Czar Brew - Russian Imperial Stout Aged In Oak Bourbon Barrels - Sprecher Brewing Company

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Czar Brew - Russian Imperial Stout Aged In Oak Bourbon Barrels
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BA SCORE
84
good

137 Ratings
THE BROS
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 137
Reviews: 56
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 14.52%
Wants: 8
Gots: 17 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Sprecher Brewing Company visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: rallison on 08-05-2007

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 137 | Reviews: 56
Reviews by watermelon:
Photo of watermelon
3.59/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased at Peabodys in Boone NC poured into a pint glass.

A: Inky black with no transparency dark khaki head with medium lacing.

S: Bourbon and chocolate dominate the nose.

T: Bourbon, chocolate and licorice

M: I can feel the malts on my tongue, fair amount of carbonation, very little burn from the booze.

O: This was the first BA imperial stout that Ive had. Its my third bomber of this and probably the last one I'll buy. I used this as "practice beer" before venturing onto more coveted examples of the style. I was able to pick this bomber up for 5 bucks which makes it an outstanding deal I would be disappointed however if I payed $15 for this bottle. I would say that if you're well versed in the style then you wont be blown away by this, however if your new to the bigger beers then this would be a great one to start off on, as its tasty yet not overly complex. I have a feeling that this is quite old(probably a year or maybe more) so I wouldn't mind trying this fresh.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Brutaltruth
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed from a 22 oz bottle in a snifter, this most excellent RIP pours black as midnight with a thick tight bubbled head that slowly dies down to a firm thin layer with excellent webbed lacing. Nose of dark chocolate, black licorice, dark molasses, and rich bourbon. Flavors are chocolate all around with the licorice coming through on the back with the bourbon. The bourbon lends itself to adding to the sweetness which to many may be overpowering towards a milk stout. Still very nice, with a smooth coating mouth feel and light carbonation. Very slick.

An excellent Russian Imperial for those who like theirs on the sweeter side.

Photo of don1481
2.25/5  rDev -39.5%

Appearance: Pours a jet black with a cocoa colored head that retains for a bit. Leaves a small amount of lacing on the side.

Smell: big nose with a variety of vanilla, bourbon, coffee smells.

Taste: ...and here is where this falls apart. Such a thin, watered down taste. Where are all the delicious bits from the nose?? Beyond disappointed.

Mouthfeel: for something that tastes this thin it leaves a surprisingly thick feeling.

Overall: so tempted to drain pour this. Something does not add up here.

Photo of magictrokini
3.91/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 L bottle. Pours black with a big cascading tan head. Aroma of chocolate malt, smoke, bourbon, leather, oak, and caramel. A shockingly thinnish mouthfeel for an Imperial. Taste is nice; good bittersweet chocolate and coffee flavors with a strong, but not overwhelming bourbon sourness. Some vanilla, caramel, oak, and earthy flavors that pop out at different times. Overall, I really enjoyed this beer.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a snifter)
A- This beer has a jet black body with a dark molasses tan head that fades to a thin ring pretty quickly.
S- There is a graham aroma with a softer dark roasted note and a softer oaky hint in the finish. As the beer warms the oaky note takes on hints of vanilla and leather.
T- This beer has a big black inky flavor that turns a bit vinous when warm. A soft oaky note in the finish turns more cola like as it warms with a chocolate note and a light boozy note.
M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a slight astringent hint from the dark roasted grains and a fizz the covers up most of the flavor that might linger.
D- Pretty average when cold but opens up a bit when it warms up. Still bigger flavors would have been nice but the alcohol content was very hidden.

Photo of augustgarage
4.42/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Reading over the reviews, it seems this is an entirely different beast on-tap than it is in the bottle. The pour I'm reviewing was served in a snifter at Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood.

Opaque seal brown body with a dense finger of tan cream. Good retention (especially for the ABV), almost like a layer of chocolate milkshake floating atop a massive espresso shot. Full sheets of lacing and rivulets of legs.

Clearly there is no attempt to disguise the full barrel aged notes. Heavy and complex mix of vanilla, coconut, and tobacco immediately suggestive of bourbon or even rye whiskey. Molasses, prunes, dark chocolate, and burnt sugar join the barrel notes to form an intoxicating whole. There is a touch of pepper from the alcohol when you bring the glass closer to the nose. Impeccable really...

The flavor profile carries over everything from the aroma and adds a low roast malt element; this is joined by faint hop notes to balance the ensuing sweetness which lingers into the finish along with rich licorice, molasses, and chocolate. Another subtle wave of wood smoke, pepper, toast, and maybe coffee appears long after the rest of the flavor has dissipated. Very well done - while lacking the singular alchemy of Firestone 13, it is otherwise more akin to that superlative blend than it is to most examples of RIS (even those that are likewise barrel aged).

Full bodied and chewy, but well carbonated. Mild astringency and notable warming.

A little sweet overall, and some might find the barrel notes to be obstructive rather than a key feature...very good as a dessert beer.

Photo of BeerZack
2.83/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to JDV for sharing this big swing-top.

Pretty black in color, with dark brown edges. Thin head leaves decent lace.

Smells of caramel, marzipan, make it seem more like an aged barleywine than an Imperial stout. Some alcohol smell.

Sweet, almost cloying, yet sour, soy vinegar, some cardboardiness.

Tastes like it could have been a bad bottle, maybe just stored improperly, but it seems pretty oxidized and thin.

Photo of NavyGoat
3.96/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoy a lot of products from Sprecher Brewing Company; especially their Root Beer! That being said, first time trying the Czar Brew from Sprecher. They have something cooking here; not yet, up to some of the better Oak Bourban Barrel brews. In due time, I think they will have the right mix that everyone will chase after. The look and taste of the beer is good but not great. I would buy it again!

Photo of emerge077
3.11/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Opened this with a few friends, after picking it up in Milwaukee a few weeks ago. Unfortunately it seemed that something had gone awry... definitely oxidized, and developing tart astringent flavors. No date on the label, i'm guessing it was last years batch. No sound when opened. Sprecher should cap these instead of using a swingtop, and wax that if they have to. I think a compromised seal may be the culprit here.

Pours a dark brown, and black in the glass. It doesn't really look thick or viscous, more like a porter almost. The tan foam was scant, dispersing into a frothy ring of bubbles, and a wispy skim across the dark surface.

Aroma had telltale soy and clay notes of oxidation creeping into the sweet vanilla notes of the bourbon barrel.

Sweet and sticky, some vanilla and tart cherry astringency. Fairly light bodied for a barrel-aged RIS. There was a moderate bourbon flavor, and a stout buried in there somewhere, but it was overshadowed by the cherry skin tartness.

No one could finish a glass, but I drank most of mine for the sake of this review.
Will re-review if I can find a vintage dated bottle.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.4/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 Liter bottle (awesome label!) poured into an Imperial Pint. 11.0% ABV, 9126 hand-written in silver marker on the back.

Review number 500. Been saving this one for a good occasion!

A - It pours out like filthy motor oil, thick and black. No light shines through this behemoth! It cascades momentarily leaving a huge three-finger, dense, cream-like, dark tan head. Absolutely amazing retention with legs on the glass as well as a thick collar of lacing that resembles a mountain silhouette scene. Towards the bottom of the first glass lacing covered 90% of the glass.

S - The oaky nose is strong with a good bourbon punch to it and a rich vanilla and molasses syrupyness. Lots of warm alcohol but not solventy at all. The hops are totally absent as the malts take front and center. Dark roasted barley with chocolate too. Notes of dark fruits like raisin and plum are faintly present too. The aroma is incredibly rich and foreboding.

T - The taste falls short of the nose a bit providing a large helping of roasted malts, so roasted in fact, it gives it a cocoa-like feel with a giant bitterness that's largely overshadowed by strong oaky bourbon. Thankfully it's such a complex beer other flavors swirl around constantly in the background giving me other avenues to explore. A light touch of room-temperature black coffee lingers by a vanilla bean and molasses flavor while the dark fruit notes poke through with mild sweetness. The large oaky bourbon barrel flavor finishes out with a warm alcohol kick. Again, hops are absent giving the malts and their compatriots free roam. The flavor is huge and good, just not as well-blended as the aroma is.

M - It's immediately evident, based on the pour, it'll be as thick as syrup. And it is. Creamy and smooth as velvet, the texture is something to behold. That is, until that large chalky-bitter punch comes in. It doesn't ruin it but it does put it off a bit. The alcohol gives it a subtle warmth to the finish without a harsh, sharp flavor. Absolutely full-bodied and rich as can be.

D - It's one hellofa Russian Imperial Stout. Something I wouldn't mind constantly having on hand. It's drinkability is only lowered by the pesky cocoa-dry bitter thing going on an a bit overly bourbon flavor. I don't mind it for a glass, but for a while liter, which at this point is more than half-gone, it's getting a bit old. A great winter warming beer to sip your way through on a freezing January day or to share with a full-on beer lover. Make sure they like 'em strong and rich.

Photo of docoman
4.14/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

overall pretty good BBA RIS, not the best, but pretty good... mostly tastes of chocolates.

Photo of rallison
4.3/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thick black with a 1 finger light brown head that recedes to a nice lacing that cotes the glass.

Smell is of rich roasted malts, bourbon and other tasty smells.

Taste grows on me. Lots of rich, roasted caramel, espresso and dark chocolate. Very dark fruits are also present. As it warms, the complexity definitely increases. Nice. Ultimately, this is a sweet RIS. Bourbon and oak flavors are pretty mellow. Also, it sort of tastes like some of it comes from a malt extract, but it works out well enough here.

Mouthfeel is rich but keeps a distinct lightness. Carbonation is good.

Drinkability is actually pretty good for an 11% beer.

Recommended. Too expensive, but a good RIS. I've had better ones, but this is a fully enjoyable one.

Photo of vacax
4.42/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One liter flip top bottle poured into a tulip. Spring 2007 batch.

Color is black, touch of light visible along edge of glass, small but tight beading and good retention on the light brown head. Nose has black treacle, bourbon, vanilla, light oxidation, and maple.

Flavor is rich with caramel, roasted malt, coffee beans, oxidation, leather, and the finish hits with brownies and bourbon. Deep flavors complemented by a bit of oxidation and quite drinkable for something so strong and robust. Body is full, but perhaps not as much as the flavor hints at. Carbonation is clearly forced but sticks to an appropriate lowish to moderate level. This drink is a nice treat, hope this one comes out again.

Photo of camil1mj
2.88/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bought this past Spring while I was in Madison, WI. Poured at cellar temp into my Founders snifter.

A: Deep, dark, brown. Foamy, 1 finger thin head. Minimal lacing.

S: Sweet and roasty with a faint alcoholic finish.

T: Immediate sugary sweetness nose followed by some roasted malt that leads to some bourbon undertones. The sweetness dominates the overall taste of this one.

M: Very thin for the style. Medium carbonation.

O: One of the weaker BA stouts I have had. Too thin and too sweet.

Photo of weeare138
4.32/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Capone's...
Appears a dark brown, nearing black with a dark amber & ruby hue when held to the light. A small, light tan head slowly fades into a mild cap. Scattered streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of oak, roasted nuts, vanilla, cocoa, bourbon, and ripe fruit.
Taste is of the aromas with the bourbon being somewhat subdued in the flavors with the dark fruit, brown sugar, and vanilla dominating.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, mild abv heat, and a bit chewy. Perhaps a tad thin in the finish but not bad, overall.
This faired much better than the bottle sample I had last year and opted not to rate.

Photo of travloh
2.96/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from bomber to snifter. This is only the 2nd RIS I have ever had. The 1st one I enjoyed very much.

Pours a motor oil black with a tan head that looks almost like you could make a sand castle out of it.

The first smell is coffee, then a roasted, smokey odor. I also get a sour essence coming through.

This stuff is questionable, there is a sour tone that comes through. Leaves a bitter coffee aftertaste. Halfway through the glass I have to confess, I wish it were gone. Just not very good, period. I can taste the bourbon influence, as this stuff is aged in bourbon barrels. Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD. The thought of a beer sitting in some warehouse in a skanky old Jack Daniels cast-off is not appealing.

I'm not buying this again, and i am so glad I tried the other brand of RIS before this one, because the chances are good this would have turned me off to the whole style.

Photo of jwc215
3.79/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours very dark brown with a thin tan head. Some trailing sticks.

The smell is of chocolate, coffee, oak/bourbon, anise.

The taste of sweet oak/bourbon mixes with chocolate, anise, and mild roasted coffee. Warming dryness in the warming finish.

It hits full-bodied, though carbonation is a bit sharp for the style. Alcohol lingers.

Overall, it's qa rich, enjoyable strong stout with a bourbon/oak character that is blended well. A nice "sipper"!

Photo of charlzm
3.74/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Opened and shared at Blue Palms, Hollywood, CA on 08/27/08. I picked up the bottle at Beverage Warehouse in January and have had it aging for 7 months at between 40 and 50 degrees fahrenheit.

Pours utterly black with no carbonation at all. Uh-oh...

Aroma is delicious bourbon with a hint of vanilla. Man, what a great aroma. I can sit and sniff this one all night without having to drink it.

Mouthfeel is smooth but very, very still.

Some sweet dark malts up front. More bourbon in the nose than in the mouth, but there's still a trace, along with a hint of wood. Not very bitter. At the end, a little alcohol burn as the spirit flavor becomes more prevalent. A dash of tannic wine winds things up.

A bit light flavored for a RIS, but that could have been more forgivable had there been any carbonation at all to help things along.

Thanks to everyone who helped me drink this beer: I couldn't have finished it alone.

Photo of crossovert
3.35/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

650ml brow twist-off gold waxed bottle. 2009 vintage. The label proclaims "Lager". Talk about the most bizarre packaging, Sprecher might want to fire whoever is doing this.

It pours a dense black with a foamy tan head. The head recedes rather quickly and leaves some mild lacing.

The smell is thick with bourbon, super thick with it. It is big and sweet with notes of caramel and vanilla and underneath that chocolatey, roasty stout.

The flavor is big and bourbonny. It is roasty and alcoholic. It has a tanginess to it that is hard to pinpoint, like very sweet raisins, perhaps an infection.

It was great until I tasted it, I am pretty sure something sneaked its way into he barrels.

Photo of sweemzander
3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A massive 1 Liter resealable pop top dipped in wax bottle poured into a snifter. Winter 2009 release printed on the label.

(A)- Pours a thick pitch black color that produced a great creamed coffee colored tan head with good retention. Lots of lacing left behind as it slowly dissipated.

(S)- A rich roasted profile with caramel and brown sugar with bits of molasses and chocolate.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. A new and bigger raisin character within the roasted profile. Bits of caramel and molasses.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Has a good roasted profile and richness to it. A bit slick mouthfeel with a slight salty component coming through about 1/2 way into the bottle.

(D)- A good stout for sure. I am afraid that this is starting to show signs of going bad due to the signs of that salty soy sauce character, so I am glad I opened this when I did. A solid example of the style and enjoyable. They are still making this, so it is not retired as far as I know. I see the 2010 release in stores

Photo of TMoney2591
3.66/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

There was a "render unto Caesar" joke in my head for this at one point, but I doubt it would've turned out very well. Still, this brew pours a straight black-brown topped by a healthy tan foam. The nose comprises chocolate, roasted malts, oak, cheesy omelets, and molasses. I'm pretty sure that cheesy/eggy smell comes from the barrels, but have no way to prove it. Regardless, it doesn't do the beer any favors. The taste holds notes of roasted malts, oak, vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, light coffee, and a slight twinge of whiskey. The body is a hefty-ish medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a nearly chewy feel. Overall, a nearly solid big stout, but the slightly off smell and a body that's just a bit too light do not help the drinkability very much here.

Photo of womencantsail
2.07/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Thanks? to Greg for sharing this...

A: The beer pours almost black in color with a finger of tan head.

S: When the first thing you smell is butter, you're rarely in for anything good. Lots of butter, a bit of roast and bourbon, a touch of vanilla, and some sourness. Not sure whether that's vinegar or just too much booze.

T: The flavor is much the same. Heavy on the butter with a more pronounced sourness and even more booze. Light bourbon and vanilla flavors with lots of roast and oak, some coffee is also there.

M: Medium bodied with very low carbonation.

O: This was a nice contribution to the dump bucket.

Photo of KFBR392
3.15/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pour with a light to medium bodied thickness. Could see the dark brown color on the pour but was black once accumulated in the glass. Light brown head formed on the pour which subsided and was non existent while drinking.

Smell: A lot of bright coffee aromas and some chalky malt. Hops burst through and seem to throw off many of the darker accents. The sweetness just blankets over many of the more interesting accents here.

Taste: I kind of expected the flavor to be erratic but this had many more traditional BA stout accents then I expected. Bubbly hop front with a good bitter bite. The front and beginning of the body are the best parts of this brew. Coffee, milk chocolate, light vanilla and caramel, and some average bourbon accents. There seems to be some disconnect between the flavors here. The finish is confused, some chalky bourbon and malt which gets lost. There are some accents here which want to finish strong, but bizarrely just fade away into a watery finish.

Mouthfeel: For an RIS, probably on the light side for mouth feel. The palette seems to beg for more. Does not drench the palette like the elite RIS's do.

Overall: Comes off overall pretty average, slightly forgettable. Not something I would get again, but not something that should be avoided.

Photo of zeff80
4.12/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a brown, foamy and bubbly head. It left trails of soapy lace.

S - It smelled of bourbon, vanilla, oak and roasted malt. There was a slight floral aroma.

T - It tasted very sweet and even a little citrusy. The bourbon flavor was mild but present.

M - It was smooth and soft. A medium to full-bodied beer.

D - This is a very nice RIS. It has unique flavors.

Photo of mcallister
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark bordering on black but more of a charred wood color. Loose fluffy mocha head fades quickly into a light lace and resilient topping to the liquid.

Burnt woody aromas with hints of bourbon, coconut, dark chocolate, mollasses, blackberry, alcohol, vanilla, and currant. A lactose type aroma at the end of it all, almost a heavy cream type aroma.

Very creamy mouthfeel yet too thin. Great flavors of dark semi sweetened chocolate layered with rich vanilla. The oak and bourbon show through nicely but don't overpower. The "stout" seems like it could have held up a little better to the barrel aging or it may have been aged slightly too long. Very feminine and lacking depth. Black berry, currant, smokey meats, and an earthy feel. Yet just lacking depth. A very good beer but way overpriced.

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Czar Brew - Russian Imperial Stout Aged In Oak Bourbon Barrels from Sprecher Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 137 ratings.