Imperiale - Ninkasi Brewing Company

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217 Ratings
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Ratings: 217
Reviews: 81
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 13.37%
Wants: 6
Gots: 29 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Ninkasi Brewing Company visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  9.10% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: flexabull on 11-05-2011

Formerly Imperiale High Gravity Stout

Rich, full bodied and surprisingly smooth, Imperiale Stout has a big roast hit up front, and rich, dark malt flavors balanced with ample hop bitterness to finish.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 217 | Reviews: 81
Photo of CHickman
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black color with a foamy 2 finger creamy/foamy light tan head that was full of bubbles of all sizes and faded slowly, leaving very good foamy lacing and rings as it went down.

Smells of chocolate, smoked malt, coffee grinds, cocoa powder, brownie batter, dark chocolate (like Hershey's Dark), light vanilla, floral hops, pine cone/piney hops and charred wood. It's very chocolatey with a lot of char, ash and smoke notes that combine with the burnt malts, coffee grinds and light hop sweetness to make for a nice smelling stout.

Tastes just like it smells with strong chocolate notes as the most dominant flavor, followed by cocoa powder, smoked malt, coffee grinds, burnt brownie or burnt chocolate chip cookie, dark chocolate, vanilla, floral hops, pine cone/piney hops, vanilla bean, chocolate syrup,charred wood, some dark fruit like plum or a chocolate covered cherry, ash and burnt pumpernickel bread. Very rich and malty with most of the flavor coming on in waves of chocolate malts and all aspects of roasted, charred and smoked malts/grains. The hops peek through, but the main sweetness is like a burnt coffee with some cream and a s'mores. The ashy and smoky notes leave a bitterness that is chalky and close to dry but still sweet like eating a Whopper candy ball.

Mouthfeel is slick and buttery smooth, with a medium chewy body that has very little to no carbonation and a thin overall feel, but it slides down easy with no signs of the alcohol and a bitter finish that is similar to a Starbucks Frappuccino with a shot of espresso and chocolate syrup in it that trails off with a lot of charred wood, ash and smoked grains. A big bold imperial ("imperiale") stout. Well balanced with the hops adding a sharp leafy bite and complimenting the malty roast, making it easy to drink.

Overall a tasty beer that had well above average flavor, hid the 9% ABV quite well and happened to be a bargain for NYC at $4.99 for a bomber at Whole Foods. At this price point I plan to buy as many as possible since I really enjoyed this brew.

Photo of ClavisAurea
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from 03/2014 served in a tulip glass

Nice pour. Thick and black with a massive brown head that had real staying power. Even when this beer warmed up t was still like motor oil. Immediately the massive hops pounced in the nose and was a dominant force. There is some ripe fruit in there as well, raisin. The bittersweet chocolate and coffee flavored are intense and the roasted character in all over. The mouthfeel is creamy and thick like a fine hot cocoa. All of the components that were in the nose easily carried over in to the taste. Raisin was the dominant fruit character but I found the hop bitterness and malty astringency a bit too high. This is still an excellent beer and a perfect example of a Russin Imperial Stout.

Photo of utopiajane
3.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This was a terrific stout. Smooth, roasty chocolatey and had a hints of caramel udnerneath that really added to the richness. The body was as supple and smooth and perfectly full.

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.79/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Served in chalice from a 22oz. bomber.

Appearance: thin dark brown body, medium bubbles with a average tab head rising maybe half an inch.

Smell: Light mocha scent with subtle coffee bean. Probably strongest property of the beer.

Taste: Has a bitter coffee feel with light honey notes to it. Not as bitter as I would want it to be but not bad.

Mouth: a little too smooth for its own good. Has room for improvement. Toasty with roasted chocolate feel.

Overall: good brew but there's much better options. Drink with love and a glass...salud!

Photo of Ozzylizard
4.12/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Undated bottle at 45 degrees into tulip
Aroma weak, roasted malt and coffee
Head large (5 cm, aggressive pour), light brown, creamy, diminishing to 1.2 cm ring and 1 -3 mm frothy layer
Lacing excellent – nearly complete curtains of tiny to small bubbles
Body dark brown/black, opaque
Flavor begins bitter, mostly roasted malt, with some coffee at the end; bitterness seems to come from hops rather than roasted malt; no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation

Appearance 4.75, Aroma 4, Flavor 4, Palate 4.25, Overall 4.25

Photo of 11BIRD11
5/5  rDev +33.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I don't know what to say other that I love it. Just try it and you'll be hooked.

Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.29/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black with brown highlights. Little head that dissipates quickly. Caramel malt smells.
Taste is rich and roasty bitter. Tastes like hops and amazing coffee.
No taste of the 9% alcohol. Delicious

Photo of Champ82
4.27/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Well balanced stout. 9.1% abv with a smooth rich finish

Photo of ryannosaurus
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is a black lump of coal

Aroma is lightly malty with a hint of coffee

Taste is this brews long suit: bitter and twisted with lurking deep molasses sweetness. Coffee, chocolate, malt, and charcoal in abundance. Hints of vanilla, anise and dark fruits in the background

Mouthfeel is sprightly for such a big beer with limited carbonation.

Overall I am amazed I rarely see reviews or mentions of this beer, and doubly amazed I got it on the cheap ($5.50/22oz). Crazy drinkable for a big beer, so save this for the weekends.

Photo of demon
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Strong alcohol taste. Not very bitter, though very sweet. Nicely roasty, though missing some of the complexity I was looking for. Nice and sticky-sweet mouthfeel. Leaves a kind of lingering, lightly stinging malty characteristic in a way that I didn't particularly desire.

Good, worth a try if you are into imperial stouts, but I'd personally pass on this a second time around.

Photo of Lard_City
3.94/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bread dough nose. Slightly sweet, a little spicy, malty and a touch of hop bitterness. Nice.

Photo of metter98
3.71/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a quarter finger high tan head that died down leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface, a thin collar around the edge, and some lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of black licorice are present in the nose along with hints of dark fruits.
T: The taste has flavors of dark malts with a bit of roast and strong notes of dark fruits and black licorice. A light to moderate amount of bitterness is present. The roasted malts are a little stronger in the finish. The roast becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation, but seems to be lighter in body considering you would expect from the alcohol content.
O: This beer seems to be oddly fruity for a stout, but is interesting and hides its alcohol very well.

Serving type: bottle

Photo of OrestesMethuon
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A boozy nose, minimal froth, a deep, essentially-opaque brown-black body, and a beautiful label featuring prismatic Byzantine cathedral-domes all conspire to announce this special release as a decidedly imperious stout. Yet it's also not especially thick, possessing a smooth, medium-heft consistency, and that's twinned with a bilious, biting hopping that refuses to let the sweetness or burned-sugar smokiness overwhelm or achieve full assertiveness. Instead, Ninkasi has crafted a big stout that's as balanced as it is bold, boasting bumped-up IBU (reported at 70) and a clean mix of roasted flavors—mostly smoked ash and nearly-blackened caramel—as well as variegated hop notes, which are both decidedly bitter and tart in that grassy, hop-acerbic sense. All in all, a nice, slightly unique, mostly pleasing stout.

Photo of Harvest06
3.63/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Fresh this is not a stout I care for. Too hot and hoppy.

I tried one cellar-ed 1 year and it has improved but now had a sweet finish that the hops had hidden when fresh.

Photo of Jermaine44
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Overall a well made stout. Smells sweet like Carmel, vanilla.. Taste is roast up front followed by sweetness from the malt finished with a bitterness to balance the beer. Medium mouthfeel just the way I like my beers

Photo of StoneTSR
3.98/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: Impressive head. It lingers for a good 3-4 minutes after the beer is poured as a half-inch, light brown, foamy top. Underneath is a pretty much, pitch black beer. Shining an iPhone light through it produces nothing more than a faint, red spot, shining through from the other side of the glass. The lacing is pretty strong for a big beer like this, covering a good 70% of the back side of the glass.

SMELL: Aroma is lighter than I would expect from a beer like this, but roasted malts lead the way. Dark chocolate with a touch of caramel and a little oak lie behind the roast.

TASTE: That roasted malt flavor leads the way, but it is mild and pleasant. Vanilla and dark chocolate help to round it out along with hints of dark fruit.

MOUTHFEEL: Very smooth and velvety, silky smooth. This beer should be very full-bodied, instead its medium to full…much lighter than expected and very easy to drink.

OVERALL: Excellent Imperial Stout. Just a well done beer that I’ll drink any time its available.

Photo of meno19
3.45/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great value for the price

Photo of prock180
3.97/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Average take on the style. I kept wanting a little more to come out in this but it didn't. Good imp stout with nice chocolate flavor. I want more body and coffee with an imperial stout.

Photo of biboergosum
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle. I love how this is called "High Gravity" here, like anyone would look at a north of a 9% ABV brew any other way.

This beer pours a solid, light diffusing black, with the barest of basal cola edges, and three fingers of puffy, frothy, and rocky Dockers tan head, which leaves some decent pockmarked inner city wall lace around the glass as it gently subsides.

It smells of roasted, kind of meaty caramel malt, bittersweet chocolate, a touch of funky yeast, vanilla-tinged brown sugar, very meek and muddled dark fruit notes, and earthy, leafy, and fairly herbal hops. The taste is more of the same - bready, lightly toasted caramel malt, meaty wet ash, dark cocoa beans, still apparent phenolic yeast, somewhat acrid black orchard fruit, some real (read: boozy) vanilla, bitter coffee grounds, and more leafy, weedy, and earthy hops.

The carbonation is fairly low, but supportive enough in its plain fizziness, the body a strong medium-full weight, and generally smooth, the alcohol slowly chipping away, Chinese water torture style. It finishes on the sweet side, the caramel malt, chocolate, and booze lording it over the still relevant hops.

Not a bad version of the style, but that yeast weirdness has got to go, man. Other than that, the hops do well to more or less balance out the typical big stout flavours, and once the alcohol comes along, everything just sort of works itself out, y'know? Yeah, the rest of this is gonna go great with some spicy Hunan chicken - order up!

Photo of ocelot2500
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

Pours a deep black with a pillowy tan head that leaves chunks of lacing.

Smells of deep roasted notes with some hops to it.

Tastes like a nicely hopped stout. Deep roasted notes lead off with dark chocolate, espresso, burnt sugar, and some slight char. This gives way to some syrupy sweetness. Hops add in with pine notes. Touches of dark fruit come next as well as some alcohol. Finishes with a slightly acrid burnt note.

Mouthfeel is full with a creamy amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is tasty, but be prepared for a hoppy, bitter stout.

Photo of Darkmagus82
4.04/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber into a snifter

Appearance – The beer pours a pitch black color with a one finger head of tan colored foam. The head has a good level of retention, fading to leave a decent level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is heaviest of a roasted malt smell with some notes of dark chocolate mixed within. Some nice sweeter smells of vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar as well as a little bit of dark fruits of cherry, plum, and raisin are there as well. A bit of coffee as well as a hint of a smoky smell round out the aroma, creating a rather dark and roasty, warming smell overall.

Taste – The taste begins with a roasted malt taste with a rather sweeter chocolate flavor consisting of a semi-sweet chocolate mixed with vanilla and caramel. More roasted malt enters the taste as it advances further from the start with some of the sweet fading just a tad. All while the sweet fades a bit, a decent showing of a coffee flavor as well as some toast and smoke flavors come to the tongue. In the end, with a bit of graininess as well as the onset of more roast and dark chocolate and coffee flavors, one is left with a moderately, but not too sweet mocha flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the slightly thicker and chewier side with a carbonation level that is quite low. For the style the carbonation and slightly thicker body are nice (although a little more thickness would have likely been even better) making for a good and intense stout flavor to soak into the tongue.

Overall – A rather nice stout overall that is very approachable and that at only ~ $5 for a bottle is a great value. This is a great imperial overall when considering price/characteristics.

Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.28/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I really like this especially for the price- pours a charcoal color with light colored head and good retention and lacing.

Smells like a very rich stout- nothing particularly sticks out but there's definitely a good roasted character and maybe a bit of raisin.

Tastes great- big roasted malt character, definitely caramel, some chocolate, and a bit of that raisin/dried fig character. Delish.

Feels pretty good- medium full bodied, modest carbonation, not so smooth. This tastes good; not incredible but definitely very good.

Photo of elNopalero
3.82/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This pours a coffee colored with cocoa foam. I get a mix of dark cocoa, French press coffee, and some green/marmalade notes on the aroma. There’s a piney bitterness with some marmalade and coffee roasiness, and a somewhat medicinal feel. Honestly, I felt like the beer had too much going on, in too many different directions. Glad I tried it, but one was enough.

Photo of lordofstarside
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%

Bomber to a snifter

Pours black with a finger and a half of brown foam. Mild carbonation on the sides, no real visibility, good lacing and retention 4.5/5

Smells of dark chocolate, roast coffee, a touch of smoke, and some alcohol. Honestly pretty subdued for a beer this big, not a lot of complexity 3.5/5

Taste is close with the nose. Roasted and smokey dark chocolate and coffee come together with some nuances of dark fruit and alcohol. Again, pretty straight forward 3.75/5

Feel is probably the best part, really smooth and creamy with a heavy body. Alcohol is concealed well, easy to sip 4.5/5

Overall not the most exciting, but a solid imperial stout regardless 3.80/5

Photo of archyquaffer
4.02/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint glass. A moderate pour produces about a one inch bubbly, frothy and somewhat sticky head that settles down to a solid 1/8 inch pale tan coating of froth. Lacey rings linger as the glass is emptied. The beer is a deep ruby brown that requires a strong flashlight to see light through.

A very light toasted malt aroma with a little bit of herbal hops. The flavor is semi-sweet, with definite notes of chocolate, coffee, licorice, and dark fruit (cherry, chokecherry, plum), and a touch of citrus. A little alcoholic spice and some port-like flavors become more apparent with warming. A lingering bittersweetness lasts from sip to sip. The body is perhaps on the light side for a stout, which makes it somewhat dangerous in terms of quaffability.

This was an excellent deal at $4.79 for the bomber, purchased at Front Street Market in Butte, Montana. At this price, I would always seek this out.

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Imperiale from Ninkasi Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 217 ratings.