Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...
Dismiss Notice
Join The Buzz! Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest BeerAdvocate updates delivered to your inbox.

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,697 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,697
Hads: 3,463
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.03%
Wants: 208
Gots: 369 | 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.
View: Beers (31) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,697 | Hads: 3,463
Photo of marburg
4.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ever have a great evening that peaks around midnight? A flurry of activity, a little alcohol, pitch black outside, etc? This beer is that night put neatly inside a bottle for your consumption.

The beer pours uber-black with a fluffy tan head that measures about a 1/4 inch in thickness. I often hold stouts to the light to catch the "real" color as the light shines through (eg, Guinness has that deep ruby red, etc), but this one was midnight, man. Just sheet darkness.

Lively, exciting aromas. Chocolate, prune juice, coffee...more or less a wacky latte. Tastes are comprised of much the same mix of fun, fabulous flavors. Chocolate, malt...leads into a light hop presence that tastes more like a smell -- if that makes any sense -- than a bitterness. A little roasted flavor lingers on the tongue afterwards. Nothing harsh, not too roasted or too strong.

Amazingly drinkable. There are certainly imperials that are higher in abv. But this one HAS to be rated high on its drinkability -- great taste and a slightly low alcohol content means you can drink all the more of it before you have to stop. (1,109 characters)

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

Color is black as black can be, and the head is proud, large and a creamy tan color. Aroma is warm and wonderfully delicious, soft, creamy, notes of chocolate, slightly roasty, and edging into darker flavors, but not quite there. Palate is deliriously sweet and inviting. Mouthfeel: sursprisingly smooth and untroubled, gentle, harmonious, thick with malt, mellow with hops.
Very smooth drinking for an Imperial. I haven't had one of these in a long time, and have spoiled myself with the bolder, brasher, and far more adventurously flavored (roasted, malted, hopped, everywhichway) American versions, the Old Rasputins, Stormkings, Expeditions, Rogues, and Stones...
But, I can't help liking it. Great stout, delicicious,delightful, but a bit weak, at a "mere" 7%, compared to similar brews from "the colonies". Quite tasty, but I'd love it if they'd ever stretch out some. (876 characters)

Photo of jeffboo
3.49/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Twilight zone stout. A pretty shiny black color with a light brown top. Aroma was a subdued roasted malt with a hint of chocolate, much lighter than the Imperials I've been drinking. The flavor leaned toward chocolate and a little acidity,there was also a red wine flavor that seemed out of place (maybe a little oxidized?). It had a nice medium body that made it nice drinking and hid the alcohol well, but the finish was also shorter than others of the same ilk.Not overly impressed with this sample- I may have to revisit it soon. (533 characters)

Photo of Quaffer
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: The room dimmed noticeably when I poured this light-absorbing beer into my glass. It was jet black. A dark tan head rose up huge thanks to an aggressive pour (Grrrrrr!). I sat back and waited for the head to subside. And waited . . . and waited some more. I went downstairs and refinished my kitchen floor. Came back up to a heady beer. I went outside and gapped the spark plugs in the car. Came back in to a heady beer. This thing just wouldn't go away! Finally, after I had reorganized my bedroom closet by color, the head dwindled into a manageable, dense layer over the top of the beer. At this point, it started to leave a hint of lace on the glass.

Smell: This was definitly a unique smelling brew. It had a semi-sweet smell of raisins, plums, and light smoke.

Mouthfeel: A very smooth, medium- to full-bodied beer. It had an oily, viscous feeling to it.

Taste: The aroma transferred right over into the flavor of this beer. There were hints of raisins and plums combined with fruitcake. There was also a big maltiness, but I felt its chewiness more than I really tasted it. Towards the finish there was a light smokiness and a bitterness that I could only taste way back in my mouth, almost in my throat.

This was my first time with this beer. It was okay and had some very nice qualities, but the flavor just wasn't my thing. (1,357 characters)

Photo of BeerBuilder
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours completely black with a light brown head with good lacing. The aroma is alcoholic, chocolatey, raisiny, and malty. The flavors are roasty malt and chocolate with hints of coffee. The mouthfeel is amazing on this brew. It is smooth, creamy, and silky, like their Oatmeal Stout. This is an excellent full-bodied brew; a definite favorite. (342 characters)

Photo of Bruiser81
3.01/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a deep brown if not black with a two finger tan head that didn't stick around long. The nose was dominated by fruit, alcohol, and a little maltiness The taste was extremely sweet, almost like a sour sweet. It also had sort of an astringent taste but it wasn't good. The mouthfeel was medium, but I didn't like how it sat on the palate. I'm not sure what the word is maybe tannic? I was disappointed with this brew especially after all the good reviews. Maybe it was skunked. I've never had a skunked beer. (512 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An opaque black body is capped by a foamy tan head that holds exceptionally well. It eventually drops, but maintains a creamy collar & thin surface covering throughout the glass. Some very nice Brussel's lace adds to the appearance. The aroma expresses dark fruit (currant, plum), dark chocolate, roastiness, and molasses. The medium/full body combines with a fine and moderate carbonation to give a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. The exceptionally rich, sweet malt expresses chocolate, toffee, roast, and coffee that's backed by a firm hop bitterness. It starts fruity (raisin, prune), developing sweetness and chocolate, but most of the flavors appear after the swallow when the tastebuds are no longer being overwhelmed. Fruit bursts forth followed by chocolate and rich caramel/molasses, then some floral hop flavor, and finally its roastiness appears - coffee-like and still somewhat chocolatey - with a borderline smokiness. The long and complex finish is what makes this beer... it's meant to be savored! It may at first seem more restrained than other examples of the style (and essentially it is), but a closer look reveals an immensely drinkable and exceptionally complex stout. Quite well done and well worth seeking out. (1,230 characters)

Photo of Bierman9
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It's been over a year since I've tried one of these....
This stout pours inky-black, with nary a glimmer of light able to penetrate. Head lasts quite well, being a stable 1/4" thick, tan, finely-bubbled layer. Lacing coats the sides of the glass in fine fashion. Nose is an amalgam of malty sweetness, some chocolate, and dark fruit to boot, with probably an emphasis on the latter. It has a smooth, creamy feel on the tongue, yet I find it a bit thin for the style. That was the same fault I found with it in Dec '01, according to some old notes. Dark fruit flavors also meld with a smidge of bitter chocolate to form a rather tasty brew. Sweetness is the order of the day at kick-off, with some bitter character in mid-session, but by the last quarter a slightly fruity, dry character sets in.
Though I don't feel it has the full, rich flavor of some Imperials, it is highly drinkable nonetheless. Cheers!

overall: 4.35
appearance: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4.5

478 (1,002 characters)

Photo of Mitchster
4.66/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Oily black brew with just a wisp of brown at the edges...forms a 1/4" dark tan head which thins but always leaves an insulating layer. Carbonation is mild to moderate with small bubbles. Aroma is raisins, prunes, toffee, semisweet chocolate, and dark maple syrup. Despite the clear bottle, there are no noticeable off aromas...smells great. Mouthfeel is slick and chewy. Taste is initially black licorice, dark molasses, prunes, dates and figs, fading into a somewhat unpleasant metallic tinge, followed by wine-ish notes, ending in a long, pleasant caramelized sugar sweetness. Hops are restrained, letting the complexities of the malts shine through. An enjoyable brew...incredibly easy to drink for an imperial stout (easy to put 3-4 of these away in one sitting), and a good source of calories when shoveling the snow out of your driveway on a windy winter night. (867 characters)

Photo of cbl2
4.87/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Perhaps my favorite beer of all time, Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout pours from the bottle almost pitch black with a nice quarter inch head that rapidly settles and laces the side of the glass.

The aromas that emanate from the chalice (I like to drink my stouts in chalices...) are malty and sweet, like molasses (with a little tar tossed in) and chocolate.

The flavors that fill your mouth upon tasting are heavenly: first sweet with the chocolate that was hinted in the aroma followed by coffee flavors, and a slightly bitter finish that lingers (if you don't immediately take another sip that is).

I would drink this everyday if it weren't so expensive. A must have if you've never tried it!!! (706 characters)

Photo of scottum
4.53/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Mmmmmm stout!

Pours out very dark with a nice fluffy brown head. This is a nice beer. Dry and the taste blows one away. Me for one. Goes down smooth with no notable aftertaste. This is my first imperial stout and I am very impressed. This is certainly not the last of these to test my belly. More will follow; the sooner, the better. (336 characters)

Photo of UncleJimbo
3.86/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This stout is very dark brown (almost black, with there are hints of red if held to the light). It pours to give very little foam head. There is only a trace of an aroma (not unusual for a stout). The taste was full with the flavors of bitter chocolate and coffee coming through the dark malt. Not much hop character. The mouthfeel is sweet and smooth, and the body is medium. The drinkability is good for this strong stout. (424 characters)

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentataion: Clear 12 oz bottle with foil-topped cap. Many statements as to the nobility of this beer.

Appearance: Dark...opaque. Like a black hole. No light passes through this beer. "Coffee with cream"-colored head that stubbornly refuses to leave any portion of the glass uncoated.

Aroma: Incredibly deep. Like smelling a chocolate bar and fresh-brewed coffee, this beer tantalizes the nose, revealing a hint of what the taste buds can expect.

Taste: Excellent. How does a beer taste this good? A complex assortment of flavors dance across the taste buds; roasted chocolate predominates. A very well-balanced beer that does its best to hide the alcohol content.

Mouthfeel: It wraps your taste buds in velvet. Creamy-smooth richness covers every square inch of your mouth.

Drinkability: How many can you buy? Not as assertive as the other stout I've tried (Victory Storm King), but I think that is a good thing. I've only recently started to try the stouts and this is a beer I could consume forever. (1,019 characters)

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

Good stout turned up a notch versus your typical dry stouts.

Nearly black in color (one can catch a faint reddish tint if the light catches it right) with a a tan, no, light brown head. The head was rather small, but I believe that was due to my overly cautious pouring - used a smaller glass than normal. Roast malt in the nose. Taste was roasted malts, some chocolate, light hop spice. The alcohol is neatly disguised.

This is a solid beer worth every point in my rating. (479 characters)

Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been able to try several terrific Imperial stouts, and Samuel Smith remains one of my favorites. I believe that it is one of the best balanced beers of the style (that I have tried). Goes down quite easy for a thick-bodied, 7% alcohol beer. Not too hoppy or malty. Pours extremely dark, good- sized head, some remains throughout. Notes of chocolate (but not overly so), and not too dry (as are some of the other highly regarded imperials). Most times I've had this beer, I've enjoyed it completely, however it may be adversely affected by the clear bottle. (561 characters)

Photo of Gusler
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In my many beer conversations, many seem to think the quality of this brewery has slipped over the years, and that the clear bottles decreases its flavor. Well, of the hundreds of bottles of Samuel Smith’s Beers I’ve purchased, not one has been off; maybe I’m just lucky.

The jet-black typical stout color is so pleasant a site sitting in its chalice, with the portly head perched atop the black beauty. Creamy in its texture, chocolate brown in color and as it evaporates, leaves a magnificent sheet of lace to smother the glass. The aromas of a truly great Imperial Stout are unmistakable, rich roasted grain, bittersweet chocolate, fresh roasted coffee beans, lightly sweet, and an absolute treat to the senses. Ambrosial malt start, the top thick and creamy rich the finish has a nice crisp acidic bite, hops purposeful in their spiciness. Aftertaste is chocolate malt dry, and quite long lasting, and in my opinion, still one of the best "Stouts" on the "Beer market" today, as it was yesterday and as it will be tomorrow. This is one brewery that still loves its beer and the drinkers who buy their products. (1,120 characters)

Photo of AtrumAnimus
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Here is one good solid stout. Any stout lover will love this one. The maltiness and hopps are blended to perfection to offer a stout with a crisp clean finish. A little light on the nose but exceptional in quality. This is a highly quaffable stout and can go down so fasts you will be left wanting - more that is. Exceptional if you can find it on tap as well. (360 characters)

Photo of doho95fu
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Update..... I must have had a bad bottle because I retried this beer this weekend and it is a solid Imperial, no doubt. I have no idea why the previous beer was lacking in flavor, but this brew certainly has some great flavor, coffee roast, caramel, molasses, even some faint spice. Had to change the review to reflect a very solid brew.

OLD Review This beer just didn't do it for me, and the problem was the taste. It is deep brown, almost black with a thin tan head and low carbonation. The smell is malt with some caramel sweet tones. The taste is just average, nothing complex or interesting and even a little watery in my mind. This is my favorite style (so far) but this beer lacked the in your face flavor and complexities of other Imperials that I love (Rogue, Storm King). I do like the color and the mouthfeel was good, but as far as taste (the most important factor in my book) it just didn't pack it. (917 characters)

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

A commanding nose of chocolate syrup liberally poured over baked berries, anisette wafer cookies and a spoon of vanilla ice cream. A predominate roastiness oversees a mélange of fantastical flavors that meld perfectly with a smooth, oaty mouthfeel. A masterful creation out of the old brewery. Like having your own personal flavor harem stroking your buds whilst you lay back in a state of exquisite wonderment. Drinkable? Please! How can you keep your lips off it? Elegant *and* accessible. (492 characters)

Photo of cretemixer
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice pour. Looks like an Imperial should, Black as coal with a nice tan head that holds firm. Chocolate & alcohol dominate the nose. Nice roasted malts that are heavy on the chocolate with a slight coffee finish. Very drinkable. Lighter in body than I was expecting. A fine example of the Imperial Stout. (304 characters)

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

WOW, pours an opaque black with a creamy tan head that sticks around for the duration, and leaves a sexy lace down the glass. The smell of whiskey fills the air after cracking the bottle and pouring into the glass. The coffee and caramel malts so very strong yet so very pleasant to the taste. This is a great beer and no wonder likes it.

Cheers (348 characters)

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

Very dark stout as an imperial stout should be, head is generous and tan with a hint of red in it.
I really like how samuel smith serves the beer in a clear bottle so the color is readily discernible.
Roasted coffee, liquer, chocolate and maybe licorice made up the nose of this beer for me and made me eager to taste it as well.
Sweet coffee/chocolate taste, the smoky quality was apparent at first sip and gives the stout an edge on the competition when it comes to being remembered and stand out from the crowd.
Nice mouthfeel, a little dry even though it leaves a thin coat on the tongue and roof of your mouth.
All in all a very good beer if a little pricey.

Oelergud - Cheers! (690 characters)

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

What an exceptional brew. I am surprised that I have never tried it before- or maybe I did years ago but do not remember. Anyway, this beer is insanely delicious. Jet black with a nice tan head, this is possibly the smoothest of imperial stouts. Rich and malty with roasted chocolate and coffee like flavor, it also reminded me of port, with sort of plum flavors. This beer is so smooth, with a velt texture, it just goes down easily. Of course you want to savor and enjoy this masterpiece in front of a nice fire with good conversation. (537 characters)

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

I can't believe I haven't reviewed this one yet. Pours out to a dark, yet not completely black color in the glass. Aroma is that of caramel and malt. The taste is where this beer really shines. Molasses, toffee, coffee, caramel and plums are present. The 7% ABV is hidden well with little alcohol presence. The swallow is very good and invites you to drink it again. Not as complex as Bell's Expedition, but a wonderful beer in its own right. (442 characters)

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

12 oz clear bottle...yea yea.... Black as midnight in the middle of nowhere. Loud pour....glug glug glug, produces a creamy, pillow soft tan head. Bubbly, small drops of hop oil, dance on top. Great smell of roasted plums, raisans and other fruit. Molasses. Taste is silky smooth, roasted plums, subtle bitter chocolate malt. Quick hint of port wine. Bitter snap starts, then sweet slippery port finish. Great beer, and well worth the praise it receives. (454 characters)

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 1,697 ratings.