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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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3,299 Ratings

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Ratings: 3,299
Reviews: 1,677
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.27%
Wants: 168
Gots: 264 | 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: 3,299 | Reviews: 1,677 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of AlexJ
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks for sharing Gabe, I haven't had this in a few years. It's a treat that takes me back to my earliest good beer memories of sneaking a bottle past my Father and drinking it in the woods behind our house...good stuff.

The color is inky black and capped by a thick and luxuriously dense brown head of tiny bubbles. Lacing is adequate as the beer settles, a veil will remain on the top until the end. It just looks delicious sitting there in my Delirium tulip.

Aromas are dominated by creamy chocolatey malts in all their glory. There are hints of anise, black cherry, plum, raisins, cocoa, and molasses with a delicate floral hop note trailing behind. The very essense of an Olde School RIS is embodied by this aroma.

Everything in the nose translates to the taste. There's creamy chocolate and bittersweet coffee, molasses, dark and jammy fruits, licorice, and a delicate hop finish providing perfect balance. It's every bit as good as it ever was!

The body is wonderfully rich and chewy, with a dense, creamy mouthfeel and very lite carbonation making it even silkier on your tongue. It's texture and mouthfeel are what make this beer a winner!
A pleasure to drink and a great and classic example of the style.

Photo of rousee
4.69/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I think I am in love with the imperial stout style. As I become more and more of a beergeek, this is the one style that taste-wise that does the most for me. This past weekend, I had an Oatmeal stout from Heartland in NYC (it had won a few medals) and it tasted like a baltic porter or an impy stout. This one reminds me of theirs. Very nice indeed.

It pours beautifully--its smooth brown but no head-no lace. Doesn't seem to matter though as the nose is almost perfect for the style. Burnt almond and nice tree bark (burch or cedar-maple oak-mix)is what I get.

Tastewise-there is also some slightly vinous dark cherry/plum and a little chocolate and coffee.
The MF is MF'en kick--ass.

What do I got to do to inspire all my fellow BAs to try this fabulous beer ?? Please ??

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

I have a stigma against Sammy Smiths because all of their bottles are clear. I will concede they are a classic producer, but I hold it against them that they violate a simple rule of brewing technique in favor of marketing.

That being said, their Imperial Stout is my favorite offering of theirs. It's roasted, it's bitter, and it's tasty. It pours with a nice head and has a terrific aroma of esters.

I hope I can find this beer on tap someday.

Photo of brewQ
3.91/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The square shouldered clear bottle holds an opaque oil colored elixir that looks medicinal. It pours out black with a rocky bown sugar to toffee head that holds up well on streams of fine carbonation.

A whiff of caramel accompanied by earthy notes welcome me to the complexity of this fine ale. The sweet yet balanced body holds dark fruity flavors and hops only in supporting roles.

This is more enjoyable for me than some of the more monotonous stouts and porters out there.

Quite drinkable, yet a special occasion beer in my book.
Thank you Merchant du Vin.

Photo of twelvsies
4.67/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Man, this company makes some great brews. Seems as though I discover a brewery and then have to try each of their beers. Sammy Smith has been that brewery recently, along with Fantome. Both great in different ways. This is one of the beers (among several) in their lineup that will now be a permanent part of my "beer rotation." Appears a staunch black color, letting in no light. Smells and tastes are super complex. Lots of different angles coming at me here. First there's a dark fruity component, dried cherries and currants. There's also a nice roasted malt in there and actually a bit of spicy hops that I can definately taste. More odd stuff: milky tones, dust, and a leathery character, like sticking your face in a baseball glove that's been sitting in the sun all day. This beer is almost "funky" in the way that a farmhouse ale might be described, though with out the sour. Really amazing tastes here, very complex once again. Slick warm mouthfeel and the surprises behind every sip make this one a real pleasure to drink. Cheers to Sammy, whoever he may be.

Photo of HardTarget
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma: Slightly soured malt with a good hit of the “dusty” smell I attribute to porters. No sign of hops, slight alcohol edge.
Appearance: Pure black with some carbonation trails noted with serious backlighting. Thick clumpy dark brown head clings to the side of my mug and slowly follow the beer down.
Flavor: Rich sour malt. I don’t know how they get that sour, maybe it is just lots of malt. Some roasted character, some creamed coffee flavors, some nutty flavors, some unsweetened chocolate, slight alcohol tinge which I find serves to accent the other flavors.
Mouthfeel: The medium body seems out of place for the rich flavor, but with the low carbonation level it really helps you drink this beer up.
Overall Impression: This is one of my standby favorites. Rich yet drinkable, dark yet refreshing, a great session beer, but the 7% will make it a lively or short session. I think this stands up better in the old “Imperial Stout” category rather than the Russian Imperial Stout category. It is a bit more refined, a bit less charred or tarred. I’m surprised I hadn’t reviewed this yet. I think I was saving it for a special occasion. It turned out it was a Early Monday Morning occasion (1am).

Photo of Hunter
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Black as pitch brew pours with a thick, substantial head of dark brown foam. Head hangs around long enough to avoid negative marks.

Notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and smoked barley in the nose. Smells smooth and complex without being abrasive. Solid.

Velvet smooth mouthfeel quickly gives way to a slightly metallic, certainly bracing hit of alcohol, followed by notes of coffee, smoke, and cocoa. Bitter in the aftertaste that is neither pleasant nor terribly distracting, given the nature of the style. funny, the alcohol taste present in other imperial stouts I've tried isn't as harsh on the flavor profile, despite being higher than the 7% here.

Certainly a worthy representation of the style, but my money's on Stone's version, thank you.

Photo of maek228
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got an 18 oz. bottle at a nice restaurant. Ate an 8 oz. Angus Burger with it. Not the best pairing ever, but it definitly got the job done.

Appearance: Black and decanted with a 2 finger frothy head. Head had a orange/red hue to it.

Smell: Columbian coffee, unsweetened chocolate, heavy malts, and hops.

Taste: Bitter strong coffee...not quite an expresso taste, more like a Columbian or Arabian coffee from Starbucks. This is an upfront flavor, other flavors are dark chocolate, roasted malts, and some bitter hops that linger. Also, with this one there was a heavy alcohol taste. I've had this beer about 5 other times before this, and usually I don't get the alcohol flavor...but this time it was quite noticable.

Mouthfeel: Ma-ma-ma-ma-malt. Clings to your mouth. Nice.

Drinkability. Drank two 18 oz.ers tonight. DAMN.

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

Imperial stouts/baltic porters are probably one of my favourite styles, but they are very hard for me to get.

Pitch black appearance, thin deep khaki head with that typical winey-malt smell. Not as sour in the nose as Sinebrychoff or North Coast Brewing.

Taste is a deep malt flavour with that hint of wine that I've come to expect from Imperial stouts. Again, not quite as sour as some of the others I've had, but this in no way detracts from it. A bit weaker in flavour than some others, but very very tasty and rich. Easily a dessert in itself.

Quite drinkable, despite the 7% abv. I could have two or three of these as a dessert if I could get them easily.

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

**Updating my review from almost 4 years ago**

Pours a clear brown that is so dark that is nearly black, with mahogany tinges at its edges. Two finger tall brown head that smells of pure milk chocolate, some black licorice. Sharp taste is more of bitter dark chocolate, roasted nuts and dark fruits. Full bodied, finishes dry, with lingering flavor of bitter roasted coffee and alcohol. Light carbonation lends a certain smoothness and elegance its heavy weight. A nearly perfect classic that I hope they never alter.

Photo of HogHill
3.81/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured this single into a Stone Imperial Stout snifter. The dark dark brown mass of liquid supported a one inch tan colored head. It smelled sweet and dark malts, dark chocolate and a bit of ground coffee, but overall the aroma wasn't on par with some of the other double/imperial stouts I've tried. Tasted malty, again on the sweet side. Chocolate and coffee flavors are present backed by some hop bitterness, and it all concludes with a warm finish (the 7% right there). It is medium bodied and on the lower than average on the carbonation scale. Overall a very nice beer that stout lovers will go back to time and time again.

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

Deep dark brown almost black appearance with a nice foaming tan head that dissipated to a thin layer of foam with decent lace. I'm not seeing any light penetrate this brew. Aroma is sweet consisting of roasted malt, molasses, chocolate, wine and some floral-like flavors from the hops. Taste is all about the malts and is smooth and creamy with molasses notes up front followed by earthy hop flavors.

What a nice beer.

Photo of karst
4.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The first of a 5 beer tasting (its rum-like 7% abv, strong coffee, and roasted malt were sure to walk on the next few samples)
pours black as deep space topped with nearly eternal and heavenly head of brown. Alcoholic aroma of rum rules over lesser aromas of prunes, malts, molasses, brownies and coffee. Similar tastes are smooth, creamy and provide a full mouthfeel. Finishes with bitter chocolate and smoke.

The complexity and fun of drinking this pulled my mind from taking notes. I must revisit this Imperial greatness.

Photo of santoslhalper
3.77/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearence: Pours a thick black with a thin, even collar of a head.

Smell: The smell is incredibly strong. The roasted and chocolate notes are *almost* overbearing, but still well balanced.

Taste and Mouthfeel: The taste is an incredibly slick chocolate taste, with GIANT roasted nut and coffee notes peeking through everywhere. The balance achieved is pretty impressive indeed. The mouthfeel is incredibly oily and slick.

Drinkability and Overall: While this is a wonderful tasting beer, 1 or 2 and you're done. The flavor is too strong and too potent to make it a very drinkable beer. This is a solid, fun to drink stout, but I'd recommend Bell's Expidition Stout over this one.

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

550ml bottle – just the right amount for a light evening. Very impressive, indeed. From the initial dark brown / black pour with a foamy brown head, to the last drop. Nice lacing all the way down the pint glass. Aroma and tastes of chocolate malt, little bit of coffee. Smooth thin to medium mouthfeel, tangy throughout. Odd finish was heavy on black licorice!!

Tried it again, and yeah, now I understand the Impys. Great brew that would go well on a cool evening, while watching football.

Photo of ski271
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black with a light brown, small, creamy, slowly dissipating head. Not that much lacing.

Smell: Sweet, espresso-like, and lightly fruity, like bananas and plums. Roasted malts are pungent and wonderful.

Taste: Roasted malts and coffee, touch of bittersweet chocolate, and hints of toffee, raison and smoke. The finish is long and Alcohol is present but not too strong, just to A marvelously complex beer!

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick body, creamy texture and almost syrupy with it how it clings to your mouth leaves a sweetness of the lips, but still light enough that it’s not a chore to polish off.

Drinkability: No, I wouldn’t want to drink a bunch of these. But that’s the style for you. I love sitting back and taking my sweet old time milking sipping down a bottle or two of this stuff.

Excellent imperial stout, one of the best I’ve ever had.

Photo of goodbyeohio
1.56/5  rDev -62.6%
look: 5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

wow, this beer looks friggin great. dark as night, huge tan head. looks like a two-layer cake. head is going nowhere, had a bit of the guinness waterfall effect upon pour.

aroma is somewhat gross, like old leather and mold. someone said 'beef jerky,' and i can see a note of meatiness. interesting, but odd.

wow this tastes foul. it tastes like a suitcase that was left in the basement for years. then the basement was flooded, and the leather buckled and grew mildew in the cracks. i hate to say it, but this is going right down ye olde tadcaster draine.

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

355 ml bottle. This beer pours out an impenetrable black color with a dark brown head. The aroma in incredibly complex: toffee, molasses, grapes, chocolate, plums, and more. Bitter chocolate flavor. Slightly tangy raison flavor. Noticable alcohol. This beer has a great, complex flavor. Be sure to let it warm up some if you're drinking this refrigerated, because some of the flavors really start coming out as it warms. Highly recommended

Photo of sinistermadman
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This stout pours a deep dark brown. Light transmittance is next to nothing...Emanates a pancake looking burly head which sticks around with a vengeance. This is a good looking stout.

Smell consists of burnt toffee, roasted barley, coffee, some residual sweetness in what I describe as a subtle raisin aroma. Smell is very crisp and sweet, very earthy.

Taste is damn good. This stout has a medium body which is delightfully smooth. Righteous roasted barley at the forefront which tapers into a slightly astringent sensation on the palate. I get a sense of toffee, some caramel flavors; alcohol sugars are a perfect finish to this very well crafted stout.

Mouthfeel is lighter than a lot of stouts, but the flavor is not subdued in the least. Very tasty. Drinkability is a 5 in my book. This would go great with an espresso or a nice cigar.

All in all a delicious stout that is worth the price of admission. Cheers.

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

The big gun from S. Smith's.

Appearance: Jet black, with nice mocha head which sustained well. Just what you'd want to see in a classic imperial stout.
Smell: Rock-ish, mixed with a toffee, burnt toast aroma. Inviting.
Taste: Mix of nice roasted and chocolate malts, plus the unmistakeable mineral component of Yorkshire slate up front and in the middle. Finished with an alcoholic warmth -- subtle, campfire like.
Mouthfeel: Balanced pretty-well, through and through. Must be a fairly well-attenuated brew.
Drinkability: Great, uniquely made imperial stout. Well crafted.

Photo of BurghBrewPSU
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice black. Rather clear, not too thick. Smells of chocolate and coffee. Tastes sweet, not too sweet, but just right. Chocolate, coffee, molasses, and some hints of fig make for a delightful beer. Overall this is a tasty brew. I have had some imperial stouts where I couldnt finish the last couple sips. I enjoyed this beer to the last sip.

Photo of Shultzerdugen
4.82/5  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!

Photo of neonbrown82
3.87/5  rDev -7.2%
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.

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
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!!!

Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
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.

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 3,299 ratings.