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The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

1,888 Reviews
The AbyssThe Abyss

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States | website

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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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,888 | Ratings: 6,729
Photo of ampzilla
4.4/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I recently realized I had a few more of these than I thought and decided to open one at first chance.
2007 Release from kind BA unknown.

Poured this one freely into a 12 oz sniffer. It looked quite nice in the glass with and inch of mocha colored head atop of ebony brew. Dense foam that had staying power. A fair amount of lacing as well.
The aroma was comforting. Chocolate covered espresso beans. Like walking into a cafe that makes fresh deserts. Just a hint of booze in the back.
Lots of flavors, yet not muddled. Coffee, chocolate, molasses (hints of KC BBQ) and vanilla bean. A bunch of other stuff that is eluding me. I'm intrigued at this yet impressed that it was pulled of with such success. Could have got a 5 for taste except for an ever so slight bitter/harsh finish.
Mouthfeel was full not chewy. Slightly slick. The only negative I can muster is just a little too boozy even after a year. Otherwise this is en exceptional beer.

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Photo of sloejams
4.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

tasted 1/26/09 on-tap Father's Office 2, Los Angeles

One thing I must praise FO: every beer you order will be served at the optimal conditions, everytime. For a beer of this caliber that is incredibly important.

A fluff of cappuccino head cascades over the thick, dark, viscous liquid as the bartender slides it my way. Glorious - so dark you could smuggle something inside it with nary a suspicion. The cappuccino aspect carries over into the aroma. The bourbon barrel scent comes through as does dark chocolate.

First sip is full of flavor and incredibly creamy. Oak and bourbon with the coffee bitterness shine in the flavor. Not a powerful bitterness, but the acidity your mouth gets from the first sip of joe in the morning. Lotsa coffee flavor too and a condensed milk sweetness too.

What you have his in a fantastic beer, worthy of all the accolades. Worth hunting for.

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Photo of SykDoc
4.21/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this at the stout event in my area and I can't thank everyone that was involved, enough.

Poured from a bottle into a flute. It pours like motor oil with a black appearance and opaque when held to the light. A 1.5 inch mocha colored head forms that slowly reduced to a healthy lacing.

The aroma was subtle with some very mild hoppy hints, as well as dark chocolate. A mild level of malty sweetness was noted. Some bourbon and coffee notes are present.

The taste was fairly complex including a bittersweet, dark chocolate combination with coffee. There was also a metallic component to me, which several people couldn't quite put there fingers on. Mild bourbon is present.

The Mouthfeel revealed a full body with moderate level of carbonation for a stout. It was quite thick and had a dry finish. Something about the feel didn't quite warrant a 5.

Overall, I think this is good for the style but was surprised that it ranked higher than Dark Lord. Overall, it is a very good beer and I will take any opportunity to have another.

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Photo of strangebrew52
4.92/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark black with a nice tan head. Smells of chocolate, coffee, bourbon and some roasted malts. Tastes amazing, I get the chocolate and bourbon flavors first followed by molasses and finished with a nice coffee flavor. Mouthfeel is full bodied like most imperial stouts. Drinkability is high, I'm glad I have one of these left but I'm going to let it age for a while. I wish I could get this in Wisconsin.

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Photo of jeffthecheff
4.43/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Dark black beer in the snifter glass with a mocha head that clings around the edges but doesn't keep for very long. Pouring this beer is a very pretty sight as it has a nice redish black color as it comes out of the bottle before it hits the glass.

The bourbon barrel aroma is apperent in the nose. I also noticed some dark chocolate aromas, and a bit of booziness. All the "dark" aromas are here. Not a lot of strength of the aroma and I wouldn't put it as one of the highlights of the beer.

Taste is excellent. I may have had or will have had better tasting imperial stouts but this is clearly something special. A nice chocolate sweetness is on the front of the tongue, and the bourbon hits somewhere in the middle. I don't love the taste of bourbon, and I don't go crazy over beers that are bourbon aged, but this is done just right in a way that adds to the beer.

Mouthfeel is a highlight of this brew. Very smooth, from fridge temp to nearly room temp. Great lingering aftertaste that is perfect for a sipper. I had a good time sipping on this beer. There is a bit of a burn on it and towards the end of the 22oz it becomes a very slow sipper.

Aging notes from "Black Friday" stout tasting 2009, 2007-2009 vintages:

The aroma changes in this beer considerably, with the two year old bottle (2007) smelling the best. With time, this beer looses some hops but never completley, and the chocolate aroma just gets better every year. After one year (2008), the chocolate mends with barrel and hop aromas to create an interesting balance. After two years (2007), this aroma is like a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. That balance is just gone and this is pure fudgy chocolate. There is also a great, ale like dark fruitiness that isn't found in the other bottles.

The flavor swings in balance in a similar way the aroma does. The barell flavors fade, making this a better beer if your not a fan of bourbon. I think the barell flavors are actually most noticeable after one year, and then fade away after two. The chocolate flavors get better, and the bitterness from both the hops and roast get softer. The licorice flavor adds a nice dimension, and is more noticeable with time because of the overall softening of harsh flavors. The mouthfeel seems to thin out in the 2007 bottle.

Excellent beer for aging. I took extensive notes on this beer and its changes, so these are just the highlights. These bottles were aged incredibly well and didn't pick up a hint of oxidation or negative aging effects.

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Photo of FrndthDuvel
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! it has been worth waiting the month or so to drink this. 2 fingered head in the Duvel tulip. The dark mocha head sits upon a quicksand of black goodness. No light escapes. Decent lace. Chocolate,coffee hits the nose,followed by a bit of dark fruit. The mouthfeel is a creamy goodness, a warm toffee,coffee chocolate goodness. Hard to think this could get better. oh wait, there is a bit of alcohol that might mellow. Hmmm next year and the next year are dates to look forward to. I drank this after the best Stone RIS I ever had, plus a Stone 11th,but this performed big time.

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

Split with willheels into 2 Stone IRS stems. Black as hell pour with a solid 2 fingers of cola brown head. A little frothy with tiny filmy bubbles. Bourbon, Rasinettes & Sumatra coffee beans on the aroma. Slight hint of tobacco and vanilla. One helluva fine smelling beer...very complex and intoxicating. Prunes noticed on the aroma as the beer warmed.
Fairly dry flavor, with a slight fizz noticed up front. Gritty mouthfeel...chocolate nibs, coffee bitterness, dry hopped finish. A touch hot with bourbon ooze. Nice brown oil slick film formed towards the middle of the tasting.

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Photo of tadowdaddy
4.6/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Got the 2008 version in a trade as an exta. Thanks torchednoodle. Was convinced in a BM not to let it sit. Now I wish I could get more to age. Never been a stout guy, but this has changed my tune.

A- Clear black with velvety khaki head. Suds like lacing on the snifter. (Never been into stouts, should they lace like my standby IPA?)

S- Rich dark coffee beans, some chocolate, and some black licorice. Unlike anything I'm use to smelling. Remember, I'm and IPA guy.

T- Like a coffee/chocolate milkshake. Also taste some bourbon, black licorice, and maybe nutmeg?? Amazing. Being as Guiness has been my only stout (and it's an Irish stout) that I've ever given a chance, I'm mind blown. I've now got the balls to try others! Coats the mouth well and leaves a thick residue on the tongue.

M- Thick, thick, delicious. I'm outside of my comfort zone and I love it.

D- Easy to drink, but will only be drinking one. Damn it, I said that after Hopsickle. I wish I had more of these. Definitely going on my wants. I think I'm gonna be giving more stouts a try! WOW!

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Photo of Redwood21
4.38/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to JohnGalt1 for this in the LNBA BIF

2007 Vintage
A: a gorgeous black body that portends the lovely taste this beer has. it has an almost brown inky appearance. The head is a dark mahogany that pours rather thick and pretty robust. it starts out sticking rather profusely but falls off as it sits. this is the only knock but at 11% this is rather impressive.

S: The aroma is good but not overwhelming. or strong enough to make a significant impact. there is an initial boozy bourbon barrel aroma and a slight bit of coffee but the aroma is not long lasting

T: amazingly smooth there is a vanilla note with a chocolate back bone and an obviousness that this was aged in barrels but not in an overwhelming. The molasses is evident in the finish and i feel helps with the smoothness. this is such a good beer

this is a fantastic beer extremely smooth and easy to drink, at 11% are you kidding this is extremely good yum

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Photo of joepais
4.82/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to JVD for this one we traded this a while ago
2007 vintage Bottle poured into a snifter produced a large coco colored head that settled to a thick lace and trailed of to a nice ring as I waited. As black as black can be colored bodied ale no light coming through this at all

Aromas of coffee, anise and some nice roastiness waft off the glass. I get some of the wood earthiness as well coming up as it warms. The longer I hold this I can say it's a really nice complex aroma.

The Flavors of molasses is very evident it helps tame out the roastiness of the malts this is so much better as it warms much more of the complexity of this stout comes thru. Thick in the mouth with just a slight amount of carbonation

Ok I'll give you that this is defiantly on par with Kate in it complexity although two different animals when it comes to flavors that present themselves. This is a wonderful Ale and deserving of a place in one of the best out there. Yes I will drink more of this and would seek it out

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

Pours opaque black with brown head. Nose is among the best I've experienced - heavy chocolate, nougat, and a suggestion of German black forrest raspberry chocolate cake. Palate is silky smooth, more roasty chocolate, and a finish that carries into lighter milk chocolate with little presence of alcohol. A world class dessert beer.

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Photo of raoulduke37
4.63/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Oh wow. Holy crap! Insert more explitives here. This is one good freaking beer! I had the pleasure of trying this ON TAP at Father's Office in Culver City, CA. I couldn't believe it was on their menu. The guy at the counter realized that I was in for a treat, apparently not a lot of people order this one, I couldn't believe it. The appearance is like nothing I've ever seen before. Someone before described it perfectly - khaki head. But, in addition to this, it looks like Turkish coffee, and like the Turkish libation, I'm conviced that if you drink enough of this, you'll see the future. The taste was unbelievable - chocolate, coffee, dates, and...nectar of the Gods, basically. Smell was your typical stout smell - molasses and coffee beans. Drinkability is down only because of the thickness and the abv, but the taste and appearance all make up for it. This is one I will seek out whenever the cold winds blow, and I need a truly imperial stout.

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Photo of rasta16ry
4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened this bottle after the Giants lost to the Eagles in the first round of the playoffs. A perfect choice, it turns out, because not only was it a hugely pleasant surprise but the color and smell fit my mood very well.

I poured it into a pint glass, and frankly it looked close to syrupy. Someone described the head as khaki, which I think is a great description, but the beer itself was black and strong-looking.

The smell was great too though, and it had all the elements of an imperial stout that I enjoy: coffee, chocolate, molasses, brutality, and there's bourbon as well. Tasty.

As far as the taste goes, it's a very complex mix of oakiness, stoutness, licorice, sweetness, bitterness, and then all the other stuff I mentioned before. I couldn't even take it through step by step because there's always a little something that's more emphasized or subtle on each sip. The oak really comes through though, and makes it really accessible in the midst of all the darkness.

The Abyss is awesome, and I wish I could get it around here. I don't know when the next chance I'll get to have it will be, but whenever I find it I will get as much as I can.

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Photo of stumac
4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to the Heavens for this bad boy....

it pours black as the abyss with a nice chocolate head. the nose is a lil boozy but not bad, chocolate, big malts. the taste is again chocolate and just massive amounts of malts. A HUGE ale, pretty sweet, full bodied. "Today, Sullivan"

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

2007 Vintage Bottle
released January of 2008
consumed in January of 2009

Appearance: Double wax covered bomber poured into a pint glass. Sexy black color with crushed red velvet corners. An oily sheen glazes over a brown mocha crown with mahogany highlights. Nice! Fair amount of head retention, quite rocky, some lacing.

Smell: black licorice, a small coffee tinge, molasses, and a touch of alcohol melded into a smooth yet complex nose. A touch faded with the year of cellaring on it so I'm giving it a 4.0 instead of a 4.5

Taste: Still some bourbon zing up front after the year of aging. Its a shame that the bourbon zing has an astringent quality. A nutty bridge comes next and then it finishes with a a bitterness normally associated with coffee. I might have caught this one at a transition period because the flavors seem to lack the strength and boldness of a fresh bottle, yet they fail to be completely fused as I was hoping for.

Mouthfeel: Lots of carbonation help this high ABV full bodied Imperial Stout. A touch thick but not to the point where I'd use the word syrupy. Very nicely done.

Drinkability: The mouthfeel really helps boost the drinkability of this 11% brew.

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

Appearance: Dark brown to black. Certainly no light shining through the glass. The head is as from a fine mocha, frothy and tan. It sticks around for a while leaving some lacing.

Aroma: Dark chocolate, espresso, molasses roasted malts and some dark fruits all well balanced with the oak. Very enticing! I can hardly keep myself from taking the first sip so I can jot down these notes.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied to thick in the mouth, but also velvety smooth. The carbonation is note perfect.

Taste: Roasted malts mix with the chocolate and espresso up front. There is slight bitterness that is well-balanced with some mild sweetness. The molasses and dark fruits settle in next, but through it all there is a nice subtle oakiness. Everything is there and identifiable but they blend to create a complexity that is difficult to describe. The alcohol is present, but not overpowering. In fact, this could be dangerous.

Overall impression: Wow! what an outstanding stout. The complexity is astounding, but the balance is really what stands out. You can taste everything but no one element dominates. One of - if not THE - best examples of the style!

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Photo of daythree16
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber with a black wax-dipped top. Poured into a snifter. Pours with a very small dark brown head. The name of the beer is appropriate, as it's black as night.

Aroma is of roasted malt with a hint of underlying licorice. Taste is similar to the smell, but it strikes an awesome balance between caramel/licorice sweetness and roasted/coffee bitterness. Despite the huge ABV, there is only a bit of alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel is very thick and the beer has an extremely long coffee-like finish. Drinkability is about as good as it gets for a high ABV RIS. Probably my favorite RIS so far, and I really wish it was more readily available.

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

Had on tap at Deschutes on release night in PDX, and in bottles several times since.

Observables: Deep black, very small tan head, smell has molasses, roasty malts, and alcohol.

Taste: At first I am stunned by how well the chocolate, coffee, and licorice fuse, which is followed with a subtle hotness. The complexity and depth of the flavor are other-worldly.

Overall: The best RIS I have ever had, period. A life and palate changing "oh my god this is good" beer. Very much deserving of the hype and high ratings.

EDIT: I've had the 06, 07, 08, and 09. But this was finally unseated by BA Speedway as the best stout on the planet.

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Photo of BMoney575
4.55/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on 1-16-09
2008 Vintage
Reviewed from notes.

A: Completely black, with a foamy dark tan head, and immense lacing. The lacing is huge, and coats the glass in chunks as you drink it.

S: On the fresh side, lots of sweet malt, aromas of vanilla and molasses, with a hint of alcohol near the end. Very, very good.

T: Strong, tons of booze, oak, and anise, very different than the smell, but still very tasty.

M: Super thick, perfect except just a little too flat.

D: Decent, but too strong. I'd love to see what a year would do to mellow it out.

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

On my trip to Las Vegas, I took the trek to Burger Bar and luckily this was still on tap. (1-14-09)

A: Deep and dark. To be greeted with this, was worth the walk. Thick tan head and tons of lacing all the way down.

S: Roasted malts (chocolate malt), some coffee and cocoa. All the smell that goes along with this style.

T: I taste coffee in this a bit more than I smelled it. The flavors I smelled along with some oak and smoke, blended quite well. I taste some smoke in this one too. This is definitely complex.

M: Smooth, not creamy. Reminds me of Nogne O.

D: Although this is not too creamy, it is very complex which leads me to drink it slowly.

Overall, find me another.

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Photo of david131
4.65/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Bottle

A- Deep deep black. One of the deepest blacks I have ever seen in a beer. The head is brown with great retention that always has a layer over the surface. Looks absolutely stunning.

S- Chocolate milk, some cocoa, anise, some coffee, molasses, toffee... The alcohol is barely apparent for how fresh this is and for how high the ABV is. Stunning.

T- Very strongly flavored, it took my palate a bit to adjust to it. All the flavors that were apparent in the nose come through in the flavor along with just a hint of bourbon and oak. As it warms, a bit of nuttiness comes out and the sweetness becomes accentuated. Exceedingly complex. Maybe a bit fresh, but this is wonderful.

M- Creamy smooth, like chocolate milk. The alcohol makes it a bit harsh on the tail end.

D- A bit on the strong side; a bit boozy. This beer is outstanding, but maybe requires a bit more time to fully settle down. I am blown away.

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Photo of sonicdescent
4.05/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thank you skourtis for the opportunity!

Pours a deep black with a nice mocha foam that leaves a full crown with no bald spots.

Smells lightly of chocolate and sweet malts. Is it possible to smell creamy?

Taste starts off a bit underwhelming but worth it for the finish. Chocolate, licorice, coffee, all present. I can't help but say this almost tastes like a belgian in how well it is put together.

Mouth is great, med/thick body and low/med carbonation.

I think that while this beer is good, it probably is just a tad overrated due to it's rarity.

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Photo of zeff80
4.47/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color. It looked thick like oil. It had a small, light brown, foamy head that left some thin lace on the glass.

S - It smelled surprisingly fruity, like a Belgian ale. Also, sweet chocolate notes with hints of licorice.

T - It tasted of tons of chocolate and sweet caramel. Some licorice and coffee flavors emerge, too, along with the fruity flavors.

M - It was smooth and very soft. A medium to full-bodied beer.

D - This is a great RIS and quite drinkable despite the high ABV. Really a great brew.

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

This is one of my favorites, but I'm going to try and be as objective as possible. Despite this being probably my thirtieth Abyss, I'm treating it as though it's some new RIS from some unheard of startup brewery.

This one pours incredibly dark, with a corresponding inch-high dark tan head. The head is suprisingly resilient, receding to perhaps 1/8th of its original height, but staying nonetheless.

The nose is dark chocolate, cream, coffee, and a hint of bourbon. Very promising.

Wow. The first thing I get is smoky oak, molasses, and THICK. That chocolate proves to be bitter dark, and the coffee nose works itself into a tannic acidity aftertaste that sticks around long after the swallow. Bourbon is present but certainly not overpowering. This is such a 'complete' example of the style; I'm left looking for nothing after each sip.

Carbonation is light to medium, body is incredibly thick, and it sits on your tongue with a sensation that is more silky than creamy.

I'm inclined to call drinkability relatively low, but having downed a 34oz pour at a local pub with relative ease... well, it's just that good. I'm left wanting more after finishing off a bomber.

An awesome beer. One of the top five imperial stouts I've ever had.

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Photo of ffejherb
4.35/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber into tulip on 1/9/09. Thanks to sholland119 for sharing.

A - Poured a deep, dark brown - bordering black - body with a slim burnt tan head that diminished and left a bit of spotty lacing around the glass.

S - Initial whiff reveals an odd, yet intoxicating blend of chocolate milkshake and beef jerky. Hmmmm... interesting, to say the least. Oak and woody notes also emerge, followed by a touch of alcohol and a subtle earthy hop character.

T - This RIS opens with the flavor of sweet milk chocolate paired with a mild meaty, beef jerky character. Suggestions of molasses and licorice emerge in the middle and mingle with more earthy, woody notes and some dark roasted maltiness. Finishes with an earthy hop bitterness.

M - Medium bodied with a silky, smooth texture and soft carbonation. No noticeable alcohol presence for such a huge RIS! Finishes with a moderate earthy bitterness on the palate.

D - Wow! This is an impressive RIS for sure. This drinks like a champ for such a hefty alcohol presence. At 11% ABV, this is about as drinkable as you can get for a RIS, especially one that is as complex as this.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
99 out of 100 based on 1,888 ratings.
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