The Abyss
Deschutes Brewery

The AbyssThe Abyss
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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #38
Ranked #141
4.51 | pDev: 9.31%
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States
The AbyssThe Abyss
Notes: A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate.

As for the great “drink it now or let it age” debate, we stand clearly on the fence. Distinct and delicious on release, the flavors meld and fuse into an entirely different pleasure after a year or more in the cellar.
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Reviews: 2,047 | Ratings: 7,425
Photo of mschrei
4.62/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I think I have had this beer many times, with many vintages. I have had them fresh, and I have had them aged. And for some reason, I have not reviewed it until today.

So I am rating a vintage bottled on 10/30/17. First pour was from a bottle that had been at room temperature for years and the second pour was after refrigerating for a half hour. I know, not much.

Appearance is a dark brown more than black, with a very frothy and creamy tan foam and lacing. Smell is wet boozy oak and bourbon barrels first, followed by dark fruit (wine grapes and raisins), then mildly sweet vanilla and molasses, and finished with a hint of cherry. The feel is sublime in an excellent way, easily the best thing about the beer. The almost light body and slightly dry finish gel extremely well with the heavy booze presence in a unique fashion. You just don’t expect what you get here.

I will have to try a “fresh” 18 for way of comparison soon. And, of course, buy another to age.

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
4.48/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle. Waxed and capped bottle. 2014 vintage. Best after date of '11/10/15'.
Black colored body, with a thin brown back lit edge. Two fingers of tan head, which settles down in a few minutes. Leaves spots of lacing on the glass.
Aroma of rich dark roasted malts, with dark molasses, black licorice, and barrel touches.
Taste emphasizes the molasses and licorice, and ends with a chocolate note. There are small nuances of cherry and vanilla. Dry at the end.
Medium plus mouth feel, with a smooth texture. Good carbonation in presentation, but not so much in feel.
This beer has aged into a real blend of the dark flavors as dominant. The higher ABV% provides that vapors that sit above the body, but do not burn. These vapors result in clearer nasal passages. Quite easy to drink, and because the end is so dry, the urge is to take another sip (or medium quaff). Barrel expression is minimal, but I do get a touch of the oak wine barrel. Bitterness is less than medium, and is a little surprising considering the dense dark smells and flavors.

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Photo of DEZ01301960
3.83/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I have tried several different vintages, only the 12 month 100% Barrel aged versions were any good. Deschutes needs to step up. I still see bottles of Abyss on the shelves.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.55/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

The abyss pours a black color, small lacong tan head. Aroma is rich, dry oak. Flavor is dry very rich, hi ts of nature and lictorice. Great heavy thick body. Overall great beer very flavorfull.

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Photo of Tony210
4.56/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Abyss 2015 Reserve

Pours thick and dark, nearly impervious to light. Thin mocha head recedes quickly. Aroma opens up nicely as it sits. Lots of dark chocolate, loads of anise, tons of molasses. Just smells so dense and rich. Flavor is very intense: the anise dominates but there is still a big showing of chocolate, dark molasses, bitter espresso, ample barrel presence. Fairly thick feel. Overall this is a fantastic BA imperial Stout. I bought 6 of these in 2016 and so far it has aged beautifully. Highly recommended.

4.5 rating

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a motor oil black with minimal tan head that left lace spots. Aroma has minimal booziness with a mix of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, hints of vanilla and dark cherry (which I assume is the licorice (black cherry licorice?)). The beer has an oaky smoothness with a mix of chocolate and cherry/licorice like sweetness, balanced by a roasted coffee edge and a note of booze.

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Photo of jt_thomas18
3.82/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

2018 vintage had on 4/18/19

The heavenly aroma just doesn't translate over to the taste, which is barely there even when its just a little below room temperature. Molasses, a hint of bourbon and then dark chocolate hit the palate in quick succession, then fade into a tannic mouthfeel after a minute or two between sips. While brewed with the ingredients for a stellar BA imperial stout, this one comes up a bit short.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
4.13/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Review/rating logged about two months after having it.

Had this at about 3 years old, with a number of other imperial stouts. Although it was a great imperial stout, considering the price, I was disappointed.

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Photo of safaricook
4.04/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

pitch black, fine beige foam
chocolate, booze, licorice
booze, chocolate, licorice, coffee
fine gently carbonation, substantial burn from the Bourbon
Certainly a top Bourbon Barrel aged stout. However, it is not overly expressive and leans more towards coffee and licorice than chocolate which I would prefer

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Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
4.01/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a beer that I haven't previously reviewed because I never it liked as much as the score indicates I should (it's got a strange bitterness to me). This time, I opened a 2014 bottle in 2019, and though it's slightly better, it still has an odd bitterness for me.

Appearance – Pours a nice black color with a surprisingly thick chocolate colored head (surprising due to the aging on this bottle). Slightly larger than normal sized bubbles in the head that stick to the walls of the glass. A nice looking beer!

Smell – Malt, molasses, licorice, cherry bark, oak, and red wine. A very light hint of bourbon and vanilla.

Taste – Somewhat bitter. Tastes of malt, oak, and wine. Maybe just a hint of bourbon.

Mouthfeel – A nice creamy stout, though it has a lingering bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability – For me, this is just an ok stout. I personally find their Obsidian Stout much better.

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Photo of TooManyGlasses
4.34/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage enjoyed February 2019. Pours a deep black with short lived tight brown head. Aroma is complex with molasses, dark chocolate, licorice, but with strong notes of dark fruits.
Taste has the dark fruits and molasses up front with licorice, bittersweet chocolate, but a strong sense of coffee as well as cherry in the back. Bitterness lingers in the smooth full mouthfeel, increasingly complex as it warms. Wonderful beer.

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Photo of PatrickCT
4.46/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 bottle. Thanks to Phil for this one.

Dark brown body with a brown two finger head. Soapy, foamy, creamy. Its it an intense looking beer.
An equally intense aroma. Roasted malts, dark molasses, very woody with lots of anise, dates and dark currants.
Aggressive yet balanced taste. Roasted malts, dark molasses, oaky, intense spices, a solid dose of valilla, espresso bitterness and barrel char in the finish.
Surprisingly smooth mouth feel, drier in the finish. A good nip of alcohol. Tannins and cherries in the after taste. Heavy body medium carbonation.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.27/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter

This beer pours dark and foreboding. It is topped with a couple inches of deep mocha head that clings to the sides of the glass as it recedes like my hairline.

I notice dark fruits at first. Cherry and plum come to mind. Anise is the next thing my schnozz detects. Dark chocolate and coffee round out the aroma.

The taste starts with dark fruit. Chocolate follows with anise right on its heels. The finish is slightly bitter with roasted grain and black coffee.

Full bodied with smooth mouthfeel

This beer is fruity and complex. Each sip has several flavors, and the beer has held up nicely.

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Photo of Zythophile
4.54/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Date: 2015
Palate Contaminants: none

Here's hoping I didn't wait too long. I'll revisit if I think age is too much of a detriment.

Color is that opaque dark brown that doesn't really let any light through. Head is a very fine light brown that looks like a mousse. A reasonable amount of lacing considering the type.

Smell has tons of dark fruits like raisins, prunes, and dates. They're sweet, and that's nicely integrated (or "natural" if I wasn't tryin' to be so fancy). It just smells thick and heavy. It's fair to say there's a little bit of cocoa and a little brown sugar in there, as well.

Those same fruits are also there in the taste, but they have a lot of anise flavor to compete with. Coffee, too. Bitterness and some charcoal taste hit late, and they're every bit as intense as the other flavors. There's also a mineral quality that isn't particularly common in the brewing arts. It could substitute nicely for a ruby port.

The aftertaste has too much of the charcoal. The bitterness is okay, but I'd love it if some of the other things left the party late, too. Good medium-heavy carbonation, and medium weight for the type. Alcohol is noticeable, especially later.

So, I might not require a revisit to the baseline Abyss, but I am curious about how it is when younger.

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Photo of DoghouseReilly3946
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Date: Bottled on 10/30/17, savored on 12/05/18.

Appearance: Pours black as night with a dark mocha head the barely cover the top of the beer. The lacing clings to the glass beautifully when I give it a swirl before slowly cascading back down.

Aroma: The aroma is a large amount of vanilla bean, dark chocolate, bourbon sweetness, roasted malts, chocolate covered fruit, coffee, some licorice, and syrupy molasses.

Taste: Big bourbon barrel character with a significant oak presence which gives way to sweeter flavors of vanilla and rich dark molasses and then the beer descends into the abyss with bitter dark chocolate notes and a bottomless cavern of roasted malts. The aftertaste is a whole bouquet of dark fruit and coffee notes with the cherry contributing that bright fruity flavor without the sweetness of actual juice. The vanilla runs throughout and has a surprising presence among the more bold flavors. As the beer reaches room temperature, or I find the bottom of the abyss, a few things happen. A very slight soy sauce flavor does come out, but nothing that really damages the rating as it can easily be ignored with the myriad of other flavors. The ABV does become a little more noticeable, but I wouldn't say this beer is hot. Also, the malt roast and oak characters intensify and the beer becomes more about the rich molasses. The mouthfeel on The Abyss is thick and full with the texture remaining totally smoove. This is one of the best damn beers I've ever tasted. I have without a doubt spent more money on The Abyss than any other single beer and every time I crack a bottle I remember why it is worth every penny of the $18 it retails for.

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Photo of jvgoor3786
4/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, thick black with no head or lacing.

The smell is oak and red wine with a little chocolate and bourbon.

The taste shows the red wine and some black liquorice. There's also a strong leather/char taste. It's pretty bitter on the finish.

The mouthfeel is thinner than expected but still velvety.

A very nice beer although less depth of flavor than expected. I'd like to try one that fresher to compare.

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Photo of beersampler6
4.18/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A very nice imperial stout but the stronger flavors of raisin and licorice were just a little too much for me. Pours a deep, rich dark black color with great dark tan head and sheets of lacing. Smells of deep rich chocolate and coffee, along with fainter dark stone fruit, malt and caramel. Tastes of deep dark roast coffee, dark chocolate mocha, vanilla, caramel, raisin, molasses, brown sugar, malt and licorice. Just too much raisin and licorice for me. Smooth mild mouthfeel, surprisingly not that creamy. Clean and silky, just enough carbonation. A strong beer but a little disappointing given the huge ratings and reviews here.

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

A lot toastier and maltier with some good dark chocolate taste. Not sweet like so many in this style but in a good way. Oddly, I drank the bottle over two days and it actually tasted better after being exposed for a day.

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Photo of mintzmeet
4.39/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Smells like hot caramel. Looks quite alluring in a sniffer. Wow. Intense flavor here. Obvious roasted malts, but something else...maybe kahlua-like. Very thick. Super alcoholic. Delicious. Like hot fudge. Rich.

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Photo of timmy2b
4.31/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2016 Bottle. Pours a pitch black color with a small amount of caramel colored head. Laced the glass with each sip. Scent was roasted malt and some excess booze. Taste was strong of cherry and a slight roasted malt aftertaste. Smooth for the ABV and alcohol scent.

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
4.47/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Abyss 2015. Pours a pitch black color with a small brown head. There is decent retention with good lacing, Deep roasted aroma with red wine and slight cherry. Smooth taste - mild molasses, roasted, red wine and cherry. Medium to heavy bodied with mild carbonation.

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Photo of Thankin_Hank
4.43/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful dark and rich looking Beer. Good thick and creamy head. Great lacing. Rich aromas of molasses and licorice and so many to ponder. Taste is lots of molasses and enough bitterness to know this is a beer. The alcohol is strong and that adds to the overall flavor. Overall this what we dream about in craft beer. On draft at Ron’s Corner Tavern. The 2016 version I’m told.

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Photo of AyatollahGold
3.45/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pouring a 2017 reserve from a 22 oz. bottle into a snifter glass. This beer pours out pitch black and forms a thick and creamy caramel colored crown. Bubbles of all sizes bursting with sweet and roasty notes to my nose. Almost a burnt chocolate smell with the molasses definitely being present. Black licorice is making its presence known with that sharp smell, (metallic too?) It's like a big roasty, burnt sweetness. It comes in with the taste being roastier than any beer I've had in quite a while, maybe ever. It's not like a coffee roasty though, it's like a burnt sweetness just like the nose. Its even almost metallic. The mouthfeel is dry leaving a smokey note. Overall, this is really not what I expected and I'm not quite sure if I like it. I like having something different and a change of pace, but I don't think I would grab this again. And the metallic notes were a little much for me.

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Photo of leaddog
4.46/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 reserve. This bottle has a "best after" date of 12/08/2016.

Appearance - Pours a dark molasses brown with two fingers of mocha head.

Smell - Oak bourbon barrel, vanilla bean, earthy and leafy hops, black licorice, vinous and woody aromas.

Taste - Roasted malts, earthy and leafy hops, vanilla, licorice, warm woody oak flavour.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth and slightly sticky with lingering oak notes and warmth from the alcohol.

Overall - A deep, rich Abyss brew from Deschutes. Even after aging for 2-3 years, the flavours in this beer are well-balanced and harmonious.

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Photo of Wolvmar
4.15/5  rDev -8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pour: bottled 10/30/17. Poured into a tulip glass. Jet black, absolutely opaque. Two finger tan foam head. Slowly dissipates leaving cloudy bubbles on top and beautiful lacing. Initial temp about 45 degrees. Warmed to about — when drinking

Nose: red wine upfront, bourbon, dark fruit, oak, molasses. Lots going on and well balanced. Could smell this all night.

Taste (45-50 degrees): surprisingly bitter hops/dark chocolate upfront. Not at all what I expected based on the nose. Molasses sweetness in the middle and backend with a little oak. Even a little grapefruit aftertaste. Don’t get a lot of bourbon, wine or anything else initially.

Taste (55-60 degrees): Bourbon notes more pronounced as it warms. Much less bitter as well. Red wine notes now very evident and more dark fruit as well.
Less chocolate but still present. Molasses still there as well. But, this isn’t a super sweet desert beer. Definitely better as it warms.

Mouthfeel: low to moderate carbonation. A little thinner than expected but still substantial. Creamy but not overly viscous.

Overall: this is a really good beer but slightly disappointing taste relative to the description, expectations and the nose. Definitely let it warm. I will probably buy one more to cellar but have mixed feelings.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 7425 ratings