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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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2,984 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,984
Reviews: 1,637
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 124
Gots: 147 | 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)
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Ratings: 2,984 | Reviews: 1,637 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of leansean88

New York

4.55/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours as nice as imperial stouts can pour and retains a beautiful creamy head. Nice and dark, the way it should be. More carbonation than I anticipated, but that did not interfere with taste.

S - Thick roast and cream that does not overpower the senses.

T - Not quite what I expected, but by no means bad. Much more creamy than smokey. Goes down smooth, while it may look fizzy.

M - Incredibly good. The creamy feeling soothes the pallet tremendously.

O - I got this beer on a whim. I'm so glad I did now. Excellent quality for the price. One of the better imperial stouts I've had.

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2011 19:45:02 | More by leansean88
Photo of rundocrun


4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 550 mL bottle into a pint glass.

A - Pours a deep black with 2 fingers of rich, frothy mocha-colored head. Foam fades slowly leaving small amounts of lacing on the glass.

S - Smells of black coffee and cocoa beans. Also a slightly sharp burnt character to the nose. Interestingly, it even has a slightly tangy red wine-like smell to it amid everything else.

T - Hints of caramel and dark fruits (plums, raisins, dates) up front. A dark cocoa bitterness is present toward the middle accompanied by the slightest hint of dry burnt grains that last to the finish. Has an aftertaste of milk chocolate-like acidity, fruity esters, and coffee-bitterness.

M - Medium body with pleasant but not overbearing carbonation. Fairly smooth and drinkable except for the slightly biting character of the roast barley, but that's not necessarily a bad characteristic for a RIS.

Overall, this was quite an enjoyable beer. My first from Samuel Smith's but certainly not my last!

Serving type: bottle

07-04-2011 01:19:56 | More by rundocrun
Photo of magictacosinus


4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tulip glass. No freshness date on the bottle.

Appearance: Completely pitch black as an ideal imperial stout should be. Pours a ridiculously huge head with brown and reddish hues. The head viciously remains even as the beer warms up.

Smell: Immediately resembles the scent of a coffee and cocoa beans, or a mocha. There are some hints of blackberries and even vanilla beans. Although you can tell that there are a lot of hops present as well as alcohol, these flavorful hues, as well as the creaminess of the beer, makes it so that you don't even notice.

Taste: This is a beer that makes every savoring precious and memorable. It is so flavorful that you can feel your throat warm up in every sip. Throughout the course of drinking it, the most present flavors were that of roasted chestnuts, coffee and dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: The "roastiness" of the malts is immediately apparent on the first sip. The aftertaste proves itself to be bitter and warming. It contains a sweetness that is wonderfully resonating on the palate.

Overall: I've had plenty of incredible stouts so far in my life, but this is a perfect stout in all respects. It's not something I could have casually due to its high alcohol content and extreme maltiness, and for that matter should be treated as a special brew to use for celebratory purposes - especially in sitting down, relaxing, and momentarily forgetting about all of the issues of the world. This is a beer that reminds me of that great moment of sitting by a fireside next someone that you love.

As it warms, the alcohol becomes more readily present, yet it become more enjoyable as coffee beans and roasted chocolate flavors (with caramel!) appeared to explode on my palate. For its price, this may be greatest stout on the planet that happens to be pretty accessible. I found it to be more delicious than Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, and is ultimately a real treat to be appreciated in every sip.

Serving type: bottle

07-03-2011 03:34:40 | More by magictacosinus
Photo of woodychandler


4.58/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am continuing to drink my way through the Samuel Smith's oeuvre, thanks to a recent inspiration in one of the forums. Just in case anyone wondered what I was doing ... Now, THIS is the way to kick off my New Beer Sunday!

From the bottle: "Brewed at Samuel Smith's small, traditional British brewery with well water (the original well sunk in 1758 is still in use), best barley malt, roasted barley, yeast and hops to create a rich flavourful ale; deep chocolate in colour with a roasted barley nose and flavour that is a complexity of malt, hops and yeast. Fermented in 'stone Yorkshire squares'. This distinctive type of ale was originally shipped to Imperial Russia; it was a favourite of Russian nobility."; Captioning a picture: "Having imparted their bitterness & aroma, hops are separated from the wort in the hop backs."

An impressive pour, resulting in two thick fingers of deep-tan head with excellent retention. Color was midnight black with deep-brown highlights at the edges. Nose was rich with coffee, dark chocolate, dried dark fruits, smoke and even some alcohol heat. Whew! Mouthfeel was a little thin for the style, but still bigger and chewier than many other beers. The taste was very bitter, coffee-like, which was perfect since I was having this with and for breakfast. Take that, Catherine the Great! Finish was smoky, bitter, dry, a big Wow!, but without the often overpowering alcohol of its modern American iterations. Nice, plus it is accessible year-'round without having to stand in line to score some.

Serving type: bottle

06-26-2011 14:10:33 | More by woodychandler
Photo of tjkinate


3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very unique compared to many American Stout's

A: Dark as night, completely opaque, thick frothy head.

S: Slightly faint, could detect the malts, but not much more than that.

T: Light toasty malts, hints of coffee with a touch of bitter aftertaste.

M: Medium bodied Stout, that goes down with ease

O: For this price, who could complain!

Serving type: bottle

06-24-2011 23:45:20 | More by tjkinate
Photo of EnJeiBee


3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - It poured deep black with a persistent tan 1-finger head and great lacing

S - Big malt with sweet chocolate and coffee notes

T - Toasty, malty coffee flavors without a very faint tangy bitter aftertaste

M - Soft on the palate and slightly less than medium bodied

O - It's a nice Imperial Stout, but nothing out of the ordinary. I would say it's spot on and true to style, but that doesn't make it stand out in anyway. After reading other reviews, I think I might purchase another bottle and hold onto it for a few years before trying it again.

Serving type: bottle

06-24-2011 23:05:08 | More by EnJeiBee
Photo of Hopfenpeter


4.68/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer appears a deep brown, almost black, with red undertones when held into the light. The deep tan creamy head builds about two fingers high, and leaves good lacing.
The smell announces roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate, just like expected.
Tasting the beer, I am surprised of the sweetness in the beer for this style. Also the lower ABV goes very well! Up front you have the sweetness of chocolate, changing to coffee notes in the middle and finishing with the bitterness of roasted malts. Very well composed, since no flavor is overpowering.
Very drinkable and greatly crafted, like everything else from this brewery!

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2011 06:05:03 | More by Hopfenpeter
Photo of BeerAmbassador


3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep inky black with a one finger tan head.

lots of roasted malt and cocoa on the nose.

flavor follows suit with a bit of sweetness. very full flavored and tastes bigger than only 7%.

very creamy mouthfeel with relatively low carbonation.

This is a really nice, affordable imperial stout that goes down easy and one that I could drink often.

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2011 07:38:23 | More by BeerAmbassador
Photo of hoptualBrew


4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

550ml bottle poured into big snifter agressively. Pours jet black creamy tan head 1 finger thick. Sexy sexy stout!

Smell is strong with warm effervescent alcohol, roasted nuts, and really sweet dark chocolates. This is one of the stronger smelling imp stouts I have tried. Damn it smells good!

Big malty thick chocolate malts upfront with toasted almost burnt buscuit. The back end rounds out with a nutty hoppy bite. Aftertaste has warmth of alcohol, even though this is only 5% abv. Weird. But, very tasty indeed. Carbonation is good in this moderately thick impy stout, feels good on the palate.

550ml bottle for $3.99. What a steal! This is right next to GDBC Espresso OA Yeti Imp Stout to most bang for your $$$. Will be frequenting this brew many times to come.

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2011 02:30:17 | More by hoptualBrew
Photo of MONKandTUCK


4.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

"Small" by style standards, but otherwise dead-on for the style. Not overwhelming in any aspect. The lower than Avg ABV even makes this one you want to drink more than one in a sitting.

Appearance: poured freely into a La Trappe chalice and swirled, this beer first appears deep opaque, but towards the bottom black gives way to mahogany and brass tones. The soupy body is capped with high, frothy brown head. It's like a whipped chocolate nought over a chilled chocolates liquor. Very enticing.

Aroma: consummate Sam Smith, I'll chalk that up to their exceptional yeast strain and premium base malt. Roasted notes and port wine accents peak through and then dominate when drinking. More muted than other Stouts, certainly very mild astringency.

Flavor: immense! No, its not the most complex RIS, thank God. It holds itself together quite well.
This beer has clearly matured and I'm glad for it. No doubt, even "green" offerings are worthy of Sammy Smith fame. It's the matured version, though, that really provides what this style is all about.
Yeast comes thru in a big way. Not like a Belgian, but as a sure supporting role.

The roasted profile hasn't really mellowed, it has settled. Dark crystal malts shine through, backed by a hefty alcohol warmth that settles in the belly. Prune, candied cherries, rum-raisin syrup, fine bitter chocolate, spice cake, Port and currant liquor all share in making the pleasure the coats over the mouth on way to the gut.
Roasted qualities never match the level Guinness or your preferred RIS, but provide enough bite to hold this beer together and provide another dimension of flavor.

Hops are mild.... wow! Responsible brewing! It hasn't been lost!

Mouthfeel: I was surprised at the density. At 7% a leaner need might be expected, nut this one was respectable crafted more maturation. That said, it wasn't syrupy... like Dogfish Head beers or certain Winter offerings often are. It was just a beer substantial enough to fit the style, while managing to conclude dry.

One of my all time favorites. Moat will want bigger and wilder and,more eccentric. I prefer this beer for being on Que with style guidelines, but acting in moderation. Make sure your bottle has some age to it, that is the secret ingredient. ;-)

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2011 23:19:46 | More by MONKandTUCK
Photo of Rifugium


4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle from Total Wine, Cherry Hill, NJ

Pours a dark cola brown-black with bronzed tints, and a pillowy beige head. Roasty malt aroma, sugary, with coffee notes. More dark roasted malts in the taste, molasses, licorice, coffee bitterness. Not quite full-bodied, but quite rich and tasty, and a very drinkable stout.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2011 21:10:57 | More by Rifugium
Photo of TheBeerAlmanac


3.05/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass

A: Pours a translucent black with very little head.

S: There is some coffee in the aroma but not much else. Maybe it was just my bottle, but I was really surprised at the lack of odor. Hell, make the cap out of chocolate or something, I don’t know, just give me more.

T: Fortunately, it tastes good…for a porter. It has a medium amount of carbonation and a smooth body. There are notes of coffee and a nutty finish. As far as beer goes, it’s a solid offering. As far as imperial stouts go, it’s about as bland as it gets.

Don’t expect a true, strong imperial experience with this one, just take it for what it is. And that is a good, smooth beer. With gold foil. Shiny, gold foil.

Serving type: bottle

06-16-2011 02:38:25 | More by TheBeerAlmanac
Photo of woosterbill


4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle from 1988 (yes, you read that right) poured into a Weyerbacher tulip. Thanks to Knifestyles for sharing this bit of vintage excitement.

A: Black body with clear brown highlights underneath and incredibly nice, persistent ring of frothy tan foam. Just lovely considering its age.

S: Oxidized, but not terribly so. Malt, cardboard, chocolate and coffee. Toasty, bready, slightly roasty. Quite nice for what it is.

T: Intensely flavorful, with some meaty saltiness, spicy chocolate, and dark fruit. Only light cardboard. Tastes great for such an ancient bottle.

M: Slick medium body with soft carbonation. Fantastic.

O: What a pleasant surprise. I never expected a 7% beer to hold up whatsoever over the course of 23 years, but I'll be damned if this wasn't a genuinely enjoyable brew. The oxidation was kept acceptably in the background, and the weird mutations of maltiness were allowed freedom to shine with flavor. Very cool.


Serving type: bottle

06-12-2011 13:05:06 | More by woosterbill
Photo of Hojaminbag


3.65/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sam Smith Imperial Stout has a black, thick-looking body with a solid head about as tall as a finger. Retention is good, and the lacing is OK.

The aroma is a little bit boozy, with a lot of chocolate and a little bit of roasted malt.

The flavor is both large and rich. Black malt and loads of chocolate and coffe are the strongest flavors, followed by dark fruit and a little bit of anise. There is some sweet, molasses like malt flavors in there also. The slight taste of alcohol sneaks into the finish, with a moderate amount of bitterness.

Big, smooth mouthfeel, pretty good.

I got this bottle at a bar, and I would guess that it spent 8-12 months in the fridge. Just like everything from Samuel Smith, this is a solid beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2011 22:16:15 | More by Hojaminbag
Photo of jmdrpi


3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2011 02:20:56 | More by jmdrpi
Photo of jacobseyb


3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Samuel Smith's Old Brewery does a great job with the old style Russian Imperial Stout. The beer pours a dark, deep brown nearly opaque, and has a slight head at one finger, that dissipates quickly and laces slightly. Smell is generally coffee malts with some chocolate and a slight bit of hops, primarily floral in nature, mostly for bitterness. Taste is very much chocolate-coffee in nature, with little hop flavoring. Maybe a hair of floral hops. Anyway, feel is smooth, with a slight carbonation, some oiliness, and a generally full body. Overall, Samuel Smith's has done a great one with a style that they probably have been doing for nearly a century. I enjoyed it and will have it again.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2011 05:18:46 | More by jacobseyb
Photo of RashyGrillCook


3.55/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2011 00:25:58 | More by RashyGrillCook
Photo of rickyleepotts


2/5  rDev -52.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

It smells wet. There is no better way to explain it. Not a big nose, with subtle chocolate notes. The beer is very thick, though. But that’s okay… most stouts, especially imperial stouts, are meant to be dessert beers. There is no way you could drink one more of these beers. This beer is actually a Russian imperial stout… I am not sure what that means, but we shall see.

The beer is VERY thick on the tongue, and has a immediate sweetness to it. Then it just hangs back on the tongue as the sweetness continues around the mouth. The beer as a pretty high ABV, coming in at 7%… but doesn’t drink that big. As thick as this beer pours, and as smooth as it tastes it doesn’t make me think stout. Let alone imperial stout. (Or Russian imperial stout, whatever that means!)

The beer is good. I would buy it again, mainly because they are cheap. Cheaper than most beers in a bottle this size. I actually like their brown more than this. But it’s thick and black, and would go well with a nice cigar or meat based meal. Man… I wanted it to be so much more. As we move along 1001 bottles… I am sure I will be let down time and time again! Bottoms up people!

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2011 02:01:10 | More by rickyleepotts
Photo of CwrwAmByth

United Kingdom (Wales)

4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 335 ml bottle into a Samuel Smith pint glass.

Appears the darkest black you can imagine, classic Russian Imperial Stout here!

With the smell i'm getting roasted notes, coffee, alcohol reminiscent of Capt Morgans Rum with a slight hint of spicy fruit too.

Tastes incredibly roasted and burnt, very dry. Also a slight sweetness, but nothing like the RISs with dark syrupy coffee and dark chocolate tastes i've had before. Hops are present in the background as well, also a bitterness.

Overall a very tasty brew which I would have again.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2011 21:56:10 | More by CwrwAmByth
Photo of deadonhisfeet


4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I stored this beer in the fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before pouring into a tulip-shaped snifter. It poured out super black with a perfect light tan frothy head that quickly dissipates. I swear I could smell this beer before I even stuck my nose into the glass. Coffee, chocolate, and toast.

This beer is incredibly well balanced. It is neither sweet, nor bitter. Moreover, the flavor is divine. You taste the malt first, nuts and molasses, then coffee and more nuts. It has a finish just dry enough to leave you wanting more. This beer is very complex. At various times I swear I tasted hazelnut, sarsaparilla, nutmeg, raisins, and whoppers candy (or maybe I just had something stuck in my teeth). Despite this, it is very smooth and easy to drink.

It has been a while since I drank a bottle of this classic beer. It's better than I remember it and I should go back to this more often. So should you.

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2011 14:17:27 | More by deadonhisfeet
Photo of tykees88


4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Perfect pitch of black hue, a fantastic color of mocha head. Lacing is beautiful. A true blueblood of what this style should be.

S-Rich with coffee and toffee, malts.

T- A chocolate taste, coffee just a little bit of the toffee, and there is a noticeable hop presence in the end.

M- Not like oil, but not guinness either. A happy medium. Very smooth.

O- Pretty great beer here. If it was ever on tap I would jump at the chance when I saw it.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2011 23:07:29 | More by tykees88
Photo of SylviaFaye

North Carolina

4.78/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As this stout pours into the glass, you can visually see how viscous it is. The body from the start of the pour to the final luscious capping is so dark that it puts abandoned mine shafts to shame. Good luck finding your way through if you dare to search for the other side. The thick, 1-inch toffee-colored head causes the beer to match quite well with it's bottle (which is topped with gold foil).

Coffee and toffee aromas rise from the liquid, but the most predominate smell is that of chocolate liqueur.

Sweet mocha waves wash over the tongue, culminating in a gentle apple bread pull at the finish, which leaves the mouth feeling faintly hoppy in all of its crevices. As this sensation fades, a bubblegum sweetness takes over, caressing the roof of the mouth.

How can a beer be so simultaneously thick and smooth? The intoxicating fullness was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

Overall: Forgive me for my sentimentality, but I may have just found my soul mate. Thank you, beer gods.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2011 19:23:05 | More by SylviaFaye
Photo of Ommy


4.13/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The stout pours dark with a frothy mocha colored head with medium sized bubbles reminiscent of soda. The head lingers nicely.

The smell is dark and earthy with a hint of hops and roasted malts. As the beer opens up hints of dark chocolate come through.

The taste is a mix of bitter and sweet, with the bitter overpowering in the beginning giving way to some sweetness on the finish. A pleasant hopped mouthfeel lingers on afterwards.

Overall the beer looks and tastes great. A full-bodied stout with a good taste and smell that isn't watered down.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2011 21:57:17 | More by Ommy
Photo of Spider889


4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

For whatever reason Samuel Smith is everywhere, and yet I don't ever recall seeing this around town until yesterday. Bought this very cheap at From the Vine. ($3.99 I believe)

Pours a thick jet black, with a fast rising mocha colored head. Decent retention and thin veins of lace arching across my snifter.

Smells very rich. Decadent sweet dark chocolate and dense roasted barley. A little char in there from the malt, and toffee on the finish.

The flavor is very nice here. This is an excellent RIS brewed very classically. You first notice how sweet this is. Fudge brownie meets vanilla bean. Then there are notes of bitter black coffee. Roasted barley flavors finish the beer off with more bitterness and ash.

Very smooth, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some oats hiding in here. The alcohol isn't hidden from the flavor profile, but it's not really hot or anything.

Overall a wonderful beer. I really wish I could find this at every grocery store like all the other Samuel Smith offerings.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2011 05:53:54 | More by Spider889
Photo of RuudJH


4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

English brewed russian imperial stout, 355 ml bottle.

Looks very dark brown, with a light brown head
Smell is massively nutty, coffee, a bit chocolate.
Coffee stays in both flavour and aroma the longest, with the roasted nutts as a close second.
Very bitter, medium body. Not too alcoholic in the aftertaste.
A good stout. Very bitter. Not too complex.

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2011 13:41:37 | More by RuudJH
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 2,984 ratings.