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

Czar Brew - Russian Imperial Stout Aged In Oak Bourbon BarrelsCzar Brew - Russian Imperial Stout Aged In Oak Bourbon Barrels

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

71 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 71
Reviews: 43
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 17.39%

Brewed by:
Sprecher Brewing Company visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: rallison on 08-05-2007)
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Ratings: 71 | Reviews: 43 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of feloniousmonk


4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black as the blackest black, under a creamy, smooth, slathering of cocoa-tanned topping. Classic RIS look.

Rich espresso notes in aroma, molasses, cocoa nibs, ...and the onset of sweet bourbon-y notes, ...more flavors reveal themselves, smoke, char, licorice, they keep coming.

And it's there in spades, on the tongue, full flavored, full-bodied, and surprisingly easy going down. Definite whiskey character now covers the palate, sweet vanilla tones coming in, along with the barrell feel.

Fills and coats the palate more, but not in a overly sticky, intrusive way. Nice, even, well-rounded, balanced, with the whiskey flavor always keeping pace. So tasty, and so easy drinking, with plenty of bourbon-ation trucking on down the line.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2010 08:15:57 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of augustgarage


4.4/5  rDev +19.6%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-16-2009 05:18:32 | More by augustgarage
Photo of jrallen34


4.6/5  rDev +25%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I drank this on tap into a snifter.

The beer is black with a light tan head that is gone quickly.

The aroma is very strong with bourbon that really just knocks you on yoru ass. There is also some light oak.

The taste is awesome. It is really sweet with tons of vanilla, makes you question where'd the bourbon though but I guess it shows itself as the vanilla. There is very light bourbon and oak at the end.

The feel is a little too light for a stout but this is incredibly drinkable.

Overall this is a great beer that really shows of its barrel aging unlike so many other BA beers.

Serving type: on-tap

12-07-2009 20:49:37 | More by jrallen34
Photo of weeare138


4.33/5  rDev +17.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

05-04-2009 19:23:41 | More by weeare138
Photo of watermelon

North Carolina

3.59/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2013 00:58:41 | More by watermelon
Photo of Stoutfan23DJ


3.98/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a small Sprecher snifter and served at 60 degrees.

Appearance: Charcoal black color body with a ½ finger head, medium carbonation nice retention. After each swirl I received a temporary cover of head, sticky lacing and alcohol legs that did stick around.

Aroma: Immediately you receive the big bourbon barrel characteristics and then the bittersweet/roasted malt and dark fruit aromas that follow. Bold bourbon, charred oak, coconut, sweet caramel, robust cocoa, grainy toasted malts and roasted coffee and big dark fruits. The aroma is very nice and all the characteristics are evenly represented here.

Taste: This is slightly different from what I expected in the taste versus the aroma. This is much lighter bodied, pretty sweet and somewhat dry. Spicy yet smooth bold bourbon, toasted wood, slight vanilla, prominent coconut, deep tart cherry, big raisin, pear, red grapes, apple, and some fig. Bittersweet dry cocoa, caramel, sweet maple syrup/honey, mild roasted barley and coffee beans, smoky charred notes, and a slight hazelnut nuttiness near the end. The sweet malts and dark fruits were most prominent, the bourbon barrel characteristics stood tall and the roasted type notes were lightly represented. Alcohol wasn’t too present but it did help move some flavors along here.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium thickness, and still very nice to sip on. I wish that this was just a bit fuller bodied, bit it is what it is. This bourbon barrel aged variation has the same exact body as their original Reserve Series RIS.

Overall: This is definitely a step up from their original RIS and I am interested in how the other bottle that I have will age with a year or two on it. I enjoyed this for what it was and I liked how all of the characteristics were decently represented. This was crafted as an English-style Russian Imperial Stout and they should really label this as exactly that. This was pretty tasty the only drawback is that I did wish that the body was a bit fuller and I wish that the roasted qualities were more prominent with the rest of the stout, but this is what it is. Every time I take a sip, this gives me a good idea about what a bourbon barrel-aged RIS would have tasted like over 200 years ago in England

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2013 21:22:58 | More by Stoutfan23DJ
Photo of KFBR392


3.15/5  rDev -14.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-18-2013 01:17:16 | More by KFBR392
Photo of JohnnyHopps


4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had been aging Czar Brew since the summer for a cold winter night. Amidst the other Russian Imperial Stout sampled, this was a stand-out.

Poured into a sniffer, it produced a modest white head. Aroma of whiskey and bitter fruits tempted the tongue. Intial flavors included a mild whiskey flavor, maltiness, and hints of raisins. The aftertaste was the higlight as butterscotch and carmel made an appearance before disappearing into a warming whiskey flavor.

I was not overly impressed with the regular version of Sprecher's Russian Imperial Stout, but Czar Brew is an much more impressive effort. It balances sweet and tartness, though it is not overpowering.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2011 16:43:48 | More by JohnnyHopps
Photo of camil1mj


2.9/5  rDev -21.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2011 02:04:45 | More by camil1mj
Photo of Lemke10


4.13/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a single 22oz. bottle from Woodman's in Janesville, WI for $11.89 in Summer 2011.

Pours a pitch black color with a thick foamy head that last a long time. Scents of coffee, carmel, cocoa, and bourbon fume from my glass. The taste is hard to describe as it is thick, creamy, and smooth. Quite robust and yet the flavors go quite well together. Some spices and burnt sugar are also obvious. Certainly a well made, tasty beer but the value is really lacking. for half the price you can get a beer that taste just as good as this one. So while this beer is good, it's not of the best value for your dollar.

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2011 04:15:27 | More by Lemke10
Photo of womencantsail


2.05/5  rDev -44.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2011 04:57:38 | More by womencantsail
Photo of ncketchum


4.1/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Chimay chalice at room temperature

A = stuff pours very dark brown, almost black, with a finger of chocolate head

S = chocolate, heavy malt, alcohol

T = tastes of chocolate, coffee, malt, and a hint of whiskey at the end

M = good, not too much alcohol or carbonation

D = drinkability is good, probably my favorite offering from Sprecher that I've tried. Definitely not an everyday beer, but I will definitely pick this one up again

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2011 02:08:30 | More by ncketchum
Photo of mjpolzin


3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I had this beer deep into a long night of drinking with some good friends so I should probably go back and drink this again when I am a little more coherent but I was really impressed with this Russian Imperial! My favorite thing was the taste; it had all of the great characteristics that I expect in an IS. It had the chocolate/fruity/caramel/liquorice/malty taste that I love in this type of beer plus a little extra kick which I suppose was from the bourbon barrels. Additionally, I have had some bourbon barrel stouts that I don't care for as the bourbon is too strong but this seemed to be just the right amount.

EDIT-Once I had this beer this past summer, I bought another bottle and put it away for Christmas Eve 2011. That night finally came and I just got done polishing off the entire 22 oz bottle while watching "Its A Wonderful Life". Most of things I said about this beer last summer are still true but here are a few new observations-
1. The smell/taste of bourbon were very strong at first but mellowed as I drank the beer. I probably got used to it after it was overwhelming at first.
2. I had a few drinks every once in awhile that were a little watery but overall, I thought the beer was pretty thick and syrupy.
3. At first the high abv hit me hard but I must have paced myself pretty good because by the time I was done, I wasn't wasted or anything.

Serving type: bottle

06-26-2011 15:28:26 | More by mjpolzin
Photo of stewart124


4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dense pour that is very black with some reddish hues around the edges of the imperial pint glass.

Nose is of dark caramel malts, prunes and molasses.

Big mouthfeel with a silkiness. Nice overall malty character with loads of dark roasted malts and nice dark caramel malts. Plenty of malt backbone and a nice earthy bitterness blend well together. Some soy sauce notes but an good overall spice that works with the raisin and prune coming through.

Very little bourbon character. Unless the spice and peppery notes are from the bourbon barrel than I missed it.

Tasty RIS but not much to set it apart.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2011 15:46:46 | More by stewart124
Photo of crossovert


3.3/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2011 02:02:47 | More by crossovert
Photo of TMoney2591


3.7/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2011 07:41:56 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of Vdubb86


4.2/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Sam Adam's Perfect Pint Glass

Thanks to TMoney 2591 for allowing me to have some of this gigantic bottle.

This beer looks a nice black stout color, with a beige foam on the surface. The smell is pretty damn good. There is a strong caramel and malt aroma with this beer. There is a nice oak flavor with this beer that I truly enjoy. The light chocolate flavor mixed in with all of that is pretty damn good. The mouthfeel is decently smooth, the time that this has had on it has worked well for it. The drinkability for this beer is fairly high. I really truly enjoyed this beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2011 04:58:46 | More by Vdubb86
Photo of emerge077


3.13/5  rDev -14.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2010 01:06:53 | More by emerge077
Photo of sweemzander


3.83/5  rDev +4.1%
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

Serving type: bottle

09-27-2010 13:59:21 | More by sweemzander
Photo of vacax


4.43/5  rDev +20.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2010 01:50:57 | More by vacax
Photo of jzeilinger


3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served at room temp. Pours an opaque jet black color with a nice finger or two caramel colored head. You hold this thing to the light and there's nothing going through it, looks like motor oil. Would be best served in a snifter.

Smells of caramel, some toffee notes, vanilla, dark chocolate. This beer does nothing to hide the booze, it's up front and in your face, it smells pretty darn good. Has a little peppery note in the aroma.

The taste really mirrors its aroma. Nice blend of caramel, vanilla, dark chocolate, deep roasted malt, some black licorice, and a very slight touch of coffee bean. But it gets better, there's a huge amount of bourbon flavor in this beer, one of the "booziest" stouts I've had. Regarding the bourbon booze flavor in the Czar: I don't like to mention other brewers in a review but I would say this beer rivals and surpasses the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and I didn't think that was possible. It's definitely not shy, but in your face and has a very noticeable warming in the throat from the bourbon.

Mouthfeel is surpisingly thin for a massive beer like this and is very smooth. Drinkability is very good but unfortunately the body makes it fall flat on its face and lost points.

The bottle I had was massive - 1L. I'm not sure if this is how the brewer bottles this particular beer, or if I happened to find the man-size version. Definitely need to share with a friend or two unless you want to fall off your chair. I've never heard of the brewery, but I absolutely loved this beer. Definitely worth checking out, I'm going back to buy another bottle or two.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2010 02:26:03 | More by jzeilinger
Photo of BedetheVenerable


3.73/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Impressive/beautiful/classy 1L flip-top, waxed brown bottle; regal label, with no date but "9245" hand printed on the back

Appearance: BLACK, opaque beer with a nice tan brown cap with pretty nice retention.

Smell: Really interesting notes of burnt toasted marshmallows, rich vanilla extract, burnt caramel, dark chocolate, a hint of booze, toasted walnut syrup, and recently-doused-campfire.

Taste: Wow...bourbony...there's lots of sweet vanilla bourbon here, toasted wood, dark brandied fruit, just a hint of roast and some charred oak on the finish. Not unpleasant, but not nearly as deep or complex as suggested by the aromas. I'm getting a touch of burnt caramel as this warms. WARMING brew.

Mouthfeel: A bit thin for the style/11% abv

Drinkability: Medium-high

Conclusion: Thanks much to Jimmy for picking this up for me at the Sprecher brewery; we enjoyed this with some dense chocolate cake for the wife's birthday and it was pretty darn tasty. The aromas are fantastic, the flavors are pretty good, the feel's a bit of a letdown. At nearly $20 a bottle, I might not buy another one of these, but then again I might. If I did, however, I'd let it sit for a good long time (2-3 years) before cracking it open to see if I could get any more complexity out of it once the booze calmed down a bit.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2010 13:49:22 | More by BedetheVenerable
Photo of rhoadsrage


4/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2010 22:45:29 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of BeerFMAndy


4.35/5  rDev +18.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2009 01:32:33 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of botham


4.33/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

liter growler poured into a snifter. pours pitch black with a single figer of rich tan head that lasts a minute or so and leaves a tan rim for the duration.

aroma is of roasted black malts and ok, with notes of chocolate, vanilla, a touch of coffee and a base of warming bourbon.

taste is more of the same with an ultra smooth profile and a touch of residual roasted malt. the roasted malts an oak aging are well done, with an ultra concentrated presence on the palate. the alcohol is well hidden, though it does show up a bit after some warming.

mouthfeel is wonderful. silky smooth and super mellow on the way down. the brew is mildly warming on the palate.

drinkability is decent. so rich, thick and flavorful with a smooth and warming presence on the palate. just what a good oak aged RIS should be. cheers!

Serving type: growler

09-09-2009 17:27:57 | More by botham
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Czar Brew - Russian Imperial Stout Aged In Oak Bourbon Barrels from Sprecher Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 71 ratings.