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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3,267 Ratings

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Ratings: 3,267
Reviews: 1,667
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.51%
Wants: 151
Gots: 247 | 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)
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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gradually decanted into a tulip. Endless, moussesque coffee/tan-colored head puffs up into a creamy dome. A hushed crackle emits from the bubbles, reminiscent of freezing rain pelting a window pane at night. Light does not get through. The lacing drapes down in patterns like Roman aqueducts and/or the craggy tree to the right of the haunted house in the first few frames of the Scooby Doo theme.

Italian dark roast coffee highlights the aroma. Bitter and lightly charred. A dark, syrupy Italian chocolate wafts about as well.

The flavor is not what I'm used to from the American RIS'. Some mild bitter roast flavors, but a good bit of licorice that lingers throughout. As it warms, a thin molasses spreads out on the tongue and some syrupy coffee and vinous notes toward the end.

This drinks with a healthy amount of carbonation and finishes softly warm and dry.

Delightfully complex but restrained. An occasional night cap.

Photo of BranfordBound
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

550 mL bottle purchased at Coastal Wine and Spirits in Branford, CT.

This is the darkest beer I've had yet, even while pouring its practically black, never mind while sitting in the glass. There is a nice 1-2 finger light brown head that forms which settles to a covering leaving barely any lacing. Normal, maybe a little less than expected.

The smell is intense, there is a lot of dark fruits, very alcoholic, like a brandy. There is definitely a roasted and chocolate in the back, not much coffee.

The taste is very similar to the nose, there is a warm sensation from the alcohol while going down, and the dark fruits play the main role. In the back there is the typical stout flavors of roastiness and chocolate.

Whew, this is heavy stuff, albeit very smooth. Very heavily bodied.

This beer masks the alcohol well, which is to be expected seeing as it isn't too high compared to other RIS's. Still a sipper, though, drank 2/3's of the bottle and wouldn't want anymore, better for winter time, too.

All in all, not bad, I'll try a few other brands so I can choose my favorite to age, this one was a little too heavy on the dark fruits, but pretty darn good for not being aged.

Photo of bigfnjoe
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 550 mL bottle into a pint glass.

A- pours jet black with a two finger light brown head. I like that the head isn't as dark as I've seen in other RISes...looks nice. No lacing, which is unfortunate

S- getting a lot of varying scents here...faint aroma of chocolate, with very slight hints of coffee, dark fruits, and as someone else mentioned, I'm actually getting some cookie dough. Very complex...and totally awesome

T- very, very mild...which stuns me based on the style. But you know what...its good. Not an alcohol bomb. I'm mostly getting dark fruits...which I'm not the biggest fan of, but there is a hint of some sweeter chocolate in the back of my throat as well. Nice.

M- feel is great. Creamy. Smooth.

D- I'm only going to give this a 4 here, because while there isn't any real booziness to it...the fruitiness puts me off. I'm not a huge fan of stouts that have the dark fruit in them as a rule, so yeah

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

Picked up a 550 ml bottle of this stuff at Giant Eagle (just started selling beer). That's roughly 1.5 beers at the 12 oz portion, which cost me $3.99. A legendary brewery's offering from England found its way into a supermarket in Pennsylvania. Translation: I'm not complaining.

The beer is black, unsurprisingly. An outstanding beige head with beautiful, fluffy lacing hangs out in my nonic pint glass.

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout smells of alcohol, tart fruit (indistinguishable, but I know it's present) with biscuity notes; even cookie dough.

The taste/mouthfeel is soft & delicate, but dark & toasty. One of the attributes that I find so incredible about stouts is their ability to carry a high number of IBU's (International Bittering Units) without the senses realizing it. I'm guessing there are 70-80 IBU's in this brew, but the dark quality of the style hides the quantity, rendering it at about half that estimate to ones sense of taste.

The beer is very buttery (diacetyl), but the more negative aspect of that byproduct doesn't seem to make it to the front. I have no qualms with its position in the beer. As far as I'm concerned, it knows where it stands, and doesn't get in the way like it tends to in certain English Pale Ales.

This one I certainly recommend. Sooner or later I'll get to the Nut Brown Ale...

Photo of Graham5161986
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from it's classically beautiful bottle, this Imperial Stout has an absolutely opaque, jet-black colour with a creamy dark tan head made up of tiny little bubbles that sticks around quite well and leave some very nice thick lacing on my snifter.

The aroma is enchanting with massive notes of vanilla, roasted coffee-like malts and loads of dark fruits like plums and raisins in there (almost the way a fine port smells). I get a bit of Belgian-esque candied sugar in the background as well. Hints of milky, bitter-sweet chocolate round off the nose of this already impressive brew.

The flavour is so rich and creamy with loads of roasted malt and Dark fruit flavours intermingling with strong notes of coffee and touches here and there of creamy chocolate, bread, honey, herbs and spice. The linger features some light fruit and a hoppy bitterness that is matched with coffee and dark chocolate notes that last and last . . . The alcohol makes its presence felt, but is far from overpowering. Instead, it gives a nice warmth to the beer as well. Speaking of warmth, I am starting to get some subtle but really nice orange citrus notes as I go along here that make this brew feel like your eating a "Terry's" chocolate orange.

The mouthfeel of this brew is thick, very creamy and quite chewy with just the right level of carbonation to allow the creaminess of the malts to come through yet giving way to a crisp spiciness on the finish that leaves a surprisingly clean mouhtfeel given the viscosity of this brew.

This is definitely a one-per-evening, sipping type of brew. It's meant to be savoured slowly (preferably fireside with a Housecoat and cigar!) and, thus, can hardly be called sessionable at all. Still, it's such a pleasure to explore this beer with every sip becoming easier and easier. This is the type of beer that could easily creep up on you.

Another classic from the old Tadcaster Brewery.

Photo of DrDemento456
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I have had this before and loved it so when I found the 550ml big bottle at the Monroeville Giant Eagle for a mere 4 bucks it was the first beer in my hand.

A - For me it was pretty much black. I could only see slight clearness when pouring and I can see bubbles from the carbonation. Carbonation was great and gave way to fluffy head with lacing
S - Big strong roasted malt with coffee and chocolate malts along the sent. Actually smells sort of bourbon but that might be from the strong malts.
T - Very tame yet rush of strong coffee followed by vanilla then mild oak followed by a bitter chocolate finish. Very complex and tasty.
M - Full bodied like a big beer with a low ABV tag and no loss of flavor. A great succession able beer in my book.
D - Overall I don't know why I can't find this in more places but would totally drive to Monroeville for another bottle and maybe one of their fruit beers I have been meaning to try.

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

Served from a 12 oz brown bottle.

Appearance: Deep but not quite opaque black with a nice tan head.

Smell: Dark bread with some dryed fruit smells (raisins, prunes). Also some definite chocolate/brownie smell. A little milky with maybe some coffee and wood.

Taste: Roasty with some noticeable hops. Some coffee and unsweetened chocolate flavors as well as some bitter dark malts. A little milky sweetness as well. Maybe a bit of faint smoke. A little warming alcohol in the stomach.
Not as many charred flavors as other imperial stouts.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy, fullbodied but not heavy. Low carbonation, which is on par for the style.

Impressions: Lovely and flavorful. Great after-dinner drink.

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

A - poured cold into some Allagash stemware and allowed to warm up. Fairly expansive brown head for an Imperial, though this isn't an 18% monster either. Color of dark-roasted coffee -- not quite black -- noticeable red and tan held up to light.

S - vanilla, cocoa powder, roasted nuts. as the beer came up to temp these became quite strong, almost pungent. yet only the slightest whiff of booze.

T - pleasantly burnt malt; nothing that would overwhelm the great aromas. pretty neutral sweet/bitterness. no alky burn at all.

M - moderate to heavy body, moderate stickiness & coating

D - no weaknesses, loads of well balanced flavors, and not too strong = a very drinkable RIS.

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

A- Black body with big cappuccino head, a little more head than the usual stouts

S- The first note definitely is Vanilla, after that the smell carnival starts: Chocolate, coffee, alcohol, roasted malts and little odd nuttiness and smoke almonds.

T- Now Smoked almonds, dry fruit, alcohol, appears at the beginning and a hint of vanilla appear at the end.

M- Cigar, almonds and bitter chocolate.

D- One or two is enough, recommended with strong cheese, and smoked "jamón Serrano".

Photo of brewdub17
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Completely dark with a nice tan head. Usual for an Imperial Stout.

Smell: Nice aroma but heavy on the alcohol smell. Nice balance of sweetness.

Taste: Great mellow flavor with strong dark chocolate flavors. diverse flavors balance nicely with each other.

Mouthfeel: Very light but complex feel that allows for many sips.

Drinkability: Not too strong of a beer so you don't get much of a taste of alcohol. All the combined flavors make the drinkability high and enjoyable.

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

550 ml bottle into pint glass, served at room temperature.

An almost perfect example of bold goodness in a bottle. Black body with a thick, dark tan head. Smell and taste such a harmonious blend of coffee and chocolate sweet malts & bitters. Perfectly smooth and totally complex. I tell you when I opened it, I heard the sound of an English stream..

Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I always pass the Sammy Smith display but today it called me. A single slim bottle of an imperial stout for 3 bones? yes.

It pours a dark brown, red in the light. Aroma is subdued despite the good carbonation. The taste is slightly sour, perhaps a sour mash? A little roast, a little chocolate, no boozy bite, fairly dry. Body is thin, more like a porter than a stout, let alone an imperial stout.

I'm torn. I like this beer, but frankly it isn't an imperial stout. Perhaps strong porter is more apt.

Photo of rawthar
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Black cokey body with a persistent cappacino cream head...a total void of all light, a nice standard impy stout look, with a little more head than the usuals.

S- The entire array of Impy stout aromas: a bit of chocolate, a bit of coffee, a hint of licorice, lots of alcohol, roasted malts, a little odd nuttiness.

T- A little bit sour plums up front over a backbone of the same flavors from the nose. Opens up a lot as it warms up, with the different flavor characters differentiating themselves.

M- A little on the watery side, a little carb still hangs around.

D- A nice, standard staple for the style, balanced all around, not much to distinguish from the rest.

Can't wait to compare to the bottle I have aging in the cellar.

Photo of jpittman80
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is proof that more is not always better. In comparison to other imperial stouts, especially the ones from the US, this is less. Less aroma, less flavor, less body, less alcohol. That being said, this is quite an enjoyable experience and is extremely well balanced. Also, I have to admit that I have a little soft spot for this one, as it was my gateway to other imperial stouts.

It pours a stark black with a finger of tan head that lasts to the end. When held to the light, it shows touches of deep red. You get a big raisin and other dark fruit aroma, with bananas, chocolate and a hint of both coffee and alcohol. The flavor follows suit, with a nice rounded raisin flavor. The chocolate is more pronounced here, as is the strong roast malt character. The alcohol is actually less prevalent in the flavor than the aroma. It is very deftly balanced between sweet and roasty bitterness, but to the devoted strong stout fan, it comes off as relatively subtle. A medium body and a nice soft carbonation (in conjucntion with the relatively low ABV) make this a very smooth, satisfying brew.

So, when you want something bolder than your average brew, but aren't in the mood for the overly aggressive or sweet malty mess of most big stouts, I'd say give this classic a shout.

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

This is one of those wonderful "meal in a bottle" brews that I find so enjoyable. The flavors cover a wide range of the palate. The initial sip can be surprising for its variety and it maintains its interesting appeal throughout. The aftertaste is also quite pleasant; not bitter or overpowering. While not as sweet as some Russian Imperial Stouts that I have encountered, its balance makes it one that I have often heartily recommended to someone who is becoming more adventurous with their beer choices.

Photo of soju6
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

C: Pours a deep mohogany with a good tan head that fades slowly.

S: Dark fruits, roasted malts and sweet aroma of chocolate & caramel.

T: Sweet taste with malt & chocolate blended together and finishes with a hint of fruit and excelent touch of bitterness.

F: Good medium body that is creamy and smooth. A well balanced brew with no hint of the 7% ABV.

D: It's easy to forget this is a great sipping beverage, to savor all the complexities going on. This looks like the standard to compare all other Imperial Stouts against.

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

Poured from a 550 into a snifter.

A-Deep black with a creamy tan head that only comes up with a vigourous pour, but settles rapidly without much lacing. Ruby amber highlights when held to the light.

S-Semi sweet roasted chicory, bakers chocolate, coffee, licorice and molasses.

T-A creamy carryover from the nose with a well balanced hop finish that brings a bit of anise to the aftertaste. There are many big stouts that taste better than this, but I can't think of any that taste this good at 7%. This packs a huge flavor and complexity for a relatively low ABV, and I daresay nearly as much enjoyment as some of the more powereful examples of this style. I love a beer that lets me drink more of it. Well done.

M-Medium plus, nice and creamy...well balanced carbonation.

D-An extremely drinkable stout that is readily available. I normally like my stouts strong, powereful, dark and thick, but this is such a satisfying brew at a lower octane. I'm usually not a big fan of Samuel Smiths or English beers in general as they seem tepid in comparison to the wonderful availabilities here in the States, but this is one to keep on the list. I'm not abandoning my Ten Fidy, my Raspy or my Stone RIS, but this is very worthy.

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

A: Pours a deep, dark brown with garnet highlights. The tall, creamy head has an even tan coloring. Retention is good, and sticky ribbons of lacing cling to the glass.

S: Roasted dark malt aromas, per usual. Some sticky molasses character. Notes of chicory and dark fruit - preserved plums and blackcurrant. Bittersweet chocolate, along with faint notes of espresso.

T: Molasses and roasty malt up front. A bit of sweetness. Dark fruit, chicory, light black licorice. Equal parts coffee and bittersweet chocolate into the finish. A measured hop bitterness, with some herbal/spicy flavor.

M: Medium-full body. Carbonation is modest, and the mouthfeel is extremely smooth and creamy - wonderful. Close to ideal in terms of mouthfeel.

D: I thought this might be a delicately-flavored imperial stout considering the 7% abv, but this is very refined and extremely flavorful. Also a great alternative to all the smoky, insanely hopped American RISes flooding the market. Drinkability is very easy.

Photo of fullsweep
3.48/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

355 mL brown bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: thick foamy heady, beige in colour; solid black brew underneath--so dark that even light didn't pierce through; plenty of lacing, slow dissipation of head.

S: strong, roasted barley predominant, toasted nuts as well

T: syrupy, quite a bit of alcohol in the flavour as well--a bit too much for my liking

M: thick and rich

D: while enjoyable, this was slightly less appealing. I would certainly try it again, as this was my first introduction to an Imperial. Can't see this being a go-to beer for me, but I'm happy to be proven wrong.

Photo of FreshHawk
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark cola brown/black with brown hues on the edges. Slightly above average sized frothy, bubbly, dark beige head that disappears fast and doesn't leave any lacing behind except a faint ring around the glass.

S - Fairly sweet with some molasses and brown sugar along with some dark chocolate. Also some dark fruit (particularly dates and raisins) and hints of roasted coffee. Fairly standard stout aroma with a nice balance of roasted, sweet, and tart aromas.

T - Starts fairly fruity with a good amount of raisin, date, and a faint touch of dark berry. Somewhat tart (in a stout kind of way). Also a good base of lightly roasted malt and barley. Some burnt caramel, molasses, and brown sugar comes out with the roasted flavors for a slightly bitter and slightly sweet taste. Finishes with those flavors and an increase of prune and licorice/anise along with a slight hoppy earthiness. Has a slight stout tartness on the finish.

M - Medium body with a touch lower than moderate carbonation. Smooth and slick feel with a touch of creaminess sneaking in.

D - Pretty drinkable stout. Balance between flavors, featuring many classical stout tastes, particularly some fruity and licorice aspects and a stout tartness. A little light, but still full of flavor. Enjoyable to drink.

Notes: A nice stout, but nothing that particularly blew me away. Features plenty of classical RIS tastes, but was a touch thin. I would gladly get this again, although I prefer the Oatmeal Stout more.

Photo of biglite351
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - near black with a tall mid-dark head that lasts for the entire time that you are drinking.

S - mild creamy chocolately and inviting.

T - solid, chocolately, malty. You want to take another drink.

M - coats entire mouth. Mild tingle on front of tongue.

D - I could drink this all night.

Photo of malty
4.18/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. stately slender bottle - no best before date or anything. Served at cellar (54-55F) temp.

Pours a jet black liquid with a gorgeous 2" creamy and blossoming khaki head. I added an ounce or so as it settled and actually grew the head another half inch. Now it sits over 2 1/2" with no signs of diminishing. Due to its utter opaqueness, no visible carbonation can be detected. Perfect rings of tan lace all the way down.

A few swirls evokes fresh Raisinettes (milk chocolate covered raisins). Seriously, just like a huge handful of mashed-up Raisinettes. A little malted milk and faint creamed coffee.

A perfect balance of the aforementioned scents translate perfectly into the taste category. There's a little char which melds well with the dark fruit flavors. The roasted dark malts are more amplified as the beer warms, giving it its first dimension of heartiness I've detected so far.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a low level of carbonation, which is common for a British made stout. It's oily and slick and does not build-up on your tongue. There's a little chalkiness on the long, fruity and roasty finish.

Drinkability is awesome. Not at all harsh and a very 'gliding' swallow.

Overall a finely tuned and masterfully balanced R.I.S. In a time where this style is all over the place, this stout is in perfect pitch. Very restrained and soft-spoken, but has a lot to say if you listen closely. When you're done with the chalice next to your ear, position it a quarter way around your head and tilt slowly and enjoy!

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

330ml bottle served in a chalice.

A: Pours a deep-brown-almost-black color forming a big creamy tan head. Good retention. The head never disappears completely but only few lacings are left in the glass

S: Sweet. Roasted malts, earthy yeasts, dark chocolate cookie. A bit of alcohol in the end

T: Roasted malts, brown bread, dark fruits. Sweet malts upfront. In overall, a dry body, but not extremely. End is bitter, smoky with a bit of alcohol

M: Medium creamy and molasses body. Medium carbonation. Sweet upfront and a mild roasted bitter aftertaste

O: High drinkability. Perfect English Stout. Absolutely recommended

Photo of DmanGTR
4.53/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review from notes on 7/20/09

A - poured very dark brown with garnet hues. Tan 1.5" head, left a bubbly cap but very little lace. 4.0

S - rich malty sweetness, chocolate, oatmeal, and caramel. Light blackberry notes too. 4.0

T - Hugely malty, rich roasted barley, touch of cream, light hoppy bitterness mingling with coffee beans, finishes with dark chocolate and caramel. 4.5

M - rich and velvety, coats the palate yet doesn't make it feel sticky. 5.0

D - 550 mL isn't enough. Never enough. 5.0

Photo of ClimbStuff
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - dark like fresh brewed coffee, excellent thick, foamy head

Smell - subtle roasted notes, a faint hint of smokiness, very inviting

Taste - bold and rich roasted flavors, then a smooth essence of sweet textures, finally, a pleasant 'hang' ... makes for a very well balanced beer

Mouthfeel - medium body, lightly carbonated, sits on the palate nicely, a hint of roasted flavors and then a soft, smooth lingering presence

Drinkability - love the complexity and balance of flavors and textures, but very filling, not a "session" beer at all

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,267 ratings.