Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout - Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

Not Rated.
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,704 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,704
Hads: 3,485
Avg: 4.17
pDev: 16.31%
Wants: 214
Gots: 386 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Todd on 02-27-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (31) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,704 | Hads: 3,485
Reviews by BrownNut:
Photo of BrownNut
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've always loved Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout and Oatmeal Stout and decided to do a side-by-side taste test. Here it is.


A - black, deep ruby next to a lightbulb, thick off-white head, though not as thick or as textured as the Oatmeal Stout.

S - steely caramel, mocha, malt, mild coffee, almost a mulled winey/port note - more pronounced than in the oatmeal stout. Towards the end something plum-like came out, and finally something apple-y.

T - malt, cocoa and dark chocolate, hint of tart

M - smooth but less silky than the oatmeal stout and finishes slightly dry and slightly tart

O - I really like the Oatmeal Stout and this one cranks up the robustness a notch or two in my opinion. It's got a more pronounced flavor.


A - black, deep ruby next to a lightbulb, the famous Samuel Smith's thick, tan, textured head

S - steely caramel, wet grain, malt, faint mulled winey note

T - mild mocha, brown sugar, hint of a tart-metal-caramel triangle, pastry note

M - silky, ends slightly dry

O - A solid oatmeal stout, very well balanced, delicious and palatable, perfect for drawing newbies into the stout fold. Its American cousins take the ball from there and elevate the robustness and complexity, but this is still a nice one to drink. I'm a little sad that it doesn't deliver as well now that I've expanded my stout palate, but I'll keep my nostalgic soft spot for it.

 1,401 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of Immortale25
3.97/5  rDev -4.8%

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. Bottleneck says SE12N1.

A- Pours a 99% opaque black color with an 1/8 inch dark tan head that immediately fades to a paper-thin ring around the edge of the glass and the faintest specs of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves small clots behind.

S- Quite sweet-smelling with notes of dark roast, wood and raisin.

T- The sweetness continues and the raisin notes are even more apparent here. Almost tastes like a barleywine with its dark fruit complexity however it's not very boozy. Biscuity, buttery and, once again, woody.

M- Dry and slightly chalky with medium-low carbonation and a full body.

O- Although I like the Oatmeal Stout better, this one is quite enjoyable as well. A lot different than the American RIS's out there with its high level of sweetness and what is likely English yeast.

 855 characters

Photo of at7000
4/5  rDev -4.1%

Second time I have bought this. English "bomber" sized bottle. Raisin to the extreme, even prune juice. That sounds horrid, but this is indeed a great beer. Definitely works. The Brits know what they are doing I suppose, after all those years. I'm an IPA guy and still like this one. Like a Guinness Stout that has some extreme flavors going on. Intense. Complex. Nuff said.

 378 characters

Photo of dacrza1
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

DATE TASTED: April 7, 2015... GLASSWARE: Duvel snifter.. OCCASION: celebrating the O’s opening day win while watching the NCAA finals... APPEARANCE: ominous black body that allows a swiftly simmering brown head to halo at the glass ... AROMA: powerful rum, vinous port, strong Spaltz and chocolate make for an inviting complexity--not to mention the roasted malts that provide a wicked balance... PALATE: smooth, slick, a bit dry, yet full-bodied--a paradox resolved only through a beautifully lingering aftertaste... TASTE: chocolate, roasted cracker, slight alcohol in a whiskey-like allure; the components make for a rich, dark, strong stout that is sweet and rewarding; some nut, raisin and cask wood further the experience...OVERALL: Once more, another brewery that does so little wrong--this beer commands the taste buds with strength and subtlety, rewarding the drinker with a sweet, powerful sip...

 908 characters

Photo of marieli
4.94/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle. This was a great beer. Appearance dark brown. Wish the aroma had a little more oomph. I did not get the fruits many document. Maybe it was just me that day but otherwise this stout packed a lot of well balanced flavor. Coffee rose above chocolate and malts. A great blend. Creamy and delicious. Can't wait to see if the next one lives up to the first!

 368 characters

Photo of GMan310
4.49/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Great imperial stout i really enjoy it. specially because they sale the beer at corner liquor store from my house.

114 characters

Photo of thegodfather1076
4.64/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Nice label that has a very classic look and color scheme. Label gives a bit of brewery info, has an awesome eye-catching font, states “Fermented in stone Yorkshire Squares”, “1896 Gold Medal Winner International Brewers Exhibition” and “1930 Silver Medal Winner Brewers and Allied Traders International Exhibition and Market”. Gold foil wrapped neck and cap. Back label gives ABV info, brewery info, web info, and a nice description of the beer. Embossed on the bottle are “Samuel Smith” and “Bottled at Yorkshires oldest brewery est 1758”.

Appearance: An aggressive pour from its 550mL brown home into a 16oz Imperial Pint led to a thick creamy 4 finger cappuccino colored head atop a thick opaque black beer that lets no light through. Head retention was an amazing 6min 19sec before dissipating to a thick ring and 1 finger rocky coating with an amazing amount of lacing.

Smell/Aroma: Smell is of sweet dark fruits such as prunes or plums along with a bit of cooked molasses, slight coffee, and chocolate.

Flavor/Taste: Tastes of dark fruits and cooked down brown sugar and molasses with a bit of milk chocolate on the front end. Mid point becomes very roasty with a deep fresh roast coffee bean flavor along with a roast chocolate malt coming through. Back end again has a deep roast coffee bean flavor that becomes slightly smokey with a sweet milk chocolate taste for a nice balance. Finish and aftertaste is very roasty. Just phenomenal!!

MouthFeel/Drinkability: On the full side of medium bodied with a thick creamy mouthfeel that goes down smooth. Very drinkable brew!!

Overall/Comments: I have to say that this is one of the more impressive beers that I have had. Many RISs try to be so over the top with ABV and flavors that they become a bit overwhelming. Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout combines perfect ABV, flavor, and mouthfeel to make a must try beer! Classified as a Russian Imperial Stout @ 7% ABV. Consumed 1/8/2014.

 1,997 characters

Photo of doktorhops
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, well, well Mr. Samuel Smith has an Imperial Stout, and judging by their other fine Ales this will no doubt turn out to be a world class example of said style... I’m going to enjoy this more than Fred Quimby’s nephew enjoying a clumsy Clouseau-esque French waiters pronunciation of the word “chowder” (its International Simpsons Reference Day by the way - D’oh!*).

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: A deep foreboding black body greets me with a nice boisterous khaki 1cm head on top. It’s a damn fine looking Imperial Stout, or RIS† for short. 9/10.

S: More on the dark chocolate than coffee side with a large roasted malt body, brown sugar, woody notes, with a hint of earthy hops in the finish. As a traditional British RIS you know that this will be sweeter and less bitter than its American cousins - it’s not always about hops Doc! 8/10.

T: Wow! A tour de force of a classic RIS here! Upfront it is quite sweet (we expected that) with dark cacao, roasted barley, brown sugar and woody notes. It follows through to an earthy/herbal light bitter finish. What amazes with this excellent Stout is how the sugar content hits the goldilocks zone in your tongue, it is indeed “just right”. 9/10.

M: Mouthfeel adds to the rich tapestry of this RIS with a mid to heavy body, some nice and sticky viscosity and a light English pub carbonation. 7/10.

D: I could quite happily finish a night on a few of these bad boys... obviously not a good idea to begin a night out with any RIS - they can generally be anywhere upwards of 7% ABV (this one is 7%), however the ease with which this one goes down does beguile one into thinking that it’s not such heavyweight. Needless to say this one is going on my regular beer shopping list (at least until Plonk gets more FBS back in). 9/10.

Food match: Fits right into that 20th century slot after dessert but before brandy and cigars... I would pair it with a bold English cheese platter, then move on to gout.

*Fool! - there is no International Simpsons Reference Day, ha ha!

†The “R” is short for “Russian” comrade.

 2,113 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sable with dark bronze highlights at the edges. The beer is topped by a thick, sponge-like head that's medium brown and looks like it'll hang around a while. It falls slowly, eventually to a thick film, and doesn't leave much lace. There's a little above the receding surface of the beer, but that's about it.

The nose has some power behind it... strong, dark coffee with molasses and spicy dark fruit. The flavor reminds me of blackstrap molasses mixed with black licorice; the strong, less-sweet British version of licorice. There are also espresso and bitter black tea notes, but they aren't nearly as strong as the molasses and licorice.

The mouthfeel is full and rich, but doesn't quite match the flavor in terms of seriousness. I'm not sure if a more full body would be good for this beer or not. It might take a bite out of the drinkability, which is quite good as is. The relatively low ABV (for an Imperial stout) helps the quaffability.

This is my first Imperial stout and I'm impressed. The temperature is currently in the single digits and it's overcast and spitting snow. Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is warming me nicely and I may just have to follow it with another.

 1,187 characters

Photo of TimZebGir
3.8/5  rDev -8.9%

A: Black, barely perceptible ruby when held up to light, foamy, well-retained head (3/3)
S: Lots of chocolate, alcohol, raisin throughout (10/12)
T: Imperial, lot of sweet maltiness in beginning, roasty, light chocolate undertones, and light metallic/astringent on finish (15/20)
F: Very bubbly and light, pretty dry finish (3/5)
O: The longer it lingered on the palate, the more I got used to it, but the body was surprisingly light in comparison to the flavor, and left it a little hollow therefore. (7/10)

 516 characters

Photo of maedhros09
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Dark brown/black with moderate tan head that leaves some lacing
Smell: roasty, dark fruit
Taste: Roasty chocolate/coffee with dark fruit and mild herbal hoppiness. little bitterness
Feel: medium body, smooth

Overall: This stout has the typical hallmarks of imperial stouts - sweet roasty chocolatey maltiness and a dark fruity acidity with a moderate bitterness. What is most different from american imperial stouts I've had is that it's not as thick and sweet. Also, accounting for the lower ABV, it is less boozy. The flavor balance is really remarkable - proof that you don't need a crazy high ABV to achieve an exceptional imperial stout.

 654 characters

Photo of oberon
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black with a real nice creamy head,aroma is of dried fruit and some nuttiness.The taste is a little spicey and nutty with some chocolate undertones a real nice warming beer to drink before bed.This and the Taddy are my favorite Samual Smith ales.

 260 characters

Photo of davemarc87
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of RoyalT
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Absolutely gorgeous! The body is black as night. The volcanic head rises slowly, collapses slowly, and laces extensively.

Smell – Highly refined coffee aroma. There’s a special, highly-prized shaded Columbian bean that a coffee bar by my house serves occasionally, and this has the same scent. There’s also huge toffee (which I love), again, highly refined. We also have hints of chocolate, dark fruit (prunes, I think), sticky molasses, brown sugar, (slightly) burnt malt, and even some hops for balance.

Taste – There’s a lot going on in there. It has a bitter English balance that I can’t quite finger, but basically you’ve got a wonderful mix of fine coffee, select toffee truffles, quality raw, and brown sugar. There’s also a whole array of fruits, mostly dark, let by prunes and maybe dates.

Mouthfeel – Little carbonation in accordance with the style. This one is a bit bigger than medium-bodied and very smooth.

Drinkability – This one is very well done. My preferences tend to be off the balance that they did here, but this is a good RIP nevertheless.

Update – This was one of the first reviews that I did after joining the site in the fall of 2003 but decided to re-rate this with an ’04 vintage after it bombed in a blind RIP tasting that I did with some friends. It stood out as one of the worst examples of the style and most of us actually dumped it in the sink.

This RIP does well as a stand-alone, but other prominent examples were so much bigger and more flavorful that this seemed like a lightweight. Sam Smith’s strong point is its smoothness and creamy mouthfeel, but a lot of the big boys were able to attain the same or even better feel with superior flavors.

 1,728 characters

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I’m really enjoying drinking this beer. There’s no carbonation to speak of and no head either but that’s not getting me down. I’m smelling rich bourbon, which I usually detest in beers, but this scent is laced with blackberries, plums, and vinous currants. I’m loving it. Bitter chocolate then fills out the rich, sweet dark fruits nicely. The mouthfeel is as chewy as the color is opaqued plum. A long lingering oak barrel bitterness rounds out the thick beer nicely along with hits of chocolate and roasted, no burnt currants. Great beer and very complex. I’m going to have to drink a few more bottles to search this one for all of its elements.

 653 characters

Photo of DanGeo
3.75/5  rDev -10.1%

Photo of tectactoe
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of ExtraStout
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Black with a light brown, small, creamy, slowly dissipating head. Not that much lacing.

Smell: Sweet, espresso-like, and lightly fruity, like bananas and plums. Roasted malts are pungent and wonderful.

Taste: Roasted malts and coffee, touch of bittersweet chocolate, and hints of toffee, raisin and smoke. The finish is long and Alcohol is present but not too strong, just to A marvelously complex beer!

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick body, creamy texture and almost syrupy with it how it clings to your mouth leaves a sweetness of the lips, but still light enough that it’s not a chore to polish off.

Drinkability: Yes, at 7% ABV, I could drink a bunch of these. I love sitting back and taking my sweet old time milking sipping down a bottle or two of this stuff.

Excellent tasting stout, Imperial though??, ABV should be higher to called Imperial. It's more like an Extra Stout.

 899 characters

Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of jono0101
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of brownbeer
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A creamy, light brown head forms atop the black, opaque liquid. This is a good looking beer. I want to drink it.

The aroma has "English" written all over it, in permanent marker. Chocolaty with buttery molasses in a forward way. Quality.

Earthy on the palate, with hints of chocolate and bitter roast balanced by sweet maple and molasses flavors. The mouthfeel has a certain minerality to it and it's full in texture.

A well-made beer that's rich enough to challenge you a bit. One to try every once in a while.

 515 characters

Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.48/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pitch black with a thin but tenacious layer of espresso to chocolate milk colored head.

Smell- Dark fruit, dark chocolate, dark rum,hop spice, deep caramel, brown sugar, and a hint of sweet wort. Pretty great smell but I wish it was stronger.

Taste- Starts out with a strong roasted coffee character, then dark chocolate, then spicy/earthy hop bitter clears the way for a finish of burnt coacoa, and roasted grain bitter. The finish is much better than it sounds I promise. Some more of that earthiness in the aftertaste. A nugat tone comes out with warmth. Later I get a bit of black cherry. This isn't super-complex but it is exactly what I expect Imperial Stout to taste like. Rich, but more bitter than sweet, and dark as midnight.

Mouthfeel- Hefty but far from oppressive. Chewy.

Drinkability- Barely a hint of booze anywhere definately helps.

 873 characters

Photo of Spaten454
5/5  rDev +19.9%

Photo of tbryan5
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of Shakerman
5/5  rDev +19.9%

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 1,704 ratings.