The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

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The AbyssThe Abyss
7,311 Ratings
The AbyssThe Abyss

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate.

As for the great “drink it now or let it age” debate, we stand clearly on the fence. Distinct and delicious on release, the flavors meld and fuse into an entirely different pleasure after a year or more in the cellar.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-24-2006

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Ratings: 7,311 |  Reviews: 2,016
Photo of willjschmidt
4.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bomber (2007 release) into a Stone IRS glass.

A: Pours jet black with a thick tan head and lots of lacing.

S: Roasted malt, molasses and a hint of sweetness.

T: Lots of layers of complex flavors. I got chocolate, molasses, anise, and roasted malt. Not as much coffee or espresso as is often found in an RIS. It is all very well balanced with a nice hop presence in the finish. Probably the smoothest and most well-balanced RIS that I have had. The alcohol is also very well hidden. I rarely found it popping through, even at 11%.

M: Creamy, full bodied, low amount of carbonation.

D: It's a sipper but a damn fine one. Sit back, relax, and take your time to enjoy the Abyss.

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Photo of warmstorage
4.16/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bomber, $10.99 at Gold Rush Liquor, Anchorage, AK.

Appearance: deep thick jet black, with a big fluffy medium brown head that leaves huge lacing. Pretty much exactly what an imerial stout should and can be. Yes: perfect.

Aroma: roasty tangy sweet and full. Very nice.

Taste: roasty and tangy and sweet and full and then some more roasty. King of like Rasputin but without the bite. Minimal creosote, some slight smoke. Some very slight tangy fruit.

Mouth: Tingly, fairly high carbonation for such a high gravity beer. Warm, but far from hot, again it masks the high ABV. Linger long with warm

Overall: Delicious, very drinkable, very easy, very good. Yes, very good. Worth $10 a bomber? Well, a year or so ago, maybe not. But with prices going up like they are? It's worth every damn penny and then some.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Bchung52077: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a huge dark brown color foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of vanilla, light smoke and huge black chocolate notes is pretty intense but well balance as well. Taste is a sublime mix between some black chocolate, some light smoke, molasses, some oak and bourbon. This is a very well balance mix with no flavour taking over and completely overshadowing the rest of the flavours. Body is full with engine oil consistency but with a creamy texture as well and good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Not being a big fan of imperial stout usually I must admit that I was really impressed by the craftsmanship of this one.

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Photo of jwc215
4.75/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Wasatch for including this in a trade!

2007 Reserve - aged in oak barrels:
Poured into a snifter -

Pours black with a tan head that slowly settles to a thin patch and some bubbles. Very good retention for abv/style. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of licorice, chocolate, coffee, toffee, with some dark fruitiness. A bit smoky. Complex is an understatement.

The taste is all that the aroma promised and more. Huge amount of complexities that come together exceptionally well. Chocolate, coffee, rooty, licorice, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, oak - complex, tasty, malty sweet yet balanced with enough roastiness and a touch of subtle citric/piney/resiny hops. A well-rounded, delicious brew.

Full-bodied, yet creamy and smooth with just enough stickiness to give it a very long finish.

Gimme more...a beer-lover's delight...and a work of art. This one certainly deserves the hype that surrounds it!

Thanks again John!

Thanks to Bitterbill for sending three more bottle of this wonderful stuff!

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 Reserve. 22oz black wax covered bomber. Pours into my glass as black as night with an inch of dark tan foam atop the brew. Viscous and rather thick on the pour. Looks menacing in the glass. Aromas begin with big bittersweet chocolate with a solid roasty undertone. A huge blast of molasses and caramel tones as well. Licorice is lurking underneath with a touch of coffee and an oaken afterthought. Wow, simply amazing, enticing aroma with chocolate to the forefront.

First sip brings big, rich malts upfront with a bold bittersweet chocolate flavor and a huge blast of molasses again in the flavor. Deep, dark and satisfying. The Abyss is a rightful name for this one. Flows down with some vanilla, coffee and licorice. Oaky bourbon flavors are there as well however they are nicely blended and do not dominate the flavor profile by any means. Bitterness hits on the way down, balanced by a good amount of sweet throughout. This is a chewy, viscous treat.

Mouthfeel is big and unapologetic. It brings a chewy, full bodied imperial stout and makes no excuses. This one drinks like a meal and can fill you up just about as good. Overall, taking down a whole bomber is definitely possibly, but I see this being best shared with some beer loving friends. Would make a damn fine companion around a campfire on a cool night. Cheers to Deschutes and to everyone who has traded me this beauty.

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Photo of DIM
3.18/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

a: This was a very thick looking black with no highlights. It poured with the darkest mocha colored head I've seen yet.

s: This was surprisingly mild overall, smelling of molasses, cocoa, licorice, alcohol, and some vanilla.

t: This started out as an amazingly complex and superb imperial stout. Every sip seemed to be different. To varying degrees at different times I tasted molasses, vanilla, chocolate, mild coffee, toasted grains, and oak. no two sips were the same and if it weren't for the finish this would absolutely live up to the hype for me. I'm not a fan of licorice so the strong licorice flavor at the end was a turn off for me. But the worst part was the mentholated rubbing alcohol at the very end. The feeling it left in it's wake reminded of how my mouth feels after an altoids. Not the flavor, just that sinus clearing "fresh" feeling.

m: The body and carbonation are both outstanding, but the mentholated dryness at the end left me cold.

d: I'm very glad I had help with this one, eleven ounces was about all I could take. If you like licorice you'll like this more than I did. Thanks to JohnGalt1 for the chance to try this one.

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Photo of Norsebrew
4.03/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer has sure been getting a lot of hype lately around my neighborhood so I took the $10 plunge and bought a bomber of this beer.

A- Abyss black with a 1+ head and pretty good lacing. The brown head had an almost oily consistency with rainbow bubbles.
S-Dark roast malts with chocolate, carmel, and licorice.
T-Complex but balanced dark malts, molasess, chocolate, and licorice. Pretty good alcohol kick too.
M-heavy and chewy with good carbonation
D-I wasn't as impressed as some people I've talked to about this beer, but it is very good. I probably won't buy this again just because there are some really good similar beers in Colorado for similar or cheaper prices.

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Photo of Mudpuppet
4.4/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to drumrboy22 for the chance to try this.

A- Poured from a 22oz bomber into a snifter glass. Pours a pitch black with no head. Some very light lacing on top.

S- Smells a bit of strong alcohol. Definite coffee and chocolate from this beer. Nice not overpowering nose. I get some fruit in the nose too plum or something.

T- Starts with some dark fruit with a quick following of coffee grinds, molasses and chocolate. This beer is a bit alcholy but not overly so.

M- Nice thicker mouthfeel with good carbonation.

D- I like this beer a lot. Nice flavors but my only complaint is the alcoholy nature of this beer. Very very tasty though.

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Photo of bgramer
4.31/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a midnight black into my glass - good tan creamy head with nice lacing. There's a smell of vanilla, coffee, molasses. It's very smooth and silky and the mouthfeel matches with the aroma as well.

It's qualities are impeccable in the RIS category. It deserves to be ranked with the best.

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Photo of ojclark
4.77/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Rich roasty aroma with some dark fruit notes from the malt and a whiff of alcohol.

Poured with a 1/4 inch later of rich cocoa-colored head. Head dissipated fairly quickly. Nice lacing.

The first sip revealed a huge flavor that practically exlpoded in the mouth. Strong roast malt flavors blended beautifully with dark malt flavors of plum and raisin, bitterness, and a definite (but not averwhelming) alcohol flavor. All these flavors persisted in the long-lasting aftertaste.

Medium-bodied. Rich mouthfeel. Slightly creamy despite not being a nitro tap. Long finish with nice alcohol warmth.

This beer was something of a paradox. For such a huge beer, it was incredibly balanced and drinkable. One of the very best imperial stouts I have ever tasted.

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Photo of DaveHS
4/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Thick and viscous. Thin, toffee-colored head.

S-Deep malty notes, nutty, with strong alcohol phenols.

T-Very mellow and soft for such a big beer. Chocolate, coffee, hazelnuts and burnt toast. Light notes of molasses.

M-Soft, creamy, and mouth-filling. Very well balanced.

D-Very drinkable. However, this beer is not all it claims to be. If you read the description on the bottom of the bottle, you will notice that it says "Stout brewed with Licorice and Molasses with 33% aged in oak and oak bourbon barrels." I get no oak from this beer. Although I am sure the oak contributed to the smooth character and mouthfeel, there is no character from the wood itself. I don;t get any bourbon or licorice. A bit of a dissappointment. Tastes like a Grande Reserve version of the Old Rasputin. In terms of Russian Imperials, it's alright, but certainly not worth $12 a bottle.

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Photo of dill
4.58/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured on draught into a pint glass

A - black with thin mocha lacing.

S - dark chocolate, coffee, a bit of alcohol.

T - lots of coffee flavors.

M - creamy but a bit dry with light carbonation.

D - this is a great stout. i didn't notice the alcohol while drinking it at all.

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Photo of Enola
4.11/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer looks like used motor oil. Thick and black with a huge tan head. Bubbles form in the head to make the head look like peanut brittle. The smell is licorice and chocolate. I also got the smell of fresh split oak firewood. The taste is chocolate with a lot licorice. The abv shows a little. You almost need to chew this beer. It is very rich and filling. I could drink this beer again. Thanks to wcudwight for sharing.

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Photo of hopsleeroy
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Spent an evening with a 22 oz 2007 bottle watching John Cusak movie 1408. Good combo.
A-As black as expected by the name. Very minimal Brownish head. Very viscous and thick. Laced nicely while I darnk it.
S-Dark Chocolate, vanilla, boozy fruit scent as warms, Scent is becoming more complex as it warms.
T-Strong roast/coffe at first, sweet Dark cocoa/molasses, and hop bitterness. As it warms, a mild oak flavor and bourbon are more noticeable. Some fruit but very minimal.
M-Coats thoroughly but not as viscous as expceted mouth. A little more carbonation than expected.
D-Could drink these all night if the 11% ABV wasn't hiding in there. Alcohol is well hidden in the taste-not hot at all. And the beer improves as it warms making me want to drink more.

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Photo of bunnyhustle
4.71/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 vintage. Nice wax sealed bottle, I've been anticipating this for weeks. Pours jet black with two-finger mocha head. Great retention and lacing. Smell admittedly is a bit dull IMO. Smell of some chocolate, some coffee, some alcohol...typical RIS smells. Taste is great. Rich and dark. Some black licorice, dark chocolate, coffee, some oak...a true menagerie of flavor. Low carbonation and somewhat thick going down, not too thick though. Leaves a somewhat dry feeling. I was really suprised by how well the alcohol was hidden. This is a great beer and deserving of the hype.

On a side note this beer was drank in honor of my Grandpa, who just passed away. Grandpa used to like a beer or two (or three...) and I saw it fitting to open this and drink in his honor. I dont think he would have had it any other way. The world will miss ya Mr. Ed.

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Photo of number1bum
4.57/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to younger35 and BeerTruth and for this 2007 vintage bomber.

Pours a deep black color, pretty much opaque, with a good inch plus of coffee colored head. Head is very creamy and retention is quite good, maintaining a nice lace and a good amount of stick.

Smell has chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt aromas, sweet but not too sweet, with some dark fruits in there and a bit of oakiness, as well. Really nice aroma; it has it all and it's in perfect balance.

Taste has all the malty goodness that the nose suggested. A low level of sweetness and the roasted malt gives it a nice balance, but is not too bitter. It's actually quite dry for a RIS. Some dark fruits again, but they're in the background. Really balanced flavor, and very tasty. There's just a touch of alcohol in there,and the slight burn mixes with a bit of an oaky flavor.

Mouthfeel is not as full bodied as I'd expect. It's a bit more than a medium body, but given the abv I think it could be a bit heftier. Still, quite soft and creamy on the palate.

This is really an exceptional beer. Very drinkable for a beer of its size. Glad I had the opportunity to try it!

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Photo of JDV
4.52/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared chadspivey's '06 alongside my '07 and found the two to be very similar but I thought the flavors popped a bit more in the fresher version actually, although they were nearly indistinguishable to me.

Pours black as night with a short lived nice tan head. Smells like chocolate cake, graham crackers, fresh baked chocolate cookies, and unique for an imperial stout, also with a hint of molasses. Taste is drying cocoa, roastiness, light cigar like tobacco-y flavors and char. Simply fantastic. Body is creamy but slightly drying at the same time. Perfect light to medium carbonation and the 11% is completely hidden to me. This easily lives up to the hype and is an amazing beer. Wow...

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Photo of Bookseeb
4.38/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is dark rich black with a thick and creamy caramel head. Smell of dark rich roasted malts, dark chocolate, strong coffee. Taste is a lot how it smells with a good hit of alchohol. Mouthfeel is medium - heavy and creamy. Ordered this at a local restuarant and ended up being the best order that evening.

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Photo of Scorpious
4.68/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Very nice flavor and aroma. Poured in to glass and allowed to warm for about twenty minutes. After the warm up session certainly noticed the bourbon and Pinot Noir characteristics start to develop more. I didn't however notice the Licorice flvor, but the beer might have still been too cold... Also has a mild caramel finish while still being rather pleasing on the palate..

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Photo of peabody
4.8/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours out dark chocolate black with two fingers of brown suds. Lots of small bubbles in there too. Slight lacing.
Coffee caramel malt and lots of black chocolate and slight licorice/anise. When it does warm a bit, the oak aroma does come out.
Taste is expresso coffee, strong black with a malty sweet dark cherry finish. This is so good.
Aftertaste is where the hops and yeast come in. You can't taste the alcohol but there is a slight warmth at the end of the aftertaste.
Usually with heavy beers I am not quick to open up another, but with this one I wanted to keep on drinking this fine concoction all night long, or at least till I went to sleep.

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Photo of grub
4.32/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Viggo was nice enough to share this one. thanks eric!

22oz bottle topped with black wax. 2007 vintage. sampled march 15/08.

pours inky black with a big dense dark brown head. drops very slowly and leaves spotty lace behind.

aroma is great. alcohol. vanilla. bit of bourbon. dark and milk chocolate. bit of espresso. roast. light caramel. bit of smoke. light fruit. toasty. big bread and biscuit malt. bit of cracker.

taste is great. dark and baker's chocolate. bit of milk chocolate too. espresso. vanilla. bit of bourbon. big bread and biscuit malt. light alcohol. roasty. medium bitterness level. light caramel. touch of smoke. bit of dark fruit.

mouthfeel is good. well integrated medium-low carbonation level. nice big body. light astringency.

drinkability is good. nice balance. a little rough around the edges, but still good. i think this one would be great with a bit more time to allow it ot mellow and mesh together.

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Photo of wcudwight
4.68/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to ncvbc for the beer.
Opaque in color. Large everlasting chocolate colored head. It's the darkest head I've ever seen. The head has more texture than a topo map of the Appalachian Mtn range.
Smells of licorice, chocolate, and bourbon.
The richest roasted malts that I've tasted yet make up the backbone of the flavor. Mixed in is sweet licorice, dark chocolate and a bourbon like bitterness. It's what I imagine a chocolate flavored bourbon would taste like.
Thick chewy mouthfeel.
Forget about the 11% abv, I could drink this all night long. It lives up to the hype. Please, someone send me another bottle.

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Photo of brdc
4.4/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Large capped and waxed bottle, courtesy of wasatch. 2007.

Poured into a snifter, it is pitch black, with a big, foamy dark tan head, with great lacing and retention.
Aroma is rich and complex, from dark fruits including prunes and berries to coffee, molasses, dark chocolate and an abundance of roasted grains - the roasted smell here is the predominant note. There might be a faint oakiness, but I might also be looking to hard for it.
Full on the palate, as expected, it comes out with a strong roasted flavor, grainy, with some balancing fruity notes, but the dark chocolate, unsweetened coffee and overall assertive bitterness comes along and takes over the flavor. It is at times somewhat unbalanced towards bitterness, but still very impressive.
Alcohol is barely noticeable, if at all.
Very good, but perhaps not as good as a top 10. Incredibly worthwhile nonetheless; need to try this one aged a little longer to see how the bitterness evolves.

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

Finally got around to cracking one of these open- good thing too, its starting to get quite warm here! Let me say right off that this beer is a good deal mellower than I expected from all the hype and reviews. I like it, but not as much as Kate, Ten Fidy, Bourbon County, Rasputins, and a number of others. Its a solid RIS, but its a bit overhyped. Pours inky black, but lacks a solid head and what is there isn't as powerfully dark as a Ten Fidy. In the aroma, you can certainly smell the molasses as well as some light coffee notes, some late chocolate, some fairly mellow licorice atouch of brandied dark fruit, and the slightest bit of vinous quality. It isn't as long as a Bourbon County nor as vinous and complex and fruity as Kate, and overall a bit lighter than expected, but still quite nice. The taste is also quite smooth. Not very vinous, but instead it leans toward the chocolatey with a bit of ash, more dark fruit, molasses and quite a bit of sweet licorice. Well integrated and quite delicious, but not quite as deeply flavored as Rasputins or Ten Fidy, and not quite as complex as Kate. Still, nice interplay of flavors. The mouthfeel is a bit on the viscous side, but surprisingly light in the mouth and not at all hot. As it warms a bit of bitter licorice on the end creeps in, but surprisingly, little roastiness beyond a deep char that is almost ashy. Drinks fairly well considering it doesn't blow the top of your head off like Bourbon County and is exceedingly smooth. Exceptionally good, but not the top of the heap.

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Photo of GoreStorm
4.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - jet black, no lightening in color around the edges whatsoever, the head looks like caramel that you that i could dip popcorn in for caramel corn. good head retention, a handsome beer.

S - i didn't even have to raise the glass to my nose to get a strong wiff of sweet and roasty malt, on further inspection i smell coffee and chocolate as well.

T - starts off with a the roasted malt, then i get a some sweetness and chocolate and coffee flavors in the middle before a super long and balanced roasty and bitter finished. exceptional balance. he high ABV is masked very well.

M - a tad syrupy, but smooth and nice.

D - i would never turn one of these down, however, after a couple of rounds could become satiating due to the thickness....i should stop and say that the high alcohol would limit me...but in all seriousness i wouldn't think about it.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 4.47 out of 5 with 7,311 ratings