The Abyss (Brandy Barrel-Aged)
Deschutes Brewery

The Abyss (Brandy Barrel-Aged)The Abyss (Brandy Barrel-Aged)
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American Imperial Stout
4.3 | pDev: 6.05%
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
The Abyss (Brandy Barrel-Aged)The Abyss (Brandy Barrel-Aged)
Notes: Enticingly ripe, earthy fruit rudiments awash in the open salt air of Normandy, lightly augmented with mushrooms grown in the depths of the Tronҫais forest. Delicate notes of Livarot glazed with an orange reduction and textured with toasted coconut shavings. Distinct aromas of cinnamon and ulster cherry, foxtrot in time with tangs of vanilla and brown sugar. Balanced, approachable wood zests meld charmingly with the finish of figs and Allegheny plums.
Reviews: 73 | Ratings: 260 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of SHODriver
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: poured into a snifter to a deep black beer topped by a dense and rocky finger of dark tan head which fades slowly to a collar around the edge of the glass with some lacing.
S: Smells of coffee and chocolate with some dark cherry like notes along with a touch of oak and brandy.
T: Taste is coffee and cocoa powder with some nice brandy notes, roasted malts, charred wood, burnt sugar, and oak with a touch more brandy. On the swallow there's more oak and cocoa powder with more brandy, coffee, roasted malts and charred wood.
M: This beer has a thick and silky feel on the palate. Carbonation is on the low end but it's adequate for the style while the beer has a drying finish which is expected.
O: Overall this is really awesome. Abyss is such a great beer already and this is a really nice twist. Great complexity and a really nice blend of flavors make this an outstanding drinking experience.

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Photo of Zythophile
3.96/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle Date: 2016
Palate Contaminants: none

You guessed it, color is a nondescript dark brown. Good amount of fine head, although it doesn't stick around or leave much lacing.

Smell has light anise and fudge, but the brandy I carries the day. The brady helps some other scents appear, like plums and dates, but it all goes right back to that wonderful distilled grape liquor.

Taste has a ton of charcoal and black coffee up front. (And in the middle and end.) The bitterness batters down the sweetness that was on the nose. Overall, it's an odd amalgam of bitter stout, smoky scotch, and brandy. (The brandy is the best part, but it's so buried.) Good amount of alcohol in the taste, to boot.

Aftertaste is lingering bitterness. Nicely integrated carbonation. Moderately sticky sweet, somehow. Aforementioned alcohol heat. But that bitterness, though...

I'm disappointed that it's below par for the type because I was really looking forward to this one.

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Photo of rypkr
4.3/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I haven't had abyss in years and hated it when I last had it. It was too roasty, bitter, and dirt like. I cellared what I had and thought maybe a few years would change them.

Fast forward to today and my tastes have changed. I appreciate a more roasty and less sweet stout.

I don't know if it's my tastes or just this being a brandy variant but I'm finding it much more palatable. I still wouldn't give abyss the praise that it gets but this is so much more tolerable than previous times having it.

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Photo of rudzud
3.55/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to JLindros for sharing this bottle with me. It's been in the queue for quite some time now, 3 years. 2016 vintage.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a nice dark brown almost black with a thick mocha head that fades to leave light wisps and a thin blanket.

S - Aromas of faint brandy, smokey, flashes of licorice, almost dirty laundry like.

T - Taste is similar to the nose with loads of salty licorice, tons of toasty char and light. Gets more and more salty as it warms.

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, creamy, alcohol hidden well but the finish is terrible

O - Overall this was an incredibly underwhelming beer. Can't taste any of the greatness that is the base abyss. An utter shame.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
4.19/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle. Bottled on '12/08/16'.
Black colored body. Two finger mocha brown head, which settles back to a creamy cap. Leaves partial rings and spots of lacing.
Aroma of dark roasted malts and dark fruits. Just a hint of brandy barrel.
Taste is more complex than the smell, but still has the dark roasted malts and dark fruit, and also orange. There is also chocolate and vanilla. The brandy barrel is there but still not prominent. There is some woodiness in the flavor. Very little bitterness.
Medium mouth feel, with a thicker texture. Good carbonation.
For the higher ABV% this beer drinks drinks incredibly easy. Seems "brighter" than some of the other Abyss beers, probably due to the brandy barrel and the dark fruit flavor.

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Photo of jlindros
3.82/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Decent foamy thinner tan small head fades fairly quickly, decent lacing, long legs, pitch black beer

Nose sweet mess, molasses, candy syrup, dark chocolate, woody and big vanilla, dark fruits, cherry, raisin, oak, fair anise and spice, light brandy

Taste fair anise and spice again, wood bark and big bitter spice, spicy bitter spices, dark chocolate, little cocoa, light brandy not much, raw vanilla and vanilla oak, tannins, lingering bitter spicy tannin

Mouth is fuller thick bod, medium carb, some alcohol head

Overall meh, base is ok but too harsh bitter tannin, very little brandy, high expectations and I'm really disappointed

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Photo of tigg924
4.41/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours opaque, black in color with 1/3 inch head. Taste dark roasted malt, black cherry, black currant, and vanilla powder. Dry, roasty, heavy bodied, low carbonation. Makes for an excellent sipper. Super dry and roasty. Another winner from Deschutes.

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Photo of JBowenGeorgia
4.29/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Black pour with two fingers of tan head that hung around awhile.
Dark fruits, roasty malts, barrel on the nose.
Taste follows with roasty malt, bit of coffee, cherry and plum, barrel, vanilla.
Full bodied, carb level is good.
Overall a tasty one!

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Photo of bbtkd
4.09/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deschutes 2016 Brandy Barrel Abyss, 13.4% ABV. Pours black with an incredible two+ finger brown foamy head, which left heavy lacing. Nose is brandy, dark fruit, and citrus. Taste is complex; roasted malt, brandy, salt, bitter orange peel, something earthy, and dark fruit. Mouthfeel is excellent. Overall excellent, though definitely a unique brew. I passed on this in 2016 due to reviews, but figured I would finally take a crack at it since I happened across one.

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Photo of CaptainHate
4.43/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

10/08/2016 650 ml bottle poured into a DFH tulip. Very dark brown body under a finger tan head which dissipated slowly leaving some lacing. Smell is mainly of dark malt and fruit aromas; only a slight hint of the brandy remains. Taste reveals more of the brandy but the roasty malts and complex vanilla flavors are taking over (I assume, I never had this fresh). Mouthfeel is fine for a sipper like this.

Just a very good experience.

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Photo of AyatollahGold
4.36/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pretty excited for this one. From the ones I've had (rum & tequila), these Abyss variants have been for me. Oddly, since I didn't care for the regular. Pouring this 22 oz. bottle dated 12/09/16 into a snifter glass. This beer pours out very dark brown and forms a gorgeous one finger creamy caramel colored crown. I just want to jump inside the crown. So dense. The smell is complex with burnt sweetness, some wood funk, slight orange notes. The taste comes in with fruit notes like orange zest and dark cherries mixing with wood and slight chocolate. Even has some fig like present. This one is very mellow and smooth. Less chocolate than the rest but very tasty in its own aspect.

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Photo of colts9016
4.4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer is a 2016 Vintage. I am unsure of what to expect from this beer. The Rum barrel beer was in my opinion tasty. The beer is 47 degrees and served in a tulip glass. Gentle pour on the beer produced a two finger head that is frothy and creamy. The head is dark brown and has fair retention. The beer is SRM 40 black and opaque. The head left no lacing on the glass as it dissipated.

The aromas in the beer are earthiness, molasses, dried fruit, chocolate, coffee, toffee, wood, char, anise, vinous, burnt sugar, smokiness, bready, dark roasted malts, and salt.

The flavors of the beer are burnt sugar, smokiness, vinous, raisins, salty, earthy, molasses, dried fruit, dark chocolate, anise, toffee, char, wood, dark roasted malts, coffee, bready, vanilla, and brown sugar.

The mouthfeel of the beer is chewy and thick.

The body of the beer is full, low carbonation, and a full finish.

This barrel age on the beer gives the beer a somewhat unique flavor. I did enjoy drinking this beer.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.21/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle shared by Chalumeaux, thanks for the opportunity!
Rich inky black color with a tan head that shows moderate retention. Rich roasty chocolate with a hint of licorice and bits of grape fruitiness that cuts through the roasty chocolate very nicely. Very tasty, my favorite abyss of the night.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.44/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Two year old, properly cellared bottle. Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass with a thin dark khaki head with great retention and light lacing.Aroma of dark toasted malt, molasses, caramel, brandy and vanilla with slight woodiness. Flavor is dark toasted malt, caramel, light molasses, oak, plums and light cherry, probably from the brandy. Lingering light char and toasted malt with coffee and mild dark fruit notes. Medium bodied with moderate creaminess and great mouthfeel. The brandy treatment melds well with the classic dark, charred toastiness of the Abyss base stout. I'm not getting much actual brandy flavor, but there are very nice fruit notes, particularly dark fruit that is certainly from the brandy barrel. The dark fruit flavors fade away into a finish that exhibits really fine dark charry malt with coffee notes. I look forward every year to The Abyss and its variants. This is one of the better ones.

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Photo of beergoot
4.17/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Tar black body; one-finger thick head; light tan, dense, and foamy. Notes of cocoa, bitter chocolate, and charred grains on the nose. A blast of flavors -- milk chocolate; curry and anise; boozy; some dark pit fruits like dates; raisins. Heavy body; lush and velvety; warming alcohol heat.

The aroma may have faded some, but the heart of the beer - the flavor - is just intense and extremely enjoyable. I can't claim to discern any brandy quality per se, but this is one boozy yet balanced beer. A mind blower...

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Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2016 bottle. Poured an opaque, jet-black color with a small, light-brown head of foam. It smelled of chocolate, roasted malt, toffee, oak and sweet molasses. Rich and decadent with chocolate, toffee and roasted caramel malt.

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Photo of DavidR_9
4.44/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really decadent roasty chocolate, roasted coffee bitterness, cherry wood, fruity and warming brandy elements that cap the decadent medium chewey imperial stout base. I like it while it’s still slightly cool. As it warms, the beer thins and exposes the brandy barrel character and develops a green grapey crispness and alcohol bite. Another complex and enticing offering from deschutes’ barrel aging program

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.19/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Dark brown / black pour with a sticky, frothy, dark toffee colored lacing.

S - Brandy, chocolate, oak.

T - Oak, brandy, chocolate.

M - Big medium body.

O - Really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of brenn79
4.56/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle- Pours black as black with a long sustaining dark tan head that retains extremely well, leaving sheeting lace and a small blanket. Aroma is black currants, chocolate, a touch of oak, the brandy is presented in a sweet and lightly booziness, not overbearing at all. The taste right off the bat has more oak, but still in check, leather and tobacco, very chewy, chocolate is a bit more dialed in, especially from what the aroma led you to believe. Phenomenal beer, the best of the one off Abyss variants so far for sure, loved it.

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Photo of the_benskii
4.6/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 edition (drank 4/17/2018) Pours a demonic pitch black into a snifter glass which subtle slicks on the top with whatever is left after the booziness kills off the rest of it. The smell is rich with woody aromas with chocolate and vanilla notes. Tastes of molasses and dark fruits with a kick of vanilla and oak. Feels rich to the mouth and overall a powerful and deadly barrel aged imperial stout that wrecks those who underestimate how easy it is to drink for its ABV.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.98/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from rutger this past summer. Cheers!

From a bomber into a snifter
Abyss aged 100% in brandy barrels

APPEARANCE: Opaque black pour yields a three finger, thicker looking, creamy dark tan head with excellent retention. Black body and no carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a full cap. A splotchy wisp remains leaving lots of lacing down the glass as it empties. Good looking.

SMELL: Brandy, oak and woody aromas, caramel and toffee notes with some vanilla on the nose too. Nice stuff for sure.

TASTE: Quite boozy with brandy and woody flavors up front. Boozy for sure. Some chocolate and more wood at the swallow. A big and boozy finish of brandy, booze, wood, some pure, dark chocolate, caramel and vanilla flavors linger on the palate, Intense and alcoholic.

PALATE: Medium-fuller body with medium levels of carbonation. Creamy and slick on the palate, goes down fine with a good burn and finishes quite sticky on the palate. Lots of heat lingers.

OVERALL: Excellent stuff. Rather boozy and alcoholic for sure, but there’s lots of character and piles going on. This is another example of how fine Abyss can be. I would say this one is perhaps the least of the four 100% BA treatments so far, but it’s still a top-notch beer. Just goes to show how good these really are. Thanks again, rutger!

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Photo of Just-the-sip
4.65/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Lord in heaven. Hollowed be thy name. 2016 version here. It's 3/31/18. Smells of maple, bacon, vanilla and apples? Raisen maybe. There's a fruit in there. Taste is the same. Peet in there too and chat on the back end. . Sweet but not cloying. Moth feel is light to medium. NO head when I poured it. Motor oil. Love this stuff. Shame this years version was nearing $30. Well done.

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Photo of emyers
4.44/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 bottle poured into snifter.

Black with creamy dark brown head.

Nose: dark chocolate, vanilla, brandy, hints of spice.

Taste: very strong bitter dark chocolate up front. Brandy, vanilla, and oak undertones. The barrel presence is there but in more of a supporting role to the base stout.

Full-bodied, smooth, finishes dry.

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Photo of sjrider
4.42/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours nearly black with a frothy tan head that quickly dissipates leaving a bit of lacing in a snifter.Nose is a bit subdued with roasty malt, dark stone fruit ,sweet brandy, a hint of vanilla and cocoa. Taste follows nose. Mouthfeel is thinner than expected but quite enjoyable. Taste intensifies as it warms. Really well done ,maybe my favorite version of Abyss.

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Photo of stortore
4.31/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Bottled 12/9/16, had 4/22/17.

Pours near black, opaque, with a half inch, quickly dissipating foamy head and a good amount of loose, soapy lacing. Smells of medium roast malts, brandy- more as it warms, oak, chocolate, raisins, dates, vanilla, some toffee. Smells great. The taste also leads with the malt- not as roasted as the nose, cocoa, brandy, chocolate, caramel, raisins, vanilla, molasses, light alcohol. Smooth, solid medium to full body, well carbonated.

Brandy forward, but still well balanced and it didn’t detract from the base beer. Great aroma and very good flavor. A worthy addition to the list of variants.

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The Abyss (Brandy Barrel-Aged) from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 260 ratings