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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout - Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

Not Rated.
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

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1,704 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,704
Hads: 3,485
Avg: 4.17
pDev: 16.31%
Wants: 214
Gots: 386 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,704 | Hads: 3,485
Photo of falloutsnow
3.59/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

2012-04-15 Review

Bottle from Whole Foods
No bottled on date
Poured into a tulip glass

I was more impressed with Samuel Smith several years ago, when I first started drinking beer. Sampling a bottle of their imperial stout for the first time in a few years makes me think of three possibilities: my palate cannot detect the goodness that I once thought was evident in this beer after comparing it to fresher domestic varieties, that my inexperienced palate was finding flavors and aromas that didn't exist, or that I've just purchased an old bottle. Since I have no way of knowing about the last item, I have to rely on my senses and claim that I no longer find this beer as enjoyable due to palate development and comparison. While S. Smith's Imperial Stout is still a decent version, in this case I have to say that I enjoy the United States' assertive varieties more.

Pours a 2cm head of dark tan to light brown bubbles, small in size, forming a smooth and cloud-like appearance. Head descends somewhat quickly to a nice-looking cap atop the beer, leaving small spots of lacing in its wake. Body is dark brown to black in color with dark amber brown highlights. Carbonation is barely visible along sides of glass.

Aroma is a bit light, and I have to do some heavy digging to get anything distinct, but mostly of roasted malt, molasses, dried plums, and a bit of chocolate.

Taste opens with some roasted malt sweetness and mild bitterness. The sweetness could be described a bit as dried plums or currants, but I find it has more in common with roastd malt. Mild black licorice and molasses flavors emerge a bit further back, giving way to a bit more roasted malt sweetness, bitterness, and very faint coffee around mid-palate. Fades out with a rush of sweetness, licorice, and slight chocolate. Pleasant aftertaste of roasted malt and a bit of dark chocolate. In general, good tasting, but a bit one-dimensional with heavy emphasis on roasted malt and sweetness, and not particularly "strong" tasting, either.

Mouthfeel is essentially perfect for the style: gently carbonated, creating a smooth foam on the palate that moves across easily and is highly enjoyable. Finish is dry

2005-12-18 Review

A: Thick, dense, two-finger head that is light brown in color. The beer is completely black and impenetrable to light; one knows nothing of what is transpiring within the liquid as all carbonation and sediment would be completely enveloped by this darkness. Spotty streaks of lacing are left on the sides of the glass as the head deflates.

S: Traces of chocolate, prunes, molasses and roasted cereals.

T: Slightly burnt, but dense malt sweetness with hints of raisins and plums. Transitions to the deep flavor found in dark dessert wines and port. Some smokiness and sweetness in the aftertaste, but no noticeable hop presence. Alcohol taste becomes more present as the beer warms.

M: Medium-heavy body, very light carbonation, evincing a rich and smooth beer with a dry finish.

D: Highly flavorful and complex with deep, dark secrets. A beer that I'd only venture once a night, but that is worthy of drinking during many winter nights.

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Photo of n2185
3.57/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours black with two fingers of tan head that fades into a thin cap with solid lacing.

S: Roasted malts with sweet cocoa, molasses, and some dark fruits like prunes and raisins dominate. There are also some faint licorice and bubblegum notes underneath.

T: Roasted malts here as well with semi-sweet chocolate, a bit of molasses, and some licorice flavors. The finish is slightly bitter and charred.

M: Medium-thick body with medium carbonation, this beer is pretty drinkable for a stout while avoiding being too watery or sticky.

O: A solid beer, overall, and definitely a unique take on the style.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.56/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I guess I'm going to be the one to go against trend here but I can't help how I feel about this beer. So here it goes....

Appearance: Great appearance. Pours black as black can be. Lovely dark brown head that forms but after one sip, it's gone. Still, it leaves nice lacings around the glass.

Smell: Very complex. I definitely smell dried fruits (raisins or prunes) with some malty undertones. I don't pick up much other than the sweetness.

Taste: This is where I was let down. I really enjoyed the taste however, I just thought it was a very one-dimensional brew. I picked up the taste of licorice, raisins, and a slightly dry and mild alcohol finish. It just didn't taste as big or as complex as I had hoped.

Mouthfeel: Very full and chunky but not very balance. Virtually no carbonation which made this beer feel very heavy.

Drinkability: I can't imagine having more than one of these at a time. Leaves you feeling very full.

Overall: I'd definitely recommend trying it once. Maybe this is closer to the true style of an RIS and maybe the only ones I've tried have deviated from this standard. So maybe I'm the one that's screwed up. Also, with all the review I read, expectations were pretty high. Who knows...

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Photo of MiScusi
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From a 16.9oz brown bottle. Pours a deep black in the glass, but small amounts of the liquid show it to be a clear reddish brown. The head is a light tan, frothy, thin, and dissipates pretty quickly. The smell and taste are both heavily roasted and I don't get much out of it other than that. A little too one dimensional for me.

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Photo of emerge077
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black body, mahogany brown as it's poured. Tan foam that manages to stick around. Minor strands of lacing here and there.

When the stout is first poured, there's a strange yet interesting balsamic vinegar undertone, with black olive. It's also slightly metallic, which lended itself to these aromas. There was also some dark fruit like plum or raisin. No trace of alcohol.

Flavor is plummy, with an earthy roast that creeps out halfway through. Some carob or chocolate syrup, not exactly pure. Low astringency, medium level of carbonation. Not especially sweet or bitter, it's fairly mild feeling. It's easily drinkable and enjoyable, but overall not that remarkable.

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Photo of largadeer
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance - Black, slight transparency as it thins. Pours with about an inch of frothy brown head.

Smell - Vinous, subdued dark chocolate sweetness, notes of dark fruit, burnt bread and anise.

Taste - Black licorice, toast, molasses and dark chocolate. Deep roasted notes and a red wine-like drying bitterness come out in the finish. Medium-bodied and moderately carbonated. Nicely balanced.

Notes - A very approachable Russian Imperial Stout - it's warming but not overly heavy or bitter, and it still has plenty of character. That said, I'd take Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout over this any day.

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Photo of Dicahomebrewing
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured very black. Leaving a small head, with bubbles still coming up for air.

A very roasted taste, with chocolate, with a tiggle in the back of the tongue.

Low alc. percentage for a RIS, but well done.

There is somthing that I smell but i can't explane it.

Overall its a good brew, not great for a RIS, but very drinkable.

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Photo of herman77
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Date code is SF10k1 and according to the international fresh beer only site, it was bottled on June 10th, 2011.

A: Dark dark brown, pretty much black with a light tan head with decent retention. A bit of spotty lacing.

S: Mineral water. Roasted malt and a bit of sweetness.

T: Very nice balance of roasted malt and sweetness. Very smooth. It has that mineral water or hard water taste again that is found in the nose. Short finish that is a bit sweet with roasted malt.

M: Medium body, soft carbonation that is really soft on the tongue.

O: Not bad. Pretty good drinkability. Wish it was fresher though.

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Photo of rjs
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-Poured into a pint glass, and the appearance looked great. Opaque Black with a tan, soapy head. The head kept retention throughout.

S-I picked up some mint, cherry dark chocolate in the nose.

T-Picked up some light chocolate notes, dark fruit, then just a hint of dry red wine. Finished dry with a heavy burnt toast note.

M-Felt pretty thin next to many other RIS offerings. Was expecting something more substantial.

O-This is a great looking brew, but the taste and mouthfeel fall just a little bit short for me when compared to other RIS I've had.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a pitch black with one full finger of dark khaki colored head. The foam is think and frothy, and takes forever to diminish. There is a ton of lacing left on the glass as it drinks.

S: The nose is caramel, chocolate, raisin, and soy. Uhh ohh. I'm in for a bad time. It smells a touch sour and just off. How long has this been sitting on the shelf at my local beer store?

T: It starts out sweet with roasted malt, caramel, and toffee. I get some milk chocolate in the middle, but nothing that dominates. I'll tell you what does dominate, though... sour. I get soy sauce and lacto throughout. Bummer man. The finish is more lacto and toffee.

M: Full bodied beer. This one has some good heft. It's coating but not syrupy. The flavors seem to be ok (minus that brutal sourness). I'm actually a bit taken aback by the toffee notes in this beer.

O: Not a fan. The off flavors really ruin this beer. I hope it's just a bad bottle, but who knows. I will try this again sometime down the road, but will prefer to seek this out on draft.

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Photo of mbrown26
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pub glass. As I'm trying more beers, I'm learning stouts may not be my personal preference, but I imagine this would be very good for the style, which is I why I gave it higher marks than I normally would.

A: Had a nice dark, oil like color with a one finger head that didn't want to stay around too long.

S: Smelled great with chocolate and some mocha.

T: If you like stouts, this is probably a fine example. Not hoppy and plenty of flavor. Alcohol is well hidden, but has a nice balance.

M: Creamy and thick.

D: Fairly easy to take down.

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Photo of RashyGrillCook
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- As black as night topped with a deep beige head.
S- Dominated by breads and grains. Some sweet chocolate and java, as well as, a hint of the 7%ABV.
T&M- Very malty, super sweet with a bitter finish. Some chocolate notes coming through and a bit of a warm booze tinge. The feel is creamy, smooth, and heavy.

A good beer, but I felt it was either too sweet for the amount of bitterness or too bitter for the amount of sweetness.

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Photo of fullsweep
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

355 mL brown bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: thick foamy heady, beige in colour; solid black brew underneath--so dark that even light didn't pierce through; plenty of lacing, slow dissipation of head.

S: strong, roasted barley predominant, toasted nuts as well

T: syrupy, quite a bit of alcohol in the flavour as well--a bit too much for my liking

M: thick and rich

D: while enjoyable, this was slightly less appealing. I would certainly try it again, as this was my first introduction to an Imperial. Can't see this being a go-to beer for me, but I'm happy to be proven wrong.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

$2.29 12 oz. (355 ml) single at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a decidedly black body with an expansive, light khaki-colored head.

Smell: Lightly chocolaty, roasted malt nose with notes of soy sauce, aged, though basic port wine, apples, and black licorice.

Taste: Roasted barley grains with touches of unsweetened chocolate and caramel with an earthy, soy sauce-esque taste running through the flavor. Hint of licorice and ripe red apples. Bits of sweetness pick up here and there. Splash of spiced prune juice. Very, very distant buttery hint. Small hints of yeast and alcohol. Finishes fruity, with a very slight metallic hint creeping into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Slight, oat-esque creaminess to the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Still a fine, decent RIS, even with those dirty nickels. But, if I had my druthers, I'd reach for a Taddy Porter instead.

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Photo of scottoale
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the typical Samual Smith 550ml. clear glass pours a nearly black, just a hue of burgundy when held to light, with light brown foam capping. Two fingers thick rises from a fairly mild pour, then dies down to just a surface layer and a bit of lacing.

Burnt malt, dark coffee, sweet chocolate and a note of grassy hops. As it warms a bit, the hops stand out with a wiff of alcohol.

Sweet, yet bittery dark malty front that blends in some caramel, coffee, chocolate, tobacco and prunes, then turns lettuce and finishes bitterly clean. Rather well balanced.

With a medium plus body, it has a creamy as well as a tangy mouthfeel, with a pleasant warming of the alcohol ending each quaff. This stout fits the bill and it's definitely worth tasting.

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Photo of riored4v
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 1/29/11

Poured in to a pint. Good 1.5 finger head, pitch black body. Head was dark tan.

Smell was estery and a bit off/weird. Very mild roast Good amount of sweetness. Strong raisin.

Taste had strong raisin and ester presence. Very mild roast with a good amount of sweetness. Some yeasty/english presence with a very light bitterness. Some chocolate notes as well.

Mouthfeel had a medium/light body. Light carb, slightly sticky finish.

Drinkability was decent. Lots of ester and raisin. Even splitting the bottle, 1 was enough.

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Photo of jdklks
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

aggressively poured into an over-sized wine glass, producing a 1 1/2 finger tan-brown head. black with amber edges. smells of english hops and yeast (not surprisingly of course) and roasted coffee malt that provides a welcoming sweetness.

taste is thin and dry, an unbalanced sugary sweetness with little punch. for an imperial stout, not a whole lot of complexity. not much here besides a sugary sweetness accompanied by a barely perceptible hop bite that saves it from being too sweet.

mouthfeel is nice as far as thickness goes, but it is over-carbonated, and the aftertaste is too sweet on the palate.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, they've now switched to brown bottles.

black, with ruby highlights in the edges. almost no head. aroma is of roasty, but mild. taste is also mild roasted malt flavor, but not overly complex or bold. body is not as thick as most Imperial Stouts.

A solid beer, but just doesn't stand up to the top versions of this style.

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Photo of Qbdoo
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A solid beer. Black with frothy tan head and strong licorice and anise flavors, as well as roasted malt and a hint of chocolate. Feel is thin for an imperial stout. Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout was one of my early introductions to craft and stout, so I'd looked forward to trying this for years but had never come across it. I suspect that 10 years ago this would have blown me away but now it ranks as a bargain imperial stout and a good introduction to the style.

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Photo of Mistofminn
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Since Imperial Stouts have easily been my favorite styles lately, I figured I had to give this staple of the style a try.

550 ml bottle poured into a tulip. Dark opaque brown, nearly black colored liquid and a creamy lighter than expected tan head. Fizzes out rather quickly, not the greatest sign. Leaves a tiny bit of lacing here and there.

The nose is slightly muted, but I get molasses, lightly toasted malts, very sweet, possibly some coffee and chocolate. Not a whole lot going on, definitely not as much as I would expect from an Imperial Stout. On a good note, there is no alcohol present?

The taste, unfortunately, is even more muted than the nose. It's really sweet, much more than I was expecting. Molasses, toasted malts, dark coffee, chocolate and cream, it's all there, albeit muted.

Mouthfeel is much lighter than I expected also. It's incredibly smooth and creamy though! Very low carbonation only adds to the smooth and creamyness.

Drinkability is pretty good. Since the ABV is so low (compared to others in the style) this could be a pretty good "session" Imperial Stout. It's just not for me. I'm a fan of big, thick and chewy, sticky and slimey stouts. This isn't one of those.

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Photo of Stunner97
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- very dark black with not a speck of light coming through this one, a big thick tan head off the pour, dark and menacaing

Smell- rich and strongly malty, milk chocolate, roasted malts, very sweet nose, not a super powerful nose but an over riding sweet one

Taste- sweet chocolate and malts, slight and i mean very slight bitter roasted malts on the back end but manly just very much a malt bomb, raisins and brown sugar sweetness up front quickly fade out, short to average finish, a nice flavor but not as powerful as many of the newer style stouts,

Mouthfeel- heavy thick and smooth body,

Drinkability- this stout is very easy to session but I think its because its almost extremely simplistic for what we have now come to expect from a good imperial stout, now I am not saying this is not a decent beer in its own right cuz its certainly enjoyable and easy to session through but its just not a game changer, short finish for sure and rather one dimensional, that said its worth trying and its certainly one you could easily session down with glee

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Photo of johnmichael712
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured out of a 12 oz bottle into a nonic glass. There is no freshness date on the bottle. This beer pours a deep black color that just barely allows some lamp light through it, but in normal light you'd swear it's as black as they come. The two-fingered head is easily formed and is a beautiful medium brown color that takes quite a long time to dissipate, and eventually fades to a ring around the top of the beer with moderate surface coverage. A good amount of Belgian lace is left behind on the sides of my glass, and this is one fabulous looking beer.

Smell: The nose of this beer isn't as strong as some of the other Russian Imperial Stouts I've had, but it's still a pleasure to behold. Notes of black and chocolate roasted malts are well balanced with bittersweet chocolate, blackstrap molasses, and black currant fruit. There are also hints of espresso and a coffee-like earthiness, and a bit of alcohol to round it all out. Overall a subdued, yet wonderfully balanced, nose.

Taste: This beer starts out with a moderate acidity that has strong notes of raisins and other dark fruits, along with a strong hop flavor that is reminiscent of bitter orange peel or lemon zest. The flavor then moves to a moderate amount of roasted malt flavor that has notes of bittersweet chocolate and freshly-ground coffee, and this beer finally fades to a bit off treacle toffee sweetness and alcohol flavor along with a bit more acidity and hop flavor that compliments the exceptionally dry finish. I have to complain, however, because there are times that the flavor of this beer is downright astringent, and for a beer that's only 7% that's quite a shame. I was expecting a bit more complexity and depth, and unfortunately Sam didn't deliver.

Mouthfeel: I was surprised with my first sip of Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout, mainly because it doesn't feel like some of the much heavier American versions that I've been drinking lately. This one is much more acidic, much more carbonated, and bit oilier. Other than that, this beer has a medium body with a pleasant creamy-smoothness.

Drinkability: Not an exceptionally heavy beer, the texture and the low carbonation makes it possible to put back quite a few of these. The acidity, however, might be a bit too much, but this beer still manages to maintain good drinkability.

Notes: Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is definitely a classic beer, and it's hard to fault something that's been winning gold medals since 1896 and that comes from as respected a brewery as Samuel Smith's. Unfortunately, however, I must do exactly that, and in my opinion this beer is no where near the level of Stone's IRS, North Coast's Old Rasputin, Founder's RIS, or countless other Russian Imperial Stouts. For a category of beer that is absolutely bursting forth with quality, Samuel Smith's version just isn't quite what I'm looking for. Judging by the other ratings for this beer it's possible that I got a bad bottle, but it's more likely that this beer just isn't quite up to snuff. I'll be buying this beer again to see if this was just a bad bottle, so look for possible changes coming up.

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Photo of NCBeernut
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I managed to pour this whole thing in my Sam Adams oktoberfest mug that really has seemed to be a great for getting the most out of stouts. Dark brown, but not quite black, as the light will show. Big bubbly head that crackles like a soda, except with better retention and more dense.

Anise, belgian yeast and the dark fruit smell that tends to go along with it. Only a hint of roasted malt makes it through. a bit of alcohol and some apples.

Here comes the roasted malt that was hiding in the nose...so smooth. Anise is still there. The taste is complex. Dark fruit show up mostly at the beginning and give way to the roasted tastes. Maybe some apples somewhere in the taste as well. It all blends together surprisingly well. I couldn't drink too much of this though.

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Photo of silentjay
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

not quite black with a generous light khaki head that sticks around a while and laces ok.

some coffee and chocolate, lots of caramel but with a lot of fruity, earthy, herbal, buttery english qualities to it. like a roasted english brown ale. not bad.

taste is dominated by black-strap molasses as well as lots of caramel. chocolate, coffee, toffee and soy sauce as well. some fruitiness with hints of dates, figs and raisins. ok.

medium bodied with a lot of syrupy molasses stickiness left in the mouth as well as some lingering sweetness.

drinks ok. flavor, aroma, and body are dominated a bit too much by molasses. complexity is lacking though its a decent brew.

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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.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 1,704 ratings.