The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

1,943 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: 1,943 | Ratings: 7,001
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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Photo of Hiram_McDaniels
4.81/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Aged bottled poured to snifter. Great smell of the various family of barrels that contributed to it. Perfect dark roast notes as expected from a good stout.

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Photo of McBraniel
3.25/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2016 edition.
Look: Sure, it's dark, but it's not literally abyssal. It looks like every other high-end imperial stout.
Smell: Those oak barrels. And the pinot. No bourbon.
Taste: Everything in the nose repeats itself on the palate.
Feel: Nothing noteworthy. Wish it were thicker.
Overall: If you like oak, you may like this beer. Tastes like an experiment gone awry ($16.99 should be better than this). 22 ounces of disappointment poured into a tulip glass.

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Photo of philbe311
4.59/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A very special brew for my 1500th review... On my 40th Birthday...

L - Slightly more than two fingers worth of tightly packed dark brown froth with a few medium sized bubbles mixed in... A slow but actively receding lop sided head that leaves bits of whipped lacing clinging to the sides of the glass... Over very solid and respectable retention... Once receded, there is a lopsided veil of lacing and thin to moderate collar... The Abyss is a very proper names in terms of color as this one is black ink through and through, perhaps with some aubergine notes when back lit... Sheets of lacing cling to the glass after each and every sip... World class appearance...

S - A big robust nose with lots to take in upon first whiff... The first thing to really cut through is the black strap molasses which is sweet and inviting... Next come a mix of sweet milk chocolate and brownie batter... Hints of soy sauce and licorice are next... These all sit atop vinous wine and oaky notes... Dark fruits... Jelly beans... Some faint roasted malts as well... A complex nose with oodles of depth and character... Exceptional...

T - The palate is ever bit as interesting as the aroma would suggest... All of the expected stout characters are present... Dark chocolate... Molasses... Soy sauce... Licorice... Brownie batter... Picking notes of the virgin oak... The tannin notes from the wine barrels really sines through on the finish and adds a ton of depth and richness... Never detected much of the bourbon barrels, but that's okay... This one a marvelous as is...

F - On the fuller side of medium bodied... Smooth... Slightly seek... Starts lush... Slightly chewy... Finishes with a surprising dryness... A bit of a roll coaster ride that takes several sips to get accustomed to.. Overall each sip is an experience... The words I'm left with after several sips is delicate and charming... Again, world class...

O - Oh boy, this one was worth the close the decade wait... I finally acquire this one (2014 reserve) and have let it sit for a few years... Truly exceptional and world class in all facets... This one is worth all of the hype and then some... I'm forever fascinated by Deschutes "big beers," all of which live up to and exceed expectations...

With that I bid beer reviewing farewell... I may add scores from time to time, but my life as a detailed reviewer is coming to a close... Cheers to everyone and I'm glad I went out in style with this one... Remember - Great minds drink alike...

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Photo of Just-the-sip
4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

L= Oil black. You can't see through it hence the name. Yeah, I'm a nerd like that and held it to a light. Slight cappuccino head but dissolved pretty quickly.

S= All my fav things. Bit of coffee, chocolate, licorice, maple, molasses. I just love smelling this beer. Quite the aroma and gets better if it starts to room temp.

T= Paird this with a pork chop marinated with a pear balsamic and side of sautéed asparagus. I highly suggest! Definitely brought out all the flavor of this beer. Easy to drink with a meal and not filling as you would think. The beer gets better as you let it warm up. Not sure if I'd drink it without being in the fridge but definitely gets more full as it sets out.

F= Not thick and full as you'd might expect. Very drinkable. I'd prefer it just a little more syrupy if I were to use it as a dessert beer which it very well could be if it felt more filling.

Overall= Can't get enough of it honestly. I stumbled upon it in my own. 2015 bottle. My local place had about 6 of them left I bought them all without hesitation. A little pricey considering Goose Island Bourbon County Stout is stronger and a few fillers cheaper but this fills the void of not being able to get that beer as often as I could when I lived in Chicago. Definitely on my look out list for next year! Well done Deschutes!

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Photo of Jboardwine
4.37/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I waied over a year to drink & it delivered. I was able to sense most flavors from beginning to end. While not exactly my cup of tea I enjoyed it quite a bit.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.51/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 Vintage, best after 12/8/16 - Pours black as a starless night - pitch black. World class head volume, retention and lacing. For a barrel aged beer, the head characteristics are uber world class.

World class complex nose of chocolate, light char, molasses, dark fruit (plum, raisin, currant), anise and hints of vanilla. Bourbon is present but not overwhelming nor subtle - just the right balance to influence.

Heavy medium body that is smooth but falls just short of creamy, which is not surprising for 12.2% ABV. Carbonation is light yet yields a nice somewhat prickly finish. Carbonation / body balance is outstanding, considering barrel aging.

The flavor profile is world class but many flavors are not as pronounced as in the nose. It begins with a notes of roast and char which flow into a nice oak accent coupled with anise. The middle is where this beer hits its stride. A rich semi-sweet burst of dark chocolate yields to molasses producing a sweet base. Over the base, dark fruit emerges (mostly plum and currant) that slowly allows light vanilla notes to surface. Once the vanilla arrives, a bit of astringent alcohol becomes uncovered along with a bit of heat. Surprisingly, sweet chocolate takes center stage as the alcoholic burn intensifies and flows through the finish. I strongly suggest that you step into The Abyss - often!

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Photo of DallasK
4.64/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Bottled December 2016. Been wanting to try this for awhile. Pitch black with a dark tan head that quickly fades to wispy ring. Smells of strong bourbon, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and cherries. Wow, thats smooth. Bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, long coffee and vanilla finish. Wine barrel flavors come into play in the aftertaste as well. Where did the abv go? Silky mouthfeel with little to no carbonation. Amazing beer.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
4.48 out of 5 based on 7,001 ratings.
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