The Abyss | Deschutes Brewery

1,953 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: 1,953 | Ratings: 7,038
Photo of Huffaroma
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nice and pitch black good lacing on the glass.

The smell is rich a little boozy but not overwhelming, hints of molasses, chocolate and some fruit comes through.

Taste first the sweetness begins and rolls into the bitterness presented. But the overall flavor makes this beer very complex and fantastic. The fruity currants and rich molasses blend so well together and the bitterness makes this a force to be reckoned with.

GREAT imperial stout

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Photo of deschutesGROWN
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I know I'm supposed to use the 5.0 rating rarely, but I reserve this for a rare beer that surpasses all in my opinion. And here is why:

This beer is pitch black. Riddick couldn't see through the glass even with his shine job. The head, which with perfect carbonation was an amazing dark chocolately brown.

Smoky, chocolaty with a hint of the roast. When you put your nose into it and smell, it takes everything in you to hold back tipping the glass to experience your first pull

But when you do, you are immediately rewarded! This is the most complexly flavorful YET completely smooth stout there is. Hands down. I've had them all pretty much, as its been my favorite beer since my dad had it in baby bottles back in the day. I kid. But seriously, the chocolate lingers perfectly, the coffee is perfect.

It is a very heavy beer, but definitely not chewy. It wafts over the palate like a warm blanket but quickly recedes with the completion of the swallow. Deschhutes has always prided themselves on a perfect amount of carbonation, and this doesn't disappoint, as all the flavors bounce electrically all over the palate.

If I were a rich man, I'd by the rights to this beer and install it permanently in my house as a tap. It is a wonderfully delightful brew that will not disappoint.

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Photo of SkipWeathers
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Can't identify any weaknesses. Consumed in a goblet.

A - inky squid black with caramel-brown head which dissipates bubble by bubble. Fun to watch.

S - wood-like, syrupy, maple tree essence

T - multi-faceted; it took me a while to make the connection with my taste buds, but it is like Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee and Kahlua with milk chocolate essence, licorice added. Alcohol very smooth and creeps up on you. Very rich; something holiday-like about it.

M - it's like the feeling you get when you rest a chunk of good dark chocolate on your tongue and let it melt. Very velvety and good.

O - I am so glad I got impatient and drank this by myself. Character flaws I know. If I was sentenced to death I'd have a hot dog with mustard and a bottle of this. Last sip...

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Photo of lackenhauser
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First things first-I hate wax sealed bottles! What a pain in the butt.

Gorgeous, silky smooth black color. Nice cocoa colored head on top. Really a nice looking beer. Deep, deep aroma-roasted malt and licorice. Somewhat fruity and caramel like. Thick roasted flavor. Black currants and licorice. Oakey with some great vanilla notes. Faint coffeeness to it. Very mellow sweetness. Perfect mouthfeel-doesnt finish too dry. No trace of any alcohol @ 11%. Really a fine beer and very drinkable. Perfect in all regards. Wish I had a case.

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Photo of orfeu
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served at a slightly warm cellar temperature, sampled in celebration of getting my taxes done early this year. This looks absolutely incredible, with an epic burnt-sugar brown head, all creamy and dense and going nowhere fast. Cool reverse-cascade effect during the pour. The liquid itself blocks out any light source put to it -- black-hole type darkness here. Smells meaty and vinous at first. Then a bit of roasty char emerges, along with black plums, coconut, vanilla, caramel, Bing cherries, extremely mild citrusy hop notes, and just a promise of black liquorice. An amazing aroma, but the taste is mind-bogglingly complex: Big roasted black malt flavors, with dark cherries, prunes, fresh plums, raisins, all awash in just a hint of bourbon. Some char flavor sneaks in during the middle, along with vanilla notes and whispers of German chocolate cake. Black roasted finish lasts forever, it seems, with sharp vinous blackberry flavors interspersed among the panoply of burnt deliciousness and puckery oaky tannins. Alcohol flavor is noticeable, but melds expertly with bourbon accents. Slick, luxuriously silky mouthfeel. Not too heavy, but substantial all the same. The folks at Deschutes knew exactly how long to age this one before letting it out of the gate. This is something I could easily drink all night, every night if I could. Really, I couldn't ask for anything more in a Russian Imperial Stout. As close to perfection as I can imagine. I was lucky enough to get my order in to Liquid Solutions in time before these all sold out, but I wish I would have ordered more than three. At least it will be available again some time in 2008. You'd better believe I'm stocking up on this one at that time. Excellent, excellent beer. Seek out at all costs.

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Photo of Arceo
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorite beers of all. If you haven't had the chance to try this, do so if you can.

Cracked one of these open while camping at about 9 months after release, so it had some age on it.

A. Dense dark and opaque. I can't see any light through this even at the edges. Brown medium head that stays there for a minute, then settles to a thin film that never leaves. Lacing is present.

S. Wow , just wow. Dark chocolate, bourbon, cant wait to taste it.

T. Chocolate and caramel at first, then some mild bitter flavor for just a second, sweet toffee , maybe some coffee, more flavors then i can think of really, each sip of this I can pick out different ones until its gone. Yummy beer, almost like candy really, its that sweet and tasty.

D. Cant detect the alcohol in this at all , its very hidden, but it does have a kick, so cant drink a whole lot of it, but for the % its so damn smooth.

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5/5  rDev +11.6%

2012 Reserve.

Ink jet black. Luxurious brown mocha stubborn head.

Roasted dark coffee and burnt oatmeal are prevalent on the nose and in the mouth but there is so much more going on behind the scenes. Each and every sip is different. This is huge and intriguing and nuanced to the very core.

In my opinion this stout is absolutely, impeccably flawless, and is deservedly getting a 5.0 from me.

This is so outstanding I almost don't want anybody to even speak to me while I drink it, so as to break the loving trance.

Deschutes brewers, you deserve a very very slow quiet clap on this one, gradually building into a resounding, standing applause.

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Photo of DRGinLBC
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Once you crack the wax seal.... it's the REAL DEAL!

A: As you pour this exceptional brew into a glass... the color is a dark, espresso like, thick and almost buttery texture. A pinky worth of head tops the glass, the lacing lathers the sides in a sort of sticky presence. The appearance is that of a Black and Tan.

S: The aroma of this exquisite beer is that of coffee beans, brown sugar and figs. The aroma captures your senses and takes you on a flight of utter appeal.

T: As soon as this beer touches your tongue, your taste buds are on orgasmic overload, with the molasses taste savoring every part of your mouth and covering it to the utmost perfection.

M: Your mouth will salivate to the smell .... leaving you craving more of the smooth, warm, creamy feeling of buttery goodness.

D: If you are anything like me and you don't like desserts; this will change your mind. Abyss is dessert in a cup; a high class beer and as you drink the better it gets. I highly suggest you try this.

Thank you Candace and Nick for partaking in this review with me.

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Photo of prsguitarsr4me
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 bottle - drinking it a month after the release. I've got a case of this and will be having a bottle hopefully every Christmas.

Easily one of the best beers I've ever had. Just outstanding in every possible way. Having his with some chocolate and tiramisu right now. One of the most complex tasting beers I've had the pleasure of tasting. The chocolate, coffee, licorice and bourbon are so well balanced with the 11% alcohol that I could drink 10 of these. Smell is like an open fire under your nose. Probably the most 'warm' beer I've ever had. There is so much going on here. I want more!!!!

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Photo of Brad007
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Received in a trade with a fellow BA. I'm privileged to try this example, which is currently #5 on BA's Top 100.

2010 Vintage

Pours a color that's blacker than black with a nice brown head into my glass. Can't top this.

Bourbon, oak, dark fruit, coffee and licorice aromas stimulate the olfactory gland. I haven't met many stouts with such a variation in aromas.

A delicate balance of oak and bourbon greet the palate upfront, followed by bursts of licorice, coffee and cream. I can't describe just how good it tastes.

Mouthfeel is full of a mix of what I can only describe as Oaked Creamy Licorice infused with mocha and cocoa. Wow, that actually sounds good to me. I think I'll trademark it.

There's a reason why this is a favorite among BeerAdvocates: It's tickles your palate and blows your mind.

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Photo of Shmeal
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just nursed this beer for the best part of 3.5 hours.

In comparison to the 2009 vintage, the 2010 has a much more noticeable bourbon taste on the finish, with a slightly more pronounced molasses taste up front.

This beer is the best stout I have had to date, seeing how I like it more than my previous favorite stout (abyss 09), try and get your hands on this one, it's readily available for now, but I don't know how long that will last

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Photo of GJ40
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sampled from a 22oz bottle in a DFH snifter. Purchased during a business trip to WA around Jan 2010 and stored at a steady 50 degrees since.

A - Jet black with no light passing through at all. Pours like motor oil. A surprisingly large and robust tan head that lingers for a while. Wow.

S - A complex blend of chocolate, licorice, coffee and a hint of fruit.

T - Rich and complex but smooth and balanced. There are just so many flavors yet they all work together. Chocolate, licorice, molasses and a hoppy bitterness lead for me but there are so many layers. And it only gets better as it warms. An increasing warming effect takes over as you empty the glass.

M - Thick and chewy yet light and airy with a nice low carbonation.

D - I've heard some nightmares about infected bottles but I've had several and all have been superb. This is a fantastic beer with lots and lots of character. I've only got one more and I'm already regretting not picking up more when I had the chance. If there's any question that aging can make certain beers better, this is the proof.

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Photo of waltersrj
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Here's the deal...this beer is perfect, in every way (like Mary Poppins).

Pour: Deep, dark black; entirely like the deepest voids in space with an espresso brown head that initially foams up to nearly 2-3 fingers. The head lasts until the last drop is gone...the legs swirl through the entirety of the beers life as well.

Nose: Dark chocolate, bitter coffee, dark, roasted Malta, licorice, hints of molasses, slight hops, oak, and well integrated soft shades of bourbon (vanilla, caramel, toasted coconut, and charred oak).

Taste: Exactly like the nose. The taste of this beer is entirely complex, but so very well integrated. Add in slight cherry notes as well as some darker fruits (slight raisin an fig). Perfect taste profile.

Mouthfeel: creamy, velvety smooth. This beer coats the mouth and tongue and never entirely disappears. Chewy but not viscous or overwhelming. Perfect.

Overall: Why don't I buy a case of this every year? I will this next year...this is my perfect beer. Deschutes, I love you.

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Photo of illidurit
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into my trusty snifter. I can't think of anything to which to compare the blackness here that hasn't been used a thousand times already (ink, midnight, motor oil), so suffice it to say this beer is really really black. The head is a devilishly dark tan that forms slowly through the viscosity, peaking at 2 fingers' height. It gradually shrivels back down to a hazy cap, leaving spotted lacing along the way.

Aroma is deceptively sweet, a siren's song that tempts you to indulge yourself. Powdery cocoa and milk chocolate tickle the nose, with faint notes of licorice.

There's a lot to be said for the chocolate/coffee flavor dynamic of the RIS world, and there are lots of beers that manage greatness confined within that dynamic. But The Abyss is so much more. The chocolate emerges early on the palate and joins forces with the bittersweet bite of molasses. The licorice is fleeting but apparent, as the beer fades into a sublime roastiness. It's never too sweet and never too roasty. You'd never know that this beer is 11% abv but for the pleasant warmth in your chest.

The body is thick and luxurious, but this beer still finishes dry. Carbonation is spot-on for the style and facilitates the velvety smoothness.

Drinkability is immense for such a high gravity beer. The balance and synergy of the flavors make for a phenomenal brew. This beer deserves its hype and its rating.

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Photo of kacytennic
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

smell roasted, chocolaty, malty, hoppyness. Strong chocolaty character and good hop aroma. Strong head ,hints of bourbon and vanilla, with a nice hop bitterness finish.

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Photo of CaptainTripps
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 bottle poured into a Tulip.
Served at Cellar temp (around 53-55 degrees).

A: Pours a pitch black body (no light getting through this sucker.) Dark brown hues appear on the edges - looks like creamy milk chocolate. Came with a dark mocha head, about 2 fingers worth. Left an artwork amount lacing down the glass to the very last drop.

S: Wonderful blend of anise, mocha, dark chocolate (lots of dark chocolate), Vanilla and a vary vague amount of bourbon (but still there.) Also some trace amounts of oak and molasses. Roasted grains and malts present as well. A extremely good smelling beer that sucks you in. I would argue that you could not just smell this beer. One whif and you would be begging to taste it.

T: Improves upon the smell going from very seductive to down right criminaly awesome. The big components of the beer play in harmony giving your palate one heck of a showing. Licorice and dark chocolate dominate up front and linger onto the finish. The finish has a strong sense of mocha, molasses and faint bourbon. Vanila pretty faint in this beer, but still present. Has a nice roasted malt base that makes this beer a very hard one to put down.

M: Not as thick as you would expect from the pour. Medium bodied beer that coats the palate nicely. The carbonation is surpisngly very good in this beer (being a 2008 vintage). Alcohol is so well hidden, upon first sip, it drinks like a chocolatey milk shake.

D: The highest drinkablity score i can possibly give to this beer: Perfect. The beer is damn right perfect from inside out. Sometimes big russian imperial stouts can be to thick and hard to take all the way down. The Abyss, with its medium mouthfeel goes down smoothly; drinking this bottle down to the end goes by faster then you would think and hope.

Homerism aside, The Abyss is straight up a world class beer. It is widely available up and down the west coast. No stupid brewery only release in an attempt to make their beer more important then it really is. It is also quite amazing Deschutes can produce such a good beer with such a large scale production (350bbl on the 2008, up to 600bbl on the most recent batches). Fantastic beer from a fantastic brewery. My hats off to you Deschutes.

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Photo of dimenhetfield
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The Abyss is everything an Imperial Stout should be. Has a great aroma of chocolate, bourbon, malts, slight coffee etc. Creamy flavor with an outstanding amount of drinkability. The ABV is masked very well. I couldn't even tell how much alcohol was in this baby. I've had the 2009 and the 2010 is drinking much better in my opinion.

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Photo of Vladimir_Lootin
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I made an account for this beer. I'm not going to review this traditionally, but I do have a story about this beer. Had a shitty day, and stopped by a gas station of all places and found this, sitting there among bottles of malt liquor and trash. I have no idea why, but the price was $4. It looked good and I didn't know what it was so I thought it was some kind of gimmick. Malt liquor that is packaged like the good stuff. It was literally in the middle of the malt liquor rack. I bought one and spent the next 3 weekends buying 2 for each day, savoring the living shit out of this amazing beer. How is this $4? How? This weekend, the gas station was out, so I headed to a couple places and actually looked this up. Oh, limited time batch... find it at another place EIGHTEEN DOLLARS. I saved about $84 because of that gas station. No idea what the owner was thinking, but I sure as hell appreciate it.

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Photo of supermanjace
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


When you think about the ingredients in craft brews, it is generally: malt, water, yeast and hops. Sure adjuncts come in from time to time, and you may get another amazing ingredient added, like Stone's 12th Anniversary's use of chocolate. But, at the end of the day, we're talking about a very small palate of ingredients. But ahh the array of things that those ingredients can do to your palate.

Herein a perfect example: The Abyss!

Dark as night, this pours like liquid chocolate. Thick and rich, it fills the snifter with something that looks so viscous, but is oh so smooth...

It smells of chocolate and licorice, roastey and toastey. It begs to be drunk, but you can't stop sniffing. Pass it along, person to person and invite them to revel in the joy you know you will receive upon first taste.

And then you sip... it fills the palate...chocolate and coffee immediately come through. You think about the ingredients and all you can see is the dark malts, how dark they must have been to produce this. And wow, it's balanced too. It's 11% but not cloying or sweet, not alcoholic or biting. The balance they achieved with the perfect amount of bittering and flavoring hops. There are no flaws in this.

My wife called it dessert in a glass. Not because it was sweet, but because it felt like a reward to drink. The snifter seems too small. For, while you can only sip this beer, you can not STOP sipping it. Each take brings you closer to the time when it will be gone, but beyond savoring it, you have no interest in taking your time.

Well done, Deschutes. You just make good beers. Mazeltov!

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Photo of CasanovaCummins
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The D'Yquems of beer. The dark nectar of the gods.

Penetrating and deep. This is an encyclopedia of the very best vanilla/chocolate/coffee flavors that deepen as it warms. Hints of beef bouliion, gingersnaps, and cocoa. Lots of depth.

Silky smooth texture. Almost too easy to drink this.

A femme fatale who kills you slowly. And you like it.

Top O' the heap. This really is my ultra-uber favorite right now because it has lenghtning flavors that are like a Willy Wonka everlasting gobstopper- new flavors and nuances just keep popping up, retreat, and popping up again.

The Abyss waits for you.

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Photo of grat
5/5  rDev +11.6%

2007 vintage. Deep dark malty goodness. I bought a case of it in 2008 and cellared it since then. Initially was overpoweringly strong almost off putting the medicinal alcohol over shadowing even the heavy malt flavors. Around 2010 it came into its own. Mellowed out and smoothed out the finish to silk. Sampled one or two every year after and it just gets better and better. Down side, there is only one left. Ok, I should have put down 2 cases. However there is still the 2009 and 2010. Will there be more? Oh please! A masterful brew. Will it return soon… Oh please!!

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Photo of communionofthesaints
5/5  rDev +11.6%

The Gold Standard of Imperial Stouts.
Every BA Stout I try from here on out will be compared in my sub-conscious to this beer.

Cracked a '10 Abyss on October 2, 2014.
Pours a ridiculously thick black, no light getting through even when held up to a bulb.
The nose is stunning, flavor is immensely complex.
I've read that these peak at 5 years, after this tasting I can definitely vouch.

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Photo of rtaps
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 release shared by darthkostrizer and with mrvonzipper
Nice deep tan to mocha head great retention leaving lacing around the glass, and a pitch black body.

smells is very nice and inviting. chocolate mocha and nutty

taste is great the chocolate and coffee and balanced very nicely together, with nuts and the alcohol playing in the mix

full bodied, with good carbonation very easy to drink.

overall this beer lived up to the hype for me completely. wish i had one or multiple to age to the best buy dates

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Photo of bmeGT
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a chocolatey head that stuck around for the drink. The smell was fruity, boozy, very strong cherry scent. When you taste, you initially taste the cherry, then the bourbon. Just the right consistency for a imperial stout. One of the most complex brews I've had.

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Photo of budgood1
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 Vintage.

Review #1000.

pours out a completely opaque midnight black colour. motor oil viscosity. dark tan frothy head, almost pure brown in hue. sticks and stays with gusto. a lot of clinging lace. lovely aroma of dark roasted, chocolate, and other assorted malts. a good deal of chocolate candy aromas..some fruit enhanced and others toffee and nougat inspired. vanilla bean and bright espresso notes as well. blissful taste profile...the chocolate and dark roasted coffee notes really dominate...barrel notes add some depth of oak and bourbon, with subtle hints of ripe red fruit and port wine. the molasses and anise notes only contribute to the amazing depth of layers and the overall huge structure of this stout. hop flavour and bitterness are impressive in its overall herbal and flowery glory, but gets buried by the overall level of hot booziness. but it seems well integrated in the overall flavour profile. impressive. i love the body on this...soft, supple and secure in its massiveness. mouthfeel is incredibly velvety; as smooth as can be for such an amazingly big stout. it certainly has some rough and tumble edges but they are welcome in this beer. drinkability is off the charts...i had a hard time not gulping this huge beer down!

overall this one lives up to the hype. i've fallen into the abyss and there is no coming back. i love the layered complexity, i love the overall character, and i love the feel of this monster stout. it's a bit hot, but time will tame it. about perfect as far as i'm concerned.

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The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery
4.48 out of 5 based on 7,038 ratings.
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