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

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Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

1,690 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,690
Hads: 3,444
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.03%
Wants: 202
Gots: 352 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Todd on 02-27-2001

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,690 | Hads: 3,444
Photo of BlackHaddock
4.44/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2nd Beer of 2014: 355ml Bottle, BBD Aug 2014, poured into a Palm badged tulip on 1st Jan.

Black with a deep, tanned head.

Coffee nose with dark chocolate notes and a mildly over roasted over smell.

The taste mirrors the aromas but more bitter than the sweetness I half expected from the esters coming out of the glass.

Smooth mouthfeel, the alcohol is hidden very well by the flavours and overall it's a great beer with few equals in it's style. (449 characters)

Photo of billab914
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 550ml bottle into my Stone RIS glass. Poured black in color with a thick and full dark tan head on it. The head settled to a thin layer clinging to the edges of the glass, where it left some great lacing on the sides.

The aroma has a good amount of chocolate to it with a bit of caramel and molassas coming through. It's pretty low on the roasty, coffee and bitter flavors a lot of the American versions are full of. Pretty decent and smooth aroma overall though.

The taste shows a lot of milk chocolate to it at first. I'm also getting a fruity, apple like flavor to it that I don't usually find in an imperial stout. Some roasty and bitter flavors come through towards the finish along with some more chocolate. Pretty flavorful and tasty beer and also different then others of the style to keep things interesting.

The mouthfeel is average thickness for the style but it has a very nice creaminess to it. Drinkability is very good, it's a very well made and classic beer. It had a lot of interesting and different flavors from a lot of the Imperial Stouts that I've had, and thankfully they were also pretty good flavors. Very nice beer to sip on this evening. (1,183 characters)

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

550 mL bottle purchased in March 08

Pours a dark, nearly opaque brown with garnet hues around the edges against light. Massive, fluffy deep tan head with a light crimson hue. Aroma is complex balance of dark fruits and toffee/caramel malts. This almost smells like a red wine at first. Full bodied with light carbonation results in a very creamy, soft feel on the tongue. Flavors are similar to the aroma, body is initially fruity sweet, before the malt and chocolate flavors take over with a slight hop bitterness in the finish. Malt and bitter fruitiness lingers long into the finish. I had purchased two bottles of this and drank one fresh. For some reason that night this seemed too overpowering for me, but tonight this tastes well balanced and very drinkable. (766 characters)

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Sam Smith pint glass.
Big black color topped with a thick burnt sienna head. I let it sit for a bit to let the head even out. It stayed quite well, laced all the way through the tasting.
Chocolate, coffee, and pepper in the nose, perhaps some plum and dark fruit.
Taste was chocolat and coffee mostly. I tasted some currant and anise, I think. Bittersweet. Bitter than sweet, sweet then bitter. Good balance.
Smooth easy drinking. Very rich (452 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Big Fist full of head and a great milk chocolate bubble look. Dark brown off the pour like varnish for a body and light brown hues on the edges. Really nice head cap on this with great retention.

Great balance of malt and milk chocolate smell and nuts and even a little bit of vinegar hidden in the background. Really good, even some tobacco, nice bouquet on this stout.

Taste is a great malt and somewhat butter, but some sour fruit that's quite pleasant. Alcohol, banana, and roast coffee on the finish compete with a chocolate middle palate taste. Some carbonation in the middle palate also, but tolerable at least.

For the inexpensive price and pocket size go to feel of the bottle, this is a great go to stout which just makes drinkability a little better than good. This is a very good place to start for this style. (867 characters)

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a glass mug. Dark as night with a mocha head.

Smells of roasted malt and peat, pretty interesting.

Tastes like a decent stout, with a slight off taste. Some roasted malt and boozy clean alcohal. Hints of cocoa. Moderately hopped.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, creamy and slick.

Drinkability is pretty good for the style, but the Oatmeal Stout is Sam Smith's greatest accomplishment. There are fresher American brewed Russian Imperials that I would take over this one. (499 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

550 ml bottle purchased from BevMo, on to the beer:

Poured inot a Guinness pint glass, the appearance is black with brownish hues on the edges and a thick tan head on top the body. The aroma has a pinch of alcohol, then followed by smoked chocolate and coffee. The taste begins sweet and smokey like tobacco and cocoa. There's some roasted characeter as well in the form of sweet malt. Alcohol is a little heavier than expectations, which makes things a little fruity. There's some chocolate fudge cake that appears briefly before being knocked down. The ABV is on the low-end for RIS's, but this beer has a full bodied taste that should be respected with slow sips. (667 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.7/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark ruby, but not quite opaque like a good impy. Nice looking tan head, unfortunately it disappears pretty fast. No lacing, not a bit.

Smells like dark, fruity alcohol and lacks any roasty notes. Tastes is smooth with dark ester qualities. No roasty or smokiness, fairly simple profile and subtle, but still good.

Easy drinking for an impy stout and feels nice. Its a good RIS, but I find this, like I've found some of the other Sam Smith beers, to be overrated. A good beer, but one of the last RIS's I'd choose if I had a good number of choices. There is better, bolder stuff to be found at America's own craft breweries. (630 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a fairly nice head that settles but sticks around as a thin lid. Lacing is slight. The smell is of chocolate, prunes,cherries, wine, and a slight roastiness.Very pleasant. The flavor is similar, with an overlay of vanilla and sweet cherries that are more predominant as it warms. Very creamy and with nice chocolate notes on the finish. Beautufully creamy body, and not all that heavy. Very drinkable,and nice to have a RIS with some delicious flavors and low abv. (481 characters)

Photo of corby112
3.28/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Serving type: bottle.

Pours a dark black color with a thick coffee-colored head. Aroma of malty chocolate, roasted coffee and toast. Flavor is similar to aroma with lots of roasted chocolate maltiness, caramel, coffe, toffe and oatmeal. A bit watered down though with a dry finish. (282 characters)

Photo of weeare138
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a deep, rich black with caramelized, dark brown edges when held to the light. A fluffy, 2 finger, creamy tan head slowly fades out in a minutes time. Scattered spots of lacing are left all around the glass.
Smell is of plums, raisins, molasses, roasty malts, cream, baker's chocolate, English toffee, slight butterscotch, anise, and mild coffee with dusty notes of wood.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas highlighted by a fruity, prune and raisin flavor that mixes creamed coffee and roasted oats with a touch of caramelized sugar that borderlines the path of cloying but remains along the spectrum of balance.
Mouthfeel is rich, medium-full bodied, slight thinness like the OG started off very high but was watered down to make the volume greater. The brew starts off sweet at first with roasted malt sticking in the middle of the tongue.before fading to a gently hopped, semi-dry roastiness.
All in all, this is a British classic that shouldn't be missed. There are other styles emulated by the Americans that I feel have gone a step above this pioneer of Imperial Stouts but consider this the "Old Guard" of the style that should be revisited every now and again out of respect, if not for the delicious aromas and flavors. (1,237 characters)

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.48/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lovely cascade out of the bottle, a very dark black-blood-red hue, just giving a glimmer of ruby when held to light. Head is a creamy crest of beige bubbles. Good lacing. Just delicious looking.

Dark chocolate-sweet notes on the nose. Not huge but tasty and sweet. Hints of something slightly tannic as well, like tea leaves or red wine cork. Nice.

Very solid, roasted and smoky characters on the palate. Dark and bitter - everything implies fire and charcoal, except that it has this wonderful airy sweetness that never drags it right down. Back palate is quite ashy, but in a pleasant drinkable dryness. Mouthfeel is creamy and thick, but with a pleasant levity. Very nice.

Extremely drinkable, despite the darkness. Just creamy, rich, sweet, and slick. A superbly balanced and extremely well made brew. This beer cements Samuel Smith's reputation for me. (860 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black brew, this is in fact clear, IF! You have a 500-watt bulb to hold it up too.

Smell is sweet and malty, reminds me of a doppel bock. Solid fruitiness to this beer, and a touch of sourness. Toffee and brown sugar smells are here too. There is a solid chocolate smell to this.

Taste is very rich, to many flavors to catch on the first taste, strong chocolate flavor. Complex toffee, and then smoke and then, milk, and then coffee and then chocolate. Caramel is in here, Vanilla, Nuts, and many more. A VERY big brew.

Mouthfeel is thick like I like it.

Very drinkable to me, but will probably kill a Budweiser fan. A Master brew unlike the "Hop Monsters" that just overplay a single aspect. GREAT brews have 10-20-30+ Different dimensions of excellence, not just one. I like this company’s Oatmeal stout a bit better than this one, but this is a world class brew none the less. (905 characters)

Photo of wl0307
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Revisiting this lovely ale 3 years since my last encounter; BB 05/2009, served cool in a tulip-shaped sniffer (Gulden Draak's branded glass). NOTE: the packaging has changed from the clear bottle to the dark brown one now - good to see some improvement with presentation!

A: pours a jet black hue, coming with a well-lasting tan frothy head and very light carbonation.
S: oily and thick, full of dark malts' aroma but shy of more pronounced coffee-ish aroma - jammy plums (but not sweet), fat black prunes, a faint touch of licorice, focused edge of oily black syrup, gristy malts, a fine touch of lightly toasted nuts and Fuggles hops. Deep, semi-complex, oily and malty.
T: not as thick as the nose suggests, the foretaste is soothingly carbonated, packed of toasted walnuts, fat black prunes, burned malts, grassiness, then a wave of delicious prune-ish and winey fruitiness expands along with earthy hop bitterness that intensifies to render a semi-dry palate, while black malts and a rather light roasty hint lend a bit more complexities in the end.
M&D: soft on the carbonation and pretty fresh for the full flavour. The consistent, mildly winey-sour hint becomes almost the most important key to connect different flavour elements. Comparing this bottle with my previous notes, I can say that the performance this time is equally good overall. Delicious, lighter than the abv. suggests, even quaffable!

* Tasting Date: 19/05/06
Got this bottle at just 1.79 pounds at the Nelson Wines, South Wimbledon, London. Bargain! Served cool in a large Burgundy bulb wine glass.
4.5 A: jet black hue; the effervescent tan beer head comes creamy and tightly frothy, only slowly settling while tight and even sheets of lacing emerge on the tracks... Elegant!
4.5 S: sour-sweet and "jammy" dark fruits (raisins+prunes+dried longan-fruits) prevail upfront... leather-ish, chewy and slightly roasty dark maltiness gradually join force, resulting in a "sticky plum pudding"-ish aroma with coconut-shavings on the top; an impossible-to-miss and profound treacle-ish note stays deep and low, which, not as thick and sweet as in other samples, rather gets a refreshing sour edge attached to it at every step. Overall, aromatic, fruity and sweet--complex and inviting~~
4.5 T: aromatic, black-sugary maltiness hits the palate upfront, backed by an intensifyingly black-prune-ish, slightly winey, and smoked fruity+malty mid-flavour; the initially creamy palate gradually turns drier and drier, where the sour-sweet, juicy, chewy and slightly woody-tannic vinous dark fruits provide a solid backbone and attach to the deep end of the palate, joined force by bits of roasted grainy elements with a tinge of licorice lingering towards the very end.
4.5 M&4.5 D: velvety smooth yet full-bodied for a 7%abv. Imperial Stout, without falling thick or hard on alc.; the softly carbonated body is ideal, which, along with a constant sour-fruitiness, keeps the thicker malty elements in check, so as to ensure a balanced palate. Slightly on the weak side for a preferably heavier roasted-malt input and also aromatic hoppy presence. But if one places this beer alongside Harvey's Imperial Russian Stout, there's an idea how a genuine English "RIS" might have tasted some hundred years ago... For me this Imperial Stout is utterly easy-drinking in this category--really worth seeking out this one! (Yet I still don't get why SS can't make it bottle-conditioned?) (3,440 characters)

Photo of biegaman
4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A lustrous, inky black facade that twinkles with temperate glints of rustic red. Close inspection to the light proves shadowed clarity possible and thus reveals the beer to not be opaque after all. Its hazelnut stained head has sunk in the center but still strongly envelops the outsides. Not withstanding thin prints of lace, I demand something a little darker.

Its bouquet brims with copious amounts of blackstrap molasses. It's an almost sedative smell that combines browned sugar with hints of bittersweet chocolate (leaning to the sweet side). Alongside a minor amount of black licorice it would seem a very liberal amount of stale, cold coffee was blended into the mix as well.

The taste has a phenomenal presence of soured berries and dark fruit thrown into the prevalent flavours of cold coffee and blackstrap molasses. The usual cast of heavy-roast espresso and rich, gooey chocolate are considerably understated; a stale black coffee and handful of cocoa beans would be far more accurate descriptors.

The roast is present but fails to linger in either bitterness or aftertaste. The texture has an unexpected creamy smoothness and washes over the palate with dove-like delicacy. The modest 7% alcohol is rightfully discreet and plays no determinant for drinkability. These factors together create for an unusually mild imperial stout.

Many of the great Imperial Stouts are considered such because of their heavy, rich and decadent profiles. Although robust, the Sam Smith is certainly far more modest than has become commonplace with the style. Still, it is a classic rendition of a more traditional, old-world example and should appreciated as such (...which is a very easy thing to do!) (1,705 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.17/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

(Served in an imperial pint glass)

A-This beer has a nice deep dark midnight brown body with no visible sings of carbonation it is so opaque. The head is a boiling mat of light brown that settles to a nice even layer.

S- The deep dark aroma has notes of graham cracker and nuts with some caramel notes and a dark roasted malt and barley with some faint slightly bittersweet chocolate in the finish. As it warms I start to get a hint of banana milkshake in the finish.

T- The taste of dark malt has a slightly sour earthy quality. The finish is dry with some slight hints of honey oddly enough. The taste of bittersweet chocolate comes through with more fruity flavors of raisins as it warms. The notes of fresh bread and alcohol hints come through in the finish also.

M- This beer has a full body with some velvety texture to it. The alcohol warmth is very soft and helps finish the taste of the beer.

D- This beer has nice big dark flavors but the secondary flavors were a bit strange with banana and bread seemed to take over. I would have liked some more malt complexity and maybe a bit more alcohol or hops to balance out this big beer. (1,159 characters)

Photo of jdhilt
3.89/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a two-fingered light tan head that goes slowly and leaves traces of lace. Black as the ace spades. Moderate carbonation. Molasses/malty nose. Starts malty with sweet licorice, finishes malty. Sweeter than a Guinness. Medium to heavy bodied, very good imperial stout. $3.89 for a 550ml bottle. $1.50 for a 12oz bottle from Capitol Convenience. (348 characters)

Photo of akorsak
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a 550 mL bottle served in a weizen glass. The stout is near room temperature.

A: The stout is pitch black, no ruby red hints, no nothing. There is a light brown head that is fairly small.

S: The ale has a strong chocolate aroma with hints of lactose sweetness.

T: The flavor here is very reserved, completely unlike any US RIS beers. There is a semi-sweet lactose flavor and hints of chocolate, both of which provide a pleasantly strong flavor. Hops are practically non-existent.

M: The stout is a very refreshing take on the RIS variety.

D: The stout is very drinkable with a mid-range abv. This is a good stout for those who don't like the American over-hopped types. (683 characters)

Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color, nice carbonation, small creamy tan head, some lacing afterwards. The nose is of sweet malts, slight hops, some chocolate/toffee. The taste is sweet malty, nice chocolate/toffee, slight alcohol. Medium body. Drinkable, a nice stout, but a Imperial, not quite. (284 characters)

Photo of Axnjxn
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

550ml bottle into a nonic pint glass

pours a dark black with a nice creamy beige head. Smell is typical for the style with a lot of roasted malts and chocolate dominating the palate. Taste holds true with an abundance of chocolate (though not overwhelming) and a good roasted malt backbone. Very solid RIS. Full bodied, light carbonation.

Overall my favorite Samuel Smith beer and a real winner, especially for the price! (423 characters)

Photo of dcmchew
4.74/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Almost pitch black, long lasting one finger beige head, extremely sticky.
Rich smell of roasted malts, caramel, coffee, dark fruit (plus faint red wine), really good.
Initial taste is of rich dark chocolate, caramel, rich roasted malts. Big espresso notes, with lots of cocoa powder. Big hints of vanilla and licorice. Mild dark fruit (obvious raisin, fig, plum), with berries, cherries and dark grapes (bringing a mustiness). Low citrus also, with a nice crispness adding freshness to the heavy roast. Nice woody notes, with a low smokiness and light burnt wood/charcoal. Mild hoppy presence.
Creamy, with a warm booze that gives the beer almost a cognac feel.
A beautiful complex imperial stout, really good. (710 characters)

Photo of liamt07
4.48/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle from AJ's Fine Foods on North Central in Phoenix. 355ml bottle into a chalice.

Black with ruby red at the edges when held to some light, a great amount of lacing and some solid retention. Nose has chocolate with a great dark fruit character, sweet and rich dark malts with a dry and lightly toasty grain character. A touch of licorice as well. Taste has some dried dark fruits lightly coated in chocolate, some brown sugar and caramel. Light roastiness in the finish. A bit of the Samuel Smith hard water character too. Drying, creamy and great mouthfeel for the style - real bang on for what I dig. Low carbonation. An excellent imperial stout. My only point of contention? I wish this was bigger, maybe a few percent higher in the ABV category. Sam Smith does dark ales well. (785 characters)

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the cellar.. been down there since August.. Shared with Brenda.. mine from my New Belgium snifter... I am pretty sure they are going for about $2.50 at the Coop.

2" head .. rings of tan lace .. deep black brew.

Nose is more dark fruits than anything else.. prunes and dark brown sugar essence. Some chocolate and dark malts .. but not nearly as "black" smelling as most of the RIS's I've had in recent years.

Sweet and dark fruits with quick transition to coffee in the front of the palate .. Again more fruity than dark malt presence.. prunes with subtle side of the tongue chocolate with a molasses finish. No real "char" to speak of, and I'm okay with that on the Sammy. The roasty is present .. but seems to play second fiddle.. gives way even more as it warms.

I haven't had one of these in probably a year... instead been sampling and enjoying the bigger badder cousins in the style. The Samuel Smith RIS should be considered more as a founder or the father of the style in my opinion. Nothing is over the top and that adds immensely to the overall experience. (1,076 characters)

Photo of aasher
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer poured a dark, dark brown to black in color with a three finger medium, soft and spongy moderate khaki head. The aromas are very surprising. Oddly enough, the first aroma that hits the nose is of bacon fat. It has slight smoked notes that are driving me nuts. At this point in the evening, I'm totally digging it. Aside from that you get some roasted and dark malts with a subtle sweetness. The flavors are pretty solid too. It begins with silky smooth chocolate before going into light coffee and roasted malts. It's an excellent mix! Everything is blended so well together. I can't believe I waited so long to finally try this one. It drinks medium bodied and is very smooth going down. The mouthfeel is on point. It's perfect. I honestly cannot believe I'm enjoying this so much. I never expected a beer of this caliber from Sam Smith. This is one of the most drinkable RIS around. It's crazy really. (913 characters)

Photo of tobelerone
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the beer that introduced me to the world of Imperial Stouts. It seems a bit light by today’s standards but it’s still a classic.

Jet black beer with a dark tanned head of great size and retention. Lacing is excellent.

The nose is full of bitter coffee, sweet maltiness, molasses, and fruits (plums and raisins, mostly).

The taste is intricate, with predominant bitterness of an espresso-like quality, hints of bittersweet chocolate, dry, wine-like tannins, mild sweetness, toasty malt, dark fruits, and traces of both hops and booze.

Medium bodied, light for this style by the standards of 2011. Slightly creamy and sticky but well short of cloying or viscous. Lingering finish is bitter and roasty. (716 characters)

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 1,690 ratings.