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

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Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

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3,266 Ratings

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Ratings: 3,266
Reviews: 1,667
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.51%
Wants: 152
Gots: 246 | 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)
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Ratings: 3,266 | Reviews: 1,667 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jdklks
3.48/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

aggressively poured into an over-sized wine glass, producing a 1 1/2 finger tan-brown head. black with amber edges. smells of english hops and yeast (not surprisingly of course) and roasted coffee malt that provides a welcoming sweetness.

taste is thin and dry, an unbalanced sugary sweetness with little punch. for an imperial stout, not a whole lot of complexity. not much here besides a sugary sweetness accompanied by a barely perceptible hop bite that saves it from being too sweet.

mouthfeel is nice as far as thickness goes, but it is over-carbonated, and the aftertaste is too sweet on the palate.

Photo of y2j2280
4.18/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first review - Hopefully makes sense.

A - Dark and muddy - Almost looks like motor oil. Looks thick.
S - There is a overwelming chocolate aroma. Smells sweet and roasty.
T- Taste very good. Exactly what to expect from a Imperial Stout. Strong hints of chocolate. Got some caramel and cocoa also.
M - Mouthfeel was average. It was heavy which I def. expected but felt it was over carbonated for a IS.
D - Is good. Can maybe have one more. Def. not a session beer.

Overall a great IS.Def up there on my list for this style. Would def. buy again.

Photo of TheViolator666
2.78/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I just don't understand.
Why does everyone go berserk over this brewery? Over the past two nights I've had 3 beers from "good ol'" Sam Smith that have done nothing but disappoint. This being the second stout I've had (first was the highly revered Oatmeal Stout) has followed in this trend. I went into this really wanting to like it... truly hoping that this brewery would offer something that I would like, but no.

That being said, I would buy a keg of this before I thought about taking another sip of Guinness.

550 ml bottle poured into Great Lakes stout glass.

A: Appearance is average. Dark brown/black with a thin brown cap. No lacing is visible.

S: The smell turned me off immediately. It smells like smoked over-salted beef jerky. Reminded me instantly of Guinness... must be something about the United Kingdom, but I really haven't had a stout from across the Atlantic that I've enjoyed in the slightest.

T: At least the taste is an improvement on the smell (or stench). Pretty bitter, surprisingly. A dash of dark fruit sweetness. The hint of coffee flavor saves this one. Hides the 7.00% ABV well. Gets better as it approaches room temperature, as with any stout.

M/D: Why must the UK make thin/bland beers? Too thin for my taste at least, but I guess that's why it goes down so smooth.

I'm no patriot, but fuck bless the USA for making such awesome Imperial Stouts.

Photo of OlRasputin989
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A black brew with a thick cappucino colored head.

S:a dusty, peppery cocoa smell with a hint of biscuit and baked apple

T: straight up roasted nutty flavors upfront then fading to dry cocoa and finishing with bitter chocolate and apple

M: medium to full body with a very smooth entry and becoming a little a dry. bitter and some hoppy crispiness.

Overall, a very refreshing imperial stout. I like English beers for the basic fact that the ABV is lower and makes the beer much more enjoyable. Very subtle and smooth

Photo of gory4d
4.53/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaque dark brown-to-black with a thick tan two-finger head, after an impressive brown reverse cascade. The smell is a hit of alcohol, with a dark-roasted grain mellowness and lots of dried fruit -- date, mostly. The taste is more rich dried fruit, with a taste like good African coffee smells but rarely delivers, passing into some lemon-rind astringency and a pleasant mineral, charcoal-smoke finish. It's mildly carbonated, very full-bodied, quite luxuriant. It's a tad boozy to gulp, but I do anyway. The quintessence of the style.

Photo of EsoxLucius
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

i've had this beer before but felt obliged to have it on my holidays. truly exceptional and worth trying, just be careful, it's very good and quite potent.

A: very dark and delightful, a wonderful looking stout. very nice creamy light brown head.

S; roasted coffee with a malt smell, pleasing, but not exceptional.

T: very good. not as complex as some other IMPS but still quite nice. smokey dark fruit, mostly prune/raisan comes out with a very pleasant malt flavor. mild bitterness.

M: good, well rounded from start to finish.

D: dangerously. expensive @ 6.50 at the LBS here in canada, but superb.

this beer will not disapoint.

Photo of MadTown1000
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from big pint+ bottle into a wine glass (lesson: when packing your apartment, pack the pint glasses last, not first.) Pours an apparent black - when held up to the light, it's actually a very dark nut brown. Just a small amount of blown foam quickly recedes away, leaving no lace and just a bit of residual froth. The usual imperial stout scent is obvious from the bottle, and also from the glass - I'd put it at a little sweeter than most with a certain fruity character to the aroma. The mouthfeel is smooth and syrupy - I notice that even before the flavor, which is quite mild for the type. I taste nuts and maple syrup, with the alcohol becoming more assertive in the aftertaste. More carbonation than you can see in the small head. 7% ABV isn't extreme for the style, but given the smoothness this could be extraordinarily dangerous - I find myself going through this a lot faster than other imperial stouts. Quite good, in keeping with what Samuel Smith's usually puts out. Expect a much smoother ride than you get with a lot of imperial stouts, although I think there is a slight sacrifice in terms of the intensity and complexity of flavor.

Photo of Metalmonk
3.78/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Great 1/2-inch head develops after a hard pour, but it sinks and dies quickly. Color is deep black murk, with the crown a toasty brown color.

Toffee, caramel, different varieties of chocolate and peat/smoke in the aroma. A little black licorice sneaks in too.

Flavor brings out some char, with chocolate and anise fighting it out for space up front. Coffee and dark fruit are here, but faint and subtle. Burnt sugar and burnt chocolate linger in the finish.

This would be a much better beer if the mouthfeel weren't so tingly. Much too soda-like, ie. lotsa carbonation. A thicker, gooier texture would've worked wonders for the flavors that are happening here.

Never been blown away by this brewery, though I remain reverent. This might as well be considered an example of the original intent of a Russian Imperial Stout. I just like what American brewers have brought to the style, by a longshot.

Photo of vdread
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout pours an almost solid black, with a thick head that left some impressive lacing. a little lighter than most imperials. that's not a negative, though.

smells are of chocolate and dark fruits

the dark fruit like raisins are most apparent in the taste. it's relatively mild for an imperial stout, but still packed with lots of roasted malt, and rich chocolatey notes.

mouthfeel smooth and creamy, easily drinkable..

this was my first imperial stout, and one i'll always come back to. besides the great flavor, the price- at four bucks a bottle, combined with it's ubiquitous distribution make this a solid imperial no matter how you look at it.

Photo of JRed
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours opaque in body topped by off white head. Nuts, alcohol, chocolate cream in the nose. Creamy, subtle chocolate, slight mocha, tangy finish. Medium bodied and a bit watery on the palate. A fine example of English stouts and very drinkable. I feel like I've been transported to an dank English bar in the 19 century, nothing beats a beer that makes you feel out of the time.

Photo of jbphoto88
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep brown color with a milk chocolate head. The beer has ruby highlights when held up to a bright light. Other then that it is pretty dark and opaque, forget about seeing through this one.

Smell is equally dark as the beer looks. Deep roasted malts mixed with coffee, chocolate and molasses. Subtle dark fruits in the background that become more apparent in the taste.

Raisins mixed with some spiced plum start the party off. Quickly followed by a smoky malt, chocolate and coffee tang. Nice robust flavors but a slightly anorexic body.

This beer is thin for a RIS. I expect a thick, chewy, bad ass brew but got the beer body of a brown ale. I think this one could use a little more time during the boil to condense the wort further and caramelize the sugars just a bit further. This is the thinnest RIS I've ever had but it is tasty. It could be a fuller body but still a nice beer that is easy to drink.

Photo of drunkboxer1
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours solid black with a leathery brown head. Smells strongly of dark roasted malt, chocolate, and maybe a little alcohol. Tastes incredibly strongly of those roasted flavors, but with enough hop characteristics to stand out a bit. Earthy hops, and a moderate bitterness. I guess if I had to choose between this and Old Rasputin or something like that I'd take the American version, but it's a close second.

Photo of bwhite105
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a: pours black, with a hint of dark red. nice head for a bottled stout. It sticks around for a bit, then dissipates. Head is a rich creamy red color.

s: nutty, woody and smokey

t: nicely balanced. tastes faintly of bitter chocolate along with a smokey wood hint. the back has enough bite to let you know you're drinking a beer. slightly alcoholy aftertaste.

M: Relatively high amount of carbonation for a stout. Not particularly thick either.

Overall a very nice beer. I have had it both on tap in London and out of a bottle in the US. Unlike many of its imported stout counterparts, it travels well.

Photo of donkeyrunner
3.2/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Opaque black with a large mud brown head. Cavernous retnetion and multiple droopy lace rings. Stouts don't look better.

Roast malt, char, and brown sugar. Milk sugars come off smelling like wet paint.

Smooth. Roast and char flavors dominate but is pricked up by dried dark fruit. Has a nutty brown sugar taste in back that makes me think of plaster.

Between the wet paint milk sugars and the plaster brown sugars I though about Home Depot for the entire beer.

Photo of biboergosum
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

550ml bottle, at the Metro Pool Hall, working my way through their commendable fridge(s).

This beer pours a nice inky black, with very slight red edges, and three fingers of puffy, foamy, and extravagantly bubbly chocolate milk brown head, which damned-near coats the glass as it genially recedes.

It smells strongly and evenly of dark chocolate, caramel malt, toffee candy, edgy black fruit, oxidized red wine, a touch of black licorice, and faint earthy, weedy hops. The taste is semi-sweet milk chocolate, gritty caramel/toffee malt, subtle and indistinct sour black fruit, surprisingly prominent cola and anise notes, a wisp of woodsmoke, and mild earthy hops.

The carbonation is generally quite understated, the body a stocky, solid medium weight, and silky smooth, with suggestions of creaminess. It finishes on the sweet side, with more chocolate, roast, and touched fruit.

As it warms, I get a strong semblance of boozy hot chocolate, which would make it, I imagine, a lovely après-whatever sipper, be it with dessert, or more robust cold weather activity. I'm sure the tsarina had experience with both, in spades.

Photo of wl0307
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Revisiting this lovely ale 3 years since my last encounter; BB 05/2009, served cool in a tulip-shaped sniffer (Gulden Draak's branded glass). NOTE: the packaging has changed from the clear bottle to the dark brown one now - good to see some improvement with presentation!

A: pours a jet black hue, coming with a well-lasting tan frothy head and very light carbonation.
S: oily and thick, full of dark malts' aroma but shy of more pronounced coffee-ish aroma - jammy plums (but not sweet), fat black prunes, a faint touch of licorice, focused edge of oily black syrup, gristy malts, a fine touch of lightly toasted nuts and Fuggles hops. Deep, semi-complex, oily and malty.
T: not as thick as the nose suggests, the foretaste is soothingly carbonated, packed of toasted walnuts, fat black prunes, burned malts, grassiness, then a wave of delicious prune-ish and winey fruitiness expands along with earthy hop bitterness that intensifies to render a semi-dry palate, while black malts and a rather light roasty hint lend a bit more complexities in the end.
M&D: soft on the carbonation and pretty fresh for the full flavour. The consistent, mildly winey-sour hint becomes almost the most important key to connect different flavour elements. Comparing this bottle with my previous notes, I can say that the performance this time is equally good overall. Delicious, lighter than the abv. suggests, even quaffable!

* Tasting Date: 19/05/06
Got this bottle at just 1.79 pounds at the Nelson Wines, South Wimbledon, London. Bargain! Served cool in a large Burgundy bulb wine glass.
4.5 A: jet black hue; the effervescent tan beer head comes creamy and tightly frothy, only slowly settling while tight and even sheets of lacing emerge on the tracks... Elegant!
4.5 S: sour-sweet and "jammy" dark fruits (raisins+prunes+dried longan-fruits) prevail upfront... leather-ish, chewy and slightly roasty dark maltiness gradually join force, resulting in a "sticky plum pudding"-ish aroma with coconut-shavings on the top; an impossible-to-miss and profound treacle-ish note stays deep and low, which, not as thick and sweet as in other samples, rather gets a refreshing sour edge attached to it at every step. Overall, aromatic, fruity and sweet--complex and inviting~~
4.5 T: aromatic, black-sugary maltiness hits the palate upfront, backed by an intensifyingly black-prune-ish, slightly winey, and smoked fruity+malty mid-flavour; the initially creamy palate gradually turns drier and drier, where the sour-sweet, juicy, chewy and slightly woody-tannic vinous dark fruits provide a solid backbone and attach to the deep end of the palate, joined force by bits of roasted grainy elements with a tinge of licorice lingering towards the very end.
4.5 M&4.5 D: velvety smooth yet full-bodied for a 7%abv. Imperial Stout, without falling thick or hard on alc.; the softly carbonated body is ideal, which, along with a constant sour-fruitiness, keeps the thicker malty elements in check, so as to ensure a balanced palate. Slightly on the weak side for a preferably heavier roasted-malt input and also aromatic hoppy presence. But if one places this beer alongside Harvey's Imperial Russian Stout, there's an idea how a genuine English "RIS" might have tasted some hundred years ago... For me this Imperial Stout is utterly easy-drinking in this category--really worth seeking out this one! (Yet I still don't get why SS can't make it bottle-conditioned?)

Photo of drumrboy22
3.73/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a Corsendonk chalice. Beer was black with a two finger, thick creamy, brown head. Heavy lacing.

Aroma was licorice, coffee, chocolate and roasted grains.

Taste was prunes, dark fruit, chocolate and roasted grains.

Very smooth mouthfeel. Good beer, that goes down easy.

Photo of racer2k
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Black color with a light brown two finger head that dissipates very quickly leaving some light lacing on the glass

S - Malty coffee aroma with a hint of toffee and chocolate

T - Rich malt with a strong coffee and bitter chocolate tone with a hint of warm alcohol on the finish

M - Full body that is very creamy but smooth. Moderate carbonation in my glass

D - Very nice high test stout. Definitely would drink again.

Photo of SpecsBEERMAN
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Like the Bros say, "All hail to the King". Pours an opaque black color with thin, light brown head that remains through the tasting and leaves nice lacing. The aroma is of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee and alcohol. The taste profile contains much of the same. Less body and a less noticeable alcohol presence than other most RIS. Very approachable, should be the benchmark to which all others are compared.

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

Cellar temp bottle (brown) poured into a snifter.

The beer pours a deep cocoa brown with not light passing through when held to a light. A creamy tan head foams up 2.5 cm with a gentle pour. Aroma is rich with molasses, brown sugar and some ripe dark fruit, plums and maybe fig in there too? Smells like a Fig Newton a little. Overall the nose is appealing.
The first sip reveals a silky smooth beer with minimal carbonation. The flavor is all malt with brown sugar, molasses and some dark fruit again mixing nicely. There is no real hop presence and the booze is also well hidden.
The beer is very drinkable and of course I would buy it again.

A well made imp stout that is easy to drink, complex yet not overpowering. Nice tasty beer!

Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up recently just because it's one of the classics and a style that I love. This beer is a lot more subtle than I thought it would be, but that's probably because I'm used to the American versions of this that are a lot more potent and complex. This is, without a doubt, the most subtle Russian Imperial Stout that I've had, but that doesn't necessarily make it bad. It's well up into the 80's here in New Jersey today, and it doesn't feel too out of place with the lighter foods that I've been eating.

Decent pour to this - dark, light on the carbonation, and a decent amount of tan head. The taste was mellow - some current, bitter chocolate, and plum notes to this, and it goes down easier than just about any other RIS I've ever had. This almost reminded me of a strong bock beer because of it's medium body and mouthfeel and near-absence of carbonation. The lack of alcohol can be felt here too, as I've downed nearly all of the bottle and can hardly feel it. For me, that's good thing, as I prefer the taste to dominate over the alcohol!

I thought this was a solid beer that seems almost categorically mismatched in this day and age of microbrews by the shelfload. Nevertheless, I've never had a bad beer from Samuel Smith and it's nice to enjoy something as timless as this. Those looking for an RIS that will knock them into next week will be disappointed but for true beer connoisseurs, this is a pleasant surprise and a joy to drink. It's easy to see why this has been brewed for as long as it has.

Photo of tubeboy
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A. A very dark brown beer with a thick mocha head.

S. A strong smell of prunes and chocolate.

T. A very nice combination of roasted grains, chocolate and prunes.

M. A good mouthfeel, could be a little more thick.

D. Overall a very enjoyable stout. I would rate this second only to Stone Russian Imperial. This is a very available stout year round.

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

A: Opaque almost entire black, but dark brown upon extreme inspection. Big old dark tan head. Very good rentention and lace. When I take a drink the glass is coated where the beer used to be.

S: Fruity ala raisins and apples, chocolate, and brown. Some brown sugar with bready and cookielike components. No alcohol and not pungent.

T: Dark fruits with a mild chocolate malt backbone. Not extremely complex, but tasty and well done. Dry coffee finish helps balance this malty gem.

M: Not thick enough to choke on, but silky smooth and medium-low carbonation. For a 7% beer, it is luxurious.

D: Close to a regular stout at this ABV, but the flavor and mouthfeel are essentially style-defining. A classic beer, and one of the better stouts available nationwide. Craft brewers have made imperial stouts that are incredibly complex now, but this one is still a pillar of the style. A great starter imperial stout and a widely available and relatively inexpensive beer to revisit whenever the mood strikes.

Photo of Bartrob6
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

looks like a stout to me! black with a very small head and tiny bits of lacing.

smells good with roasted malts, chocolate, and i'm getting some dark fruits also.

taste is strong chocolate. extremely well done.

incredible mouthfeel for an imp stout. very drinkable for its style. probably the most drinkable one i've had.

Photo of sethmeister
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle (code SB22D1 on the neck) poured into a snifter.

Opaque dark brown to black, topped with a cake-like khaki head which slowly drops to a ring and a film. Little to no lace.

Coffee, bitter chocolate and sweet molasses in the nose along with a hint of vanilla and roasted grain.

Taste is coffee, chocolate and molasses with a slight rumlike note in the background. A subtle sugary sweetness lingers. Roasted grains and dark fruit (prunes, figs?). More coffee and chocolate and a faint spicy hop flavor and bitterness at the tail.

Mouth is a silky medium.

Drinkability is very high indeed.

At 7% this is a milder RIS than I've become accustomed to but it really doesn't give anything up other than mouthfeel. Rich, delicious and very easy to drink.

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,266 ratings.