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The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

1,888 Reviews
The AbyssThe Abyss

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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)

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-24-2006

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,888 | Ratings: 6,729
Photo of BeerStud187
3.68/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Overrated. I don't get it. Does not compare to other great BA imperial stouts. Harsher and not smooth goodness like I thought it would be. Yes strong and flavorful, but not delicious. Get this overrated swill out of the top 50!

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Photo of lbloom
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Gorgeous. Deep black body with a reasonable dark brown head. Big chocolate-brown bubbles stream up after the pour. Head stuck around for a while before receding almost completely, leaving a tiny wispy brown circle on the edge of the beer. Lacing is ample and sticky.

S: Complex. Booze and barrel hits the nose first. Heavy liquorish, coffee, and chocolate all come out next. Molasses and dark malts are there as well. Smells roasted, thick, and sticky. Not as in-your-face as barrel aged Rasputin or BCBS, but still a strong and complex nose.

T:Liquorish and barrel dominate. Lots of the vanilla-wood-booze character you'd expect from a beer of this style. Barrel manages to be present without dominating. This beer does a superb job of balancing barrel flavors against stout flavors. Strong malt backbone props everything up. Lots of thick and sticky roasted malts remind me a bit of Ten Fidy. Finish is lasting bitterness. You can almost feel your throat pucker from the coffee and hop tones. Aftertaste is smooth cigar tobacco, malt, and bitter coffee. As it warms, molasses rises to the front of the profile. Wonderful.

M: Smooth and creamy, but still with some decent carbonation. Sticky, resinous, and rich. Fantastic.

O: A superb beer. So complex, and yet so drinkable. A fantastic model for what a barrel aged stout should be.

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Photo of TheElectricOne
4.47/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage, pouredinto tulip glasses; quite vigorously:

Appearance: thick as hell and black as night, it encompasses the double stout style perfectly. Visibly viscous on the pour, with a color that is very dark. Some mildly lighter brown and ruby highlights on the edges. Slim mocha head that dissipates somewhat quickly. Leaves spotty brown lacing.

Aroma: seriously deep and decadent scents here. Licorice isn't prevalent, but I prefer it that way given that licorice to me is an off-putting flavor and aroma. The chocolate and sweeter bourbon character is the star here, with some thick and sweet molasses notes as well.

Taste: this is a unique brew in a realm of beers that can blend into one flavor profile quickly. It begins with the traditional imperial stout characteristics, full of roast and dark chocolate, as well as plenty of bourbon and barrel flavor. The big difference that sets it apart from other big, dark stouts is the cherry and slight licorice flavor. It's not cloyingly sweet or overly fruity, but subtle enough to keep it tasty and balanced. Very nice.

Feel: the only SLIGHT issue I had with this beer is that it was maybe a touch thin? It's picky at this point, but when rating beers highly, I think it's gotta be done....

Overall: this is an excellent barrel-aged stout. Very unique in flavor and aroma, and packs tons of layers.

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Photo of Bulabeers
4.71/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Black one finger brown head with excellent retention
S: Bourbon dark fruits and licorice
T: Bourbon vanilla oak and molasses. Perfect balance of sweetness and oak.
F: Creamy and thick
O: Top tier stout here no doubt

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Photo of willricewillsweep
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I'm biased because this was the first 'top' beer I had, but it was mind blowing at the time. When the beer hit my tongue, I got wave after wave of different flavors that didn't subside for a crazy long time. Thick brown head, sweet, complex. I loved it.

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Photo of rabbott2
2.4/5  rDev -46.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I really do not get the hype on this one. I've had the 2014 after the drink after date as well as 2012 this past weekend. Both are very soy saucy and strong black licorice. There's some barrel to the flavor, but the other off malty flavors just take this beer way off point IMO.

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Photo of ChilliHeights
4.65/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was recommended to me by the store beer guy. I have 2 more in my fridge, a 2014 and a 2015 version. Very nice tasting stout with many flavors. I liked the subtle bourbon taste over the more aggressive bourbon stouts. Great dark color with creamy head and goes down smooth. Will get a 2016 and have one of the older ones in the fall.

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Photo of VashonGuy
4.56/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2013. I sat on this for a couple of years.

There's a big burst of foam on my pour into a small snifter. Whatever the aging has done, it hasn't reduced the carbonation.

This beer is mellow, smooth, deep, rich, and incredibly complex, if that makes any sense. I get licorice, I get the wine barrels, I get tobacco and molasses, and some raisins. It's almost over the top in the number of different flavors in the mix, but then you realize it's really quite well balanced, and nothing dominates. For a beer that has seen bourbon barrels, the bourbon is pretty much in the background. I love BBA stouts, but this one is so much more than that. It's really almost in a class by itself, or maybe it's somewhere in between an Impy Stout and a Quad.

I can't actually say what the aging did, because I'm sitting on my newer Abyss bottles. It is the kind of beer that rewards patience.

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Photo of TBoneJones
4.8/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Vintage 2015, best after 12/08/16, per bottle. Why wait for that. Never tried this one.
Stout glass pour: rich black with rust head that settles to leave delicate lacing.
Rich body.
Aroma is subtle and complex, with hints of rich chocolate, licorice, cherry, and some vanilla, all encapsuled in a barrel aroma where the wine barrel really stands out so as to disallow stronger bourbon notes from overpowering the aroma.
Flavor is dark cocoa and molasses up front, and then evolves into licorice but without too much burn, smokey-sweet, pie-crusted malts, hops then barrel burn finish. Such a complex imperial stout. The "it" factor is about here for me as far as this style goes. The longer it warms and the farther in between sips, the more the licorice stays.
Lives up to the reputation.
For those who dislike licorice, or hops lurking in their big stouts, it may not be as big a hit.
I normally don't like hops lurking in there to taste, but the execution here is terrific.
Mouthfeel is medium-full, chewy.
What would age do? Probably good things.

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Photo of sjdevel
4.74/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Look: 4.75
Very thick and syrupy out of the bottle. It seemed to pour in slow motion. Got a nice 2 finger head of thick and very dark brown foam. Black as black can be. No light.

Smell: 4.5
Chocolate, coffee, and tart fruit.

Taste: 5
Complex. Chocolate, coffee, toffee, tobacco, etc... you name it and it is in this one. There is a lot of flavors firing throughout this brew. 3 different barrels that this one is aged in so it really adds to the complexity. Some fruit and a charred oak / smoked malt aftertaste.

Feel: 4.75
Thick and syrupy. Full bodied.

Overall: 4.5
Very good. Awesome.

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

2015 vintage, best after 12-8-16.

Look- pitch black with light tan head rimming glass.
Smell- cherry, light bourbon, faint licorice.
Taste- initial bourbon, with cherry mid pallet and licorice late pallet.
Feel- a little light for stout of this quality.
Overall- very solid beer that gets significantly better as it warms up. Glad I got to try it. While I liked it, there are better beers for less money.

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Photo of SoCal_Matt
4.56/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 Reserve with a best after date of 11/10/2015.

I kept forgetting about this beer in the back of my fridge, and I'm glad that I did. Now, I have never had it fresh so I have nothing to compare it to, but this beer really impressed me. Very complex and unique. Pours a very dark brown with just a bit of tan head. Lots of oak on the nose, as well as chocolate and a bit of red wine. Taste starts like a typical stout. Chocolate and coffee followed by some cherry notes, then you get hit with the Pinot barrels, and a touch of vanilla towards the end. Feel is just average, if not slightly thin for a BA stout. Overall, I really enjoyed this beer from Deschutes. I think this would be more highly regarded it wasn't so widely available, and dismissed by some because they can't sit on it for the appropriate amount of time.

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Photo of Diglitt
2.67/5  rDev -40.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I was severely disappointed in this beer. Probably the first one I fell victim to over hype. The flavors were just too much for me to really be able to enjoy. It was like drinking licorice. You either really like it, or you really hate it.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.36/5  rDev -25%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Thanks, Xenoreactive!

The aroma brings plenty of woodsy dark chocolate. Licorice shows up, as does a gentle hoppiness. My problem here is, while a solid nose, is overly muddled and underdeveloped. Flavor follows the nose. I do get a nice opening sensation of cherry wood to go with the dark chocolate notes. The back end is awash with piny hops, roast, and licorice. Seems muddled, complicated, and incoherent, hampering my enjoyment. On the other hand, I really enjoy the feel - the feel is dry finishing yet rich, warming, and palate coating. Gentle carbonation aids the easy drinking nature. Not particularly impressed with this - maybe it's too young? I respect Deschutes for telling you to age this a year, though; this should integrate more with age.

3.36/5: One confusing abyss

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Photo of SargeMcCluck
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours opaque black with some oil-coloured rimming. Yellowish head settles after a minute or so.

The wall of aroma is the real kicker here - I'd like it consolidated into a black candle to be lit at my funeral. Cigars swirl around dense brioche, molasses, vanilla, oak, raisins, earth, chocolate, bourbon and dark caramel, all at once. I feel as though I'm cuddling the tattered robes of a well-travelled wizard; deep inhalation is definitely a must.

Taste follows the nose, albeit in Willy Wonka-esque layers. The bourbon gives way to chocolate, then to yeasty bread, burnt sugar, coffee and vanilla bean... then comes spice, cherries, wine, and a crisp, hoppy finish that rounds off the decadence.. I can't pick up on some of the advertised licorice notes, and I would prefer a bigger hit from the barrels, but the complexity on display is astounding all the same, and always begs another sip.

Mouthfeel is smooth and not too thick, striking what I suppose is a necessary balance between the variety of flavours. Carbonation props up the fruitiness, but may occasionally mask some of the smoother notes. That's a nitpick, really - who's taking that last tipple?...

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Photo of PhilsPils
4.47/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I drink Imperial stouts less than several other styles but this one is definitely winning me over. Barely off of pitch black with a dark tan head. Wonderful, creamy mouthfeel with light carbonation. Chocolate and vanilla, raisiny with lots of oaky bourbon flavors. Slightly tart and appropriately bitter. I liked Obsidian quite a bit but this definitely seems more complex. Very well done stout.

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Photo of strohme2
3.96/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2014. Great looking pour, lots of puffy head that retains throughout the glass. Initially, wet cardboard on the nose followed by wood, molasses. Big licorice, molasses, wood and just a touch of smoke. Some red wine type qualities. Thick and chewy mouthfeel.

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Photo of mbfolk
4.39/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Wow I've waited since 2014 to open this one and I'm glad I waited. I'm beyond to happy from celebrating to rate this beer but it truly is a world class beer.

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Photo of MichaelCoyne
4.15/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had a bottle of the 2015 version at a bottle share and I wish we would have let it aged more. Overall great beer, just feel like I jumped the gun and didn't let it sit long enough.

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Photo of DaveBar
4.42/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Got on trade! Served at 12deg C in a tulip.

A- Opens well and pours a 1" high brown head that films out in around 3-4mins or so. Very dark brown almost black colour.

S- Nice chocolate and some heat

T- Complex to say the least. Chocolate and malt. Bourbon and Pinot barrels are there and done well. Not overpowering. Toffee and coffee abound. Lots of flavors.

M- Creamy going down but dries right out. Quite a bit of heat. Touch thin

O- Didn't get any licorice. Huh. Not a bad brew though. Worth having once for sure

Food Pairing

This extremely heavy brew went well with........ BBQ hamburgers with gorgonzola cheese on a toasted bun


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Photo of Hyptochrons
4.59/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2015 Abyss – dated best after 12/08/16 …. couldnt wait to try it so im drinking it fresh! got this recently in a trade with Dinizioj31, thanks again Jeff! Poured into a trillium snifter, appearance is black with a nice mocha head, sticks around a bit.

Wow nose absolutely pops out at you! molasses, dark malts, oak, cherry, licorice, very light funkiness from the wine barrels I assume.

On the palate its sticky sweet molasses, rich burnt malts, vanilla. As it warms getting some licorice and dark fruit, almost no booze... and I was worried about drinking this fresh because others have described it as being hot!

before trading for this beer I read quite a few reviews saying the feel is a bit thin, but I would only say that if I was being extremely picky…. thinner than only the most full bodied stouts – but by no means thin and honestly I think it coats nicely and is silky and thick.

Overall I thought this was both interesting and good, really glad I got to try this - would love to drink an older one for comparison!

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Photo of Jacobob10
4.17/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On-tap @ Capone's in Norristown, PA.

5.5 oz serving in a snifter.

Appears black in color and opaque until you hold it up to the light to see that it's actually dark brown around the edges of the glass with good clarity. Small dark tan head that disappears quickly. Lots of great things going on in the aroma like vanilla, cocoa, roasted/burnt malt, molasses, dark fruit, sherry, and port. These carry over to the flavor and you get some oak flavor from the barrel aging. Full bodied, rich, heavy, and vinious.

What a nice surprise to see this left over from the Deschutes event the night before! I'm trying to think of a comparable beer and Dogfish Head's World Wide Stout comes to mind. A great sipping beer for sure.

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Photo of bbtkd
4.35/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deschutes The Abyss 2015 Reserve, 12.2% ABV. This is bourbon/oak/wine barrel aged. Really good, pretty complex in taste, seems like I pick up something new every sip. Might regret cracking this right on the tail of the Pirate Bomb! since my son declined (buzzed from the Pirate) so I'm tackling this one alone. I have another in the cellar to try in the fall, maybe a side-by-side with a 2016. I used my Popener to open it.

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Photo of stevoj
4.34/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Everything you've heard is true.This is a world class beer. Deep and dark, slick and sweet, rich smoky flavors with some oak barrel, fruitiness. Just plain awesome! Tasted 2013, 2014, 2015

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Photo of nyoung
4.9/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The Abyss - 2014

*DISCLAIMER* This is going to be a brief review as I had this at a restaurant and wasn't paying close attention to it. I do have 2016 aging and will review that later on this year.

Look: Black, pours with minimal to no head.

Smell: Smells great! As for specific flavors, I do not remember and it would be unfair to state a guess.

Taste: It tastes fantastic, I want to say there was some fruit notes that were present and hint of smoke as well, possibly from the barrels.

Feel: I do remember it feeling a little thin for my liking, but that did not detract from the experience.

Overall, I highly recommend obtaining this if you can. It's a great beer and will not disappoint! I will be sure to revisit this review after I've had time to enjoy one without any distractions. As always, consume responsibly!

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
99 out of 100 based on 1,888 ratings.
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