The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

1,935 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: 1,935 | Ratings: 6,953
Photo of Kaiser81
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage. I saw reports of these bottles possibly being infected, so I decided to open one up. We'll see how it is.

22 oz wax sealed bottle poured into my snifter glass

A - A viscious black with a finger width of mocha head. It leaves great lacing.

S - I get coffee, roast, chocolate, oak, and a decent presence of vanilla. There may be a slight metallic tinge to it, but nothing that suggests it's infected. I think the beer still needs to mellow out.

T - I get a lot of roast, coffee, chocolate, maybe a touch of vanilla, and just a touch of that metallic tinge, and then lots of chocolate and licorice on the finish.
Now, what to do with my other 7 bottles? I don't think this metallic tinge is going to get any worse.

M - Heavy body with a nice amount of carbonation. Not too much, not too little.

D - Could be better. Sad this isn't turning out to be a good year for this beer, as it's the first time I bought a lot of bottles of it.

 949 characters

Photo of LampertLand
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deschutes Brewery 'The Abyss' @ 11.1% , served from x2 bottles of the '12 vintage best after 11/01/13 , purchased for $17 each , one 'had' in 2012 & one that's been in the cellar for over 3 years
A-pour is a super dark cola brown from the bottle to a black in the glass with a big tan head leaving a streaky lace film along the snifter
S-oak bourbon barrel & oak wine barrel
T-very big tasting imperial stout , not so smooth on the original tasting , so much better with some time added
MF-ok carbonation , huge big body
Ov-this beer is so much better with some age on it , (spend , cellar , enjoy)
prost LampertLand

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Photo of bgramer
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
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 Griffin2
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a pitch black into a taster cup. Smells of chocolate and bourbon. Taste matches the smell with lots of chocolate and bourbon. It was a little boozy, but an awesome stout.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Still the rain kept pourin', fallin' on my ears
And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the rain
Seriously...stop raining

Gearing up for the Great Taste of the Midwest and I've desired some contemplation time with this beer. I've had the 09' twice in all it's infected glory and popped this 09' with fingers crossed.

Nearly opaque with faint ruby highlights along the edges into my snifter. Massive mocha fluff provides full surface coverage and leaves the glass an oily, sticky, ruinous mess. Really a gorgeous pour.

Disconcertingly, the initial scent is the tart yeasty Rodenbach clone hovering over the base of the beer. Thankfully, and correspondingly oddly, this scent comes and goes. Early stage infection? Uncertain. Repeated small hard pours yield much of what is good here: ice cream, mocha, oak, sweet rich malt, cherry and molasses.

Taste is vanilla, mocha, cherry, and a mild tannic presence from the barrel. Bourbon is quite mellow and there is a continual interplay between the sweetness and the roast that goes back and forth throughout. Upon warming, the sweetness becomes more dominant and the coffee more pronounced.

What this beer lacks in body, near medium, it more than makes up for with the soft carbonation and near pillowy mouthfeel, which worked best before reaching room temperature.

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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 beachbum1975
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber shared with newtonty tonight while watching the Cincinnati Reds kick Milwaukee's ass (no surprise there lately - Reds are on fire and the Brewer's are icy cold). This is a 2007 vintage.

As expected, it poured a super dark brown/black with a gorgeous, very dark brown 2 inch head. Minimal lacing.

Smelled of heavily roasted coffee, dry chocolate, vanilla and black licorice when it was freshly poured. Interestingly, the smell changed as it sat and warmed.

Tastes like a wonderful combination of black licorice, molasses, charred malts, freshly brewed coffee and trailing with rich, dark chocolates. Wow... Mother, may I have another?

This is an intensely flavored, moderately complex and full-bodied beer. If you're a fan of vanilla, molasses, licorice, semi-sweet chocolate and coffee, then you'll need to try this one. There's a shitload of crafting mastering in this one, what a treat!

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

This is my first of two bottles from the 2014 vintage (best after 11/10/15):

Appearance: Pours pitch black with a thick head of tan foam.

Smell: Light smokey/roasted smell with the faintest trace of bourbon.

Taste: Smokey and roasted, prominent flavors of rich dark chocolate with the slightest hint of bourbon and licorice. Really just not sure how I feel about the balance of flavors

Mouthfeel: not too thick, but still very rich. An incredibly smooth beer

Overall: a complex beer that may need to be aged longer before I can enjoy it properly.

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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 excellent brew!

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- beautiful dark black with brown frothy head

Smell- smells like coffee and roasted malts

Taste- Tastes of coffee chocolate with strong malty backbone. Hints of bourbon but well balanced

Mouthfeel-ell carbonated and has a nice feel

Drinkability- downed 2 4 ounce pours in no time...

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Photo of opwog
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Now listening to: Dead Can Dance - Mother Tongue

Thanks to Beechwood for brining this in!

A-Black or the darkest brown that the eye can not differentiate, with a drak tan (or light brown) firm, full head.
S- Chocolate all over the place! A little bit of hops if you spend enough time drawing out the aroma.
T-Powder cocoa, wood, coffee and the usual suspects.
M-slightly chalky (powedered cocoa), rich and deep, thick, thick, thick
D-It is wonderful, but one 10 ounce glass is about all that I can handle at a time (three times, so far). This is definitely a last beer of the evening. I had my second pint at a happy hour and I was done as soon as I finished. It was 7:00 and I couldn't even think about following it up with anything else or even a second.

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Photo of photomike
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep dark brown with a huge, very dark head. Thick, dry, fluffy lacing coats the glass with strong retention. Couldn't look better.

Smell is surprisingly mild for a beer that is robust in every other aspect. What is present is impressive, though, with a nice balance between coffee, chocolate and licorice.

The flavor is full of bready chocolate malts, coffee and a licorice character that borders on the fruity. Not overly sweet, this drys on the finish. Delicious.

Full bodied with aggressive effervescence that causes a slight burning sensation. Creamy and oily.

The flavors in this are so dense, and with the richness in body, this beer is a definite sipper. The alcohol is well hidden and the sweetness is just at the right level.

An absolutely fantastic beer that lives up to every bit of the hype. Easily one of the best stouts I've had, the weight on smell here is the only thing keeping this from being one of my most highly rated beers. Get it.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.31/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz 2014 bottlewith black wax. "Best After" date of 2015-11-10 (which I'm consciously violating). 074 D-1 1106 is printed on the bottom. Split between a pair of snifters. Fridge temp. Looking forward to it warming up.

Pours thick, viscous, black, with a small brown head that fades to a ring fairly quickly. Looks like an imperial stout.

Smell is surprisingly yeasty and bready. Wood, wine (and then I noticed that pinot noir barrels are mentioned). Slight sour cherry aroma. Surprisingly mild...but it's still coldish. A little swirling yields strong alcohol aroma. As it warms up, a much stronger woody aroma emerges.

Taste is chocolate, nearly burnt roast, strong cherry or plum, dry red wine, bitter finish. Coffee. Bourbon is surprisingly muted -- but I guess only 6% of the beer was aged in bourbon barrels. Something is surprisingly sweet -- combination of cherry and vanilla, I think.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin, extremely dry, a little chalky, but for some reason seems to go well with the beer. Overall, it's very good. I like it. I have two more bottles, and I look forward to having them with some cellar time.

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

2012 Reserve - Served @ 50deg F in snifter

A - Very dark pour with ~1.5" brown head.

S - Lots of oak and a little dark cherry/wine.

T - Dark chocolate, oak, sour grapes/wine, cherries, tar, molasses

O - Glad I finally got to try this. Thanks Grant (Sue) for the bottle. I'm glad that Deschutes distributes to Illinois now. I was able to get my hands on a couple 2014 to stash away in the cellar. Prost!

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Photo of hopsleeroy
4.3/5  rDev -4%
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 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.

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

2008 bottle.

Not much I can say that hasn't been said, but I'll give it a try anyway...

Pours black and opaque. Not a hint of light getting through, even around the edges. Minimal cocoa colored head, drops within a minute or so to a scant covering.

Aroma is licorice and cocoa in equal doses. A bit of a scent that reminds me of chocolate covered malted milk balls is also present. A tiny hint of roasted barley.

A bit of just about everything I would expect. Licorice, grains with a dark roast, chocolate. And it's all good. Real good. The thing that surprises me the most though, is the strong fruitiness. Not out of balance, but definitely a big part. A bit of sweet/tart plum, and to a lesser degree some cherry, really add another dimension. A minimum amount of hops, citric and sunny. They're faint, but provide a nice counter to this malt forward beer. I'm picking up only a little bit of alcohol.

Amazingly balanced, medium bodied, and unbelievably drinkable. This is a real treat. I have one bottle left, and will be saving it for a special occasion, to be sure. I rate the drinkability high however, because if I had more, I would drink this regularly! Cheers.

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

Had a 2009 bottle thanks to Speakorspasm. I was surprised to find a balanced sour or brett character. Overall the beer is a mix of smooth, sweet chocolate with herbal lemon sour character. In the background there's toast, bitter black grains and more molasses in the aroma. I'm not always a huge fan of the style, as I find most of the beers to be heavy, and while tasting, uninteresting. This, however, is very quaffable, and enjoyable. This is a delicious and fun beer to drink. It has a balanced share of lambic character with an imperial stout background.

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Photo of davod23
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle, poured into my Bruery tulip.

Surprise, surprise! It's black! There's a very slight ring of auburn around the edge of the liquid when I hold it up to the light... but yeah, pretty much black. A tan head forms, but dissolves to nothing within a minute or two.

Smell is of dark chocolate, roasted malt, black licorice, and a hint of a sweet smell... almost like pancake syrup... perhaps that's the molasses talking. It's nice. It could be amped up a bit, IMO, but it's nice.

Taste is very good. Rich chocolate and black licorice take center stage - although, unlike some beers (I'm looking at you, Ten Fidy) the licorice is not overbearing. It's well done here. It's a sweet brew, but not very sweet as compared to other imperial stouts. The barrel aging notes are minimal here. No evidence of heat whatsoever. Very nice.

Mouthfeel is good. It's not as thick and chewy as I would like, but it's close.

As imperial stouts go, this is very drinkable. I think the controlled sweetness goes a long way for this.

Very nice beer from Deschutes. As far as widely-available imperial stouts go, this is king. However, that said, I do not LOVE this beer. I like it a great deal, and would never shy away from drinking it... but it doesn't grab me the way it seems to grab others here. But, in any case, this is a very, very good beer.

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Photo of rwf08
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage. No gusher, no tart cherry, no over carbonation. Lucky me.

A: Big dense mocha head. Healthy espresso appearance. Fat globs of sticky lacing. Thick opaque used motor oil. A gentle swirl gives up a thick head. Time take sit away but still some remains.

S: Lots of oak and cocoa, some warming alcohol and sweet prunes. Vanilla and other fruity esters in the back ground. Molasses makes its self known if you look for it.

T: A melody of oak, vanilla, chocolate, and bourbon. Warming alcohol on the finish as it warms. A faint astringent taste is there as well.

M: Thick viscous liquid that is full and plummy. Good carbonation for the style.

D: A great sipper. I went a little quick with it but something good to have at the end of the day. Some more age will help this one out I think.

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Photo of endincolorado
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This bottle looks pretty formidable, and there's no easy way to get the black wax seal off the cap, so i've spent a few minutes chipping away with a steak knife.

The beer is thick and black with a nice finger and a half of creamy tan head that settles slowly. Lacing is predictably syrupy and copious.

Aroma is a welcome roasted coffee, cocoa, a definite molasses-sweetness, and a faint booziness in back.

Strong, burnt-toast flavors alongside dark-roasted coffee, dark fruit (blackberry?), molasses, vanilla, and some bourbon. Very tasty. No real sign of that licorice.

Mouthfeel is that nice viscous syrup-like texture I've come to expect from a well-crafted imperial stout.

An excellent offering- though this should definitely be shared (the bottle).

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Photo of HipCzech
4.3/5  rDev -4%

Serving: On tap at the Hay Merchant, in snifter (10 oz); 2013 release.

Appearance: Deep black with moderate cap of brown foam. Leaves nice lace as it goes.

Smell: Roasted malt and woods (both forest and barrel).

Taste: Dark roasted coffee beans with molasses sweetness emerging as it warms. Malt well balanced by intense herbal, bitter hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, not as viscous as expected. Moderate carbonation keeps intense flavors from being cloying.

Overall: A great sipper; definitely improves as it warms, starting almost as iced coffee with malt and alcohol emerging to round it out as it warms.

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Photo of davey101
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Reserve. 22 oz bomber into an over sized wine glass at cellar temperature.

A - Pitch black body. Dark brown 2 finger head. Tons of sticky lacing and crazy retention.

S - Lots of roasty and oak aromas. Tobacco, smoke, leather, licorice, chocolate and some vanilla. More savory than sweet. There is a certain aroma that is rather dominant but I can't put a name to it. Perhaps its the cheery wood?

T - Very complex stout. Chocolate and coffee notes followed by some licorice, vanilla, and heavy roast flavors. The oak aging is present as well. Nice medium mouth feel that supports these huge flavors. Alcohol is warming but pleasant.

O - I think I prefer sweet to roasty/savory, but this was a very delicious and complex beer. Glad I traded for this one. Great stuff!

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

22oz bottle split with russwbeck and poured into a large snifter. Bottle generously provided as an extra by jamdugan, thanks a ton Jim!

2010 vintage.

A - An aptly named beer, this beer certainly does its best impression of an abyss, although it does yield to some bark colored highlights around the edges. A creamy, 1.5-fingered head, light tan in appearance sits gently on top. Retention is moderate, but when its gone it leaves very thick bubbles behind. Lacing is generous and thin, and overall very nice.

S - The aroma on this beer is a nice hybrid between the base beer, barrel, and black licorice. It's sweet malts bring a nice chocolately smell, while the barrel adds some nice oak and vanilla notes. The most interesting smell in this beer is the strong black licorice presence. It dominates the back end of the smell and is certainly unique, despite me not having a huge affinity towards licorice to begin with.

T - The taste just absolutely takes the smell to a new level. The mats here are so bold that it almost brings a smoky quality, perhaps some espresso roast, which lingers far into the finish. Afterwards the chocolates come through, but are more subtle caught between the mats and black licorice. Speaking of, the licorice steals the stage of the mid-taste onwards. Perhaps a slight hop bitterness arises, but the licorice dominates the end of the taste. Alcohol is extremely well hidden, I would never assume this was 11%.

M - The mouthfeel is much lighter than I would've expected from a beer of the gravity. It's medium to medium-light with moderately low carbonation, and leaves a nice coating on the palate.

D - Drinkability is high. The flavors are bold, rich, and unique, and the alcohol is dangerously hidden. This beer is definitely worth the praise, and I wish I had easier access to this!

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Photo of jcflorian
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage, best after 12-8-16.

Look- pitch black with light tan head rimming glass.
Smell- cherry, light bourbon, faint licorice.
Taste- initial bourbon, with cherry mid pallet and licorice late pallet.
Feel- a little light for stout of this quality.
Overall- very solid beer that gets significantly better as it warms up. Glad I got to try it. While I liked it, there are better beers for less money.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
4.48 out of 5 based on 6,953 ratings.
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