The Abyss

2022 Vintage 02/15/23 (pictured)

I’ve never been a huge fan of unsubtle, bruising American Imperial stouts in general, but The Abyss has always held my interest more than most. In a nutshell it’s licorice element has always seemed distinct and different to me, and as long as I was in the mood for it I have always been happy to reach for one from time to time.

One of the overwhelming feelings about this vintage is that I end up lamenting the fact that it’s no longer in the 22oz bombers. There’s something lost in the experience and ritual when only the 12 oz bottles are involved.

The Deschutes website has a generic 11.0% listed for the Abyss, but I am guessing that might be just for the current vintage that I assume would be the 2023. This is listed on the bottle as 11.5%, and it gives a “Packaged On” date of 05/03/22.

The rich, licorice element and smooth coating mouthfeel are signatures as always, although this particular vintage seems a little more bitter than others. The beer does get a little sweeter on warming, but it doesn’t reach the heights that some others have in the past.

2009 Vintage 06/10


Opened as a result of the BA thread suggesting possible infections in the 2009 bottles, and sent the following summary to Gary at Deschutes.

No gusher, so I had high hopes. The nose was slightly off, but nothing that stopped me from pouring the beer and drinking some. There WAS definitely an increased level of acidity and a slightly lacto-like note, BUT I would not have called it “infected”. My experience with infected beer has been a cider-like, strong apple taste. The beer did not exhibit that. In fact, were I drinking (or expecting) a milk stout, it could be argued that this beer would have been within the limits of acceptability, but of course I don’t think that was what was supposed to happen here.
The REALLY disappointing thing was the body. It was very thin and watery and not at ALL like the Abyss that I know and love. I drain-poured about 75% of the bottle since I didn’t want to risk an upset stomach, not because it was undrinkable.

Anyway, I don’t think that the beer is currently as intended but I’m not sure that it is infected.

Gary’s reply;

Thanks Ding,

First, there is nothing in the beer that should make you sick.

Second, we frequently use a lactic culture to add acidity to our beers, Abyss included.

What we are thinking is the barrel aging process could add some wild yeasts that, under the right circumstances, could grow to the level of sensory.

Again, if anyone is unhappy with the product, as with all our products, please contact us through our website and we will process refunds. We are very interested in getting back unopened bottles as well so we can thoroughly test them and try and figure this thing out. Some of our lab tests are coming back, but many will not be back for a little while yet.

I hope this helps.

2007 Vintage 08/08

Thanks go out to BA russpowell for the chance to try this one via a not so recent trade! Been sitting on it for a while, now is the time to crack it. 2007 vintage.

Poured into the 22 oz Terrapin snifter. Obviously an inky black pour with a lovely mocha head and a touch of lace. NOT the best lace or head that I have ever seen (even for the style), but still good. Some legs in the glass – NICE!

Nose has a sweet molasses with a burned coffee and toffee background note. Alcohol seems aggressive in the nose.

The mouthfeel is interesting. It has a full, chewy nature with a creamy touch. It is not overpowering or viscous.

On to the taste. There is certainly a licorice element, but it melds perfectly with the style. It lends a certain bitterness and sweetness which is just perfect. If you think about it, very much like coffee, it is a natural taste that lends itself perfectly to the roasted malts that you find in the style. Tremendous! A little solvent like alcohol in the VERY back, and as such the alcohol is much less prominent that in the nose would suggest. Aftertaste has a coffee grind bitterness, but this is really an afterthought.

A delight, and super brew. I am not necessarily (or easily impressed) with many “top ten” beers, but this one certainly deserves its billing. Very nice and highly recommended.


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ABV: 11.0 %
Appearance: 4
Taste: 4.5
Mouthfeel: 4
Smell: 4.5
Overall: 5
Total: 4.53
Series Name:


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