The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

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The AbyssThe Abyss

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1,751 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,751
Hads: 5,987
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 4.44%
Wants: 2,727
Gots: 3,148 | FT: 275
Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery visit their website
Oregon, United States

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

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-24-2006

Aged in bourbon, Oregon oak, and Pinot Noir barrels.

65 IBU

Vintages (production numbers from Deschutes):
2006 - Released December 2006 (approx 90 BBL)
2007 - Released January 2008 (approx 350 BBL)
2008 - Released November 2008 (approx 350 BBL)
2009 - Released November 2009 (approx 600 BBL)
2010 - Released December 2010 (approx 600 BBL)
2011 - Released November 2011 (approx 600 BBL)
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,751 | Hads: 5,987
Photo of DectipiNick9564
4.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Black as Midnight, Black as pitch, Blacker than the foulest witch

S: Unbelievably complex,Strong coffee and bourbon, with undertones of chooclate and molasses. A real winner in the nose

T: WOW!!!!! Dark fruit, dark fuit everywhere. Plum cherries, chocolate. this is serious beer

F: Smooth and creamy, not overly carbonated, just as a stout should be

O: If you are a stout fan, or just a beer fan, you need to try this, it is not as boozy tasting as the 11% ABV would suggest, and it is like unbelievable! (517 characters)

Photo of Ranz
4.26/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 varietal

A: A rich, foamy, truffle brown finger of head; dark as night with thick, even lacing as the foam subsides.

S: Dark chocolate, caramelized sugar, roasted coffee, and sharp, medicinal licorice.

T: Roasted malt, cocoa, licorice, and hints of oak. This is not cloying: simple, straightforward, and effective. Some vanilla hints from the bourbon barrels come through, too.

M: Thick yet strangely smooth, this might have some of the best feel of any Imperial BBA stout I've had. Slight carbonation rounds out the dark esters.

O: While not bombastic, I don't believe that is what Deschutes attempted: instead, this extremely quaffable beer has no pretensions and is a simply elegant example of the style. This would win over someone who doesn't prefer Imperials. (779 characters)

Photo of jhartley
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage courtesy of jzeilinger.
Poured a deep dark ebony body with a thin beige head.
Molasses, licorice, and a lot of oak and a trace of bourbon on the nose.
Smooth taste with that licorice and molasses following through with the oak you pick up on the aroma. Didn't really pick up on a lot of the bourbon.
Definitely a sipper. It coats the tongue with that molasses-licorice flavor.
Big beer! Perfect closer or just a great choice for a cold day sipper. (463 characters)

Photo of TheCondor
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is my 300th beer review on Beer Advocate. I figure each one of my reviews takes about ten minutes, give or take. That's 3000 minutes reviewing beers on this website. That's 50 hours, a decent workweek for most people. I'd probably add in another 50 hours posting, looking at posts, etc., plus countless more spent drinking beer and reading my print subscription of BeerAdvocate. Needless to say, I have spent a lot of time and effort on all this.

Side poured from the pint bottle, 2014 edition, into a pint glass with standard vigor.

Appearance - As black as the Marianas Trench, just like I expected it to be. Nice two finger mocha head that dissolves rapidly but leaves intensive lacing on the glass. Big dominating presence. Love the packaging, simple but gets the point across.

Smell - The smells mentioned on the side of the bottle can all be detected: bourbon, oak, dark fruits, booze, and a huge dose of chocolate. There is also intermixed some vanilla and molasses.

Taste - Even better than the nose. Massively complex. All of the scents of the nose are present on the palate. The dark fruits, vanilla, chocolate, and spices all make their appearances. Amazing!

Mouthfeel - Finishes smooth, big, rich, and with a touch of booze warmth. Goes down real easy, much better than an 11% ABV would suggest. Low carbonation, big body.

Overall - This is an excellent beer, fully deserving of the 4.5 rAvg and the 100 rating from the BA community. I don't have to explain a lot. Just go get the beer and drink it. (1,524 characters)

Photo of bman13
4.77/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Very nicely done, Deschutes. Now, I am drinking a 2014 made last November, so I can't fully assess what this beer is supposed to taste like in a year and so on. But it is still extremely good and more than pleasant to drink. I'm not getting much smell on the nose yet, but the taste is phenomenal, after just 3 short months. Tastes as it should as described on the label (molasses, chocolate,bit of licorice, some vanilla) and it's awesome. An unbelievable clean finish, with literally no aftertaste but a kiss of Bittersweet chocolate cookies. I just can't wait for how this one tastes in another year or more (610 characters)

Photo of Phocion
4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2010 bottle, reviewed January 22, 2015. Bomber pours into a tulip a dark almost jet black with just the slightest mahogony highlights when held to the light. A small but resilient finger of creamy khaki head that finally settles into a thin crown but leaves thick streaks of lacing throughout the glass.

Massively complex nose. Thick roasted malts of dark chocolate along with a bit of molasses. Dark fruit and anise. Raisins and wood flavors; bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Age has been kind to this beer and the flavors blend extremely well.

Flavor follows the nose. Chocolate turns more to a sweet cocoa than the bitter dark chocolate flavor in the aroma. A bit of molasses and toasted sugar. Slightly bitter roasted coffee. Raisin, anise, and slight booziness from the bourbon. The virgin barrels aren't overpowering but definitely noticeable. Lightly tart anise flavor. Raisins and just a tiny hint of cinnamon spice and vanilla sweetness.

Heavy body and moderately carbonated. Thick but soft, creamy, and velvety mouthfeel. No astringency and moderate alcohol warmth.

This is one of my favorite beers, and 2010 was one of my favorite years. This was the last release that wasn't aged in wine barrels and as of now (just a hair over four years on) it is drinking amazingly well. (1,285 characters)

Photo of BradenMK
4.98/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I had it fresh. It blew my mind. If it had a thicker, more milkshake-y mouthfeel, it would be the greatest beer I've ever had. It was in no way lacking in heft. It was superbly smooth and quite thick and complex on many levels. The barrel-aging was so perfectly done, I can't even imagine this improving in 10 months. I was hesitant to try this for all of the negative reviews, especially the negatives regarding freshness. Don't wait. Drink up, me hearties, this beer is astonishingly good.

To get more in depth - there is a ton of ashy malt flavor in there, but the various barrels, even the 6% bourbon barrels, play their own parts in influencing the overall flavor. The cherry and the red wine are the stars here, putting their own spin on the semi-sweet chocolate notes of the exceptionally dark malt backbone, but the bourbon is still detectable, and for someone who has grown a bit weary of bourbon barrel beers, not only is the bourbon character perfect, but it is still there while being, wonderfully, a background nuance to the other amazing qualities in this beer. I actually can't perceive any flavor additions from the licorice or molasses or vanilla, but honestly that's fine with me. Vanilla can get a little played out in stouts, and licorice is not really my thing. Molasses can have the tendency to dry out a brew more than flavor it, and maybe it's simply cutting into the sweetness overall, which is fine. Having some subtle cherry and wine notes in a super-rich, dark-chocolate, ashy malt menagerie is plenty complex for my palate, and holy crap was this a treat. As close to a perfect beer as I've ever experienced. Just off-the-charts wonderful. The only beer I've had that could hold a candle to this is Founders Imperial Stout, and soon we'll see which I actually prefer. (1,797 characters)

Photo of warrendietrich2001
4.84/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a growler that I purchased an hour before drinking.
Aggressive pour into a glass made for imperial stouts.
About 3 inches of a mocha head that left a nice trail of lacing.
Color was very dark like a black coffee, head was a mocha color.
Looked delicious
Smell. Wow when I opened the growler was overwhelmed with the smell leaving bottle.
As I poured seemed to be overwhelming booze scent. Was afraid would not like.
As it warmed up really smelled cherries and chocolate, and I swear every once awhile I got a vanilla scent.
Taste. Thought I would just drink a glass ended up drinking 3 its that good. Did not notice any alcohol at all. A nice coffee taste with lots of cherry. First sip warmed my gut (I was drinking outside next to a fire and was cold). Could not help but think this is a great night cap beer or if I was camping the first beer of the morning.
This was a great beer and I am so happy to have drank it.
I normally don't drink a lot of Imperial Stouts but will be back tomorrow to refill the growler.
If anyone on BA can recommend a beer in this style that they like more than this please let me know as I would love to try it. (1,166 characters)

Photo of neurobot01
3.7/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2013 bottle into a snifter at cellar temp. I've had this before and remember not loving it; my memory was confirmed here. You can save yourself some time and have a better experience by pouring a shot of bourbon and a splash of ouzo into a bottle of Dr. Pepper. If you want the authentic experience, stir in a spoonful of ash. That's probably harsh, but I found this brutally burnt/bitter tasting, messy, and thin. (414 characters)

Photo of Redneckwine
4.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Fresh 22oz bomber into tulip

Appearance - This beer lives up to its name in the appearance department: black as the infinite void. A .5" dark tan head forms, then recedes slowly into a wispy, thick cap that leaves dark, sticky lacing.

Smell - Chocolate covered cherries come to mind immediately. Earthy, woodsy barrel notes creep in with estery, fruity spiciness.

Taste - Like the nose, semi-sweet chocolate cherry is front and center, then begins to bow out to earthy, woodsy, spicy, fruity, boozy barrel notes. Extremely complex. Roasted coffee and spice-bread-like malts come into play with suggestions of burnt-sugar and a musty yeast ghost note. Big alcohol is ridiculously well hidden; this beer isn't hot at all. A light touch of earthy/grassy hops becomes apparent, and the finish dries out very fast with charred barrel, fruity roasted malts, and light drying bitterness coating the mouth.

Feel - Carbonation is so light and gentle, but pervasive enough to carry this monster beer around the mouth beautifully. Full bodied and thick, but the carbonation makes this one extremely smooth, creamy, and absolutely sublime.

Overall - This beer is an absolute masterpiece; tastes like a barrel-aged chocolate covered cherry followed by about 20 other complex flavor notes, but dries out perfectly for a near-crisp finish. Obviously a lot of work, planning, and master-craftsmanship went into producing this beer - you can taste it in every sip. (1,452 characters)

Photo of Jimmeekrek
3.53/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Easily one of the bigger disappointments in my beer history. Maybe I drank it too fresh, but just kind of a mess. Not my thing, I guess. I love BA Stouts, this one is not going to make any best of lists, personally. (215 characters)

Photo of mactrail
3.1/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pouring this you get a surprise-- it's so black, oily, viscous, and nearly foamless it made my wife laugh. She poured a dose to taste-- and given the choice finished off the Modern Times Monsters' Park IS instead.

Tarry, charred taste is endless. Mouthfeel is like a serious liqueur. Plenty sweet, but after a few hesitant sips, the bitterness is more dominant. Roasted malt and burnt sugar no doubt, but it's mostly charcoal. Sourish barrel tang with a brief malty sweetness, then-- oh, I get it-- the Abyss.

I don't get the attraction with something so nearly undrinkable, even though the flavors are quite intriguing until the bitter medicinal quality catches up. From the 22 oz bottle (2014 vintage) purchased at Liticker's Liquor in San Diego. The price was eye-watering but I felt obliged to try it, but once will be enough. (832 characters)

Photo of mdwhitney
4.71/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A Dark and deep Stout. with a lot of complexity. I have on in the cellar, can't wait till it has some age. I loved the one I enjoyed with the licorice being a little strong, I am sure it will mellow out nicely. (210 characters)

Photo of BenHesk12
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage on tap in winter 2014. The deepest blackest looking beer I've ever seen with a dark brown frothy head. Thick mouth feel and offers a very complex flavor profile. (176 characters)

Photo of FFreak
4.77/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage shared with me by my friends on my daughter's birthday. Poured into Fiddlehead teku glasses. Pours a typical stout-black with less than a finger of cappuccino-brown head that persists and leaves some tracing. The smell is totally unique, combining licorice and black cherry with dark roasted malt and red wine. The taste is similar to the aroma, but with additional layers of complexity - dark roasty malt, black cherry, big-chewy red wine, licorice, molasses - an incredible array of complimentary flavors. The mouth feel is just about perfect - thick and oily, but not as thick and sweet as some of the big stouts out there, adequate carbonation - definitely a sipper, but not cloying. Overall, this is a wonderfully complex stout, almost on par with a fine wine. (785 characters)

Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a tall snifter style glass.
Pours jet black with a finger of thick caramel head.
Smells incredibly roasty with vanilla and bourbon notes preset as well.
Tastes so complex. Not totally barrell aged, not a straight imperial stout either, an entirely new creation with wine, oak, sweetness from cherry bark. Incredible bitterness in the aftertaste which paired perfectly with chocolate ice cream.
This is one of the most unique and complex stouts Ive ever had. (485 characters)

Photo of BobJude
3.98/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2014 Vintage. Have one in the cellar and will definitely wait a year before trying it. Great look and mouthfeel on the fresh one, but the fruity tartness from the wine barrels overwhelmed my palate. Been looking forward to the Abyss for years and I will re-rate after proper aging. (284 characters)

Photo of ianwolfman
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Super complex right off the bat 2014 vintage. If I got more than one I'd be aging some. None of the barrels are overpowering, there are a lot of nice smooth subtle flavours here and it hides the alcohol well. (208 characters)

Photo of funjack5150
3.78/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.25

I got two bottles, one to wait for the best after date. I hope age makes this better....... So far not that impressed.... For what they charge for this stuff. The more I drink this stuff, the more I hope it gets better with age.... Although I really like the feel of this beer. It's very creamy!! The way a good stout should be. There's nothing worse than a thin stout..... (373 characters)

Photo of chrismattlin
3.77/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This one's definitely NOT living up to the hype!

Obviously, I drank this fresh, as there was a "best after" date of 11/11/15 on the bottle.
If I'm really supposed to wait til then to drink it, then why are you selling it to me now?

The barrel aging of this beer, especially the bourbon part, is a waste when 72% of the bottle is fresh, non-barrel aged liquid.

Deschutes has some potential with this brew. If they'd up the barrel aging, and actually sold it when it's quality was peaking, they might have something here. Until then, they'll have to live with reviews such as this. (584 characters)

Photo of Sparty1224
3.92/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Serving: 22 oz. bomber poured into a Cigar City snifter. 2014 Reserve dated "Best After 11/10/15". Most likely about 2 months old at this point.

A: Pitch black, no light getting through. 1/4-finger light brown head. Looks real nice in the glass, much more appealing that the Black Butte Anniversary beers.

S: First thing that jumps out is the wine character from the wine barrels. Imparts a nice fruity, tart aroma, very bright. Next up is likely the cherry bark, as I pick up a strong bitter cherry and ripe fruit aroma. Not much vanilla or molasses. Not much bourbon.

T: So initially I served this a bit cold right out of the fridge and was getting a ton of bitterness, lots of dry, dark fruit, and lots of dry wine character. Aftertaste was very bitter and dry. No noticeable bourbon, oak or vanilla flavor. As the beer warmed, some complex layering came through. The cherry bitterness spread out, some vanilla and oak came through, and the beer started to balance out. Still very tart in the finish, and very, very dry and bitter for such a big BA stout.

M: Big, full, creamy. Very dry on the aftertaste.

O: Interesting expectations for this one. Top 50 rated, but lately has been getting a bad rap for some reason. Either way, went in with an open mind. For me, this beer does not live up to the hype, like many have been saying. The strongest barrel character, I think, comes from the wine barrel, and I'm just not a fan. 6% of bourbon barrel aging is non-existant and just a waste. Barrel character needs to be more present and balanced. Didn't pick up much vanilla or licorice, and instead got all dark fruit and bitterness. Way too dry for me. I think I may have had this too fresh, and for once, Deschutes may be right in saying "Best After" one year.

Recommendation: Given the notoriety of this beer, I think it's worth a shot for everyone at least once. Not exactly worth the price, though. Also, consider buying two with one to age, or just age a single bottle, especially if you don't like fresh, bitter imperial stouts. (2,044 characters)

Photo of bnes09
4.44/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jet black, opaque ale. Wheat colored head with exceptional retention and ample lace for the style.

Smell of leaves, grass and fresh veggies with bourbon, oak and espresso.

Very well balanced flavor of dark roast coffee, baker's chocolate, black licorice, fresh herbs and garlic. Subtle, maple and molasses sweetness. Just a touch of oak. Spicy in the finish.

Full bodied and rich on the palate with solid carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall, a very well crafted imperial stout. I would say it's almost closer to a Russian imperial version with the assertive hop qualities. (586 characters)

Photo of guityler83
4.74/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: A finger and a half of dense mocha tan head with great persistence poured from the bottle to the snifter glass. As the had slowly receded it left a trail of chaotic lacing and a layer on top of the beer that lasted for days. The beer, a midnight black color with ruby highlights on the edges when back-lit. Noticeable alcohol lacing when swirled.

S: Unique dark and slightly tart cherry notes are medium. Roasted coffee, milk chocolate, sweet caramel and fresh woody oak aromas are mild but noticeable and balanced. The tart cherry reminds me of a kriek weirdly. no alcohol detected in the nose nor hop aroma.

T: Heavy roasted malt with dark chocolate, cocoa and coffee. the tart cherry flavor comes through moderately and very lambic like or wine like. vanilla, toasted caramel and oak flavors all blended nicley in the middle. Bitterness is mild and the sweetness is moderate. Fantastically complex.

M: Big chewy body with a creamy low carbonation level. All the dark malts give a slight chalky mouthfeel but it never becomes astringent. Slight tartness on the back of the tongue and only a slight bit of alcohol warming

O: Wow.. what a complex crazy beer. This has been on my list for a while now and now that Deschuttes is in WI I was able to grab it off the shelf with relatively zero effort. Awesome flavors with great mouthfeel. This really stood out over so many other hyped stouts. Unique and it lived up to the hype. (1,434 characters)

Photo of Brutaltruth
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed from a growler, 2014 vintage, poured in a Chimay snifter. This fine imperial stout pours pitch black with a firm one inch brown head that dissipates to a thin layer with light lacing. Nose of licorice, dark chocolate, molasses, oak, plums, some light smoke, and strong booze. Flavors are excellent. Waves of chocolate and rich coffee break against a solid backbone of brandy like richness. This all mingles in the back with black licorice and molasses that warms with subtle bourbon flavors and some light bittering hops. Balanced for such a beast. Moderate carbonation makes for a smooth mouth feel while it is still a very coating brew. This one is towards the top of my stout list for 2014. Awesome.

Cheers (726 characters)

Photo of DaverCS
4.94/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage

Appear dark black with a surprisingly nice 1 plus finger head. The head color is definitely dark white nearing a pleasant caramel color.

Aroma is rather tame. I primarily get the oak. I get some malt sweetness. Perhaps it’s the licorice.

Taste is rather on the dry side. I get a huge amount of oak. Tobacco flavors are definitely present. A good bit of carbonation is present. Very little alcohol presence. This beer is so well balanced. I get dark almost burnt espresso. While only a minor portion of the beer is aged in oak, I get this flavor primarily. Definitely on the dryer side. Coats the mouth beautifully. Excellent lacing. Some major hits of tobacco.

Overall, this is just a wonderful sipping beer. While the beer is still rather fresh, I can only see it getting better with age. I don’t normally care for stouts and this is the second best stout I have tried to date (behind BCBS). As it warms it keeps getting more interesting! I could see this pairing well with some smoked meats, maybe a brisket. I could also see it with a dense chocolate cake or a terimisu. I give it a 99/100. (1,117 characters)

The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 1,751 ratings.