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Imperial Stout - Mendocino Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Imperial StoutImperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

79 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 79
Hads: 179
Avg: 3.89
pDev: 9%
Wants: 9
Gots: 18 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company visit their website
United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: allboutbierge on 09-04-2010

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (37) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 79 | Hads: 179
Photo of beagle75
2.88/5  rDev -26%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Opaque black color with less than one finger of diminishing beige foam head. Light lacing remains and bubbles are seen to rise through the column right against the glass.

S: Roast is intense in the nose, with dark fruit and lesser charcoal also detectable. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins dry, with urgent carbonic acidity followed by thin dark fruit. Roasted malt emerges into the middle, very husky and dry. The finish is moderately bitter, not really standing out among others of the style, with dark chocolate adding interest. No alcohol is detected.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, acidic on the palate to the point of discomfort, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: This beer is mostly unremarkable for the style, harboring an unappealing level of acidity that ought to be avoided at all costs in the crafting of one of such a dark and decadent style. Its lack of alcohol qualities is a high point, making it more drinkable. If it wasn't for the acidity, it could have been a genuinely good imperial stout.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.14/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

My first Mendocino Imperial anything. Probably the first of a few... It pours a straight obsidian topped by a finger of light-ish brown foam. The nose comprises buttery biscuits, light char, rubber, black coffee, roasted malts, and I think there's some molasses way in the back there. Things are dominated by the biscuits, though, which comes off as rather strange to me. The taste holds notes of roasted malts, light coffee, charcoal, light bitter dark chocolate, and a touch of buttery toffee. The body is a soft medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a fairly smooth feel. Overall, an okay impy stout at best, one that smells off, tastes decent, and feels too light and fluffy. I'd pass on this one, given a second chance.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.16/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appears pitch black large tan head fine even lacing. Aroma has some dark hoppy contents pine citrus dark chocolate moccha notes. Flavor is a bit harsh dark acrid black roasted malts. Harsh bitterness dark fruits hints of butterscotch that don't meld very well. Finish is rediculous with a harsh unbalanced bitterness, some hops come through pine/citrus/herbal that don't work well with the whole experience. Mouthfeel is cloying from front to back, I'm not really feelin this dark beer. Carbonation is unrelenting, on the high end fo the style becomes a bit cloying especially as this warms up a bit. Drinkability, after a second bottle I had on hand I revisited not as horrible as my first gut reaction was, a decent impy stout that just wasn't meshing for me on mouthfeel and flavor the clashing of the sweet sided traditional dark fruits more of a west coast hop profile coming through for me.

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.26/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle at 48 degrees into a Stone IRS tulip.

A: It pours pitch black with an inch of khaki head that has average retention but excellent lacing.

S: Burnt malts, smoke, and charred oak all over with a little nuttiness mixed in.

T: Charcoal pit, some dark chocolate, strong coffee, and roasted nuts.

M: The body is medium-thick with below average carbonation.

D: It is like an Imperial Stout mixed with a Rauchbier.

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Photo of mdvatab
3.3/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter.

Aroma: Dark espresso, red grape juice, and powdered cocoa. Very fruity with a slight mineral note.

Appearance: Pitch black. Pours like motor oil. Thick 1 finger tan head collapses to creamy layer.

Flavor: Mineral, slight metallic note, red grape juice, and a hint of phenolic band-aid. Espresso bitterness quickly appears, and lingers long through the finish.

Mouthfeel: Med-full mouthfeel and medium-low carbonation.

Overall: Definitely not my favorite Imperial stout... Mouthfeel was there, but the aroma was intriguing at best. Meanwhile, the flavor was a bit harsh, and the brew had some flaws. I'd give it another chance down the road, but for now, this is not something that I'm going to seek out.

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Photo of bramsdell
3.34/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle to imp pint glass.

A: ~1 inch, dark tan head. Foamy and rich, looks like expresso. Body is pretty much black and doesn't really change color when held up to light. Not much in the way of lacing.

S: Two flavors immediately spring out: burnt expresso and sweet grape-like aromas. Suffers from some of the problems of many imperial stouts in that the alcohol starts to come out at the same time as a sweetness that has clearly been placed there to hide the booze.

T: Burnt and sweet. The immediate flavor, just like the smell, is a charred coffee taste. Very much like a cafe Americano in its burnt, almost over powering flavor. Just as the burnt flavor begins to recede, there comes a malty sweetness that I simply can't get behind. I love a rich malt flavor, but this is not a rich flavor; it is simply a super sweetness to counteract the booze and charred flavors. The two flavors seem to stand quite separate from one another and never really mesh the way that they should.

M: Feels fine. It's as thick as it is dark with very low carbonation. There isn't much to complain or rave about here.

O: It's an average imperial stout. If every company didn't make an imperial stout, it might be something to talk about, but I've had a dozen stouts of this abv and darkness that I have preferred. Not a bad beer, just not a great beer of a style that demands greatness.

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Photo of swierczt
3.39/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured into goblet, jet black, outside light does not permeate this offering. A little head, one finger thick, coffee colored. Short retention and only a light lacing left behind on the glass.

S - Roasted malts, a hint coffee, dark fruits are most apparent.

T - A ton of roasted, almost burnt, bitter malts. A touch of smokiness, dark chocolate and coffee. I do not get as much of the dark sweet fruits as detected in the nose. A bit of hops comes through at the end, which was a bit of a surprise.

M - Relatively full bodied, a bit more carbonation than I personally like in the style.

D - Did not notice the 10% ABV in the taste. Was drinkable in the sense that you do not get the warm boozy burn that you would find in other imperial stouts. Overall, a nice imperial stout with a slight hops twist.

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Photo of boudreaux
3.4/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: pours a dark mahogany/black ink; 1.5 finger rocky dark brown/mocha head; reduced to little/no lacing

S: slightly hoppy with salt, plum, toffee, coffee, chocolate, licorice and anise, anise strong ashy roast.

T: strongly bitter and dry, tar and ash and tobacco; nice roast from the slight/weak malt.

M: Medium body a little thin. dry, dusty, roasty, lightly ashen aftertaste is excellent and long; inky with noticeable rounding from the Goldings. Alcohol well hidden, silky slick and oily mouthfeel

D: on the whole, a very enjoyable stout, but lacks that transcendent oomph to set it apart from hundreds of others.

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Photo of KajII
3.48/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

[Suggested Glassware: Snifter]

The pour was a muddy ebony black with a slight ruby hue and a medium cocoa brown head that bordered between average and large, which did recede down to a nice thick film creating some fair runny lacing.

The aroma was of roasted dark bread malts, light floral hops and a meaty leathery yeast with notes of toffee, chocolate, coffee, dark fruit (raisons and prunes) and just a hint of licorice.

The taste was a roasty bitter sweet with hints of chocolate and toffee early on, progressing with a mild hoppy bitterness, a touch of fruit, a bold coffee presence, a bit of licorice and a noticeable alcohol tinge right at the end. The flavor lasted a very long time following the swallow with a bitter roasty alcohol taste left lingering for quite a while longer.

Mouthfeel was full in body and dry in texture with a good strong carbonation, which is kind of unusual in a stout.

Overall this was a unique Imperial Stout with a bitter sweet fruitiness and a bold roastiness, which worked very well together along with the smooth alcohol flavor making this an enjoyable brew to sip on....


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Photo of jdense
3.5/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12. oz. bottle purchased in Boise, shared with beer buddy in The Big Feb 2012.

One finger rolling Guinness like head medium brown, fast dissipation with uneven layer of head retained. Some chocolate in the nose, more nibs than dark, roast becomes more assertive once it warms, light citrus hops. The roast is more prevalent than chocolate and hops are muted at best. Mouthfeel medium, decent effervescence, ABV well hidden. A decent non-barrel aged RIS though lacks depth of flavor, drinkability helps overall score.

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Photo of righthereisay
3.51/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tervis tumbler mug.

Smell: Wow, very intense. Most intense smell of any "beer" I've ever had. Dark fruits, kind of like a dark belgium. Not like other imperial stouts.

Pours black, with little a dark brown head that stays for about 1 minute. Rather thick in my opinion.

Taste: Hmm. Dark chocolate, dark fruits, nice roasted malts, with a mild bitter finish.

This beer actually hurt my throat a little. Maybe that is the alcohol (which you cannot taste). This could give you heart burn.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.54/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Jet black and a thick, cough syrup-cherry cola head on it 1.5" in depth, dense bubble structure, was so close to getting a perfect 5, it only needed a kickass lace job, instead, it was merely good. Aroma was roasty, a tad astringent. Was kinda expecting some dark fruit, chocolate or sweet aromas, but they weren't really there.

Taste, a substantial beer, the alcohol is there but isn't confrontational or oppressive, you can get through it pretty well. Really would think this could have a little more sugar or something sweet to help it along. I guess if you're looking for a 10% imperial stout for less than 10$ a 4pack, this is a good choice, and isn't going to have all kinds of confusing nuances for people. I mean, this is a way better deal than Darkness, it just doesn't have all the bells and whistles.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.55/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a pitch black color. The head is two fingers high with a tan shade. Retention wise, it's about what I expect from 10%, maybe a bit better. I really like the head's dense, cakey texture, though. A solid ring of lacing is left on the glass.

S: The nose seems to be heavy on the licorice, which isn't my preferred taste for an imperial stout. While there is a good roasted (almost coffee-esque) characteristic along with some piny hops, I really think the licorice could be toned down a bit. It smells big to be sure, but not really that boozy. Still, I'm left wishing for some stronger specialty notes like chocolate or dark fruit.

T: Oh wow, this one is nicely roasty. The thing is, though, the roast pretty much sneaks up on the palate and doesn't properly appear until right before the swallow. When it does hit, though, it really works its magic like a champ. Some initial notes of licorice, coffee, smoke, and even piny hops appear before the roasty attack. It's redolent of a European-style imperial stout, with its dry, bitter roastiness and lack of sweetness beyond a bit of baker's chocolate here and there. Honestly, I like that it's bitter instead of sweet. Thought about giving it a 4, but it's missing complexity. The more it warms up, the more a whiskey-like booziness appears (though it never becomes harsh).

M: There's good softness on the palate, though it could be a little denser. It's not intolerably thin - just a bit more slender than the norm. Drinkability is quite good for a 10% RIS, that's for sure. Not much carbonation.

O: The nose left me a bit cold, to be frank. Luckily, it tastes much better. It's not an amazing RIS per se, but it's certainly a good one. I have a feeling this one will get lost in the shuffle; still, it's worth trying again.

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Photo of drpimento
3.56/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured at a good temperature with a large, tan, foamy, frothy, thick head that settles after a bit and some lace. Color, with aid of my trusty iPhone flashlight, appears to an almost opaque, but clear, very dark, almost black ruby red. Aroma is malt, roast, burnt, toffee, old coffee, cocoa. Flavor's like nose, fairly dry, and bitter, a little carbonic tang and also a little salt. Body is creamy & decent except for some clashing high points from salt, burnt bitter. Finish is like flavor, good length, a bit boozy, and one is enough.

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Photo of IKR
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very dark brown with a modest-sized medium beige head that faded fairly quickly.

Smell: Predominately coffee/roast malt notes. maybe a touch of brown sugar notes.

Taste: Primarily roasted malt notes for the most part, with maybe a hint of brown sugar from the nose. The beer finishes dry with some slight astringency. The alcohol presence is subtle for the ABV.

Mouth-feel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation for the style.

Overall: Not bad, especially considering the price but not a mind blower.

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Photo of jera1350
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Solid black color with a thinner body and a nice cap of brown foam that looks quite rich and has lasting ability.

Not the strongest nose, but it does present some chocolatey malt with a cream sweetness and a touch of hops. A little bit of a Cocoa Puffs and milk smell.

Toasty malt presence dominates with a little bit of a chocolate presence. Some alcohol peeks in as well. Really lacks depth and complexity. Tasty, but one dimensional really.

The feel is extremely creamy and foamy from the head. Frothy and fuller feeling, but the body does not feel like a ten percent beer.

A nice attempt at an RIS and a good beer, but really not all that interesting for the style. As mentioned earlier, lacks complexity. Worth a shot though.

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Photo of skandha
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is inky dark with a small amount of orange-tan lace.

Smell has some pleasant raisin notes with sweet hickory smoke pervading.

Taste: Cocoa sweetness with a through-and-through bitterness that, after some settling, I really came to enjoy. It's a little surprising at first, but I've been plagued recently with stouts and trippels that come up cloying for all their syrupy fruits and spice. There is a slightly acrid tang on the finish that I didn't like, but overall the bitter-effect was welcome.

Mouthfeel: smooth with moderate carbonation.

Overall: a tasty, affordable stout. The pervasive bitterness is a structural element that I appreciated, but it strays a little too far in the end.

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Photo of zeff80
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a small, one-finger head of light brown foam. It had thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled roasty with notes of chocolate, toffee and caramel.

T - It tasted of chocolate, toffee and some sweet caramel notes. It had a good roasted character with some bitterness.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

D - This is an okay RIS. Not the best that I've ever had but it was worth a try.

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Photo of nickapalooza86
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes some time in December 11

Poured into snifter from an undated bottel. It pours a jet black very thick looking with no head in sight.

Smell is typical stout, chocolate, malt and a small burnt coffee.

The taste is where this one gets tricky it starts out with chocolate roasted malts but at the back end you get a strange smoky or acid taste.

Very thick feel in the mouth

This is an ok imp stout just there are better options. Do not get me wrong I have 3 left and will enjoy them but maybe with a little age the strange but not bad aftertaste will mellow out a little.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle - $2.49 at Hop City in Atlanta, Georgia.

Appearance: Displays a black body with an official inch of dark khaki-colored head with some slight creaminess evident.

Smell: Charred, roasted malts tossed with moist citrus peels, pine chips, licorice twists, and baker's chocolate chunks. Ashen coffee and dark fruits come secondary, and a bit of sweetish caramel falls last in terms of effusiveness.

Taste: Roasty-toned and bittersweet chocolate tasting malts at the opening with a bit of caramel perking up as the roastiness levels out. Medium sweetness. A cup of cafe americano spiked with a sneaky little pinch of licorice. Lightly underlying woodsy character precludes hop tastes of citrus and modest pine with a moderate bitterness cutting through the malts and sweetness, though it is ultimately aided by the charry roastiness. Sip of red currant juice somebody flicked a cigarette butt into. Roasty finish with some alcohol warmth that grows fruitier as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Overall: It's decent, it's drinkable, but with more and more breweries pumping out more and more beers, does that really even cut it anymore? Maybe, maybe not.

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Photo of chinchill
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours brown tinged black; opaque with a thin tan head (despite a rather vigorous pour) that has moderate retention but leaves little lacing.

S - Dark roasted malts, of course; hints of coffee and chocolate, not unexpected; but a surprise: dark fruits, mainly figs, are quite pronounced. High ABV rather hidden, at least before warming.

T (3.8) - Strong dark roasted malt flavor, with some burnt tinge and a touch of smokiness; spicy hops are also obvious here; more than expected. Hints of dark fruits (although less obvious than in the nose), dark chocolate and coffee, with the coffee coming clearly in the finish and aftertaste. A trace of dryness and hops in the finish. High ABV is well hidden.

M - Full bodied; with suitable carbonation.

O - Almost too rich, but a good sipper with well-hidden alcohol.

(light revision with new bottle in July 2013).

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Photo of biglite351
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - dark as night with a tall brown tight head that leaves a good bit of lacing.

S - rich malts and chocolate with a little fruit in the end. Every beer should smell like this.

T - a lot of fruit, high % chocolates, malts with just a tiny bitter turn at the end.

M - you can feel it on your teeth and a solid tingle on the front of the tongue. Slight alcohol burn in the throat.

D - a bit heavy, but you can have a few.

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Photo of CFHMagnet
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I poured this one aggressively into a snifter. I got just a hint of head that disappeared before I could really get any read on it. It didn't even leave any real ring. No lacing tries to cling to the glass. Body is a deep dark brown.

There is a very pronounced head on this one. Dark fruit, caramel and toffee are very "loud" aromas, having been very noticeable as I poured. Roasted malt is present as well.

Dark fruit and roasted malt are up front. These transition into dark coffee, dark chocolate and hints of slightly over-roasted nuts. Booze comes in and plays around the flavors at the end. As the beer warms there is a hint of dark soda (similar to a Dr Depper or root beer) in the transition from dark fruit to dark chocolate/coffee.

This beer is heavy bodied. Carbonation is about average. The beer coats the mouth very thoroughly.

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Photo of IchLiebeBier
3.79/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Dark chestnut with medium beige head; excellent lacing

Smell: sweet; roasted malts; dried fruits; coffee; chocolate

Taste: Juicy malt on start; quickly hits with dried fruit and bitter grains; alcohol shows up in the mid; finishes slightly bitter, dry and full of chocolatey, bitter grains; coffee-like aftertaste. Not picking up much hop flavors

Mouthfeel: Creamy throughout with slightly viscous feel at the end

Remarks: Pretty excellent overall; a little bitter, but balanced pretty well throughout; complex profille

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Photo of barnzy78
3.79/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, pours jet black with a thin brown head that dissipates quickly and leaves no lacing on the glass. Aromas are bold with dark cocoa, coffee, and anise. Tastes are bold also: espresso, dark chocolate, roasted barley, and anise with a pungent hop finish leaving the palate rather dry and acidic, reminiscent of reduced balsamic vinegar. Alcohol is non-existent. Mouth-feel is full bodied, but the dry acidity takes away from the overall feel. Overall, this seems to be all over the place as far as qualities go. Has some strong points, but has some weaknesses also. Recommendable for a try, but there are better, more balanced RIS's out there.

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Imperial Stout from Mendocino Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 79 ratings.