The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery

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The AbyssThe Abyss

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1,753 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,753
Hads: 5,999
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 8.44%
Wants: 2,730
Gots: 3,154 | 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: 1,753 | Hads: 5,999
Photo of Pfeifer
4.23/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Abyss
On tap at the Toronado release event and from the bottle poured into 16 oz wine glass.
A - Jet black as expected. The foam is surprisingly dark. Inch of head that thins to about 1/4 inch. Amazing lacing.
S - Alcohol, coffee, molasses, oak and bourbon. In that order
T - Fantastic. Chocolate nay cocoa. Coffee and molasses (not surprisingly). The way the tastes are layered make the beer. While not quite as complex or layered as the FWXIII. Coffee, caramel, chocolate with a hint of oak.
M - Thick, syrupy, minimal carbonation, warming but not hot.
D - Surprisingly so but depends on my mood. Definitely wouldn't drink more than two (647 characters)

Photo of brihenry
4.23/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted this 2009 vintage. It was great, no problems as reported by some.

It poured a thick, dark, black with a brown head about a half inch with soft, tiny bubbles. There was not much aroma, just a slight sweet sugar with some roast.

The flavor was dominated by licorice up front followed by a deep roast, almost burnt marshmallow. It finished with a sweet licorice.

The mouth feel was nice with the small, tight carbonation that was silky, not too heavy or thick. I also noticed some delicate bread-toast malt flavor, and a very faint piney hop at the end.

Overall, this was a special treat, a very complex beer. (618 characters)

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

Had this beer at my friends christmas eve party 2009 vintage. friend had received it in a trade, and due to the chance of infection chose to drink it sooner rather than later

Excellent completely black pour with a brown head that quickly recedes, nice legs on it.

you can smell molassas, dark malts a hint of licorice and a general sweetness to it that tries to cover up the boozy scent but doesnt quite do it

malt and molassas up front with a nice boozy taste that is not overpowereing. very heavy mouthfeel that is a good thing though.

drinkability is good, but would have to share this beer with someone due to abv and how thick it feels

would definitely like to get a few more abyss and age them out a little more and see how they benefit from it. (757 characters)

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

My first tasting of the legendary The Abyss. And, to be honest, I'm a bit let down. To be fair to the beer, I think it's a victim of its own hype and rarity. My expectations were undoubtedly too high. Yes, it's a damn fine Imperial Stout. Yes, it's a great example of what an Imperial Stout should be, from the color, to the aroma, to the taste.

But is it really in a class by itself, definitively better than other style leaders like Old Rasputin, Mikkeller Black Hole, or Big Bear Black Stout? No, it's not. Oh, sure, one could debate which one was slightly better than the other, but they're all basically in the same league. And, at least here in the Bay Area, Old Rasputin and Big Bear Black Stout are far easier to find, as well.

So while I'll happily admit that The Abyss is a fine Imperial Stout that can be compared to the best in category, the mania is overblown. If you run across some, definitely try it. And if you don't, and have another leading Imperial Stout that is easily obtainable, that's okay, too. (1,022 characters)

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


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.


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

big boy bottle into Chimay chalice

A - 2 finger head into melted Whopperish film; black brown opaqueness; great lace

S - Dark malts, caramel, alcohol, wood, chocolate, yeast

T-M - Super thick malt into surprisingly high level of hopdom - really nice, well balanced - toffee, alcohol, caramel, oaky, barkish

D - Super drinkable stout if your in that frame of mind. Filling and robust. Nice beer. (398 characters)

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

So I’m finally diving into the Abyss tonight. I’ve heard and read much about this beer and I finally get to try a fresh bottle, any vintage at all. Thanks to Joey for reserving a bottle for me ;o)

The 2007 Reserve is a blend of 33% of oak and oak bourbon barrels. Served at around cellar temp.

The color really is like looking into an Abyss, dark molasses, and heavily roasted coffee been colored syrup in a glass. A thick two inch head of foam trickles down slowly to the Abyss. There’s some lacing and very good retention.

Aroma is quite complex, but I pick up right away some coffee, molasses, oak wood, musty barrels, and roasted malts. There is also a heavy presence of woodsy licorice, earthy hop notes, dark fruits like figs, dried prunes, and raisins. Then a third layer reveals some cocoa, milk chocolate, hints of chocolate covered cherries, and vanilla beans. Some vinous aromas and green grapes as well.

Wow, the taste is just like the aroma and then some. Chocolate cereal, chocolate malts, oak, cocoa, dark fruits and a bit of alcohol. The finish has a dry chocolate, and roasted barley bitterness feel.

Mouthfeel is really creamy with a little fizzy carbonation to keep it from being too thick. This definitely is a heavy beer, and a meal in itself.

The Abyss is a good beer, a very good sipping beer, but I think it can get even better with age and that is one thing I am looking forward to. The flavors seem a little rough and grainy but I’m sure these will settle within a couple months. (1,515 characters)

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

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

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

The smell was a mix of licorice and Bourbon.

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

Mouth is creamy and full.

An easy drinking stout. (450 characters)

Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.22/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage poured into a Swiss wine snifter. I don't know how I have made it this far without trying this beer. First beer of 2012, which barring unforeseen disaster will most likely be one of the best years of my life so far. Cheers!

Pours pure black- darker than used engine oil. When I hold his up to the bright sun there are no highlights revealed. I mean this is totally black. The pour produces two fingers of doughy dark brown compact head that coats the glass. Looks awesome!

The nose is one of the most complex of any dark beer I have smelled in quite some time. A touch of smoke overlays a duo of roasty malt and hops. A further hoppiness pairs with tannic notes of woody oak. A slight touch of vanilla is probably due to the added vanilla and not bourbon barrel (only 6% of the beer in this bottles ever saw the inside of one) but then who know? Maybe it was a young set of barrels.

Well this beer is complex. I guess I will start with the basic stout flavors, which are present in this beer but there is so much happening on top of them that I have to think about it to isolate them. Hops are here in plentiful quantities and they pair with the roast of the dark malts in the typical big stout fashion. The most prominent non-traditional stout flavor is a pronounced woodiness. It almost reminds me of roasted chicory, or an over-oaked stout stout I brewed once. Anyway, this flavor almost dominates, but doesn't eclipse everything else. I do taste both licorice and a tiny bit of vanilla, which are both tasty. So I wonder if that particular woody flavor is the cherry bark?

The mouthfeel is rather dry and viscous, but not as thick and chewy as something like Bourbon County Stout. I think it is quite good, and I imagine that it is exactly what the brewers at Deschutes intended. Carbonation feels fairly low.

Conclusion: As expected, this is an awesome beer. It has so much flavor that it is walking the line between complex and muddled. I like it quite a bit, but find myself straying back the the purist mindset of doing little to a beer save for aging it in oak. However, this beer is doing something awesome and should be tried by anybody who has an interest in American beer or big dark beers of any sort. (2,235 characters)

Photo of cleverbeername
4.22/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

50* snifter, bottle

A natural beauty. Dark brown tan fingers, chewy brown black. nice carbonation, head sustains well

S malty, yeasty, sweet savory, dank cave. the dank smell is very enjoyable and unavoidable.

T intense and varied. Mid roast coffee, costco muffin studdle icing, artifical yeast taste. sweet hint of bourbon and oak. maybe maple and birch, reminded me of the life and limb, but just hints.

M mid heavy, but not overtly robust in feel. sip and think beer, quite thought provoking

D want.on.draft. yes, worth the price, would cellar one for a few years. (573 characters)

Photo of lovethebelgians
4.22/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Had a 2013 fresh on tap at FOBAB and what everyone says seems to prevail, aged a year seems to make this beer better, but all in all the mouthfeel of this beer is what I liked best about this beer, the taste was a little too smokey and hot alcohol as a fresh, but with a year or two it really comes into its own. (312 characters)

Photo of thagr81us
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to BigTomZ for this one! 2009 Vintage, this one was mildly infected. Served from bottle into a Stone nonic. Pours black with a massive tan head that remains throughout. Maintains phenomenal lacing throughout. The aroma was comprised of malt and a tart note (first sign of infection). The flavor was of syrup, licorice, malt, and a slight tart taste (also due to infection). It was medium on the palate with low carbonation. Overall this was a nice beer even though it was infected. Goes down smooth regardless of that fact as well. Would love to try a non-infected bottle to be able to give it a true rating of its capabilities (hint hint traders...) (661 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled through Monsone and Brews N Tunes 3 BIF.

Another one of my long sought after beers that I had not really expected to see for a long time.

Super dark clear brown beer that you can see through barely when your pour it. In the glass this is a light proof black beer with a small thick brown colored head that lasts.

Smell is sweet and spicy with a strong molasses aroma. Actually the molasses is INTENSE in this beer and it smells a great deal like a molasses cookie. Blackberry brandy in coffee aroma makes up most of the additional scent. Faint chocolate but the other aromas almost completely hide it.

The taste starts out neutral sweet and smooth with a strong STRONG coffee aftertaste. Chocolate and a little berry after the initial hit of coffee. That's about it for flavor strong coffee with a bit of berries and chocolate.

Silky mouthfeel.

Minor amount of harshness in sips 3-6 but after that is smoothes out. Quite silky in the mouth it almost has the feel of the high fat hot chocolate made with half and half from scratch. Really more of a sipping beer, I think a six-pack of seven ounce bottles of this would be ideal. (1,141 characters)

Photo of anthonygrg
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I sampled a 22 ounce bottle of the 2011 Reserve. This beer has a "best by" date printed on it: August 4, 2012. I'm glad I bought a few bottles so I can store some and wait a couple of months.

This beer pours a viscous, slick black and produces a light brown head with traces of red that dissipates slowly. More lacing than I expected.

The aroma is appealing but not very pronounced. Coffee, wood, and a trace of fruit, perhaps plums and/or cherries.

The taste is big and complex. Coffee, molasses, brown sugar, cherries, plums, vanilla, slight smokiness, etc. Use your imagination. Too boozy to rate a five, but it's damn close.

The mouthfeel is smooth-smooth-smooth and coating. The carbonation really disappears as you continue to drink, but you won't miss it. Very warming due to the alcohol content of 11%.

This is a great beer. I'm sure it gets even smoother and more complex with age, but you really ought to give it a taste if you have some in your possession. A stellar imperial stout! (1,001 characters)

Photo of haydukeqc
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Bomber- A: nice rich, chocolate head. The aroma is overwhelming with coffee. Tastes of coffee and cherries. Fair amount of hops as it is still fresh. The alcohol is noticeable but not overwhelming. Medium feel, spreads evenly though the mouth. Enjoyable to drink. (268 characters)

Photo of SykDoc
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this at the stout event in my area and I can't thank everyone that was involved, enough.

Poured from a bottle into a flute. It pours like motor oil with a black appearance and opaque when held to the light. A 1.5 inch mocha colored head forms that slowly reduced to a healthy lacing.

The aroma was subtle with some very mild hoppy hints, as well as dark chocolate. A mild level of malty sweetness was noted. Some bourbon and coffee notes are present.

The taste was fairly complex including a bittersweet, dark chocolate combination with coffee. There was also a metallic component to me, which several people couldn't quite put there fingers on. Mild bourbon is present.

The Mouthfeel revealed a full body with moderate level of carbonation for a stout. It was quite thick and had a dry finish. Something about the feel didn't quite warrant a 5.

Overall, I think this is good for the style but was surprised that it ranked higher than Dark Lord. Overall, it is a very good beer and I will take any opportunity to have another. (1,036 characters)

Photo of Klgkenny
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with a thick mocha head. Opaque-- no light penetrates. A black effin' hole.

Smells like bourbon... Acrid coffee, chocolate, hops...

Up front tastes like sweet malt which is quickly killed by bourbon. The bourbon taste melts seamlessly into an acrid coffee taste before finally being washed out with hops... Not at all like I expected. A very bitter cacao taste underlies the coffee and bourbon.

A thick creamy mouthfeel fills the mouth and rides over the tongue. A light light light carbonation only adds to the feel.

This is definitely a sipper. And at 11%, this is an end-of-the night beer. (612 characters)

Photo of billshmeinke
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Bruery tulip. 2009 vintage that's been in my cellar. Didn't realize I hadn't reviewed this from the bottle yet.

Pitch black with a three finger khaki head. Takes awhile to die down to a layer of bubbly foam. Some lacing left down the side of the glass.

Cocoa nibs, oak, vanilla and dark fruits.

Cocoa nibs and oak up front. Then some dark chocolate, smoke and a hint of vanilla. There are dark fruits and coffee bitterness in there as well. Tobacco and a hint of caramel on the way out. Smoke, oak and tobacco remain pretty strong in the aftertaste. The beer is a little too charred bordering acrid, otherwise it would have gotten a higher rating for taste.

The beer is on the low side of full bodied, somewhat creamy and a sharp bite on the end. Slightly hot on the way down.

Quite drinkable. Not much bourbon presence, unfortunately. (854 characters)

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

2009-Not infected

A: Heaps of velvety cappuccino head and viscous black body

S: Roast, bourbon, baking chocolate, creme come together very well integrated. No one note is domi'noting' here.

T: Roastiness is the most pronounced with some faded bittering hops, concentrated french roast espresso, a little bourbon heat (read very mellow) and cocoa powder. I do not like ashy tasting beers but the other elements are working synergistically, even helping to pick up the slack for the over-roast.

M: Creamy with great viscosity, low carb and no appreciable heat.

D: Great beer, happy to be enjoying this. (606 characters)

Photo of plfahey
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle (2010 vintage) poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance-Jet black, totally opaque. Generous brown head stand with moderate retention and some lacing.

Aroma-Mmmm, roasty with dark, bittersweet chocolate and coffee notes. Some sour cherry notes, oak, and light vanilla aromas as well. Slight smoky bourbon. Complex, multi-faceted, and delicious.

Flavor-The first flavor I get is a sweet, tart oaky cherry flavor, which is prominent and muted at the same time (I don't really understand myself). This is then overtaken by rich, chocolate milkshake and roasted coffee. The roasted flavors grow in the finish. The tart and oaky flavors return in the finish to eventually be overtaken by roasted coffee and alcohol flavors, which carry far into the aftertaste. As it warms, bourbon and molasses flavors become more prominent.

Mouthfeel-Full, somewhat chewy body. Medium low carbonation. Feels silky smooth and somewhat mouthcoating. Finishes a little bit tart and with some substantial alcohol warmth, but is not astringent, and is not harsh or hot.

Definitely good, though with it this fresh, I can definitely see this one improving with age (It's even dated as "Best After 11/15/11", but I figured since I had 2 I'd try one now and one in a year or two). The flavors need a bit of time to integrate, the body could slim down a hair, and the alcohol, while not hot, could be a little smoother. (1,404 characters)

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

2010 Bottle, poured into a tulip.

Pours a rich dark brownish black with a nice finger thick head. Smells of malt and black licorice goodness. Tastes like a smokey, excellent stout with the right amount of malt and black licorice, nothing too overpowering. Mouthfeel is great. Effervescent enough to encourage tasting all the tiny component of Abyss on your front and back palate. Drinkability is exceptional. Overall good beer. (428 characters)

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

A: Pours like motor oil. Nice pitch black with a dense dark brown head. Little lacing

S: Brown sugar, cocoa, roasted malt, coffee. Pretty complex.

T/M: Full bodied and creamy. Same as the smell. Sugary coffee and chocolate. Roasted malt. This is dessert in a glass. I let it warm up some and the flavors really come out. One flaw: there's a lingering bitterness that's a little out of place. Is that hop overload?

D: Very dense and mouth coating so don't know how much I could really put down. Availability is definitely up this year, so can't knock it on that.

Overall, a great RIS. I'd still prefer a Port Santa's Helper, or the Surly Darkness I had the other night, but this is damn good. (695 characters)

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

black with a small head that disappears rather quickly. smells boozy up front with the malt coming through in the end. slight hint of soy sauce but not a lot. chocolate as well. flavor is complex, bourbon is non-existent, which is a disappointment. hints of vanilla, chocolate and oak. Nice complexity. Warming sensation. The strong ABV is apparent, but not from a boozy taste. mouthfeel is thick and the beer coats the entire palette and kind of sticks around leaving an everpresent aftertaste. Overall a nice sipper. Not my favorite imperial stout, but a good beer either way. Just wish this actually had SOME hint of the bourbon I was expecting, based on the bottle's label. (677 characters)

Photo of dpnelson1978
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.
Original tasting: 6/11/2010

22 oz. bottle into brandy snifter.

2009 Vintage
*Note: No spoilage was noticed.

A: Small creamy tan head floating atop a liquid black hole. No observable thinning along the edges. This is a thick, viscous brew. Not much lacing, but a nice creamy cover lingers.

S: Powerful bitter chocolate aroma sweetened with a hing of molasses and caramel. Licorice notes in the background.

T: Bitter chocolate takes center stage with a hint of booze in the background. Dark sweet maltiness with molasses and perhaps a bit of vanilla. Very pleasing palate, something to be savored with friends. This would shine with a meal, but did just fine on the deck. A bit more time for the booze to mellow would help tremendously.

M: Creamy body with low to medium carbonation. A little hot, but no noticeable burn. Low bitterness on the tongue.

D: Great beer, but one bottle is plenty and sharing is even better. Goes down easy for the style, and I can't ask for more than that.

O: Worth the wait, and worth the effort to track it down. (1,076 characters)

Photo of One1Asterisk
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is one seriously complicated beer. The nose is overwhelmingly wine and oak barrel. Pouring it into a glass displayed characteristic inky stout darkness, viscous and clingy on the glass. The taste was complex, but very agreeable. I don't feel anything overpowers the other in the taste, it's quite a nice stout. I'm happy to have tried it, and consider it 'ticked'. (369 characters)

The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 1,753 ratings.