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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

3,105 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,105
Reviews: 1,649
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 140
Gots: 181 | 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: 3,105 | Reviews: 1,649 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jwc215
4.83/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow.
poured BLACK with fairly thick, tan head that became a well-retained lace.
It had aromas of sweet chocolate, coffee, and anise. Robust smell.
The taste was extraordinary. Very complex and robust. Chocolate, anise, coffee tastes were well-balanced. Just the right balance between sweet and bitter. Very invigorating.
Left a nice bitter-sweet mouthfeel.
This beer is exceptionally drinkable. It's silky smooth with a slight alcohol finish. It's characteristics are god-like. Well worth the price for this one!

jwc215, May 16, 2006
Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 30, 2011
Photo of DrunkinYogi
4/5  rDev -4.3%

DrunkinYogi, Nov 03, 2012
Photo of smcolw
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not even opaque, this is a dark, dark mahogany brew. This features a truly awesome head for a bottle. Deep tan in color, the head leaves an impressive sticky lace throughout the tasting.

Strong oily alcohol fullness in the aroma. Powerful dark malt richness--chocolate, black patent malts.

Rich and oily, this is a beer to be consumed slowly. Strong chicory coffee flavors. Unlike pale ales, the hop is used strictly as a spice. The aftertaste is long lasting and bitter in an espresso way (the hop is quietly present as a touch of counterbalance) . This is a big beer in every way.

smcolw, Jun 19, 2004
Photo of MarkyMOD
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%

MarkyMOD, Apr 05, 2012
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black color that is topped by a creamy head. Thick aromas of molasses, coffee, chocolate, and dense dark malts all are found in the nose. Surprisingly any roast malt character is pretty subdued. This beer has a light creamy mouthfeel, with a finish of roast malts. The taste is reminiscent of malt balls, with molasses notes up front. The finish is sweet but it is balanced by a burnt acidity, the combination of the two is quite good. I also get notes of espresso and burnt raisins. This is pretty good, I haven't had one of these in years, and hopefully I will revisit this one sooner rather than later.

Gueuzedude, Apr 20, 2004
Photo of XmnwildX12
4/5  rDev -4.3%

XmnwildX12, Dec 13, 2013
Photo of Halcyondays
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16.9 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown, with a full and thick tan head, which leaves some thick lacing in spots.

S: Milk chocolate predominately, with licorice, molasses, and a bit of tropical fruit.

T: Heavy creamy chocolate coats the tongue on the first sip followed by a burst of quenching acidity, though nowhere near as high as a sour or Le. Coq. There is also a serious dark fruit component to this beer which I don't often find in American versions of this style - prune syrup and raisins. The flavours are mellower and subtler than its American cousins, but the flavours are still as tasty.

M: Velvety and smooth, with a hint of alcoholic strength, calming.

D: A very drinkable Imperial Stout, on the light side of this category, but is probably more reminiscent of the actual historical style of this beer, very good.

Halcyondays, Jan 22, 2008
Photo of kojevergas
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

33cl brown glass bottle served into an EKU 28 snifter at the Kortrijk train station (I was on the go). Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a one finger tan colour head of wonderful cream lacing, great thickness, and standard retention for the ABV. Colour is a solid black.

Sm: Caramel, chocolate, roast, coffee, toffee, vanilla, and cream. Rich and decadent.

T: Heavy caramel lacing weaves through a lightly roasted barley body. Hops are those that support the flavours from the nose with the exception of coffee. It's really quite nicely layered. Complex and brilliant.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with adequate coarseness but not enough dryness for the style. It matches the flavours almost perfectly.

Dr: With a fairly high ABV, a very good price (~2.70 euro in Switzerland), and incredible drinkability, it's a brilliantly done stout that I'd definitely have again.

I don't know that it's a good candidate for aging on account of its ABV (which is a bit low).

kojevergas, Dec 26, 2011
Photo of BlackHaddock
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2nd Beer of 2014: 355ml Bottle, BBD Aug 2014, poured into a Palm badged tulip on 1st Jan.

Black with a deep, tanned head.

Coffee nose with dark chocolate notes and a mildly over roasted over smell.

The taste mirrors the aromas but more bitter than the sweetness I half expected from the esters coming out of the glass.

Smooth mouthfeel, the alcohol is hidden very well by the flavours and overall it's a great beer with few equals in it's style.

BlackHaddock, Jan 01, 2014
Photo of Gavage
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear black in color with a thick 2" tan head. Some thick lacing develops thorugh the drink. Nice combination of coffee, chocolate, caramel, and alcohol in the aroma. The flavor follows the nose, as chocolate, coffee, licorice, dark plums, and roasted malts are well balanced. Mild bitterness and light alcohol rounds it out.

Mouthfeel is crisp at the start, and mildly crisp at the finish. Finish is also rather short in the aftertaste, as the flavors disappear from the tongue quickly. Superb drinkability.

Gavage, Oct 09, 2005
Photo of GClarkage
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12/15/04- Purchased at Bevmo in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 16.27 oz bottle with no freshness date poured into my Shipyard pint glass.

Appearance- A dark brown pour with an average head and avergae lacing. Nothing spectacular, but better than average.

Smell- I had to really sniff to get a good whiff of dark chocolate, roasted malt and a bit of toffee.

Taste- Very good taste, but for on the toffee and coffee side than the chocolate. I just couldn't pick out that much chocolate taste. But, of the taste I did pick up on, it was very good.

Mouthfeel- Nicely carbonated for an IRS. Went down with ease.

Drinkability- I need to try this one again. I drank it right after an extra hoppy barleywine and my buds may have been off. But for what I did taste it was better than average and I am looking forward to trying it again.

GClarkage, Dec 16, 2004
Photo of oriolesfan4
4/5  rDev -4.3%

oriolesfan4, Apr 23, 2013
Photo of imperialking
4/5  rDev -4.3%

imperialking, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of woodychandler
4.58/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am continuing to drink my way through the Samuel Smith's oeuvre, thanks to a recent inspiration in one of the forums. Just in case anyone wondered what I was doing ... Now, THIS is the way to kick off my New Beer Sunday!

From the bottle: "Brewed at Samuel Smith's small, traditional British brewery with well water (the original well sunk in 1758 is still in use), best barley malt, roasted barley, yeast and hops to create a rich flavourful ale; deep chocolate in colour with a roasted barley nose and flavour that is a complexity of malt, hops and yeast. Fermented in 'stone Yorkshire squares'. This distinctive type of ale was originally shipped to Imperial Russia; it was a favourite of Russian nobility."; Captioning a picture: "Having imparted their bitterness & aroma, hops are separated from the wort in the hop backs."

An impressive pour, resulting in two thick fingers of deep-tan head with excellent retention. Color was midnight black with deep-brown highlights at the edges. Nose was rich with coffee, dark chocolate, dried dark fruits, smoke and even some alcohol heat. Whew! Mouthfeel was a little thin for the style, but still bigger and chewier than many other beers. The taste was very bitter, coffee-like, which was perfect since I was having this with and for breakfast. Take that, Catherine the Great! Finish was smoky, bitter, dry, a big Wow!, but without the often overpowering alcohol of its modern American iterations. Nice, plus it is accessible year-'round without having to stand in line to score some.

woodychandler, Jun 26, 2011
Photo of corby112
3.25/5  rDev -22.2%
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 weeare138
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a deep, rich black with caramelized, dark brown edges when held to the light. A fluffy, 2 finger, creamy tan head slowly fades out in a minutes time. Scattered spots of lacing are left all around the glass.
Smell is of plums, raisins, molasses, roasty malts, cream, baker's chocolate, English toffee, slight butterscotch, anise, and mild coffee with dusty notes of wood.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas highlighted by a fruity, prune and raisin flavor that mixes creamed coffee and roasted oats with a touch of caramelized sugar that borderlines the path of cloying but remains along the spectrum of balance.
Mouthfeel is rich, medium-full bodied, slight thinness like the OG started off very high but was watered down to make the volume greater. The brew starts off sweet at first with roasted malt sticking in the middle of the tongue.before fading to a gently hopped, semi-dry roastiness.
All in all, this is a British classic that shouldn't be missed. There are other styles emulated by the Americans that I feel have gone a step above this pioneer of Imperial Stouts but consider this the "Old Guard" of the style that should be revisited every now and again out of respect, if not for the delicious aromas and flavors.

weeare138, Oct 19, 2006
Photo of yourefragile
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

550 mL bottle purchased in March 08

Pours a dark, nearly opaque brown with garnet hues around the edges against light. Massive, fluffy deep tan head with a light crimson hue. Aroma is complex balance of dark fruits and toffee/caramel malts. This almost smells like a red wine at first. Full bodied with light carbonation results in a very creamy, soft feel on the tongue. Flavors are similar to the aroma, body is initially fruity sweet, before the malt and chocolate flavors take over with a slight hop bitterness in the finish. Malt and bitter fruitiness lingers long into the finish. I had purchased two bottles of this and drank one fresh. For some reason that night this seemed too overpowering for me, but tonight this tastes well balanced and very drinkable.

yourefragile, Aug 17, 2009
Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lovely cascade out of the bottle, a very dark black-blood-red hue, just giving a glimmer of ruby when held to light. Head is a creamy crest of beige bubbles. Good lacing. Just delicious looking.

Dark chocolate-sweet notes on the nose. Not huge but tasty and sweet. Hints of something slightly tannic as well, like tea leaves or red wine cork. Nice.

Very solid, roasted and smoky characters on the palate. Dark and bitter - everything implies fire and charcoal, except that it has this wonderful airy sweetness that never drags it right down. Back palate is quite ashy, but in a pleasant drinkable dryness. Mouthfeel is creamy and thick, but with a pleasant levity. Very nice.

Extremely drinkable, despite the darkness. Just creamy, rich, sweet, and slick. A superbly balanced and extremely well made brew. This beer cements Samuel Smith's reputation for me.

lacqueredmouse, Mar 26, 2009
Photo of orangesol
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I bought this one at Wegman's. I have had it a bunch of times now, time to sit down and write a review for it.

A - Pours jet black with a bubbly one and a half finger tall tan head leaving small streaks of lace down most of the glass.

S - Smells of dark roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits, black licorice and a touch of fruity yeast. This one has nearly everything you would look for in an Imperial Stout.

T - Starts off with quite a bit of dark roasted malt quickly giving way to some sweet chocolate and dark fruits. Once the sweetness dies down you get hints of black licorice, port wine and a very light fruitiness. Finish has plenty of dark roast, lingering long after consumption.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. This one is dark and roasty throughout, clinging to the pallet long after consumption. The soft feel does help to keep things in check tho.

O - Still one of the better "simple" stouts out there. It has a good amount of flavor and the lower than average ABV makes it easy to drink. A great entry level beer into the world of Imperial Stouts.

orangesol, Mar 20, 2012
Photo of tempest
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark ruby, but not quite opaque like a good impy. Nice looking tan head, unfortunately it disappears pretty fast. No lacing, not a bit.

Smells like dark, fruity alcohol and lacks any roasty notes. Tastes is smooth with dark ester qualities. No roasty or smokiness, fairly simple profile and subtle, but still good.

Easy drinking for an impy stout and feels nice. Its a good RIS, but I find this, like I've found some of the other Sam Smith beers, to be overrated. A good beer, but one of the last RIS's I'd choose if I had a good number of choices. There is better, bolder stuff to be found at America's own craft breweries.

tempest, Dec 29, 2005
Photo of stakem
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes taken 2/14/10.

Pours a dark brown color with red and brown highlights around the edges. Produces less than a finger of tanned head without much retension. Sweet aroma of dark fruit and a bit of yeast. Tastes include burnt grain, bitter chocolate and a lingering taste of coffee is left in the mouth. Moderately carbonated and a very smooth medium feel. The type of smoothness I have now come to expect but is yet seemingly distinct about this brewery. For 7% the alcohol is fairly well hidden. The alcohol starts to come through in the finish as it warms.

stakem, Mar 31, 2010
Photo of dbrauneis
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an opaque black (not the darkest black I have seen in a stout) in color with hints of dark brown and red when held up to the light. The beer has a half finger tall dark tan head that reduces to a thin patchy layer covering the surface of the beer with a thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate lacing is observed.

S: Definitely some sweetness in the smell with some dark fruits as well as toffee/caramel coming through. After that the dark roasted malts are noticeable. Overall, some nice complexity.

T: Starts with some nice dark roasted malts and some dark fruit, more plum/raisin than fig. After that some of the caramel sweetness comes through.There is a light amount of milk chocolate presence and light lingering bitterness.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth and creamy.

O: This is a very enjoyable and very drinkable stout. The beer has a nice complexity of flavor and aroma while still keeping a relatively low ABV. Not exactly sessionable but definitely easy to approach and not a beer that requires a lengthy time sipping. No noticeable alcohol present.

dbrauneis, Apr 05, 2012
Photo of Billolick
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce clear bottle, Pours deepest of mahogony, ruby highlights at the edges. Active expresso froth colored head, showing good retentive powers. This one leaves blotchy thick and sticky lacing. Nose is coffee, dark chocolate, alcohol and dark malts. Heady, strong, flavorful Impy stout. Notes of more chocolate, lots of burnt coffee, vanilla, burnt fruits and grains, smoke. Bold flavors, but still somewhat subdued and subtle, basically this is still British style and its not over the top. World class sipper. A must for stout lovers

Billolick, Jun 17, 2005
Photo of wl0307
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
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?)

wl0307, Jun 12, 2009
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,105 ratings.