A few weeks ago, I was in Tuscon, AZ for a wedding. While AZ may be (in general) a wasteland of of craftbeer, Deschuetes does distribute there. But apparently no one buys it, as a trip to a Whole Foods revealed great supply (and little demand) for one of the most coveted beers in the world, the Abyss Imperial Stout. Upon encountering such a find, an alert went out on the Aleheads listserve (you know you want an invitation to join…) and a suitcase was filled to send out to the other Aleheads.

One such Alehead was my brother, Slouch, which mean we are obligated to do a tasting note.

NOTES: Slouch Cave and Hordeum Ranch

Hordeum: Medium pour into a snifter.

Slouch: Aggressive, manly pour into snifter.

Hordeum: If you need to compensate…

STYLE: Imperial Stout

ABV: 11%


Hordeum: It’s black

Slouch: I’m in a dark room with a solitary 60W lamp in the corner. Holding the glass up to the lamp and eclipsing the bulb- no light transmission getting through. Opaque.

Hordeum: I just went and held it up to my marine aquarium light, which is bright enough to grow any kind of coral (similar to, say, the sun), and no light penetrates the Abyss.


Slouch: Thick and swirling chocolate meringue head that dissolves quickly. Too bad, but not surprising considering the gravity of this beer’s situation.

Hordeum: Two fingers of thick, rich, tan, foam. Lady Jay just walked off with the bottle. Well, shit!

Slouch: Someone stop her! She’s heading for the cat.

Hordeum: Actually, Meatball (our cat), enjoyed the last bottle we opened.


Slouch: Surprise again, a thin but unbroken sheen of lacing surrounds the glass. Insert favorite sheen reference here.

Hordeum: An unbroken Sheen is rare enough- intruding…


Slouch: Chocolate, coffee, etc. This is the problem with these prestige stouts… they’re amazing, but everyone has one. Is this one significantly different on the nose? Not really.

Hordeum: Actually, I think it is milder on the nose than many bourbon or oak aged stouts.

Slouch: Such as?

Hordeum: KBS, Boulevard, Odell, are some that I’ve had recently.

Slouch: Your face is milder on the nose than your butt.

Hordeum: What does that mean? How many RIS bombers have you had tonight???


Hordeum: Wow. This beer deserved more effort than we are putting forth.

Hordeum: Um, Slouch?


Hordeum: This may be the smoothest imperial stout I’ve had.

Slouch: Damn smooth.

Billy Dee Williams: like Colt 45!

Slouch: I drink my own pee!*

Hordeum: Yeah, while all breweries have a prestige Russian Imperial Stout, this is special. It’s so smooth. It drinks like its 5% ABV. There is no hint of alcohol burn anywhere, but this is a huge beer. Good for you Deschutes.


Hordeum: It tastes good.

Slouch: Real good

RATING: 4 Hops

*Ed. note: I don’t think I said this. -Slouch

4 hops


  1. Access? It was two airline flights away! If you have joined the site a few weeks earlier, I would have sent you one.

    Really, we need to get Beerford to send out packages when the 2011 comes out. He is close enough the the source that access isn’t a problem.

    I’ve had a lot of good stouts lately, and this one sticks out. Not because any aspect of if really sticks out, the opposite. It’s just so smooth and so well made.

    Patience, wait until next winter.

  2. When Spencer, Barley, and myself gathered for the epic Night of a Thousand Stouts, this was my winner. Love this damn beer. Oh, and Slouch, you’re notes on the taste were spot on.

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