1. The BeerAdvocate Store is back! Pre-order your stuff now. Items begin shipping Dec 15. Christmas deadline = Dec 18 @ 5pm EST.
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Raven's Eye Imperial Stout - Eel River Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Raven's Eye Imperial StoutRaven's Eye Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

285 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 285
Reviews: 181
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 13.1%
Wants: 12
Gots: 18 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Eel River Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: beerguy101 on 08-12-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 285 | Reviews: 181 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SPLITGRIN
4.38/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A creamy three finger rich milk chocolate colored head quickly shows scattered lace and a rocky landscape. Body is a pitch black brooding host to darkness. Nose is a nice mix of smokey rich maltiness and sweet coco tones. Enters the mouth sweet and smokey with attractive layers of carmalized malt, burnt toffee and even a bit of coffee on the back of the tongue. The coffee feel is a slight bitter laced with a even sour feel. There is a solid balance between the sweet, rich, bitter and sour throughout this beer. The alchol is elegantly well hidden as it only shows in the form of a warm tummy. Mouthfeel is similar to dark chocolate. Super drinkable brew I would like to have again.

Photo of yourefragile
3.05/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

22 oz bottle purchased from Sam's in Durham for 2.99. Low expectations for this, but for the price worth a shot. Served in a pint glass.

A: Pours a dark brown, red tinged color that settles in a very still black. Finger thick tan head, moderate retention and sticky thick coating on lacing.
S: Overall mild, slightly too sweet in a cough syrup way. Dark fruit, roasted flavors, malt all present. Not bad, but not very interesting or bold.
T: Slightly thin mouthfeel for this style, but still syrup like and smooth, very light carbonation. Most of the flavor is dark fruit (but not overly sweet) with a thin malt presence. Surprising hop presence. Roasted and chocolate like flavors are very subdued. Alcohol isn't that strong in taste but finish has a strong burn really hurting the drinkability of this.

Overall, not a terrible RIS, I'd call it average, but the alcohol presence is unpleasant and what's keeping me from having this again even at this price.

Photo of dnichols
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was served this beer at the Portland, Oregon Spring Beer Festival on March 21, 2008.

A: It poured a dark black body with a robust and sticky caramel head. The head retained well and supported a dense curtain of lacing.

S: It gave off a strong aroma of charred coffee laced with baker's chocolate.

T: It began with the flavor of baker's chocolate (sweet and biting) followed by strong campfire coffee flavored by dark ripe fruits. There were hints of alcohol and a touch of sour-bitter aftertaste.

M: It was a medium to full bodied beer with a sharp biting body and reasonably clean finish. There was a swarm and bitter aftertaste.

D: One bottle would be enough for an evening. Best consumed in the winter and when other better stouts are available.

Photo of russpowell
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black as motor oil that hasn't been changed in 3 years, with a pinky of mocha head. Good lacing & head retention

S: Some chocolate & iron & roasted malt

T: Baker's chocolate, coffee grounds, iron & husky grains up front. Dryness, roasted malt, a touch of vanilla & dark fruit as this warms. Finishes dry with much coffee grinds, a touch of vanilla & oaky dryness

MF: Pretty smooth, low carbonation, Slight chewyness a bit of booze

Drinks pretty easy for the style, the ABV slows you down a bit. A solid RIS

Photo of jwc215
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into snifter:

Pours opaque black with a thin tan head that slowly becomes a patch. Some dotted lacing sticks.

The smell is of roasted coffee, chocolate, some toast.

The taste is of roasted coffee, chocolate and a hint of anise. Balancing dark fruits mixes with the maltiness in the sweetish finish. Mild, but nice.

A bit thin for the style, but it holds up. Alcohol is well-masked, making this one deceptively drinkable.

Photo of ewright
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured into a chalice, a generous finger of dark tan head forms on top of a completely opaque black beer.

S: Aromas of coffee, raisin, and a hint of toffee are evident. Tannins from the dark roasted grains lurk underneath.

T: The flavor is a bit raw, too much astringency up front and on the back of the tongue. A bit of cocoa comes through as the beer warms on the tongue. Hops are present, but not overwhelming. Thankfully, the astringency fades as the beer warms, but it is still noticable at 55F.

M: The astringency on the tongue really takes away from the mouthfeel. Carbonation is a bit high for an RIS, but not obnoxious.

D: Not the greatest RIS in the world, but at $2.99/22oz bomber, I'm not going to complain too much!

Photo of dsa7783
4.15/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1 pint, 6 fl oz bottle purchased from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield...
Pours a deep, jet-black, ebony appearance with a small foamy head that left a minimal amount of lacing...
Faint aroma dominated with roasted malts, scotch, caramel, vanilla, and honey...
Taste strongly complements the smell, with a powerful rich malt essence balanced out by a tinge of vanilla, toffee, figs, prunes, and dates...
Slick, oily, slightly watered-down mouthfeel with not too much going on in this department...
Easy level of drinkabilty especially due to the fact that the hefty 9.5% ABV was hardly detectable behind a rich conglomertion of chocolate, espresso, and cocoa nuances...
Not the best RIS I've ever sampled, but definitely not bad at all...

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.48/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a dark black with bits of Hazel and strawberry around the edges. The head is a half inch of creamy tan with a sandy texture.

Smells of dark fruits, peanuts, coffee and cough syrup.

The flavor seems centered around a creamy milk with nuts on one side and coffee on the other. This is balanced out with a lactose and prune sweetness. There's a touch of astringent coffee in the finish.

Feels creamy and slick by texture alone, but there's a slightly raspy carbonation that livens things up.

A rather well done average beer.

Photo of cbl2
3.55/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

3/9/2008 $6.95 22 oz. 9.50% No best by date.

Appearance:

Pours a dark brown bordering on black with a quarter inch of creamy brown head drifting atop for the moment it takes to settle.

Aroma:

Nice roasted malts and coffee aroma with sweet dark chocolate.

Taste/Mouthfeel:

Thin mouthfeel for an RIS. Loads of coffee flavor and dark chocolate upon aeration. This gets better as it warms, though doesn't approach the flavor intensity of an RIS. Seems more like a porter than an RIS. Not as complex as it should be, though still enjoyable. Certified organic.

Photo of Gavage
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: black in color with a 2" tan fluffy head. Thick lacing develops during the session.

Smell: roasted malts and hints of coffee.

Taste: roasted malts, bitter chocolate, mild coffee flavors, prunes, some mild alcohol tones and a nice bitterness. A light burnt flavor is a bit of a turnoff but not offensive.

Mouthfeel: smooth and dry from start to finish. Medium-heavy in body. Aftertaste is filled with light burnt tones and alcohol warming.

Drinkability: this was a bit thinner than expected for the style. One bomber bottle was enough in a session. Worth a try.

Photo of jletts
3.05/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Eel River Raven's Eye Imperial Stout

Purchased a 22 at Billy Goat's Tavern in Mt. Shasta, California. Served at approximately cellar temperature in a standard red wine glass. Appeared black with a nice, slowly fading head and some scattered uneven lacing. Smelled of double chocolate brownies with weak notes of vanilla and hazelnuts. The taste centered on baker's chocolate, coffee, and oak, with a sour bitterness emerging at the end. This Imperial Stout seemed a little uncomplicated compared to many of the Imperial Stouts coming out of the US lately. Perhaps some cellar time would add more depth.

Photo of dbalsock
2.05/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

App: Tons of tan head sit upon this black as night brew. The head retention is great.

Smell: Very sweet aroma, with a hint of coffee , caramel and toffe. It's buttery for sure with no hop presence in the nose.

Taste: Fruity alcohol is the base for this beer, with too much coffee taking on the feel of an off-flavor. Tastes woody too, but not barrel aged.

Mouthfeel: Burnt bitter and acidic with a watery body. This beer definitely needs to mellow.

Drinkability: This needs to be creamier, and the off parts need to be taken away and replaced with more multi-dimensional characters.

Photo of ccrida
3.05/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into my Hommel snifter, Ravens Eye Imperial Stout is pitch black, with a large, dark tan head that's quickly halved, before slowing settles to a thick collar and moderate skim, leaving moderate lace.

Smell is pretty soft, some sweet caramel and grassy hops.

Taste is semi-sweet, a bit boozy, more burnt then roasty, and fairly bitter, but overall lacking depth and not too exciting. Perhaps some of the espresso mentioned on the label (which I don't drink, but love coffee, and didn't find), but I've gotta call BS on a bomber being "Nitrogen Conditioned" without a widget. Ehh - average.

Mouthfeel is, well, certainly not "Nitrogen Conditioned" (which I don't care for anyways), but somewhat slick and a bit watery.

Drinkability is ok, the bitterness slowed me down, and it's not too memorable at this point, but I've got another in the cellar, so lets see what a year or two does for it...
Served at cellar temp (55F).

Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Obtained in trade from WeisGuy.

Lightproof black colored beer with a smallish brown head.

Lightly sweet with the usual chocolate and coffee aroma you would expect. Pretty good aroma and a trace of char and smoke in it. Detectable ethanol carries a bit of berry scent.

The taste starts out sweet with a definite mouth full of patent malt all roasted and charred, chocolate comes in as the aftertaste. Every sip begins with a bittersweet burned sugar flavor. This gets a bit sweeter as you sip it. Nothing extra here just a RIS that is a bit sweet and a little more bitter than most.

Mouthfeel is OK.

OK drinkability I just wish it had more subtleties to it. This is OK just not a Stone or Three Floyd's level RIS though.

Photo of Westsidethreat
4.18/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a thin looking deep dark brown color with a tremendous inch tall roasted marshmallow colored head. Its really too dark to see if there is any bubble movement going on inside.

S: Lot of hops roaming around in this beer. The sprucy hops mix in with powdered cocoa, peanuts, deep roasted barley and a heavy dose of alcohol if inhaled to heavily.

T: We start this one off with oily bittersweet chocolate and sappy hops. This holds for a few seconds before woody characteristics bridge the gap into an intense chocolate milkshake flavors. From here, the roasted barley takes front stage. The roasted traits offer some aspects of espresso, charred wood and burnt cookie dough. Finishes dry and satisfying with hops lingering across the palate.

M: Medium body with a thick mouthfeel when the carbonation hits.

D: Not bad beer. I like the complexity it offers as well as the balance that’s provided by the variation of flavors.

Photo of CWiggins
3.13/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This one pours very dark--near black--into my pint glass. The two-finger, dark-tan head is thick and foamy, and is retained for a good while. Alcohol is certainly present in the aroma; dark malts, coffee, and bittersweet chocolate are there as well. Not knowing this was in the "Russian Imperial Stout" style category, I was expecting more of an American Stout, only with a little more body and alcohol. My initial impression was of a nice, dark stout with a slightly sweet front and an surprisingly bitter finish. What I realized upon a deeper taste was more interesting. There are characteristics of roasted malts, dark South American coffee, and dark cacao here. The front is certainly sweeter than the rest of the flavor and betrays flavors of dark, ripe fruits. This sweetness mellows very quickly, and the finish is quite hoppier than I expected. The texture changes over time as well: in the earliest stage, this one is thick and creamy, but it becomes lean at the finish.

It's not as "big" as many of the Russian Imperial Stouts I've tasted; it's simply not as sweet. So what?! It's a very good brew. This and Eel River's Triple Exultation would be enough to satisfy the most discerning beer drinker's palate for some time. Enjoy!

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

Review # 300

Pours an opaque darkness with a full finger dark tan head that resists fading. Nice sheets of lacing in its wake. The smell is a combination of chocolate, roast malt and coffee over an element of liquor. Full bodied, the mouth feel is creamy and smooth with an expressive vanilla bourbon charm. The flavor is similar; a light roast malt and chocolate with a taste of warming bourbon. The apparent intoxicant permits a lingering spiciness. That means "I like this one...a lot". Join me. Thank you drunkmonk for the opportunity.

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

The Raven's Eye comes in an Ed Allen Poe's ominous label with no freshness date. It pours an opal darkness that looks delicious with a small foam head. It has the smell of toasted malts and dark chocolate. The flavor is nice and smooth and chewy taste. It is a good Russian Imperial.

Photo of rallison
4.18/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Arrived today from Liquid Solutions - always like to see an under $5 bomber of RIS. Pours the standard dark black, with a decent 1 finger tan head that does actually leaves a nice coating and lacing. Looking closer, I can actually see a touch of red - tis not a jet black RIS. Smell is of roasted coffee and molasses...looks like this one won't be quite as sweet.

Taste is of roasted coffee, molasses and a touch of prunes. Relatively sharp bite from some hops at the end as well. A bit of chocolate is in here as well, but the focus is on the roasted coffee and hops. Alcohol seems to be slightly present but not overwhelming.

Mouthfeel is rich enough, but doesn't satisfy me like a Bell's Expedition either. Drinkability is good enough.

Overall, recommended. A perfectly fine RIS at $4.50/bottle, but also somewhat forgettable. I'd say this falls in the second tier category - good, but without anything that truly stands out.

Photo of ncvbc
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour was nearly pitch black and a beautiful tan head that started small and rose greatly. Only drawback being a little much carbonation.

Smell was roasted malts, cocoa, and a little hop bitterness.

Nice taste. Dark coffee with bittersweet chocolate. A nice caramel flavor also comes through and wasn't so up front in the nose. Again a decent hop presence which is pretty grassy.

Mouthfeel is nice and medium and the carbonation seen in the pour has settled some. A bitterness followed by a slight alcohol burn.

Drinkability is also good. My only complaint being a little too much alcohol coming through with this beer compared to others in its class.

It kind of reminds me of a Sam Smith Imp. Stout that has been beefed up a bit. Not bad at all but not at the top of the list for me either.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.2/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Darkest mahogany with a sliver of dark gold along the bottom edge of the glass. I planned to use the word 'raven' in the description, but the beer isn't black so much as extremely dark brown. The good-sized crown is the color of golden brown sugar and is lightly creamy. By the way, how the hell can a bottled beer (without a widget) be 'nitrogen conditioned'?

Eel River has flat-out nailed the nose, just like they've nailed the appearance. Raven's Eye is hugely roasted, with all the olfactory goodies that implies. Melted bittersweet chocolate and blackstrap molasses are slightly more prominent than black coffee. This sucker is going to be delicious, there's no doubt about it.

It may not be as big, as burly or as darkly pungent as the best American-brewed RISs, but this is unquestionably a wonderful version. One mouthful is all it takes to tell me that these guys have talent, so it's all the more surprising that the rest of their lineup (those that I've had) is... uh... less than stellar.

The flavor profile mirrors the nose, with a few additions. I'm now enjoying black licorice and a surprisingly amount of citric and pine-soaked hoppiness. I guess it shouldn't be so surprising that a California brewery has a thing for the little green cones. There are no flaws in terms of the amount and the quality of the well-roasted flavor.

Even though it's coming together more as it warms, the mouthfeel isn't quite plushcious enough to earn the big score. It's supremely smooth, however, and is a joy to drink. I'll use the drinkability score to reflect the fact that the previous two attributes are a fraction more impressive than their scores would indicate. Nitrogen conditioning? I'm still not buying it.

Having had four Eel River offerings prior to today, it's hard to believe that Raven's Eye Imperial Stout hails from the same brewery. It's an excellent RIS that impresses in any number of ways. I think I'll finish the bomber and then find a soft place to land.

Photo of acrawf6
4.2/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out black with just a little light coming out in the edges of the glass with a tan head and nice lacing.

Smell. IT is a subtle aroma that is not potent. Coffee is a dominant characteristic with some dark and bitter chocolate. Under that is just a touch of licorice.

Taste. There is a heavy roasted malt flavor to this, and a touch of burnt to it as well. Quick tastes of black coffee come, but diminish quickly, as well as the dark chocolate flavor. I think the beer sweetens as it warms in my mouth. Aftertaste is when i get a small kick of the alcohol, and a touch of the licorice kicks up, but not too much.

Mouthfeel. Body is full, but i cant decide if it is on the creamy side or slick side. I guess it is creamy b/c it is an imp stout, but slick for being one. Carbonation is at a proper level. Balance seems nice with the malts and hops coming through nicely.

Overall, I like this stout. Not my favorite, but is not one of two that i can get on a somewhat normal basis (old rasputin is the other). I like the subtleness of this beer- flavor is potent, but still mild and very drinkable. I will happily get this again, though i dont think it competes with the top ones in the style.

Photo of flexabull
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received this bottle from brentk56, thanks again!

Pours a flat black color with a nice large tan head. Very nice looking beer!

Aromas are subtle, smells like cereal grains, malts, and a bit of cocoa.

Tastes of espresso beans and roasted dark malts. Finish is of bitter cocoa and a bit of a kick from the alcohol. Overall it's a pretty smooth, well balanced, and kind of mellow tasting.

Nice full supple and smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability is good, this is a nice RIS. A bit on the subtle side, but it still tasty and it's a easy beer to sip.

Photo of GClarkage
4.78/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

04/23/07- Purchased at Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA.

Presentation- 22oz bottle with no freshness info. $5.99 at Ledger's.
Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Deep black in color. Maybe a reddish hue when tilted towards the side on top. 1/2 inch brown semi-creamy head. Leaves behinds some streaks and trails of lacing.

Smell- Fairly heavy and rich mildly burnt malt with notes of chocolate, coffee, maybe some dark fruits and dirt (earthy).

Taste- WOW! This is one incredible tasting stout. Huge chocolate and esresso flavors meld wonerfully together. Maybe some chocolate covered dark berries play and frolic in your mouth as well. A tad smoky, but not a real burnt taste. A lovely sweet texture as well.

Mouthfeel- Truly creamy due to the fact that it was nitrogenated according to the bottle. Rich, velvety and lighter carbonated. Sweet, but not too sticky. About perfect.

Drinkability- You can feel the hefty alcohol hit a bit more than I'd like, but otherwise it's damn top notch. By FAR the best beer from Eel River I have ever had and maybe a top 10 all time of any beer for me. Have to track down a bunch more of these. Look out Stone RIS and Speedway...you've got company.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a typical pitch black with a half finger dark tan head that melts very quickly to a ring of sticky tan lacing.
Aroma is a mild coffee and chocolate mix.
Mouthfeel is creamy, thick and rich.
Taste is again a typical IS espresso and dark bitter chocolate with a nice malt sweetness balancing the bitterness of espresso coffee and bittersweet chocolate.
Aftertaste is mostly the bittersweet chocolate with a nice alcohol warming.
Not a spectacular Imperial Stout, but not bad by any means.
This one is very balanced with no surprises and no disappointments.
An excellent 'go to' Imperial Stout if it is available to you.
Thanks to beautiful kolohoe for this bottle (and another to cellar..woo hoo!)

Raven's Eye Imperial Stout from Eel River Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 285 ratings.