1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

3,113 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,113
Reviews: 1,649
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 142
Gots: 185 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,113 | Reviews: 1,649 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is black with a beautiful brownish head. Chocolate and dark fruits dominate the inviting aroma of this beer. Very smooth, almost creamy on the palate. The flavor is a mix of chocolate and espresso nicely balanced with bitterness. The beer ends appropriately with a lasting bitterness. This is a nicely balanced and drinkable beer, great with chocolate. This is a standard of the style.

BeardedBoffin, Jan 31, 2008
Photo of dciBA
3.18/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

550ml bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Pours nice a black like an imperial stout should. Finger of brown creamy fades quickly into a thin head that last forever. Smells of chocolate, dried fruit, and a touch alcohol.

Taste is OK at best IMO. Getting some raisin, chocolate and little coffee. The overwhelming flavor though is a green/earthiness, however that is just not pleasant to my tastebuds. As it warms the coffee makes a return but can't battle the green flavor.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are the high lights of this brew. Creamy, but yet still fairly thin. Definitely the thinnest RIS I've had. At only 7.0% this is probably one of the more drinkable imperial stouts out there. Overall, not too impressed with this one, probabaly won't buy it again.

dciBA, Jan 28, 2008
Photo of omnigrits
4.63/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 550ml bottle into an imperial pint glass at about 50F.

Like Fish113d, I find that I've moved on from SS Oatmeal Stout to the Imperial, having discovered it on the beer shelf. It's fuller, more powerful and yet still well rounded. Strong roasted malt flavours with hints of coffee in the finish - a finish which lasts a very long time. The nose could be a little stronger but I'm not going to mark it down too much for that. I'd prefer more in the way of hops too, but that's just personal preference - this is still a world-class stout which leaves very little to be desired.

omnigrits, Jan 27, 2008
Photo of ElGrecoVerde
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown coming out of the bottle, but black in the glass. Had a frothy, coffee color head sitting on top of it.

Smell was mostly dark fruits, a little smoky as well.

I must be in the minority here, because the taste didn't do much for me. It had some sweet, dark fruit flavors, mainly raisins. As it warmed, some dark chocolate flavors joined the party as well. It seemed well balanced, and I can see why most people love this, but it just wasn't my cup o' beer.

The feel was a bit oily. Carbonation, however, seemed perfect. Just enough to give your mouth that feeling that it's ready for the next sip without going over the top.

ElGrecoVerde, Jan 25, 2008
Photo of BBM
4.78/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep, dark brown, nearly black into a tulip glass. Nice lacing and head retention. Aroma was sweeet, fruity with notes of chocolate, smoke, and plums.

I can hardly contain myself for this one. It's the apex of British beer, and dare I say most beer around the world. The velvety chocolate and espresso flavors work the palate over while the dark and rich earthiness nestle in the taste buds. There's no explosion of flavor here; everything is in proportion and classy. Mouthfel is rich, smooth, and creamy. I could drink this all day. Stout heaven, folks.

BBM, Jan 25, 2008
Photo of DoubleJ
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

550 ml bottle purchased from BevMo, on to the beer:

Poured inot a Guinness pint glass, the appearance is black with brownish hues on the edges and a thick tan head on top the body. The aroma has a pinch of alcohol, then followed by smoked chocolate and coffee. The taste begins sweet and smokey like tobacco and cocoa. There's some roasted characeter as well in the form of sweet malt. Alcohol is a little heavier than expectations, which makes things a little fruity. There's some chocolate fudge cake that appears briefly before being knocked down. The ABV is on the low-end for RIS's, but this beer has a full bodied taste that should be respected with slow sips.

DoubleJ, Jan 23, 2008
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 Fish113d
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Suprised to find Sammy Smith in brown bottles! Anyways, I pour it into my large tulip at about 48 degrees (F). It pours a chocolate brown color with a milky, tan, finger-thick head atop that sustains itself nicely.

At first sniff, the alcohol hits my nose pretty hard; suprising for a 7%-er. Caramel and chocolate are well-apparent here. A bit of bourbon also to note. Interesting but a bit tingly on the nose.

Flavors are full and rich. Chocolate hits my palate up front along with a bit of toffee and toasted nuts. Smooth and creamy body leads to a bit of tingly alcohol finish that leaves my palage a bit numb. A mild mochachino and coffee flavor is a nice afterflavor. Very tasty and nice on the palate.

Very drinkable tasty brew. I really enjoy their oatmeal stout, but this has taken over as my favorite of their offerings. I'm sure a few would warm me up on such a cold night in PA.

Fish113d, Jan 22, 2008
Photo of elricorico
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep dark and opaque in the glass, with a creamy chocolate milkshake coloured head that stood as tall as three fingers and has a lot of staying power. Very nice to look at.

Chocolate, coffee, fresh grapes, brown sugar are all part of a complex and satisfying aroma.

Molasses and black licorice are stand outs in the taste category. Semi sweet up front, dry in the finish.

A little thinner than I am used to in the Imperial Stout style, with the subtle carbonation one should expect.

Quite nice, worth waiting for. Goes down very easily.

elricorico, Jan 21, 2008
Photo of ablaze
4.63/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely solid black with dark brown head and thick, sticky lacing.

Dark chocolate and blackberries with lively hops seething underneath.

Very creamy, full body with average carbonation. Quite sticky. Bursting with malt and strong leafy hops, with a perfect roast that compliments, but doesn't overpower. Balanced and well-rounded. Good bitterness, slightly drying in the middle with a very juicy finish. Bittersweet chocolate rounded out by heaps of brown sugar and quite earthy. Tasty fruity concoction throughout with a nutty finish.

Complex and packed with flavour...you don't want to run out of this stuff. A bit pricy but worth it...stout lover's fantasy and a true treat.

ablaze, Jan 20, 2008
Photo of Bobzilla
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Nice smoothness considering the relatively high alcohol content. I like how the taste lingers on the palate for a very long time, but as it does, it seems to shift character. An earthy start slowly shifts to a mild bitterness after a half minute or so. The smell is a bit too caramelly, and reminds me a bit of the over the top smell and taste of the Saranac Caramel Porter, but nowhere near as cloyingly sweet. While I generally am one to not reach for a stout or porter first, I find that this is consistently one I have around the house. (When a store in town actually stocks it or most often when I specifically order it.) This is a beer that makes me want to attempt to brew an Imperial Stout! (Only to be dissapointed when it tastes bad after 6 months of waiting...)

Bobzilla, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of jobyone
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The beer pours a wonderful black with a thick tan head. Lots of malt sweetness on teh aroma. The tast is sweet with a hint of fruit. The body is medium and there is a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste. This is very drinkable for an imperial stout and is a great introduction to the syle.

jobyone, Jan 17, 2008
Photo of pmcadamis
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love Samuel Smith bottles! The large size and gold foil top let you know that you are in for something special, and the label makes me think of a nineteenth century advertisement in a tattered and yellowed newspaper.

A - A huge four finger chocolate brown head rises over a pitch black tar brew that lets absolutely no light through. The head shows outstanding retention as it eventually falls to a nice finger cap. Thick sheets of foam slide down into the glass after a swirl as they deposit a good amount of creamy chocolate lace on the sides.

S - This smells like a box of assorted chocolates! Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, lots of toffee and a little bit of caramel. I even smell some distinct raspberry jam and some gooey black cherry nougat filling. This is ridiculously complex! Black cherry and raspberry jam spread on black bread with chocolate syrup on top. There are also some nicely toasted cereal grain notes.

T - Again, super complex like the nose. The fruity black cherry nuances aren't there, but all of the chocolate goodness remains. The flavor is much more smoky and woody than the nose, and some burnt rubber flavors are there too. Campfire smoke and dark roasted coffee. Outstanding.

M - Full bodied with an almost nonexistent carbonation and a smoky oily finish. The alcohol is not evident in the flavor, but does warm me up as it slides down my throat and into my gut.

D - On outstanding brew! And at 7% ABV, this stands to be a quite drinkable RIS. It's ridiculously complex and subtle in ways that many American RIS are not. Those heavy hitting American brews may be stunning and flashy, but this has true complexity like an old single malt scotch.

pmcadamis, Jan 17, 2008
Photo of clwaldin
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Opaque and jet-black; not even the track lighting gets through this bad boy. The head manifests as a light brown or dark cream with lively carbonation, yet only lingers momentarily before largely dissipating, leaving only a very thin and mottled head at the top. Impressive, but I honestly expected more head retention and glass-clingage out of this juggernaut.

Smell: There is definitely a substantial aroma of sweet-smelling indistinct dark fruit (figs or dates perhaps?), and this seems to grab the nose at first. To a lesser degree, this brew features notes of tobacco and leather. Do I detect the faintest hint of vanilla? All in all, a highly inviting bouquet.

Taste: A moderate hop bite flashes on the tongue first, and is followed by a smoky malt backbone that almost reminds me of beef jerky, but in a good way (I also get this from Sam's Taddy Porter and especially the Alaskan Smoked Porter). In general, the taste almost precisely mimics what is promised in the nose, except for the smoked properties which really shine in the middle to end of the tasting experience. More sugary dark fruits (a beer colleauge of mine aptly mentioned dark cherry) and hints of vanilla mingle in the background. This beer seems to acheive that which all world-class beers strive for, namely, the ability to appear complex and satisfyingly simple at the same time.

Mouthfeel: Although not as creamy or chewy as Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, the mouthfeel is still plenty smooth and creamy without feeling too heavy or astringent. An almost tangy carbonation is definitely present and lends the beer a somewhat spritely mouthfeel, and prevents this mighty brew from falling flat (literally).

Drinkability: I wouldn't want more than 2 or 3 in one sitting. However, as far as the formidable Imperial Stout goes, this one is pretty darn drinkable and avoids being too heavy, hoppy, or syrupy (as many Imperials tend to).

Notes: Bow down to the true Czar of Imperial Stouts! Absolutely tops in my book for this style. As usual, it's always refreshing to try Sammy Smith's British spin on great beer styles such as this one. Being a hop lover yet not a full-fledged hophead, I tend to favor this type of take on the Imperial versus the often over-zealously hopped American examples.

clwaldin, Jan 16, 2008
Photo of crazyreagan
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pure opaque pour - devours the light. The head rises with ambition; full of creamy coffee highlights. Lacing all the way down.

BIG dark chocolate, roasted malt smell. Dark fruity smell up front, leather and a touch of cinnamon bring up the rear.

More chocolate in the taste, lots of caramel. Pleasantly warm, with just enough carbonation to really open up the flavor in the mouth. Hops bring the right touch of bitterness to round this guy out. kudos ss!

Mouthfeel is ideal for the style; rolls around in the mouth, coats the tongue. This imperial has some staying power!

Would put this at one end of a session. First thing I opened after getting home from work, but would also make the perfect nightcap.

crazyreagan, Jan 16, 2008
Photo of Murchmac
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black with tan head.

Smells of dark chocolate.

Tastes of dark chocolate, roasted malts, some bitterness. Just a great beer all around.

Excellent mouthfeel, leaves you with a dry slightly bitter chocolatey aftertaste.

Everything they do is good.

Murchmac, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of dsa7783
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another terrific brew from Samuel Smith... their Imperial Stout really hits home with flavor, substance, and style... Pours a jet-black color with minimal tan head... smell is dominated by dark chocolate and strong black espresso... taste has a strong black-coffee, mocha, espresso flavor that really pulls through and delivers... very elegant and refined flavor that packs a punch with a 7% ABV... goes down smooth and crisp with minimal bitterness present, more on the sweet-side than anything else... full of character and flavor... good mouthfeel and easy drinkability for a relatively high ABV... don't taste the alcohol, just the sweet, sugarey, malty taste... one of the better stouts I've had... Definitely recommended...

dsa7783, Jan 13, 2008
Photo of meechum
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a very dark viscous black with a 3 finger dark brown head into my Sam Smith's pint glass. Leaving lacing down the glass as it was consumed

S - Big smell of roasted malts and barley along with a nutty smell and a hint of mild hops in there

T/M - This beer is big in taste and thick like a stout should be...a low level of carbonation but enough to deliver the flavor the back of the palate. The flavor was roasted malts and coffee along with a slight nut flavor and a hint of chocolate in there too..the hops finish the taste out and give a good counter balance to the sweetness of the malts..

D - This is a highly drinkable brew..though with it being an Imperial Stout not one you would drink multiples in a night..the overall taste and flavor made this for a great end of the evening night cap and good for the colder weather..no wonder the Czar Peter loved these things..

meechum, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of avalon07
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Before this, the only Samuel Smith's I'd had was the Nut Brown. I was impressed with this one. The appearance was dark - very dark - with a little bit of head on it. It had a nutty smell common with many of Samuel Smith's beers. The taste was excellent, with coffee, barley and a nutty flavor coming through. It does leave a strong aftertaste. There was a nice, subtle carbonation related to the mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very drinkable beer, though it is pretty heavy.

avalon07, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of elmore
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours opaque black color into a snifter with a 2 finger head that receded rapidly with little lacing.

Smells of sweet dark malts, espresso. These characteristics come through in the taste. Some dark unsweetened chocalate. Additionally, there is a great hops bitterness with a nice dry, crisp finish, which I usually don't get from Imperial Stouts.

Moderate body and carbonation for an Imperial Stout, which make it very drinkable.

Very good drinkable Imperial Stout. Not as extreme as most RIS's, but very satisfying. I really like the clean, crisp, hoppy dry after taste. The burnt malts don't linger as much as most RIS's.

elmore, Jan 11, 2008
Photo of GbVDave
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 550ml bottle into a 20oz imperial pint.

A: Pours an angry, dark black color with a creamy, dark-khaki, two-finger head. Some curtains and random spots of lace.

S: Dark fruit, dark chocolate, charcoal, and milk chocolate dominate this one. As it warms, notes of brown sugar, espresso, molassas, spice, and dark chocolate covered tart cherry emerge.

T: Tangy and spicy raisins, plums, and figs followed very closely by dark and milk chocolate, cherry, caramel, toffee, espresso, hops, and roasted malt.

M: Full, sweet and bitter. Very coating. Upon initial pour, I found this to be a little on the thin side, but it thickened considerably as it warmed.

D: Excellent drinkability! This has a lot of the flavors of bigger RIS but without the crushing abv.

GbVDave, Jan 11, 2008
Photo of deepsouth
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

i drank this glass out of a great divide yeti glass.

the beer poured a black color with a large tan head that stuck around a while and left some damn fine lacing.

the smell is of coffee and toffee and the alcohol smell is masked quite well.

this is two different beers. one when it's cold and one when it warms. (i guess this is true of many beers of this style) cold, this beer tastes quite flat with just a hint of coffee, but as it warms it became much more tastey. chocolate, roasted malts, and the alcohol is now detectable.

this beer is creamy, but not chewy. it leaves the mouth very slick. carbonation is present, but not a bunch.

i could drink a couple of these, but probably not more than that.

this is a damn fine beer and on of my favorite from samuel smith's.

deepsouth, Jan 08, 2008
Photo of aerozeppl
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this to cap off the Giant's victory last night.

A: Black with three fingers of tan head. Really good looking beer.

S:Sweet malt. The sweetness dominated everything else.

T: Sweetness dominated this for me. The subtle chocolate and roasted malt is there as well. Also picked up an almost cask like taste. Woody.

M: Silky on the tongue. Cask like carbonation. Subtle.

D: Excellent example of the style. Very drinkable for the style as well.

aerozeppl, Jan 07, 2008
Photo of basica
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this from Cracked Kettle and man do I love the bottle itself. The bottle itself is a nice slim and tall design with the top nicely wrapped in gold foil and a unique looking label. This beer yields a jet black pour with a nicely creamy looking tan head that moderately settles to a thin layer and finally a nice clingy lacing. On the nose I pick up roasted malts, chocolates, coffee and subtle dashes of dark fruits; some lactic milkiness also peaks out of the creamy head. The smell was not very strong and the various elements in the smell were nicely balanced out. The taste starts off with an immediately suggestion of coffee followed by roasted malts and light notes of chocolates here and there with a nice smooth milky backing. There were also dashes of dark fruits towards the finish and a good amount of roasted malts on the nose. Sweetness was probably very very subtle on this one and a slighty below moderate level of bitterness can be detected towards and during the finish. Taste was fairly rich though not very rich and it was very well balanced; without too much of anything. 7 ABV makes it a really light drink as well and it practically feels below 5. The lingering after taste had coffee, roasted malts and subtle dark fruits and a light bitterness. The mouthfeel is close to full bodied and is smooth and creamy with low carbonation and goes down very smooth. This is my first imperial stout and I feel that it is highly drinkable. I was expecting something pretty heavy. I prefer the Guinness Special Export Stout to this but the strength of this one is a nice, well balanced blend of many different flavours but not overly rich and yet very enjoyable and drinkable.

basica, Jan 04, 2008
Photo of seanyfo
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 edition, stored in a dark storeroom since novemeber 06.

Brought in the new year with this bad boy. Aggressive pour into my chimay chalice.

A- Jet black body with a mocha coffee 2 finger head, creamy with great retention. Im excited!

S- Roated malts, nuts, chocolates, vanilla, raisins

T- Lots of choclately roasted malts, vanilla, coffee, nuttiness in the finish.

M- Low carbonation, creamy

D- Fantastic, couldnt and wouldnt want to drink more than 2,one to savour!

seanyfo, Jan 01, 2008
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,113 ratings.