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The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

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BA SCORE
99
world-class
1,908 Reviews
The AbyssThe Abyss
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States
deschutesbrewery.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,908
Ratings:
6,843
Avg:
4.48
pDev:
18.08%
 
 
Wants:
2,920
Gots:
3,780
For Trade:
338
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,908 | Ratings: 6,843
Reviews by BKBassist:
Photo of BKBassist
5/5  rDev +11.6%

More User Reviews:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.76/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

"If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

--Friedrich Nietzsche

2006 Reserve. Obliterative black that threatens to suck all ambient light from the room. Okay, that's probably over the top, but the beer is aggressively dark. The molasses hued cap is one of the darkest I've seen and is a treat for the eyes. It's thick and rich and long lasting and does a great job blanketing the glass with sheets of finely bubbled lace. In a word: perfection.

The nose is very good without being an absolute stunner. It may be that my expectations were too high, but I expected something with more pungency and more complexity. I can appreciate chocolate fudge and blackstrap molasses. Where's the black licorice? Where's the bourbon? The label says 'aged in oak barrels', but it doesn't say whether or not those barrels previously held bourbon.

The Abyss is *definitely* deserving of the hype. What amazes me most is how it's such a gentle giant. It tastes as if this bottle has been aging for several years rather than barely one. The various flavors all get along beautifully together, as if they've had all the time in the world to get acquainted.

The alcohol delivers just enough warmth to let you know you're drinking a massive beer that needs to be respected. Completely declawing and defanging a beast like this one is never a good idea. In case you're wondering, the 2006 is drinking splendidly right now.

A huge amount of roasted malt (and assorted other ingredients) delivers flavors of dark chocolate, espresso, caramelized sugar, molasses, licorice and sugared vanilla bean. The depth and complexity is close to overwhelming at times. If you love RISs and have the opportunity to buy a case of The Abyss, do so. You won't regret it.

Sweetness edges right up to the 'too sweet' line, without putting a toe over. The key is a surprising amount of citric, sprucey, resionous hops. On second thought, given the region of the country in which these guys brew, I'm not a bit surprised. There's no doubt in my mind that the flavor deserves the ultimate score.

The mouthfeel is a veritable feast for the senses. Like almost every other attribute of this fantastically delicious ale, it finds that precise sweet spot between too much and too little. It's heavily silky and glassy smooth and... well, it's simply perfect.

I have gazed into The Abyss. I've also smelled it, tasted it and felt its creamy lusciousness. This is a Russian Imperial stout for the ages and is one of the finest beers that I've ever had the pleasure to imbibe. Believe the hype and buy all you can get your hands on. Bravissimo!

 2,637 characters

Photo of tectactoe
3.96/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Kevin R for this long time want, 2011 vintage. The abyss pours out like... an abyss. Seriously, it is black, oily, and inky as hell with a deep, deep tan head that froths up slowly like a crema on top of an overpriced espresso. Long lasting, as it slowly recedes but never fully goes away; truly a beautiful beer, and one of the darkest stouts I've seen.

Creamy and roasty coffee beans up front in the aroma. Very "nice" coffee, like the kind you get at one of those indie shops with the hipster, tattooed barista, none of that Meijer aisle 9 shit. Not as good as, say, Speedway, but still a nice coffee blend. There's an underlying sweetness, a la cream and sugar-y, with a bit of back-end mild smoke.

Roasted malts, cocoa, and black licorice make a small appearance; enough to be noticeable, but they really don't leave a lasting impression. I wanna say molasses is somewhere in there, too, but it could just be a conjugate of the overall sweetness and maybe I'm just reaching for some descriptors now. Abyss is coffee, all day; it smells good but isn't exactly that complex.

The flavor leads off like the aroma, like taking a sip of something that's been sitting on top of coffee beans for months. Oily, roasted coffee beans, again, followed up with a balancing sweetness that goes hand in hand with the creamy body of the beer. Abyss has a nice mouth feel; smooth and heavy with pretty damn good carbonation.

Roasted beans and roasted malt keeps pounding the flavor profile. Maybe a little bit of licorice here and some molasses there. But it's not layered quite like I was expecting. And I've made it through nearly the entire glass with basically no mention of barrel. Seriously - I know it's only 33% barrel-aged or whatever, but it does not show up in this beer, at all. Perhaps that's why the complexity suffers.

Here's my problem with Abyss. It's a great stout, really. If I could go pick this off the shelf anytime for about 8-9$ a bomber, I gladly would. I just don't see why people go bat-shit nuts over this beer. I don't understand the 4.55 cumulative average (at this time of rating) for this beer. It's good, but c'mon people, it's not *that* good, and I certainly would never go through the hassle of trading just to get it. When it starts seeing year-round distro, then maybe I'll buy some more.

 2,330 characters

Photo of mjpolzin
3.89/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Didn't like this one as much as I hoped. It was overly roasty and the wine barrel/liquorice taste was a little odd to me. I would be interested in trying this with a little age on it and I do see that Deschutes has a "best after" date on the bottle. We'll give it another shot down the road.

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Photo of Moses_Malone
2.82/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Had 2014 version on draft. I don't understand this beer's popularity. It tasted like bitter teriyaki sauce. No barrel character either. I realize it is expressly stated that the beer sit a year before being consumed, but I'm not sure how much better 6 more months or even two more years can make this.

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Photo of TheCondor
4.63/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is my 300th beer review on Beer Advocate. I figure each one of my reviews takes about ten minutes, give or take. That's 3000 minutes reviewing beers on this website. That's 50 hours, a decent workweek for most people. I'd probably add in another 50 hours posting, looking at posts, etc., plus countless more spent drinking beer and reading my print subscription of BeerAdvocate. Needless to say, I have spent a lot of time and effort on all this.

Side poured from the pint bottle, 2014 edition, into a pint glass with standard vigor.

Appearance - As black as the Marianas Trench, just like I expected it to be. Nice two finger mocha head that dissolves rapidly but leaves intensive lacing on the glass. Big dominating presence. Love the packaging, simple but gets the point across.

Smell - The smells mentioned on the side of the bottle can all be detected: bourbon, oak, dark fruits, booze, and a huge dose of chocolate. There is also intermixed some vanilla and molasses.

Taste - Even better than the nose. Massively complex. All of the scents of the nose are present on the palate. The dark fruits, vanilla, chocolate, and spices all make their appearances. Amazing!

Mouthfeel - Finishes smooth, big, rich, and with a touch of booze warmth. Goes down real easy, much better than an 11% ABV would suggest. Low carbonation, big body.

Overall - This is an excellent beer, fully deserving of the 4.5 rAvg and the 100 rating from the BA community. I don't have to explain a lot. Just go get the beer and drink it.

 1,524 characters

Photo of Redneckwine
4.78/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Fresh 22oz bomber into tulip

Appearance - This beer lives up to its name in the appearance department: black as the infinite void. A .5" dark tan head forms, then recedes slowly into a wispy, thick cap that leaves dark, sticky lacing.

Smell - Chocolate covered cherries come to mind immediately. Earthy, woodsy barrel notes creep in with estery, fruity spiciness.

Taste - Like the nose, semi-sweet chocolate cherry is front and center, then begins to bow out to earthy, woodsy, spicy, fruity, boozy barrel notes. Extremely complex. Roasted coffee and spice-bread-like malts come into play with suggestions of burnt-sugar and a musty yeast ghost note. Big alcohol is ridiculously well hidden; this beer isn't hot at all. A light touch of earthy/grassy hops becomes apparent, and the finish dries out very fast with charred barrel, fruity roasted malts, and light drying bitterness coating the mouth.

Feel - Carbonation is so light and gentle, but pervasive enough to carry this monster beer around the mouth beautifully. Full bodied and thick, but the carbonation makes this one extremely smooth, creamy, and absolutely sublime.

Overall - This beer is an absolute masterpiece; tastes like a barrel-aged chocolate covered cherry followed by about 20 other complex flavor notes, but dries out perfectly for a near-crisp finish. Obviously a lot of work, planning, and master-craftsmanship went into producing this beer - you can taste it in every sip.

 1,452 characters

Photo of Wer34truh
4.21/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark black color, with a small light brown (hell, I'd almost say orange) head. Few visible signs of carbonation, besides the occasional minimal rising bubble. The clear black color makes my glass look like a mirror when looking at it. When I hold the glass up and look straight at it, it looks identical to the way my computer screen looks when I've turned my computer off at night. It almost feels like it has no appearance at all, and that the innards of my essence is being reflected by a beer glass.

Smells of licorice, roasted coffee beans, wine, chocolate. Overall, a very full aroma.

The taste is definitely heavy on the roasted flavor, the coffee and chocolate complements each other nicely as neither dominates. I get quite a bit of plum, licorice, and notes of vanilla as well. This beer really does have a fascinating contrast between the sweetness of the chocolate and vanilla, and the bitterness from the smoked flavor and licorice. Very rich flavor, with a large degree of nuance. Mouthfeel is full and satisfying.

I really really liked this beer, but I might have fallen in love with its appearance. This is a perfect looking beer, which makes the fact that it only tastes like a pretty damn good beer slightly disappointing. In either case, this is a very good stout.

 1,296 characters

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

I picked up of 2010 purchased at a local grocery store (Fred Meyer). It should be on your bucket list if you're a fan of the dark, well worth tracking down. First year it was good but not exceptional. Two years later it started having more complex flavor and mouthfeel. By 2014 it's hands down the best stout I've enjoyed . Looking forward to cracking a 2014 vintage in a few years to see how it compares.

 407 characters

Photo of Kjcobus
1.66/5  rDev -62.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Really don't understand what the hype is about this one. The appearance is fine but it's really just getting high ratings because of hype. Even after resting for a year this one is bitter and dry. Overly oaky wood flavor but not in a sweet way. The flavors are far from balanced and leave an off taste one wouldn't expect from a stout. Blending is an art they clearly haven't mastered. Don't buy into the hype on this one folks. Not worth it

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Photo of Jonada
3.67/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2014 Reserve. Best AFTER 11/10/2015. 650ml bottle poured into a snifter

Appearance: Pours a dark brown (black once in the glass) with 2+ fingers of a dark tan, creamy head with good retention. Body is opaque.

Smell: Roasted malt, chocolate, butterscotch, toffee, vanilla with a hint of bourbon.

Taste: Roasted malt, coffee, black licorice, hint of black currant. Theres an odd, strong bitterness that lingers long after the finish and is somewhat off-putting.

Mouthfeel: Fuller end of medium bodied with a somewhat creamy mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Overall: Good, but definitely doesn't live up to its ratings. The weird bitterness also detracts a bit from it as well.

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Photo of warrendietrich2001
4.84/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a growler that I purchased an hour before drinking.
Aggressive pour into a glass made for imperial stouts.
About 3 inches of a mocha head that left a nice trail of lacing.
Color was very dark like a black coffee, head was a mocha color.
Looked delicious
Smell. Wow when I opened the growler was overwhelmed with the smell leaving bottle.
As I poured seemed to be overwhelming booze scent. Was afraid would not like.
As it warmed up really smelled cherries and chocolate, and I swear every once awhile I got a vanilla scent.
Taste. Thought I would just drink a glass ended up drinking 3 its that good. Did not notice any alcohol at all. A nice coffee taste with lots of cherry. First sip warmed my gut (I was drinking outside next to a fire and was cold). Could not help but think this is a great night cap beer or if I was camping the first beer of the morning.
This was a great beer and I am so happy to have drank it.
I normally don't drink a lot of Imperial Stouts but will be back tomorrow to refill the growler.
If anyone on BA can recommend a beer in this style that they like more than this please let me know as I would love to try it.

 1,166 characters

Photo of smb
4.2/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

In the glass, it's total darkness... living up to it's name. Aroma gives off amazing licorice, coffee/espresso, vanilla, molasses and chocolate flavors. The actual taste really only follows through with the licorice, bitter chocolate and espresso-coffee booziness. There is a slight wine and cherry tartness coming through, which I'm not a huge fan of, but it's not overpowering.

While tasty, the problem for me is that no single flavor really shines through. All the flavors got lost in The Abyss? The overall flavor profile seems somewhat unbalanced and a little bit messy. Several sips in, it gets a bit one-note with the roasty booziness.

Many people have said this is great with a year or more on it, and it might be... but any truly great beer should get BETTER with age, but still be excellent fresh as well. Very good, but not great... and overall, not worth the $17.99 per bomber price-tag.

I think it would be amazing for Deschutes to do a 100% bourbon barrel-aged version, but they seem to be against 100% barrel aging for whatever reason.

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Photo of dertyd
4.58/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours jet black wIth the smell of dark chocolate covered blueberries or cherries, the taste is very dark chocolate covered fruit with a nice lingering bitterness you can taste the wine and the oak in the end very very very great beer

 233 characters

Photo of schmidtmattsays
3.49/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2014 vintage on tap at Hopleaf. Now I understand the reason for a "best after" date on the Abyss bottles- this is clearly way too fresh and hot. Liquid black liquorice - taxing to finish.

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Photo of TrojanRB
4.45/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

'14 Vintage drank during the online tasting 11/15/15

Poured from bomber into Simon Pearce tulip

Look: thick, oily black. 2 inch brown head, dissipated over a few minutes

Smell: sweetness of fruit. Plums. Coffee.

Taste: Raisins, bitterness of coffee on the finish. A bit of tobacco.

Feel: Not overly oily, leans more towards dry (as far as the style goes). Almost a tart finish

Overall: A year on it, has developed well. Would be excellent with a cigar.

 459 characters

Photo of Hat_Fulla_Beer
4.66/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

650ml bottle poured into Sam Adams pint glass. 2015 bottle.

Pours utterly black with a thin cap of creamy dark brown head that leaves clouds and blotches of dripping lace as it recedes.

Smells of dark chocolate, black cherries, moist tobacco, rich molasses, roasted marshmallow and wood smoke, bourbon whiskey, black licorice and gentle red wine tartness. Outstanding.

Tastes of rich dark chocolate drizzled over cherries and raisins, toasted brown sugar, aged bourbon, more smoky marshmallow and tobacco and more sexy red wine tartness.

Feels soft and smooth. Full bodied with creamy carbonation. Finishes dry with hardly a hint of alcohol.

Verdict: Vigorously recommended. Good to an almost staggering degree.

 717 characters

Photo of mfnmbvp
4/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, 2014 vintage, best after date 11/10/2015. Was holding this down for over a year, and finally cracked it on Christmas Eve.

Poured into a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale mini snifter.

A - Viscous jet black pour. Less than a finger of dark tan head. Lots of good thin sticky lacing.

S - An interesting and unique aroma. The molasses & licorice are very present. Notes of tart cherry juice and wood / barrel aging melds together. Subtle vanilla and wine tannins are also there.

T - Warming alcohol, molasses / licorice spicing, notes of roast / char. Has a bit of hot, almost peppery sort of spice present, but perhaps it is just the booze heat. The subtle wine / grapes become more pronounced as the beer warms toward room temperature.

M - Feel is smooth, thick, creamy, heavy. Alcohol afterburn is still present.

Overall, unique & interesting, but probably not something I would actively seek out every year. Worth the try, but I will probably pass on it in the future.

Deschutes The Abyss -----4/5.

 1,018 characters

Photo of Jimmeekrek
3.53/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Easily one of the bigger disappointments in my beer history. Maybe I drank it too fresh, but just kind of a mess. Not my thing, I guess. I love BA Stouts, this one is not going to make any best of lists, personally.

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Photo of rypkr
4.26/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 bomber. Best AFTER date is 12-8-16. Guess I'm about a week early Deschutes.

A - poured into a snifter. Thin, jet black, coca-cola looking. Little head. Very thick however on the side of the glass with very dispersed lacing. It clings to.the side of the snifter like wet paint and just doesn't all run back down. It looks very sticky.

S - burnt sugar and molasses. Dark fruit and cherries. Smoke of burnt wet wood. Sweet cream/vanilla. Red wine. Minimal alcohol.

T - wow. Incredible amount going on. I honestly can't even describe it after the first sip it's so complex. It tasted charred, but not burnt. Tons of light roast malt and chocolate flavor. Mild fruitiness. Faint vanilla and oak. The flavors are extremely strong and I'm finding my palate overcome between sips and it hard to recognize new flavors. If it has a flaw it's for being overly roasty and hard to discern the many other nuances underneath the charred flavor.

M - great here. Not the fudgiest ba beer I've had but it's definitely not thin. Very creamy, certainly chewy, definitely filling. Overall far above average mouthfeel.

O - very impressed. $22/bomber impressed I'm not sure. I'd probably buy one a year at that cost but if it were in the $15 range I'd scoop it up without hesitation.

Edit - dropped taste and overall from 4.5 to 4.25 due to the beer becoming cloying and overwhelming to finish. A 12oz would have been perfect for a bomber of this is difficult and nothing but burnt sugar and malt after a while. I honestly considered drain pouring at 60% and drinking something else instead but the cost of the bottle has me sticking it out.

 1,631 characters

Photo of FriedSlug
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm not sure this beer is a perfect 100 for everyone but it is for me. I drank the 2014 vintage. Dark as night, awesome cocoa colored head and impressive lacing for a big stout. The amount going on in the nose and taste of this beer is ridiculous. Smells like wine, oak, coffee, molasses, chocolate, bourbon, tart cherries and roasted malt sweetness. The flavor is a very well balanced version of the aromas. I notice the wine, oak and licorice more in the taste than in the nose and there is a very nice finish that tastes like tart cherries and bitter black licorice. This is a really superbly crafted beer that is a must have for any beer drinker.

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Photo of Bigdoc91
4.93/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured a nice chocolaty colored head. Aroma comes off sour, most be the 11% of it aged in wine barrels.

Taste: Sour hits you first. Fruity/cherry components come through in the middle with a nice oak smoky (BBQ) flavor as it goes down your throat.

Outstanding beer. Wish I had another one.

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Photo of Sparty1224
3.92/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Serving: 22 oz. bomber poured into a Cigar City snifter. 2014 Reserve dated "Best After 11/10/15". Most likely about 2 months old at this point.

A: Pitch black, no light getting through. 1/4-finger light brown head. Looks real nice in the glass, much more appealing that the Black Butte Anniversary beers.

S: First thing that jumps out is the wine character from the wine barrels. Imparts a nice fruity, tart aroma, very bright. Next up is likely the cherry bark, as I pick up a strong bitter cherry and ripe fruit aroma. Not much vanilla or molasses. Not much bourbon.

T: So initially I served this a bit cold right out of the fridge and was getting a ton of bitterness, lots of dry, dark fruit, and lots of dry wine character. Aftertaste was very bitter and dry. No noticeable bourbon, oak or vanilla flavor. As the beer warmed, some complex layering came through. The cherry bitterness spread out, some vanilla and oak came through, and the beer started to balance out. Still very tart in the finish, and very, very dry and bitter for such a big BA stout.

M: Big, full, creamy. Very dry on the aftertaste.

O: Interesting expectations for this one. Top 50 rated, but lately has been getting a bad rap for some reason. Either way, went in with an open mind. For me, this beer does not live up to the hype, like many have been saying. The strongest barrel character, I think, comes from the wine barrel, and I'm just not a fan. 6% of bourbon barrel aging is non-existant and just a waste. Barrel character needs to be more present and balanced. Didn't pick up much vanilla or licorice, and instead got all dark fruit and bitterness. Way too dry for me. I think I may have had this too fresh, and for once, Deschutes may be right in saying "Best After" one year.

Recommendation: Given the notoriety of this beer, I think it's worth a shot for everyone at least once. Not exactly worth the price, though. Also, consider buying two with one to age, or just age a single bottle, especially if you don't like fresh, bitter imperial stouts.

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Photo of martyl1000
4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

OMG, am I luck, or what? Never thought I'd ever cross paths with this legendary brew.

On tap at The Blue Moon for MCBW, which has been the best event of the week, by far, I might add. Good work, Blue Moon!

I'm having this next to KBS and Black Butte XXVI, and I have to say this is the best of the three. Man, wow! (I'm actually surprised by how less blown away I am by the KBS.)

And can I mention again what an insane lineup this is here at the Blue Moon, today?!

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Photo of jvivino
4.45/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottle. First sip, charred roasty and dark malts. Very boosy up front. Good mouthfeel, smooth but would like a little more silk to it. Burnt wood and molasses on 2nd sip. Sips 3 and 4 - Very sweet and just phenomenal. As it warms up the roasted character never leaves. Not getting a lot of licorice, but for me that's a plus because I'm not a licorice fan.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
4.48 out of 5 based on 6,843 ratings.
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