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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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3,103 Ratings

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Ratings: 3,103
Reviews: 1,649
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 139
Gots: 181 | 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
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Ratings: 3,103 | Reviews: 1,649 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Shultzerdugen
4.83/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this in the midst of a super session, and although it wasn't the first time I've had SS's Imperial, it was like the virgin experience.

Next to Belgian triples and doubles,Samichlaus, barley wines, etc., it not only held it's own, it gave the aforementioned beers a kung fu kick in the balls.

Opaque obsidian, no seeing through this sucker. Great head with strong staying power.

So many smells. Prunes, black pepper, licorice, sweet booze. I was salivating like one of Pavlov's dogs after a dinner bell.
This Imperial is the A-1 ass kickin' bow down and be thankful for tastebuds thrilla. Great hop balance for such a huge beer. Dark chocolate, coffee, sugary malts. Long finish where the hops return for an encore.
Real thick and chewy, smooth and delicious.
Sure, I want to drink it again and again.

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is a benchmark beer for me, the one I compare all other I S's to. Say thankya!

Shultzerdugen, Feb 06, 2005
Photo of neonbrown82
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer was highly recommended by one of the cashiers at my local (and highly knowlegable) beer store. I must agree that it was quite tasty, but it wasn't one of my favorite examples of an Imperial Stout. It tasted like beef jerky almost... more specifically like Liquid Smoke. I usually can't tolerate much more than a little bit of a smokey taste in my beer, but this one might be able to pave the way for me.

It poured to a completely opaque black color with a tan head, as one would expect from any Imperial Stout. The liquid wasn't quite as thick as others I've had, though, but I won't hold that against it, nor in its favor. The mouthfeel seemed to suit this particular iteration of Imperial Stout just fine.

The smell was kind of malty and sweet, but mostly dominated by caramel combined with other roasty coffee aromas. The smell was hypnotizing to say the least.

I enjoyed this Imperial Stout, but I don't think I will revisit as long as I have access to the Rogue Imperial Stout, which IMO is no contest with this. I've heard this is more subdued than its American counterparts, but on behalf of the smoked flavor, I would beg to differ that the Stone RIS or Rogue Imperial Stout are a little less complex in flavor though richer in character and body. Definitely worth a try though.

neonbrown82, Feb 05, 2005
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a opaque black beer with a medium dark brown head with minimal retention. Aroma is quite incredible and consists of pure black chocolate, roasted malt and some coffee. Taste is also quite a treat with the chocolate hitting first (without too much sweetness) and followed by the roasted malt and coffee to finish the whole thing. Very well balance with limited bitterness, which probably makes it one truly good dessert beer. Wow!!!

Phyl21ca, Feb 04, 2005
Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.2/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

puors brillent onyx, slight lacy head.

the aroma was toffey, molasses, smoky.
the flavor was burnt, not to bitter, with a very thick mouth feel.

the aroma toffey, mollasses, less smoke, coffee.
the flavor very rich, alcohol, smoke not as strong, toffey, molasses, coffee.

i was really disapointed in this beer until it was room temp.

plaztikjezuz, Jan 31, 2005
Photo of brentk56
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours an obsidian black with a nice mocha head; nice retention and lacing

Smell: Roasted malt, dark fruit (figs and prunes), some bittersweet chocolate and a nice whiff of rum

Taste: Starts out with a combination of roasty malt and dark fruit (raisin, date and prune), with the hops adding a bitter element by mid-palate; after the swallow, the roasty, fruity and chocolate flavors predominate into a complex finish that provides point and counter-point

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation and a hint of warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: I've come around to this one over time and have re-reviewed this while maintaining the original review date; I now appreciate the complexity and restraint in this version compared to the production of some of the American craft brewers

brentk56, Jan 30, 2005
Photo of chunkylover53
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark, darker, darkest.

This beer is as black as the blackest recesses of my teenage goth poetry writing heart. Even the head is dark.

I can smell banana... and... well.. everything else. This is a very complex brew. And the taste is about the same. I can detect a little bit of everything in there, but noting overpowers anything else or, indeed, the drinker.

This is one fine, fine, brew.

chunkylover53, Jan 30, 2005
Photo of lackenhauser
4.88/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Deep black in color. Respectable tan head on top. Huge roasted aroma-a mix of burnt currants and a slight sherry aroma. Very vinuous. You can almost smell the velvety feel it has to it. Great big roasted malt flavor. Wonderful flavors all rolled into one-coffee,anise,dark chocolate. Theres an "ink" flavor that I find in some imperials and just love-this is full of that. Good body-not as full as some of the others but it plays well considering the overall flavor and texture of the beer. A highly drinkable brew-at an easy going 7% this could go on all night. A truely classic example.

lackenhauser, Jan 29, 2005
Photo of bearrunner44
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black, with a dark tan head. Beautiful to look at. The head is thick and sticks around for awhile, and there's some good lacing. The taste is pretty complex. Essentially, it's a mix of roasted malts and alcohol with a slight fruitiness in the finish. It's gloriously smooth, despite the higher alcohol content. The beer burns very slightly in the finish, but the alcohol is far from overpowering. Personally, I prefer a more straight-forward stout. I have to admire the intricate design of this beer, though.

Note: This beer tastes much better as it warms. The flavors become more balanced at higher temperatures.

bearrunner44, Jan 23, 2005
Photo of allengarvin
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep, dark, & mysterious. Very black, only a hint of ruby around the edges. A tan, almost brown head, and excellent lacing.

Aroma: Huge malt aroma, roasted caramel, with fruity, almost winey, port-like fragrance.

Flavor: Incredible malt complexity: dark chocolate, roasted grains (an almost burnt subcurrent), sweetly coffee-ish. A dried plum or raisin fruitiness lingers underneath. An earthy hop flavor and pleasant bitterness rein in the malt and keep it from cloying. Finish is long, with the taste of highly roasted grains sticking around for a long time.

Body: Lots of body, though carbonation is on the low side. Very nice, quite astringent mouthfeel.

I'm not a big stout drinker, but I have to admire the artistry that went into this superb beer. Beautiful and incredibly toothsome.

allengarvin, Jan 19, 2005
Photo of waughbrew
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Black black black is the color of this truly lovely beer. Small creamy light brown cap with great retention and lacing. Aroma is of tar, oats, raspberries, sourness, and acidity. The flavors are all subtle and blend wonderfully: Seems like a cross between a milk, an oatmeal, and an export stout. Smooth tobacco finishes with chocolate, dark fruit and a bit of acidic sting. I do find that overall there is a surprising lack of coffee, chocolate, and alcohol aromas and flavors. Compared to modern expectation of an Imperial stout, this is very mild, but complex nonetheless. Velvety texture. Quaffable.

Sam Smith products tend not to impress me much, but this beer is very good. However, I get a sense of polish on this brew that somehow comes across as being "over-produced" like a pop album. Perhaps it is because no flavors stick out much - there are no rough edges. When I want an imperial stout, I want the beer to take chances and be a little bolder. This is a nice, smooth brew that I will remember as a stronger sweet stout with very blended, subtle flavors.

waughbrew, Jan 17, 2005
Photo of bloberglawp
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

550 ml served in pint glass @ 14 celcius.

Medium, white/brown head. Little carbonisation, pitch black as it should be. Smell of burn caramel and a little medicinal around the edges. Tastes terrific! I really enjoyed this brew. From begining to end sipping this gem is a real treat for the palate.

I had this stout with porc ribs + "see dick burn" hot sauce. (hotsaucezone.com) Good match but a little harsh on the heartburn front.

bloberglawp, Jan 08, 2005
Photo of tweeder263
2.95/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours out a nice dark beer with tan head,very nice.Aroma of licorice slight alcohol smell not bad.Taste up front is nice ,balanced ,but the lingering bitter afterwards sucks. I had high hopes for this beer and other sam smith beers but now im not quite sure.Nice slick mouthfeel though the taste killed the drinkability of this beer.

tweeder263, Dec 25, 2004
Photo of baiser
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black, with a dense brown head, and sticky lacing. Aroma of prunes, cocoa, burnt coffee, wood and alcohol. Taste is tremendously complex. Roasted, coffee, chocolate notes, raisins, bitterness, touch of alcohol warmth. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Definitely one to be sipped and enjoyed after a meal.

baiser, Dec 24, 2004
Photo of cerevisiaephilus
4.78/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Well...I have to give it a 5 for appearance cause you just can't barely see through this beer. Held directly against a 60watt lightbulb reveals just barely a deep deep reddish/auburn hue. This beer is black and proud of it. Really appropriate carbonation and a beautiful head that leaves a touch of lacing on the glass.

Incredible nose. Just incredible. Strikes me as rich rich bitter chocolate. My favorite kind. Some really nice nuttiness there too. A definately some winey notes. You get the signature sam smith notes times 100. Really really nice.

Really fantastic flavors too. Not quite perfect...but really freakin' good. Definately some strong chocolate malts and some roasted notes too. Very pleasing bitterness. Just right. Fairly strong bitterness, but it really just balances out the rich dark malts nicely. Get the standard Sam Smith flavors as well. Really a wonderful beer.

Mouthfeel is right on the money. Perfect.

I could drink this beer all day long. Really one of my favorites. Warming yet not overwhelming. Rich and complex to keep one interested but not bewildering.

This might be the best deal at my local store: $2.99 for a 550ml bottle. WOW.

cerevisiaephilus, Dec 19, 2004
Photo of GreenWBush
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Phenomenal presentation both in and out of bottle.

Nose reeks of expensive Jamaican coffee, cocoa, vanilla, and raisins above the earthy, fallen leaf profile of SS's yeast. Touch of wet-paper and vinegar hint at improper storage - yet this bottle is of recent vintage, shown by the label printed on the bottom rim of the glass.

Any off characteristics fall away from this beer on the first sip. Absolutely undefinable magic with every sip. The wet roastiness of the beer decries no alcohol presence in the slightest.

Mouthfeel is slick and oily with this young sample, but not at all motor-oil viscous like the modern wave of Imperial stouts. Softly chewable. Addictive. Destructive. Art in a bottle.

GreenWBush, Dec 18, 2004
Photo of slitherySOB
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the most beautiful beers seen. Pure, dark black colour. Even when shone through the light, it's black. No hints of other colours whatsoever. Only other thing darker than this is my ex girlfriends soul. But this is a thing of beauty, hers is a thing of disgust. Two finger, fluffy head the colour of Bailey's irish cream. Very little lace. Smells of roasted malt, bitter chocolate, coffee beans, lactose sweetness, and dark fruits. Taste is roasty and bittersweet. First sip is burnt malt, bitter chocolate and bitter hops. Then, after awhile, it mellows out to a nice sweet flavour. Bread, milk, tobacco and fruits, with an almost smokey aftertaste. Mouthfeel is almost syrupy. I like it. I'll be buying this again. A lovely sipping beer. Not a quaffer. Guzzling this beer is a crime.

slitherySOB, Dec 17, 2004
Photo of GClarkage
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12/15/04- Purchased at Bevmo in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 16.27 oz bottle with no freshness date poured into my Shipyard pint glass.

Appearance- A dark brown pour with an average head and avergae lacing. Nothing spectacular, but better than average.

Smell- I had to really sniff to get a good whiff of dark chocolate, roasted malt and a bit of toffee.

Taste- Very good taste, but for on the toffee and coffee side than the chocolate. I just couldn't pick out that much chocolate taste. But, of the taste I did pick up on, it was very good.

Mouthfeel- Nicely carbonated for an IRS. Went down with ease.

Drinkability- I need to try this one again. I drank it right after an extra hoppy barleywine and my buds may have been off. But for what I did taste it was better than average and I am looking forward to trying it again.

GClarkage, Dec 16, 2004
Photo of ziggy13
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a nice dark black with a half-inch glorious tan head. Aroma was the same as the taste. To me, the alcohol was present but pleasant. It also offered a sweet flavor upfront, finishing with deep flavors of chocolate. The mouthfeel was desirable and because of the subdued alcohol it was surprisingly easy to drink. In its drinkability it differed from most other Imperials, as I could definitely drink a few. Samuel Smith's second best beer. It is second only to the Oatmeal Stoudt.

ziggy13, Dec 14, 2004
Photo of niknar
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a thick, black color with a nice fluffy almond colored head. Head retention was decent, settling to a thin layer across the top within a few minutes. Little to no lacing left behind. The aroma is that of extremely sweet honey and/or molasses, roasted barley, and hints of chocolate and coffee. Also present is the smell of warming alcohol. The flavors mimic the scents as expected: sweet malts and syrups with a nice warming alcohol kick. On top of this, there is a slight carbonation that thins the mix just enough for easy consumption. An easy bitterness finishes off all the sweetness leaving a semi-dry finish. Overall, very well balanced. Mouthfeel is exactly what you would expect from the style: thick and full bodied. Drinkability of this excellent offering is quite high in my book. A definite winner from a well respected brewery... give it a shot!

niknar, Dec 11, 2004
Photo of mynie
4.9/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

BLACK! A very small tan head that doesn't stick around too long. If you look into the glass you see clouds forming and swirling about like cream fingerpaint against a canvas of absence. Beautiful.

Smells like sweet molasses. Hints of coffee and burnt malt. There's also a bit of fruit somewhere in there.

Complex and wonderful flavor. I am overwhelmed and half tempted to just say that this beer is beyond my novice description. Sweet and bitter. Coffee and Cream. Molasses. Bits of heaven. Close your eyes and you're wherever you want to be, your favorite memory of warmth. The first time you taste or experience something new, a new sensation of love or of life, that loss of precious virginity that you simultaneously bemoan and celebrate, that feeling is reborn in every sip.

PERFECT mouthfeel. Beyond fantastic. Full, thick body that doesn't come off as slimy. Just fizzy enough. Fizzy in a strange way, so that it doesn't really affect your the front of your tongue and throat but it tickles the back of your tongue in the most wonderful of ways.

Goes down smooth.

mynie, Dec 09, 2004
Photo of Viggo
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Was really looking forward to trying this one. Poured from a 550 ml bottle, very black with a light beige head and minimal lacing. Smells very sweet and malty with a heavy alcohol presence. Tastes like it smells, heavy, thick and sweet with alcohol and a bitter finish. Very thick and chewy. I enjoyed this one, but I found it very sweet so the drinkability was knocked down some. Recommended though.

Viggo, Dec 07, 2004
Photo of CRJMellor
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a disc of maroon/chestnut at the bottom of the glass as the only hint of light. Thick, light ecru head retains form throughout the pint.
Aroma of heavy chocolate, molasses or sorghum. coffee and roasted barley.
Flavor is full on chocolate espresso with a hint of earthy, peaty bitterness and the presence of a pronounced alcoholic punch.
Mouthfeel is sweetly powerful with a rich, chewy chocolate texture and a roasted middle with a powerful warming hot liquor punch on the finish. Perfect for a snowy, cold Michigan night.
Drinkability is great. Alcoholic and warming punch is much greater than the 7.0 ABV listed. I spent a year in England in college and by the end of that year SS Imp was on my top 2 beers. This brought some crazy memories and great taste.

CRJMellor, Dec 05, 2004
Photo of Rio
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured completely black (a little crimson can be seen around the edges if held up to the light), with a nice, brown/tan head. It receeded quite a bit, but seems to be ready to hang around. Sweet malt smells, a bit of a fruit aroma, and perhaps a bit of a roasted and molasses smells in there, as well.

Sweet taste of black licorice and dark fruits softly there in the beginning, followed by a nice, heavy roasted flavor, and the flavors of sweet malts. A little fuller body, with a nice, smooth, warm feel to it, rounded out by a nice hop bitterness.

A very, very good beer. I think a little too heavy and flavorful to be very drinkable, but I think I'll keep one of these in my frig from now on.

Rio, Nov 23, 2004
Photo of tatterdash
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured an almost black with a foamy tan head. Smell was huge, with roasted malt, burnt toast, dark chocolate, hints of alcohol, I could smell this all day. Taste was almost unbeliveable, with black licorice, dark fruit, dark chocolate, roated malts, very complex, so many flavours, a little over-whelming though. Mouthfeel was like velvet. I had no idea a stout could be this good.

tatterdash, Nov 23, 2004
Photo of pootz
4.63/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1/2 liter clear bottle: poured in beautiful black color with garnet hues when held to a light...marvelous 2 finger mocha frothy meringue head. aromas of coffee-cocoa-dates-sweet anise...the anticipation is running wild at this point. Taste...where to start?...very complex start without a sharp edge ...near complex layered stout perfection...molassass-licorice-espresso-cocoa-burnt treacle all these flavors in a milk body that slowly give way to a slight hop drying in the long finish. One of the best Imp-stouts I’ve tasted ...needs little finishing in a cellar. it’s very mellow and complex and flavourful when fresh. Highly recommended....I will be cellaring a case this winter for sure.

pootz, Nov 23, 2004
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,103 ratings.