING DOWNHILL AND THE 2009 VERSION OF NOT GOOD. I GAVE THOSE TWO EDITIONS A 4.75

Been opening up a few treasures over the last few days.

Beautiful, beautiful pour. Black with cascading leathery foam and a perfect amount of bubbles capping off an inch or two dark tan head. Just gorgeous.

Smell, and taste, is more complex than one expects. The two beers this most reminds me of are the Stone RIS (but with hops), and the Storm King (with more coffee, and a much more complex flavor).

Bitter coffee, espresso-like, and some roasted chocolate ... but not as much as you would think. Heavy pine/grapefruit hop content, roasted fruit, and some wood-sy flavors such as oak. The basic stout/caramel/toffee/roasted-ness is very understated and balances superbly. The bottle says molasses, but it tastes more like aged, semi-sweet rum. Yummy. Mouthfeel is appropriately thick and chewy.

One of my new favorite beers.

I'D GIVE THE 2008, AND PARTICULARLY THE 2009, EDITIONS MUCH LOWER SCORES. IT JUST ISN'T THE SAME BEER ANYMORE. I'D GIVE THOSE VERSIONS AROUND A 3.75-4.0 I'LL AVERAGE AND GIVE IT A 4.25.

Overlord, Dec 18, 2007
Photo of BigJTrucker
4.68/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally gave in and opened my bottle of 2006 Abyss. I was hoping to wait until the 07 was released and do a vertical tasting, but.. oh well, here goes...

Poured into a snifter, pitch black with a very dark brown head that settles very quickly. Smell is mainly brown sugary sweet, along with oak, and licorice notes. As it warms i notice increasing amounts of cocoa. Taste? WOW! Taste is surprisingly more chocolate/cocoa than i expected, along with toasted malt, and faint licorice flavors. I'm glad the licorice is as faint as it is because i generally dislike licorice flavors in my beer. Mouthfeel is very thick, almost syrupy. Smooth with a capitol "ooth". A truly memorable beer, though I couldn't see drinking more than a bomber in this sitting. It's so flavorful, and at 11% abv, it would probably sneak up on me rather quickly. This is a beer to be sipped and savored.

BigJTrucker, Dec 16, 2007
Photo of brewandbbq
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006

Pours opaque black, with a brown, rocky head that reluctantly swells up to the surface. A good inch-plus of dense foam at the peak before decention. Thick webbing of lacework clings to the glass like brown cobwebs.
Aromatics are loaded with rich chocolate, kona roast, and brownie batter. Slightly warming in the nose with a faint oaky dryness.
The mouthfeel is thick and chewy, but not overly so. Incredibly smooth and silky.
Intense chocolate and espresso on the pallet. Probably the most chocolate I've ever tasted in an RIS. Fudgy and decadent.
Hopping is subdued and there's no bitterness to speak of or citrusy resins.
What follows through on each sip though, is such a well integrated beer. Everything seems so balanced for having such large flavor components. Melded.
A faint bourbon note as well as some slight oak come through on the exhale.
Finishes warming, chocolaty, and with a hint of viniosity.
A terrific beer, but it could use some heavier blending with more of the barrels. A bit subdued in that aspect.

brewandbbq, Nov 19, 2007
Photo of tpd975
4.83/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

!2006 Version can't wait for the 07 release!

This one came as an EXTRA in a trade with younger35, now you know why I love the guy. He's a great trader who deals in nothing but good brews! I have held it back a few months to save it for review number 200. Well today is the day so I will bring you...Review 200!

A: Peel back the wax and pop the cap. It pours deep dark and thick. This one is darker than the richest cup of espresso. A thunderous milky cocoa head bolts from the bottle and dies down to a nice thin layer across the top. Lacing, yeah there's lacing. This beer begs to be drunk.

S: So nice and complex. Big bold chocolate comes right at you as soon as you crack the bottle. Once poured into the glass other aromas really come bounding forward. Fresh roasted dark coffee and licorice come out as well. Hints of vanilla and hazelnuts hide beneath a dash of brown sugar. Man I have never smelled brownie batter so nice.

T: I love a good RIS and this one is at least two levels above good. I was hooked by the aromas, but the taste really hammers in what a quality brew this is. When I tell you to expect chocolate, I mean to expect chocolate. I have never tasted something so fondue like. I could dip strawberries in this beer and eat them all night long. The bitter espresso hides beneath with tones of French Vanilla. Hazelnuts and brown sugar also make their appearance known as does a dash of charcoal.

M: Nice and thick. This one coats your mouth, throat, and stomach better than Pepto Bismol.

D: Uber, If I could buy this one by the case I would drink it bomber after bomber all winter long.

Overall: Daniel I am indebted to you for this one. It's not the best RIS in the world (though it doesn’t fall short by much) but it is the most drinkable. The wonderful flavors meld together so perfectly that I just kept knocking it down in huge gulps. I actually had to tell my self to slow down and enjoy. Deschutes makes great beer, and this one is touted as their best. Well let me say I have to agree. If they never make another beer, they will be able to making a living on this beer alone. Magnificent

tpd975, Nov 18, 2007
Photo of francisweizen
2.9/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I revisted this one last night from the bottle, and wow what a dissapointment. I must have been high as a kite when I wrote my first review, as this stuff is just not good. On the pour this beer looks great. Dark black/cola brown with a coffee whip espresso head of foam. Aromas are good too, slight chocolate, coffee, roasetd malts. Nice. However the taste is fine up front, but this is too sweet in the middle and the chocolate/coffee/roast flavors just turn to acrid bitter cold brewed coffee in the sour finish. Also, the mouthfeel is thin for an imperial stout. The thin mouthfeel and bad sour coffee aftertaste of overburnt espresso beans really kills the drinkability for this one. Maybe a bad bottle? Maybe, but it was fresh from the most recent release in a wax dipped 22oz bomber, so it seems unlikely. Not good.

francisweizen, Nov 15, 2007
Photo of ArrogantB
4.83/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

-2006 bottle 11/12/2007

This was a 2006 bottle I have been sitting on for almost a year and I figured it was time to drink up and give it a half-assed review. This was the second time I had this beer and all I remember from the first ingestion was that it was good. This too was pretty damned good. Black color, small tan head, and smells like licorice and chocolate. The taste is more licorice, chocolate, excellent. The alcohol is non-existent until the beer is gone and then it sneaks up, good thing I didn't drink the whole bottle. The mouthfeel is sticky and slightly thick but not quite as thick as Dark Lord. Good job Deschutes.

-2007 bottle-02/23/2008

green, meaning green apples (acetylaldehyde?) and odd, licorice taste and as it warmed a nice choco-ashen flavor, syrupy, too expensive. I preferred the 2006 to this so I will let my remaining bottles cellar...

-2007 vintage 11/03/08

Smells like a nice hefty, roasty RIS with a good dose of alcohol and a touch of malted milk balls. The taste is bitter, like old and cold coffee, gritty and grainy. As it warms up it gets better but seems to have a tough edge to it.

-2006 vintage 12/14/08

Excellent, malted milk balls and milkshakes, tastes like bitter coffee, no alcohol, no bourbon but wow!

ArrogantB, Nov 12, 2007
Photo of
4.65/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle

Poured an opaque, black/brown color. Some mahogany/ruby tones at the edge when held up to light. It was capped by a small, creamy brown head which dissipated quickly. Very nice legs, not much in the lacing department.

Lots going on in the aroma department. Chocolate. A sweet/nutty smell - molasses/peanut brittle. The obligatory coffee/roast notes, faint at first, but increasing as temperature rises. Then the interesting stuff starts to kick in -- vanilla/oak, bourbon, licorice. Finally, some cinnamon.

Taste reminded me a bit of GI Bourbon County Stout, just not as sweet initially and a whole lot more hops in the finish than I recalled. Starts off with a lot of molasses/caramel flavor. Chocolate comes through. As you finish, bourbon and pine hops show up, coupled with more of the roast notes. All of it combines for a nice, lingering, bitter finish.

This was a heavy, viscous, coating kind of body. It had very low carbonation which yielded a very smooth drink. Quite dry, almost astringent finish initially. This improved vastly as it warmed up. Very important to give this one some counter time prior to drinking if you had it in the fridge.

Overall, very comlex and completely enjoyable. Met my expectations then blew right by them.

, Nov 06, 2007
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.33/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on the warm side of cool. The beer pours with a frothy, easily three-finger thick, creamed, chocolate brown colored head that sits atop an opaque, pitch black colored brew. Aromas of oak and concentrated, burnt malt waft to my nose as I pour this brew. The first draught of the aroma yield ample roast malt character that makes me think of dark-roasted espresso beans, chocolate malt ball candies, burnt caramel and a huge, toasted malt character that is coupled with an über-nutty aromatic note. The aroma is quite rich and expressive, the roast malt character clearly dominates. It is interesting that I was able to smell the oak as I was pouring, but it gets mostly buried under all of the dark malt aromatics when going in for a more dedicated smelling of the aroma. Having said that the aroma does yield some subtle oak aromatics, including a touch of spicy wood, some soft butterscotch and a hint of a woody backdrop.

Creamy feeling up front, yet somehow still fairly drinkable & light. After the first sip has left my mouth, the finish at first is roast malt dominated then moves to a spicy oak character, but then a sweet, burnt fruit character becomes noticeable and then it seems to start over again. This has a very long finish and it seems to move between roast grain notes, light oak character and a rich, concentrated fruitiness. Quite interesting, and I haven't even taken a second sip yet. Sweet tasting up front, obviously contributed by an ample malt character (burnt caramel notes); the sweetness accentuates a bright (though clearly roasted), concentrated, fruit character that runs throughout this beer. It also accentuates a deep, dark chocolate character that melds quite well with the silky texture. The burnt fruit notes remind me of raisins, prunes and, especially towards the finish, of cherries. The oak is really not noticeable until just before the finish where it shows up as a spicy oak character. It might contribute some soft vanilla notes & perhaps a touch of butterscotch, but these notes really serve to accentuated the malt character rather than really jump out on their own.

Serving this beer so warm (about 65°F / 18°C) has really muted the oak contribution, as the last time I had this it was much more noticeable. Even when cooler it is still on the subtle side though, which is really what I want in a beer made with oak; add a bit more to the complexity without over doing it is the only way to go. The proof that this is a very well made stout is that despite the over the top roast character, there is very little harsh acidity contributed by all of the roasted grains. Definitely not the thickest and richest Imperial Stout out there, but still this is quite satiating and I really like how the various flavor components of this brew balance each other out. This is simply quite delicious; lots of sweet malt & fruit notes to stand up to the over the top roast character, plus a subtle backdrop of oak to kick the complexity up another notch.

Gueuzedude, Oct 24, 2007
Photo of OStrungT
4.9/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a jet black color, with a dark brown head. The head fades slowly, leaving a massive lacing. No light shines through when thie beer is held up to the light.

The aroma of this beer is very complex. I smell bourbon first. Then I pick up coffee, and chocolate. Some dark fruit aromas are also present. Raisins, plumbs, and figs. This beer has a sweet caramel malty aroma as well. It has a slight alcohol aroma. All the aromas I associate with Russian Imperial Stouts are present in this one.

This beer tastes exactly like it smells. some bourbon, coffee, chocolate, dark fruit, and alcohol. This beer is quite complex.

This beer is very full bodied. It leaves a bourbon like and coffee like aftertaste. The carbonation is low, fitting the style to perfection. The alcohol content warms my throat slightly as it goes down.

I doubt this beer would make a great session beer. It is high in alcohol, and the flavor is a bit aggressive.

Overall: Wow, this beer is everything I expected and more. If I see it around, I will buy it up. Thank you HimerMan for this gem.

OStrungT, Oct 21, 2007
The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 4,873 ratings.