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The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

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1,903 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: 1,903 | Ratings: 6,806
Photo of XBeerBellyT
3.57/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Disappointing beer. It was much more thin than I would expect from a barrel aged beer. Very strong tobacco oaky like bitter taste came through that overpowered the taste, maybe from licorice taste as well. Very tart as well because the wine barrels, wasn't a fan of it. Had a tough time finishing this one and was expecting a lot from this beer as well

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Photo of stratusjeans
4.13/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2014 Vintage, stored away from light in ~55 degree beer fridge since purchase Nov. '14.
L: 4.75 S: 4.25 T: 4 M: 4.25 O: 4

Look: This was great. Very dark with burnt caramel head. Can't complain here.

Smell: A lot going on here and a decent balance. Smells bright on top of the dark malts.

Taste: This is the biggest disappointment. For only being 20% barrel aged (11% bourbon, 6% oak, 11% pinot noir) oak came through very strong, almost as much as Oak Aged Yeti (from memory, didn't try side by side). Molasses is noticeable and perhaps the licorice adds to the oak affect (licorice admittedly not something I like) I took my time sipping this beer and the subtle notes were more noticeable as it warmed. Found some cherry and a tartness from the pinot. More balance would make this so much better.

Mouthfeel: Second disappointment. SImply lighter than I expected. Again, it's only 20% barrel aged, but lighter still than Ten Fidy or Founders Imperial Stout. Maybe the name Abyss causes me to expect more.

Overall: 2014 was my first Abyss and I'm not overwhelmed. All that said, I'm excited for the 2015 vintage (50% BA, 21% bourbon, 8% oak, 21% wine) and the 2015 Abyss Rye. What I tasted today will be fantastic with Rye and I will update my reviews accordingly.

Disappointed is the best way to describe it.

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Photo of Scott17taylor
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Starts out with chocolate and roast, mid palate the barrel character from both the whiskey and wine come into play and actually blend nicely. Finishes back with roastiness, but as it warms the barrel character becomes more pronounced and weakens the finish. Definitely a great beer but it could use more barrel character, will be seeking out both the rye whiskey and cognac versions of this, and would love to see a double barrel version. I loved this beer and think it'll be even better with age.

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

The abyss '14, consumed on 12.03.16

Pours a pitch black color with a surprisingly big, spongy head.

Does smell of an earth entangled grape ripeness, which does not turn sour by any means as for a balancing, subtle integrated oak quality. A fantastic, multilayered chocolate aroma slowly evolves from scorched malts, leading to a restrained, yet enjoyable Bourbon spiciness, adding to the chocolate richness of the nose. A flowery wood bark note completes the utmost originally and well composed aromas, which get pleasantly dominated by the wine barrel and matured hops.

Drinks with a world class mouthfeel to it, due to a huge amount of whipped cream, effectivly blending into soothing chocolate. While its carbonation is certainly on the lower end, it is still able to add a subtle, bubbly refreshment during the finish.

Tastes of chocolate dipped cherries, evolving to an even fruitier stage in which juicy, matured grapes become visible, which get wrapped up by a pungent blend of burned malts and bitter chocolate. A divine creaminess caresses the tongue while oak, licorice and burned wood bark get recognizable, tied together by a subtle wine tartness, which also produces a nice sweeter quality, enhanced by caramel and rock sugar. Cocoa nibs and matured, grassy hops provide a surprisingly aggressive hop punch during the finish, immediately soothed by the rich creaminess, while molasses, oak and milk chocolate are able to cut through.

Wow, this is certainly one of the most complex beers I've ever had, which may be due to its rich chocolate maltiness, which only gets carefully accentuated by the different barrels instead of getting dominated by them. This allows to unfold a decadent, rich creaminess, shining for its very silk mouthfeel, which finds it antagonist in dry, scorched earthen malts.

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

On tap, thick and chewy. Ton of chocolate & molasses, one of the sweetest I've had. Bigger than I expected, needs a barrel though. Burnt marshmallow also shows up as it warms.

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Photo of Mongrel
4.28/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Nose grows in depth and intensity as the beer warms - there's smoke, cherry, chocolate and even some acetic acidity.

Palate is much the same and there's way more to the flavor profile than what initially comes across. Peat, cherry, burnt sugar, faintly tart red wine notes and plenty of chocolate. A lingering bitterness reminiscent of espresso and black licorice.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.52/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a beautiful black with a two finger tan head. The head recedes quickly leaving some nice soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is dark chocolate, black cherries, and roasted malts.

T - The flavor starts with chocolate, black cherries, and vanilla. The bourbon is very subtle and adds a light sweetness. The finish has heavy roasted malts and oak.

M - Heavy bodied with low carbonation. The mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy. Dry finish.

O - Wow, there is so much going on in this beer. The flavors work so well together. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Jslay013
3.82/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

'15 on tap. Very boozy, black licorice, dark cocoa. Definitely better with some age on it, but I think 2+ years is needed to really mellow the burn. Not even close to elite tier for me, but better than average.

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

2015 Reserve.
A: Black as can be. Sustained cap of khaki foam, sticky lacing.
S: The molasses/cherry/vanilla combined to form a surprisingly sweet and candy-like aroma initially, which then gave way to the roasty wine/bourbon-influenced stout. Smells properly good.
T: Not as intense as the bottle claims, but not far off. Finish is heavy on oak and wine barrel, pretty dry but with a delightful lingering taste. More sweetness and the slightest hint of bourbon up front, followed by the cherry/vanilla/fruit in the middle, before the oak really takes over again. Pretty darned good.
F: Prickly but just enough carbonation. Can be sort of abrasive if you don't swallow soon enough. Bordering on thick, slightly creamy, the right viscosity for a stout like this.
O: Solid. Brought home from a work trip to Iowa, saw it all over the place there and only took the one bottle home. Turns out it didn't last on shelves in MI, maybe next year I'll get a couple and let one rest for a while. Definitely approve.

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Photo of Parmesan
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L: Motor oil black with a frothy tan head that sticks around for a while and some sticky lacing on the glass.

S: Lots of booze here, it overpowers most of the other elements, hints of cherry and roast.

T: A nice toasty malt, with cherry and chocolate on top. The booze is there but not as noticeable as it was in the nose. Hints of wood and peat. Very complex and great taste.

F: Low carbonation, creamy smooth with a very full body.

O: A little boozy but overall a fantastic beer.

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Photo of Biggtriksta
4.34/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had the 2011 version of this a couple of days ago. This is a BIG beer! Boozy, chocolaty, frothy yet silky smooth. This will certainly warm you up on a cold winter's day.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.43/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber into a snifter

Appearance – The beer pours a super dark, nearly pitch black color with a two finger head of brown colored thick foam. The head has a fantastic level of retention, slowly fading over time to rings of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is huge of a roasted malt smell mixed with a big showing of coffee and caramel with other notes of vanilla and chocolate being rather strong as well. Along with the these super robust aromas, comes smells of char and smoke as well as a good showing of dark fruits of raisin and prune. A bit of a boozy bourbon aroma is there as well, overall producing a smell that is very dark and roasty with a big showing of a warmingly sweet smell.

Taste – The taste begins as the nose would suggest with a massive dark roasted malt flavor and a good showing of coffee. There is a huge rich milk chocolate sweetness upfront which is accompanied by other sweet flavors of molasses and brown sugar. As the taste advances the roasted malt waivers ever so slightly, but with the coffee, is still the overall dominant taste of the brew. With the lightening of the roastiness (which is sorta odd to write as it is still super robust in dark flavors) comes a little bit of a raisin taste as well as a decent showing of vanilla; both of which join the other sweet and chocolate flavors quite nicely. As one may expect for a 12.2 % brew, there is a bit of a bourbon boozy taste that develops later in the tongue, which creates a nice warming feel. Flavors of char and a woody hop develop at the very end, combining with the alcohol, roasty, and sweet nicely to create rich, dark, and warming taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The beer is thick and creamy with a very low level of carbonation level. The feel is nearly perfect for the big mix of dark, sweet and boozy flavors of the brew, coating the tongue and bathing it in all the grandiose tastes of the brew.

Overall – This is a very nicely crafted imperial stout. While slightly on the sweeter side all the other attributes of the brew match the sweeter and rich flavors very well. Even while sweet, it not necessarily so, and was still drinkable (in a very slow sipping way) unlike some other imperial stouts of similar strength. Overall I was rather impressed by this brew.

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Photo of stortore
4.38/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bottle into a snifter, 2014 edition, best after 11/10/15.

Pours a deep, opaque brown, nearly black. Thick looking, not much head with some oily cling. Smells of roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, molasses, a little oak, licorice as it starts to warm, a little coffee. No bourbon presence noticed, maybe a hint of cherry from the pinot barrels. Taste also leads with roasted malts, chocolate, more molasses and coffee than the nose, vanilla, raisins, oak. The bourbon barrel is kind of an undertone, very subtle, the pinot adds a little bit of a fruity character. Some bitterness hits midway through the back end. Great flavor. Smooth, fairly creamy, well carbonated, a tongue coater. Great body, although lighter than typical for an RIS.

Excellent beer, complex and well blended with lots of flavor. I found the barrel aging to be very subtle in both aroma and taste- but contributing, and I'm shocked that some reviews call it a bourbon bomb. In any event, bomb or hand grenade, it's a great beer, and one you should try if you can.

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Photo of imstimpy
3.14/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2014 Reserve, best after date of 11/10/15.

It pours with a thick tan foam that slowly dissipates to a rather fascinating residue of bubbles and cascades across the surface. The body is quite dark brown, nearly black.

The smell is quite subtle: molasses and malt. Nothing much here, honestly.

The taste, however, is eat your heart out roasty! I suppose I pick up a very slight cherry and perhaps the vanilla, and maybe the wood, but it all takes a back seat to the roast. It tastes more like an hot oatmeal stout. As it warms the roasted malt balances out nicely.

Good feel. Thick, but without coating the tongue too long and lingering.

Overall, I don't find the Abyss as complex as the label suggests. The smell is too subtle and the taste is too one-dimensional. It is good though, and I intend to finish the bottle.

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Photo of TasterTester
4.79/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I love stouts, so when my friend went to Oregon, I asked her to see if she could find a bottle or two of this.... and she came through!

Look - it was very dark, thick black, just like I expected, with a dark brown head. Beautiful pour.

Smell - bourbon, chocolate, malt and licorice.

Taste - malty with chocolate and licorice notes. Some vanilla, and a bit of coffee.

Feel - viscous, heavy, velvety feel.

Overall - this was a delicious beer. I love Imperial Stouts and this one did not disappoint. Very well balanced beer for 12% alcohol, and the flavor wasn't overwhelmingly alcohol. Well done Deschutes! "I'll be bock."

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Photo of Trevor11
4.82/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Although the best after date was 12/8/16, I opened up the bottle 10 months early. The Abyss is blacker than black (completely opaque) nice carbonation with a significant tan head in a snifter. Extremely rich, lots of dark chocolate and cherries that come at the endnotes. It's interesting how only half is the beer is barrel aged; I feel that the oak wine barrels (21%) come through the most. Next time I will have to try to be more patient and heed Deschutes' consumption date advice.

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

Pours a pitch black with a thick, mocha colored head. The nose is mild yet complex. Dried figs, currents, raisens, roasted coffee, booze, molasses. The flavor is very nice. Smokey, bitter, slightly hot from the booze. It really lacks in mouthfeel though, and that hurts the rating.

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Photo of Kraj30
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

3 drafts of 2015.. in the keg this didnt need to age.. pours a nice almost black with deep khaki.. nice nose... once it warms bourbon smell is even better... wow what a beer.. it was awesome having 3 at time.. but not next day.. awesome BBA stout

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Photo of Viaduck
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 Reserve, 12.2%, with a best after 12/08/16 (I couldn't wait). Pours dark, very dark, almost black with head the color of chocolate & aroma of chocolate, alcohol, vanilla & malt & a hint of cherries. Chocolate is the dominant note with molasses & licorice & a lovely variety of flavors & finishes off with the 12.2 which initially was well hidden.an excellent brew!

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Photo of jphipps83
4.62/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 reserve into a snifter.

A - pitch black, thin dark brown head. Beautiful pour. S - complex. Bourbon, chocolate, oats. T - what I expected from the smell. Very full, not overpowering, very balanced to have such a high ABV. You know you're drinking booze, but it is so well done, you could be in trouble! M - warm, light carbonation.

Just an all-round fantastic beer. Worth the price tag, and I am looking forward to Dec of 2016 to age my second bottle to see how it develops.

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

2014. Black gold. Such a wonderfully layered stout, with each advertised component coming through perfectly. Molasses then licorice hit first followed by cherry bark, oak, and wine. Smooth and no harshness despite its strength. Another outstanding offer from Deschutes. Cheers!

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Photo of PsilohsaiBiN
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage, 11.1 abv.

Pours dark opaque as expected, with a couple fingers of mocha head. Impressive look with lively carb.

Smell: Roasted malt, red wine, graham cracker, bitter chocolate, subtle vanilla, coffee, dark fruit. Interesting and quite complex, nothing stands out immensely over the other elements.

Taste: Dark fruit with chocolate and wine up front leads into subtle vanilla and graham cracker. The finish is slightly dry from all of those barrels, with chocolate, dark fruit and red wine lingering until it rolls off of the tongue. There is a subtle bourbon undertone in the finish as well...but just a hint. Upon the first few sips, you may think that this is just a so-so beer, but once you dig in and realize the complexity that endures from the nose to the palate, it really impresses. A lot of different elements are so well integrated and nothing stands out to overpower the other...it's like drinking a fucking symphony. You can perhaps chalk it up to the aging in my case, but if you drank this blind you would never guess it was 11+%. Smoooth.

Mouthfeel: Velvety, full bodied, coats the tongue aggressively but doesn't render itself too viscous to impede you from drinking more than a sample. On the medium side of heavy, but so smooth.

Overall: Color me impressed. The red wine barrel and vanilla really integrate well with the roasted malt and chocolate elements of this. To a casual drinker, this may seem like a meh brew, but once you dig in and let it open up, you really discover what a well balanced masterpiece/classic this is.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.74/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Aged and poured in a Firestone Walker Proprietor's Series glass.

The beer pours a very nice looking light brown cocoa color that dissipates a bit more quickly than I would like but lingers around the inside of the glass. The beer itself is an opaque dark chocolate black with a slightly oily texture. It's a very good looking beer and imperial stout when compared to other stouts since it seems to have a slight wine texture due to the alcohol.

The smell is very good. There are good strong dark chocolate notes with nice barrel notes that complement the chocolate very well. The barrel consist of bourbon, the oak, and a light vanilla note. The vanilla tends to waft underneath the entire aroma and ameliorates the wood notes a bit while the bourbon adds a nice something extra to the chocolate notes. There is also a bit of a strong wine note in the smell. The wine note has a nice berry smell and a bit of an alcohol note that you normally find in an inexpensive pinot noir. It isn't mind blowing but it certainly adds something to the aroma quite a bit.

The taste is phenomenal. The taste is in many ways much better than smell and more complex without overburdening the drinker. The taste has a very strong chocolate note that forms the center of the experience with the other notes complementing it very well. The barrel notes are not as strong as they are in the smell but they add nice bit of sweetness and wood bitterness to the chocolate that is great. The Pinot Noir notes are much more subtle but give it a slight berry note with a perfect light amount of tannin to the taste. Overall, a great taste that has come as a result of all the different notes coming to work together.

The feel is very good. It's a heavy bodied beer with some light carbonation that adds a bit of texture to it. However, the more interesting thing to note is how smooth the beer is. Apparently, the aging process has given it a wine like smoothness that is fantastic and makes it easier to drink than it ought to be.

Overall, a fantastic beer and one that will probably only get better with age when properly stored. If you can get one, go for it; especially if it's been properly aged.

Aged 2014 Vintage (2 years. Great Divide Barrel Aged Spieglau glass)
Same as the above but with a much lighter wood note and more prominent red wine note. The wine is definitely much more prominent than in a fresh bottle. The chocolate notes are even with the red and compliment very well; it's almost like eating dark chocolate immediately followed up by some red wine. The aging has definitely tamed this beer to be a lot more drinkable and confirms my theory that Deschutes beers need to be aged for quite a while.

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

On tap, pours jet black with a bit of dark brown head. Smell and taste both have tons of coffee, with other dark fruit/chocolate more in the background. Not getting much in the way of barrel. Feel is medium, which feels almost a little thin for the style. Still, a little bit of thick stickiness in the finish. Enough carbonation to give it a creamy feel. A really solid imperial stout.

Updated with a 2015 bottle, consumed before its time in May 2016 (bottle says best after 12/16). I liked the fresh beer I had on tap, but some age in the bottle really helps the complexity. Initial smell is more chocolate and vanilla, along with toffee, dark cherries and dark roasted coffee. Taste follows, with a coffee finish that's got a decent bitterness. The alcohol is pretty well hidden, though alcohol legs coat the glass. Feel is thicker than what I had on tap, and appropriate to the style. Great stuff.

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Photo of Mikeybricks
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

First Official Review on here and figured not why not with a top 50 beer!

Glass ware: Snifter
Serving Temperature: Approximately 50-55 degrees

Blackstrap molasses in color as it pours. Little to no head as it settles. Jet black in appearance.

Light in smell aroma is smells slight of liquorice and vanilla

Upfront and in your face with each sip. Can maybe taste the oak wine barrels in the at the end?
Alcohol tasteis noticeable but very smooth. Carbonation gives very pleasant refreshing feeling after each sip

Definitely a chomper, but bitterness fads dramatically and lingers on the tong. Slick feel on the mouth

Would definitely recommend for a stout lover or fan. First time having this beer, was bought as a gift for me. I'm definitely gonna have to search for one to age a year as recommended on the bottle. I drank this one fresh. This one says best after 12/0816. So would be a great Christmas-eve or day beer.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
4.48 out of 5 based on 6,806 ratings.
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