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The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

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1,902 Reviews
The AbyssThe Abyss

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States

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

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Reviews: 1,902 | Ratings: 6,805
Photo of BarrelyLegal
2.87/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.25

The Abyss - Deschutes

A - Thick, lingering, one finger, uniform, mocha, tan head. Black body. Thin lacing. 4.5

S - No hint of vanilla or cherry bark. 3

T - Boozy roasty favors up front, followed by a wine tartness. 2.5

M - Appropriate thickness, not too sticky. 4.25

O - Too much wine taste. Pinot is the predominant flavor, too tart. 2.25

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Photo of CHickman
4.72/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage, pours pitch black color with a 1 finger foamy tan head that was full of bubbles and faded slowly, leaving minimal spotty lacing. Looks so dark it's like an Abyss.

Smells of charred grains, brown sugar, molasses, black licorice, vanilla, bourbon, oak, dark fruit and toffee and/or burnt coffee grinds. Simple, malty and wonderful to inhale - really a treat to breathe in.

Tastes like it smells with charred grains, brown sugar, molasses, black licorice, vanilla, bourbon, oak, dark fruit especially cherry and rotting pear, smoked wood, light piney hops and toffee and/or burnt coffee grinds. Wow, this is so complex, an amazing display of dragging different flavors out of smoked malts and bourbon barrels. This lived up the hype and was a lot smoother than it should be at 11.1% ABV (listed on bottle).

Mouthfeel is very creamy and smooth with mild carbonation, a medium body with mild bitterness and a nice finish that's smoky, malty and quite flavorful with nice vanilla and bourbon barrel notes. An outstanding beer, nothing more to say except I can't wait to drink more of it. Huge thanks to "Boccu" for sharing this bomber.

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Photo of PBRmeasap1980
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage

A- Jet black, with almost no head
S- Initially I got some of the wine barrel (tannins, dry red), but as that died away I got brown sugar, molassis, dark fruits, maybe a bit of cherry.
T- Sweet dark fruits, but ends with a sharp smokey/ roasty bit.
F- Medium thick... could be a bit thicker
O- Nice stout with both sweet and roastie bits. Reminds me a bit of dark lord with all the sweet fruit, but has a bit more balance with the bite. Bit is a bit too sharp for me.

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Photo of DesMoinesMike
4.61/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2015 reserve, bought at Mendota Heights, MN. Drank in Left Hand tasting snifter.

Super dark black with brown fringes. Notes of whiskey barrel and anise. Taste is super complex. Anise, vanilla, cocoa, whiskey barrel and wine barrel. It's as boozy as expected at 12.2% but it's fairly smooth, save for a bit of a burn on the mid tongue. This was an awesome birthday present for myself. Too bad I have to drive 3 hours to find it.

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

Straight A's across the board.
This beer, the 2010 vintage, was one of my first into this style of stouts.
Loved it then, and I love it now. Had the 2012 and 2013 recently, and they're all great.

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Photo of Pray_For_Mojo
4.12/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Cellared 2 yrs 8 mos.

Poured into a tulip

Appearance: thick, silky when poured. Luxurious. Black-Onyx, void of light, even when held directly to light.

Aroma: oak and bittersweet chocolate. Very little alcohol detectable. A bit of raisin (rum raisin?). No bourbon though.

Flavor: very enjoyable, but I fear that the 2 yrs 8 mos in the cellar have muted many of the flavors. No one flavor stands out. No dominant vanilla, licorice, bourbon etc. Instead all flavors are blended together. Quite enjoyable, just not what it might have been.

Mouthfeel: thick and chewy. A meal by itself. Perfectly suited to carry its 11% abv.

Overall: this is a quality beer, but it does live up to the hype or its price tag. Expectation of this beer exceeded what was delivered. Enjoyable nonetheless, but no more so than more readily available beers at much lower cost. There is a sizable disconnect between the beer's hype and the actual beer. Let me state again, I enjoyed this beer, but I was underwhelmed.

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Photo of Mateo2699
4.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 release, poured into a snifter. Very dense black pour. Hardly any light getting through besides a hint of red towards the head. Khaki colored head with nice sticky lacing. Fades pretty quick to nothing. In the aroma, nice amount of creamy chocolate, vanilla, toffee. Bourbon and a nice heavy dose of dark cherries come though even more as it warms. Taste is amazing. First of all, the creamy milk chocolate is the most dominate note. But the undertones behind it are the highlight here: toffee, vanilla, cherries, and oak. Bourbon is very subtle, so is the wine barrels. But just enough to take notice. Mouthfeel is thick, palate coating for sure. Little carbonation. Overall definitely let this one warm, as it definitely changes to a different more attractive beer. Very solid, and very accessible. Highly recommended.

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Photo of DrinkThemAll
4.52/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 Release. Poured from a 22oz bomber into a snifter.

A-Absolutely amazing looking. Poured black as night, with a beautiful 2 finger deep caramel red, with frothy head, that dissipates to a little ring. spotty lacing.

S-wow. Smells like chocolate cake, vanilla, molasses, bourbon, faint cherries and sweet malts. Very different aroma from other barrel aged beers. Flavors galore.

T-Bourbon, chocolate, cherry, vanilla, molasses. The licorice is faint, but you can taste the presence of the wine barrels. Very smooth and pleasant, for 12%. Very drinkable. Very clean beer here. I could drink one of these every night before bed.

M-Medium bodied with nice carbonation. The wine barrel really shines in this mouth. Nice, clean and semi dry finish.

First time popping an Abyss. Definetly won't be my last. Very good beer!

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Photo of Phigg1102
4.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

As a New Yorker with very limited access to Deschutes this was a special treat for my wife and I on our west coast honeymoon tour. I had the 2012 on draft at the Portland restaurant/taphouse. It was jet black with a beautiful frothy mocha head. Chocolate is prominant in the nose with undertones of vanilla and coffee. Chocolate is completely dominant in the taste and most other adjuncts had smoothed out at this point leaving an a well balanced roasted/slightly sweet stout with an even coating feel. No astringency or hot alcohol character. Glad I was also able to pick up a bottle of cognac aged as well!

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Photo of soupyman10
4.87/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow, so excited that I finally got my hands on this one. 2015 Reserve. Amazing find in Durango, CO, of all places. Pours pitch black. Like, nothing - no highlights. Didn't even know beer could do that? Two fingers of tan head on top, with some light lacing as the beer drains. Nose is a touch milder than I'd expect. Roasted malt, some light coffee, dried fruit, lots of sweet chocolate and bourbon. Very nice. Flavor is incredible. Monster roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate. Some cookies, prunes. Big bourbon, and alcohol shows up as just a touch of heat at the back of the mouth - nicely hidden, especially given the ABV. A fantastic beer, huge flavors, one to get your hands on. Would be great to put down for a few years and see what happened to it.

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Photo of Stevem68
4.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich dark chocolate color with a complex aroma of bourbon, roasted chocovolte malts and maybe dark fruit. Flavor is super smooth mellow bourbon and roasted malts. Notes of chocolate and some dark fruit sweetness but still balanced. Has a smooth soft feel and overall really delicious.

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

Thick like mud. This is easily my favorite barrel aged beer. The chocolate and rosey barrel flavors are unreal. I wish this was a year around release. I can't wait to see this one in BevMo this winter so I can buy multiple bottles.

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Photo of gregy55902
4.74/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This was the first really good beer I had, so it is special to me in that sense. I go to Darkness Eve every October and it is usually on tap, and it's always great! This specific version is the bottled 2015 vintage.

A - Pitch black pour with the most gorgeous dark tan head I've ever seen. Head lingers for well in excess of 30 minutes!

S - The aroma is subtle, but complex: dark chocolate and an interesting blend of barrel characteristics. Black licorice and some earthy hops also make an appearance.

T - Very unique blend of barrels here. The stout oak shines through above all, and the specific bourbon / wine barrels add a hint of sweetness as well - just right, but far from too sweet. Nice roasty, chocolate-marshmallow characteristics. Vanilla, and the slightest bit of anise, molasses and caramel. You could spend hours marvelling at the flavors of this beer!

F - Feels like floating on smooth pillowy marshmallow clouds, with a bit of dark chocolate lightning and licorice thunder thrown in for good measure.

O - Beers of this magnitude are quite rare. A lot of effort went into this beer, but it was entirely worth it! Mad respect to Deschutes.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.99/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - nice pitch black beer with a mocha head that sticks and leaves a nice lacing
S - big dark chocolate, roasted marshmallow, vanilla, light bourbon, toasted oak that's mellowed out.
T - dark chocolate, red wine, toasted oak, burnt marshmallow, roasty malts, little bit of light bourbon in there, dark tart cherry
M - super heavy mouthfeel, alcohol present but so appropriate, aftertaste is dark roasty malts, red wine, oak
O - this is one of those beers I've had to have a few times to get accustomed to and realize how awesome it is, it also ages ridiculously well, I've had it brand new and now with the usual release being dec-Feb I'm guessing this is 6-8 months out which in my experience rounds big stouts out and can give them a little more depth. This one was more of a roasty dark malts bomb at first but now the barrel aging is really starting to come out. Great beer. I need to stock up at my usual bottle shop.

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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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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
4.48 out of 5 based on 6,805 ratings.
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