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

1,733 Reviews
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Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 02-27-2001

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Reviews: 1,733 | Ratings: 3,633
Photo of mschofield
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pure opaque black, topped with a two finger small bubbled chocolate head, leaves bits of webbed lace.
Chocolate, raisin and alcohol aroma.
Coffee, dark chocolate, raisin and other dark fruits, anise and grape in the taste, roasted malt with burnt edges, toasted biscuit.
A complicated classic beer
Full feel, acrid, with a bit of an alcohol bite, but still smooth.

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Photo of luciusgilmer
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had read some good recommendations of this beer here and had reason to think I'd like the imperial style as well, though I've not had many. I had this beer from a 12 oz bottle poured into a mug (at a bar), then the same but poured into a tulip glass.
A: Excellent dark color, nice foam but not a long lasting head.

S: Just magical, even a bit wine like (though here maybe I'm just reacting to the alcohol content?), with a fruity aroma (not wine cooler fruity, just not a bitter coffee like aroma).

T: Rich grains and some subtle cocoa and chocolate flavors.

M: Rich to the tongue and full in the mouth. It's very smooth. I savored several mouthfuls; the carbonation is a bit on the low side.

D: This is a costlier beer, but I'd drink several if I could, and I hope to get some more on occasion. Its ABV is not overwhelming, and it's definitely flavorful.

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Photo of cokes
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This lives up to all expectations. I shied away from this for a while due to the price...how foolish I was.
Pours absolutely pitch black with a clinging tan head..lasts all the way down.
Bombards the nose with a plethora of aromas....dark fruit (plums, raisins), dark chocolate, brandy..God only know what else. Huge.
Taste follows suit. So many levels to this that I have to consciously focus on each one to make sure I get the most out of it. The dark fruit and dark chocolate show up right away with some roasted barley as well. The hopping of this Imperial really sets apart it my book. Puckering and fruity at the same time. Almost astringant at times. But not overpowering either. Try it and see.
Finish is more roastedness with some pronounced nutty flavors as well....yum.
Maybe just a little thinner than some others...something about the mouthfeel just wasn't perfect...the rest of the beer was. Very drinkable for the style.
Believe the hype. This is it.

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Photo of Phatz
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer pours black with dark ruby highlights. It has a nice brown head that is thick and foamy. Substantial lacing.

Smell: It is definitely a black licorice aroma. That is what hit me right up front; then there were hints if red, like cherry or birch. Very enticing!

Taste: Chocolaty; with a hint of this mixture: Birch-beer and Cherry-cola mixed with dark cola (Coke), in other words it is a thin syrupy characteristic in the taste, with those flavors. I got a slight bit of dark tobacco and vanilla in the aftertaste. I tried some dark chocolate next to this beer and it was a beautiful match.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel was surprisingly thinner than I expected from a Russian Imperial Stout. Still it was pleasant and very creamy.

Drinkability: The drinkability of this beer was actually, surprisingly, exceptional. This is a R I S with a relatively low ABV and it does not sit heavy in your stomach. As a huge fan of Imperial Stouts, I must say that their one drawback is that they were you out quickly. This beer is an exception. It has most all the positive attributes of RIS and avoids the one drawback. That sounds like a darn fine beer to me. I highly recommend.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of saintwarrick
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Has this brewery ever made a false step? Long answer: Nope. Sam Smith's Nut Brown Ale and Oatmeal Stout are still their top brews, but this is another masterpiece by the boys in Tadcaster.

Pours an ebon black into my snifter (fancy) that settles nicely into a thick malt chocolatey lace around the glass. Smell is pure dark chocolate and Colombian coffee with a little brown sugar, molasses and anything else that tastes sinful. Braised walnut aftertaste with bitter chocolate.

Awesome brew. Feel like I should be in a hunting lodge, sipping this in a snifter with all the other gents and such. Other RIS's will be stronger, but you'll never find a more drinkable one. Cheers.

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Photo of ElGuapo
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

another excellent selection from samuel smith. it poured nice and dark with brown foam leaving its mark all down the glass. aroma was nice and roasty with a little hint of chocolate.

it hits the tongue a little thinner than i had expected. i thought i was going to be loaded with dark malts coffee and chocolate, but it was a little bit light. very smooth and absolutely delicious.

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

Presentation: 335 ml custom clear bottle with a gold foil neck and old style label. Statements like, "Contractors to Her Majesty's Forces" and "Awarded 1st prize and silver medal-bottled beer 1930", "1896 awarded gold medal", and such, adorn the label. A very distinguished looking bottle. No freshness date.

Appearance: Opaque black, so don't even bother trying to find a hint of light through the glass. The head is a huge, majestic, light coffee coloured float of creamy foam -- with no intention of dissipation as it ever so slowly clinges on its retreat.

Smell: Sweet nose of fruity (prunes), milk sugars, molasses, brownies, coffee and rum-like alcohol.

Taste: Okay, where do I begin? I feel as if I am in the presence of the beergod itself. This is a rich, full to medium-bodied brew with a smooth, creamy, light mouthfeel. Roasted notes are in the forefront and pair with a lemony/limey-rind-like hop presence that takes the entire taste to a near astrigent level. You can pick up some floral-like flavours from the hops too. Malt flavours of coffee, plump raisins, prune/plum, bitter chocolate and faint smoke beckon to balance a foundation of bitterness, both roasted malt and hops. Nice rounded background sweetness. The finish on this stout contains notes of smoke and a roasted/sweet feel on the palate.

Notes: I've had quite a few Imperial Stouts in my day, each attempting to dethrown the other. In my opinion, Samuel Smith's might not be the most powerful in alcohol, or as assertive as others, but it is the king. All yield and recognize the truth.

Thanks to Merchant Du Vin for the fresh sample.

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Photo of DagFishHead
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black ink pour, huge, creamy, dark tan head relents from three finger to two and stays for the duration. The thickest, creamiest lace I've ever seen.
Smell: Regardless of your favorite beer style, I implore you to at least smell this... Deep dark chocolate, strong espresso, dark ripe fruits (raisins, dark cherries, prunes), toasty roasted malt, smoke... oooh, baby. Thank the maker, this is heaven!
Taste: Big smoked malt sweetness immediately bolstered by dark fruits that linger with the carbonation, then the tide receeds to a semi-dry hop finish that allows the mellowed original flavors to mingle with a smooth alcohol warmth. Whoa...
Mouthfeel: Slick, smooth, chewy smoked malt, but just slightly thinner than other examples (more English-style I would say).
Drinkability: A stunning imperial stout. My personal preference for the slightly fuller American-style mouthfeel in no way detracts from how incredible this example is...

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

a: jet black with a large head. no lacing seen. very nice

s: earthy rich dark chocolate malts, some hops, lots of fig like fruit. a touch of booze his the nose after it warms more. Smells good to me.

t: ahh its has that well water bitterness of all the SS beers. dark bitter chocolate, some hops, a tad touch of the booze, some coffee, mostly rich fruit like a roasted fig or something. reminds me of some of the great quads.

m: smooth, rich, low carbonation, medium to heavy body.

o: outstanding beer. its a standard, too bad others go beyond this.

drank 2 550ml bottles good stuff.

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

-pours the darkest of brown with a small khaki head
-sweet chocolate,slightly roasty,caramel,toffee,vanilla,mocha
-chocolate,toffee,plums,raisins,dates with a strong coffee finish
-low carbonation,medium-full body
-alcohol not noticeable
Lovely imperial stout.

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Photo of jwc215
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured BLACK with fairly thick, tan head that became a well-retained lace.
It had aromas of sweet chocolate, coffee, and anise. Robust smell.
The taste was extraordinary. Very complex and robust. Chocolate, anise, coffee tastes were well-balanced. Just the right balance between sweet and bitter. Very invigorating.
Left a nice bitter-sweet mouthfeel.
This beer is exceptionally drinkable. It's silky smooth with a slight alcohol finish. It's characteristics are god-like. Well worth the price for this one!

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

Package: Appropriately regal, extra-tall 12oz. foil-topped, crowned, clear bottle. Label notches, but no date key or ABV. Old-fashioned white label with gold and black lettering.

Cost: $6.99 per 4-pack

Presentation: Imperial pint at ~50º

Appearance: Very dark brown with some ruby glow. Generated a moderate 1 to 2 finger head, that quickly resolved to a thick foam collar that gradually receded. Not the darkest stout, but plenty dark enough.

Smell: Very toasty, with some fortified-wine notes, coffee, chocolate, and dark blackberry and currant fruitiness on the nose. A generous, round, full aroma.

Taste: The flavors follow through on what the aroma promised, adding just the right amount of burnt-sugar sweetness, nuttiness, bitterness, and alcohol volatility to keep things from being bland or cloying. An homage to good water, skilled brewing, and the art of toasting malt. Very multi-dimensional, with the finish of Methuselah.

Mouthfeel: Excels. This powerful, flavorful beer defines finesse. Creamy, perfectly carbonated, with a full, rounded body. Coats the tongue, but remains dry enough to remind you you’re drinking beer!

Drinkability: Stouts don’t get more drinkable than this! Rich, satisfying, but not overwhelming. Delivers a surfeit of flavor without being hugely filling and lets one have two or three without repercussions. I should deduct 0.5 because I want a 20oz. serving!

Backwash: I haven’t had this in some time, and more’s the shame! A recent article in the Times led me to buy some and try it again. Boy, was I impressed. Not the darkest, not the hoppiest, not the highest ABV; but still the archetype of Imperial Stout. You can have all the Storm King you want, I’ll be happy with this! They haven’t forgotten that malt is at least as important as hops when it comes to stouts. And, what are you guys who mention the price talking about? It’s beautifully made and shipped over here, for less than what a lot of US microcraft brewers charge for inferior beers, and worth every cent! This beer clearly proves what Mies van de Rohe said, “Less is more.”

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Photo of Sachsenfreude
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Another exceptional brew from Samuel Smith, not all that surprised, wouldn't expect anything less.

A beautiful near pitch black beer with an good tan head. The head slowly retreats, leaving thick and creamy lacing, so nice and sticky. I can almost smell a sweet bourbon and some black licorice. Really a toasted malt to almost smokey flavor but then some brown sugar sweetness too. Aftertaste is smooth and bitter in a creamy way, reminds me of quality dark chocolate, not sweet at all. A little bit of alcohol is present when one slurps the beer from the glass, instead of pouring it in the mouth, pretty damn good to say the least. The mouthfeel is loose yet thick and creamy, really complex, one could probably write a poem about it. This is an almost perfect beer and the lower alcohol content makes it more drinkable than of others of this style. Slightly heavy with a roasted malt bitterness in the aftertaste, complex yet strong and makes it less drinkable, but only by a bit. Who wants a beer that is drinkable like water any way though? Certainly not me, I like a meal in a glass.

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

500 ml clear bottle with one of the grandest little labels...

It's the deepest darkest, reddish walnut with a fine sticky dark tan head. Beauty. The nose is all roasted malt, citric hops, a bit of a tang, wonderful combo, cocoa, faint cherry-ish aromas, caramel, espresso brings up the rear. Burnt edges, whiff of smoke.

So smooth. First sip is tangy hops, a flash of herbal bitterness and dusty cocoa powder, quickly followed by a sweet malt, roasted, toasted and round. Raisins, caramel.The sweetness lingers. Alcohol shows up and buzzes around the tongue, but it's not too forward. Bitterness returns, but this time dry and citric, slowly sliding towards a cocoa and dark fruit aftertaste. Jeepers. The tastes develop slowly and the finish is long.

Soft and smooth mouthfeel, rather full and foamy. Luscious.

One of my favorites.

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

This is a surprisingly complex and well executed brew!

A: pours a lovely black, opaque hue

S: Fruit forward aroma of dark wine, raisins, caramel, toasted barley, and wood combine to awaken the senses

T: Complex notes of sweet, rich malts with an ever so slightly charred alcohol flavor reminiscent of dark wine and toffee or licorice

M: A balanced medium body that carries smoothly across the palate and has a slightly dry finish

O: A great stout! Very interesting combination that works well and gives some variety to the traditional flavor

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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

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

Well...I have to give it a 5 for appearance cause you just can't barely see through this beer. Held directly against a 60watt lightbulb reveals just barely a deep deep reddish/auburn hue. This beer is black and proud of it. Really appropriate carbonation and a beautiful head that leaves a touch of lacing on the glass.

Incredible nose. Just incredible. Strikes me as rich rich bitter chocolate. My favorite kind. Some really nice nuttiness there too. A definately some winey notes. You get the signature sam smith notes times 100. Really really nice.

Really fantastic flavors too. Not quite perfect...but really freakin' good. Definately some strong chocolate malts and some roasted notes too. Very pleasing bitterness. Just right. Fairly strong bitterness, but it really just balances out the rich dark malts nicely. Get the standard Sam Smith flavors as well. Really a wonderful beer.

Mouthfeel is right on the money. Perfect.

I could drink this beer all day long. Really one of my favorites. Warming yet not overwhelming. Rich and complex to keep one interested but not bewildering.

This might be the best deal at my local store: $2.99 for a 550ml bottle. WOW.

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

550 mL clear bottle. Black with faint chocolate highlights. Creamy, finely attenuated tan head that soon becomes a mere cap. Aromas of chocolate, fruity cough syrup, smoky raisins and toffee. Taste is of hops, at first, then smooth chocolate and coffee bliss. Surprising bit of boozines for only 7%. Cherry cordials. Slightly buttery but mostly spicy bitter finish. Mineral aftertaste. Not bad at all. As it warms, the flavors balance out more. Definitely a standard-bearer of taste, but not quite the heaven in a bottle I was expecting. Incredible mouthfeel, however: tingly, slick and oily and an eminently downable medium-to-thin body. Low ABV (for the style) + totally mesmerizing sipping = super high drinkability. Absolute pioneer for the style and deserves much credit for that alone.

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Photo of sk8man121
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

550 ml bottle poured into Allagash chalice. This is my second review of this beer (last reviewed on 3/30/10).

A: Pours a completely opaque pitch black with a massive three-finger brownish-beige head. Settles at one-finger, leaving no lacing on the glass. Excellent retention.

S: Dark chocolate, caramel, bitter fruit and alcohol; I even get a little bit of subtle banana. There's a lot going on in here, but it smells very cohesive.

T: Intense dark fruit up front, followed by sweet dark malts and lots of dark chocolate. Extremely complex, with everything working in perfect harmony.

M: The moderately heavy carbonation takes what seems at first like a rather thin stout and transforms it into a creamy, almost chewy drink. Velvety smooth, and perfect for the style.

O: Figured I'd re-review this one given the fact that I haven't had a bottle in close to a year. Little has changed in terms of this being one of my favorite beers out there, and quite possibly the best imperial stout on the market. And for under $4 a bottle!?


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

This sample came from Hawaii as the B.C. liquor stores decided
not to stock this example of Samuel Smith , which is a shame
because this beer ranks among the best of its type.

The colour is black as a moonless night and the nose is treacly
and enticing. What really makes this beer excel is the rush of
coffee flavours entwined with a beautifully balanced malt/hop
combination. I had to sip slowly to appreciate what a complex
and drinkable beer this becomes. This just might be my favourite
stout with Rogue's Shakespeare Stout coming very close.

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

It's about time I tried this sucker.
It's rich and delicious.
This is probably the easiest to find for me of the world class stouts out there and I am glad for it.
The "lower" alcohol content and smooth flavors make this stout outrageously drinkable.
Lots of deep, smooth coffee and chocolate gluttony to be found. The hops are used just enough so that the sweet flavors do not become cloying.
Others have gone into great detail as to all that can be found in this bubbly black nectar so I'll just chime in with- if you are jonesing for a stout this will set you at ease and leave you with a smile on your face.

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Photo of avwrite
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

Fantastic. Dark, rich in flavor, and smooth going down, it's what a stout should be. Perfect balance of bitterness and coffee/chocolate tastes. Superb.

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

Poured into a strange(stick) glass..It's very dark and has quite a big head..It smells like dark chocolate with a bit of roastiness..The taste is very balanced, with a dark chocolate being the prominent flavor..It feels very smooth in the mouth and somewhere between light and heavy..I feel like I can drink a couple pints of this and enjoy it the whole time...A very good beer, and one I will go to time and time again..

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

Head retention to the fullest! For an imperial stout that is. High above the rim of my glass. Smell is huge, lots of cherries and stuff. Taste runs deep into my soul. Dates, currants and all that jazz. What ever the heck's going on its bad ass. Like a mouth full of tar. Thanks to the low, for an imperial stout, ABV this can be drunk in excess.

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Photo of Overworkedta
4.81/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a snifter. Delicous. I'm a big fan of imperial stouts and barrel aged beers so this was not a departure from my usual. Good mouthfeel and good appearance. The head settles after a bit but it pours caramel chocolate in color.

Would but again. It's a solid beer I've had several years ago but wanted to try again recently. It's no whale but it's a delicious treat to someone who loves stouts.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 1,733 ratings.