Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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.

1,710 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,710
Hads: 3,505
Avg: 4.17
pDev: 11.51%
Wants: 220
Gots: 398 | 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: 1,710 | Hads: 3,505
Photo of ClavisAurea
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle served in a snifter at fridge temps. No freshness date but was purchased in 12/2014.

Appearance: very dark brown with a nice and thick tan head. Fairly effervescent considering this is a low carbonation style. It was not as thick as some other examples of an imperial stout but was decent.

Smell: raisins, prunes, and other dark fruits, notably fruity (Ringwood yeast maybe), sugar plums. No alcohol, coffee, chocolate, dark malty character at all. Weird from an imperial stout with this pedigree.

Taste and Feel: pretty thin but very tasty, no alcohol at all, roasted character in the middle where I'd expect some classic stout chocolate or coffee notes would be, there is a roasted malt finish and the mouthfeel is rather dry for the style.

I have to say, this was not at all what I was expecting from a very classic imperial stout. Maybe it's because I'm used to the amped up American versions here in the states. I'm going to have to try to get a hold of some more classic English examples of this style to see if this is what it's supposed to be. I have another bottle that I'm going to try in a few months. Lets see if I can find a Courage RIS to try.

After a few months in the cellar all of the dried fruit flavors melded together to. Rate a very enjoyable beer. This is a nice palate calibrator for what an original Imperial Stout should taste like. Score was raised from about weak 3.75 to a solid 4.25

 1,449 characters

Photo of majorbase2
3.99/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very very dark (possibly black) color with a very large, thick, brown head. Not the best retention. Recedes leaving a small amount of lacing around the edges.

Aroma leads with milky chocolate. Very very sweet. A bit of dark fruit, most noticeably raisin. Chocolate really dominates here.

Taste is more of the same, although not necessarily in a bad way. Some notes of biscuity malts, a bit more of the dark fruits, with a hint of black licorice. Sweetness dominates. Once again, raisin is the most noticeable dark fruit. Honestly not as much going on in the taste as I had hoped.

Although I have been disappointed to this point, mouthfeel knocks it out of the park. Medium bodied, perfectly carbonated. Nice and creamy, goes down very smooth. The most easily downable Stout I've ever had.

Overall, I'm honestly a little disappointed in my first entry from Samuel Smith. Although they completely nail the sweet, milky chocolate in the taste, I wasn't moved by any other aspects of the taste. Still a good Stout, but not what I had hoped.

 1,049 characters

Photo of Arminius757
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Dark black coloring with mocha head.
Sweet smelling, with hint of chocolate and dark maltyness.
Sweet taste, super smooth, very dark taste. Dark fruity undertones. Some hint of coca and barley as well. Complex without being overpowering or underwhelming. Easily one of my new favorites.
Overall a truly excellent beer.

 333 characters

Photo of Gajo74
4.66/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a fine looking opaque black and viscous looking liquid. The head's color is even more intriguing; a frothy and bubbly tan head retains well as a sticky lace that reminds me of cappuccino foam. The aroma is unbelievable! Espresso, chocolate, banana or raisin bread and roasted malty sweetness. Taste has elements of sweet roasted malts, creamy coffee, and balanced by a slightly dry and very subtle bitter finish. Carbonation is lively on the tongue and settles as drink,gets warm. A full bodied drink; excellent to warm up to in cold weather and to eat with chocolates. I have been equally impressed with all of Samuel Smith's products, and this one might be my favorite thus far.

 686 characters

Photo of doktorhops
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, well, well Mr. Samuel Smith has an Imperial Stout, and judging by their other fine Ales this will no doubt turn out to be a world class example of said style... I’m going to enjoy this more than Fred Quimby’s nephew enjoying a clumsy Clouseau-esque French waiters pronunciation of the word “chowder” (its International Simpsons Reference Day by the way - D’oh!*).

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: A deep foreboding black body greets me with a nice boisterous khaki 1cm head on top. It’s a damn fine looking Imperial Stout, or RIS† for short. 9/10.

S: More on the dark chocolate than coffee side with a large roasted malt body, brown sugar, woody notes, with a hint of earthy hops in the finish. As a traditional British RIS you know that this will be sweeter and less bitter than its American cousins - it’s not always about hops Doc! 8/10.

T: Wow! A tour de force of a classic RIS here! Upfront it is quite sweet (we expected that) with dark cacao, roasted barley, brown sugar and woody notes. It follows through to an earthy/herbal light bitter finish. What amazes with this excellent Stout is how the sugar content hits the goldilocks zone in your tongue, it is indeed “just right”. 9/10.

M: Mouthfeel adds to the rich tapestry of this RIS with a mid to heavy body, some nice and sticky viscosity and a light English pub carbonation. 7/10.

D: I could quite happily finish a night on a few of these bad boys... obviously not a good idea to begin a night out with any RIS - they can generally be anywhere upwards of 7% ABV (this one is 7%), however the ease with which this one goes down does beguile one into thinking that it’s not such heavyweight. Needless to say this one is going on my regular beer shopping list (at least until Plonk gets more FBS back in). 9/10.

Food match: Fits right into that 20th century slot after dessert but before brandy and cigars... I would pair it with a bold English cheese platter, then move on to gout.

*Fool! - there is no International Simpsons Reference Day, ha ha!

†The “R” is short for “Russian” comrade.

 2,113 characters

Photo of T100Mark
4/5  rDev -4.1%

A real 12 ounce bottle (not a Euro-weenie bottle) poured into a shaker pint glass.

Appearance - A black, opaque brew. Dense, tan head. No stickage to speak of.

Smell - Toasty malt. Alcohol.

Taste - Roasted coffee. Alcohol. Sweet. Black licorice.

Mouth - Slick.

Overall - The alcohol in this beer, for some reason, is very prominent (more prominent than the 7% content would suggest). Because the alcohol is so prominent, this stout lacks the creamy smoothness that the genre is known for. I'm aware of the fact that the word "Imperial" suggests a high alcohol content but this beer taste more like a barley wine than a stout. This beer is not bad but it's not what I was hoping for.

 691 characters

Photo of interzen
4.93/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

355ml bottle poured into a Delerium Tremens tulip glass

Look: Pours black with a finger's worth of tan head. Poor head retention which leaves a small amount of lacing.

Smell: Quite sweet and woody with definite hints of dark fruit and liquorice - almost a medicinal edge to it.

Taste: The liquorice and fruit notes shine through here, along with dark roasted malts and a certain amount of hoppish bitterness. You'd expect something with a 7% ABV to have some alcohol notes but this doesn't. The medicinal woodiness definitely comes through in the aftertaste but manages to do so without dominating the other flavours.

Feel: Fairly 'thick' but without being excessively heavy. Surprisingly smooth, almost dangerously so.

Overall: An absolute stunner - I'm fortunate enough to live about 5 miles from the Sam Smiths brewery so this is fairly easy for me to get and a regular on my Beer Shelf. It's not really something you could have a session on, but the flavours and feel are such that it's extremely easy to knock a few of these back and get absolutely plastered in the process. It may only be a small bottle, but it manages to pack in a monstrous amount of flavour.

 1,172 characters

Photo of ExtraStout
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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, raisin 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: Yes, at 7% ABV, I could drink a bunch of these. I love sitting back and taking my sweet old time milking sipping down a bottle or two of this stuff.

Excellent tasting stout, Imperial though??, ABV should be higher to called Imperial. It's more like an Extra Stout.

 899 characters

Photo of TheCondor
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%

Of course I love imperial stouts. Of course I love everything I have ever had from Samuel Smith's brewery in Tadcaster. Of course I am watching the Royals put on a clinic in the World Series game 6. All that notwithstanding, let's side pour with standard aggression this beer into a pint glass from the bottle.

Appearance - Just like you would expect, although it does have a nice three finger caramel colored head that lasts only for a minute or two and leaves little lacing. Deep chocolate brown coloring, cool packaging, everything I would expect from a world-class imperial stout.

Smell - As I poured this beer to take a picture of i t for my post on BA, I could actually smell the dark fruits and malts from several feet away when I went to pick up my camera. Roasted barley is also present in the nose, creating a strong, sensational olfactory experience. Raisins.

Taste - Like mothers milk. So smooth, deep and rich, its like drinking melted dark choclate ice cream, with beer and liquified dark fruits. Amazing. Intense raisin flavor makes for an incredible beer.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, creamy, rich. No alcohol bite.

Overall - This beer is raising the bar on beer like your loser brother raises his consciousness when he drops acid. This is probably the most amazing imperial stout I have ever had, it is so balanced, drinakable, and smooth. No amount of superlative speech can describe this brew. You need to try this one immediately if you like stouts or dark beer at all. Game changer.

 1,500 characters

Photo of Meyers1023
4.94/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the beer I compare all Imperial stouts to. It pours a perfect black color with a tan head that disappears leaving a lace along the glass. The smell is sweet, i get cherries but I'm not the best at guessing what something smells like. It's a very smooth beer with a creamy mouthfeel. You get roasted malts and raisins with a slight chocolate finish. This brewery has set the standard on many styles for me!

 413 characters

Photo of BeerWithMike
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Sampling right now on 10/8/14. Comes in a single 550ml (18.7 ounce) bottle for $4.99 but seen it in 330ml (11.2) 4-packs as well. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a handled glass stein.

Pours a pitch black in color with a good 3-finger beige head that settles finally down to a 2mm head after about 20 mins of sipping on it. A good amount of sticky lacing is seen that clings all the way up the sides of the glass. The aroma is of roasted malts, dark fruit (plums?) with a hint of bittersweet chocolate. The taste has even more going on that starts out with the roasted malts at first, with a slight sweet raisin-like taste than ends with a hint of semi-sweet chocolate. Actually very smooth and goes down easy. Medium+ bodied but a tad below average for carbonation that is good for this style of brew. One of the best Russian Imperial Stouts I have tasted.

 898 characters

Photo of dmgeng
4/5  rDev -4.1%

I've seen this beer 100 times but never could convince myself to spend $4 on 12oz of 7%, and then that day came.

A - Deep chestnut black/brown color. Khaki colored head with good lacing.

S - Strong chocolaty aroma with some toffee, roasted, and malty tones. The chocolate and roasted smells seem to stick out above the rest and swirl together to and mix well. There may seem to be some coffee tones but no alcohol present.

T - Tons of chocolate flavor that shines through but is mixed with the roasted/burnt flavor. It is some how complex and easy to dissect which makes this stout very tasty. Overall it is slightly sweet but it is balanced with the roasted character. Not as sweet or as chocolaty as Young's and it is a much better beer for it.
M - Moderate to high mouth-feel especially for being only 7%. Moderate carbonation which somewhat helps the beer not be cloying. It's not the heaviest or the lightest Imperial stout and it goes down very smooth.

Overall, this is a delicious "imperial" stout (i.e. imperial on flavor but not on buzz). Not my #1 imperial stout ever but is still very good with a tilt towards the chocolate side. I'd prefer the beer to be ever so slightly more balanced and with more booze but it's very good. This beer would make a great desert beer but it isn't one I could drink over and over again. I would get this again and would recommend it to any dark beer fan. Just not every week.

Glass- Snifter

 1,443 characters

Photo of stcules
3.94/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Black, light brown foam, not bad.
Good but not too intense smell. Coffee, toasted, almond.
In the mouth a good toaste note, chocolate, some vanilla.
A good hoppiness, balancing the present sweetness.
Some artichoke and nut hints.
After a bit of warming, the flavours and aromas are more opened and intense. Good balance.
It remains a quite drinkable beer, despite its 7 ABV, and it structure.

 392 characters

Photo of titvs
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%

Review based on the BJCP2008 guidelines (style 13F). Bottle 36cl - Batch L14023. AROMA: roasted aromas mixed with port-like vinous notes. chocolate aromas and dried fruits (figs). APPEARANCE: black and opaque with a Brown head with average retention. slight legging. TASTE: roasted malt, chocolate, strong coffe and slight dried dark fruits. faint hop flavours and some vinous like notes. medium-low bitterness with a relatively sweet finish. low alcohol warmth. PALATE: medium body with low alcohol warmth. medium carbonation. OVERALL: an intense and complex imperial stout with a good range of aromas and flavours. lacks a bit of body and alcohol presence.

 659 characters

Photo of risendragon
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%

Bought a bomber from Market Basket (go ATD!) and poured into my trusty kitchen glass.

A- As black as the IKEA table that it's resting on, nice tan head, about two fingers high (4)

S- I get chocolate, dark fruits, caramel, some booze, very floral and nice overall (4.25)

T- Milk chocolate, sweet, but not much else. I am somewhat disappointed considering the nose was huge with all the aromas I listed above. At least the booze is hidden rather well (2.75).

M- Heavily carbonated for a stout, more porter-like, somewhat watery and thin (3)

O- Looked good, smelled good, but did not deliver on the tongue. I was somewhat disappointed, maybe if I had not drank it chilled it would have been better. Oh well, next time I will not refrigerate it and try again (3.5)

 767 characters

Photo of Mikus
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%

This was very good. Some interesting toffee notes, etc on the nose, however the deep, full flavors and dark roasty nightmares I expect in an RIS were a bit lacking. That said, this is a really nice beer, and I would definitely drink again (esp. if I were out of my homebrewed RIS!).

 282 characters

Photo of beerdedking
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

I suppose I've been ruined by American Imp Stouts weighing in at 10% ABV and higher. My first time with
this one, and I've been left wanting more. It's great, no doubt, with sweet toasted malt and dark fruit hitting home.
I like it. It's great. But I passed up an Expedition Stout in my fridge to have it, and there's where I went wrong.
I would gladly have this again, but I'd say think of this as a bigger single porter or a smaller imp stout...

 453 characters

Photo of at7000
4/5  rDev -4.1%

Second time I have bought this. English "bomber" sized bottle. Raisin to the extreme, even prune juice. That sounds horrid, but this is indeed a great beer. Definitely works. The Brits know what they are doing I suppose, after all those years. I'm an IPA guy and still like this one. Like a Guinness Stout that has some extreme flavors going on. Intense. Complex. Nuff said.

 378 characters

Photo of TimZebGir
3.8/5  rDev -8.9%

A: Black, barely perceptible ruby when held up to light, foamy, well-retained head (3/3)
S: Lots of chocolate, alcohol, raisin throughout (10/12)
T: Imperial, lot of sweet maltiness in beginning, roasty, light chocolate undertones, and light metallic/astringent on finish (15/20)
F: Very bubbly and light, pretty dry finish (3/5)
O: The longer it lingered on the palate, the more I got used to it, but the body was surprisingly light in comparison to the flavor, and left it a little hollow therefore. (7/10)

 516 characters

Photo of Immortale25
3.97/5  rDev -4.8%

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. Bottleneck says SE12N1.

A- Pours a 99% opaque black color with an 1/8 inch dark tan head that immediately fades to a paper-thin ring around the edge of the glass and the faintest specs of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves small clots behind.

S- Quite sweet-smelling with notes of dark roast, wood and raisin.

T- The sweetness continues and the raisin notes are even more apparent here. Almost tastes like a barleywine with its dark fruit complexity however it's not very boozy. Biscuity, buttery and, once again, woody.

M- Dry and slightly chalky with medium-low carbonation and a full body.

O- Although I like the Oatmeal Stout better, this one is quite enjoyable as well. A lot different than the American RIS's out there with its high level of sweetness and what is likely English yeast.

 855 characters

Photo of Gear54
4.71/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From a 550ml bottle into a pint glass.

A: pitch black with zero light penetration. Two fingers of thick kaki head with amazing thick lace. I have never seen a stout stick to a glass as well as this one.

S: roasted malts and dark chocolate. I don't pick up any hops what so ever.

T: follows the smell well. Roasty dark chocolate with some carmel undertone. Absolutely no hop bitterness to offset the malt.

M: thick on every swig with lots of head and heavy on the tung.

O: this is my opinion of a great IS. Not my favorite but one hell of a good beer.

 559 characters

Photo of Admbmb92
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

550ml bottle poured into Bruery snifter. Bottle date is June 17 2013.
A-oil black with mocha brown head. Great lacing.
S-chocolate, cherry, vanilla, coffee, very sweet aromas. Very nice.
T- follows up with aroma. Lots of sweet chocolate, incredibly smooth. No hop bitterness which is a plus for me.
M- full bodied and sticky. Insanely smooth, head makes it all the way down to the bottom of the glass.
O-perfect imperial stout, aged very well no offensive or off flavors. Would pair great with vanilla Ice cream

 513 characters

Photo of EvoRich
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Look: Pours pitch black with about two fingers of head. Head actually sticks around for awhile, but does eventually reduce to a small layer.

Smell: Carmel, brown sugar, some dark fruits, cherry, chocolate. A lot going on here!

Taste: Not quite as good as I was hoping, but still excellent. Not as sweet as the smell.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied. Very smooth. Just the right amount of carbonation.

Overall: A little let down by the flavor. and I must say, the flavor is the biggest factor in a beer to me. But, just because I was a little let down does not mean this is not a good beer. I always get excited about an RIS and always expect the world. RIS's always score big with me, and this is no exception.

 708 characters

Photo of fscottkey
2.68/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Jet black with 1 finger head that quickly disapates.

S: Dark fruit and licorice

T: Malts, raisins and dark fruits. Sweet finish with no bitter taste at all.

M: Not as sily or smooth as I would expect.

O: Nose is weak for an Imerial Stout. The mouthfeel is watery for an I.S. I prefer a coffee or chocolate forward I.S.

 325 characters

Photo of leantom
4.69/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm very happy that I bought this. Here goes:

A: A dark black that lets no light through - completely opaque. The beers pours a small brown head that leaves plenty of lacing upon consumption (good protein content). Lovely, but not that impressive for the realm of imperial stouts.

S: Exquisite. Lots of brown sugar, caramel, toffee and milk chocolate at the forefront, but can also detect many dark fruits like plums and raisins. Emphasis on the milk chocolate bit. Can't detect any hops and the English brewer's yeast is also imperceptible (which is to be expected; it's not a Belgian ale).

T: Taste follows the nose. Lots of dark malt leading to an obvious chocolatey flavor profile, but there's also a lot of raisins and plums that linger in the aftertaste. Rather, the initial taste is one of robust chocolate but this gives way to darker, sweeter fruit. Very nice and well balanced interplay of dark fruit and chocolate.

M: Nice. Decently carbonated and well-rounded thickness/creaminess.

O: A very nice, well-balanced stout bursting with chocolate and dark fruit.

 1,074 characters

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 1,710 ratings.