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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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1,028 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,028
Reviews: 662
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 121
Gots: 107 | 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: 1,028 | Reviews: 662 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of corby112
4.57/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very deep dark brown, pretty much black and almost completely opaque with only the slightest mahogany edges and a huge foamy coffee colored head that has great retention, slowly fading into a lasting ring that leaves sporadic lacing.

Roasted malt aroma with hints of roasted coffee, chocolate, nut, alcohol, dark fruit, fig, licorice, peppermint, oatmeal, toffee, caramel and some piny citrus hops. Mmmmm this is very promising.

Silky smooth malt mouthfeel with a decent amount of roasty flavors along with some spiciness, alcohol warmth and a surprisingly prominent hop presence.

Roasted malt flavor with hints of chocolate, peppery spice, oatmeal, coffee bean, toffee, caramel, dark fruit, fig, alcohol, bourbon candi sugar and a very surprising, yet excellent bitter hop note.

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

I grabbed the last 09 bottle at the Portsmouth brewery last night. I poured it into a tulip glass and watched a huge tan head erupted from the brew. The head could easily be brought back to life and it settles to a fine looking lace that followed the brew down the glass. The body was a midnight black in color with no highlights.

Big old hop notes on this brew flavor as well as aroma. So much so the roasted malts take a back seat on this fresh bomber. This was a great full feeling brew with ample carbonation. It did not show any of the 10% in its aroma or flavors so consider it dangerous.

It was an easy big beer to drink. The word dangerously so must be used again. I polished the bomber off with ease but that was it for the evening.

Photo of Mistofminn
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 bottle I picked up at Chicones many moons ago.

Enjoyed this bomber while finishing some intense homework. Intense beer for intense homework, I like this idea...

Poured into my Surly tulip glass, the color is the darkest brown possible, while still having brown. Has deep mahogany highlights when lifted into the light. The thing that gets me about this beer is the head...it's a crazy cinnamon color, absolutely beautiful, the only problem is not I expect a cinnamon flavor. Extremely large head that has weaker than expected lacing, given the initial size of the head.

Whoa, hold on a minute, I thought this was a 2008 bottle? Can't be, the hops are way to intense for a one year+ old beer. Apparently they are, which is impressive to say the least. I get bitter chocolate, light coffee and toasted malts, but like I said before, this is a showcase of the longevity of these hops!

The taste is just as you would imagine. The nose laid down a foundation of an intensely hoppy stout, which is exactly what you get. I'm not saying this will blow your shirt off with the bitterness, but considering this is over a year old, and the bitterness level is where it's at, is extremely startling. Again, there are bitter chocolate and toasted coffee, and there is a larger malt backbone in the taste than the nose, but still, the hops are out to play in this one.

Oh, I forgot to mention about the alcohol. Wait, there isn't any. I'm not sure how this brew faired a year ago when it was fresh, but at this point in it's life, it has mellowed into a very hoppy, but very tasty beer with little to no alcohol presence.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, with a large bitter aftertaste, but that is to be expected. As it warms, it calms down a bit and the hops mellow out and mold into the overall beer. Drinkability is good overall.

Overall, a solid beer, no doubt. I almost want to have a fresh bottle to see the hop level in that, because I can only assume time has made this a shadow of it's former self. I'm not saying it's a good or bad thing, but this is unique beer in my mind, hoppier than any stout I've ever had before, hands down.

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

Pours all the way black. The head is brownish tan (worst crayon name ever) with some nice lacing. Somehow the first thing I smelt was hops, but after a few more whiffs the overpowering roasted malts trumped the pine, all accompanied by some bakers chocolate and some vanilla.
The taste is rather bitter in a good way, this is a rather well hopped RIS. Lots of roasted malts and coco compliment the hoppyness. The mouthfeel and drinkability are so good for a 10% stout, I really enjoyed this one from my favorite New England brewery.

Photo of BWMKappaSig
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

20oz bottle in tulip glass

A: Pitch black with a light brown head that leaves a great lacing.

S: Big sweet chocolatey malts with a deep roasted note. Big dark fruits are evident along with a little vanilla or caramel. Absolutely delicious smell, reminiscent of a 70% cocoa fruit truffle.

T: Big, bold, sweet dark chocolate/roasted coffee taste with a piney hop taste in the finish. Remarkably sweet to begin with but finishes remarkably dry.

M: Full, thick, and exceptionally smooth. Shockingly the taste doesn't linger.

D: Amazing start.

Photo of edthered413
3.44/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased a growler of this at Big Z's in Huntington, NY. Pours black and opaque. Nice brown head that goes down to a thin layer of foam rather quickly. First sniff was overpowering hops, floral, piny. Took another whiff and also detected some roasted barley and black licorice. Taste again was strong hops initially and then some chocolate and licorice and hops again. For a beer classified as an RIS, it was a little thin but had a decent body. It is a drinkable beer but I probably will not purchase this again(especially at 15.95 for a growler fill). My idea of an RIS does not have the amount of hops that this beer has. Disappointed.

EDIT: 9/13/09 8:00 EDT. I finished the rest of the growler the following day and found it more "stout-like". There was less carbonation as is normal a day after cracking open a growler. The lesser carbonation seems to have also taken the hop flavor down a few notches. The chocolate, licorice and roasted barley flavors were more prevalent along with a stronger alcohol taste. I have upped my ratings on smell taste and drinkability based on the second session.l

Photo of Casey10
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Have kept this one cellared for about 4 months or so. Have had it before but finally reviewing it now.

A - Pours a pitch black with a thin head that deaply recides.

S - Black licorice, dark chocolate

T - really nice a dark chocolate taste with a small aftertaste that smarts a bit, very nice.

M - warm, wonderful. Smooth, chocolate, frothy.

D - This one has a lot of drinkabilty but the strength of the ABV will slow you down.

Photo of dasenebler
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 bomber, poured about 4 months after purchase. According to the Smuttynose website, this year's batch is actually 8.9 percent abv as opposed to the 10 percent written above.

Thick, opaque black. Decent tan head, some lacing. Nose is hot, but a certain acidic coffee tanginess and notes of licorice cut through the mix.

Flavor is a lot of dark fruit, anise, and licorice. This is one boldly flavored stout. Lingering bitter, roasted coffee aftertaste. Not a whole lot of chocolate to me. And how about the hops? Really hoppy stout here. Aggressive and tangy. Lots of black licorice. Alcohol is more apparent than some of the better versions of the style, even at a modest 8.9 percent (for an imperial stout that is). Mouthfeel is resinous, but not as big as most imperial stouts I've had. That said, for all of the flavor this stout packs in, it's totally drinkable.

I sampled this beer several months ago, and it was very, very hoppy and hot. I wasn't really into it to be honest. It has mellowed out over the past few months, and I think its a better beer now, just not amazing. Maybe it will be "outstanding" or "world-class" in 2010.

Photo of br3wmeister
4.02/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Nice large brown head, good retention and good lacing. The beer itself is almost black in color.

S- Large earthy peppery aroma, lost of floral hops, dark chocolate, roasted nuts, caramel and some boozy alcohol.

T- Large Bold flavored beer, very hoppy with lots of sweet maltiness to compete. Dark chocolate, earthy spice, oak, roasted nuts, and dark ripe fruit.

M- This is a full bodied beer that sticks to the inside of your mouth, the hoppy bite help to cut through the lingering sweetness.

This is a Very good Imperial stout, I would like to get more of this.

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

A - Pretty darned black. Tan head leaves to ring fast. Not much lace.

S - Astringent, kind of antiseptic with chocolate chip cookies underneath.

T - Home cooking goodness. Earthy feel, baked goods and roasted malt.

M - Good carb and balance, maybe a bit cloying.

D - For the style, very!

Photo of babaracas
4.42/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle conditioned in 2009. Pours opaque pitch black with dense tan head, half inch retained, lacing only lasts for the first few sips. Smell: big roasted component, chocolate raisin, sweet but with a serious floral and citric hop presence, fleeting alcohol. Taste: lots of floral hop and citrus rind, roasted with some burnt character, caramel sweetness, a really nice dark chocolate note. Mouthfeel: a little thinner than it could be plus the serious hop presence makes the delicious malt flavors fleeting. The malt flavors aren't super complex, but are quite tasty. This one has around six months on it but it's still aggressively hoppy and a bit hot, but quite drinkable.

Photo of Reagan1984
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, I really like this right out of the shoot. Love the hop profile. Reminds me of Darkness.. (the hop profile, not the whole beer)

Classic Imp Stout Head that rises from within the beer. Dark brown and creamy. Fades fairly quickly to a cap of foam. Basically black except around the edges where it is deep brown. Lacing clings all over the inside of the glass.

You only need to smell this beer to note the hop level. Citrus and floral aroma. Really nice and a treat for an Imp Stout. A touch roasty, but this really takes a back seat.

Hop nature of the flavor matches the aroma. Deep citrus out of the shoot that gives way to a licorice, black pepper flavor. Really interesting. Some bitter chocolate. A moment of black strap molasses. Then some pine hop tones right at the end that linger.

Body is thick, mouth feel is slightly slick. Carbonation is low and tingly.

I really find this wonderfully drinkable and a treat. Very enjoyable and drinkable.

Photo of tai4ji2x
3.66/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber. bottle notching indicates it was bottle conditioned in 2009. tasted in mid-may 2009. poured into tulip.

opaque black, with red tint ont he edges under the light. 2-finger brown head w red tint, fades to wisps and ring. decent and consistent rings of lace, if a bit thin.

VERY hoppy aroma! whoa! citrusy and piney, resinous and grassy. the imperial stout character peeks in, with molasses, caramel, hint of plum or cherries, faint roasted malt and coffee/cocoa notes. but then back to the hops! yikes! this is more like a black IPA/DIPA!

taste: here come the hops again! i'm burping up pine cones! bold resinous bitterness from the pine and citrus rind character of the hops, blanketed on top of the malty, roasty stout flavors. just a hint of coffee/cocoa. man, is this hoppy! they're almost SWEET with citrusy fruitiness.

medium body, not quite viscous. for an "RIS", this could have been thicker. it does have moments of creaminess though, and the mild to moderate carbonation gives light tingle and helps even things out - slightly. but again, those hop resins and astringency cut in again near the finish.

this really is a cross between a DIPA and RIS. i hear that bear republic's big bear stout might be similar, but anyway this is totally not a true RIS anymore. an intriguing, and arguably even tasty hophead's drink, esp if you go into this thinking "black DIPA". but scoring this as a RIS, it's going to take some hits...

i'm pretty sure previous years never had it like this. i also hear that one reason for the delay in getting this batch released was they were waiting for the hops to mellow out. so much for that idea...

EDIT 8/31/09: i've decided to bump up half points for both aroma and taste, and view this more as an american imperial stout. even then however, this is quite aggressively hopped.

Photo of Patrick999
3.8/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours the required inky black into a snifter, espresso crema for a head, easily roused. Actually quite heady for the style, especially with the last pour.

Good aroma - a little alcohol, but a lot of licorice candy. Not black licorice candy, more red licorice candy, oddly enough. Strong carob, vanilla. I like it.

Taste I wouldn't classify as quite as interesting as the aroma. It's your standard array of roastiness, earthy hop, hint of chocolate sweetness. Some licorice candy, this time the black variety...and some plum as well.

Feel-wise, I like the fact that it doesn't bowl me over with stickiness.

It has really warmed me up this summer afternoon, but if you can get past that, it's pretty drinkable for an Impy Stout.

Photo of rye726
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark oilish black, tints of ruby and brown. Thick tan head settles to a thin layer.

Nose has roasty malts, piney hops, bitter chocolate, molasses, coffee and fruity alcohols.

Taste has a big hop presence up front followed by burnt malt, fudge, espresso, ripe pitted fruit and a peppery booze presence.

A bit hot, but medium body is well carbonated. Good stout.

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

An extremely dark brown body sits underneath a billowing tan head that laces well. A sweet, dark roasted aroma greets the nose with suggestions of caramel, anise, chocolate and coffee. The flavours are rich, and complex, with treacle, chocolate, coffee and raisin all combining to form a sumptuous thick wall of flavour that stays with you long after the beer is gone. There's just so much going on - vanilla, a touch of wood, even a hint of mushroom (I think as a result of combining floral, woodsy hops with thick molasses flavours). It may not be in the very top tier of imperial stouts, but it certainly makes you take notice. Likewise, the body match the flavours, with a thick, creamy feel and very restrained carbonation. It practically drinks like a dessert.

Thanks to Shawn for sharing this beautiful bomber.

Photo of colts9016
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got this beer from a BIF.

Poured into a pint glass at 51 degrees.

Appearance: A medium tan color head that is three fingers thick and foamy.The color of the beer is jet black, well actually dark brown. There is no clarity in the beer, however you can see garnet highlights on the bottom of the glass. The retention on the beer is medium and the head left lacing on the glass.

Nose: A very nice roasted dark malt. There is a fragrant floral aroma, citrus, burnt character, caramel, molasses, coffee, and bittersweet dark chocolate. The hops in this beer give a nice fragrant fruity on the end.

Taste: A very deep dark roasted malt with a hint of the burnt character. The flavors in this beer is molasses, dark rich coffee, bittersweet chocolate, caramel, and hops. The hops give a nice pungent floral with a very bright fruity citrus.

Overall: The mouth feel of the beer is rich, creamy, astringent, mouth coating, and slightly carbonated. The body of the beer is thick and full. The finish on the beer is full. This beer is a very well rounded and palate pleasing. The different hops in this beer gives the beer a unique flavor. I really like this beer. It is well made and very tasty.

Photo of rpstevens
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into my dogfish head tulip.

The beer pours black with a thin mocha head. The lacing is thick and oily on the sides of the glass.

The smell is roasted malts, coffee and chocolate, but the roasted malt resurfaces and brings with it a pungent hop aroma that is not overpowering, but a welcome addition to the style.

The taste follows the smell almost exactly, traditional RIS flavors of coffee, chocolate and roasted malt are washed off the tongue with a piney hop bitterness that gives a nice drying effect.

The beer is well carbonated, a little more than standard for the style. There is a slight alcohol burn that warms the throat and stomach, but it's not unpleasant. This is not a beer that I would chug and look for another bottle, but definitely drinkable for the style and high abv.

The hoppiness of this beer, although untraditional, is a welcome addition.

Photo of Jmamay22
3.68/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sure it's summer, but its cold and rainy so time for a big beer.

This stout pours a deep dark black with a thin mocha head that clings to the walls of my glass. The smell is very hoppy and far from the sweeter russian stouts I've come to love. That said the bouquet is quite enjoyable and features a nice dusting of cocoa.

As in the nose the hops continue to stand out featuring a piney citrus profile I would expect from a wewt coast brewer than Smutty. Again the chocolate plays a secondary role. Not my preferred take on the big stouts, but I can respect the achievement. Mouthfeel is on the heavier side of medium and thickens as the liquid continues to warm. I'd love to try this with a good bit of age to subdue the hops and hopefully develop greater compleity

Photo of smcolw
3.87/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Generous lace after each sip. Tan head that settles a little flat. Near black color where no line shines through.

Chocolate malt aromas with a generous level of hop for the style. Vanilla and cream notes.

Notable high-alcohol feel to this in the initial sip. This is quickly overwhelmed by a bitterness from burnt malt and a strong hop finish. Thin body for the style and the carbonation is slightly high.

Photo of cbutova
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with a 3 finger tan head that retains well throughout drinking this stout. Leaves good lacing coating the entire glass. Smells mostly of roasted malts/coffee with some pepper hints. Tastes like a typical imperial stout of roasted malts/coffee and some bitterness, maybe a bit of spicy pepper too. Mouthfeel is a bit thin and does not seem to coat like a thicker imperial does. Good solid imperial stout taste with a smaller price tag than most of the other, would drink again. No real noticeable alcohol for being 10%.

Photo of MbpBugeye
2.87/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.
A- Pitch black. A half finger, coffee head made up of large bubbles rises then fades to thin island of film. There is a ring of bubbles around the edge. Some thin lacing sticks.
Some bubbles stick to the side of the glass down inside the body. This looks more carbonated than other RIS's Ive had.

S- Smokey, roasted malts. Very spicy and peppery. To me it smells like a dry rub used in BBQ. The smell is a big surprise to me. Im not getting the normal sent of dark fruits.

T- Some characters from the smell come out to play in the taste as well. Smokey, spicy and peppery. The finish is dry and on the bitter side from the roasted malts, followed by coffee.

M- Dry, medium to full body. Chewy, sticky, low carbonation.

D- This one is really roasty, creating a more bitter take on a RIS. The alcohol is there but not up in your face. Im sure this could make this beer sneak up on you very quickly.

This might be a good cross over into imperial stouts for hop heads.

Photo of deg
4.45/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured pitch black into a glass. I held it up to the light and I didn't see any shine through. The beer had a thick head with a light smell of roasted malt. I tasted more roasted malt than anything. I picked up some bitterness. I was surprised at how light the beer felt on my tongue, I expected something with a little more substance. No noticeable alcohol flavor.

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

Out of a bomber this beer was a true, opaque black color. The three-finger, wood-brown head was billowing at first. The retention was very good; it soon became a fluffy cap that also left very good, consistent lacing. The aroma was quite spicy, peppery and semi-sweet. I detected notes of wood, hemp-like hops, herbal hops, roasted malt and caramel malt. The flavors started semi-sweet with caramel malt, light chocolate malt before going into lots of spice, white pepper and light coffee. The flavors were so spicy it almost had hints of capsicum in it. The mouthfeel was creamy and a little oily, the body full and the carbonation a touch high which added to the spiciness.

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

Served into Chimay goblet.

A..No real head to speak of, but incredibly dark and toasty looking. Small amount of foam/lace/head was very dark, much like a chocolate liquid. Beautiful appearance.

S..A good imperial stout awaits. An almost smokey scent, but turns into hops quickly. You can nearly smell the 10% abv in this beer.

T..A mild imperial stout in my opinion. Certainly nothing to complain about as it makes the beer easy to drink.

M..The 10% abv is definitely drying. I have not yet finished the bottle and my lips and mouth feel quite dry already. It's a medium to heavy body.

D..Oh, this strong imperial stout is the easiest I've had so far. Yes, it's strong in abv and flavor, but I think I could have 2 or 3 bombers before I was passed out on the floor. Excellent version of a RIS.

Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series) from Smuttynose Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,028 ratings.