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

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series)Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series)

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1,063 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,063
Reviews: 667
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 119
Gots: 114 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.80% 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%
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,063 | Reviews: 667 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Lerxst
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a very dark brown, almost black with a nice 3/4" thick and chunky looking mocha colored head that hangs for a bit and leaves decent lacing.

S-Big nose here with booze up front, roasted malt, molasses, piney hops, dark fruit.

T-Surprisingly sweet, but not overly so. Black licorice, some brown sugar, dark roast coffee and malt, piney hops. A bit different, but good.

M-Full bodied, creamy, chewy with a slick and oily finish. Carb level is a bit high for my liking, but it still has great mouthfeel.

D-For the style, this is a drinkable stout. But as with just about any RIS, one is usually enough.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle provided by mar.

2008 vintage. Pours dark brown to black with a beige head. Aroma has quite a bit of alcohol as well as some roasted malt. Flavor is roasted malt with some smoke and a little soy sauce character. Very creamy, medium mouthfeel.

Photo of hooliganlife
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 bottle, thanks to thechrislife !

pours dark jet black with tons of head, 2-3 inches, tons of lacing.

light vanilla, sweet roasted malt, light cherry, light molasses, very floral hops and a touch of tangerine.

a slight bourbon feel and a wee bit of heat. light floral hoppy flavors that blend with a slight charcoal and sweet malty flavor. a bit of oak through the finish which is a tad on the dry side.

full, lots of carbonation. a bit chewy.

a very solid stout, the first time i had this i loved it although it was on tap. the hops seem to have calmed down a bit but are still very noticeable. i love hoppy stouts.

Photo of donkeyrunner
4.48/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Opaque some blacks are blacker than others black with a large, muddy tan head. Shag carpet retention leaves rusty caramel colored lace--like fossilized corral.

Licorice, vanilla, granular brown sugar, dark fruit and sugary roast malt aroma. Tastes like awesome, though may be a bit too sweet for some. Licorice, vanilla, dark fruit with a super smooth, milky roast sugar underneath. Earthen, tobacco hop for balance. Plenty of alcoholic giddiness will punch you like a kitten if you're not careful.

This impy can hang with the best of'em despite being way too easy to obtain and only $7 a 22oz.

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: I poured this one into one of my snifters. The pour is somewhat thick and syrupy. The head is slow to develop but then reaches a half finger of creamy light brown head that looks like the top of a big hot steaming mug of hot chocolate. Lacing comes in rings about half the thickness of the head and drip legs down towards the beer that remains in the glass.

S: In an interesting departure from the commonly noted "malt backbone" this beer seems to build around a backbone of piney hops. On that base of piney bitterness, cocoa, coffee, and roasted malt aromas flourish.

T: Resinous piney hops bite the tongue initially. Malts begin to overwhelm the piney goodness as they contribute flavors of caramel and roast barley. Coffee has the final say in teh finish and it continues to step up its game in the aftertaste. The pine of the hops returns as this beer finishes giving the beer a nice balanced flavor profile which finishes with a nice blend of coffee and piney hops.

M/D: Sticky, thick, and full. This finish is very smooth. Once this beer hits temperature around 48 degrees, the carbonation is almost imperceptible. Alcohol character is nowhere to be found. The hop presence from start to finish adds a great amount of balance and depth to this beer.

Photo of homebrew311
3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received in a trade with Portia99- thanks!
Poured into NB globe.

A: pours a thick viscous black, small tan head forms, some lacing

S: the nose has heavy hops, very piny and spicy smelling, there are some sweet malts in there but the hops definitely take the spotlight

T: initial flavor is dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted barley, molasses followed by the piny hop character that was huge on the nose. The hops are pretty big on the mid palate to finish, but seem a little more tame than the aroma suggests. This beer finishes with some heat and leaves a lingering hop flavor in the mouth. Very rich and complex.

MF: thick, creamy, chewy texture, low carbonation

D: the drinkability is pretty good, lots of bold flavors that are balance well and a nicely hidden high abv

Photo of Bitterbill
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bierman9, out of the blue, sent me this, new to me Imperial Stout. Thanks David!

2009 Edition.

It looks pitch black to me as even when I hold my glass up to the light, there's no hint of anything else. A nice close to 2 finger head of tan foam goes along with and there's some good lacing to be had. A great looker.

The smell has a huge bitter chocolate, bitter hop, in your face, aroma. I can smell *some* malt sweetness deep in the backgound that could be caramel or milk chocolate. Anywho, this one is defintely hop forward to my nose, heck I think I'm smelling grapefruit. I can't wait to dive in..

After a few small sips, my tastebuds tell me of this big deal with roasted malts and light milk chocolate, dark chocolate bitterness that's very tasty, fresh ground coffee, a light citrus bitterness as well. There's plenty of bitter and plenty of semi sweetness going on here along with *some* alcohol warming but I'm not complaining about that at all.

On the upper end of medium bodied with the carbonation on the lighter side but well suited for this brew.

Drinkability? For me, very. This always surprises me. An RIS that, obviously and according to style, packs a punch but I *still* find it/them so darn drinkable when they are done right. This one certainly is. Smuttynose is a fine brewer and I salute them for making this tasty concoction, and David for sending this my way.

Btw, I'm enjoying this with a tasty chicken pot pie. I don't know if that is supposed to be a good match or not but it's going well...;^)

Photo of breyton490
1.9/5  rDev -53.5%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I am a big fan of Smuttynose, but this beer just missed the mark in all categories. Poured from a 22oz bomber, the color was great, but the aroma was way off, unpleasant and not like what I expected. I am not sure if i got a bad bottle as I really like most every other Smuttynose beer.

My initial taste of the beer was not spectacular either. There were some OK roasty tones, but the nasty aroma and less than average taste made this beer undrinkable for me.

I will give another bottle a try as maybe I just got the rare case of a bad bottle.

Photo of brewcrew76
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Solid black with a big 4 finger creamy brown head. Tight bubbles look like cola but stick to the sides instead of fading.

S - Big floral, maybe even spicy, hop aroma. Chocolate, roasted malt, some piney hops, caramel and toffee.

T - Bitter chocolate, floral, piney hops, soy sauce, roasted malts, slightly boozey, caramel and toffee.

M - Thick and creamy, well carbonated but not sticky. Very sweet but quickly dried out by the lingering hop bitterness.

D - I think this one is a year old but you wouldn't notice by the aroma. The taste is a hint stale but the hops works well with the big chocolate stout. Very nice. As it warms it starts to become barleywine like which makes me thick it is old. Damn Discount and your old selection.

Photo of tburkhart
3.71/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on a cold Ohio night.

Now, let me start this review by stating I've had a number of the big name RIS's (Dark Lord, Stone, Bell's Expedition, Yeti, Blackout, B.O.R.I.S the Crusher, etc.) and I'm not sure if this really belongs. It is completely different then your typical RIS.

A - Pours as black as the cold Ohio night in which it was drank. Vigorous pour results in 3/4" worth of head that settled nicely on top of this brew.

S - Hops?!?! I've never had a RIS that smelled of hops. Aren't RIS's typically malts, malts, and more malts? I'm intrigued for my first sip of this beer. I may have unfairly dropped the smell .5 points, but I can't bring myself to up it, even the style says the hops COULD be aggressive.

T - Hops come through which blows my mind. When I saw this was an RIS, I expected MALT!

M - A bit thin compared to the RIS's I listed above.

D - I'm still confused by the overly hoppiness of this RIS. Totally not what I expected.

I've had a few other beers from Smuttynose that I've enjoyed, so I was looking forward to this one. It is a tasty RIS, but not what I expected. Don't get me wrong, it's a good beer, but as I said in the Taste section of my review I expect malts, malts, and more malts in my RIS. Nice change of pace from typical RIS's, but I'd personally go for a beer listed in my first paragraph.

Photo of Arbitrator
2.91/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1.5

Room-temperature (currently 55 degrees) bottle into a glass. 2008 vintage. I received this in a trade in early 2009, but I'll be damned if I can remember who sent it. Regardless, thank you: I do appreciate having this bottle.

A: Pours a pitch black in the glass, with a finger of light tan colored head. Retention is pretty short, with a v-e-r-y light broken film on top of the brew, accentuated with a medium-thickness collar on the edge. A couple of spots of lacing from the receding head, but nothing thereafter.

S: Wow, this is surprisingly hoppy, even for (about) a year of age. Pine and citrus right up front. There's also chocolate. I can't really pick anything else out.

T: Hoppy up front, again. The first taste is citrus and a general fruit character, which segues into a burst of pine needles. There is some chocolate following after, and a very light roasted (even burnt) presence with a hint of black cherry. I closed my eyes while I was sipping this, and I was genuinely convinced I was drinking a black IPA. This doesn't remind me of an imperial stout; there isn't much coffee, molasses, or any of those ancillary flavors that define some of the big beers in the style. It's interesting in that it sets its own path (even Darkness 09 wasn't that hoppy, despite what people claimed), but it doesn't quite satisfy my palate. Not a huge fan of the citrus + chocolate flavors in tandem. I think it could have been aided with a more rounded malt profile (stronger caramel, even some peated malt) if they were really going to flirt with the black IPA category. The finish is a long-lasting grapefruit bitterness.

M: Medium-bodied; it's kind of prickly, but that actually gives it a pretty interesting liveliness. It's kind of chewy at the same time.

D: Unfortunately, no. This is just one of those cases where a beer is probably well within the broad range of the guidelines, but I'm too limited to appreciate it. I just don't enjoy the beer, and I don't want to have it again.

Photo of theghost3
3.83/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown, almost black with a cafe au lait brown head. Lots of layered lacing.

The smell is toasted malts, smoke & some coffee. The taste is all over the place--sweet, chocolate & molasses malts with dark fruits, burnt coffee malts. There's some alcohol warmth at the end. Mouthfeel is thick, yet acidic carbonation greets you at first.

This is a drinkable beer, but I recommend going slow with it. The ABV & meal-like thickness require you to take it easy here.

Photo of MPLS
3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My first Smuttynose beer that I have had or at least to my knowledge have had.

A: Poured into 2-12oz Darkness snifters, the head quickly billows up with a at first dense slighty charred brown head that retains itself for a short time. The Body is nice 'n' dark, more than acceptable for a RIS. Lacing is spot on, good for 10%ABV.

S: I get a lot of dark fruits, strong alcohol, coffee, slighty smoky maple syrup.

T: Has a lot of the dark fruits from the nose, not sharply sweet, but a little charred. The alcohol in this beer is big and can feel the back of my throat warming as it gets closer to being fully consumed. I find the alcohol in this beer a little distracting from the taste. Don't get me wrong, I can get on board with some heat, but it detered me in this case. There is a fair amount of bitterness in the finish where the hops start to shine through. I pick up spicy grapefruit notes from what hops they use.

M: Nice 'n' creamy, more viscosity would have impressed me.

D: This is a value beer @ $6.99 a bomber. I like the Dark fruits/hop profile of the beer, but am conflicted with the alcohol presence in this beer, not to my liking with this style. Consequently I'd still probable drink it again if I was feeling like getting all warm bellied this winter.

Photo of farrago
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very solid two finger head of dense foam and widely arrayed larger bubbles, very slow to dissipate, slight dimpling as it does, deep brown in hue, the lacing comes in wide sheets which inch down the glass sides. Pitch black, no sign of color anywhere in the liquid. The nose achieves a good balance between roasted and sweeter elements, bitter dark chocolate, maple syrup, American roast coffee pair up with plum, black grape, black cherry fruit as well as pine, licorice, white grapefruit, not very bready, about as hoppy as any Russian Imperial Stout you'll encounter. Medium-bodied, svelte like a middleweight boxer, there's power to the punches but no lumbering around. This likely attributable to the hoppiness, more grapefruit, pine, flowers and licorice than is usually the case. Cocoa, chocolate, freshly whipped butter, grilled nuts appear, then clove and barley, at times might pass for a super-dark barleywine. Grape, cherry, apricot fruit, a mix of dark and white fruit. The carbonation is not a big factor but consistent in what it does. I can't say this is a "textbook" example of the style but in its own way it is compelling and a helluva drink.

Photo of cleeze
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark brown with a good size semi-lasting creamy light-brown head. Fantastic aroma is big time resiny hops with dark malt, chocolate and hints of fruit -- man that smells good! The malty roastness comes out more in the flavour along with tons of hops, some fruit, coffee and some alcohol (the alcohol's present but it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the beer at all). Nice full body and creamy mouthfeel. An awesome Stout, what I like most about the wonderful brew is the hop profile.

Photo of WeedKing4
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber pours a dark black, with two to three fingers of burnt brown foam. Smells of the typical imperial stout. I found this to be quite delicious. Not the thickest nor thinest stout I have had, but that was not a issue here. It was quite hoppy and had a slight sweet taste too. Mmmmm delicious. I can't believe how quickly I went through this bomber. I should have got a second. No hint of the abv% and easily drinkable. Fantastic beer.

Picked up another bottle of this a year later and it was pretty good, but not quite like I remembered. It blew me away last year, but I find this bottle to be a good stout, just not amazing. Still quite roasty and very drinkable though.

Photo of jrallen34
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I drank this 2009 series from the bottle into a Rochefort chalice.

This stout pours dark black with about 2 fingers for dark tan head. Even in the light, its mostly black with tiny whisps of brown. The head is very nice in retention and look, as it is big and bubbly and just looks wonderful. The lacing is heavy but kind of watery so doesn't last long or fully.

The aroma is very strong and balaned with a nice touch of hops showing through, similar to darkness but not as much, along with some nice chocolate and lots of alcohol. Not a lot of coffee which is great.

The taste is very complex, its malty but very hoppy as well. The taste is a combination of coffee and hops. Its the same throughout, not much of a different start or finish.

The mouthfeel is very heavy with a nice viscosity and lasting flavor

The hops make it a little less drinkable than some.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.71/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Deep black color with a beautiful deep brown head that lasts quite some time and leaves a great lace on the glass

S-smaller aroma with a majority of citrus hop scent and maybe a tinge of roasted malts

T-this hits you with a lot of citrus and floral hops, a slight roasted malt with a hint of chocolate towards the finish

M-very creamy in the mouth and very little carbonation

D-the creaminess actually makes it very interesting as it actually gives off more of a hop taste. Fun to drink; but it doesn't seem to follow the traditional RIS format.

Photo of kzoobrew
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured with vigor into Duvel tulip . Rich black body topped with a rather thick frothy chai colored head. Retention is fantastic leaving behind globs of lacing around the glass.

Bittersweet chocolate aroma is front and center. Charred and roasted malt character is rather subtle. Healthy dose of citric hops are awful hard to miss.

Strong fudgy chocolate character is balanced by a nice roasted malt flavor that is unexpected from the nose. Smooth roasted coffee flavor hits mid palate. Hop presence is assertive and definitely citrus.

Full bodies, drinks smooth and creamy. While my ideal RIS is extremely viscous, the slightly thinner body seems to work here.

Very good beer. With my first sample of the Smuttynose product I am rather impressed. Enjoyable to drink, easy to sip on all night.

Photo of atsprings
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just tapped this in my kegorator and poured it into a Duvel glass a nice opaque black with a light tan head that lasts as a thin layer and leaves slight lacing on the glass. Aroma is a nice blend of cocoa, dried fruits slight hops. The taste is nice complex bend of cocoa and hops with some dried fruits and espresso. The beer is slightly heavy with warming alcohol. This is a very tasty brew, one I'm glad to have a whole keg of.

Photo of Keblar
3.51/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A very complex beer, but just too damn intense for its own good.

Served on tap in a 10 oz stem glass on my first visit to the blind tiger in West Village/Greenwich Village (too close to blind pig in name). I wound up drinking this imperial stout like a wine, but enjoyed it less than one. Looks great, smells suspicious. Spicy, hops and smoky coffee tones mask the alcohol intensity, but not by much.

I respect the love that went into this, but I just can't recommend it.

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Rich, oily aroma has an overtone of molasses and an undertone of fine roast coffee with a hint of unsweetened chocolate. It pours a dark, nearly opaque sable with a very thick, fine-bubbled, persistent tan head. Flavor is a little smoky, strongly of molasses with nutty, coffee, chocolate and toffee hints. Texture is thick, smooth and fizzy with a good alcohol bite. Definitely lip-smacking.

Photo of Lunch
2.07/5  rDev -49.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Served on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, Maryland (10/29/09). Served in a goblet at an appropriate temperature.

Appearance: Pours a standard near black shade of dark brown with just a hint of an espresso brown head that disappears very quickly.

Smell: The nose is completely and utterly dominated by wet tobacco. There is a flutter of roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and a faint citrus hop scent. Not appealing.

Taste: Unfortunately the taste is similar to the smell in that tobacco overwhelms the palate and creates a less than appetizing taste. Again there are hints of roasted malt, bitter chocolate and citrus hops. Not a fan.

Mouthfeel: Seems rather mediocre with decent carbonation, but it is hard to gage as I find the tobacco flavor to be so intense that it is difficult to distinguish any other characteristics.

Drinkabilty: I guess if you are interested or enjoy the taste of wet tobacco than this beer may be for you, but I found it impossible to finish my 10oz. pour.

Overall this is the second time that I have had this beer in the past week (the first being a bomber split between friends)and I assumed that I got a bad bottle. I was excited to have it on-tap, but it turns out that both experiences mirrored each other seamlessly. Being a huge of fan of RISs, and Smuttynose for that matter, I am extremely disappointed by this beer. I will perhaps give it a try in several weeks or perhaps wait until next season, but I would certainly not seek this beer out again. Not recommended.

Photo of njmoons
2.43/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This Washington hopped (Cascades or related), RIS didn't cut it for me. Too much aroma and flavoring hops and citrus/soapy finish. Not enough malt and malt sweetness to be an RIS, and keep the beer in balance.

Poured a dark black with almost no head, and the foam that did come up dissipated immediatly.

Aroma was citrus hops. These hops overwhelmed the other aroma's. I could get a little malt, but I had to search for it over the citrus hops.

Taste was thin and hoppy, with very little malt flavor for a RIS. The beer finished with a strong grapefruit/soapy flavor. This RIS is way out of balance for me.

Mouthfeel was too thin for an RIS.

Drinkability was poor with the hops taking over the beer from aroma to finish.

Photo of woosterbill
3.91/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber, dated 2009, into a Bell's tulip.

A: Solid black body (surprise!) topped by a majestic light brown head that shows truly noteworthy retention and leaves tons of sticky brown lace - this is exactly what I want an imperial stout to look like: exactly.

S: Dark, rich, and bitter: black coffee, bittersweet chocolate, some hops, and alcohol.

T: Much like the smell, but with the added complexity of some dark fruits up front. Even more bitterness and alcohol on the finish, though.

M: Full-bodied and sticky, with some prickly carbonation. Not as smooth as I'd like.

D: Not too bad for the ABV, but still lots of heat and more bitterness than I like for the style.

Notes: Solid beer, to be sure, but not in the same league as so many other imperial stouts (e.g. Old Rasputin and the Yetis), nor even Smutty's own Baltic Porter. They definitely nailed the appearance, though.


Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series) from Smuttynose Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,063 ratings.