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The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

Not Rated.
The AbyssThe Abyss

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,767 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,767
Hads: 6,103
Avg: 4.49
pDev: 17.82%
Wants: 2,795
Gots: 3,234 | FT: 283
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 (158) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,767 | Hads: 6,103
Photo of Shaler_Tate
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Phennomenal brew. Pours deep black with slightly tan head. Smells of coffee, chocolate, and vanila. Drinks very smooth and very complex due to combination of aging methods.

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Photo of schmidtmattsays
3.49/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2014 vintage on tap at Hopleaf. Now I understand the reason for a "best after" date on the Abyss bottles- this is clearly way too fresh and hot. Liquid black liquorice - taxing to finish.

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Photo of JonnyBoyy
4.34/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 Vintage

Smell: Vanilla, Oaky, Chocolate smell.
Taste: Strong bourbon taste up front.
Feel: Somewhat flat, a bit light for a BA beer
Overall: Being a big fan of BA beers I felt this beer was one of my top 5 BA beers. Only negative is the light mouth feel. I like a more thicker feel for BA beers.

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Photo of bismarksays
3.5/5  rDev -22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A couple notes on this rating that seems way out of whack. Style expectations is a big part. No discernible chocolate or coffee notes, lack of both malt sweetness and hop bitterness. Barrell aged? Other than mouthfeel to some extent, you would never know. No oak, no vanilla present at all. Burnt cherry wood is bursting and dominates the profile, leaving little to no room for anything other than molasses which creates a strange but not all unpleasant BBQ sauce. At the price of this beer, I wanted more than what maybe an amazing marinade for lamb or beef.

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Photo of Bigdoc91
4.93/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured a nice chocolaty colored head. Aroma comes off sour, most be the 11% of it aged in wine barrels.

Taste: Sour hits you first. Fruity/cherry components come through in the middle with a nice oak smoky (BBQ) flavor as it goes down your throat.

Outstanding beer. Wish I had another one.

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Photo of bmeGT
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a chocolatey head that stuck around for the drink. The smell was fruity, boozy, very strong cherry scent. When you taste, you initially taste the cherry, then the bourbon. Just the right consistency for a imperial stout. One of the most complex brews I've had.

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.72/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bottle, poured into a snifter at approximately 45 degrees F.

Appearance: Pours pitch black like its namesake, and forms a fairly thick head of brown froth. Lacing is quite present.

Smell: The aroma primarily reminds me of red wine and dark chocolate, mingled together. There is a tart red grape and cherry presence, and I'd say around 80% - 85% cocoa dark chocolate.

Taste: At the opening, this beer follows the nose, a blast of pure slightly sour red wine with cherries and baker's chocolate. As it moves along, the flavors flow into a dark yeasty bread mingled with scorched toffee, with notes of vanilla along the edges. By the finish, the flavor profile is entirely black bread, earth, and oak. As the beer warms, the flavor transitions smooth out. The barrel notes, while present, do not overtake the entire beer, and the ABV lends just a pleasant touch of warmth.

Mouthfeel: Full and fairly creamy, though a bit thinner than one would expect for a stout this black.

Overall: Quite a good stout, showcasing both complexity and intensity of flavor. I'm glad I happened upon a bottle of it sitting on the shelf at a local shop as I breezed in for some birthday shopping.

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Photo of PaulyB83
4.04/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a snifter.

2014 version. Pours black, getting a lot of molasses and roasts in the aroma, not much barrel at all. Same thing in the flavor. It's a good beer but for the price it really needs to have the bourbon barrel more assertive. I don't know maybe a year of age changes this thing totally. Still a great imperial stout but I do feel I have to knock it down a bit for being at least a portion barrel aged but not giving me any in the flavor or aroma.

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Photo of SierraFlight
4.57/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

22oz bottle shared during #bottlecherwednesday at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach. Poured into a tulip. This beer is black, black, black - opaque and unyielding. A two-finger brown head forms before collapsing to a film and leaves patches of lace in the process. More lace rings are deposited on the glass during the session. The aroma is as advertised, but deliciously so - roasted malt, unsweetened chocolate, molasses, oak, anise, coffee, and barrel notes of vanilla and bourbon. Taste opens up with roasted malt sweetness, molasses, coffee, anise, and vanilla. Some bitterness creeps through on the finish featuring oak, coffee grounds, a little citrus hop bite, keeping the surge of sweetness from washing out everything else. Only trace alcohol flavors come through, surprisingly. Quite full bodied, thick, creamy, silky slick texture, soft carbonation, drying and warming on the finish. Delicious.

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Photo of Fcolle2
3.87/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


Pours jet black with a big tan frothy head that retains nicely. Smell has a slightly woody aroma with loads of charred malt, licorice, and hints of Star anise, cocoa and coffee. Taste follows the nose with loads of charred malt forward with a somewhat harsh bitterness intensified by a dry oaky almost tannic mid section. More oak, hints of vanilla, coaco, coffee and a dominating inteste bitterness in the finish. Medium to heavy mouthfeel with moderate carbonation and a dry bitter finish. Nice complexity but it could definitely use some time to balance out.

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Photo of mikedogg195
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is very difficult. I had a vintage fight 2010-2014. The 2011 and 2012 was best. If you are to rate this, i suggest letting it age at LEAST two years.

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Photo of ryanmextorf
4.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Aging my second bottle of this one. Hopefully it'll meld these flavors a little better and the wine barrel won't be so over powering. Still a very enjoyable brew but I can't wait to see what a year does to this beer!

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Photo of abuswell84
4.9/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Absolutely the best beer I've ever had. Incredibly smooth for the ABV and not overpowering on the bourbon taste. Can definitely taste the molasses and is just oh god amazing.

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Photo of BB1313
3.73/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2014 vintage. Pours black with basically no light getting through; fluffy khaki head that leaves great retention and decent lacing. The aromas are chocolate forward with hints of oak. Tons of cherry and dark fruits. The wine barrels are present. The bourbon barrels, not so much. The flavors seem pretty complex and have alot going on. Lots of milk chocolate with subtle hints of vanilla. More cherry. There's a very subtle tartness going on. Very earthy. Tons of wood/oak characteristics. Tons of molasses. It's on the sweeter side, but it's not cloying. There's hints of dark chocolate and black coffee that gives this one a subtle bitterness that cuts down on some of the sweetness. It finishes with lots of BBQ smoke, probably coming from the cherry bark. Mouthfeel is nice. It's full-bodied with moderate carbonation. Very smooth and fluffy. Alcohol basically goes unnoticed. It's not hot or boozy. Dangerously drinkable.

This is a nice stout. I like it, but I'm not blown away by it. I am blown away by how smooth this is at 11% though. It's a complex brew. I feel the oak wine barrels dominate. The bourbon is subtle.

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Photo of TheDudeAbides14
4.59/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this soon after purchase. Should have aged it at least a year, but was eager to try it as it was my first time getting ahold of it. Fantastic beer, but could have used the aging. Very toasty and malty. Light undertones of sweetness, molasses and tartness. Slightly bitter. Nice alcohol undertones. VERY satisfying.

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Photo of DectipiNick9564
4.89/5  rDev +8.9%
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!

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Photo of Ranz
4.26/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

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Photo of jhartley
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

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Photo of TheCondor
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

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Photo of bman13
4.77/5  rDev +6.2%
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

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Photo of Phocion
4.85/5  rDev +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.

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Photo of BradenMK
4.98/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

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Photo of warrendietrich2001
4.84/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

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Photo of neurobot01
3.7/5  rDev -17.6%
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.

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Photo of Redneckwine
4.78/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
99 out of 100 based on 1,767 ratings.