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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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3,360 Ratings

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Ratings: 3,360
Reviews: 1,687
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.27%
Wants: 185
Gots: 310 | 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: 3,360 | Reviews: 1,687
Photo of pheggeseth
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter

A: Maybe it's how I pour beer, or maybe I poured it too cold, but I tend to just not get as much head in my beers as other people, about 1/2 inch that quickly dissipates, beer is completely opaque, as to be expected

S: rum-like alcohol flavored followed by roasted whole coffee beans (smells like a well-sealed jar of good coffee right after opening), slight tinge of hop bitterness mixed with dark pruned fruit

T: well-roasted coffee at the forefront, more so than in the smell, so pronounced that it gives the beer an almost warm, buttery feel, hard to describe, a little hop bitterness towards the end, but mostly coffee enveloped in alcohol which tapers to the end like a fine musical decrescendo, lovely

M: slightly watery, actually, which sounds weird, but there's some slight thinness in the back it seems, still quite smooth and creamy

D: a sipper, definitely, tastes much stronger than it's 7% abv would suggest, pronounced coffee aftertaste enhances it's "sipper"-ness

Notes: finally, a beer whose beauty is paralleled by the beauty of its bottle

Photo of mikescags
4.19/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours dark as night, its almost like tar with a one finger good looking brown head.

The smell is great, roasted barley, choc, some hints of caramel, delicious.

Taste is fantastic. The malts really come through.

Mouthfeel is a little thin from what I remember, but still decent.

I could drink these all day until the abv catches up with me.

Photo of PaleAlien2
4.39/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a remarkable beer. It pours a deep black with a copper head that disappears quickly. Looks like a typical stout, lacking the show-stopping head of a Guiness. This beer smells absolutely beatiful. I almost wish I could drink it through my nose. Lots of fruit in the aroma, which surprised me for a stout, but it almost smelled like wine. Also smells of malt, chocolate and coffee. Palate is full, thick and velvety smooth as a stout should be. The flavor is coffee, malt, chocolate with a fruity tang. Has a bit of a winey alcohol flavor as it warms. It’s extremely complex, yet very drinkable.

Photo of Gehrig
4.51/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The first time that I had this beer was two years ago, and it had been too long. It's an excellent imperial stout, one of my favorites, and easily one of the best that Samuel Smith crafts. The head is rich in my 20 oz. mug. Although the aroma emanates a slightly syrupy air that was a little off-putting when I open it, that receded when I actually tasted it. The deep chocolate, caramel and coffee flavors are strong and balanced, with a terrific finish that leaves me wanting another. The 7.0 ABV is well hidden by the smooth taste and variety of flavors. It is a great sipping beverage for after dinner, though it went very well with my spicy chicken dish.

It's a very smooth, easily consumable beverage, one that I will surely not wait another two years to try again.

Photo of rye726
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage 12oz bottle poured at 45F into a goblet

A: Nice looking beer. Dark, almost black, color with a thick light brown head.

N: Very sweet. Strong aromas of molasses, roasted malts, choclate and vanilla. Hints of coffe and smoked oak.

T&M: This is a very good beer and in my opinion and one of the smoothest imperial stouts around. A nice full body is well blended with sweet malts and roasted espresso. More sweet flavors of caramel, chocolate, and dried berries come out as it warms. Everyting is brought together by a light hop presence and warming alcohols.

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

This is my second bottle of this, but my first was nearly a year ago. It will interesting to see how an English interpretation of a RIS compares to an American version.

APPEARANCE: Pours into a Samuel Smith imperial pint a deep black with a few amber brown highlights around the edges. A light tan loose-bubbled head forms on top and is at least 2 fingers high. It drops to a thick and hearty coating that doesn't want to go anywhere. Patchwork lacing snakes down the side of the glass as I drink. Simply a beautiful beer.

SMELL: Chocolate is at the forefront of this beer with roasty coffee not far behind. Caramel and toffee round out the big time malt aromas in this beer. A slight aroma of some noble hops come out slightly and blend wonderfully with the rich malty smells.

TASTE: Layers upon layers of flavor show themselves remarkably in this beer. Chocolate is certainly there, but it's highlighted by some lighter flavors of caramel and toffee just as in the nose. Roastiness is present but at lower levels than everything else. And all of this is draped over a bready base which I don't think I've ever tasted in an imperial stout before. The more bitter flavors come out during the finish in both hop character and some bitter black malt, but the sweetness of the beer carries through to the end making the finish rather balanced. As the beer warms, some vaguely fruity tones come out adding yet another layer of complexity.

MOUTHFEEL: Full bodied and only a hair syrupy. Carbonation level is on the lower side and spot on.

DRINKABILITY: It's strange to see an imperial stout disappear from my glass so quickly, but such are the benefits of drinking an English-style ale. The 7% ABV is hardly detectable at all. This beer is smooth all the way.

Wow. I knew this was a good beer, but I'm shocked at how much I enjoyed this. There is no fault in this beer at all. I guess I'll need to make sure I have this more than once a year in the future.

Photo of zerofear13
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I've been saving this brew since I picked up in August. It had a sour smell, a little like soy sauce, odd. I thought maybe it had gone bad, but the taste had no sour notes. Maybe the smell I picked up was just a variety of malts. Poured out with a thing head, and looked a bit lighter in terms of density compared to other stouts. Tasted of the coffee and chocolate that most stouts had, but had incredibly earthy hints, possibly of nuts or some spices. Overall, great tasting beer and I was pleased that it did not disappoint.

Photo of bunnyhustle
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled from 550 mL bottle. Poured into chalice and wow is it dark, I really cant see any color other than black, nice mocha colored head however very little of it. I was expecting a thicker head but for whatever reason very little on glass #1 and none on glass #2. Smell was initally as alcohol, another sniff revealed what seemed to be raisin. As it warmed it took on a slightly coffee-like smell. Taste was incredible, the first smell wasnt too impressive but boy was the taste. Very creamy and smooth texture to the drink. I can taste chocolate, coffee, raisin, a bit of the "typical" stout tastes (for me at least) but something about this one was incredible. I like the fact that it is lower in alcohol, that made it a little more drinkable and enjoyable in my book. Overall a great beer and seems worthy of its high reviews.

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

Beer bottle (35.5 cl.), first tasted in 2000.

Appearance : black brown color, with tan creamy foamy head.
Smell : strong aroma, caramel nose of toasted
Taste and mouthfeel : very soft mouth, liquorice, bitter and roasted with coffee notes.
Drinkability: a very good beer in the style Russian Imperial Stout.
Review updated 2012.

Photo of Folderol
4.73/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One word: Delicious. I picked this up while on my "quest for the next Perkuno's Hammer", figuring maybe a mild Imperial Stout would fit the bill. Poured the 550 ml into my Guinness glass - I got maybe 2/3 of it in, and the big fluffy 4" head threatened to overflow. In the end I was left with a full glass with a short head that lasted almost the whole way down. As for the beer itself - it's just so damn smooth! Mouthfeel was creamy and finely carbonated, the alcohol doesn't really show up until the beer warms, and the flavor is just a nice roasty maltiness. Not too bitter, not too astringent like some imp stouts. Drinkability was exceptional for 7% ABV.

American breweries have been pushing the alcohol content on their Imp Stouts higher and higher at the expense of drinkability. I'll take the refined smoothness of Sam Smith's anyday.

Photo of champ103
2.57/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Dark brown/black with a big tan head that leaves a littles lace (not as much as I was expecting). Very good overall.
S: Bread malt smell, burnt coffee, soy sauce, and a little vanilla. Lots of alcohol from the start. Overall, I am not very impressed.
T: Burnt malt and sweet molasses with soy sauce and lots of alcohol again.
D: Not very good. Watered down, very bitter and hard to drink.

I don't like the soy sauce flavor, and the alcohol makes this hard to drink and enjoy. I just finished an Old Rasputin, which is a great RIS. This is not.

Photo of fitzy84
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle it had the typically good dark stout appearance with a brownish-white head. Its aroma was to die for: a great syrupy roast with hints of chocolate. However, I was blown away with how radically different but awesome its taste was. It was heavy, but it had a sourish sip with a great, sweet aftertaste. It was lighter comparatively with other stouts with a thin texture, allowing one to enjoy large sips. Overall this was an awesome imperial stout!

Photo of irishkyle21
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a creamy tanned head. Has decent retention and good lacing. Has a opaque black color.

Smells of molasses, sweet chocolate, coffee and roasted malt. Very rich and makes my mouth water in anticipation.

The taste meets the expectations that my nose has led me to. Lots of molasses, dark fruits, a bit of espresso and some toasted malt. A great brew and one I would recommend to any serious stout drinkers.

Photo of crwills
3.92/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good, but not as good as I remember. Pours a deep dark chocolate brown, but not quite black, with a small light brown creamy head. Aromas of chocolate, coffee, and quite a bit of alcohol, along with some sour fruit notes (dates?). Taste is malty and quite bitter, with the sweetness mostly contained within the aftertaste. Slightly thinner mouthfeel than I remember from before -- last time I had this was way back at the beginning of my craft beer days (way back being about 2-3 years). There are many RISs that I'd prefer now that I've tried a few more.

Photo of nickynick
3.52/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This beer seemed a bit of a mystery to me. I love stouts, but have never had an Imperial stout. This was my first. The beer pours almost jet black, with a brown head. The smell of this beer is very sweet, and wonderful. However, the taste in my opinion didn't match the smell. The sweetness is only brief in the front, but then turns bitter, and finishes a bit smoky. Mouthfeel was think, and ok. Drinkability is ok, but at the end of the glass it was getting hard to finish. Overall, I can see why people like this, its flavorful, and has a lot going on. For me however, I guess I don't like overly bitter stouts. I was disappointed because I am a huge fan of Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout. I will give this beer another chance, but for the price, I'll take their Oatmeal Stout over this one.

Photo of bruachan
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

$3.50 at gambier's village market. i may stock up if this turns out to be a winner (i have a premonition...)

tall head back up by some relentless carbonation. it's stuck all over the glass

ooh that smells good. rich, winey, soy saucey, oaky. and there's even a suggestion of sourness (just a slight yogurty something). did i say oaky? apple juice? i think the aroma might remind me of powdered hot chocolate

that tastes fuckin good. rich but not heavy (i would go velvety). hops are for balance only. a hint of coffee, but otherwise...wait, was that apple juice? a touch of hazelnut or something sneaks in, as well. there is a touch of bitterness, but it really is a simple rearjaw sensation...minor

Photo of ralree
4.68/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Dark completely opaque brown with a nice tan head. 2-fingers of head easy. Laces nicely.

S: Chocolate and caramel with hints of apples and maybe a little coffee, but not much. Pretty good smelling.

T: Slight alkaline taste initially. Lots of chocolate and roasted malt flavor make this a very good tasting beer. Fruit comes through second. Coffee becomes apparent only in the aftertaste as a nice bitter ending. A definite winner for this style.

M: Medium-bodied, barely astringent, and perfectly carbonated. Pretty dry.

D: A very drinkable brew - especially for the style. This is on my buy list.

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

550ml from Party Source poured into a pint. No dating.

A: Pitch black, allowing zero light to seek through. 2 finger toffee colored head that seems to have pretty decent carbonation. Not getting as much retention or lacing as I expected.

S: Bready and grainy malts. Some bitter coffee smells along with dark, juicy fruits.

T/M: Sweet coffee and dark, bitter chocolate. Sweet, dark, juicy fruits... like a very juicy prune(I guess). Body is suprizingly light and higher in carbonation... Not a terribly bad thing but not exaclty what I was looking for in a RIS.

D: Body makes it drink very easy and it's a very tasty brew. Not a behemoth of a RIS but very good nonetheless.

Photo of henrysunset
3.96/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black beer with an impressively huge head of mocha colored foam. Smell is alcohol and a bit of coffee roast.

Rather unremarkable for the dark brew.

When you drink past the big head, you find a robust flavor, coffee, burnt toast, and a malty smoothness. Up front a bit sour, but overwhelmed by those sweet and dark flavors that linger. Very nice mouthfeel, very nice aftertaste. Quite drinkable, although 550ml is a lot.

Photo of wcudwight
4.29/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Opaque in color with a 1 finger cola colored head. Solid rim of watery lacing rings the glass.
Mmmm. Smells like fresh baked brownies.
More chocolate flavored than others of the style. With a plum like fruitiness.
Medium bodied. Light but interesting for a RIS.
Easily the most drinkable RID I've had. The best part is that it does not sacrifice flavor for drinkability. A must try.

Photo of Slatetank
4.92/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I am a fan of most Samuel Smiths beers, some of my first English ales that I tasted were from them. I decanted this cool into a tulip.
A - Deep ebony w/ dark amber highlights. A thick 2.5 fingers of compact, pin sized tan bubbles crown the black fluid.

S - Rich odors of toffee, Port, vanilla, caramel and roasted nuts are concentrated in the aroma. Slight tinges of anise and berries round out the nose.

M - Roasted coffee, with light astringency, moderated carbonation and mild sweetness. Woody touches w/ a faint peppery spice.

T - Very concentrated dark malty and roasted tastes w/ a hint of smoke. A smooth rich toffee flavor w/ hints of bourbon and molasses w/ a nice vanilla cream taste and woody dry aspect. A toasted nut and rich dark chocolate flavor settles the char notes. Absolutely clean compared to the burst of malt and intense flavor as the stout becomes consumed.

D - Like black magic, it weaves a spell and tells a story w/ its magnitude, a fantastic example -The premier of it's style. I truly enjoy this quality stout sip by pleasure filled sip.

Photo of techdiver
4.83/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 550 ml bottle. Wow, deep brownish black color with a substantial billowing tan head that dissipates slowly leaving loads of lacing behind.

Nose of malt, molasses, and chocolate.

Taste is out of this world good. I've had a lot of RIS and what this lacks in ABV it more than makes up for in taste.

Great mouthfeel, feels so light in comparison to other brews of this style.

Great drinkability, wish I had more right now because it's gonna be gone before my Coronado Double Toro.

Photo of Redwood21
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: WOW, one look at this beer and you know you are heading into an experience not just a drink. moderately intimidating as well as inviting all at the same time. almost jet black with a light chocolate head that is puffy and amazing i haven't given a beer a high A rating in a while, but this one is amazing.
S: if there was ever a chocolate flavored oatmeal, this would be the beer going for it. im not sure how to explain it any other way
T: you can def taste the alcohol on this beer, its got a higher presence than you might initially expect there is also some chocolate notes this is one of those beers that as it warms it mellows and enhances its flavors. its a good solid strong flavored beers
M/D: this is a robust beer, relatively strong, compared to an avg days beer, but because of that its more complex, more tasty, more delicious. i wouldn't mind ordering this beer on the menu at any point, its very good and worth any ones try

Photo of bigdeuce
3.73/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Another nice sample from Samuel Smith's. Has a beautiful pillowy head and lacing down the glass. Nice toffee notes on the nose and very buttery. A classic of the style, to say the least. Some chocolatey notes as well. Some plumbyness as well. A nice offering from a great brewery!

Photo of scott
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Unknown production

Dark, with only the slightest of ruby accents hidden away. Very aromatic with nice notes of sweet soy & roast. Well-carbonated, this will lend itself to easy drinking coupled with a relatively thin body & well concealed alcohol. Nutty, mildly hoppy, and not nearly as dense as I would have hoped for, or expected. Recommended.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,360 ratings.