Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series) - Smuttynose Brewing Company

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Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series)Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series)

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677 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 677
Hads: 1,150
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 10.34%
Wants: 118
Gots: 137 | FT: 9
Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bierman9 on 05-05-1998

2007 - 10.0%
2009 - 8.9%
2010 - 9.8%
2014 - 9.4%
2015 - 10.5%
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 677 | Hads: 1,150
Photo of mullenite
4.56/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Originally tasted fresh, each section is updated and the score is averaged after ~3.5 years of aging.

2009 bomber poured in to a Corsendonk tulip (I LOVE these glasses for big stouts.)

Pours a straight black body with no highlights and a 3 finger head that fell slowly in to a thin carp mostly covering the top of the beer. Excellent lacing down the side of the glass. / After 3.5 years, the appearance remains true except the head. It dropped a bit faster to a much more dense foam.

Smell is a strong dark chocolate and some roast. Has an overall bitter nose to it with the alcohol adding a touch of aquanet. The aquanet is a good thing though, it's a very clean alcohol smell. / The alcohol and roast are mostly gone leaving a really nice dark chocolate and dark fruit aroma. The "aquanet" is gone, too.

There is a lot going on in this beer, the flavors are all kind of bunched at the start of the sip and separate through the finish. There is a noticeable grassy hop bitterness to start, followed by a slight roast character with some resonant alcohol and finish with an alcoholic dark chocolate. A very hoppy imperial stout. / The hop bitterness is gone, the alcohol is gone. The rest remains. Absolutely amazing and up there with some of the best in the world.

Medium to medium heavy mouthfeel with a fair bit of carbonation to it. / This hasn't changed.

Pretty easy to drink it now but I imagine after a couple years this one will mellow out and balance to become an absolutely amazing beer. / My prediction was correct. This one drinks scary easy and has an absolutely amazing flavor. (1,597 characters)

Photo of Morey
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Bomber into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance: Pours pitch black in color with a light brown head that initially stood just under two fingers high. After about 5 minutes or so, I'm left with just a thin and spotty layer with some lone bubbles here and there. There's a good amount of lacing being left behind though.

Aroma: Very roasty, with hints of semi-sweet chocolate and espresso. The nose was rather mild following the pour, but it started to come alive as the beer warmed up a bit.

Taste: Sweet and creamy up front with some nice roasted and espresso-like bitterness not far behind, providing immediate balance to this big stout. There's a touch of hop bitterness towards the middle with a welcomed chocolate flavor in there as well. The finish is smooth, creamy, sweet, and bitter all at the same time. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, sweet, and creamy...near perfection in this area.

Morey's Bottom Line: I had heard some good things, so I finally decided to bring this one up from the cellar after sitting on it for about a year. Very similar to the Imperial Russian Stout by Stone which I just drank last week. You get superior value at only $6.99 a bottle. You can't afford not to get this. Cheers! (1,225 characters)

Photo of Arithmeticus
4.67/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured chilled in tall ale glass; 8 mo-old version

A: solid black; thin head; good carb; great lacing
S: wow--total leather and dark-roasted barley
T: this easily rivals Old Rasputine; the complexity is astounding; much like chewing a leather belt (in a good way); pepper on the finish

This is an amazing porter; my stomach isn't completely happy but my mouth is (364 characters)

Photo of mooseo
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml into tulip.

A - Midnight black with a thin dark tan head.

S - Sweet aroma of chocolate, molasses, and toffee. Milky.

T - A nice blend of dark roasted malt, milk chocolate, and vanilla cream. Reminds me of a sweet chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, in liquid form. Delicious.

M - Thick and full bodied, extra smooth and creamy. Low carbonation with warming alcohol.

O - A really nice imperial stout. I got this on discount, so it probably has some age on it. The alcohol is hidden well and probably mellowed out a bit. Excellent flavor. (549 characters)

Photo of hosehead83
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a "bomber" bottle ( vintage 2011), into a wine goblet.
Jet-black in color, with a moderate to short head of tan foam.
Aroma-Dark roasted coffee and chocolate notes
Taste-Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, dark orchard fruits, underlying warming alchohol. A solid, all around RIS. (288 characters)

Photo of BuckyFresh
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to TCHopCraver for supplying this one!

Appearance: Poured from a 22oz bottle into a large snifter. Color is jet black with a one-finger dark brown head. Good lacing and retention. After the head recedes, little bubble islands populate the surface of the beer.

Smell: Quite sweet on the nose. Lots of brown sugar, maple, and molasses. Some dark fruit in there as well. There are some bitter notes, but they take a bake seat to the boozier, sweeter elements.

Taste: The taste is not quite as bold as the aroma, but it delivers nonetheless. There is more of an earthy presence than I anticipated and a bit more hop flavor as well. Decent balance and a dry finish are imparted from roasty influence. The dryer elements seem to persist the longest after drinking.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and a tad lighter than I expected. Good balance with a roast, dry finish.

Overall: Good elements here, but the taste department is a touch lacking. While there is good balance between sweet and bitter, it feels like there is a lack of cohesion among the competing influences in this beer. (1,084 characters)

Photo of wagenvolks
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a Karl Strauss tulip. 2011 bottle.

Pours with a medium-thick, coffee black body. Nice viscosity--not much light makes it through this RIS. A scant wisp of light brown head builds and settles quickly to a ring of bubbles. Aromas of sweet dark chocolates and a boozy blast of fermenting dark fruit. A bit of floral perfume from the hops and alcohol.

The flavor is spot-on for what I look for in the style, with big notes of dark chocolate fudge and earthy coffee. A bit of roasted malts and caramel as well. Hops are muted, but balanced. Alcohol is present, but not overpowering. Chewy mouthfeel isn't too thick, but instead nicely carbonated and drinks well across the palate. I would love to try a barrel-aged version of this--I think the body and flavors would hold up very, very nicely. (807 characters)

Photo of BostonHops
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle served in a snifter.

pours an opaque mahogany/borderline black tone while yielding a solid 3/4" cappuccino-shade of head; decent retention and some lacing in patches. nose isn't as bold as i typically look for in my imperial stouts but does offer a decent amount of chocolate and roasted malt, with a little coffee, maybe a hint of hops.

flavor is a pleasant surprise. much bolder and tastier than i'd have guessed going off the aroma alone. nice chocolate, coffee, and roasted maltiness, with secondary notes of caramel and hops. very tasty. full bodied mouthfeel with a bit of chew to it; adequate carbonation.

overall i was impressed by this beer. don't get me wrong, i didn't expect to not like it, but it proved to be one of the tastier imperial stouts i've had recently. would definitely recommend.

(originally reviewed: 06-14-2011) (855 characters)

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber picked up at Knightly Spirits in Orlando. I needed one last bottle (at a reasonable price) to finish off my purchase, and the employee suggested this one. I didn't hesitate.

Poured into a goblet. Inky black, with only a faint ring of chestnut around the edges. Light mocha head survives as a thin but sturdy cap, sheets and flecks of lacing grace the glass.

Nose is dark chocolate, roasted malt, toasty bread, more chocolate, cream, a bit of grape. Lovely.

This is one tasty stout! Loads of chocolate are in cahoots with nice toasty malt, some grape, smoke and a bit of booze. Finishes dry and roasty. Great stuff.

Silky feel, only a slight booziness on the tongue, medium to low carbonation.

Great brew - very happy with both the Smuttynose "Big Beer" offerings. A well crafted imperial. (801 characters)

Photo of jera1350
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Ben for this one!

Vintage 2009

Solid black, creamy and sticky brown cap of foam and lacing.

The nose is lovely. Very complex scents of sweetness from the malt. Dark fruits, molasses, chocolate.

Tastes very much like a triple chocolate cake with alcohol. Chocolate ganache, chocolate cake, some booze, toasted malts and chocolate syrup on the end.

I find the body to be thin for the style. The body is sticky feeling also.

What a huge chocolate forward imperial stout. Very tasty and even the aging hasn't mellowed out all of the alcohol at this stage. A very well done beer. (588 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Dogfish Head large snifter glass, vintage and dating unknown (can't tell), oh wait there it is, bottle conditioned 2009.

A real nice creamy milk chocolate brown color head is formed, not very large and disappears fairly quickly. A small collar does manage to stick around, sitting on top of simple dark walnut brown body

Bouquet is a bit hot. Lots of roast and char, much alcohol heat, faint chocolate but really not too much else, the heat on this is like a very strong barleywine, but a bit hot.

I was a little worried about that heat I smelled, luckily it doesn't come out as big on the palate. Nice roast character, and almost silky texture. Aftertaste hints a nice chewy black licorice candy. Carbony char slightly, and some hot alcohol fruit mix in the palate sort of almost... Southern Comfort.

Overall, it's a bit hot smelling but it's still quite enjoyable. I could have this again. (910 characters)

Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - worn black crayon black (just running out of ways to describe the dark blackness of IRS's and other stouts), wells up three fingers of dark brown head that lightens in colors as it fades with rocky pits and sticks to the sides of the glass

S - malts dominate with a chocolate backbone, some booziness, and a spritz of mocha

T - big on coffee bean, like biting into a bean, chocolate support followed by big boozy roasted malts

M&D - a straight forward and tasty RIS, doesn't pretend to be anything it isn't, doesn't surprise you with anything, just some nice flavors and a warm feeling, nice RIS (602 characters)

Photo of ibbjamin
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I purchased this beer November of 2009 and am tasting in Feb of 2012, so cellared at least two and a quarter years. I pour into a large snifter to review.

Tight, light brown head of about an inch in height after a slightly heavy pour. Great head retention, thick lacing and black in color.

Heavy roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate, crème, brown sugar, booze and oak. Standard RIS nose and a pretty good one at that.

Taste is quite dark of roasted malts, coffee and cocoa. I do also taste a good dose of resinous hops which balance this one out quite nicely. The cellaring did this beer well and it is drinking great right now.

Full bodied with light but noticeable carbonation keeping the mouthfeel alive. Very smooth and easy to drink with a long, dark malty finish.

This serves as a good benchmark for a typical RIS. Nothing extraordinary, just a solid big stout. (874 characters)

Photo of DefenCorps
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage split with my dad. This beer always makes me think of ba badbeer.

Pouring black with reddish brown highlights, this probably isn't the blackest stout out there, but it's all good. The nose surprises me. Despite being 4 years old, this still is one hoppy beer. Moderate citrus is present, along with a blend of chocolate, roast and coffee. A little bit of fruity yeast, and a little licorice are also present. Very nice.

The palate opens with a nice blend of chocolate, about 50%cocoa, some roast and of course, the hops. I heard this was an especially hoppy vintage(can someone back me up?) and it shows. While the bitterness is moderate and mostly grainy , there still is a rather noticeable hop flavor present. Fruity mid-palate, there is a mild black licorice character present. Roasty on the finish, this beer has a nice blend of chocolate, coffee and roast. Medium-full in body with creamy carbonation, this feels really nice on the palate. A pretty good no-nonsense imperial stout imo.

I'd be failing in my duty if i didn't mention how suprised i was at how non cheese-like the aged hop character in this beer is. It really is remarkable, i've had beers younger that tasted terrible. This is the 2nd 4+year old smuttynose beer i've opened this week, and both have been remarkable. I guess they have really good quality control and a thorough understanding of all that makes a beer age gracefully. Kudos, guys! (1,432 characters)

Photo of 05Harley
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2009
(303 calories)

Purchased fresh @ Village Market Place, Somersworth NH

Price - $5.80/bomber

Pours black with deep amber edges when held up to the light. A thin creamy tan head forms but quickly retreats to a thin veil. Spotty lacing and fine bubbles keep me staring at the glass.

A full nose of aroma starts out with sweet chocolate, dark fruit, molasses and cinnamon. A big coffee expresso finish and some hops help balance it out to a near perfect smell.

The taste is sweet upfront with dark fruit but quickly changes to bitter with dark bakers chocolate, roasted malt and licorice. Ends with a vanilla alcohol aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a thick chewy finish. You can really feel the hop presence with both bitter and dryness in the finish.

I've had issues with this beer over the years being just too damn hot fresh, so I decided to age this one for a couple of years and revisit it. It's smoother with a few years on it and much more enjoyable. I'm really impressed with how well this beer ages. And well priced to boot. (1,067 characters)

Photo of VncentLIFE
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Long leftover from my second trade.

Looks like a stout should. Dark black body. Not too thick. I mean compared to Marshal Zhukov, its light as hell. Light caramel head lingers a bit.

Dry roasty grains up front. Hints of dark fruits fill the air around the glass. Slight bitterness from the hops.

Hm the taste. More of a dark fruit presence than the other IRSs than Ive had recently. It almost feels like a blend of a Quad and a Stout than a straight IRS. I actually kind of like that. Maybe the few months of sitting the back of my closet have mellowed this thing out.

Finishes very dry and roasty. The roasted grains prevail more here than in the flavor. Very light body for the style. Chewy feeling. Late exhales leads to a nice hop bitterness.

Overall very balanced with some nice robust flavors. (806 characters)

Photo of FirstBrewsoon
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into snifter for a live review.

A - A smooth pour brings forth 1/2 finger of moderately dense foam, which recedes in short order leaving pointillistic lacing. Colour is dark opaque brown with a slight red velvet hint to it when held to light.

S - Tuscan cappuccino, vanilla notes, molasses and cocoa. Not as chocolatey as one might have expected, but still rich and interesting, with a good undercurrent of booze laying down the bass line.

T - This is where you'll find the chocolate intermingled nicely with the coffee. The vanilla detected in the nose is subtle but present, mainly on the back end. A nice, smokey aftertaste, with a solid kick of lingering bitterness. Well balanced.

M - Carbonation on the light side, such that it's present without being at all in the way. Viscosity is fairly workmanlike, not overly thick or thin, leaving a nice coating on the tongue.

O - Definitely a tasty, enjoyable stout, without being overwhelmingly memorable. I especially enjoy the smoke at the back of the palate, a distinctive characteristic. Finally, at $5.99/bomber this is an outrageously good deal. I normally avoid cheap RISes like a case of the clap, as a low price tag can be indicative of sloppiness, haste and a general lack of attention to detail. Not true here - this is a complete steal, and at this price it has my highest recommendation. (1,378 characters)

Photo of beerbiatchMD
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smuttynose imperial stout 09 on tap Novare 1/28/12.

A: dark, black, minimal brown head w good lacing.

N: sweet chocolate, plumb, caramel, syrupy.

T: lots of dark fruit and sweet chocolate, roasty malts as well.

M: good, smooth, good carbonation  a bit of alcohol.

O: a good stout for sure, a bit sweet but well balanced, would recommend. (343 characters)

Photo of abrand
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber shared with a friend poured into a pint glass.

This pours jet black with a small ebony colored head that fades quickly. The viscosity of this is visible on the pour. Smells is full of coffee and chocolate. Not much else going on. Smells appealing. Taste is spot on. Nice bitter chocolate flavor that is rounded out with roasted malts. Very enjoyable. Mouthfeel is full bodied. Overall I loved this. Haven't really found a stout I haven't enjoyed though. (461 characters)

Photo of jsanford
3.91/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a Tulip Glass

A - Pours a dark, inky black with a dense mocha head that settles to a chunky cap and leaves TONS of lacing clinging to the glass.
S - Big aromas of dark berries, molasses, caramelized sugar, and a touch of soy sauce. Burns the nostrils a tiny bit, the +9% ABV isn't hidden too well.
T - Dark roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, and dark berries linger on the palate for some time, followed by a burnt grain aftertaste (similar to scorched popcorn, but not as unpleasant). Very smooth and balanced, and, despite the nose, no trace of alcohol.
M - Big and velvety-smooth, with a creamy, full mouthfeel and low carbonation.
O - An impressive Russian Imperial Stout, but nothing that shatters the mold. I'd still pick up another bottle if the price was right (and it usually is with Smuttynose). (832 characters)

Photo of aranheaney
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz. bomber into a DFH snifter. This one has been cellaring for over a year.

A-Pretty typical for the style, jet black, some tan head and a little lacing. Really nice overall.

S-Coffee. More coffee, maybe some roast and a little bit of molasses.

T-good, maybe a little disappointing, not a ton of mellowing, but better than average...

M-A little slippery, I typically like an imperial that has a bit more body

O-above average but i hoped for more... (469 characters)

Photo of ksimons
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-almost black in color with a medium tan head that leaves some lacing on the top

S-Big smell out of this one. Roasted malt, molasses, black coffee, mocha, and a fruity/boozy finish.

T-the taste is similar to the smell, but a little more subdued. Still get the roasted malts, molasses, mocha, and burnt coffee but there doesn't seem to be as much molasses as the nose suggested. Overall has more of a burnt taste.

M-almost full body, medium carbonation, leaves a bitter dry taste in the mouth

Overall really good for the price, not one of my favorite RIS but I would definitely have it again. (596 characters)

Photo of TheMultiYeast
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Conditioned in 2010:

Viscous pitch black liquid with medium sized mocha colored head. Nice stickiness as bubbles cling to glass.

Smells of figs, coffee, chocolate, charcoal upfront. Medium roasted character, mild sweetness, hot glazed donuts, and herbal earthy hops with hints of cedar, pine and woodsmoke.

Taste follows nose into a rich coffee/chocolate character followed by spice, star anise, cloves, black pepper. Burnt/roast comes through merging with a cutting hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is sticky and slightly chewy. Steady sippin.

Nice release from Smutt! Try it. (582 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Appearance - Not quite jet black body with a nice khaki head. Lacing sticks to the glass.

Smell - Roasty malts in the shape of chocolate. Not a lot of coffee on the nose. The lighter malts come through a bit as well. Caramel and some dark fruits. A hefty hop aroma as well. Smells nice.

Taste - Wow, really tastes great. Hop character throughout, but it has a nice dark chocolate roast to it. Again, the lighter malts really complement it well. The hop finish is bitter, but not outrageously so, which I really like.

Mouthfeel - Lighter bodied for 9.8%, but the booze comes through as well. Good carbonation.

Overall - Really outstanding for the price. I think it was $5.99 at my local shop. Can't beat that for how good it is. (769 characters)

Photo of jegross2
3.46/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage bottle served in a snifter glass slightly chilled. Thank you Funhog for bringing me this one!

Appearance: Pours about 3/4 fingers of tan head, settles down into a thin lace across the top of the beer. About as dark as they come. Excellent lacing. A dark brown-black used motor oil color that is completely opaque. Quite inviting. 4/5

Smell: Unsweetened chocolate and raisin. Some dark fruit and faint cherry aroma as well. Hint of smoky vanilla? Noticeable booziness in the nose. 3/5

Taste: Charred chocolate mixed with a little vanilla. Roasted barley as well, but not very sweet. A little raisin or fig flavor too. Some hop bitterness. Noticeable alcohol warmth both on the mid-palate and finish. finish. Finishes with long lasting, unsweetened, bitter chocolate. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, minimal carbonation. Very dry finish. 4/5

Overall: Though some of the flavors in this one really work, the alcohol was very unbalanced and detracted from the enjoyable aspects of the beer. As the beer warmed, the alcohol's distraction only increased. This one certainly has potential, perhaps with a lower ABV, but overall a disappointment based on my expectations. I certainly would not go out of my way to try this one again. (1,241 characters)

Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series) from Smuttynose Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 677 ratings.