The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

BA SCORE
99
world-class
7,102 Ratings
The AbyssThe Abyss
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States
deschutesbrewery.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
7,102
Reviews:
1,963
Avg:
4.48
pDev:
9.38%
 
 
Wants:
2,951
Gots:
3,897
For Trade:
332
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 7,102 |  Reviews: 1,963
Photo of Max2500sea
4.78/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

A: very near black, with a beige head and sticky, lingering lacing. Go figure...

S: Mellow bourbon, bitter chocolate, molasses, toffee, roasted malt.

T: Splendid, smooth BA stout. Bourbon and sweetness are subtle, and everything is balanced to perfection. The licorice adds a very interesting component to the overall flavor. There is a certain dryness in the finish. Slight alcohol detectable, more so in vintages that have not benefited from time in the cellar. Mouth-watering and delicious!

M: Great carbonation and balance. Smooth going down, this beer really coats your palate. What a joy to sip.

D: I could drink this until I fell over. Someday I may attempt this!

Notes: An exceptional beer. A must try.

 715 characters

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

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

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

 391 characters

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

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass. 05/19/08. 2007 reserve. Cool label, and the cap is covered in black wax.

Pours thick and pitch black with tinges of maple brown around the edges. A moderate pour produces a soft three finger light chocolate-brown head. The head fades back slowly leaving some beautiful lacing around the glass. Aromas of toasted malt, milk chocolate, and lightly roasted coffee. There's also some toffee and oak in there.

Oh wow this tastes amazing! Slightly sweet milk chocolate, molasses, and caramel up front. Finishes with bitter dark chocolate, medium roast coffee, and a somewhat bitter hop taste. Very nice roasted malt character throughout. Some dark fruits come into the palate as well, notably fig and date. Underneath all that are smooth oak and bourbon flavors from the barrel aging. The bourbon flavor is very subtle but adds a nice dimension to the flavor. Overall, a VERY nice balance of flavors.

The feel on this beer is equally impressive. A nice balance of thickness and carbonation. It's smooth and creamy, but not so thick that it's chewy. The carbonation is spot on, and it's nice and dry. It leaves a thin sticky coating around my mouth. Drinkability is great for such a big beer, though it is a bit filling. It really goes down smoothly. It's not too thick and sticky, and the bourbon flavor stays in check. And the high ABV (11%) is almost nowhere to be found.

Overall, an amazing beer and excellent RIS. Definitely try it if you get the chance. I've got an extra that I'm keeping for a bit to see how it develops.

EDIT (08/25/08)
Opened another bottle after three months. Both aroma and taste have more vanilla, caramel, and oak/whiskey now, with a hint of butterscotch. A bit more cherry in the taste also. The chocolate and coffee are still there, but are subdued a bit. Still amazing and holding up very well.

 1,871 characters

Photo of evanlarkin
4.78/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

poured into a Darkness goblet.

Appearance:
By the time the foam hit the edge of the glass, it was sitting around a finger and a half, a chocolatey light brown color. The beer itself is jet black, even if I put it between me and a window. The foam gradually cuts itself down into a light covering with thick lace.

Smell:
Sweet and licorice-y, with the molasses coming in loud and clear too. the oak/bourbon is fairly subtle but present. I could imagine someone mistaking the licorice and molasses for chocolate.

Taste:
Sweet, like a liquid molasses cookie. licorice in the background, slightly masked by oak flavor. Hints of bourbon and chocolate, with just a touch of coffee. There is a very very light hop bitterness, just enough to balance with the sweetness.

Mouthfeel:
Syrupy and thick. Chewy certainly comes to mind. Low carbonation, and very full body. Coats the mouth and doesn't let go, forcing me to savor it forever.

Overall:
I think this may be my favorite sweet stout. It really is amazing. Everything about it screams deliciousness. Probably one of the best beers I've ever had.

Anybody want to volunteer to make Abyss ice cream?

 1,148 characters

Photo of tprokop7
4.78/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From a bottle purchased recently in Russian River territory into a stemless wine glass. Pours thick and black, without head even with a vigorous pour. Aroma is sweet with notes of molasses and a little alcohol. The Abyss is almost thick when it hits the mouth, just a little syrupy. Taste is sweet and complex, with more molasses, some chocolate and coffee, and definite pronounced vanilla.

This is truly a masterpiece. I think it would rank well above some other famous offerings if the rarity/hype machine were in its favor.

 527 characters

Photo of Kala1073
4.78/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Does it get much better than this? Because, if it does, I have not found it yet! This has got to be one the best beers I have ever drank and it will only get better over time! I am fortunate enough to not have gotten an infected bottle, so I could really enjoy everything that this beer has to offer. If you have a chance, obtain this beer, you will not be disappointed!!!

 372 characters

Photo of Shogun250
4.78/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of JerryG
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I had the 2010 Abyss. I had 1 when in came out, and another recently that I had been aging (4 years). Deschutes claims they are better with at least a year of age on them, but having gone this long, I don't remember well enough to describe a difference.

Color - Black and opaque with a brown head, a very stout stout

Smell - all of them. They really crammed everything into this beer. Raisins, fruit, molasses, malt, a little coffee and chocolate, although the fruit came through more

Taste - again, everything but the kitchen sink. All the above smells, and maybe a little oak and carmel

Mouth feel - thick and syrup

Stout is not my preferred beer, but this one is pretty special

 685 characters

Photo of glid02
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally came across this thanks to a generous soul at the Brick Store in Atlanta - 2007 vintage.

Pours completely black with a one-finger brown head that slowly recedes into a thin pancake on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of roasted malts and chocolate with faint hints of coffee and licorice.

Tastes phenomenal - everything is in balance. Roasted malt and dark chocolate flavors up front give way to mild licorice and milder oaked bourbon flavors. The ending is bitter, with the roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee all contributing. This beer does a great job of not going too far with either sweet or roasted flavors, instead staying right in the middle.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a very nice thickness with soft carbonation that does just enough to make this go down smoothly.

Drinkability is great. Every sip seems to bring a new flavor and I finished my glass entirely too quickly. I could drink a lot of this.

Overall this lived up to the expectations. The Abyss is everything you could want in a big stout - definitely worth the hype.

 1,058 characters

Photo of ojclark
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

 755 characters

Photo of BeardedRiker
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

My friend and I had two Deschutes beers. I had the Black Butte XXI, at the time we drank the beers it was one year and 364 days old, and my friend had the 2010 Abyss, it being 366 days old. We expected the drinking event would be superb. Little did we know it would blow our socks off.

This is a beautifully dark beer. What did Nietzsche say? "When you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Well, with this beer, you just get sucked into it like a black hole. It's the blackest of black. When you hold it up to a light it is as if the light cannot compete. Ok, maybe I'm just saying BS here, but the point is this beer is midnight, charcoal black. The head forms relatively slowly and looks like a mocha foam, yet creamy.

If you spend half an hour just smelling this then I wouldn't blame you. Every inhalation of The Abyss is like you're inhaling for the first time, it is so complex. You literally cannot get enough. The smell has a warmth to it like smelling wine. It's definitely boozy but not overpowering at all, thanks to the rich chocolate and roasted coffee smells. The bottle says the beer is brewed with molasses and it definitely has a sort of burnt sugar aroma. Dark fruits are in there too with a distinct oakiness. Smell it, smell it again, and then keep on smelling. Every whiff will satisfy.

How does The Abyss taste? Oh my, I don't know if it could be properly put into words. Dark roasted coffee, delicious chocolate, satisfying sweetness, dark fruits like raisin and prunes, and some good, warming booziness. Every single flavor was exceptional. It was like a cascade of sweet, roasted awesomeness where the depth of flavor seemed to never end. There's some obvious booziness from the 11% ABV but even with it that high the amount of flavor keeps it completely satisfactory. Sometimes imperial stouts have so much flavor that you feel like you can't drink much of it. In the case of The Abyss such is not the case. With a beer as great as this the bombardment of rich flavor is too satisfying to stray from. There's also a bourbon-ish bite at the end that adds more complexity. I don't know if I've ever given a beer a 5 out of 5 on anything but I'm content with giving The Abyss a perfect score when it comes to taste.

Like I said when explaining the taste of The Abyss, many times I feel as I can't drink too much of an imperial stout, no matter how much I like the style, because they're so flavorful, so boozy, and so heavy. Well, The Abyss, while being a heavy beer, doesn't feel like it. It's not thin at all. It's just perfect. Creamy, smooth, a bit sticky from the sweetness, and insanely drinkable for how much flavor it has.

When I was drinking The Abyss I knew it was a great beer but it wasn't until after I drank it that I realized just how flippin' good it was. I actually got a bit...depressed because I knew I wouldn't drink another beer as good for a long time. The next time I see this on the shelf I'll definitely be purchasing it and aging it. I can only imagine how it tastes when aged longer. Great beer.

 3,069 characters

Photo of hooliganlife
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

review #200 - dedicated to the 6 month * 1/2 birthday* of my son, Alec.

Vintage 2007 Poured into a Bells stemmed Tulip

thick jet black and as the tulip filled, the mocha head rose leaving almost 2 inches worth at the top. slowly disappeared leaving mocha lacing.

HUGE sweet candy and bourbon notes with subtle hints of dark chocolate and light coffee. quite sweet. a bit of booze. huge for a stout, just huge.

sweet coffee and roasted malts up front. a subtle bourbon flavor mixed in and on the lips. light hints of chocolate buried at the bottom. molasses and licorice were very dominant in the finish and even in the aftertaste. the flavors really have emerged after 2 years. not much booze for 11% ABV.

thick and syrup, light carbonation and crazy smooth

i am QUITE glad i have a few more of these as this is dangerously drinkable. Deschutes really set the bar high with this release. amazing flavors have me forcing myself to hold back.

perfect

 957 characters

Photo of Fusion7777
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Beejay
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Cracking this bad boy open in celebration of my 1st year BAnniversary. This is the 08 edition, and if I am not mistaken (it's been a while... so I may be imagining things...) I owe great thanks to AgeOfQuarrel for this brew.

A: Black as obsidian. A nice mocha colored head on top, which slowly falls into the glass, leaving a trail of lacing as it exits.

S: Oak is very present. Chocolate, and smoke. Picking up just a hint of the bourbon, but I pick up a lot more of the bourbon, and oak as this warms a bit.

T: Big. Malty, and burnt flavors up front, in the finish there are notes of dark chocolate, smoke, licorice, and a certain sweetness.. presumably from the molasses. Perhaps just a bit of a bite from the alcohol. As it warms, the bourbon is a bit more prevalent.

M: Thick, creamy and smooth. This beer is smooth like a milkshake, but the bite is all Imperial Stout. Carbonation is right on.

D: Man this is a tasty beer. So glad that I got to try it. And boy do I wish I had more. A fine brew, thick, creamy, delicious, and leaves me wanting much much more...

 1,072 characters

Photo of czillmer
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of PaleAlescope
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of ebin6
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Cvescalante
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A- Black and beautiful with a fluffy tan head

S- Woody and roasted as soon as you crack it open. Hints of dark fruit and semi sweet chocolate chips. So lovely!

T- Same as the smell. Some nice warm booze as well. It changes as you drink it. Very nice and complex.

M- THICK and velvety smooth

O- Heaven in a glass! If you're lucky enough to enjoy this brew, then savor the heck out of it! Best beer purchase I've ever made by far!

 433 characters

Photo of Robomunky
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of zac16125
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter
2011 Reserve

A: Pours an opaque pitch black, with just under 1 finger’s width of dark espresso colored head, which quickly dissipates down to leave only an outer ring. Leaves a trace amount of spotty lacing.

S: So many aromas; I detect coffee, anise, cherry, bakers chocolate, and black licorice. There are also scents of oak, whiskey, roasted malt, a smoky character, and an alcohol presence to round it out. The whiskey and cherry aromas become especially prominent with a good swirl of the snifter. There are so many distinct flavors yet they all meld together very nicely.

T: Similar to the nose, the flavor profile is complex and delicious. It is a little bitter at first, but as it warms that quickly subsides and the other flavors really come out. Throughout the drink I pick up anise, oak, roasted malt, a big chocolate flavor and bold roast black coffee. There are also more subtle hints of vanilla, toffee, chicory, alcohol, and a faint whiskey flavor that only reveals itself as one of the many flavors present in a long lingering aftertaste. It has a complex flavor profile with an excellent balance and multiple flavor levels with each sip. A+.

M/D: Very chewy mouthfeel. Full bodied, relatively smooth with low to moderate carbonation. There is an alcohol presence but not to the degree that it reduces drinkability. Gets smoother as it inches closer to warm temperature. Surprisingly easy to drink considering the ABV, full body, and big flavor profile.

O: Overall, a fantastic brew. Nice on the nose, with a great palate profile. Plus it only gets better as it warms. A+ for the finest imperial stout I have had to date.

 1,682 characters

Photo of Nietzsches_Horse
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I recognize that the big (ie., ageable) great beers should be great fresh, and then potentially become even greater (or at least great in different ways) over time--until some inevitable point of decline years down the road. The Abyss, I think, is an exception to this rule. It is good fresh, even very good, but not great: an intricate combination of flavor that has not quite come together into a cohesive whole. Give it time. It needn't be a year (though maybe that or longer is best, if it's cellared properly), but at least a few months. The stronger elements in this brew (maybe for your palate it's the wine barrels, or the cherry bark, or the roastiness, or...) could be too harsh right out of the gate; but eventually they will all soften and meld, and yield a sipping beer of exceptional subtlety and complexity. Those who are pining for a 100% barrel aged version of this are, I think, maybe missing the point. There are plenty of beers like that. Deschutes's fractional approach to aging, and aging in a few different kinds of barrels, are precisely what make this beer so very special.

 1,106 characters

Photo of Mauerhan
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

so after many months of waiting, a few tears, some convincing and a whole lotta bribes, my friend finally cracked open his bottle of the abyss that he has been aging since january.

an amazing pour. phenominal smell. the taste is an amazing ride from start to finish, although i believe that one thing that makes this beer so good is the lack of availability, it is still an amazing brew. gets even better as it reaches its optimal room temp.

i cant wait till the next release. do yourself a favor and pick up a few bottles.

 527 characters

Photo of VBWharfRat
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of TheodorHerzl
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Received from the man, the myth, and the legend Younger35 in trade

A - Burnt Charcoal brown with a a good sized off dirty brown head
S - lots of espresso, chocolate, campfire smoke, rum soaked raisins
T - Holy Mother of God! So many intricate flavors dance on the palate so well. Chocolate, bitter coffee, vanilla beans, campfire smoke, balanced bourbon/wood flavor, brown sugar and grassy hops
M- Full bodied and very silky with the alcohol well hidden, thick and creamy a real treat for the tongue
D - this is the only place it faltered. I just finished this about 20 mins ago, and I am certainly feeling alright at this point.

This beer is just amazing. Dan, why did you have to move to Chicago and leave me without a Abyss hookup? Seriously though, thank you for giving me the opportunity to try this beer.

 814 characters

The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
4.48 out of 5 based on 7,102 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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