The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

1,946 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: 1,946 | Ratings: 7,009
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.

 158 characters

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!

 1,361 characters

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.

 419 characters

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

bottle 2013---very roasted malty, licorice, molassessoy, sweet bourbon, wood, chocolate, and a dash of dark fruit and vanilla leading to a very dry long lasting coffee and hoppy finish. Very smooth...very nice.

 210 characters

Photo of GuyFawkes
3.88/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

2014 vintage. "Best after 11/11/15"; drank 3/27/16 @ the Yarchives.

Midnight black appearance.

A violent pour yielded a huge dark khaki head; a thick curtain of lace.

Black licorice, fresh earth & plum notes in the nose.

Thick mouthfeel.

Black licorice & plum flavors up front; fresh earth & a faint metallic note on the finish. Bitter bakers chocolate notes emerged as this warmed. Punishing & not very rewarding. Tread lighly.

 438 characters

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

A wax-sealed bottle of 2015 Reserve. Bottle states "Best after 12/8/16" so we waited a month to make sure. Ink - black, thIck, viscous pour with light head and lacing. Upon pouring, aroma of the blackstrap molasses comes right across the table. Taste is rich and complex. The bitterness unique to the blackstrap comes out right in front of the roasted malts and then the brewer's licorice finish. How they apportion such strongly flavored ingredients, I have no clue...but Deschutes seems to have mastered the art. Sip it slowly and enjoy the experience.

 562 characters

Photo of Treyliff
4.23/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 Vintage
22oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours pitch black in color with a dark brown creamy head that has good retention before settling into a ring

S- aroma opens with dark chocolate and espresso, followed by toasted dark bread, sweet molasses, licorice & caramel. Barrel notes bring some earthy wood with an emphasis on the red wine barrel, that adds elements of dark berries and vinous red wine. Char and raisin close it out

T- opens up with charred roasted malt, along with chocolate and a bit of espresso, followed by notes of dark cherry, licorice & molasses. Woody oak, followed by some vinous dark grape notes. Finishes with dark fruit and charred malt

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel that turns into a silky smooth finish, abv hidden well

O- most of the elements are identifiable throughout, but I can't help but think that this one may actually improve with age. Will revisit in a year or so

 953 characters

Photo of patre_tim
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Looks pitch black with 2 fingers of deep, rich milk chocolate head. The head is 2 toned with milk chocolate, and a cappuccino foam swirled in.

Smells of vanilla, dark chocolate, hints of black liquorice and molasses. Notes of pipe tobacco smokiness, tar, and bourbon barrels as well. Chocolatey and sweet, smells delicious.

On the tongue, Big vanilla beans, bourbon barrels, dark chocolate, caramel, sweet like chocolate milk, absolutely delicious.

Feels thick but foamy, like hot chocolate with whipped cream.

This was the 2015 release, drank on January 6th, 2016. I got it online, drinking it in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Awesome brew. Couldn't find in while in the US, so I was stoked to find it in Asia. Amazingly thick, dense feel, with super taste and smell.

 770 characters

Photo of tigg924
4.58/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Whale caught. Best after 12-8-16. Pours opaque, dark black in color, with 1/4 inch head. Taste is so multi-layered char, dark cherry, currant, baker's chocolate, black licorice, and plenty of oak. Full bodied, nice combination of roastiness, char, and oaky sweetness, with medium low carbonation. About as complex an American stout as I have had. Just a beautiful and delicious beer.

 389 characters

Photo of joeseppy
4.22/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 reserve bottle. Extreme dark brown pour. Sitting in my glass it looks like chocolate cake with mocha frosting. Aroma can be smelled across the room. Burnt brown sugars and cocoa. Taste is the same. An exceptional dark sweetened cocoa bar. Black licorice root and toasted vanilla bean. Burnt sugars and a roasty grain and malt. Medium body and sugars lay tacky on the lips. Only drawback for me is that it's more bitter than I care for but overall a notch above the norm.

 485 characters

Photo of rypkr
3.81/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2015 bomber. Best AFTER date is 12-8-16. Guess I'm about a week early Deschutes.

A - poured into a snifter. Thin, jet black, coca-cola looking. Little head. Very thick however on the side of the glass with very dispersed lacing. It clings to the side of the snifter like wet paint and just doesn't all run back down. It looks very sticky.

S - burnt sugar and molasses. Dark fruit and cherries. Smoke of burnt wet wood. Sweet cream/vanilla. Red wine. Minimal alcohol.

T - Wow. Incredible amount going on. I honestly can't even describe it after the first sip it's so complex. It tasted charred, but not burnt. Tons of light roast malt and chocolate flavor. Mild fruitiness. Faint vanilla and oak. The flavors are extremely strong and I'm finding my palate overcome between sips and it hard to recognize new flavors. If it has a flaw it's for being overly roasty and hard to discern the many other nuances underneath the charred flavor.

M - Great here. Not the fudgiest BA beer I've had but it's definitely not thin. Very creamy and chewy. Definitely filling. Overall far above average mouthfeel.

O - Very impressed. $22/bomber impressed I'm not sure. I'd probably buy one a year at that cost but if it were in the $15 range I'd scoop it up without hesitation.

Edit - dropped taste and overall from 4.5 to 4.25 due to the beer becoming overwhelming with roast flavor and less enjoyable towards the finish. A 12oz would have been perfect but a bomber of this is difficult and nothing but burnt sugar and char after a while. I honestly considered drain pouring at 60% and drinking something else instead but the cost of the bottle has me sticking it out.

Edit. Tried one fresher on 2-12-17 (bottled December 2016). I don't get it. I really hate this. It's overwhelmingly burnt and charred. Dropped taste and overall to 3.5 from 4.25 each.

I'll try this one more time, but that won't be until I cellar one for 3+ years to hopefully mute some of this bitter roast and maybe I'll understand the regard for this beer.

 2,020 characters

Photo of fireazzi
4.16/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had the 2015 Abyss. Dark black look to this one. Charred bourbon and oak come off strong. Almost a licorice taste to it for me. Very strong but not as boozy as I thought it would be.

 186 characters

Photo of K-Dog
4.41/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Drank this several weeks back in late October and forgot to review it. At that time it was still about 2 months away from the enjoy after date but I needed something I hasn't tried yet while up north in michigan on a cold fall evening around a fire and this was perfect. Flavors of vanilla, bourbon and maple and a hint of liquorice. Will get again next year.

 359 characters

Photo of OompaMentor
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Jet black pour with creamy head. Hint of chocolate, molasses, smoke and bourbon rise to the nose. The first taste is well balanced and the bourbon notes are present yet subdued- this is a delectable beer. Don't miss this one!

 226 characters

Photo of Hat_Fulla_Beer
4.66/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

650ml bottle poured into Sam Adams pint glass. 2015 bottle.

Pours utterly black with a thin cap of creamy dark brown head that leaves clouds and blotches of dripping lace as it recedes.

Smells of dark chocolate, black cherries, moist tobacco, rich molasses, roasted marshmallow and wood smoke, bourbon whiskey, black licorice and gentle red wine tartness. Outstanding.

Tastes of rich dark chocolate drizzled over cherries and raisins, toasted brown sugar, aged bourbon, more smoky marshmallow and tobacco and more sexy red wine tartness.

Feels soft and smooth. Full bodied with creamy carbonation. Finishes dry with hardly a hint of alcohol.

Verdict: Vigorously recommended. Good to an almost staggering degree.

 717 characters

Photo of q33jeff
4.62/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5


22 oz bottle to tulip glass. Tasting with DC, Dark Lord vs. Parabola vs. Abyss. Bottle actually says best after 12/08/16, so this is a little early. Strange since i've had the bottle for 10 months or so.

LOOK: dark black, really like an abyss, medium light brown head; josseling the glass reinvigorated a nice frothy top.
AROMA: malt, tobacco, coffee, chocolate, oak. Also hay, grass,
TASTE: vanilla and chocolate, but so much more...wood, tobacco and smoke in the aftertaste are really interesting,
FEEL: amazingly thin, but full bodied...not sure if that makes sense, but this beer feels unique.


 633 characters

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

2014 Reserve bottle, third one down this past weekend - the others over the last two years. From what I can remember there was not much change in my opinion on this beer over that time. Absolutely black ink in color with almost no carbonation. Thick, oily, smelled awesome with molasses and cherry hitting my nose predominately. Very warming mouthfeel soon extended to the brain. Love this beer, a sipping beer - where is my cigar? This is a world classic, very complex notes as it warms. Highly recommend.

 508 characters

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

 347 characters

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.

 1,146 characters

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.

 484 characters

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.

 428 characters

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.

 197 characters

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.

 1,000 characters

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.

 825 characters

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!

 830 characters

The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
4.48 out of 5 based on 7,009 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.