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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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3,165 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,165
Reviews: 1,653
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.51%
Wants: 146
Gots: 205 | 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
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Ratings: 3,165 | Reviews: 1,653 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Beejay
3.48/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark black body with a nice creamy tan head. Looks good enough to drink.

S: Alcohol, fruits and vinegar.

T: Sharp, distinct. Slightly sour to begin with, then settles in to nice smokey tones, and barley.

M: Slightly thin and watery feeling.

D: Don't think I am going to hop on board with this one. It is good, but not good enough to get a sixer.

Beejay, Mar 24, 2009
Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Very dark brown colored opaque body. Nice brown head

S- Molasses and sweet, roasted grains along with some bitterness from hopping

T- Taste is alike the smell. The balance in this beer is great. Nothing is cloying and the sweet and bitter flavors combine well

M&D- Sticky, light and refreshing

EnojysAnyBeer, Mar 21, 2009
Photo of argock
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Single purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $2.75.

A: Black as night with frothy, 2-finger tan head with excellent retention and lacing.

S: Typical dry stout aromas of roasted dark malts, licorice, and cocoa with a touch of leafy hops

T: Good but not even close to the level of the best imperial stouts (see Expedition Stout, Storm King, Old Rasputin, BR Black Bear, Stone RIS amongst others). Solid roasted and slightly burnt dark and black malt, quite dry, with licorice and cocoa flavors. Leafy hops are in the finish. Not particularly rich or deep flavor but enjoyable.

M: Where it falls the shortest with a light-for-style body and overcarbonated.

D: Flavorful but second tier due to the lack of depth of flavor and thinner than expected body and feel.

argock, Mar 19, 2009
Photo of 2KHokie
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle. Pours a dark black with a hint of red. Nice, tall, dark tan head. Big caramel and coffee aromas. Smells sweet. Mild, fine carbonation. Some fig, roasted malt, caramel, a touch of alcohol, and a hint of chocolate on the palate. Nice bitterness and a rich mouthfeel. Finishes very clean. This is a really good stout but not as big as some you might see these days. That being said, I would actually have more than one of these!

2KHokie, Mar 18, 2009
Photo of Ricelikesbeer
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

the appearence is great. It poured with a big, sustained head. The bubbles were very fine and it is an attractive looking beer in my lion chalice. It smells very good too, smells like a ton of sweet, rich flavors. It smells very sweet, like caramel or toffee, or even a sweet chocolate. The taste is very clean and smooth. It tastes like it smells: very sweet. Again, a little bit of chocolate, and some sweet, caramel like malts. Not very dry or hoppy like some of the bigger imperials I have had recently, but more juicy and sweet. Definately a good offering from samuel smiths, which I never try, even though I see it all the time. (I might start after this one.)the mouthfeel and drinkability are both excellent, I'm not used to such a smooth and drinkable imperial stout. I would reccommend this stout to those that have a problem with this type of beer. It is sweet, malty, and very drinkable for a stout, let alone an imperial.

Ricelikesbeer, Mar 17, 2009
Photo of OtherShoe2
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep brown/black with some ruby highlights when held to the light. Nice brown foamy head that dissipated to an uneven skim as I went through the pint. This skim left no lace, but clung to the sides of the glass. Nice.

Big dark dried fruit and blackstrap molasses aromas upfront, and a tart scent somewhere in the bake.

Nice complex flavors here. Molasses, deep roasted malt, coffee, dark fruit, some dark chocolate (not much, or just my imagination), and a slight tart acidic twang built into this one.

Medium bodied and silky smooth.

A 7% Imperial Stout. Alcohol was so far in the background that I did not even consider it until I got to this point in the review. Nothing hard about drinking this one. It has probably been 15+ years since I've had this, and wow have I been missing out on this year-round treat. Bought the 12 oz and it was just right. If you haven't had this one, and are a stout lover (all types), you need to give this one a try. Great balance, structure, and complexity.

OtherShoe2, Mar 14, 2009
Photo of LaChaBennDotcom
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is a damn good beer.
Beautiful head, 7.0% ABV, a sweet aroma...
light on the tongue, crisp stout flavor like coffee or chicory.
The first time i tasted this beer i immediately transgressed to a state of bliss
If you have not tried this beer You must.


LaChaBennDotcom, Mar 14, 2009
Photo of dismal
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love stouts, and imperial stouts are one of my favorite types of stouts. I've been meaning to pick this beer up for quite some time now and was excited to try it. Poured into a pint glass it pours a black opaque color with a tanish colored head, looks great! The aroma is roasted malts, chocolate, a little bit of coffee? Either way the smell is wonderful, though the taste is quite better. With a somewhat thick and creamy mouthfeel with a taste of coffee and chocolate that is pretty sweet it's a great tasting beer. Easily drinkable. There are some imperial stouts I could only drink a few of in one night but this one I could easily do more of no problem. Not a high alcohol content and a great taste this is one I will be picking up again for sure.

dismal, Mar 13, 2009
Photo of washburnkid
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Two fingers of a firm, whipped head over a pitch black beer with the slightest hint of light brown at the bottom of the glass. A small head sticks around.
S: Sweet roasted aromas, milk chocolate; heavy and sweet "cream"/dairy smell, like smelling the top of a cupcake (for lack of better analogy); dark fruit aromas.
T: Surprisingly fruity character; dark, ripe berries and other fruits and a creamy malty flavor topped with bitter chocolate.
M: Incredibly thick and creamy; smooth, but leaves a good amount of residue on the palate.
D: One of the best stouts I've had. A pretty toned-down version of an RIS, but still an absolutely brilliant take. I can't wait to grab another of these!

washburnkid, Mar 09, 2009
Photo of joerodiii
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a nice surprise. In these days of over the top, extreme RIS's, a "sessionable" one is a nice change.

Black, nearly opaque beer with minimal head. Nice, balanced aroma. Chocolate dominates but does not overwhelm. Taste is similar. You can really taste chocolate, but it fits nicely with the rest of the beer. It is not too bitter, not too thick, and the alcohol is subtly in the background. There is a touch of malty sweetness with no over-roasted flavors.

Overall, this might be the most drinkable RIS I've tated.

joerodiii, Mar 08, 2009
Photo of MVotter
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the classic-decorated bottled, a 550 ml.

Cola-colored ... has a sweet whiskey aroma ... mmm.

The first pour was down the side of the glass to preserve some carbonation.

The taste is a balanced blend of coffee, molasses, and sweet malts. This is a delicious brew.

As compared to others I've tasted, the Smith's Imperial Stout is a lighter body, less bitter beer. For me the taste tended more toward the malts and less toward the bitter coffee flavors.

The mouthfeel with the pour down the side of the glass did retain an effervescence. A later pour down the middle of the goblet produced a thick, tan head which settled back to a creamy, thin froth ... and much less tingly mouthfeel.

Very drinkable, pleasant, tasty experience for sure.

MVotter, Mar 07, 2009
Photo of PintOHops
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance/Smell - Appears a dark oil like black with hardly any transparency, and has a quarter inch frothy brown, bubble like head. Head reduces semi quick and leaves no lacing. Smells of sharp citrus notes coupled with rich chocolaty, almost cake like malts. Very robust! Sweet overall with fruity cherry and raisin notes, although I did detect some minor earthy notes.

Taste/Mouthfeel - Tastes of rich chocolaty flavors and sweet malts, very delicious! Nice citrus and coffee like flavors on the finish, with some coffee like bitterness lingering on the palate just a tad. Hints of earthy notes, pretty hearty with coffee flavors overall, and hints of alcohol as it warms. Mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat creamy, with some evident carbonation on the palate even. I would say lightly carbonated and full bodied.

Drinkability/Final thoughts - I could definitely find myself enjoying more that a few of these. Probably 3-4 even, I love how robust and full flavored this beer is, although I admit that I do enjoy other stouts more. This is a great example of a stout, I think I would have appreciated more of a creamy, thick body. Still very good, I recommend you give this a try. Cheers!

PintOHops, Mar 07, 2009
Photo of ccrida
4.72/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

550ml that's pushing 2 years old, maybe more. I've had this 'fresh', but it's been a while. I've heard this cellars poorly, and thought I'd find out for myself.
Poured into my Delirium snifter, Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is a dark inky syrupy color with a large dark tan head that leaves sheets of foamy lace.

Smell is super rich and sweet, boat loads of caramel, and I don't mean caramel malt, I mean caramel syrup, like you'd put on a sundae! Coupled with some coffee, it smells like the sugary starbucks drinks I'm a bit embarrassed to admit my wife enjoys! I'm not embarrassed to say it's fantastic and pretty much blowing my mind, before I took even I sip I knew this experiment was a raging success!

Taste is also very rich, but with quite a bit more depth and complexity then the nose, and not as sweet - but damn good! Wow, there's still lots of caramel, with coffee and chocolate and pleasant roasty char that I normally don't love, but tempers the sweetness perfectly here. Just phenomenal. Thank god I have another one of these on deck! There's still a bit of sharpness from the esters that isn't my favorite of the English Ales but is uniform to Samuel Smith's, and while it's tempered here more then any other one of their beers, it kept me from giving this a 5.

Mouthfeel is syrupy but not to sticky or thick, with a creeamy carbonation. Really quite smooth and luscious, wow!

Drinkability is ridiculous, I just can't believe how good this beer is right now. This is truly one of the best out there, so much flavor for being only 7%, it's really all you need. I should say I don't like RIS's overly roasty, bitter or hoppy, so if you do, this may not work for you. But if you're a fan of the sweeter strong ales on the other side of the pond, quit tripping over yourselves for the next big thing and go back to the roots, Samuel Smith's knows what it's all about.

ccrida, Mar 06, 2009
Photo of BarrelO
3.6/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Stone IRS goblet. Hey, Sam Smith finally got their act together and started putting their beer in brown bottles. Good for them. The label art is also good. Very League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-esque.

A: Pours black as night. No light penetrates even when held up to a lamp. Rather robust head, albeit one that dissipates fairly quickly. Decent amount of lacing.

S: Redolent of dark malts and black licorice.

T: Wow. Huge sucker punch of roasty bitterness right off the bat. I don't remember it being nearly this bitter. As it warms up, the bitterness recedes in favor of the malt and licorice flavors in the nose. Somewhat sour aftertaste.

M: Appropriately syrupy for the style, but less so than other styles. Not surprising, given this beer's relative weakness compared to other imperial stouts.

D: Sam Smith deserves props for helping to revive the style and providing a template for other brewers to build on. But nowadays, it comes across like a retro video game; it's great nostalgic fun for those who were there at the time, but for younger enthusiasts, it's kind of hard to see what the fuss was all about. It's still worth a try, if only as a historical artifact. But I can't recommend it as an exemplar of the style. Honestly, it's not even the best beer in the Sam Smith portfolio.

BarrelO, Mar 04, 2009
Photo of Thorpe429
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

G: Imperial pint glass.

A: Pours a "not very dark for this style" cola color out of the bottle, but appears a bit darker in the glass to the point where it is nearly opaque. My pour might have been a little hard, but I got a good two-and-a-half or three fingers worth of head. The head is also a creamy color; again, reminiscent of the foam associated with colas. The head recedes fairly quickly with the slightest bit of lacing.

S: Slightly sweet on a malt base. Hints of toffee and perhaps a little bit of caramel. Faint smell of dark fruits.

T: Sweet in the mouth. Much more sweet on the palate than I would have expected from the nose. Slightly sour with little heat from the alcohol. Biscuity malt with a little bit of chocolate--another thing I didn't detect with the first whiff. Slight fruity undertones in the background--maybe dark cherries, which could contribute the bit of sourness I've detected.

M: Not overly carbonated, and slightly sweet on the tip of the tongue. As it sits, it becomes more and more creamy. The mouthfeel is somewhere between a typical milk stout and the other RIS's that I have come across.

D: Given the low ABV for the style, this is quite a bit more drinkable than is typical. The is one of the first imperial stouts I've had where I could imagine having a couple throughout an evening.

Thorpe429, Mar 03, 2009
Photo of Jablonski
4.18/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. I hadn't seen this beer on the shelves before, and picked it up to be adventurous; from glancing at the reviews it appears it's a pretty solid RIS.

A: Black as night and completely opaque; with an aggressive pour, a medium sized head resulted and minimal lacing.

S: A minty dark chocolate aroma is strongest in this beer, but an espresso aroma is not to be outdone by much. I can also pick up hints of dark fruits in the smell.

T: The taste no letdown from my original impression. Great mix of chocolate and fruits in this beer with a damped effect from the coffee. The only think missing is shot of hops somewhere to make this beer complete. Still, it's choice.

M: Good carbonation, nice thickness.

D: Very drinkable, it seems to be at a lower ABV than many RIS's that I see. Great beer, and I will purchase again.

Jablonski, Mar 01, 2009
Photo of BARFLYB
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

550ml bottle into a Flying Fish pint glass and then some. 1st time having this.

A- A shade darker than their oatmeal stout, this imperial version is black nuff said. It looked a tad brown coming from the bottle though. A nice dark tan head graced the top forever leaving lace patterns.

S- Quite different for an RIS as this is more on the fruity kick. I really can't get any distinct flavors, more like a fruit basket with different ripe varieties. This is backed by some roast plus coffee/chocolate aromas.

T- Dark fruits and chocolate with some coffee as well. The usual blast of roasted malts so common with this style. sweet sugars and some alcohol seeps through. Not getting much hops but they could of faded(not sure the date of this bottle)

M- A nice mouth on this one but a tad lighter than expeced for the style. I would say this is medium bodied. This is lacking a bit of carbonation but oh well. Alcohol comes through just slightly with some dryness.

D- Complex enough for an RIS but the low abv makes it a bit more drinkable than other high abv offerings in the style. Good enough for future visits on cold winter nights as this warms well.

Another winner by sam smith.

BARFLYB, Feb 28, 2009
Photo of McStagger
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


A: Poured into an o-fficial Samuel Smith pint glass...Pours black. Well, not quite black. Just a really dark and really opaque brown. Like Diet Coke syrup. Not much light getting through there. Head is nice, about two fingers worth. Retention is medium-high. Nice.

S: Nose has dark chocolate, espresso, evergreen and lemon rind notes all throughout.

T: Dark roasted sugars intermingled with small nuances of citric/hop bitterness invade the palate from the onset. These notes are followed by a very dark fruit in the middle palate. Almost reminds me of extremely old port. This transitions well into the familiar coffee and smoke at the finish. Smoke definitely finishes this one off. The alcohol is nowhere near as noticeable in this as it is in many imperial stouts. Seems to balance it out a bit more.

M: For me, this is where Samuel Smith really shines. I have yet to consume a Sam Smith beer that has either been too heavy or too light for its respective style. This beer is no exception. Silky and smooth without being heavy or ponderous, this beer has an excellent body and structure.

D: This is probably the easiest drinking Imperial Stout I've ever had. While still not a session brew, this beer's comparatively low alcohol makes it a possibility to have more than one or two.

McStagger, Feb 27, 2009
Photo of Gyle41386
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a rich opaque black. Nice big brown head. Lots of bubbles, nice lacing. This is an excellent looking beer. Not much head retention, or this would have been a 5.

Smells of dried dark fruits and chocolate. Not nearly as much coffee and roast in the nose as many imperial stouts, and that's not a bad thing.

Taste follows the nose, except the roast becomes more prominent in the finish. Dark fruits (raisins, plums), chocolate, coffee. Very rich and smooth.

One thing I love about this stout is that the alcohol isn't so assertive. Some Russian Imperial Stouts, Stone's in particular, scared me off by being overly boozy. All in all, this a phenomenal stout.

Gyle41386, Feb 26, 2009
Photo of benclimbs
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours big and black with a nice brown head that leaves some pretty significant lacing in the glass.

Smell is nice, with some overripe fruit and just a little yeast...

Taste is really really interesting and nice - has some real british ale characteristics, though it maintains the sweetness, malts and coffee characteristics of a Russian imperial.

Pretty good beer! I'm impressed.

benclimbs, Feb 25, 2009
Photo of CHSLBrew
3.4/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500mL bottle poured into a snifter.

A-Black beer, opaque. Brown head, large bubbles, big off the pour and sustaining. Continued to linger with an attractive 1cm heady layer.

S-Much of chocolate mixed with some dried fruits (raisins).

T-Chocolate, dark fruits and candy/molasses. Roasted barley character is present but doesn't overwhelm the other flavors. A little bit of alcohol in the tail end. Finishes roasty, bitter, a bit washed out/blah.

M-Medium-low small-bubbled carbonation. Medium to medium-full bodied beer.

D-Fine enough, but not really a great brew. I think the flavor profile was relatively thin, with a body that left me wanting.

CHSLBrew, Feb 25, 2009
Photo of drummerben
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First review from a longtime lurker. Picked up a 12oz single to give it a try. Poured into standard pint.

Appearance: pours black with dark brown highlights. Frothy two-finger head with nice retention and lacing.

Smell: smells of dark fruits, brown sugar sweetness,raisins, toffee, caramel, and rum. Surprisingly little coffee or roastedness.

Taste: strong sweetness and fruit - toffee, plums, and raisins. Much fruitier than i prefer in a RIS. Too much fruit and not enough roast for my palatte. Alcohol well-hidden.

Mouthfeel: excellent. Perfect carbonation, medium/heavy body, and smooth creamy finish.

Drinkability: very smooth going down. This is an easy drinker, especially at 7%.

Overall a slight disappointment, considering I love Sam Smith and Imperial Stouts. I was hoping for a bigger Taddy Porter, but I miss the roasted malts that make it so delicious. Overall good, but not my go-to RIS.

drummerben, Feb 25, 2009
Photo of mapofthedead
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a rich black with a decent tan head.

S: There was some hint of sweetness, sugar and toffee maybe combining with a bitterness of dark chocolate and coffee. Also picked up a slight roasted smell in the background.

T: Again, the sweetness of toffee/sugar was present but nicely offset by the bitterness of chocolate and coffee.

M: Awesome! Full bodied, creamy and smooth.

D: Very drinkable and no hint of the alcohol content!

Notes: 355 ml bottle poured into a Imperial Pint Glass. BBE DEC 09.

mapofthedead, Feb 23, 2009
Photo of bmwats
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint.

A: Very dark brown in color. Low carbonation pours into a 1 finger, foamy, tan head. Settles fairly quickly, but leaves a little security blanket on the surface. Beer ring lacing remains.

S: Dark roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, pecan shells, scotch whiskey.

T: Roasted coffee beans, unsweetened chocolate, a little scotch or bourbon whiskey.

M: Thick and robust. Flavor fills the mouth and coats the palette. Malty start, strong alcohol taste in the finish.

D: Great drinkability. This is best savored though.

Solid appearance, nice complexity in the nose. Flavor is a bit more simple than the nose lets on, but very well balanced and full. Nice, albeit heavy, feel. This is a high quality quaff.

bmwats, Feb 22, 2009
Photo of grub
4.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle. sampled feb 20/09.

pours deep dark brown, not quite black but still pretty much opaque. a very dense brown head forms, dropping very slowly and leaving a ton of lace behind.

aroma is great. rich dark chocolate. dark roast coffee. multi-grain bread. bit of biscuit. light alcohol. rich caramel. a bit of fruity character too that i'm enjoying. there's a bit of a yeast there too, which i also don't mind.

taste is great. solid malty base of mutl-grain bread, biscuit, and oatmeal. rich dark chocolate, caramel, and coffee. medium-low bitterness level. light alcohol. there's that nice fruity and yeasty component adding a nice depth to it.

mouthfeel is great. just under medium carbonation. medium-large body. smooth.

drinkability is great, and to add to that it's a RIS that won't knock you on your ass at 7%. this seems like the "big brother" to their oatmeal stout. a little bigger, a little richer, and a little darker. it's really that beer turned up a notch, and i think it benefits from it - more depth, a little more intensity. just better all around. while i'm just as gaga over the latest big american stout, i'd be very happy to have a steady supply of this excellent english offering. a great stout that i will certainly not be waiting long to pick up more of.

grub, Feb 21, 2009
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,165 ratings.