The Abyss (Cognac Barrel-Aged)
Deschutes Brewery

The Abyss (Cognac Barrel-Aged)The Abyss (Cognac Barrel-Aged)
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Stout - American Imperial
4.34 | pDev: 7.83%
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
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: 70 | Ratings: 262 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Duff27:
Photo of Duff27
Duff27 from Illinois

3.81/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Jan 08, 2017
More User Reviews:
Photo of DefenCorps
DefenCorps from Oregon

4.66/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at the Portland pub.

The nose! Oh my! Beautiful cognac, fruity pomace, cherries, cocoa, chocolate, buckwheat honey, roast, toffee, caramel, less roasty than the regular Abyss. Fruity, raisins, dessert wine, cognac, mildly floral, dark honey. A little more oxidized than the regular Abyss, and better so for it. I can't think of a better put together cognac beer. Beautifully integrated. Stunning, lush mouthfeel, creamy, wonderful finish, fruity with a faintly tart note from the cognac (NOT from any souring agents). Near flawless

**Edit 30 June 2019**
Aged about 4.5 years, this is beautifully lush and well integrated, with cognac notes, a little bit of grape skin tannin tartness and acidity to pair beautifully with the dark chocolate and licorice. Toffee, butterscotch, dark fruit. The mouthfeel is fabulous.

Jan 16, 2016
Photo of Impfan
Impfan from Washington

5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This version takes the Abyss to whole new level. The generally dry and somewhat austere nature of the brew is softened a bit, and fleshed out by a full year of aging in cognac barrels. As good as the standard version is, the addition of cherry bark to an already very dry and roasty beer always seemed like a bit of overkill. The addition of the cognac barrel flavor (which is quite prominent, but not overdone) brings a needed balance and depth. The standard version was never 100% aged in bourbon barrels, and while I understood that Deschutes wasn't going for the heavy barrel influence, I still felt that there wasn't enough barrel flavor that came through in the final result. This version has completely compensated for that lack of balance, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.

Jan 10, 2016
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect from Kentucky

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

The continuance of "The Abyss" saga now lands the legendary stout at the precipice of fortified wine. A long slumber inside cognac barrels yields a potion with vinous-type spice, peppery tannin and robust wine complexity.

Certainly "abyss" black equally as polished with a glossy sheen as does other variations, the stout's masculine portrayal is capped with a regenerate foamy mocha cap. Expelling its robust collections of scent, then nose is rife with espresso, boozy oak, red wine spice and cocoa. Its verbose taste, is explosive on the palate with the charred sweetness of blackstrap molasses and burnt sugar that resonates highest on the front of the tongue.

Its charred sweetness turns over to high espresso roast, bittersweet chocolate, toffee, burnt toast and an overall sense of roasted marshmallow. Complex cognac flavors wash over the late palate with its tangy wine-like spice, gentle hints of grape, cherry and blackberry with a savory, nearly soy-sauce kick of umami. The barrel plays out with peppery spice and a kiss of almond.

Incredibly lush and full on the palate, the beer's creamy roast is dry and enveloping, striking thoughts of coffeehouse latte or milkshake. Warm, spicy and playfully tangy, the beer's tannins offer dryness and a woodsy spice with an afterglow of chocolate and grilled berries.

Mar 02, 2016
Photo of GreesyFizeek
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
Photo of EdwardAbbey
EdwardAbbey from Washington

4.61/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

For those who have been pining for a 100% barrel-aged version of The Abyss, I can confidently suggest that this particular variety does not disappoint. The cognac is definitely at the forefront here, making this taste like a white wine/Abyss stout hybrid...which is hardly the worst possible thing, as long as you're ready for it. Fruity, slightly tart, dry, but counterbalanced by the sweet base stout in a way that keeps everything restrained, it stands out from the pack with unique, and yet very approachable, flavors for a beer in this style. The feel was soft and full, perhaps a bit richer than regular Abyss, despite the drier finish. In a year, or two, this could be something quite transcendent.

Jan 11, 2016
Photo of Meow49
Meow49 from Washington

5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The addition of twelve months of barrel aging to The Abyss has added a fruitiness that the original was definitely lacking. It complements the roasty, dry components perfectly. The cognac is not tame in this one, but it also doesn't dominate, with most of its presence coming through from the mid-palate through to a very long finish. The slight tartness is quite appealing, and the beer is perfectly balanced. I have the feeling that age should treat this kindly, and I look forward to putting away a bottle or two.

Jan 12, 2016
Photo of jlindros
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
Photo of maximum12
maximum12 from Minnesota

4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I toast the newly discovered Ghost Octopus with this version of the Abyss; sure is a cute little guy. 22 oz. bottle with gold wax split with my wife.

The wax hits about 5.5 on the annoyance scale, but comes off with no blood & not enough trouble to mention. The pour is black with a pretty good-sized head. The nose is cognac & wood - full stop. I’m sure there’s something else there, but I’m not interested. Good as is. GAI.

The Abyss - Cognac Barrel Aged gives me pause. This isn’t the throwback to the good old days of ‘08, it’s an entirely different strain of goblin. Sweet malts mesh with a strong belt of cognac, & my perception shifts like I’m wearing the One Ring. The cognac is lovely. The base is subdued: mild roast, malt sweetness, warm vanilla, an almost molasses bent, & blessedly, no fucking cherry bark. Rich. Delicious. I could have drunk the whole bottle, drunk being the operative word.

This takes Abyss back to its glory. The barrel is huge & the beer is almost an afterthought. The balance could have been tweaked a bit, but that’s complaining about the food stores of Minas Tirith. Excellent beer.

Mar 06, 2016
Photo of Smakawhat
Smakawhat from Maryland

4.64/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass.

A nearly perfect and exceptional looking dark aged stout. The head is one of the darkest I've ever seen, deep mocha brown, bubbly like a dark milkshake, not too creamy but manages an easy one finger off the pour, and a frothy bubbly mix. It sits on a simple deep dark brown walnut totally opaque body, not a spec of light is getting through this thing, but not quite into supper black territory, but pretty close. It settles a little quick but has lots of swiss cheese leftover bubbles and a thick bubbled collar. One of the most darkest stouts impressive looking stouts I've seen, nearly perfection and truly unique.

Cognac angle has worked real nicely, but also adding and accenting different flavors on the nose. Lots of classic powdered dark cocoa, a hint of brandy and fruit character, but really shocked at a good thick milky smelling dark chocolate angle that whiffs into dust. A real nice small delectable grape sweetness hangs in the balance, not much oak character, but a thick full round aroma really envelopes the nose. Fruity dark chocolate.. Great aroma.

The palate really takes it in nicely, and gives to lighter qualities. Cognac angle doesn't add much thickness or depth, but the still good classic roast and dark chocolate malt like flavors contribute nicely and still kick through. There's an interesting thud like fizz at first and dark berried quality fruit that hits at first, with and almost grappa flavor but far less boozy. Mid palate explodes in thick roast and giant amounts of powdered cocoa dark chocolate quality and character. Finishes lighter than your average barrel aged imperial stout, but that seems to be my experience and expectations with Cognac/Brandy aged stouts. Strawberry like drenched qualities, and petitfor like chocolate flavors and mixes of vanilla and fruit with chocolate, literally it's the first thing that jumps out of my head when drinking this. An even almost minty finish that hits with leafy and chewy qualities, that just accents the beers wonderful fruit, chocolate qualities.

A real stunner and memorable brew, The Abyss gets better, I didn't think it was possible, but it's also changed a bit from the base because of this. This is really honestly nothing to complain about let me tell you.

Jan 27, 2016
Photo of pants678
pants678 from California

4.68/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tan head, black body.

Spice, malt, cognac and alcohol.

Toffee and chocolate blend well with alcohol and dark fruit. The latter, sort of cherry, leans toward a Quad. Still, not too hot as vanilla comes through with roasted malt and keeps it predominantly a desserty stout.

Hardly carbonated, not much foam, viscosity feels right for the style.

Dec 31, 2016
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium from North Dakota

3.96/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sep 14, 2016
Photo of bnes09
bnes09 from Illinois

4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Jet black, dense, shiny appearance. Solid cinnamon colored head. Deep roasted coffee and licorice flavor. Smoked pork notes. As it warms, cognac comes to life. Dense, velvety texture. Mild carbonation. Very complex and tasty ba stout.

Sep 14, 2016
Photo of Gotti311
Gotti311 from Wisconsin

4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jun 08, 2016
Photo of jrallen34
jrallen34 from Illinois

3.49/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Mar 15, 2016
Photo of liamt07
liamt07 from Canada

4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aug 27, 2017
Photo of Erikp666
Erikp666 from Connecticut

5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Feb 01, 2016
Photo of oline73
oline73 from Maryland

4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jun 30, 2017
Photo of BeerRay
BeerRay from Rhode Island

4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Nov 30, 2016
Photo of Rollzroyce21
Rollzroyce21 from California

4.46/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Jan 21, 2016
Photo of mikepcarney
mikepcarney from Ohio

4.92/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Jan 23, 2016
Photo of Knapp85
Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jul 24, 2016
Photo of whatname
whatname from Pennsylvania

4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Nov 01, 2016
Photo of siskiyoucellar
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
Photo of IpeeA
IpeeA from Missouri

4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Oct 24, 2016
The Abyss (Cognac Barrel-Aged) from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 262 ratings