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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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3,337 Ratings

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Ratings: 3,337
Reviews: 1,682
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.27%
Wants: 177
Gots: 289 | 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:
Beer added by: Todd on 02-27-2001

No notes at this time.
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Ratings: 3,337 | Reviews: 1,682 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Atlas1
4.14/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Man, this really takes me back. The first time I ever tried Sammy Smiths I was in college over ten years ago. My buddies and I were convinced that there was simply nothing like it on earth. We were right.

Pours a nice deep black color with a dark brown head. Hints of ruby red shine through at the edges when held up to the light. A pretty beer, but nothing spectacular for a stout. Very little head retention or lace. The bouquet here is special, though. Rich aroma of both dark fruits (plum, prune, raisins) and apples and bananas. Makes me think of a few weizenbocks I've had, but it's a sweeter aroma than most stouts out there, imperial or not. The taste is also a bit sweet with the aforementioned fruits. Sweet and tangy up front, with a smooth mellow middle, and a remarkably sweet (tart?) and bitter finish. Presents a smoky aftertaste, which I was not expecting but really like. Very sturdy mouthfeel. Overall, this is an imperial stout done right. But then again, this beer was winning gold medal awards at competitions back in 1896, so it's not like the lads at Sam Smiths are new at this. Keep up the good work, and thanks for this beer.

Photo of schusterbauer
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

of course there's no answer to the "favorite beer" question. forced to make a decision though, this would definitely be in contention.

more burnt brown than black, with highlights of mahogany, and a small staid head. perhaps my perception of its appearance is tainted by my knowledge of what comes next, but if that's the case, then so be it. smell is of barely warm brownies, prune juice, walnuts, liqueur, coffee. taste is a haphazard (in a good way) blend of the same flavors, along with burnt brown sugar, chocolate covered raisins, charcoal, and fig pudding. subtle and refined in the mouth -- not harsh, bruising, or daring like the american interpretations. inviting, and warming. pleasingly inebriating. drink a couple and you'll be singing.

i've drinken this from snifters, pint glasses, and (gasp!) straight from the bottle -- it's always fantastic. an obsession.

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

Appearance: A nice black color with a huge brown head. There is very light retention and almost no lacing.

Smell: Rich dark chocolate, roasted malts, some caramel and sugar, and mild hops.

Taste: Nice rich and full flavors here. Everything explodes on the palate without overpowering any individual flavor. The caramel and fruits are nicely balanced with the hops and everything works very well together.

Mouthfeel: Thick but not cloying. Rich and sweet while still staying dry. Wonderful.

Drinkability: A wonderful stout. I need more.

Photo of cypressbob
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

355ml bottle, poured into a t'IJ brewery tulip

Pours with a deep dark rich brown body, black in most lights with some slight ruby highlights throughout. Inch thick tan head with great retention along with lots of bubbly lacing

Smell, smooth rich slightly alcoholic malt, some acetaldehyde character lingering around. Slight burnt sugar character along with some more green apple aromas.

Taste, crisp and rich roasted malt, sweet astringent appley estery malt. Some acidity along with a whack of roasted malt, some slight esters

Been meaning to review this for ages, finally have... brilliant bottled

Photo of beeragent
3.07/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle, into a pint glass. The beer poures a deep brown, forming no head with very little carbonation, leaving a few spots of lace on the glass. The aroma is a mix of roasted malts, and light raisins. The taste is light coffee, a little roasted malt, and a good amount of, what tastes like raisins. Thick mouthfeel, with a smooth finish. Overall, I wasnt really impressed with this stout. I've tried a few other RIS, but this one just didnt measure up. Its not a bad beer, but for the style, It was a let down, but then again, maybe I just got a bad batch. I will have to try it again in the future.

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

Poured into a unibroue snifter with an absolutely monstrous tan head-- creamy, with heavy foam and massive lacing. it's black and totally impermeable to light. this beer is pretty.

The nose is heavy on coffee, with a background of dark malt and maybe a little nonspecific fruit. There's a buttery, kind of funky yeasty note, which I like.

Tastes somewhat sweet and surprisingly dry on the finish. Coffee notes are present, but much lighter than I expected. Subsequent sips reveal a yeasty banana flavor. Heavy carbonation lends a sort of spiciness, and adds a lot of drinkability.

The mouthfeel is heavy and creamy, finishing with substantial carbonation. The low ABV (as compared to American versions of the style) and bubbles make this a very very drinkable imperial stout. There is nothing (other than respect) that would prevent me from pounding these.

RERATE: Went back to this with more imperial stout experience under my belt. The apparearance is still outstanding, especially the head size, retention, and lacing. Smellwise, I'm not sure what the hell I was talking about ("buttery/funky/yeasty note"), I was probably talking about the vanilla character, which is pretty strong. The taste is smokier than most imps I've tasted, but production of this is too high for it to be barrel-aged; it must be the malts. This is really a pretty damned good imperial stout.

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

Pours black with a fairly nice head that settles but sticks around as a thin lid. Lacing is slight. The smell is of chocolate, prunes,cherries, wine, and a slight roastiness.Very pleasant. The flavor is similar, with an overlay of vanilla and sweet cherries that are more predominant as it warms. Very creamy and with nice chocolate notes on the finish. Beautufully creamy body, and not all that heavy. Very drinkable,and nice to have a RIS with some delicious flavors and low abv.

Photo of Tyrawlings
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

550 ml. Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Opaque black in color. Huge fluffy tan head pours three fingers thick and stays for the entire serving. Sticky lacing crawls all over the glass.

S: Roasted coffee. Dark chocolate. Dark fruit and the sweetness of sugar.

T: Finely roasted coffee and bitter dark chocolate with ever the slightest hop presence. Sweetness of molasses is followed by a perfectly balanced caramel malt intrusion. Dark fruit and a slight smoked earth finish.

M: Rich and creamy. Silky smooth. Minimal carbonation. Slighly astrigent and drying finish.

D: A tasty treat that has all of the flavor of the bigger Imperial stouts that I have tried but without the huge alcohol presence. A dangerously drinkable stout that can be enjoyed anytime of the year.

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

Pours a very dark black, with a tiny amount of ruby when held to the light. Couldn't even tell the bottle was clear until after it was emptied. A nice very light tannish-brown head, hangs around for a bit. Lacing is very minimal. Smells very sweet, apples, figs, raisins and a bit of roasted coffee, overall very sweet smelling. The taste on this stout is excellent. very sweet early and as it moves further back on the tongue the malts really start to show, then it recedes to a sweet finish that leaves a nice bitter coffee aftertaste, that lingers. Has a nice full bodied feel in the mouth, good carbonation. I could definetely get used to drinking this one.

Photo of far333
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at cellar temperature.

Inky black and opaque, no light gets through at all. A full inch of light brown head rises up thickly, and gradually settles down to a thin cap of bubbles.

Big aroma of dark chocolate, espresso, smoke and subtle hops.

Rich flavors of chocolate and coffee, charred wood, whiskey and raisin. Heavy burnt molasses moves in and out, along with cherry, plum and prunes. A hop bitter accentuates it all.

Mouthfeel is fairly full, with moderate carbonation. A little chalky and tannic, but finishes with a carbonation tingle.

Very drinkable, a nice slow sipper.

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

12 oz bottle.

Beer pours a lovely nearly black color, with a hefty light brown head with nice retention. Little lacing.

Nose is full of wonderful fruity sweetness. Chocolate and alcohol notes as well. All aspects are increasing as it warms.

Taste is as wonderfully complex as I'd imagine an imperial stout should be. First 3 things that I notice are plums, coffee, and raisins. There's another, more muted fruit taste here that I'm thinking is apple. Pleasantly sweet, with an underlying roasty and almost smoky malt presence. Alcohol is unobtrusive but there - added to the general sweetness and a a touch of bittering hops it makes for a nice finish.

Despite a mouthfeel thinner than many of the style, I had no problem picking out flavors as this beer flowed across my tongue and finished dry. Carbonation is on the light side of medium for the style, but I recall previous samples with a greater, and in my opinion less appropriate, carbonation level. As I near the bottom of the glass I notice the alcohol in the mouth a lot more.

I find I am grateful that this is a 7% ABV beer. It is difficult to sip this great beer - put this taste on one of those 11% ABV monsters and we'd be in trouble!

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

This may be the perfect Imperial Stout.

Appearance: Black with only slight dark brown edges from light penetration. Pours a thick and very creamy tan head of about three fingers which takes a considerable amount of time to dissolve, leaving a fine lace of foam on top.

Smell: Big rich malty dark chocolate, roasted coffee and toffee. Unfortunately there is a small hint of alcohol under these aromas, big not enough to really harm the smell.

Taste: This is why I think this could be the perfect Imperial Stout. The taste is balanced better than any other imperial I've had the pleasure of drinking. The big dark chocolate and coffee flavors came across first, however enough hops are present to give the taste a little zing, keeping this brew from drinking like molasses. This mixed with the heavy malt of the brew gave me a light taste of oats

Mouthfeel: Very thick of course, almost no acidity and surprisingly only a light amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: For a stout this has a smooth finish that is almost unequaled. Add that to the magnetic flavor and in my opinion you have one of the only imperial stouts you could gulp if wanted. Anyway, I find this one hard to get tired of.

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

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout is a very darkens seems almost black and only when you hold it up to a bright light can you even see a hint of color, even including its head which is a light cork board color and pretty thick. It has a strong dry chocolate smell that reminds me of those whisky chocolate candies and it has a crisp taste that’s kind of sweet and just a little bit bitter, but when it hits the back of your throat you can really taste the flavor in it.

Photo of WAP
3.66/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a nice-looking three-finger head that leaves significant lacing. The smell is sweet and malty with chocolate and coffee undertones. The taste is quite sweet with chocolate and a little dark fruit dominating the palate with a bitter roasted flavor on the back end. Not an unpleasant taste, just not my favorite. Good mouthfeel and drinkability as well. This is a solid brew but not my style.

Photo of barefootbrewer
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer poured a thick black color with a nice tan head. The smell was sweet and malty. The taste is sweet and malty. There is a definite coffee taste in this brew. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy. This is a very drinkable beer, but perhaps a bit heavy for several in a row. I would like to say one thing – delicious!

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

Imagine drinking Guiness Extra Stout while high, and you start to get an inkling of how good this beer is.

Gorgeous amazing black beer with a perfectly colored short tan head.

The aroma hit my nose as soon as I opened the bottle. Lots of toasted maltiness.

The flavor, oh the flavor, frankly it is indescribable. A perfect pairing of glorious bitterness, super dark chocolate with some very slightly fruity notes (along the lines of some 85% cacoa chocolate I had recently that had the same strange fruity notes).

Supposedly this beer is only 7% alcohol but I think there is more warmth than that. Pleasant mouth feel, smoothly carbonated.

A world-class beer. The best stout I've ever had.

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

Drank from bottle warmed beside a campfire on a 18 degree night camping along the Blackwater River in Southeastern Virginia. Beer smelled toffee coffee like and whe I took the first hit I was glad it was in 550 ml bottle and was wishing it was a 750 ml. Beer was delicious with dark malty roasted toffee taste that when you breathed out your nose you could even tast the goodness. Goodness I will buy again.

Photo of brdc
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful dark brew with a thick, foamy, dark tan head.
Complex smell of chocolates, roasted malt, burnt sugar, bread and some alcohol.
Similar taste, with coffee, bittersweet chocolate, sweetish but with a bitter end, alcohol warmth.
Medium to full bodied but still deliciously easy to drink.
Another Samuel Smith treat, will be having more of this.

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

Picked up a single bottle to taste test and my wife ended drinking the whole brew. So, on her behalf I will write her review of this wonderful beer. The appearance was a dark brown hue with a 4 inch frothy mocha head. The head fully lasted and left a great amount of lacing. The scent of roasted malt, caramel and mild coffee added to its complexity. Found it to start moderately sweet with a coffee and chocolate aftertaste that was right on. The medium to full body added a creamy yet slightly syrupy feel on the palate. The soft carbonation and light alcohol feel rounded out the taste and feel just perfectly. Overall, she would drink a six pack easily, although I think they come in a four pack. I do have to admit that I got a few sips in, but that was it. In the end this brew rocks and more will be coming home soon.

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

Appearance- Wow. this stuff is as black as John Henry's heart. Just the barest hint of burgandy at the very edges if you hold it up to a 100 watt bulb. Good solid tan head that has a lot of staying power. Not much lacing tho.

Aroma- Lots of malt sweetness, with a stong undertone of mollassas. Some chocolate overtones to if you let it warm a bit.

Taste- Amazing. The 1st thing you taste is the alcohol. Kind of strange for an imperial stout. This isn't an old ale afterall. Nice blend of malt sweetness and bittering hops. Neither are overpowering at all. Some chocolate and roasted grain. You can really taste it at the back of your mouth.

Mouthfeel- Just a tad thin for the style, but very good overall. Very good carbonation level. Just enough to allow it to dance over your toungue, but not so much that it hides the flavors.

Drinkability- More drinkable than most RISs. Certainly not sessionable, but hey...it ain't supposed to be. Why the heck do you think Czarist Russia fell to begin with?

Photo of Gmann
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours as near black as possible, a nice mocha head that left some lacing as it dissipated. The aroma is of semi-sweet chocolate. The taste is of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and prunes. The stout is lightly carbonated, smooth, and creamy. A nice sample of the style, enjoyable.

Photo of warmstorage
2.85/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce clear glass bottle, gold foil topped, states 7.0% ABV.

Pours an opaque black with a small amount of medium brown head which dissipates rapidly, leaving little to no lacing.

Aroma is sweet prunes, plums, and indicates higher alcohol that the bottles indicates.

Taste is some sweet fruit, perhaps prunes, a slight bit of chocolate, some roastiness. Definitely thin for the style. A distinct metallic taste from the medium taste all the way through the finish and aftertaste really detracts from everything else; this is something I've noticed in Samuel Smith's oatmeal stout as well.

Mouth is relatively tingly with carbonation, lingers, light to medium physical body.

As disappointing as all the times I've had this beer before. It's just a weak example of the style, notwithstanding Samuel Smith's historical pedigree. I might give it a try again in a year or two, but certainly won't go out of my way to seek it out.

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

A- Poured a little hard and got a big mocha head on a black body. Nice decent size lacing which sticks to sides of glass.
S- Big chocolate malt smell almost dominates the rest of the aroma. Maybe some light grass hops in there also? Also a hint of something like milk more like milk chocolate though.
T- Chocolate taste. Some light flavor hops leaves a nice bitterness on the tongue which linger into the aftertaste. Some roasted malts are also in there too. Also a kind of creamish taste to it too.
M- Medium to full body. Medium carbonation.
D- It is good just not a really big imperial stout. It is a decent brew though.

Photo of peabody
3.78/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out really dark with a nice two fingers of the brown suds.
Very little lacing here.
The aroma is a dark chocolate malt and bitter coffee. Not much else comes to the nose here. No alcohol present either.
Taste is a little watery but the carbonation really dances around the back of the tounge.
As far as imperial stouts go this is not as strong as some others but is a very quaffable brew nonetheless.

Photo of WanderingFool
4.11/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer came to me from an unusual route. I showed a friend how to brew on a day I was brewing an Imperial Stouts and offered several for him to sample. He fell in love with the style and paid me back with a few bottles of Sammy Smiths.

The stout pours an ink black into the glass with a small creamy tan head on top. The foam fades slowly to a thick ring around the surface leaving behind quite a bit of lace patterns on the side of the glass. An aroma of roasted malt, smoke, nuts, peat and coffee floats over the beer.

Each sip of this medium to full bodied beer is smooth and silky with a soft carbonated tingle on the tip of the tongue. The flavor is an intense combination of roasted malt, smoke, peat, and coffee. At the end a few fruity notes of plum and raisins poke through. It finishes mildly bitter with just enough hops to balance out the malt.

I thought the mouthfeel was a tad bit thin and aroma a bit weak. However, for a VERY tasty Impy stout you can't go wrong with a Sammy Smiths.

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,337 ratings.