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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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

3,425 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,425
Reviews: 1,709
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.51%
Wants: 199
Gots: 343 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,425 | Reviews: 1,709
Photo of HiroProtagonist
4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout was served from a 550 ml clear bottle. When the beer was poured into an imperial pint glass, a thick and rich rocky tan head formed, then settled after a minute into a thinner but darker brown blanket, leaving thick lacing. The beer itself was impervious to light, except at the thinner bottom, where some deep ruby was seen to shine through. The nose was loaded with notes of ripe plantain, dark chocolate, sweet banana, and molasses... an intersting contrast to the nose of many of the top American imperial stouts. The taste was highly influenced by the nose. A mellow roasted malt base holds up flavors of molasses and dark chocolate, with subtle suggestions of banana coming through in the lingering semi-dry and well-bittered finish. The body was a little thin for an imperial stout, but wasn’t too detrimental to the overall experience. As this was a toned down imperial stout, not in flavor but in body and alcohol content, it was very drinkable. Overall a solid and fine tuned piece of work, sure to please most stout lovers, but may dissapoint junkies of Expedition, Speedway, or Storm King Stout.

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

It pours impassibly dark, black of body with deep brown highlights at the edges. A quick light brown head scrambles upward, then settles slowly to a thin blanket of earth-toned foam. There are thin splotches of sticky lacing.

The aroma conveys a deep roasted grain sweetness trussed by a certifiable vinous character. The air is very basic with a mild bitterness countered against the malt body.

A malt sweetness rumbles forth in the flavor then swerves, just before becoming cloying, giving way to a mellow dark roast bitterness. A warm port character slips into the middle before the grain steps forward again. The finish brings a fading sweetness tempered by a distant hops bitterness.

Thick bodied, the heavy texture coats like a slinky dense liquor, leaving a syrupy sweetness on the palate.

I'll admit it's sweeter than I expected, but as just a piece of this tasty puzzle, that's an asset. One of the more truly balanced Imperial Stouts, it's big, but not humongous; full, but not bloated; dense, but far from over-complicated. The rather moderate ABV and fetching features make this emminently drinkable and enjoyable. It's a fine taste of England, and if it's even better on that side of the pond, then maybe I should be buying a plane ticket first thing.

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

Sable with dark bronze highlights at the edges. The beer is topped by a thick, sponge-like head that's medium brown and looks like it'll hang around a while. It falls slowly, eventually to a thick film, and doesn't leave much lace. There's a little above the receding surface of the beer, but that's about it.

The nose has some power behind it... strong, dark coffee with molasses and spicy dark fruit. The flavor reminds me of blackstrap molasses mixed with black licorice; the strong, less-sweet British version of licorice. There are also espresso and bitter black tea notes, but they aren't nearly as strong as the molasses and licorice.

The mouthfeel is full and rich, but doesn't quite match the flavor in terms of seriousness. I'm not sure if a more full body would be good for this beer or not. It might take a bite out of the drinkability, which is quite good as is. The relatively low ABV (for an Imperial stout) helps the quaffability.

This is my first Imperial stout and I'm impressed. The temperature is currently in the single digits and it's overcast and spitting snow. Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is warming me nicely and I may just have to follow it with another.

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

Appearance: Jet black with a substantial foamy brown head.

Aroma: Smells like chocolate licorice. Slightly sweet with toasty and yeasty notes.

Taste: Quite bitter and sour up-front, with a medicinal finish. Some chocolate tones.

Mouthfeel: Dry, but coating. Again, bitterness and sourness dominate.

Drinkability: Not a favorite of mine. Don't like the sourness of this stout.

Tasted blind at the Saint Louis BA tasting 12/14/03

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

Wow! What a fantastic beer. I have to say that I was blown away with it. Pours to a midnight black color with creamy light brown head. The smell is marvelous, chocolate and a spicy rum smell. They go well together. The first sip and I was shocked, holy cow this is a great beer! The taste is thick and heavy with hints of chocolate, raisins and is out of this world. It has a very smooth feel to it with good carbonation. I feel I could drink this beer night or at least until my face meet the floor!

Photo of alexgash
4.41/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an oily black with a creamy tan head. Very nice. Smells of chocolate pudding, raisins, and roasted rum. Mmmmm. If the nose is a little reserved, the taste makes up for it. Very rich, whiskey-sweet malts. Notes of chocolate and raisins. Followed and balanced nicely by a dose of hops. Finish is bitter, slightly roasty, with noticeable, warming alcohol. Not as thick or strong as many other imp. stouts I know and love, but still great.

Photo of BeefyMee
4.06/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black with a tan head. Decent lacing. When it was in the bottle I could hold it up and get a little glint of light through it. Now that I have poured it, it has become a black hole.

Smell: Chocolate and a faint alcohol scent.

Taste: A lot going on here. Chocolately and cookie-like with some smokiness to boot. Every few sips there's a fruitiness as well that is something along the lines of raisins or currants or maybe prunes. As I drank, the smoke flavor became more evident. The alcohol is barely noticeable.

Mouthfeel: So creamy and wonderful.

Drinkability: Alcohol is not a factor here, only flavor. The last half of the beer was simply not as good as the first half.

I might need more time to figure this beer out. I can certainly see myself coming back to it.

Photo of RootedFool
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black and beautiful. I held this mother up to a lightbulb, for only a second, and it is totally impervious to light.

Burnt chocolate, licorice and coffee come through on the nose right away, and a light sourness -- perhaps due to the clear bottle? Bad batch? Well, if this was bad, it was still good.

Mouthfeel not as creamy as I expected, but coated my mouth nicely.

Rich roasted flavor of coffee and chocolate followed by an understated hop bitterness.

Just the right amount of carbonation.

The alcohol content is barely detectable, but warming.

Can't say I'd go for this again, there are many more beers to try, but it was a worthwhile experience.

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

Dark cocoa colored head that is thick and foamy. The head held solid and left a lot of lace as the beer dissapeared. The beer was coffee black in color, almost light abosorbing. The aroma was of creamy chocolate, dark malt, and alcoholic raisins. The flavor was rich and creamy, some burnt malt and a little cocoa. A great beer with rich flavor and a smooth finish.

Photo of BCMan
4.73/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite thing about Sam Smith Imperial Stout is the look on the people around me's faces when I pour it and they realize that the bottle is clear. Most of them cringe and make some annoying comment about cough syrup. This beer is black with no chance of light getting through it. (even if you hold it directly in front of the light) It pours up a nice frothy brown head that lingers a bit before fading back to the drink. The aroma is interesting. Imagine what thick and dark might smell like and then have one of these and see if you were close. The flavor build straight through the after taste and lingers a bit. This guy Sam Smith must have beed a pretty cool cat!

Photo of twilight
4.87/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is the beer dreams are made of. The taste of the roasted barley. Chocolate. Coffee. Molasses. Even a hint of butterscotch in the aftertaste. This should be the one they judge all stouts by....

Points off for the loss of the small brown head, but points for the inky blackness and the elegance of the brew in a nonick pint and the head retention around the edges of the glass. It smells sweet, almost like caramel, but dark as night. The taste is heavenly, thick and full. Heavy and beautiful, almost like drinking candy.

I know I couldn't drink this all night, for fear of passing out on someone's lap, but oh, is it so good.

Photo of necoadam
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Yummy!! Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout reminds me of two great brews put together. Apperance reminds me of Victory's Storm King Imperial Stout. Looks jet black with excellent amount of carbonation. Smell consists of chocolate and prunes mostly. Taste is what it's all about. It reminds me of Victory's Storm King and Sam Adam's Cream Stout put together. It's got that creamy aftertaste which makes it complex. And at 7.0%ABV, you wouldn't even know it's that much (the taste that is), although it does warm your throat and stomach which is a nice feel. Truly one of the best beers money can buy. I would recommend this beer just about to anyone.

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

There are few beers that carry the clout
Of a Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout
It pours the color of night
Through which light cannot fight
This beer is what life is about.

Wow. Did this beer just make me burst out in rhyme?

I do not know, but I love this ripe fruit smelling, chocolate coffee tasting goodness.

Photo of FranklinPCombs
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Definately a good stout. It pours the typical deep-tinted brown of most stouts with a thick coffee head and lovely sticking lace. There are sharp smells of chocolate and coffe, but it also has a heavy spiced meat smell, and malt hops are evident. The taste is definately spicy meats and coffee, with lots of toasted malts, and a slight burnt flavor. The head gives its own very spicy taste. The mouthfeel is charmingly thick, bordering on too thick, but still within the limits of being good. The strength and thickness of the flavor of this beer make it seem more alcoholic than it is. Drinking it made me very warm.

Photo of Beastdog75
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is supposedly the crown jewel in the brewery's lineup of beers. I saw all the good reviews here on BA and figured that this was one of the "beer to end all beers." I guess I set myself up for a big letdown, because while this was still a very nice stout, it doesn't hold up as a world class beer to me.

This beer pours a jet black color with a nice, medium-dark brown head that retains well and leaves some lace. The fact that this beer was lightstuck didn't help matters any, as the smell was mostly skunk. As it subsided, there were some roasted notes and a tiny bit of toffee smell. The mouthfeel was slick, oily and sticky (it made one of my sensitive teeth hurt). The flavor was good, but it lacked complexity for the most part. A deep roasted malt flavor pervades through most of the beer. The only flavor notes I picked up on were some licorice, unsweetened chocolate, and burnt coffee/espresso, and all of these in low quantities. There is a reasonable alcohol flavor in the brew, and some of it actually went up my nose when drinking, leading to some alcoholic warmth in my sinuses. The finish has a deep, roasted bitterness that lingers through the aftertaste for many minutes. There is enough alcoholic warmth to put some fire in your belly as well.

At one of my frequent beer stops, there are usually some unopened Sam Smith's cases on the floor where I generally get my samples. Unfortunately, no cases on the floor for this one (these were actually the only two 500ml bottles left on the shelf). This is definitely less sweet than the Oatmeal Stout, and carries much more of a punch. If this weren't carrying the Sam Smith's name, I probably would have been pleasantly surprised, but the flavor came across to me as one-dimensional and almost boring. I will resample this at a later time, hoping that it was just my particular samples that were unremarkable.

Re-rate: 9/28/04 - Finally secured a non-lightstruck bottle, and I must say that there is a world of difference. No skunk in site. The aroma had notes of chocolate, spices and licorice. All of the flavors that I mentioned were in "low quantities" above were now quite pronounced and delicious. The posted score now reflects this sample. (The original ratings were: apperance - 4.5, smell - 2.5, taste - 3.5, mouthfeel - 4.0, drinkability - 3.5 for an overall rating of 3.55)

Photo of LuckySevens82
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tried this one on a whim. I was very pleased.

This is one of the thickest stouts I've ever tried. That being said I would have expected it to be bitter, but it turns out this stuff is so smooth it's insane.

The aroma is a coffee/light chocolate and the head is maybe the thickest I've seen. I'm very much looking forward to getting this beer again and saving it for a special occasion.

03.17.05: After re-reading some of my reviews I came across this one. I admit it. I was naive when I tried this. I'm currently drinking a glass of Czar Jack from Town Hall. By no means is Sam Smith's Imperial stout thick in comparison. While still a fine beer. I don't think that I can really compare it to some of the American Double Stouts that have been gracing my glasses as of late. My rating still stands. I just thought I needed to clarify this a bit more

Photo of Naerhu
3.87/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Rereview 6Feb05
I must have got a bad bottle, as this tasted like sherry. None of the licorice or any of the other complex flavors were present. I would give this beer street 3.0 ratings just based on that experience. It must have been the condition of the bottle. It is my opinion that this bad bottle was brought on by the design flaw of coming in a clear bottle as a gimmick. And have therefore reduced each of the ratings from my prior tasting by 0.5 points.

Review 23Dec03
Small tan head. Opaque black body. Clear bottle is pretty, but clear (and in my opinion a detration)
Complex molasses, coffee aroma and maybe dried black figs.
Slightly chared rye crust, bitter bakers chocolate, licorice, coffee, and prunes.
Smooth tame carbonation.
This stuff is wonderful. I would gladly imbide this over the finest champagnes.

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

Pours pitch black with a thin brown head. Smells of coffee and bitter chocolate.

Taste is big dark malt. Bitter chocolate and sweet malt. A nice roundness in the flavor. Lightly nutty and smoky. Mostly big malty flavors but smooth too. Very full-bodied and big. sticky mouthfeel. Pretty drinkable for big robust beer. Very flavorful for a 7.0 ABV, I've had stronger stouts that weren't near this complex.

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.
WOW!
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.
Taste...wow.
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
relax.
Samual Smith got it right with this one, no doubt.
Its a dark, strong stout that is right nice on a winter night.

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.

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!

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.

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 warmed...no such flavor. As with the smell...very complex....rum? rounded malts...alcoholic undertones..very full-bodied and warming.
Mouthfeel improved as it warmed...you 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.

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.

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.

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,425 ratings.