1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

3,148 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,148
Reviews: 1,652
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.51%
Wants: 143
Gots: 201 | FT: 0
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Todd on 02-27-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,148 | Reviews: 1,652 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of KI9A
2.7/5  rDev -35.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I know I am all over on the ratings, but, I was not impressed with this on a few levels.

A: Dark body, wonderful puffy head.

S: Like sour candy. Yech..

T: Sweet and sour sauce from a Chinese resturant was my 1st impresssion. Followed up with toasted malts.

M: Decent, bitterness. Not too bad once it hit the back of the mouth.

D: Ehh.

KI9A, Dec 12, 2008
Photo of froghop
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours black with a medium size khaki head, some lacing.

smell of sour malt, cocoa, strong coffee, some vanilla, and a hint of caramel.

taste is thick and creamy, dark and milk chocolate, espresso, touch of vanilla, touch of licorice, and some roasted nuts, a bit tangy in the end, with an aftertaste that is dry, slightly bitter, and chocolaty.

froghop, Dec 10, 2008
Photo of Stinkypuss
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a glass mug. Dark as night with a mocha head.

Smells of roasted malt and peat, pretty interesting.

Tastes like a decent stout, with a slight off taste. Some roasted malt and boozy clean alcohal. Hints of cocoa. Moderately hopped.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, creamy and slick.

Drinkability is pretty good for the style, but the Oatmeal Stout is Sam Smith's greatest accomplishment. There are fresher American brewed Russian Imperials that I would take over this one.

Stinkypuss, Dec 09, 2008
Photo of olegv40
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep black with a dark brown head with fine lacing.

Smells of malts, yeast and is vaguely citrusy.

Medium bodied and actually rather light for an Imperial Stout. The malts overwhelm, and the lack of hops creates a sour rather than bitter taste. The yeast and malts make this taste of sourdough bread. There is a slight taste of chocolate on the back end that helps clear out the taste of dough. A change of pace as far as stouts go, and not altogether bad. However, I felt like it was missing something, whether its that extra kick of alcohol, or some hops, but I was left with a feeling like this was a very good beer that was missing something that would make it great.

olegv40, Dec 09, 2008
Photo of TMB0424
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

550 ML bottle

Brew pours a DEEP black body, with a good sized tan/light brown head. The head slowly recedes to a nice creamy layer.

Smells of chocolate, roasted malts, coffee beans. Strong scent of molasses in there as well, delicious.

Very nice. Somewhat light on the carbonation. No alcohol kick at all, as expected. Tastes almost exactly like it smells - dark chocolates, strong molasses, roasted coffee. Delicious.

It has a very interesting and pleasant mouthfeel, somewhat.... oily. Very creamy, medium bodied. I'm actually beginning to taste a slight citrus flavor towards the finish, maybe lemon.

A delicious, very creamy stout. Provides a great finish and a great aftertaste. Very, very drinkable. Has a great balance between bitter and sweet.

TMB0424, Dec 08, 2008
Photo of colts9016
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour produces a very dark coffee black color with a small tan head.
The aroma of barley roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and toffee licorice, and hints of ester.
The taste is caramelized malt, chocolate, smokey burnt sugar, toffee chocolate, dusty dry hops.
The finish is slightly astringent.
Overall the beer has a smooth mouth feel and very drinkable. one of my favorite Imperial Stouts.

colts9016, Dec 06, 2008
Photo of echdk3
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 1Pt, 2,7oz bottle into a snifter

A_Darkest of dark brown, opaque, almost black. Two fingered dark tan head that dissipates to a thin crown. Little bit of lacing

S_Roasted dark coffee, charcoal, very strong aroma

T_Balanced, hardly any alcohol. Very mellow, full of bitter molasses

M_Heavy body, chewy, higher carbonation than expected

D_Low ABV contributes to good drinkability, however this beer is very filling, not that you can blame it. The bitter taste is very enjoyable but prohibitive

echdk3, Dec 06, 2008
Photo of Bibliophilist
3.8/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark -- but not too dark -- brown into my glass; opaque, though, like one expects a good imperial stout to be.

Smell is indicative of its somewhat light (for the type) alcohol content. A certain sweetness.

Possesses some of the good standard imperial stout flavors (chocolate and coffee inevitably come to mind), but has an unusual though not displeasing sweetness underneath it. Almost floral, but crisp.

Mouthfeel is relative: heavy for beer in general, perhaps light for this type. Not as overwhelming as some imperial stouts. The lighter alcohol content shows itself here; depends on one's preferences in that regard.

Very drinkable. It would be quite easy to down one of these in no time; much harder to sip slowly than some imperials. On the other hand, it is this latter quality that I enjoy about imperial stout, so I'm a little torn.

On a critical note, I was less than impressed with the aftertaste. Inorganic, for lack of a better word.

Bibliophilist, Dec 04, 2008
Photo of Durge
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This pours into the pint glass a pretty black brown color with a fuzzy medium light brown head and solid lacing throughout. The aroma is a mild charcoal coffee blend, fairly bitter on the coffee side. The first taste brings out a sweet orange overtone on the charcoal base. Very nice on the taste buds. I pick up some gin-like qualities in the mild alcohol presence. As it warms I pick up more of a chocolate malt in the sweetness. It's quite drinkable for this style, midland body feel. Boy this goes good with cheese and hot pepper rings. I don't know that much more description is necessary, it's very solid, and not exactly like every other stout out there. This is consistent with the other Sam Smith mainstays I have enjoyed, a pleasure to drink on most any occasion.

Durge, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of paco1029384756
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with 2 fingers of off white head.

Scent of dark fruits, roasted malts, and sugars. Good, but a little sweeter than what I prefer for the style.

Taste of sugars, roasted malts, and raisins. A little too sweet again, but still good; worth the price.

Mouthfeel is full, but a little light.

paco1029384756, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of cvfish
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured black color with a tan colored head that laced around the glass as it disappeared

S - Great burnt coffee aromas, with caramel and chocolate mixed in

T - The taste complemented the smell exactly, but with a strong bitter and malty taste to accompany

M - Thick, creamy, and smooth

D - Heavy beer, but a strong Stout that can be enjoyed many again and again

cvfish, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of JamesS
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a great dark color with nice tan head (that rapidly diminishes) and almost no lacing. Excellent scent, very deep and dark with a great burnt grain and coffee aroma. Wonderful flavor, exceedingly dark and deep, wonderful coffee and chocolate flavors with a great coffee burst finish, and it as a nice slight bourbon barrel/alcohol tinge that is slightly warming. It goes down very smoothly for such a slightly higher gravity beer. This is one of my new favorite stouts.

JamesS, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of albern
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sam Smith is an amazing brewhouse. I didn't realize I was buying an Imperial Stout when I scooped this off the shelf. RIS is a style I'm not at all fond of, that was until I had Sam Smith's version of it and ... wow! This is an amazing beer. If they can sell me on a style that I had heretofore not liked, they are clearly doing something right.

The beer pours a thick ruby black color almost impenetrable to light. The beer has a luscious creamy brown head that laces and retains. The nose on this beer is just maximally complex. Chocolates, coffee, mocha, caramel, molasses, sweet malts, and brown sugar. The taste is even more complicated. There are waves of flavor coming over the palate. There is a strong mocha, cocoa chocolatey flavor first. There are liqueur flavors popping through, lots of warming alchol, raisin and raspberry in the deep recesses. There are sweet malts, caramels, molasses flavors, and some spices. The mouthfeel is very creamy but subtantial. The aftertaste has warming alcohol notes, and leaves a dark cherry chocolate residue. There is just a touch more ABV in the finish than I would have perferred. But, this beer is truly amazing. Its complexity is a pleasure to experience, and I may never speak ill of a RIS again. L'Chaim.

albern, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of schellsbeer
2.3/5  rDev -44.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I keep saying, nobody has anything over the American Micro Breweries and how they brew Stouts and Porters.

Who cares if this is one of the oldest recipes? Who cares if it is made by Samuel Smith?

Who cares...Who cares...Who Cares...???

Once again, I am greeted by a European Stout Beer that has some hidden FUNK taste that doesn't belong in a good beer. I really don't know how all of the positive reviewers can't taste this one ingredient in many of the European Stouts and Porters and like it. To me, this tastes too much like a Baltic Porter or Stout just because of that funky taste I get.

I know that is one of the RIS's that everyone is suppose to love, but I don't. First bottle and the last.

Give me a Surly, Bells, Schells, Summit, Left Hand, or Sierra Nevada any day.

schellsbeer, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of katan
3.43/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle - no date

A - Another dark as night RIS. I wish I could come up with more adjectives for this, but I can't. Motor oil, dark, thick etc. Head quick light and left only a small film.

S - Not a strong nose - just a light amount of chocolate and malts. I'm guessing there is a light yeast note in there as well - odd for the style.

T - Starts off smooth and sweet. Nice combination of chocolate and other roasted malts. Perhaps some coffee like acidity in there. Finishes with some bitterness and some odd almost oxidation bite. Almost salty bite at the end, like a coffee sitting in the pot for far too long - not sure I like it.

M - Moderate body for the style - not overly thick but not watery either. Perhaps hard to judge this against its extremely loaded American RIS cousins, but it seems lighter than my expecations.

D - Moderate abv and easy drinking makes this one of the few more drinkable RIS beers I know.

I can tell where the style came from, but I also now know that I prefer our over the top American RIS offerings.

katan, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of corby112
3.25/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Serving type: bottle.

Pours a dark black color with a thick coffee-colored head. Aroma of malty chocolate, roasted coffee and toast. Flavor is similar to aroma with lots of roasted chocolate maltiness, caramel, coffe, toffe and oatmeal. A bit watered down though with a dry finish.

corby112, Nov 28, 2008
Photo of mesperon
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a beautiful deep dark brown with a think, dense tan head that leaves a little bubbly lace. The aroma is full of roasted malt, with just a hint of burnt carbon. Has an edge of caramel, toffee, and a mellow sweet fruit, like red apple or pear.

The mouthfeel is very full, but not syrupy. Carbonation is moderate.

The initial taste is of deep roasted malt, that develops into a coffee and dark bitter chocolate. There's an edge of sweet caramel, and again the mellow, sweet fruit. Not at all overpowering. The finish leaves the bitter, woodsy coffee and chocolate on the palate forever.

This has to be the most balanced stout that I've ever tasted. The bitterness is bold, and enjoyable, and lasts long on the finish, but it does not overpower the palate. It is very easy drinking, almost sessionable. The alcohol is evident and warming, but not prominent. This beer could really sneak up on you and lay you out.

mesperon, Nov 26, 2008
Photo of rtepiak
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

opaque without much head. becomes just ring of lighter chocolate around glass. smell is grape sour, american porter like, earth apple malt. taste is smoked. grape, apple, leather, light sour, tobacco. a light hop with clay like quality. onion and chalk. some say its soy sauce. not metallic whatsoever. wonderful and quite easy to find. a must have for to get a "truer" english take.

rtepiak, Nov 25, 2008
Photo of TLove
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer was surprisingly dry and devoid of spiciness, though the depth and smoothness of finish really brought a lot of flavor unto itself. This is not by any means the typical imperial stout.

The appearance is a dark brown with a bit of an amber hue. The smell is reminiscent of a mixture between a bitter and a irish dry stout, but the taste and mouthfeel point to the dryness of the stout as the dominant characteristic of the beer. The dryness also keys into the light chocolate overtones, with a light nuttyness and an even less noticeable 7% ABV. The subtlety of the characteristics of this beer prompts the question - must a beer with a stronger ABV render the alcohol a prominent taste component of the beer? I would argue that this is not necessarily so. If you agree, feel free to give sam smith's imperial stout a try.

TLove, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of CanuckRover
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks black, but catch the right angle and you can see some very dark ruby highlights. Huge billowy coffee-brown head settles fairly quickly to a beige film. Clingy lacings.

Aroma has a nice combination of coffee bitterness and boozy dark fruit.

Nice roasted coffee-like bitterness with a touch of really dry dark chocolate. Nice backbone of dark fruit, prunes. Molasses sweetness. Hops give a little bit of a metallic bite. Finish is slightly bitter, coats the mouth. Alcohol is nice and managable.

Little bit on the thin side, but carbonation is nice.

A gold-standard for the style certainly.

CanuckRover, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of tr4nc3d
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a black color with a huge tan head leaving some lacing.

Smells rich, roasted malts, chocolate, raisins

Taste like roasted malts, toffe like, hint of chocolate, sweetness with a hint of burnt at the end.

Smooth, Creamy, and rich, with low carbonation.

This is the Third RIS I tried, first two were a little too extreme for me, this one was milder and definately better.

Pretty costy, but still would drink this again

tr4nc3d, Nov 20, 2008
Photo of taylorhamrick
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours out black with a hint of red. Creates an enormous head with good lacing as you drink. The smell has a faint roasted character to it, some deep sweet, chocolatey smells, but not a whole lot to speak of. This is easily my favorite style of beer, it wasn't the first I had, but I tasted this a long time ago, and am now revisiting it and loving it just as much. Smoth, with a great roasted taste, hiding the alcohol the way I prefer. The sweetness is really great, without being cloying. I have a feeling that this should be the taste that every other person making an RIS should strive for. The fact that the alcohol isn't huge and the hops aren't overpowering means that you can drink this one fresh and not be overpowered a challenged to wits end (not that it's particularly a bad thing when you are), but it's difficult not to enjoy this beer. Really smooth, and drinks fairly quickly for an imperial stout. An old recipe and one that should be continued.
It's also worth noting that this beer is generally a bit cheaper than the other members of this style, which is always a plus.

taylorhamrick, Nov 19, 2008
Photo of mwrseeley
4.18/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Featuring a stronger, and sweeter flavour than the Guinness (I really shouldn't be comparing apples to oranges) to which I am accustomed, this offering from Samuel Smith is an excellent stout.

Opaque in appearance with a resilient head and plenty of lace, this Imperial Stout is fit for the Tsar and his ministers.

Well done by a top-notch brewery!.

mwrseeley, Nov 18, 2008
Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally reviewing the classic.

a: Black body with a dark tan head.

s: Sweet, roasty chocolate and prunes.

t: Roasted malt, coffee, raisins, bitter chocolate, lemony hop bitterness and a smoky finish. mmmm....

m: Creamy, smooth, and alcoholic but it somehow remains light in body.

d: This was probably my first RIS back in the day and what a fine RIS it is. Oatmeal stout may get the fame and fortune, but I think this is my favorite Sammy Smith beer. It is rich and delicious, yet still easy drinking, light bodied and dangerously inviting.

BradLikesBrew, Nov 17, 2008
Photo of tugdriver7
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A Samuel Smith's classic and really earns the name of this exceptional brewery. Deep black brown in the glass with a light brown head that foamed quickly and then settled to lace the glass throughout. Rich roasted malt in the nose and in the initial taste, with a rich nutty taste and somewhat unique (and welcome) hint of bitterness (hops?) in the aftertaste that helps drinkability. The slightly higher ABV renders the beer somewhat less drinkable than others, but the whole glass went down smoothly with no perceptible alcohol taste. Really well done.

tugdriver7, Nov 16, 2008
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,148 ratings.