Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout - Otter Creek Brewing / Wolaver's

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Otter Creek Russian Imperial StoutOtter Creek Russian Imperial Stout

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546 Ratings

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Ratings: 546
Reviews: 281
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.47%
Wants: 36
Gots: 38 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Otter Creek Brewing / Wolaver's
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Brad007 on 01-09-2009

Every so often we brew this tasty treat that clocks in at 10% ABV. A silky smooth, motor-oil black pour reveals rich, roasty notes of caramel, chocolate and coffee. Like the first stouts brewed for Russian Czars, this offering is big, bold and built to last. Grab a few for the cellar, a couple for your comrades and enjoy because—like those Czars of yesteryear—this beer may be gone soon.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 546 | Reviews: 281
Reviews by laurastradford:
More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #74 (Mar 2013):

A massive brew that ends up being a sheer pleasure to sip. A resurrected beer that was last brewed back in 2009, not to be brewed again until next winter … perhaps they should rethink that, as it will be missed. If you are lucky enough to find some, you’ll want to save a bottle or two, as the brewery states it is a great candidate for cellaring.

STYLE: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.0%

LOOK: Awesome brown head, pitch-black hue

SMELL: Chocolaty, charcoal, dark roast coffee, creamy, blackberries, molasses, hermit cookies, alcohol

TASTE: Bold roasty character, dark chocolate, burnt sugar, espresso, dark fruit, slow alcoholic warmth, underlying hoppiness, fudge brownies, faint oily resin, bittersweet finish

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A bomber poured into my tulip glass. Black in color, thick cocoa head that disappeared quickly. A little bit of lacing. A sweet chocolate aroma, with some roasted grain. The taste was more bitter, like espresso, but there was also a sweet chocolate taste too. So, I'd have to say this was a bold and balanced beer, worthy of many more tastings.

Photo of magictrokini
3.57/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours jet black with an impressive frothy tan head. Weak lacing. Fragrant chocolate cake batter aroma with deep roasted chocolate malt. Some tobacco and leather with light vanilla. Hearty mouthfeel, heavy without getting sticky. The taste is good, but lacking. Solid roasted malt, but it runs away quickly. It leaves behind a soy sauce bite with brown sugar sweetness. Long, black coffee finish. Alcohol is masked well, but it just needs something else.

Photo of kingcrowing
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz foil topped bomber poured into an 8oz Rock Art tulip.

Pours an oily ink black with a nice bit thick mocha-esque head with lots of really fine bubbles. Nose is coffee, roasted barley, sweet maltiness, and almost a hint of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is a bit light, not super rich, and there's a hint of iron on the finish. Lots of coffee-like bitterness. Very drinkable and sweet, but ti's still got a bit of that milk creaminess. overall decent!

Photo of dogfishandi
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle at fridge temp poured into a snifter. Listed as 10% ABV on the label which is different from the one pictured.

Pours out a completely opaque, viscous black. A vigorous pour results in just a small 1/4 in. layer of head that quickly fades to a ring, but the ring remains nice and tight throughout the rest of the glass. What is nice about the head is that its a nice deep tan/ light brown color. A bit of lacing and a bit of some sticky legs from a swirl of the glass.

First off, in the aroma is a deep charred, roasted malt, some alcohol, a bit of dark chocolate, black licorice, slight hints of smoked meat as it warms.

AgaIn, a deep charred roasted malt really takes center stage in the taste. Bitter- sweet. Some nice dark chocolate and a bit of some bakers chocolate. A bit of alcohol, but more in the form of warming. A bit of dark fruits on the back end. A bit basic, but defiantly tasty.

A nice thick mouthfeel that really coats the whole palate with each sip. Low carbonation which is compliments the style.

A very nice RIS, it defiantly exceeded my expectations. They seemed to have nailed everything exactly to style. Age should do this well, but this would be real magic in a bourbon barrel. Worth atleast one try.

Photo of far333
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque brownish black with an inch high head of light brown foam that settles out slowly to a lid of soapy bubbles.

Aroma of cocoa and dark malt and licorice, some subtle smoke.

Rich flavors of darkly roasted malt and tangy cherry. Subtle cocoa and deep espresso, morphing to bitter dark chocolate. Notes of charred smokey bark and licorice. Lots of complexity here.

Even mouthfeel, moderate carbonation. Warming in the cheeks. Finishes somewhat dry. Very drinkable, tasty beer.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The most honest bottle from the 22 ounce gift pack I bought, Imperial IPA was solid, and the Wine/Beer hybrid was a bit of an abomination. Well this beer sang praises of why it's okay to go extreme every once in awhile. Form DFH brewer was completely able to nail a big bodied dark beer like no other. Poured dark a bit viscous, with heavy mocha/tan deep brown head color and stark black body bubbling up in my chalice. I'm sorry I didn't use the fluted small pilsner glass that came with the sampler. It didn't seem like the right tool for the job. Aromatics big on ripened fruit/hints of coffee/dark chocolate. Plums/brand soaked fruit/dark chocoalte/even a bit of soy sauce like all great impy stouts. Nose nails the style and hides the booze. Flavor wise more of the same dark fruits/soaked in a mild layer of booziness. Again creamy coffee/big dark roasted malt layers/an edge of soy sauce saltiness this bottle will age forever it you can hold onto it. Big body a bit chewy in the best possible way, smooth rolling carbonation mellow at best carries this big bodied Russian Impy Stout quite well. Like I said this was the VIP of the three pack I came across while browsing the selection up at Vintage Estate in Boardman Ohio. Overall drinkability if one and done this is the supreme one beer to drink, if sharing with friends a four ounce pour is just as satisfying even though you'll crave another bottle to cellar.

Photo of rudylaw
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to MasterSki for bringing this to the CE release. Served in my GTOM taster glass.

A natural black pour with minimal caramel-colored head.

The aroma was hard to lock down. Fudgy, tobacco, chocolately. It has a burnt smell as well.

I get a ton of chocolate up front. There's some coffee notes here, but mostly dark chocolate. Some smoke as well. This is actually very appealing to me. Smooth mouthfeel and decent drinkability for an RIS. I could easily drink a whole bomber of this.

Photo of glid02
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this in a trade with ShrLSU - thanks!

Pours black with a one-finger brown head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of roasted malts, raw coffee beans, and unsweetened chocolate.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Roasted malts and coffee flavors up front segue into a good amount of dark chocolate flavors midway through the sip. The ending is solidly bitter.

Mouthfeel is very good. It has a great thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is good - I had no problem finishing a glass of this.

Overall this is a very solid RIS but it doesn't do anything exceptionally well that would push it into the top tier. Still, well worth a shot.

Photo of degerbah
3.31/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a very thick syrupy black with a thick brown tinged head. The aroma is slightly choclatey, but the main flavor is similar to soy sauce. The taste is thick, boozy, and almost hard to drink. The alcohol is a huge part of the flavor, in my opinion a little too much.

Photo of r0nyn
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into an oversized snifter.

Pours a dark mahogany brown with somewhat loose viscosity. Coalesces into an inky darkness with full opacity. Head is minimal, leaving only a thin film floating with the substantial alcoholic legs at the top. Lacing is quite spotty, without much stickiness at all. Smell is robust and engaging, with a pronounced chocolate character. Some mild coffee notes show up as well, and there is a definite malty backbone to the scent as well. Slight nuances of vanilla, caramel and that hefty double digit booziness round out the nose.

Lots of chocolate notes to start, providing a bittersweet undertone to the entire taste of the beer. Caramel notes are subtle but definitely present and have almost a roasted quality to them. The brown sugar advertised on the label is also evident, providing some mild, nuanced sweetness. Notes of toasted barley mingle with the substantial malt character to round out the finish, which is drying and lightly bitter. Alcohol really isn't evident, which is slightly surprising. Mouthfeel is admittedly on the thinner side, especially given the weighty ABV. Finishes with a crispness and a little bit of carbonated effervescence.

Drinkability is quite good, aided by the enticing smell, pleasant taste and minimal alcohol footprint. There is still quite a bit of booze in this, so sipping is recommended, but it definitely doesn't hinder how many sips you'll be taking at once. A quality brew from Otter Creek, one I wouldn't mind revisiting down the road. I think this beer would only benefit from a little bit of aging, so time will tell.

Photo of NJpadreFan
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Otter Creek- RIS

A- Thick black with a huge thick tan head. Heavy foamed head laces nicely.
S- Big strong slightly burnt charcoal, chocolate, and marshmallow.
T- Thick dark chocolate, strong burnt black coffee, charcoal, and hints of vanilla. Slight buttery carmelized malt appears in the end.
M- Very strong burnt bitterness up front, creamier malt appears, and sweet chocolatey bitterness finishes this off.

Overall- Starts off burnt and boozy but settles down. This 1 is quite creamy but very sweet and cloying eventually. 1 pint is enough!

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.91/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Picked up a bomber at the Brattleboro food co-op for $6.29. The label has lots of info, including all ingredients, abv and IBU's.

This is totally black, opaque with obvious carbonantion around the edge, the head is massive, at least 2" high, very bubbly and frothy with creaminess on the very top. dissipation is moderate for the style. There's plenty of dark brown foam still left over long after the liquid is gone. Lacing is sticky and intricate. right on.

The nose is huge, it's as bold and complex as any RIS I've ever had, including such big-boys as Dark lord and the Abyss. Very dark roastie malt right off, grahm crackers, meaty, nutty, peanutbutter with spicey, herbal hops, mellow peppery black berry jam. As the liquid warms you've got, brownies straight from the oven. Well balanced with the hops really providing a unique spiciness, instead of the leafy-bitter scent you get from many huge stouts. a very subtle aroma of dark fruits pops out even later.

After being totally rocked by the aroma of this brew i was affraid the flavor would fall short. NOT!!! This is extremely complex with mulit-level malt flavor's of dark baker's chocolate, dry brownies, peanutbutter, coffee with cream and a another chocolate current that is a bit sweeter, like milk chocolate. The really unique aspect of this RIS is the bold, spicey and earthy hop effect that is bold but not overly bitter. The hops provides the most sublime balance I've ever noticed in this style. 65 IBU's seems Just right. The heat is pretty subtle and adds a nice warming effect but becomes a bit more hot later on. Chocolate covered blueberries pops out as the stout warms up. highly complex, and enjoyable!!

This big-ass stout is full bodied with a crispy middle body, finishing hefty and smooth, then dry. My lips are sticky. smooth and creamy.

Honestly, Otter creek has NAILED the RIS, I'm blown away. Huge complexity with something unique to offer in the spicey and not bitter hop balance. Impressive!

Photo of Sammy
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Jon for sharing. Pours thick black with great brownish head. Good aroma of expresso and chocolate and the taste delivers, with coffee, expresso, lots of chocolate. A bit sweet biased, but good bitterness there.Above average mouthfeel. Dangerously drinkable. Could be the best they have ever done.

Photo of augustgarage
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained in trade from ShogoKawada (thanks!). Bottled in 2008? Poured from a 22oz bomber into my Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Rich dark brown liquid is topped by a churning creamy sandy brown head of foam. Thick pasty lacing, and superior retention (a swirl brings the head right back up).

Chocolate covered malt balls, roasted barley, brown bread, molasses, shoyu, and a touch of oxidation (sweat, cardboard) in the nose. Letting it "breath" for a while seems to help dispense with some of the undesirable aromatics...

Old coffee grounds, and an almost sour hop flavor greet the palate. The astringency blossoms into an array of roast levels from pleasantly toasty to nearly acrid as it builds into the finish. A touch of hazlenut, faint cherry, heaps of brown sugar and a bit of milk chocolate tames the bitterness, though the aftertaste is still fairly dry and roasty.

Full-bodied, dense, velvety mouthfeel - filling with fairly high carbonation. Warming but not at all hot. Pleasing spice-like astringency. Reminds me of nitro-tap but in a good way...

A well balanced and enjoyable example of the style, though it doesn't seem as robust as the label claims - I'd be nervous to age this except at a very cool temperature - as it tastes just a hair past its peak already.

Photo of alovesupreme
4.28/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Extremely dark pour, this is a thick beer. Brown head with white in the mix. Head sticks around for a while.
Lots of coffee and chocolate with a fair amount of smoky character as the beer warms.
Roasted character is very prominent with coffee and chocolate giving the tongue the most love. A subtle caramel character is in the middle with a smoky finish. The finish is mostly roasted bitterness with a hint of hops.
Very thick mouthfeel right where I want my RIS.
An unexpected treat from a brewery that I havent given much thought in the past. Worth seeking out.

Photo of hreb
4.6/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Liberated this bottle from my collection today, after several months of waiting. Cold 22oz bomber poured into tapered pint glass. Beer pours black, like motor oil, with a thick, ice-cream-float-like mahogany head, which grows as it rests. Rich hazelnut-coffee aroma. Toasty.

Initial sip has a creamy mouthfeel with a mouth-coating roasted coffee flavor. The beer would do well to warm up a bit. Carbonation and hops are appropriately distant. Doesn't betray even a hint of alcohol. Lots of thick brown lacing already coat the glass.

As the beer warms it gets even more mellow. It also becomes even more apparent that the aroma, initial flavor, and aftertaste are pure roasted barley, while the middle of the palate uses hops to subtly take the edge of the sweetness of the brown sugar. Fantastic. And in no way does it reveal the over 10% ABV.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Otter Creek's Russian Imperial Stout pours an opaque black body beneath a finger thick head of frothy dark tan foam that holds well and leaves short walls of lacing around the glass.

The aroma is like roasted, oily coffee beans. Not much else comes through except for a gentle waft of alcohol. If you'd like to suggest that there's dark chocolate in there as well, OK, I'll go for that, but mainly what I get is bright, roasted coffee beans. Not coffee, mind you, but just the beans. And solid beans, not grounds.

The flavor offers more complexity. There's an edge of fruitiness, and some more distinct chocolate than the nose hints at. It's also a touch fudge-like. Creamy and smooth in the mouth. And although it's deeply roasty, it's not acidic. It's as if the malt is both toasty and roasty. Mocha Java! The balance is right, and it's remarkably smooth and round - almost to a fault. Some spicy (... that may be the alcohol coming through) and grassy hops give it a little bit of edge at least. It finishes dry, and not overly done with sticky malt or residual sweetness or roastiness; although I should point out that there are some minor phenolics present. The strength is evident in the warming as well, although the alcohol never really makes itself known.

An enjoyable beer for sure, but not particularly engaging given the style. It lacks complexity, or should I say depth? Perhaps both.

Photo of russpowell
3.99/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this from Bitterbill, cheers Bill!

Pours like 15,000 mile motor oil with 1 finger of cocoa colored head. Average head retention & lacing

S: Dark chocolate, raisins, & a touch of leafy hops & then some figs & oak notes as this warms

T: Rich dark chcolate, a touch of roastyness, a bit of leafy hops & charred grains up front. As this warms, I get oakyness, a bit of vanilla, black cherry & powdery dryness from the brown sugar I presume, works pretty well here. Plums & figs soaked in booze also show up as well. Finishes with a hint of boozeyness, leafy hops, & figs

MF: Very chewy, fairly light carbonation, a tad syruppy

A fairly dry & complex offering, which slows me down quite a bit. A touch too fruitty for perfection, but this works overall. This is cutting the chill on a fairly cool (not cold) March evening. Another winner from Otter Creek

Photo of Kegatron
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz foil topped bomber into a tulip glass.

Pours a dense motor oil black with several fingers of extremely rigid looking burnt mocha (almost like chocolate milk) head. This settles down into a 1/2 finger of solid retention, which throws up a big and creamy cascade that just DRENCHES the sides of the glass with foam and brown oily goo. The aroma is huge with roasted grains and zippy notes of espresso beans, along with underlying backer's chocolate that adds some sweetness to the mix. A stiff whiff of licorice and heat pull up the back of this bouquet. Just a really nice and assertive Imperial Stout nose here.

The taste is just as in-yo'-face as the aroma was. Big milk chocolate sweetness up front that then quickly runs into a BRICK WALL of burnt and grainy malts, roasted coffee, and a swift blast of hop bitterness. Mingling in are more subtle (if you can call anything in this subtle) notes of smoke, molasses, brown sugar, and anise. Finishes burnt, tangy, and bitter, with a feel that just sticks to the palate. The mouthfeel is extremely full bodied, with a big creamy feeling up front, that then melds into a more chewy and thick viscous feel that carries all of these huge flavors nicely. There is some definite alcohol heft to the body. While I can't say that the drinkibility of this is stellar because of it, it doesn't distract from the other flavors and in fact helps bring out a lot of the burnt and bitter notes in this.

A bit of a shocker, I would have never expected a beer this big and bold from Otter Creek. Powerful and complex, the only thing holding this back is the alcohol and I'm anxious to see what some time in the cellar will do for future bottles. If this is the start of Otter Creek's new Imperial Series, well then sign me up for the rest, as this made me a believer!

Photo of KTCamm
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served from a twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours dark black, some brown foam settles out. Tar like pour. Rich roasted nose, espresso beans. Taste is full and rich, burnt coffee, backed by a modest alcohol burn. Light licorice underneath. Earthy. Thick mouthfeel.

Photo of alleykatking
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bottle.

A- Poured a motor oil black color. Very wonderful looking to say the least! Two finger mocha colored head shows good retention for the ABV. Very sticky streaky lacing on the sides of the glass.

S- Big time roasted malts and chocolate malts. Nothing really else on the aroma except a ton of malts...bigger dark malts. Simple and works very well.

T- A lot of of chocolate malts in the front of this. There is a roasted coffee hint that rides the entire beer. Brown sugar hints in the middle of the beer. Toward the ending of the beer there is a light anise flavor which gets covered with the roasted malts and a light warming alcohol. This bottle is a year old and the alcohol is still there in a warming way.

M- Medium heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style. Nice heavy roasted malt flavor left on the palate. Lighter roasted malts and alcohol in the aftertaste. Medium alcohol drying on the palate. Malt forward beer that I have no complaints with. Clean flavors throughout.

D- This is a nice heavy hitting beer that I was glad to try. This one could rivial any of the bigger stouts and I think might actually be better than some of those in a blind test. The ABV is hidden till the backend but even then isn't as big as it should be. Great beer!

Photo of Bung
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. Almost black pour with a good sized dark tan head. The creamy foam stuck around quite a while and laced fairly well. Very roasty coffee and malt aromas. Definetely some char with some booze also. A good balance of chocolates, coffee, some piney hops. Feels and tastes like a fair amount of malt in this, mouthfeel was almost creamy. There was quite a bit of bitter ash like tastes lingering throughout, but I did not find it as off-putting as others here. Finish was slightly bitter, some soy, but oatmeal like as well. I was really pleased with this one, especially for the below average price tag for an Imperial. Don't let the downers dissuade you from trying this one.

Photo of LacquerHead
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this into a small wine glass.

It poured an extremely dark brown with virtually no translucence. This had a thickness to it. There was a roasted brown colored head formation.

The aroma was very malty and sweet.

This had a very roasted malt flavor. Coffee and dark semi-sweet chocolate. It had a burnt caramel sweet flavor that was accompanied by a touch of bitterness.

M/F: thick on the palate with a soft carbonation. It had a light syrup feel.

D: very easy to drink. The ABV was barely detectable. It would show up now and again as I exhaled.

Overall: a very good RIS for the price. I was certainly not disappointed. I would happily purchase this again.

Photo of CooperEllis
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz into DFH snifter

Straight roasted malt aroma, flavor.

This RIS is dark, not pitchblack, but a deep brown with a ful carmel head that reduces to thin lacing around the edges of the glass.

Lacing is sticky, but not cloying.

Flavor is full, slight alcohol bite but doesn't detract from the full roasted malt flavors of the brew.

Carbonation is spot on. The finish is smooth, with faint bitterness that doesn't linger.

Solid across the board.


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Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout from Otter Creek Brewing / Wolaver's
90 out of 100 based on 546 ratings.