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

1,737 Reviews
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Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 02-27-2001

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Reviews: 1,737 | Ratings: 3,645
Photo of RenoZymurgist
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thick almost creamy head sits with no sign of dissipating and leaving slight amount of belgian lace. Aroma is very nice as it is sweet yet dark with a hint of roastiness. The taste of this beer is so good i could drink it for the rest of my life and still find new flavors. Rich in malt sweetness and a creamy roast character with a phenomenal balance of hop bitterness and flavor. It is so refreshing and clean that i can easily drink large gulps of this and never have to worry about a bitter aftertaste. Medium bodied yet filling and definetly a bit alcoholic. Very drinkable by itself, as a session beer (if you want to get toasted), or paired with foods that would not be so bold as to overpower the depth of this brew.

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Photo of DarrellK
4.31/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance wis is is a fairly typical black brew with a very nice brown head leaving a good lace. The high gravity of the stout adds to the aroma with a whiff of alcohol. The only real downside to the brew was a fairly light to medium body which seemed out of character for the style out of a bottle. Still it has a great finish which is good because you probably wouldn't too many of these in a session. In my database I rate this in my top five stout with a rating of 8.9 out of 10.

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

Comes in a tall, clear bottle with gold foil covering the cap and bottle neck. Pours a wonderful BLACK with a tan, frothy, one finger thick and very long lasting head which sticks to the glass wherever it touches. Smells of chocolate and roasted malt. Scents of plumes are also present. Wonderful rich deep and complex flavor. The taste of chocolate and fruit (plumes) really comes forth. Very smooth and sweet, this full-bodied beer is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

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

A very nice, very roasted imperial stout. Almost no carbonation. A beautiful roasted malt flavor with a slight hop balance. Roasted malt flavor persists throughout the finish. slightly heavy but the flavor picks up the alcholol warmth leaves off. a top notch imperial stout

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Photo of beergeek279
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is dark amber, with excellent head. The smell is very malty, with hints of anise sweetness. The taste is malty, with the slight hints of licorice sweetness...much more subdued than the American Imperial Stouts for sure. Mouthfeel is fairly heavy. As for drinkability, at only 7% I could have many of these.

As a top 10 beer, I've been wanting to try this one for a long time, and it was surely worth the wait. Though it's a lower ABV than the monster American Imperial stouts, it still stands up with them, and at 7% ABV, I can drink a lot more of em!

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

Appearance – Absolutely gorgeous! The body is black as night. The volcanic head rises slowly, collapses slowly, and laces extensively.

Smell – Highly refined coffee aroma. There’s a special, highly-prized shaded Columbian bean that a coffee bar by my house serves occasionally, and this has the same scent. There’s also huge toffee (which I love), again, highly refined. We also have hints of chocolate, dark fruit (prunes, I think), sticky molasses, brown sugar, (slightly) burnt malt, and even some hops for balance.

Taste – There’s a lot going on in there. It has a bitter English balance that I can’t quite finger, but basically you’ve got a wonderful mix of fine coffee, select toffee truffles, quality raw, and brown sugar. There’s also a whole array of fruits, mostly dark, let by prunes and maybe dates.

Mouthfeel – Little carbonation in accordance with the style. This one is a bit bigger than medium-bodied and very smooth.

Drinkability – This one is very well done. My preferences tend to be off the balance that they did here, but this is a good RIP nevertheless.

Update – This was one of the first reviews that I did after joining the site in the fall of 2003 but decided to re-rate this with an ’04 vintage after it bombed in a blind RIP tasting that I did with some friends. It stood out as one of the worst examples of the style and most of us actually dumped it in the sink.

This RIP does well as a stand-alone, but other prominent examples were so much bigger and more flavorful that this seemed like a lightweight. Sam Smith’s strong point is its smoothness and creamy mouthfeel, but a lot of the big boys were able to attain the same or even better feel with superior flavors.

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Photo of grynder33
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark cola like color,a head that looked and smelled like a chocolate soda, aroma seemed soft and disappeared quickly. Initial taste was cocoa and sweet port, with a roasted malt aftertaste. Mouthfeel started off crisp with tingly bubbles, and then melted into a creamy smoothness.A little bitterness showed up at the end. Will try to always keep one in stock.

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Photo of Darkale
4.72/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Before I get into the bits and pieces, let me just say, Wow.


Black-brown body, thick tan head that is slow to fade. Aroma is sweet, sort of like deep cocoa from a distance.

Mouthfeel is wonderful, fabulous, and noteworthy. Creamy! Foamy!

The taste starts off like chocolate and ends with hops, with a sour and sweet mix lingering in the aftertaste.

I had been told that this was the grandfather of all imperial stouts, and I concur. A must-try.

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Photo of oberon
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black with a real nice creamy head,aroma is of dried fruit and some nuttiness.The taste is a little spicey and nutty with some chocolate undertones a real nice warming beer to drink before bed.This and the Taddy are my favorite Samual Smith ales.

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Photo of beernuts4u
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Every sip I take makes me like this beer more and more. I had 4.0's across the board until I began to realize how good this beer really is. The nose on this beer has a rare and enticing blend of smoky caramel and robust alcohol, it makes me want to dive right in. The expected taste, however, does not fully portray it's smell. It is a surprisingly easy beer to drink, with complexities of mild yet rich maltiness with a perfect mix of subtle carbonation. The mouthfeel is like silk on the tongue, and it lingers there for a great duration before exiting with a desirable sweetness. It is simply outstanding. I have to sample other quality Imperial's before I move this one into the 5.0 range, but right now, I am feeling a bit guilty that I haven't already done so.

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Photo of kevinl6
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Whoa!...This is one delicious brew. The bottle had the typical gold wrapping around the top like the other Sam Smith's I've had, and a hypnotizing white label. Poured nice and smooth and appeared jet black in the glass like most good imperials. Very little head on this one. Smelled of coffee and perhaps a hint of chocolate, though neither was overwhelming. Perfect milky smooth mouthfeel, I wanted to 'swish' it around in my mouth before drinking! A lot of flavor and very, very smooth. That Samuel Smith smoothness that I love only complimented the imperial style 'bite' that comes with some of the stronger imperials. I had to go with a 5 on the drinkability on this one, and I rarely give 5s. I did not want to put this one down. Did I mention that it was smooth??!! Alcohol not noticeable until the finish when an ever so slight alcohol warmth caps off a fine, no, very fine brew from Samuel Smith.

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Photo of Ellbert
3.81/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer looked amazing. It was pitch black. I poured it into a tall pilsener glass, which was good because it had a huge head that took forever to discipate before I could take a sip. The head simmered down but stayed with a nice layer over the top of the beer.

It had a very roasty sweet smell to it. It was quite pleasant.

The taste was very unique, very roasty and coffy like.It had a sweet taste too. The alcohol was perfect, it was not overwhelming but you could tell it is there.

The mouthfeel was excellent, a nice thick and smooth beer.

This was a very good beer however the ability to have more than one in a sitting would almost be impossible. I guess that is the only problem with Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of avylover
4.61/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, dark mahogany red, almost black with a nice tan head. This is one good looking brew. Smell is of a strong english bitter, with tons of british style hopping, and coffee, chocolate smell that is more in the background. taset is good & delicate, with a very buttery mild coffee taste. Creamy butter dominates this brew. It's got a fairly light mouthfeel for a stout that lets the taste linger forever, and believe me this is a good thing. Very drinkable, I could quaff this all night.

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Photo of Rifrafboy
3.79/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours black with little head, but good lacing. Smells wonderful. Taste is of strong roasted malt, with chocolate and coffee present. This is very full bodied, a good "sipping beer". Distinct in the aftertaste is alcohol mixed with sweet burnt coffee. This is an excellent stout, although not in my price range. One word sums it up; WOW.

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Photo of granger10
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This has a good overall taste to it and many flavors. But it doesn't knock my socks off like some other imperial's have. Lots of very sweet flavors. Chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, plums and a little bit of malt bitterness (but not enough). Great array of flavors that mix well. Finishes dry and roasted. The body is too thin for this to be an imperial. Don't get me wrong this is a great tasting beer, but it just seems a little weak to be an imperial stout.

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

I admit I was skeptical. A clear bottle is usually trouble. But this time-no skunk. I trusted everybody else's ratings. This is one fine stout.

I did not chill this much. Probably 55F. Pours absolutely dark with a nice thin head. Pretty tan head about a quarter of an inch thick. More carbonated bite than I expected. Not very dry. Very intense roasted malt flavor. Chocolate and coffee also. Some hops make it through all that in the finish. Believe me there is a lot to taste here, but smooth is the word. Don't pass this up

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Photo of jcalabre
3.2/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Originally sampled on 24 June 2002. I am writing this review from my notes. Opaque black w/ a frothy head that settles down quickly, this Imperial Stout has more of the 'coffee' taste than other I.S.'s I've tried. I didn't think that the overall taste was that strong. Also, the alcohol wasn't well hidden. A decent imperial stout, but I prefer others.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. clear (blah) bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a jet black color with 1 thick finger of light tan foam. There is a slight bit of lacing. The smell is sweet and nutty, full of burnt malt too. The taste is heavy roasted malt with coffee and caramel lingering in the background. There is just a little bit of hops on the back of the tongue for balance. The mouthfeel is thick and very smooth. The drinkability is pretty nice for 7%. The benchmark for all imperials!

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

To my thinking, this is the standard against which other Imperial Stouts should be rated. Nice sustained head with a lovely chocolate-brown color. Smell is of malt and chocolate, with a little coffee overtone. Taste is velvety smooth, starts with malt at the front, then the waves of chocolate, molasses, and roasted espresso kick in. Just superb!!

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

I now know why this is the quintessence of Imperial Stouts. It is finely balanced, sweet and bitter all at the same time. A real treat to drink.It poured jet black except the very bottem where there was a thin sliver of scarlet light. There was a thin, tan, rocky head pearched on top and the lace clung to the sides. Upon smelling my nose immediatly picked up huge, roasty malts and extreme smoked bitterness. The Imperial Stout slunk down my throat coating it with an abundance of flavors. The tip of my tongue was tickled by hop bitterness, which rolled into a heavy dose of sweet chocolate malts balanced with caramel. The taste was rounded out at the end with a chalky, dry aftertaste and a warming alcohol feeling in the back of my throat. The mouthfeel was not extremely heavy as I would have expected and had a tiny bubble carbonation, which delighted my tongue. One question though, why the clear bottle?

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

Magnificent! This imperial stout is luscious and smooth and complex. It pours an unfathomable deep brown, but it is neither oily nor viscous. The dark tan head lofts it way upwards tantalizingly and then recedes deliberately into a fine buckskin blanket over the insides of the entire glass. The smell is slightly sweet, molasses and dark cherry balancing the mossy darkness of the stout. But the mouthfeel--it's like a down comforter on a cold, crisp night. And a taste to match--smoked toffee from start to finish with the subtle sweetness emerging from time to time as I savour every sip.

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

Poured slightly chilled and perhaps a bit shaken after being in the back of the car on the drive back from Whole Foods, where the grocer mentioned he had heard this was a great Imperial Stout.

It pours out pitch dark, and has a very nice (and potent) taste. The smell didn't rouse me much, but the beer has a perfect mouthfeel.I was also impressed by the smooth aftertaste. It's much more drinkable than most other bears with this strong of a smokey flavor. I'm not a big fan of this type of beers, but won't hesitate to have another.

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

Pours a dark black with a nice sized tan head. Nice coffee/roasted malt smell. The taste is the shit. Light coffee flavours with a little chocolate, roasted malt, toffee and alcohol added in the mix. Also a bit metallic. Rich medium texture, not too heavy, creamy and just right. the drinkability is awesome since it isn't too strong to put you off flavour wise, and that it has a nice balance of alcohol, enough to warm you up but not so much you have troube finishing your 4 pack. delicious.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bought locally (Grapevine refrigerated shelves), a couple of weeks in my fridge, reviewed 45F-70F.

A medium-small, noisy tan head dies fast giving up thin, uneven lacing. Dark ruby highlights show up on the edges of a black, black beer.

Sweet toffee and molasses dominate the bready, Brit-malt nose. Some grapes show up in the slightly sweet front. The middle is thick, thick, buttery and thick. Toffee sticks around throughout. The finish dries, but it's a little cloying and a little astringent. This is a very good, unique beer that's really a lot better at room temp, where it evens out and becomes the delicious treat it's meant to be.

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Photo of BierReise
4.14/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this before several years ago and haven't tried it again until now. Very impressive stout and a sweet surprise. Poured very dark almost black with short but tight tan head. Smell of roasted malt and usual english hop nose. Feels like velvet on my tongue and one of the smoothest stouts in recent memory. Taste is malty and rich with chocolate and roasted malt prevailing. Great to the finish.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 1,737 ratings.