The Abyss (Cognac Barrel-Aged)
Deschutes Brewery

The Abyss (Cognac Barrel-Aged)The Abyss (Cognac Barrel-Aged)
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Style:
American Imperial Stout
ABV:
12%
Score:
96
Avg:
4.34 | pDev: 8.06%
Reviews:
69
Ratings:
260
From:
Deschutes Brewery
 
Oregon, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  56
Gots
  191
SCORE
96
World-Class
The Abyss (Cognac Barrel-Aged)The Abyss (Cognac Barrel-Aged)
Notes: For those of you who adore The Abyss and look forward to its release each year, we have a special treat for you. The Abyss Cognac! This remarkably rare release is 100% aged in its barrels. The incredibly old Cognac barrels are from France, and according to Barrelmaster, Jake Harper, impart an interesting sour-like characteristic to The Abyss and is just around 12% ABV.

Since The Abyss rested calmly in these barrels for a year, this version will be quite strong and boozy and take flavor from what was in the barrel prior to this beer. Look for dried fruit, wood, and a roasty finish in the Cognac version.
Reviews: 69 | Ratings: 260 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Scotchboy
Scotchboy from Idaho

4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 bottling that my brother has been hanging on to for some time. Split into pint glasses.

Honestly one of the DARKEST pours I've witnessed; impressively opaque used-motor-oil body with an equally-impressively-dark brown head. Smoky booze and dark fruit/grape/cognac aromas pour out of the glass. The full, sticky-viscous body opens up the palate with flavors of oak and spices, rich dark fruits and espresso. Absolutely NO boozy burn at this age...REALLY nice, I enjoyed this one more than I had expected to.

May 26, 2020
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Gobearswalter34 from Illinois

4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Circa 2015.
Pours black with a creamy, tan head.
Sweet, malty and bakers chocolate smell. Big Barrell notes.
Taste follows nose. Conagc Barrell puts off bitterness. Sweet stout taste. Very complex. Great roast ones and port wine.
Worth the wait.

Feb 02, 2020
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LiquidAmber from Washington

4.36/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a nearly pitch black, appearing opaque black in the glass with a half finger light brown head with good retention and nice solid lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt with light char, cognac, light cherry and vanilla, cocoa and oak. Flavor is dark toasted malt with light to moderate char, dark fruit and cherry, cognac, charred wood, light chocolate and coffee. Finishes with charry wood and dark fruit with a slight astringency. Medium bodied with light to moderate creaminess. Another bottle that spent more time in my cellar than I planned, don’t know why I never reviewed this; I'm drinking most of my cellared stouts in a couple of years or so, as I'm not a fan of the effects of long cellaring on this style. This one, though, has held up very nicely. As often is the case, I regret that I did not taste it fresh to compare, but probably a little hotter. The heat is tamed now and the malt and barrel effects seem mellowed. This has more wood character than I remember from other Abyss variants, and it fits the malt well. The dark fruit from the Cognac really melds with the light cherry notes and with the dark fruit already in the malt. There is a slight astringency in the finish, but the taste stays rich and interesting throughout. Possibly one my favorite variants so far. I hope we see it again.

Jan 29, 2020
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Zythophile from District of Columbia

4.31/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle Date: 2015
Palate Contaminants: other beer

Color is dark brown with minimal color at the edges. Fair amount of fine carbonation, medium chocolate head, and very little lacing.

The first smell that comes to mind is a spiced liquor. So, there's a ton of cognac influence. Dark chocolate, black licorice, and rum. Nutty, too. It's pretty strong, too.

In the taste, lots of raisins, shading toward prunes. There's also a ton of charred barrel. True to the liquor on the nose, it's there in the taste. The few tastes are not subtle at all, but the cognac plus charred wood combination doesn't go together as well as I'd hoped.

Weight is heavy, even for the type. Aftertaste is mostly charred wood, but there's some dried dark fruit back there. Carbonation is nicely integrated. Alcohol, as already mentioned, isn't as hidden as it can be, but it's not overwhelming.

May 01, 2019
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siskiyoucellar from Oregon

4.44/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This bottle has been in my cellar for 37 months, so please take that into account in the review. The appearance of all variants of Abyss more or less defines the bar for all serious stouts. Midnight black suffused with the dark red light of a volcanic caldera and just a perfect halo of clean color in the meniscus. The aroma then begins the core experience. Powerfully boozy yet perfectly balanced, it brings in notes of cocoa and a hint of cinnamon. And then the taste. It more than follows the aroma, it opens a huge new world of flavor that includes rich dried fruit, edges of the cognac barrels, vanilla beans and more dusty dry cocoa. The feel has probably suffered a bit from the aging; it’s still nicely carbonated,but just a wee bit thin. Still, the incredible blending of all the flavors mentioned and many more makes three years of patience well worth it. All Abyss’s age extremely well and this one is above average.

Mar 29, 2019
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draheim from Washington

4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz (best after 12/16/2016) into a tulip. Pours and oily black with a thin collar of mocha foam and a spiral galaxy of tiny bubbles settling across the inky surface.

Aroma is rich and deep, earthy. Molasses, roasted malt, licorice, brown sugar, and booze. Vanilla and coconut. Bitter dark chocolate.

Taste follows nose--rich and complex. Toasted coconut, vanilla, dark chocolate, graham cracker, cognac. So much deliciousness going on here.

Mouthfeel is slick and oily--heavy, lingering. Right for this style and high octane of beer.

Overall a really tasty treat. A sipper of a dessert beer that I'll savor tonight.

Jan 13, 2019
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dafla67 from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours very dark; aroma is wonderfully sweet with chocolate, molasses and the cognac; the taste is a perfect blend of the smells; feel is creamy. love to see this return

Jul 13, 2018
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deebo from Minnesota

3.87/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A-Bottle poured into a Deschutes teku glass, a thin finger of a deep, dark brown head atop an abyss of darkness.
S-Delicious and complex aromas, bakers chocolate, molasses. Some real nice barrel notes, dark fruits, wood, boozy.
T-The big, dark malts and molasses pop first. An interesting viney note with rum raisin notes. The aroma is a bit better than the taste.
M-Has a lingering finish which is a touch boozy and sticky. Not the heavy mouthfeel that most RIS have.
O-A very interesting version of the Abyss. The cognac definitely leaves it's mark. A sipper and meant for sharing. This should hold up very well to aging and I think I'll let my remaining bottle age at least a couple more years.

Feb 04, 2018
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beergoot from Colorado

4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Opaque black body with a thick, tan colored head. Roasted, charred grain aroma with a mild wine background. Outstanding deep roasted grain flavor with notes of cocoa and bitter chocolate; a fine blend of cognac is in the mix; very little boozy quality. Heavy bodied; lush and velvety; somewhat dry despite all the heavy grain presence.

What a fine, fine barrel-aged imperial stout. Deeply complex throughout the drinking experience with deft balance of the malts, ABV, and barrel-aging characteristics. This beer has aged well over the past two years. It probably would have aged over several more, but sometimes, you just need to treat yourself. What a treat!

Dec 03, 2017
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AdmiralOzone from Minnesota

4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark brown, almost black with a thin dark tan head of small bubbles that leave wonderful lacing on the glass. The aroma is decadent dark chocolate, dark fruits and cognac. Wonderful flavor follows the nose. Nice thick feel and overall a fantastic beer that I wish now I'd tried harder to find more than one bottle.

Nov 08, 2017
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aleigator from Germany

4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours oil black with a big and stable darkbrown head.

Smell is quite unique, the cognac barrel definitely shines, due to a fruity, wooden and boozy melange. This gets met by earthen and roasty malt flavors, together with bakers chocolate, spicy molasses and prunes. Leaves me with a vivid impression on the nose, which at the same time, doesn‘t conceal its huge and decadent body.

Has a velvet taste, with just a light carbonation peak to it, showcasing the bigger body of the beer in a great, throughout well balanced fashion.

Tastes of booze bathed raisins, old orange peel, a whiff of salted caramel and soothing toffee, playfully coating the uprising alcohol bite. Whipped cream gets enriched by licorice and wood bark, while the raisins turn younger, adding a subtle tartness to the rich chocolate foundation of the beer. Finishes with a dry bite coming from both the cognac as well as from matured hops, which blend into the decadent, sweeter chocolate flavors of the beer, which still do remind me of a oak accompanied brandy praline.

Sweet and fruity, chocolate and grapes - this takes you onto a unique and very tasty journey, tasting unlike any other stout out there. The barrel does its magic, while the characteristics of the base beer work incredibly well with it, creating a throughout satisfying beer.

Oct 31, 2017
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bbtkd from South Dakota

3.85/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deschutes Abyss Cognac Barrel-aged Stout, 12% ABV, 86 IBU. Pours black with a slight head. Nose is sweet cognac, soy sauce, and moleasses. Taste follows, not much sweetness, licorice, a bit of bitterness, salty flavor got worse as it warmed. Dry, excellent mouthfeel. Overall sub-meh. Maybe this has degraded at 20 months.

Oct 22, 2017
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impending from California

4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A+
2015 poured in 2017
spectacular
cognac whacks you in the mouth followed by pancake syrup wonderful
absolutely superb
a tiny sip an explosion of flavor, swishing to extend the flavor you wish you'd started swishing sooner
absolutely fantastic
cheers
jd

Sep 15, 2017
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yesterdayfaraway from Missouri

2.65/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

L: pours very thick and black with a half finger of head that fades fast
S: cognac and molasses
T: chewing tobacco, molasses and yak
F: thin and just gross.
O: damn this is bad

Jul 01, 2017
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stortore from Illinois

4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Bottled 12/18/15, had 1/7/17.

Pours dark, near black, thick and oily looking, with a short, quickly dissipating head of darker foam and some spotty, oily lacing. Smells great. Medium roast malts, chocolate- like fudge, vanilla, cognac- more as it warms, molasses, cherries, figs, some dates, light red wine. Tastes every bit as good as it smells. Medium roast malts, cognac, cherries, figs, vanilla, oak, dates, much less fudge than the nose, a fair amount of alcohol. Smooth, a very solid full body, well carbonated.

Awesome variant of a great base beer. Bursting with flavor and aroma. Feel pretty lucky to have had it.

Jun 10, 2017
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biboergosum from Canada

3.97/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, shared by my good man Stephen at rogerdandy's latest typically epic bottle share.

This beer pours a solid black, um, abyss, with no highlights, no edges, no how, and one finger of aggressively foamy, rocky, and bubbly brown head, which leaves some connected mitochondrial lace around the glass as it slowly but surely recedes.

It smells of bready and doughy caramel malt, soy sauce umami, weak white wine lees, bittersweet cocoa, black licorice, some free-range ashiness, and a burgeoning alcohol presence. The taste is smoked caramel malt, biscuity toffee, mildly saucy brandy, chocolate mole, cafe-au-lait, anise spice, and a meek leafy, weedy, and perfumed floral hoppiness.

The carbonation is very tame in its gentle frothiness, the body a sturdy medium-heavyweight, and nicely smooth, with a mild creaminess that joins the party later in the game. It finishes sweet, but not cloying.

Overall, this is certainly a well-made big-ass stout, but the Cognac flavour is muted, though not entirely absent. Quite pleasant to drink, but from what I remember (yeah, yeah) not all that different from the 'base' brew - which is not uncommon for Cognac barrel aging, in my admittedly limited experience.

May 30, 2017
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jrenihan from Canada

4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Cognac quite prominent, a sweetness touched with oak, grape. Molasses, vanilla, chocolate. Nice and thick but velvety smooth. The barrel is strong but tastes very good.

May 11, 2017
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TreyIsWilson from Michigan

4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours pitch black with a thin tan head. Light soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is dark chocolate, roasted malts, dark cherries and cognac.

T - The taste follows the aroma. Dark chocolate, molasses, dark cherries, oak and heavy cognac.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with crisp dry finish.

O - Very solid variant. I wish the sweetness was toned down a bit otherwise a very enjoyable offering.

Mar 25, 2017
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Futbolmanby from Michigan

4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: limited khaki head, no lacing, black in color
Smell: cocoa, vanilla and big sweet cherry... not much barrel
Taste: smoky, cocoa, vanilla, cherry, molasses and malt with cognac. IMO Best tasting abyss so far
Feel: medium body medium carbination, smooth mouth feel with a slight barrel heat at the finish.

Overall it's the best tasting abyss but it's looks, smell and feel are lacking compared to the others.

Mar 02, 2017
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Damian from Massachusetts

4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from a 1 pint 6 fluid ounces gold waxed dipped bottle purchased at Deschutes Brewery & Public House, Portland, OR
2015 remarkably limited release
Best after: 12/18/16
Served in a snifter

The medium bodied, oily and slick, absolute pitch black body was topped by a finger-tall cap of bubbly, saddle brown foam. Solid retention. The head faded to a thick, frothy ring. Spotty lacing stuck along the glass.

Outstanding aroma. This smelled super rich and complex from the get-go. The Cognac barrels came through big time. Intense raisin notes. There was a sweet, oxidized quality as well that reminded me of port wine. Nice sweet-tart cherry presence. Fairly woody/oaky. Touch of vanilla. The tartness intensified as the beer warmed.

Cognac came through strong in the flavor profile, but not as intensely as in the nose. Somewhat roasty on the front end. Loads of sweet raisin notes. Moderately boozy. Good amount of oxidation. Slightly tart with subtle cherry notes. Bit of vanilla. Roasted malts came through strong in the finish. Touch of smoke and char. More oakiness and booze as well. The alcohol lingered but never became too overwhelming.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied for the style. Perhaps a touch lighter than anticipated. A super fine, moderate, tongue blanketing effervescence allowed the liquid to froth up nicely. Creamy, smooth and supple on the palate.

Between the original Abyss and the whiskey and Cognac barrel-aged versions, this was definitely my favorite of the three. The twelve months of sitting in Cognac barrels definitely imparted some intensely rich, fruity and complex flavors to an already robust imperial stout. Impressive.

Jan 22, 2017
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Jeffo from Netherlands

4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from rutger and vanlingleipa a while back. Cheers!

From a bomber into a snifter
Imperial stout brewed with black strap molasses, licorice, cherry bark with vanilla added
Aged in cognac barrels for 12 months
2015 Remarkably Limited Release
Best After 18 December 2016

APPEARANCE: Opaque black pour yields a three finger, thicker looking, creamy dark tan head with great retention. Pitch black body with no carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a full, creamy cap and clings to the sides of the glass. Slight wisp and ring remain leaving decent lacing down the glass. Good looking, like all of these Abyss are.

SMELL: Absolutely lovely aroma of oak, vanilla, sweet cream, cognac, dark chocolate and fudge brownies on the nose. Some molasses and dark cherries as well. Really nice. Woody, and the cognac is definitely there in a boozy sort of way. Enticing for sure.

TASTE: Oak, wood, some dark cherries, molasses, and some boozy cognac up front. Flavorful. Nice sweet cognac and charred wood through the swallow into a bold and lingering finish of more barrel character, charred wood, some sweet cream, dark and pure chocolate, some bitterness and a decent amount of alcohol. Smoky and charred barrels and plenty of distinct cognac here. Cherry chocolate note is a nice accompaniment.

PALATE: Fuller body with medium levels of carbonation. Creamy enough on the palate, weighty, goes down fine and finishes somewhat mouth-coating. Some minor heat lingers, but not nearly as much as expected given the amount of cognac character here.

OVERALL: Classy. This is just as good as I was hoping it would be. The cognac is all over this one while the barrel is smoky and woody without being astringent. Excellent. The base Abyss is also top class and is engineered extremely well. Finally Deschutes manned up and released the beer the way it should be released. Well, at least the way us BA stout lovers were hoping to see it released. This is in no way a knock on the standard blended Abyss, which is top class in itself, but I hope they continue to release 100% barreled version of this in the future. Got nuts on different barrels too. I’ll drink whatever I can get. Thanks again for the bottles, guys! Love this stuff.

Jan 13, 2017
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one pours very similar to the other treatments, black, thick looking, dark head, blah, blah, etc, etc.

This smells really strongly of cognac and barrel- it smells much more sweet than other treatments of this beer. There's still some light roasted malt, lots of dark fruit, even a bit of wine.

This is a pretty big Cognac bomb, pretty sweet, with lots of dark fruit and a strong vinous character. There's some dark chocolate, too, with some light licorice, and a less pronounced roasted character than the rye or regular Abyss. It's really delicious, but I like both the "base" Abyss and the rye whiskey version better.

This is pretty thick and chewy, with a lingering sweet finish, and a normal level of carbonation.

The cognac made this a little bit sweeter than I tend to prefer, but I still quite enjoyed this one. Despite personal preference, this is still a top tier BA stout.

Jan 07, 2017
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rudzud from Massachusetts

4.54/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to JLindros for sharing this bottle

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a nice dark oily black hue with a one finger mocha head that fades to leave nice wisps and lacing.

S - Aromas of huge cognac notes. Nicely sweet, lighter cognac. Good cognac.

T - Taste is similar to the nose, lovely cognac notes, good chocolate, nice light anise. The cognac is really prominent.

M - Mouthfeel is nicely carbonated, though, a bit thin.

O - Overall this was a very nice beer, still though regular old abyss is much much better.

Serving Type: bottle

Jan 07, 2017
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jlindros from Massachusetts

4.54/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Waiting for this one, shared with rudzud

Pours an incredible 1+ finger rich creamy thick frothy mocha head, fades slowly with nice lacing, pitch black rich beer long legs

Nose big cognac, sweet fruity cognac all over, little candy, toffee, caramel, etc, cocoa, so much pure cognac and brandy, light on stout and baking spices, vanilla oak.

Taste brings loads of cognac, big fruit, apple brandy, tree fruit liquor, into big dark malt, cocoa chocolate, dark choc, little nougat and marshmallow, fruity, touch bitterness.

Mouth is med to fuller bod lush creamy decent carb and no booze

Overall so much better than the rye whisky, really good.

Jan 07, 2017
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Marius from Netherlands

4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared at Pre-Borefts Ratebeer Tasting 2016. Pitch black with a tan head. Notes of cocoa, coffee, chocolate, cherries, vanilla and oak. Medium body and carbonation and a bitter-sweet finish.

Jan 03, 2017
The Abyss (Cognac Barrel-Aged) from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 260 ratings