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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1,690 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,690
Hads: 3,448
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.03%
Wants: 202
Gots: 358 | 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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,690 | Hads: 3,448
Photo of Rob6852
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My first Imperial Stout.
Pours a dark near ink black into the glass with 2 inchs of head that
slowly disapates to a ring that leaves nice laceing down the inside
of the glass.
The smells of mocha and the alcohol makes it known that it is there.
This stout has an initial taste of mocha/coffee and finishes dry and warms the tummy up right nicely. The 7% abv really bites you (in a good
way). As the beer warms you just want to sip it and sit back and
Samual Smith got it right with this one, no doubt.
Its a dark, strong stout that is right nice on a winter night. (602 characters)

Photo of Realale
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Clear black with a significant ruby component. Nice very fine mocha head.

Nose is initially sour cherry with a touch of chocolate. The fruitiness comes more into balance with time and a medicinal aspect appears. Rather distinctive nose.

On the thin side of medium in the mouth. A little light on malt, and comes off a touch sweet. Really could use more bitterness to balance. Average length.

Mouthfeel is fine. Quite drinkable for an Imperial, but not terribly interesting.

Tasted blind at the 12/14/03 St. Louis BA tasting. This was perhaps the most conspicuous victim of the blind tasting format. This bottle certainly did not live up to the lofty reputation of the beer, yet nothing indicated a bad or mistreated bottle to me. (741 characters)

Photo of Crosling
4.24/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

An exceptionally fine looking ale. Pours black with the faintest hints of drying molten lava just under the head. The head is light tan and dies rather quickly but leaves a nice ring around the Goblet. Some of the lace sticks to the glass while other parts fall back into the head.

The nose is awesome! A definate sweet smokiness shines through. Dark malts topped with melting caramel and chocolate with a tub of I cant Believe it's not butter thrown it. Absolutely fantastic aroma. I can't wait to try this.

Very drinkable. Exceptional flavor. Nice sweet chocolate flavor with burnt caramel corn, toffee, roasted coffee, butter, dried plums and alcohol. Poor mouthfeel which set this beer back quite a bit but very drinkable with an nice lingering aftertaste that stays in your mouth minutes after swallowing.

I enjoyed this Imperial but I surely have had some that I enjoyed more. Not a very robust Imperial Stout and a little too sweet. But it was still pretty damn swell! (985 characters)

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

I've been working my way through the Top 50, and IMHO this beer sets the standard for Imperial Stouts. It pours pitch black, with a huge tan head. Aromas of roast malt, chocolate, espresso, and currant tickle my happy nose. My mouth soon joins in the ecstasy, with chocolate, currant, espresso, malt, caramel, charcoal, and grapefruit doing the Dance of the 7 Veils on my tongue. Silky smooth caressing mouthfeel. Finally, it finishes with chocolate and grapefruit alternating little butterfly kisses on my sated palate. A truly sensual delight, if beers were girlfriends, this is the one you'd marry. (601 characters)

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

Exceptional color and head..a definite 5.0. Smell..what can I say...malt, aclohol, fruits..a very complex aroma. Taste was extremely good. Initially I noted a bit of tinny flavor, but as it such flavor. As with the smell...very complex....rum? rounded malts...alcoholic undertones..very full-bodied and warming.
Mouthfeel improved as it know the alcohol is there and it's nice, especially on a cold snowy New England day. Definitely packs a puch..I can feel the warming effect already. Initially I gave it a 4.0 for drinkability, but as it warmed, once again, it had a great sipping, drinkability. Definitely woth its top 50 rating. (658 characters)

Photo of merlin48
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz clear bottle poured slightly chilled into a pint tumbler glass. Very opaque, almost ebony with a bountiful beige head. Nose of dark bottersweet chocolate, Kona coffee, and a touch of molasses. Mouthfeelis creamy and very full bodied. Taste is like the aroma, but with some rye bread and fruitcake. Long lasting head prevails over the omnipresent lacing. This is worldclass stuff, and deserving of its top 10 ranking. Certainly a benchmark among stouts.

Personally, I would give Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout a slight edge over the Imperial, but keep in mind I'm an oatmeal nut. (585 characters)

Photo of rdrummer
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is one fantastic stout. Being a stout lover, I thought that Guiness was the epitome of stout for a long time, but then I found out that there are a lot of stouts that are as good or better. This one is better.

It pours the usual very dark brown, really black color with a dark brown head that is very long lasting with fantastic lacing all the way down the glass. The aroma is one of smoked maltiness that is deeply smoky and superb. There is a hint of barley and a touch of spice, maybe a clovey aroma.

The taste is smoky beyond belief. The only taste that reached this level of smokiness in my memory was the rauchbier of Nuremberg. This was different because it was the roasted malt taste as opposed to the roasted barley taste of rauchbier.

It feels as good in the mouth as it tastes. It is thick in the mouth with no oiliness that you get from some cheaper stouts. This is the real deal. This is a beer that I will return when I want to have a stout. It is nectar. (985 characters)

Photo of DagFishHead
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black ink pour, huge, creamy, dark tan head relents from three finger to two and stays for the duration. The thickest, creamiest lace I've ever seen.
Smell: Regardless of your favorite beer style, I implore you to at least smell this... Deep dark chocolate, strong espresso, dark ripe fruits (raisins, dark cherries, prunes), toasty roasted malt, smoke... oooh, baby. Thank the maker, this is heaven!
Taste: Big smoked malt sweetness immediately bolstered by dark fruits that linger with the carbonation, then the tide receeds to a semi-dry hop finish that allows the mellowed original flavors to mingle with a smooth alcohol warmth. Whoa...
Mouthfeel: Slick, smooth, chewy smoked malt, but just slightly thinner than other examples (more English-style I would say).
Drinkability: A stunning imperial stout. My personal preference for the slightly fuller American-style mouthfeel in no way detracts from how incredible this example is... (955 characters)

Photo of Rumrunner
4.56/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle.

Now this is a stout!

Color: Black. That is all. A nice light brown head to start gives a picture perfect looking pint. Lacing drapes the glass. The scents are heavy brownie and carob. Some sweet caramel. A dry dark fruit hop. The alcohol on the nose is rum. Flavors blend but are present enough to be selected. A real work of art for the nose.

The flavors work their magic. To start there is the brownie and light milk chocolate. Some singed coffee and heavy smoke. A floral and deep fruit entice the taste buds. There is a charred wood flavor at the end. So many flavors. They do well and keep themselves in check which provides a wonderful balance.

Mouthfeel is deep and heavy. There is a slight chalkiness which is just a bit unfriendly. A very full bodied stout. This is one I will return to. Just a well made old school stout. (858 characters)

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

Pours a nice heavy weight motor oil color with a large pillow like head and superior lace and stick. Sweet black licorice, malt and coffee on the nose. Same on the palate with a touch of Albert Coq soy sauce as well. Sweet and savory in the mouth. Velvet texture. Touch of dark chocolate on the finish. Damn solid beer, especially for the 2.99 I layed down. (357 characters)

Photo of hotstuff
3.24/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer's appearance included a small sized tan head with fine-small bubbles that completely dissipated.The body was uncarbonated and opaque with a black hue.The nose of this beer was that of sweaty feet (oh yum) with a very mild coffee flavor.It had a smooth, watery and thin mouthfeel and it was light bodied.The lacing was very sparse. (340 characters)

Photo of bighops
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one poured up with nice rich dark chocolaty color and had a thin caramel tinted head. Just looking at it, I couldn't wait for that first sip. The smell was pleasing; it had a good 'beer' smell - nice and hoppy - a smell that just invited me to take a taste. The flavor is bold but smooth at the same time. It had sort of a smoky and syrupy taste at the same time, which was a nice blend. The rich maltiness was consistent from start to finish and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this beer didn't have that after bite that a lot of stronger beers I tried tend to have. Over all, it's a pleasant beer. I would almost call it a desert beer. The kind of drink you finish off a good meat n' potatoes kind of dinner with but it might be just a little too sweet for me to drink a lot of it. But I tend toward the more bitter tastes. (842 characters)

Photo of AbePhroman
4.67/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a bottle of this earlier, 550ml. I've had alot of this before and finally decided to write a review. Pours extremely dark into a glass with a dark tan head that doesn't dissipate. Smelled fruitier to me then most other imperials. This will sound silly but at first whiff I thought I may have accidentally purchased a bottle of red wine lol.

Very good taste. Not too bitter at all. Chocolate malt aftertaste makes this a very drinkable brew. A very sweet taste that makes me say, "I should have bought 2 bottles!!"

All in all a great imperial stout. Glad it's always available. (589 characters)

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

This is my first Imperial, and I can't help but be excited.

It poured with a thin, espresso-brown head and a very, very dark body, as close to black as anything I've seen. The aroma hints at alcohol-soaked dark fruits.

Upon first taste, it's apparent that this is an exceptional beer. It has a great complexity of flavor, with rich chocolate tones, rum-soaked raisins, espresso notes, and a strong caramel flavor that really shows itself as the brew warms. The high(er) ABV hides nicely amongst the multitude of flavors, though at only 7%, there isn't that much to hide.

Beautiful. Awesome. Wow. If all Imperials are this good, I'm hooked for life.

Spoils of the 10/11/03 Knoxville Raid. (699 characters)

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

Big malt and calm ester nose; light phenols and hops, too -- what you'd hope for in an imperial. Licorice and currants, maybe?

The taste is of true, roasted malt. There's a caramel and chocolate backbone well supported by barley, a creamy sweetness, and a black patent bite. The hops are late to arrive in this brew, but are there. The residual sweetness adds a good body to the beer and is augmented by an estery hop accent like chocolate fondue. The cocoa elements, typically overpowering in a beer, are mellowed by the other malts. I suspect that a lot of the "black patent bite" is actually the hop bittering as this is an imperial stout. The finish, too, is largely chocolate and coffee, but it's put in its place to the point where this tastes more like a classic stout rather than an imperia; also, light cognac. The trademark Sammy Smith diacetyl works wonders here.

I can see the chocolate-covered raisins others have mentioned and as I think about it, it comes out more and more above the gums. This has so much in it, that whatever you think of will probably be there. Buy a few and let your imagination run wild.

The harsh qualities of big beers are nicely assuaged in this brew, but then this isn't all that big either.

As it warms, the depth of flavor comes to a head. The malts harmonize like a symphony that has played together for decades. Samuel Smith Imperial Stout isn't as inventive as Bell's Expedition, but perhaps a benchmark for the style en masse. Tradition meets excellence.

Relax, relax.
ng (1,537 characters)

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

Poured black from a 12 oz bottle. 2 finger tan head that has a lot of pop and fizz to it. Solid lacing.

Smells very sweet and fruity. Lots of fig, raisin, and molasses. Very creamy and malty tasting. You get the big dark malt without it being dry, harsh, or burnt. Goes down very smooth for a big beer. I get some chocolate and coffee in there too. Mouthfeel is very soild.

Incredibly drinkable beer for an Imperial Stout. Not just for manly men. A great choice for review #50. (483 characters)

Photo of GeoffRizzo
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pitch black pour, dark brown head; incredible retention and lacing until the last drop. Eager, highly anticipative aroma of burnt malts, plums, raisins, heavy notes of alcohol. Up front this bad boy is thick, yet smooth and creamy. Velvety slick, with a port feel to it; roasted malts, the alcohol is quite noticeable, yet it is in the background and does not offend. Character notes are many, to include nuts, raisins, port, burnt malts, coffee beans and chocolate; absolutely incredible flavoring and taste. Savoring, enjoyable, a warming brew, immensely drinkable, quite complex, worth a novel; clearly one of the best brews out there. (638 characters)

Photo of woemad
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at Huckleberry's in Spokane. Poured a dark brown with a big mocha colored head that hung around for a while. Notes of coffee, dark chocolate and dark fruit in the nose. Taste starts out like bitter dark chocolate, then a little bit of a fruity, cherry-like taste slips in, before ending on a tiny, crisp citrusy note. The mouthfeel of this is not too thin, not too thick, just about right. This is very drinkable for a stout lover such as myself. For others not so enamored of the style, this might be too heavy, too "bitter tasting." They know not what they spurn. (582 characters)

Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very fine stout that would surely satisfy most stout lovers. This is a good looking and smelling beer. The appearance is of deep darkness and a thin beige head. The residual layer gives nice lacing from the thin remainder.

The nose is roasted malt and very nice chocolate notes. The flavor comes on strong with great chocolate flavor, roasted malt goodness, and dark cherry notes. There is also a very subtle, but noticeable woodiness to this great stout. This is a very nicely balanced beer that finishes with very fine dryness.

The feel is very substantive and rich, smooth yet clean, with light carbonation and a clean finish. This is a truly drinkable stout that has limited drinkability only because of its fullness and ABV. Very nise stuff, to be sure. (766 characters)

Photo of Dantes
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Package: Appropriately regal, extra-tall 12oz. foil-topped, crowned, clear bottle. Label notches, but no date key or ABV. Old-fashioned white label with gold and black lettering.

Cost: $6.99 per 4-pack

Presentation: Imperial pint at ~50º

Appearance: Very dark brown with some ruby glow. Generated a moderate 1 to 2 finger head, that quickly resolved to a thick foam collar that gradually receded. Not the darkest stout, but plenty dark enough.

Smell: Very toasty, with some fortified-wine notes, coffee, chocolate, and dark blackberry and currant fruitiness on the nose. A generous, round, full aroma.

Taste: The flavors follow through on what the aroma promised, adding just the right amount of burnt-sugar sweetness, nuttiness, bitterness, and alcohol volatility to keep things from being bland or cloying. An homage to good water, skilled brewing, and the art of toasting malt. Very multi-dimensional, with the finish of Methuselah.

Mouthfeel: Excels. This powerful, flavorful beer defines finesse. Creamy, perfectly carbonated, with a full, rounded body. Coats the tongue, but remains dry enough to remind you you’re drinking beer!

Drinkability: Stouts don’t get more drinkable than this! Rich, satisfying, but not overwhelming. Delivers a surfeit of flavor without being hugely filling and lets one have two or three without repercussions. I should deduct 0.5 because I want a 20oz. serving!

Backwash: I haven’t had this in some time, and more’s the shame! A recent article in the Times led me to buy some and try it again. Boy, was I impressed. Not the darkest, not the hoppiest, not the highest ABV; but still the archetype of Imperial Stout. You can have all the Storm King you want, I’ll be happy with this! They haven’t forgotten that malt is at least as important as hops when it comes to stouts. And, what are you guys who mention the price talking about? It’s beautifully made and shipped over here, for less than what a lot of US microcraft brewers charge for inferior beers, and worth every cent! This beer clearly proves what Mies van de Rohe said, “Less is more.” (2,161 characters)

Photo of Stopper
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is black, but held to the light just right almost looks an extremely deep purple. It's initially topped with a thin head not unlike one you'd find on hot cocoa. The head recedes to a very thin layer of fine bubbles over the surface. This smells like chocolate -- and I do mean chocolate malts, but I also mean actual dark chocolate. This big malt aroma almost totally dominates a slight hint of hops. The initial taste brings a medium smooth body balanced slightly toward sweet maltiness, which is quickly joined by the roasted astringency of dark malt. This flavor is predominant into the finish, but as it fades a bit it reveals a very noticeable earthy hop flavor and bitterness. The hop flavor takes over for an instant, then steps back to join the dark grains. Then the wonderful flavor and bitterness of the hops and roasted malt ride off together into the sunset of my palate.

Samuel Smith makes some awesome beers. This is definitely no exception. (969 characters)

Photo of byrd
4.57/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout pours a very dark brown (almost black) with a few garnet highlights around the edges of the glass. A thick tan head (slightly sticky) of small frothy bubbles with long staying power lies on top of this great brew. An amazing aroma is immediately noticeable from a good distance away. Chocolates, spices, dark fruits, and coffee are all evident... rich and somewhat sweet... begging to be partaken of. This brew is smooth at the start and somewhat sweet. Notes of chocolate and coffee are evident. Some spice notes are also apparent (coriander or anise – tough for me to tell – still a beginner at identifying specific spices). Towards the middle, roasted notes pick up, and there’s a roasted bitterness in the finish that stays around until the next sip. Fairly full mouthfeel. Carbonation is pretty low and there’s a somewhat draughty smoothness to this brew.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve had an Imperial Stout. I’ll be sure not to let this happen again. This is a great brew that is SO easy to drink. Not really a session beer simply by its nature, however, I don’t think it would be too difficult to finish off a few of these. (1,181 characters)

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

Appearance: Great same massive sized head as most Samuel Smith's brews out there, but this one has a deep brown amber black dark chocolate hue to it allows minimal light to pass through with a streak of prune hue purple deepness, lacing nice thickets of tan lacing clinging to my imperial pint. Aroma: Once again deep chocolate and coffee tones are present with fruit edges there fermented prunes or figs with chocolate sauce englazoned uone them how wonderful every dark roasted stout should smell this magnifcant. Minimal hopping in the aroma for the fruit and deep flavoful roasts mean to steal the show. Tase: Alcohol infused deep roasted malts with fruit remaninsce leaving their mark upon this heavenly dark ale, I really think this is one of the best imperial stouts on the market maybe not extreme or over the top but most flavorful and consistent the Sam Smith's reportoire get's the gold. Mouhfeel: A bit fuller than most Sammy Smith's this one packs quite the body keeping each sip not only flavorful but chewy. Drinkability: Is incredible for the amount of alcohol and flavor coming through I can't believe they allow this type of beer out there in this semi prohibitional state this country sometimes seems to be stuck in. (1,235 characters)

Photo of Boilermaker88
3.25/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Much anticipated as this beer currently sits in the Top 10 of the BA best beers. Was getting even more excited as I watched this beer pour from the clear (uh, oh) bottle. A wonderful obsidian colored beer without any brown or ruby highlights flowed forth into my glass. A two-finger rich, creamy cappuccino colored head formed and grudgingly faded to a thin skim and left bands of lace.
Okay, we had a problem with the smell. I could smell a moderate skunkiness coming off this beer from nearly a foot away. Damn clear bottle! I'm guessing it was light-struck somewhere along the way from the UK to SoCal. I could also detect some espresso coffee notes but the skunk really interfered with picking up anything else.
Taste was better. Still, I wonder what went wrong as it seemed rather one-dimensional. Lots of chocolate malt, a lingering burnt coffee taste and a mildly bitter finish but missing the dark fruit flavors and caramel and toffee sweetness I've noted in other imperial stouts. Alcohol was very well camouflaged; virtually undetectable.
Feel was medium-bodied and dry.
Overall, I'm going to give Samuel Smith's the benefit of the doubt and chock this one up to a storage problem affecting this particular bottle, not a problem with the beer itself. I intend on getting this again (soon), hopefully on tap, and re-reviewing. But for now, I've had better imperial stouts. (1,385 characters)

Photo of beerguy101
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Eclipse Black color. Nice big frothing foamy head. Its alive..Its alive..Its alive... Aroma is chocolate and plums. A full-bodied stout. Deeply roasted chocolate malts. Deep and rich chocolate flavor. Very flavorful and complex. Chocolate, coffee, caramel and fruit. Some hop bite. Nice beer. Worth trying. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and dry. Aftertaste is slightly bitter. (391 characters)

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 1,690 ratings.