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Imperial Java Stout - Santa Fe Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Imperial Java StoutImperial Java Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

203 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 203
Hads: 882
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 21.8%
Wants: 88
Gots: 150 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Santa Fe Brewing Company visit their website
New Mexico, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: goochpunch on 03-31-2007

This is the kind of beer that gives the word "stout" a reputation. Extra generous quantities of barley malt, followed by vigorous fermentation leaves this "imperial" heavy weight with 8% alcohol A.B.V. and a body as full as chocolate bread pudding. A complimentary and complex array of bitter notes comes form potent American hops, earthy British hops, black-roasted malts and, of course, coffee. Santa Fe Brewing Company uses only top-quality ingredients like organically grown East Timor coffee beans blended with New Guinea coffee beans, locally roasted by O'hori's Coffee House. Its heavenly flavor and aroma can't be beat or imitated.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 203 | Hads: 882
Photo of jzeilinger
4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pitch black pour and a thin toffee colored lacing ring.

S - Lots of dark chocolate and Espresso/coffee on the nose.

T - Dark chocolate and coffee beans from start to finish with a little bit of char, deep roasted malt

M - Full body, thick, frothy, and leaves a dark roasted malt coating in the mouth.

O - Very enjoyable.

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Photo of OrestesMethuon
3.14/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a fourteen-ounce tulip out of a twelve-ounce can that is (as is standard with Santa Fe Brewing) very simply and sleekly decorated. The result of the initial pour: a massive, sudsy mushroom-cloud of head, milky-khaki and oddly pitted or clumpy, but generally impressive and requiring two distinct pours from the can. The depletion is surprisingly fairly quick—down to a thin, eighth-inch creamy ring—but the lacing is sticky and pervasive down the tulip's rotund edges.

A bit of a metallic, aseptic, "off" quality dominates the faintest of café odors across what is, overall, a very limited and initially listless nose; as the stout airs, a little more coffee (and a little less "clouds taste metallic" defect) is detectable from atop the ale.

From the first sip, it becomes apparent that some of the coppery "off" notes are likely not "defects" but aspects of this stout—either derived from the coffees blended into the beer, as I find most likely, or from the "earthy British hops" or deep roasting of the malts. (It may also have arisen, in part, from some undesirable aging, as this beer is listed as a "winter" seasonal, and I purchased my six-pack on 18 August.) Irrespective of the source, these less-pleasant characteristics—as with the nose—subside after exposure to atmosphere, though never entirely departing.

Aside from these metallic impressions, the main melody of this beer is "bitter": coffee bitters, burnt-grain bitters, and herbaceous, damp forest-detritus (but pine-absent) hop-bitters all swirl throughout the creamy (but on the thinner side, for a stout) body of this stout. This decision definitely delegates a lot of bite to each sip, and likewise buries the alcohol behind a storm of various palate-smacking bitters, both subtle and pronounced, both dark and deep and grassy and gritty. However, while there is some good, nicely-restrained residual sugar allotted by the malts, the coffee and the multi-faceted hopping unfortunately don't provide much beyond the aforementioned—and, true to the patter's promise, complex—bittering.

Ultimately, I'd like to try this effort again, ideally a little geographically nearer and a lot temporally closer to the source. But even if the sniffing-a-nickel, sucking-on-a-penny characteristics *were* to be defects (either of canning or aging), I'm nevertheless skeptical I'd raise my score all too much: while Santa Fe's Imperial Java Stout is much too richly and variably bitter to be called "one-note," its very much "one-chord": many notes, but all firmly residing in a single register; complex, but in a narrow way; good at one thing, but all too reliant on only that thing.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Cursory review from brief notes. On tap at Eske Brewing - served in a nonic.

Opaque bistre body, wheat head, sandy lacing, good retention.

Low coffee aroma, fruity, roasty...

Low bitterness, moderate sweetness, medium finish, some herbal/baking spice notes from hops - perhaps a touch of diacetyl.

A little thin bodied, though the ABV is well concealed.

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Photo of MuFugga
4.28/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I would say this is an underrated beer just due to that its a New Mexico beer. Has a very good coffee flavor and a real nice mouth feel. The 8% abv is well hidden. This beer is a nice value at $9 at six pack when most similar beers are $10 or more a four pack. Can definitely hold its own against a even FBS. I only wish the availability stretched beyond the southwest. Try it if you see it!

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Photo of Suds
3.35/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

This brew is utterly black, with a thin tan head. The smell is of highly roared grain and coffee. The taste is dry and acrid, and has a homebrew quality, it is somewhat acidic, but has a complexity as well. Medium to full in body. Just okay.

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Photo of tomfitz18
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Beer itself thick and dark black. It had about an inch of tan creamy head. Left some lacing on the glass.
S: Smelled strongly of coffee, chocolate, and some caramel malt.
T: Tasted like mocha, then sweet with the chocolate, then slightly malty, and maybe a little vanilla at the end.
F: Kind of thick, very smooth on the palate, low carbonation, a pretty full mouth feel, and well balanced.
O: I really like this beer! I was very impressed by it. I had it after a long morning of exhausting mountain bike riding and it kept me up and feeling good the rest of the day. I could see this be a great morning beer. Also, I love that it comes in a can.

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Photo of stephens101
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Slick black with a dark tan froth.

Aroma consists of fresh roasted coffee beans, milk chocolate, fresh-baked chocolate cake and black licorice. Fresh and dessert-like.

Creamy on the palate with a mocha middle and a dark chocolate and lingering pine finish.

Soft and inviting with a medium to heavy body.

A consummate and flavorful post-prandial beverage that will leave room for more libations if needed.

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Photo of krrockwe
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer yesterday, and I was surprised by how good it tasted. Had it early afternoon and will definitely be buying this one for a camping trip

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Photo of emyers
3.99/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz. can poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours near black with a thin medium brown head.

Smell: Coffee dominates the nose. Some cocoa powder, hints of caramel malt.

Taste: Once again, coffee is the dominant flavor. Some vanilla bean, milk chocolate, caramel malt. Just a tad rough around the edges flavor-wise and has a bit of lingering alcohol flavor, but the base flavors are all very solid.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, pretty smooth on the palate.

Overall: Certainly not the same caliber of a Founders Breakfast Stout (which I find it difficult not to compare other coffee stouts to), but a very solid offering nonetheless.

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Photo of SomethingClever
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz can poured into Spiegelau glass

A: super dark big head but it disappeared quickly some light escapes the corners

S: tons of coffee some light caramel lots of roast

T: pure coffee its a better coffee taste than most beers it actually tastes like coffee rather than the way roasted beans smell the coffee has a rich slightly sweet taste

M: medium to slightly fuller its not super thick but its still pleasing maybe its oily so it still coats the tongue a little

O: This is probably one of the easiest drinking coffee beers I've ever had and the best overall coffee taste. It puts FBS to shame.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce can that one of my friends gave to me. No date that I can find on it. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with almost an inch tan head that stayed around for a bit. There's also a small amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells mostly like coffee but there's also some burnt/charred malt, caramel and some bittersweet chocolate noticeable. For the most part I think the taste is pretty much like the aroma, but there's also some vanilla flavor. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's smooth and easy to drink with a moderate amount of carbonation. I thought this was a good coffee stout. Glad I got to try it, but also disappointed I won't get to try this again soon since Santa Fe Brewing doesn't distribute here. Definitely worth picking up if you come across some!

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Photo of BrownAleBollocks
4.04/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours black with a one finger cream color head. Aroma is like a bag of unground coffee beans. Taste is super coffee forward, but not harsh or ashy. Mouthfeel is thin to medium, a bit lacking for a stout, but not bad. Overall a very coffee forward stout that is pretty darn good, I would like a touch more balance though.

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Photo of coltonbrimhall
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

- nice head but didnt last long but black beer :)
- smell is all coffee and burnt malt notes
-taste is very coffee strong maybe some light chocolate and burnt malts
- feel is thick and chewy
- overall a really good beer always a good choice, my top pick for coffee beers :)

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Photo of WesMantooth
3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a coffee mug, so appearance is what I see coming out of the can. Very dark brown to black. Fairly viscous, with a fluffy/frothy tan head that all but disappears entirely, leaving a very small ring with some tight, tiny bubbles around the outside.

Aroma is ashy smelling. Mainly burnt malt barley and coffee beans.

Slightly sweet initially, with chocolate and caramel malts. Then it turns to bitter coffee and that deep burnt taste. Like the stuff that you have to scrape off the bottom of your pot when you have left a soup/chili sit too long. Very, very, very ashy. It seems to be improving as I make my way through it. Honestly not sure if it is temperature related, or the bitterness is starting to numb my taste buds. Either way, it is better toward the end.

Body is outstanding. Very silky and almost chewy. A little bit too much carbonation maybe as there is an initial crisp zing to it.

This is really close to being an outstanding beer. If I didnt have the aftertaste like I had just stuck my tongue in an ashtray, I would have been in the 4 range on taste and overall. It is just a little too rough for me though. If you are someone who likes a super black, super roasted coffee, you may want to give it a ride. It is still a very good beer overall.

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Photo of wedge6128
2.11/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

I rarely say this as I find most beers to be to weak and love a good dark stout but this beer is way to strong. Its almost unbearable. The taste is like drinking a carbonated Black coffee with no sugar or dream and only the slight hint of a Stout beer flavor. In theory this was a great idea for a beer but in practice it is pretty bad.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.96/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours near black with a dark khaki colored 2 finger head. Fair retention, breaking down to a thin, broken layer of surface suds and a fat ring around the edge. Lacing does well to cling in spots all around the glass.

Smell - Your typical coffee-infused brew aroma here; iced coffee with light chocolate and caramel notes.

Taste - Follows the nose. Coffee with caramel and light chocolate undertones. Finish is much the same, with just a touch more coffee roast.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full in body with moderate carbonation. Silky texture, going down smooth and easy.

Overall - Falls in with most of the coffee-infused brews, which is to say completely tasty but nothing breakthrough in terms of something different. They all pretty much taste the same. If you're looking for a java stout, you can't go wrong with this one, but same can be said for most.

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Photo of humuloner22
4.4/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received this one as an extra from trade. Poured from plain brown can. I like the minimalist design!

Appearance: Dark as night, very much like you would expect from a stout. Large frothy head with some light caramel notes, more on the side of butterscotch in color. Body is not completely light evading but it is very dark. You can see some light around the edges if you look closely.

Aroma: Dark roasted grains, some caramel and vanilla in the aroma. Coffee seemed to be very dominant when I first opened the beer but as time went on it faded.

Taste: Well balanced bitter dark coffee notes and some sweet to balance it out, really well made coffee stout. Reminds me a lot of one from my local area.

Overall: I love coffee stouts and I am happy I had the opportunity to try this one. It was very well made. I would certainly seek this one out again and I would like to make a trip to the Land of Enchantment to try some of their other breweries, I hear they are doing some really cool things down there!

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Photo of Foxybrau
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A little underwhelmed by this beer. Definitely has the look and strength of a stout, but missing the subtlety. I wasn't intrigued at all by either the smell or taste. Very coffee and alcohol forward so there's nowhere to go after that. If you're looking for 8% espresso this is it; and it's tasty by those standards, but doesn't hold up against many other coffee-centric stouts in overall quality.

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Photo of DIPA10
4.95/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Outstanding. Definitely one of the best coffee stouts I've had (of many). Very pronounced coffee aroma and flavor in a smooth, rich stout. If you like strong coffee and hearty stouts, you need to try this.

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Photo of Rock360
4.62/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Great beer! Got a 6 pack on sale and really glad I picked it.

Did not pour it, drank from the can so look and smell are just educated guesses (I suppose it looks like a dark stout). Smell from the can is ok, stouts really aren't the greatest smelling imo but this stout you can smell some nice coffee aroma and a complex but good blend. Taste is very good with very nice feel. Very good beer and stouts are not really my thing other than here and there and in the fall maybe like October (I'm not big on October style heavily malted/barley flavored beer, stouts are ok though, have some complexity to them).

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Photo of kanthalot
4.58/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had my doubts coming out of a can. This was a gift from my next door neighbor. I was very impressed with the color, the pour, most importantly the taste. This is a beer that I would drink again.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12oz can into a pint glass. My first New Mexico beer!

Appearance: rich brown hue with a murky haze and a thick finger of pillowy tan foam. Quite attractive.

Smell: smooth and chocolatey stout base with a pungent coffee aroma. A bit sharp, but I like it.

Taste: a bit roasty and a little chocolatey with a big, rough coffee flavor. I mean, it's good, but it lacks finesse.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a good carbonation and a great creaminess. I like it quite a lot.

Overall: this beer is pretty good, but the roughness of the coffee element just gets to me in a not-so-good way.

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Photo of Iluvink
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

I almost looked past this stout, because it was in a can. But, I am glad that I didn't.

Pours with a nice, somewhat minimalist head. Just right. Tastes of coffee, expresso really, and gives subtle nasal notes to the same.

I really enjoyed this stout. Definitely not a session beer, at not for least for me.

If I had a wish, it would be for this much flavor, and just a tad bit less abv, and I could enjoy a few at a time, without issue.

Still a great coffee stout.

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Photo of BeerActivatesNrf2
4.94/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So many coffee stouts fail to give a potent coffee flavor. This one gives a strong espresso feel. If you like coffee and beer, this is the beer for you.

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz can, poured into a snifter at approximately 50 degrees F.

Appearance: Pours a slightly clear dark brown,rather light for a coffee stout, and forms a massively thick light tan head that hangs around for a while. It leaves lacing on the glass while it slowly dissipates down to a cap. Eventually, the head vanishes completely, and the beer looks almost exactly like a cup of light roast coffee sans any form of cream.

Smell: Deep roast and rich coffee scents mingle above a sweetness that doesn't seem to be entirely malt-derived. There's a hint of something akin to chicory lurking in there as well - I'd expect that from a New Orleans-based brewery before a Santa Fe brewery, but I'll take it.

Taste: The aroma does not disappoint here, as the beer delivers exactly what was promised by the nose. The flavor profile opens with roasted malt and light coffee in abundance, mingled with a slight touch of bitter baking chocolate. Notes of chicory echo around the edges as the brew moves along the palate, and the coffee bitterness fades as a sugary sort of sweetness begins to manifest. It never quite overtakes the coffee bitter, but balances it out by the finish. I can't find any alcohol taste at all, so well done there, Santa Fe!

Mouthfeel: Aside from temperature, this beer actually feels like drinking black coffee.

Overall: Not a bad go at a coffee stout, with the emphasis on coffee rather than stout. I would drink this again.

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Imperial Java Stout from Santa Fe Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 203 ratings.