The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

1,946 Reviews
The AbyssThe Abyss

Brewed by:
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Aged in bourbon, Oregon oak, and Pinot Noir barrels.

65 IBU

Vintages (production numbers from Deschutes):
2006 - Released December 2006 (approx 90 BBL)
2007 - Released January 2008 (approx 350 BBL)
2008 - Released November 2008 (approx 350 BBL)
2009 - Released November 2009 (approx 600 BBL)
2010 - Released December 2010 (approx 600 BBL)
2011 - Released November 2011 (approx 600 BBL)

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-24-2006

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Reviews: 1,946 | Ratings: 7,009
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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Photo of NorCalYeti
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

taste- roasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee, oak, hints of licorice

color- dark chestnut

clarity- opaque but it pours clear

smell- some kind of tart character that dominates the nose, dark chocolate, bacon, bourbon, wine, bread

body- medium weight, smooth mouthfeel, oily bitter coffee finish

appearance- dark, pours with a thick brown head that backs off to a thin brown ring around the glass with residual carbonation across the top of the beer

overall impression- complex, above average imperial stout, warm alcohol, not for the faint at heart

notes- this review is for a 2008 vintage

glassware: tulip

serving temp.- 53.9 degrees

song- "eyes of the world"

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

On-tap at the City Tap House for beer week, I love this city. Never thought I would see the day.

Off the tap and into the tulip, abysss looks black in the glass, dark night black, blackness, just like a stout. A firm inch of dark khaki brown foam on top with a milkshake consistancy. Smells include a nice big roasty presence mixed in with some chocolate and licorice with a slight presence of the oak aging, not much of the bourbon comes through. It's not the boldest nose, I'll admit. Taste picks things up with dark roasted malt goodness combined with some chocolate and light vanilla. Some anise squirts along with dark licorice. Mollases up front and not hop forward, there is some hint of em though. Off the tap this stuff is great, the feel is not as big as something of this stature should be. It went down all to smooth. Not overly sweet, or overly hopped, well balanced. A big body with nice light carb. If I was not driving I would of stayed longer and had a glass more, but no more than that. It's big, it needs to be respected.

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Photo of bret27
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 (2-3 yr old bottle) courtesy of bulletrain76

A: completely black w/tan head

S: Choc., oak, smoke, licorice

T: Roasty, coffee, chocolate, oak, alcohol warming.

M: Very smooth and full throughout

D: Good and balanced especially for high abv

Overall: A classic. A couple years really melds flavors together. Hard to say which is better, but with a little age definitely more drinkable.

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

Appearance - dark black with orangy colored head. Mine didn't pour a huge head as some have described, in fact I found it lacking.

Smell - chocolate, coffee, licorice, bourbon

Taste - chocolate, coffee, molasses, a touch of licorice, not overpowering. I didn't care for it right out of the fridge, but as it warmed the taste and complexity both intensified. My wife agreed. I would say the smell was initially better than the taste.

Mouthfeel - good carbonation and smooth creaminess.

Drinkability - I think this needs to age more. I can see where it would/could/should be in the US top 5, but I wasn't as flabbergasted as I thought I should be based on the high rating of this beer. I actually preferred the Stone IRS for drinkability both on taste and cost, probably the 2 most important factors in choosing something to drink regularly. However I bought a few of these and plan to try it again after it sits for a while.

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Photo of NoLeafClover44
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle poured into oversized wine glass. Says best after 8/4/12, but I got a few so decided to crack one and put the others down for a while.

A - Pours black and viscous with a dense mocha head. Shows great retention at one finger and leaves great lacing.

S - Roasty chocolate and vanilla oak dominate. Some dark fruits give the aroma a bit of a red wine character. Very complex aroma that gives me something new every whiff.

T - The flavor is intense. Starts with bittersweet chocolate and follows with cherry vanilla. Lots of whiskey on the finish, continuing into the alcohol burn. Aftertaste has all of the oak barrel notes advertised on the label. Very good and the heat of the alcohol fades after the first few sips as the beer warms.

M - Carbonation is light and the body is thick. This makes for a smooth texture that compliments the flavors.

O - I enjoyed it a lot and think it will be even better with a bit of age. I think a year or two in the cellar will cut the heat, spotlighting other flavors. Good stuff!

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

22oz. Bomber poured into a Duvel tulip. 2010 Vintage.

A: Oil black viscous pour creating almost no head. The little appearing head was a nice deep mocha brown. Minor alcohol legs in this beer made all the more desirable.

S: Great aroma to this brew. Huge roasted notes with a sweet chocolate presence. A little bourbon thrown in there with a big coffee forward note.

T: Similar to the aroma. Huge roasted qualities, less chocolate than the aroma and the bourbon I mentioned was slight. Molasses was evident as well as a big coffee wave.

M: A little over carbonated for my taste and it threw off the smoothness of the brew. I did like how thick this brew was. Medium bodied made up for the carbonation.

O: I enjoyed Abyss. For me, the only real negatives were the coffee notes and the carbonation. I don't drink coffee ever but I will say I like this beer. I wish I could have tried it on tap.

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Photo of Florida9
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

'09, '10, and '11

A: Black viscous liquid. Forms a decent sized dark brown head that has poor retention and leaves little lacing. The '09 and '10 appear to be flat. The '11 has the best retention of the bunch, leaving a thin surface coating of head on the beer.

S: The '09 smells of roasted malts with a slight vinous or green apple quality. However, for being infected, the taste is not off putting or unappealing. Just different. The '10 is full of roasted malts and chocolate with some mild vanilla notes. The '11 is full on roasted malts, cocoa, chocolate, and a bit of char. The aroma of the '11 is much more aggressive and pronounced.

T: The '09 has a mild sourness to it, much like cheap coffee, but the dark malts and chocolate dominate. The '10 has none of the coffee sourness, but has stronger coffee flavors. Chocolate, cocoa, roasted malts and roasted coffee. Again, the '11 is the most aggressive of the bunch with a strong dry cocoa quality and lots and lots of roasted malts.

M: Meduim to heavy bodied with a mild bitterness and a creamy finish.

O: A very good Imperial Stout. '09 wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be - only slightly off, but really still quite drinkable. The '10 was the best of the bunch while the '11 needs to sit for a while to let the rough edges smooth out.

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

Had this on-tap at Pizza Port Carlsbad while I was waiting for the Release Night party at the bottle shop. I have to say I enjoyed this a lot more on tap than I did from a bottle. It looked just as dangerous and smelled about the same. The head stuck around a bit longer than I recall the bottle doing. Taste and mouthfeel opened up to me here. It was still a little hot, but didn't have even slight over-roasted flavors. The cliched smooth, creaminess was in evidence here as well.

The only mistake I made was tasting this alone, before I had any food. On an empty stomach, finishing this pint gave me a noticeable buzz. Not sure I should knock it for that, but I had the bottle on a similarly empty stomach, without nearly the effect.

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

2014 bottle (best after 11/10/15): bought two and looking forward to trying it again around the holidays

Appearance: Pours pitch black with a head of lighter brown foam

Smell: smoky, bourbon

Taste: smell a lot of chocolate right off the back, with a hint of the bourbon coming through,

Mouthfeel: very smooth, medium bodied, not too thick, but not too thin

Overall: solid BA beer. im looking forward to trying it again after aging it for a year or so.

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

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass. 2015 edition.

L: Pours an inky black... entirely opaque with 2 fingers of brownish head. Sticky lacing all over my glass.

S: Roast and char... dark fruits, oak and vanilla.... booze.

T/F: Sweet charred malts and dark fruits.. fig and plum in the foreground. A little tartness from the wine barrels... booze and vanilla from the bourbon barrels... notes of chocolate. Complexity abounds. This is the '15 so it's still pretty 'hot'. Very warming and awesome at cellar temperature.

O: A fantastic Imperial Stout from Deschutes, and they've really pushed the envelope as to what can be accomplished with the blending of different barrel aged beers and what comes together is greater than the sum of their parts. Delicious and glad I snagged 2 more to cellar. Can't wait to see how they age.

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Photo of DNA
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured at room temperature into a snifter. This beer is aptly named, there is no light penetrating this stuff. The appearance is silky dark, thick, and rich. Just looking at it I can already anticipate the flavors and mouthfeel. The barrel aging shines through in the aroma. Very delicate but noticeable leathery smell. Very pleasant and warming. The taste starts out chocolatey but the alcohol quickly punches through in the finish. Some licorice but that's more in the aroma than the taste. Very complex flavor that probably changes with age. I'll have to save a bottle for a few months and compare. This beer is pretty darn thick. Definitely a sipper.

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

Bottle from trade with fiver29.

Poured dark brown with a moderate creamy light brown head that mostly lasted with excellent lacing. Heavy toasted chocolate, licorice and coffee malt with a small alcohol aroma. Full body with a creamy texture and flat carbonation. Heavy balanced toasted chocolate malt flavor with a heavy bittersweet finish of long duration.

This is a standout beer.

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Photo of camp0474
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage, Review from 1/15/11

A: Pours thick pitch black with a tan frothy head. Good lacing.

S: Toasty malts, dark fruits, molasses, chocolate, and some ethanol.

T: Lots going on here. Semi-sweet dark fruits, licorice up front. Middle of taste the notes of oak and bourbon are present with strong licorice flavors. Hop oils appear piney at the end. Not a big fan of licorice but doesn't take too much away.

M: Thick but was expecting it to be a bit more chewy. Resiny.

D: This beer is complex and strong but quite drinkable.

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

2007 reserve
Pours a thick jet black brew with a dark tan head that had a good amount of retention. The aroma was sweet and had a touch of chocolate and some sweet oaky vanilla notes.
The taste is very intense with a rich dark carmely sweetness blended in with the roasty, coffeelike tastes of the dark malt. Smooth flavor overall this beer finishes with a nice hint of oak and bourbon sweetness that segues into a warming finish. Very rich and complex yet neatly comprised this beer is an excellent example of the Imperial Stout style.
The mouthfeel was rich and full yet not too thick.
Overall an excellent beer that i will be adding to my cellar.

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

Review #1000

A - Pours with one finger of medium brown head on top of an opaque, black body. The foam settles quickly and leaves moderate lace.

S - Lots of chocolate with notes of molasses, earthy licorice, smoke and some vanilla.

T - Sweet chocolate and caramel up front with a little bit of molasses. More chocolate and molasses in the middle with some licorice coffee coming in. The beer finishes with lots of earthy chocolate and spice notes as well as pine hops and coffee. Lingering malt bitterness mixes with bitter chocolate, tobacco, and lots of smoky whiskey.

M - A thick, oily body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - There is a lot of earthy, spicy complexity here, especially in the finish. The aroma really doesn't have much going on until the beer nears room temperature, but once it does the molasses and licorice really begin to come out. I don't get as much whiskey character as I expected, but there is a bit in the finish and it seems to add another note of underlying complexity to what is already a complicated beer. I imagine this would age very gracefully.

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Photo of dbc5
4.3/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage in Duvel Tulip

Appearance: Pours viscous as hell. Not quite Bourbon County thick, but close. Motor oil black; absolutely no translucency. Nice chocolate colored, 1 finger head with a moderate pour. Head dissipates quickly. Minimal lacing follows the beer down the glass.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee, and vanilla initially; bourbon detectable in the background. Bourbon presence becomes more prominent as the beer warms.

Taste: Hits the tongue sweet with milk chocolate, licorice and vanilla. Coffee and bitter dark chocolate follow, giving the beer a pleasant, roasty finish. The combination of licorice and molasses imparted sweetness and noticeable roast character are quite unique. The barrel aging is most apparent initially as vanilla. Consistent with the aroma, bourbon becomes more detectable as the beer warms, although it still plays more of a backseat, complimentary role compared to other more bourbon forward barrel aged stouts. There is certainly a fair amount to comprehend in the flavor profile. This bottle is still relatively young and with time, everything will incorporate more cohesively.

Mouthfeel: The apparent thickness from the pour carries into the mouth. Again, not Bourbon County thick, but this is definitely among the more viscous stouts.

Overall: Overall an extremely enjoyable and somewhat unique beer drinking experience. There is a lot going on with this one and to be fair, this bottle has not yet reached the brewers "best after" date. With a bit more time, I anticipate the flavors integrating somewhat and creating a more refined final product. However, this should not be read to indicate the flavor profile lacks in some way. This is a delicious and extremely enjoyable beer drinking experience. I am glad I cracked one at this stage to appreciate how complex it truly is, but also glad I have another to taste at a stage when that complexity has reached its peak.

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Photo of zimm421
4.29/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 release. Pours a solid black with a thick light brown head. The nose is dark fruit, chocolate, oak and roasted malts. The first taste offers loads of complexities with fruit, oak, chocolate, and licorice coming through. The bourbon and wine aren't overly obvious, but peak through in each sip. The mouthfeel is extremely thick and is just what I'm looking for. Overall, it's good, but I think my other bottle is going to sit for a few more years.

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Photo of mbmiche
4.29/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Definitely worth putting a little age on this one. The wine barrel and cherry bark combination gives this a bitter, spicy, burnt flavor that dominates. Delicious, but in need of a little taming.

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Photo of DosBeerigos
4.29/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Bottle Reviewed

C. To Dark to Tell
H. Black
N. Roasty Malt, Licorice, and a faint Sour Smell (Jolly Pumpkin Like)

Unlike so many of the beers in this tasting from this past week, this beer had the best balance of carbonation and flavor. the malt really sticks out well in the beer. Although this would really be better after a year or so of cellaring. The beer was not super strong on the alcohol end. It is drinkable now, but I think it would be perfectly balanced in about two years. Hops came out a bit in the attack of the beer but were quickly covered up by the thick malty base of this beer. I won't write this one off to 100% beer-hype but there is a lot of talk about a good stout here, and that's just it. I think it needs to age to be a Great Stout.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
4.48 out of 5 based on 7,009 ratings.
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