The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

1,953 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: 1,953 | Ratings: 7,038
Photo of ThaneMcC
4/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2016 Reserve
Pours a deep dark black with brown head -2fb. Smells of cocoa, coffee, leather, smoke/leather. Taste is cocoa, hint of vanilla, smoke/char with a lot of burnt notes, acidity, sweet malts and a somewhat flat finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, minimal effervescence, well hidden abv. A somewhat powdery quality.
Overall, interesting – my palate isn’t refined enough to note all the differing elements. Not bad – but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find this. There are better (and cheaper) barrel aged stouts

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

2016 Reserve (bottling date 12/8/16)
Drinking date: 4/19/17

L: Pure black, with darker than chocolate-milk brown head. And lots of it.

S: Boozy chocolate

T: Sweet, roasty malts, chocolate, hints of banana, a lot of smokiness in the later half of the sip.

F: Medium-full bodied. Carbonation average.

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

To celebrate National Beer day I decided to crack a 2007 Abyss. After a decade of cellaring I was worried about oxidation but glad it was covered in a thick wax coating. All I can say is this beer has not only held up, but can more than hold its own against the much hyped FO's and Assassins that it paved the way for. A lot of breweries claim their big Imp Stouts will age well but then fail to live up to expectations due to infections and oxidation issues. Anyone claiming the beer can be cellared should use wax (not foils...looking at you Firestone Walker Anniversary).

The currant/ molasses sweetness melds perfectly with the vanilla oak backbone. This is an old favorite that can still teach a thing or two to the new kids on the block. Excellent job Deschutes. Glad I still have one more 2007 that I look forward to drinking 5 years down the road.

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

2016 tap pour. Interesting layered beer, with a strong core of chocolate, brownie batter, and boozy warmth. Highlights of tobacco and leather, coffee acidity and dark molasses. An earthy element, and cocoa nibs come through for the bitter counter to the sweet open. It looks great, it tastes great. I'm looking forward to cracking open my 2014 soon.

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Photo of Nicolaiw
4.25/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage.
Pours pitch black with small tan head.
Aroma has oak, wine barrel, bourbon, chocolate, raisins.
Taste is licorice, cocoa, lots of coffee, bourbon,

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Photo of andrewh995
4.81/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2016 vintage. By far, the darkest beer I have ever seen. Pitch black with a beautiful dark brown head. The flavor is incredible, dark dark chocolate, red wine, a slightly burnt flavor. Sweetness along with a hoppy bitterness. The beer feels thick and silky but not overly thick. Get this if you can find it. It is worth the high price and more.

I regret buying just one bottle.

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Photo of ccg
4.24/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2016 vintage, opened 2017-03-25.

The stout looks amazing. Inky black base with tons of lacing on the glass. The head lasts forever. It has some large bubbles clinging to the side and a film of tiny bubbles covering the surface.

The smell is dominated by the dry, vinous quality of the red-wine barrels. It is oaky and a little bit tart-smelling. There is some dark fudge, vanilla, and oak in the background, mingling with chocolatey roasted malt. It also has a hint of that European dark-chocolate malt scent that you get from a stout from Mikkeller or To Ol.

The flavor follows through with similar flavors under a layer of dry bitterness. There is a ton of oak and some spice similar to rye. It reminds me a lot of dark chocolate and red wine.

The feel is quite good. It could be a bit more viscous, but it has a nice tongue-coating density without a tooth-rotting sugar feeling.

I find the Abyss to be a bit over-hopped. It's a bit too floral and bitter for a barrel-aged stout, at least to my taste. On draft, it comes out more chocolatey, but from the bombers, I always find it to be awfully bitter. I wish they would tone down the hops a bit and let it spend a little more time in bourbon barrels. It doesn't have the boozy bourbon sweetness of something like BCBS nor the dense, dark-chocolate and red-wine character of something like cabernet-barrel-aged Laika imperial stout from Straight to Ale.

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

Awesome beer. Pours black and slow with a tan, almost brown head. Sits in the glass heavily, it's own inertia exaggerated by the sheer magnitude of the beer.

Smells like dried wood and sweet molasses, with some raisin and a bit of alcohol coming through.
The taste is sweet and dark, with oak and smoky sugar coming through prominently. Hints of vanilla and licorice, with just a hint of raisin and that warm boozy finish.
Body is sticky and smooth. Full without being even slightly cloying. I think the loads of alcohol keep the body acceptably quaffable for such a huge stout.

Overall: mmmmmmmmm....thanks Canada craft club. You guys rock.

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Photo of BeantownBrews
4.58/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 Vintage poured into a snifter:

Coffee black, with a thin light tan head that dissipates quickly

Chocolate forward with hints of cherry and vanilla, slight barrel presence and slight tartness

Incredibly deep and complex flavors of leather, charcoal, dark fruits, tannins with a slightly dry finish leaving the palate bitter but invitingly so

Nice feel, coating though maybe a tad thin

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

Look: One finger brown head, dark black body.

Smell : Cherry, mild coffee, burnt sugar.

Taste : Coffee, burnt sugar, mild cherry, light smokiness, hazelnuts, molasses.

Feel : Full bodied, medium carbonation, warming, mild upfront sweetness.

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Photo of Tseaman7
4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This beer is amazing. Great viscousity, aroma, and flavor wonderment and complexity. Not sure it gets any better than this for a heart strong imperial stout. It good to be alive in this golden age of beer.
@ Harry's Hofbrau San Jose on tap.

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Photo of jrsqc7
4.17/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Perfectly black and opaque with durable dark khaki head.

Flavor is nutty and alcoholic fruitiness. Features more velvet than Elvis and is therefor very very smooth.


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Photo of gopens44
4.24/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Looks proper for style, pitch black with a massive mocha colored head that falls back behind incredible sticky lacing.

Nose began with bourbon and dark fruit, them meandered towards coffee and sort of stays there.

Taste begins with coffee, then invites bourbon and molasses in. The coffee element lends a touch of smokiness that mingles with dark chocolate, which contributes something of a sweet yet ashy finish.

Silky smooth body, very smooth. Maybe just a little more thin than I had expected, but no real issues with it. Alcohol is masterfully hidden, it's a touch dry, and the aftertaste is a well balanced bitter and sweet.

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

This is one of my favorite beers!! It is a truly unique imperial stout. I give it a 5 out of 5. I learned with the 2014 version (where I was fortunate enough to get an entire case) to let it age as it has a bitter taste that disappears with age. That said, I had the 2015 version draught at 600 degrees and it was quite awesome without the aging. I picked up a couple of 2016 today, so I thought I would go ahead and drink one of the 2015 bottles.

After aging, the licorice comes to the foreground more, and the vanilla/cherry bark ease up to be more balanced. I don't really directly pick up the wine barrel here with the depth of complex flavors, but do in Collage 2 where it has been blended with other beers. I like the 2015 better than the 2014 and can't really explain why... something from the abyss of complex flavor!

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Photo of captaincoffee
4.24/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap. Pours dead black with a small creamed coffee head that leaves some lace. Nose leans toward the coffee and licoric earns less toasty notes. wood and vanilla as well. Taste, however, is much larger. Really well incorporated for the ABV and all the stuff thrown in. Big stout flavors mix with the barrel and adjuncts without anything being weird, cloying, off balance, or overly boozy. Long finish turns a bit more woody as it dries, which isn't quite as nice. Overall, a big beer with a lot going on that would go well in front of a fire during winter, but not something you'd want regularly.

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Photo of DannyBigs
3.69/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Like some have said, when it was very limited they did a better job. Now that they probably produce something like 10 times the number of barrels as the original batch in 2006, it does feel/taste a bit generic to me. Doesn't have the overall complexity or full-bodied mouth feel you might get with something like a Black Tuesday or Speedway (and variances). I don't really care too much for this beer and agree with The Bros on this for the lower rating.

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Photo of socon67
4.14/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had a 2013 and 2014 vintage side by side. Both had a roasted malt flavor with a slick, rich body. The 2014 packed a bit more heat. I suspect another year would also mellow it. Just the standard-bearer for imp stouts for many years. A great beer.

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Photo of Riff
4.39/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured a thick, jet black color with about a finger of tan head. Smells of cherries, malts, molasses, hints of bourbon, oak, and a little red wine. Tastes follow with the nose primarily, certainly takes a little warming up to draw them out. Comes out to a complex brew, sweeter cherry and molasses flavors, oak, and a little red wine flavor towards the end. Dry finish and tends to linger a little on the tongue. This is an interesting brew, one that I find isn't quite for idlying drinking but more for sitting and enjoying, perhaps with a friend or two, but with a little more focus on the beer. Tasty, good stuff that holds up well to some more recent stouts.

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

Poured into a snifter and said "Oooouuhh, that's pretty"

Appearance: Dark with no light penetration, head is slightly red with a nice mingling lace.

Smell: Coco, toffee, cookie, vanilla.

Taste: Just like my all time favorite Collage 2, Deschutes nailed it! Every aspect of a good imperial is there so I won't get into that too much. Wine at the tip of the tounge. Pruney, dried rasins and cherries. Vanilla and toffee. Very smokey.

Texture: Slick and chewy. Lingers quite a bit.

Seems like Oregon is on top of the stout game. You Oregonians make me feel all warm n fuzzy inside hahaha. Deschutes, you folks haven't failed me. Cheers!

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Photo of AZBeerDude72
4.6/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours solid black with a rich leathery head and sticky lacing. Get very nice notes of oak, licorice, malt, smoke, and char. The taste is very very very good, this is just a sweet beer. The taste of the oak and blended barrels is so nice, I am getting a very full bodied stout but its not overwhelming at all. Tastes of malty smoke, whiskey/wine, licorice, and some dark chocolate. This beer is so nice, it evolves with each sip, I have to let it warm to see what flavors come from room temps. Very happy with this beer, just a great stout and what a beer should be.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.12/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Very nice black pour with a tight creamy head.

Aroma of cedar, vanilla, cherries, and chocolate. Slight metal aroma.

Flavor is all roast. Burnt/roast malts, coffee, blood, and light cocoa.

Feel is roasty too, very dry.

Overall just way too metallic and one noted with the roast. No bueno.

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

2016 Reserve - bottle dated 12/08/16 into pint glass. Pours an inky, oily black with a very thin medium-brown head. Initial impression is dark chocolate, roasted malts, charred oak, molasses, dark fruits - and that was just the first sip! Mouthfeel is thick and smooth; carbonation is on the light side. The 11.1% ABV is quite well hidden. Finish is smooth and just slightly bitter. Things get even better as it warms.
I had no idea what to expect from this beer. I tried the Abyss Brandy Barrel Aged a couple of days ago and found it quite good, but Reserve is outstanding - a notch above. Very enjoyable. Good winter evening sipper, especially with a roaring fire in the fireplace.
I was only able to get a single bottle of Abyss - I wish I had a couple more to cellar.

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Photo of laketang
4.62/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured from a 1 pint 6 oz bottle
dated 12-09-16

pours black and thick, dark tan head
good lacing as I consume
dark fruit and vanilla notes
gingersnap candy and licorice along
with chocolate notes
thick mouth coating
no noticeable alcohol
some tartness in finish

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Photo of Strawman286
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016, Pours black. It smells complex - blackstrap molasses, licorice, coffee, dried fruit. The flavor is just about perfect, the various components combining so that nothing stands out but it all works together. Not too heavy either. Very smooth and creamy.
When I tasted the 2015 a year ago, I thought "This is Stout perfection". I expected to be disappointed this time around but I was not. It is still Stout perfection.

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Photo of jmasher85
4.13/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured a month past the Best After date. Thick, dark brown pour with decent head that lasts a bit.

Cold, the nose is sweet, malty, chocolatey, a hint of licorice. As it warms, the various oaky characters come out more, though distinguishing between the regular oak, wine oak, and bourbon oak is beyond me. Bourbon stands out the most, and I'm really not getting any wine.

Taste is much the same. A bit sweet with the malts and molasses. Oaky flavor and tannic body shine though, again, as it warms to room temperature. Slightly bitter finish resembles roasted malts and ashy oak.

In a world full of big, barrel-aged imperial stouts, I'm not sure this adds anything new. I'm excited to try the different variants that came out to compare them, but I won't bother seeking this out again if there are other similar options available. There's so many different elements and ingredients in here, but most of them don't allow themselves to be detected in any meaningful way. Molasses? Barely. Vanilla? Not really. Cherry bark? With 3 different kinds of oak in here, it's hard to believe there was even a point. Overall, well made, but over-engineered.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
4.48 out of 5 based on 7,038 ratings.
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