Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,902 | Ratings: 6,805
Photo of Beernoisseur
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

There are times in one's life where you realize that you are in the presence of greatness. These moments are fleeting, and seem to come at the most unexpected of times. Such was the case with this beer. I walked into Marcellar's in Idaho Falls, Idaho (of all places) and they had this on nitro tap. If God drinks beer, he's got this on tap. I'm stoked to be the first reviewer to have had it on nitro.

Everything about this beer is sublime. I would give it straight tens, if that were an option. It was absolutely beautiful in the Chimay goblet. The nitro gave it a totally smooth, 3/4 inch cappuccino head, but the beer itself was straight espresso beneath. "The Abyss" is a truly the perfect name for the appearance.

The nose was subtle but sophisticated. Coffee, toffee, toasted nuts, and vanilla were all present. Not overwhelming, but very very pleasant.

The flavor was absolutely savory- the zenith of what this style should represent. Dark roasted coffee, toffee, toasted marshmallows, and sweet vanilla all surround very delicate herbals. The malt and the sweetness comes out strong (not too strong) in the beginning, but there's a powerful hop presence through the middle, and an especially bitter kick on the finish. This is everything you could ever expect from a beer, and more.

I could imagine that this beer, in and unto itself, would have incredible body and mouthfeel. The nitro tap, however, is like adding an exponent to the feel of this sensory extravaganza. Absolutely amazing.

Assuming I had enough of a supply, I could happily drink myself into oblivion with this utterly superb brew. Nitro is the way to go here.

 1,644 characters

Photo of solargoat
4.78/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BigEbeer for this!!
It poured jet black, huge tan head for a beer of this magnitude. I get sweet roasted malts and coffee in the nose. The taste made me have to sit down, I cant describe the details. Very smooth/creamy and drinkable for the strength. This is the first very hyped beer that I've had that has actually lived up to it.

I'm pretty sure this is what Jesus would drink.

 391 characters

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

A - Beautiful jet black pour with a nice dark-tan head. Lacing is decent with scattered spots stuck to glass.

S - Smells amazing! Wonderful sweet woody bourbon aroma with hints of brown sugar and molases.

T - First thing that hits you is a burnt oak punch which fades into a sweeter, smoother flavor that sticks to your mouth. Perfection!

M - A perfect amount of carbonation IMO. The finish leaves a warm, thin coating on your tougue that keeps the flavor with you between sips.

D - I could drink this beer every day! I get sad when I take my last sip from the glass. I dont want it to end.

 595 characters

Photo of brokenleadedcask
4.63/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Received this in a trade with sry23, thanks Scott!!
Shared this 2008 vintage with two non-BA friends at a homebrew session

A- Nice and dark with a lighter orange brown halo around the edges. Good size head and decent lacing

S- I got notes of oak, alcohol, nicely roasted malts and touches of the molasses

T- Very complex flavors going on here, I can see how it would age well and the booze would calm. Again with the oak and some bourbon

M- Thick and viscous the way it should be

D- Yes! If it was easier to get, I could drink this once a week but I was glad to have help with the bomber, couldn't/wouldn't drink one by myself

 631 characters

Photo of HeyItsChili
4.67/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Pours superchonky dark brown, almost black but not quite, with a cocoa brown head.

S - Dark bittersweet chocolate, anise (hur hur), piquant black coffee, roasted malt.

T - Really unique flavor for a RIS. A lot of flavors collide up front; bittersweet chocolate, chocolate syrup, coffee beans, oaky bourbon vanilla essence, licorice, molasses.

M - Thick, viscous, full bodied, with a light, creamy, velvety feel. As I drink it, brown foam traces cling down the glass, one on top of the other, like a fat girl's neckrings.

 567 characters

Photo of HopHead1982
4.97/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Have had this sitting in my cellar for at least a year and it was worth it. The appearance of the beer was jet black, like most RIS. The aroma was had sweet undertones of chocolate and coffee, AMAZING. The taste was even better, with a mouthfeel that saturated all of the taste receptors in the mouth and made "jump with joy". Although the beer is 11% ABV, the drinkability of this beer is very good and I could easily have one of these a day.

 443 characters

Photo of Bung
4.4/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. Not quite a jet black pour with a dark brown and ruby hue head. Fades to a ring then pretty much sticks around. Aroma is heavy roast malt and coffee with anise and dark chocolate. Thick mouthfeel, a little rough, but not bad.
Flavor has lots of roasted malt and coffee up front. Some molasses, oakiness with just a hint of ripe dark fruits. Coats the throat nicely with oak, molasses and mocha espresso. A little bit hot and in your face at this point. A top notch imperial, but could use some aging. Top 5, I can think of 4 or so that I like better at this point, which means you can't get much better than this. I am glad I have 2 more of these.
A side note positive that can seperate this from some, is that it has reasonable availability. Way to go Deschutes.

 770 characters

Photo of QuentinCompson
4.23/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

big boy bottle into Chimay chalice

A - 2 finger head into melted Whopperish film; black brown opaqueness; great lace

S - Dark malts, caramel, alcohol, wood, chocolate, yeast

T-M - Super thick malt into surprisingly high level of hopdom - really nice, well balanced - toffee, alcohol, caramel, oaky, barkish

D - Super drinkable stout if your in that frame of mind. Filling and robust. Nice beer.

 398 characters

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

Bottle from trade with fiver29.

Poured dark brown with a moderate creamy light brown head that mostly lasted with excellent lacing. Heavy toasted chocolate, licorice and coffee malt with a small alcohol aroma. Full body with a creamy texture and flat carbonation. Heavy balanced toasted chocolate malt flavor with a heavy bittersweet finish of long duration.

This is a standout beer.

 385 characters

Photo of mugglesandhops
4.75/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From Notes 11-26-08

I have had this on-tap as well and I have to say it took me quite a bit longer to finish the bottle than it took me to finish the same amount on tap. It's a little hotter in the bottle. Appearance is still the same. Opaque black, dark brown head, that sticks around for a while. Smells of coffee, chocolate, mollasis, alcohol. Taste as it smells but intensified 100% Very thick, chewy body.

 411 characters

Photo of greywolf
4.33/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

i had this beer while on vacation not to long ago.it was an over all good beer the color the flavor was in my opipion really good....as this was my first beer for reviewing.as i ma new to the world of good beers i belive it was a good start..and i look forward to trying many other good beers,

 293 characters

Photo of IBUnit63
4.38/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of trade with googzoid10...shared with a few fine folks from the industry and accomplices...into Sam Smith half-pint glasses...

Mildly viscous...definitely opaque. Licorice, spent motor oil, whatever ya wanna call it...this shit is fuckin' wicked DAAAHHHK...

I picked up some Vermont maple candy here off the top...makes sense from the label regarding molasses. A little licorice is in there too. Hops provide some raw green wood here-not pine, not grass...maybe something deeper...huge, copius malt has a good bourbon quotient but not obtrusive.

This has a little less sweetness than, say, Dark Lord (2008) but has a fortuitous heft...a little boozy heat, lots of XXX-roasted malt with a dry caramel sweetness, and a slightly austere hop package that resonates well with the licorice, charcoal and bourbon-snifter oak quality.

Although this has dry bites to it from the licorice, hop profile and a bit of booze, it gives off a great creaminess on the finish. A little more all over the place...may need some time.

Top notch and won't pass it up. Sure, it's a little young but there's a lot of craziness in this one. It's got an edge like a street gang, no doubt. But it's profound as hell and the creaminess is like the soothing tone of a mother settling her little hooligans down. One of the great ones.

 1,319 characters

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

Thanks to JDV and Pretzel City for the bottles I don't know whose I'm reviewing, but I'm saving one for next year.
22oz black wax top w/ the abyss written on it. 2008 vintage.
Pours out like motor oil into the glass, some seriously dark stuff. Nice big dark brown head sits atop that crude-like beer it protects. Smells of huge roasted malts, toffee, coffee, and dark fruits. A nice nose, but not amazing.
Taste is out of this world. So creamy, big chocolate burst with burnt malts, bitter coffee, sticky sweet molasses, slight alcohol warming but not too bad for 11. Rasisons, anise, and a tinge of pines are swimming around in my mouth somewhere right now. This reminds me of a belgian with how many different levels this is working on right now. One huge RIS, but the flavors balance everything together very well helping this beer become very smooth and drinkable.
As it warms up the chocolate flavors become more pronounced as does the anise and alcohol. Overall one of the best beers I've every tried. Really a great beer, will have many more of these I'm sure.

 1,067 characters

Photo of coldmeat23
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees
Review #200

This one pours a nice, deep, black. Just like it should be, with a name like The Abyss. Medium hard pour produces a two-finger head of dark cappucino colored foam. Retention is great and the lacing is excellent. Fully formed, solid and very sticky.

Nice. Big dark roasted barley maltiness. The oak comes through nicely, mixing with a hint of alcohol, giving a hint of bourbon-like qualities. Nice hint of dark molasses. Good dark coffee notes blend with hints of dark chocolate, bringing me back to cappucino comparisons. Light vanilla notes.

Huge presence of dark roasted malts. Big dark coffee profile. Nice vanilla sweetness, along with molasses, bringing balance. Nice presence of oak. A light touch of smokiness. Very mild notes of dark fruitiness. Hops are in there, but extremely well balanced with the rich maltiness.
Man, this tastes wonderful.

This is exceptionally smooth and creamy. Like silk across your pallette. The low level of carbonation sereves this brew very well.

Despite how big, thick and rich this one is, it is very drinkable. The beautiful level of balance make this one so enjoyable and easy to consume. The 11%ABV is so well blended into the mix, as to be hardly noticable. Just a slight warming effect.
This is exceptional.

Believe the hype!

 1,351 characters

Photo of zerofear13
4.38/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Embarassingly enough, it took my friends and I about 15 minutes to get the wax coating off the bottle. Well worth the effort.

Not a very thick head with an aggresive poor. Not much in the means of lacing either. Smell is a very malty tart. The roasted, smokey flavors of the imperial stout aren't that prevalent. I've definitely had more pungent aromas from stouts. The taste has a very tart malty flavor and a good bitterness. You can definitely taste the smokey dark chocolate flavors, but isn't that complex. I expected a bit more. I don't think it had the chocolate kick of Redhook's Double Black or Brooklyn's Black Ops. Nor did I think it had the complexity of Kate the Great. But it was very well-balanced and very simple - a rarity for the top beers in the world.

Overall, I think a delicious beer. It's spectacular in its simplicity. But I just don't think it's as bold as many other beers. So, definitely give it a try. It's completely worth finding one. But I might think this more because of the fact that its The Abyss, and not based on its taste.

 1,062 characters

Photo of tittymcj
4.4/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This one poured out incredibly thick and black and dark. No light penetrates. Small tan head that dies down very quickly. Not much lacing.

Very interesting smell. Light coffee notes, with definite fruity essence. Also a biting alcohol scent.

Taste is very complex. Good licorice taste, with hints of coffee and a small bit of bitter chocolate. The lingering taste is much darker and more of roasted malts than the first taste.

Mouthfeel is my favorite part about this beer. Extremely thick, almost heavy, with a very slow drinking pace. Interesting amount of carbonation for a beer this thick.

Again, can't give this one perfect scores for drinkability simply because I could never drink 5 of these in a row, but it deserves at least a 4.5 for being absolutely delicious.

 776 characters

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

Big shouts to stubone for this in a recent trade. It's been staring at me all week and I can't resist her siren's song anymore she must be had tonight.
I chose my chimay goblet for this masterpiece of brewing. She pours pitch black with a nice thickness to it. A lovely head forms but then quickly fades away leaving its traces along the glass.
I could smell this thing as soon as I opened her. Big roasted barley aromas, dark chocolate, coffee, and hints of vanilla here and there.
She starts off kind of sweet, and chocolatey, then gets washed away by the bitterness of the roasted barley. As she warms a bit I'm beginning to notice the licorice and some of vanilla. The alcohol is starting to come through also.
Very smooth and creamy and too easy to drink for the abv.

 772 characters

Photo of BrewerB
4.46/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

WOW! travisd13 - Thank you sir for not 1 but 3 bottles of 2007 Abyss! Cheers, sir.

A - Poured into my New Belgium glass. Thick, frothy lacing left behind as this extremely dark brown, nearly black beer is swirled in my glass. Wonderful head retention for such a high ABV beer. Thin, light tan foam. Dangerous viscosity.

S - Very complex nose includes alcohol, plum, and sweet milk chocolate. Also present is a licorice aroma. Low hints of charcoal. Earthy. Slightly burnt.

T - More of the milk chocolate carrying through into the taste. Slight charcoal. Hop flavor is certainly present and in great balance. Hard to detect specific hops but the bitterness is rather high and in great proportion to the intense maltiness. There's this creamy taste, too. Burnt. Very dry finish. Toasty.

M - Silky smooth, very full bodied. Moderate level of carbonation borders on moderate low.

D - Taking time to enjoy this brew, the 11% certainly sneaks up on you. Deschutes has done a great job masking the force behind one hell of a malt backbone and a silky, creamy mouthfeel. For this style of beer, the drinkability is damn near perfect.

 1,135 characters

Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.76/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got about 8 bottles in my cellar. Good thing because this beer is awesome.

Appearance is pitch black but a little less viscous looking than say KBS or DL. Beautiful tan head that provides nice lacing down the glass.

Smell is not that strong. I wish it was a little stronger but you smell some bourbon and toasted malts.

Taste is wonderful. Not too intense but so well balanced. The toasty malts and the slght bourbon taste with the smoothness of the oak. Very good.

Mouthfeel is perfect. Enough roast and carbonation and smoothness to make it very enjoyable.

Good thing I bought 8 of these this year. Now I have enough to cellar and to enjoy for a while.

 659 characters

Photo of user0317
4.87/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to bobsmn for sharing this brew.

Poured extremely thick and viscous with 3 fingers of dark-tan head. Completely unpenetrated by light. Some tracing on the glass and a few bubbles from carbonation

This beer has a complex but pleasant nose consisting of dark malts, coffee, licorice, and chocolate.

Words fail to explain how enjoyable the flavor of this big stout is. Wood, dark malts, coffee and a little bitter chocolate up front, with a hint of hops to finish off. Alcohol flavors are subtle for an 11% abv beer, but increase as the beer warms up.

This beer goes down thick and creamy, leaving your mouth coated with tasty goodness.

Unbelievably balanced and exceptionaly drinkable. I would love to see how this one ages.

 735 characters

Photo of madtowndmb1
4.72/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 vintage

A: poured a thick, motor oil like consistancy with a tan thick head.

S: Licorice, chocolate, bourbon, and a hint of coffee. I loved it, I could've smelled it all night

T: Got alot of the black licorice right away, then to a sweetness that was great, then a warm bourbon flavor lingered but not a hotness. It was a sweet bourbon flavor. GREAT!

M: Smooth and coating easy to sip on for along time.

D: I had to give it a 5 since I was really sad when I was to the last sip! I can't wait to try it a year or two. I have a couple more to sit on for a while.

 570 characters

Photo of nrbw23
4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours black with no light coming through. A nice brown head forms up, has pretty good retention and then recedes to a thin layer of bubbles.

S- Smells of roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, wood and bourbon.

T- Very strongly flavored. All the flavors that were apparent in the nose come through. Along with just a hint of bourbon and wood.

M- Creamy and full bodied. Carbonation is low to medium.

D- Highly recommended and easy to drink.

 444 characters

Photo of bum732
4.9/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a syrupy dark black, darkest beer i've ever seen. Nice tan head, bubbly with great lacing. Smells of syrupy molasses, a tad of oak, chocolate, roasty malt, coffee, very faint dark fruits. Tastes of roasty chocolate up front with faint dark fruits in the background. Then bold roasty malt shows its presense with some anise in the background. Finishes with a great roasty character, some coffee and oak. Alcohol is present, but not too blatant. Great mouthfeel, i was afraid of this beer being cloyingly sweet, but just unbelievable balance throughout.

An unbelievable beer. There are so many flavors and aromas going on with this beer, just layers upon layers. That said, i didn't feel like it was too much at once, like many RIS's. The drinkability is very high for the style. The only thing stopping me from drinking multiples of this in one session is the alcohol. Balance is great in this beer. Too often, oak or any other additive will overwhelm the base flavor profile. But this beer is so well balanced with so many different flavors contributing. One of the best stouts i've ever had, i only wish my favorite brewery would deliver to the east coast.

 1,165 characters

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

2008 bomber poured into a North Coast snifter.

A - Pours blacker than Dick Cheney's heart with a dark tan head that dissipates slowly into a thin layer of foam, leaving PLENTY of lacing.

S - Positively phenomenal and very well-balanced. Dark chocolate, anise, vanilla, roasted wood, and coffee all combine to create an extremely complex and enticing aroma that leaves your palate begging you to take that first sip.

T - Somewhat bitter up front, with dark chocolate and spicy wood notes dominating. A faint hint of piney hop bitterness comes through in the finish. As it warms, some sweetness starts to pop out, namely the anise and vanilla that were present in the aroma. The balance this creates is virtually indescribable. As it warms some more, some alcohol notes come out, but stay inconspicuous enough to stay out of the way and add even more complexity to this enormous brew. I was almost in tears when I finished this beer, in complete agony over the fact that it was all gone.

M - Full-bodied, creamy, rich, and deliciously smooth. Some alcohol warmth comes through after a while and it leaves an aftertaste of bittersweet chocolate and anise.

D - Immensely enjoyable and very smooth, though the alcohol definitely catches up to you by the time you finish it. It's also fairly heavy, making it hard to drink too much of it, as much as you'd love to.

 1,363 characters

Photo of lynx1245
4.66/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

'08 Abyss tasted here.

Appearance: DARK brown head that creeps up from the Abyss... heeey. Dark as motor oil with an amazing looking lacing.

Smell: I can definitely smell the oak barrel that this one grew old in. Big presence of chocolate and dark cherries. Almost smells a bit nutty as well.

Taste: Burnt malts and molasses. Dark chocolate and nuts. SO GOOD!

Mouthfeel: So smooth! It's like drinking liquid silk. Slightly alcoholic aftertaste but the accompanying dryness really complements this.

Drinkability: It's like drinking a dessert wine only better! I could definitely drink a whole bottle of this to myself, despite how alcoholic it is. Love this beer.

 667 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!