1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Lagunitas Imperial Stout - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Lagunitas Imperial StoutLagunitas Imperial Stout

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

1,396 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,396
Reviews: 561
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 12.8%
Wants: 46
Gots: 148 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.90% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes/Commercial Description:
2010 8.2% abv

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 08-31-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,396 | Reviews: 561 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cichief
3.48/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a pint glass.

A- Poured a very dark brown, almost black, with a thick tan head, which didn't stay around long.

S- Smells of roasted barley and coffee, sweet.

T- Big coffee flavor, sweetish, with a decent dry finish. Alcohol flavor is present but not overwhelming.

M- Effervescent, lots of good carbonation, but not gassy. Medium to thick in body.

D- Very drinkable, the alcohol isn't over-powering.

cichief, Mar 05, 2008
Photo of ZimZamZoom
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a bomber into a pint glass.

Dark but not black, with some red showing through the edges. Tan head was limited and short lived.

Smells of roasted dark malts, some coffee and chocolate. Not terribly deep in this department. The taste, is roasty and a touch on the alcohol side. Again, not a lot of complexity here. I was hoping for more from this one. Maybe a bit of prune in the taste, but not the darek mysterious fruits that I like to taste in thie style.

Good body, and drinkable for sure. Really maybe a good one to start with if venturing into this style for the first time. I won't go back to it though.

ZimZamZoom, Mar 03, 2008
Photo of dmamiano
3.4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour a deep black color with a fairly big, off white head. Thick lacing left behind the diminishing head.
Smells of dark, roasted sweet malts. Coffee and chocolate come to mind..as well as hints of toffee and ash.
Taste is good, not what was expected for an "impy" stout though...seemed more tame, like a regular stout.
Good beer, but was expecting a little more from the style.

dmamiano, Mar 02, 2008
Photo of Freshie
3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I scoring has been so weird lately. So many beers out of the norm.

Anyway, pours a dark color. Head dissipates quickly. Very discouraging for an imperial stout.

Aroma is good. Roasted, and nutty quality.

Tastes sweet. Coffee like. Roasted malt with a earthy and peaty hops. Its alright, but doesn't knock my socks off, like a Russian imperial should.

Mouthfeel is a bit sticky but alright. Like the roasted coffee flavor.

Decently drinkable.

I need more power!

Freshie, Mar 01, 2008
Photo of sonofdon
4.05/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. brown bomber, given to me by a member of my brew club.

A: Pours just shy of black. Almost a deep, deep ruby brown. Nice head that disapears quickly. Not much lacing.

S: Muted aroma. Maybe to cold. Some slight hop hints. Sweet.

T/M: Nice body. Slight residual sweetness. Some toasted malt and some spicy hops.

D: Very drinkable for 8 1/2%. Not a super challenging beer, but good.

Serving type: bottle

sonofdon, Feb 29, 2008
Photo of schoolboy
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One thing is for sure, Lagunitas is never boring. This one hits you upside the head and says, "HEY, wake up, it's time for a stout beer!"

Like most everything I have tasted from this company, it is on the sweet side, and full bodied. It may get a little nasty towards the end.

It's not really true to the style, but it is better for not being so. Why be like all the rest. This is a unique brew, worth your attention.

schoolboy, Feb 29, 2008
Photo of mcallister
2.15/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A thin shade of near black? Lacks that inky aspect that the best of RIS's possess. A very small tan head fades ever so quickly into a ring around the snifter.

Lacking complexity in the aroma department yet still has a nice smell. Dark chocolate, and dark fruits dominate. Big fruit character for the style, blackberry being the main culprit, with a caramel, vanilla rendering.

Geesh, all I can say is this is dissapointing. Very thin and watery and lacking any substance, depth, or complexity. An odd hop flavor on the finish leaves a chalky bitterness that makes you think "why"? Dark chocolate with less fruit than apparent in the nose. Some alcohol in the chest. Lagu guys should consider a change in recipe on this one.

mcallister, Feb 11, 2008
Photo of MerkinMan
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice fluffy head that calms down after a minute or two -- oh, and it is black (it is a stout).

Nice roasty smell which can be easily perceived after bottle is popped.

Deep roasted taste. At nearly 9& ABV, the alcohol taste is not very apparent. We will see what happens when it warms up a while.

Mouthfeel is big and chunky. It will take me a while to drink this 22oz. This is the body I want all high gravity stouts to have.

A very drinkable high gravity stout. At 3.99 a 22, I will be getting more of this soon, which is no surprise since Lagunitas is quickly becoming one of my very favorite breweries.

MerkinMan, Feb 09, 2008
Photo of Jwale73
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served in an Imperial Pint glass. Poured an opaque dark brown with red highlights. Half-inch coffee-colored head dispersed rather quickly, leaving a thin skim of beer foam. Scent of chocolate malt and dark fruit (reminded me a little bit of the 2006 Killer Penguin I had last week), with a hint of espresso. Taste similar to nose, with the coffee more pronounced and the dark fruit much less so; however, for an RIS, flavor and complexity was somewhat lacking. Effervescent mouthfeel, but lacking a bit in body. Not quite watery, but not as full as I would anticipate with the style. Alcohol was well-hidden, making the brew fairly drinkable, but if you are looking for an RIS this one is a bit on the weak side.

Jwale73, Feb 08, 2008
Photo of pwoods
2.6/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22oz. brown bomber, purchased at Belmont Party Supply in Dayton, poured into a tulip. No dating.

A: Pours nearly pitch black, just a bit of ruby in the back light. Maybe 1 finger worth of light caramel head that dies to a thick skim within a minute. Not much lacing.

S: Smell is very subtle. Some roasted malts that are a bit grainy. Not getting any hops or sweetness... not getting much at all.

T/M: Very plain. Some roasted malts and maybe a touch of molasses. A slight cola taste and maybe licorice? Not not a lot going on... on the bland side. Body is a bit too thin.

D: Lagunitas just didn't get this one right. I'd probably never even think of this brew again.

pwoods, Feb 06, 2008
Photo of theformula
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Beer #22 in my 366 Days of Beer Quest, tasted on 1/22.
So I read the label and this sounds great. I have a Cappucino Stout ready to review as well.

A: Pours a dark amber body into a tulip glass, not as dark as I thought it'd be. A khaki head retains well. Not typical but looks good anyway.

S: The aroma is pretty subdued for an RIS, more like a brown ale of cream stout. What is there is dark-roasted malts w/ brown sugar, caramel, a little lactic tartness and chocolate.

M: Med. body, low carbonation. Extremely soft, smooth body, if not a bit thin for style.

T: A tasty brew for sure, but it seems almost misplaced as a RIS, more of a brown ale. Nutty, chocolate malts make up a decently solid background, balanced by a caramel sweetness, a light hit of grassy hops as well as a green, woody note. Finish is somewhat short w/ grass, cocoa and nuts.

D: Interesting. I wouldn't label this a RIS, as the body, alcohol and malt depth isn't near the level of any RIS I'm used to. Yet it is a tasty beer, alcohol is well hidden. Not a great RIS, but a nice beer. It's just mis-labeled I believe.

theformula, Jan 24, 2008
Photo of shroompod
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a rich mocha head , some lacing.

Smell is very muted , slight caramel.

This beer has a lot of malt character. Sweet caramel , roasted grains , dark chocolate. The hops are an afterthought and cut the sweetness nicely.

Mouthfeel is thick/sweet and chewy. Good carbonation.

Overall a nice beer I'll revisit.

shroompod, Jan 23, 2008
Photo of ruckzuck
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoying this after a nice Guinness stew.

A - dark brown, hints of red, nice head

S - malty roasted grains, chocolate, hops

T - like the smell, coffee shows up really prominently, chocolaty, hops come through

M - medium bodied, fine carbonation, sweetness really sticks around

D - ok; I've had better Lagunitas but this is good and hitting the spot since it's oh so cold outside. Would perhaps order again, though not sure I'd buy another bottle.

ruckzuck, Jan 20, 2008
Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: poured into a snifter. pours a rich deep brown with a fairly tan head, that dissipates rather quickly. Leads to spotty lacing, but it could be the glass.

S: deep hints of molasses and very sweet malts. Chocolate is all over this as well. aromas of hops are present. this beer has one hell of a nose.

T: very different flavors than I expected from the initial aromas. A lot of coffee in this mixed with a good chocolate flavor as well. hop are there, but masked which i enjoy, because it separates this from the majority of imperial stouts.

M: leaves the mouth feeling warm and places a ton of flavor on the sides and back of the palate. absolute delightful.

D: one a day would be an understatement from this beer. i manage a bar and i have drank at least four cases in the past 2-3 months(which lowered my paycheck, but it was well worth it). any beer, from lagunitas, is absolutely 100% phenomenal!

paulthebeerguru, Jan 16, 2008
Photo of ccrida
2.25/5  rDev -40%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

bomber into my New Beligium goblet, garnet tinged black with a quickly receding tan head that leaves light lace.

Smell is lots of chocolate, sweet malt and some alcohol. A hint of piny hops as it warms finally swings it from disgustingly sweet to still not very appealing.

Taste is also very sweet, chocolate and way to much oats for my taste, caramel with just a hint of roast. More like a big sugary porter, to sweet for me, which is not something I often say. Finish is very boozy, especially for being on the smaller side for an RIS, this drinks more like an overdone oatmeal stout.

Mouthfeel is slick, medium bodied.

Drinkability is low, my least favorite Lagunitas to date. Took me a good 1.5 hrs of letting this thing sit and warm up and it barely got any better...luckily, it was only $4!

ccrida, Jan 11, 2008
Photo of boogles
3.38/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bomber into large glass.

A - decent dark tan head, deep brown but not black, dissipates after a while with thin lacing

S - chocolate, coffee, a bit of roasted malt--standard fare.

T - taste is good but way too weak for RIS

M - decent but maybe a bit thin.

D - since it wasn't very special, I was not too excited about it, so I gave it a low drinkability. No problem enjoying it, just not anything to get excited about. Last night I had Stone Ruination IPA, so perhaps I'm a bit spoiled.

boogles, Jan 10, 2008
Photo of bruachan
3.03/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

the brilliant head leaves impenetrable lacing on the glass. tight, creamy. the liquid is light in color for an RIS. i can see through it more easily than i could the porter i just reviewed

the first thing my nose captures is a hazelnut smell. a faint floral hop dances around as well. the aroma is not very dynamic. a touch of heat and even an almost-belgian (yeasty)spice (see flavor comments). winey, husky, hinty-of-teryaki

the flavor is not what i would expect from an RIS. i've been drinking US craft brews too long to let that bother me too much but i don't see much imperial about it, unless you want to stick "brown ale" afterward. i think i taste coriander

very little hop character. lagunitas doesn't make a belgian ale, but if it did i might suspect that this bottle had been mislabeled. no joke. must have fermented very warm. my scores reflect this despite the fact that it wasn't a poor drink. that is to say, i enjoyed drinking it but an RIS that acts like a strong dark belgian is just wierd

bruachan, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of prototypic
3.45/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It's a dark, chocolaty brown with a tan head (about a finger and a half). Retention was good, but lacing was light.

Smell: It has initial dark chocolate and espresso aromas. Toasted malts are certainly prevalant. Hops are faint. Has a slight smoked smell to it.

Taste: Chocolate and espresso flavors blend well. Those are followed up by a very sweet, creamy taste. Almost a milk chocolate sweetness. Toasted malts add some depth. Hops are not noticeable in taste.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It seems too light and thin for your typical imperial stout. Carbonation is good. It is smooth and drinkable. It's far being a bad beer, but I've had much better from Lagunitas.

prototypic, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of cueball52
3.13/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

It pours a dark ruby red with a thick porous head about 3 fingers high. It dissipates slowly leaving a heavy lace and settles to about 1/2" thick head and stops.
A very light chocolate malt aroma.
A light mouth feel and not what you expect from an "Imperial" stout.
The taste also is light, mild chocolate, coffee, raisin/molasses flavor. Not a whole lot here and especially not "Imperial" in any way.
This beer is really a little disappointing. I like a lot of Lagunitas brews but this one doesn't measure up.

cueball52, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of beerking1
3.38/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown with red highlights, but not the black one expects from a stout, especially an imperial stout. Small tan head leaves minimal lacing. Aroma is black malt and green apples (acetylaldehyde). Flavor is sweet dark malt, without the warmth one would expect from a beer of 8%. Body is medium but the beer goes down very smooth and creamy. Tail is all black malt and chocolate.

beerking1, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of Sammy
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aged a bit, at Volo. Black with a moderate head and significant lacing. Malty medium roasty,a bit of burnt sugar, nutty. Coffee aftertaste. On the sweeter side with toffee and sugar offset by sure bitterness. Overcarbonated, a sipper. Complex and rewarding.

Sammy, Dec 24, 2007
Photo of dickieb
3.3/5  rDev -12%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a somewhat translucent black with some ruby undertones. A small tan head leaves minimal lacing. The smell is rather subdued with not much more then roasted malts to talk about. Much of the flavor is roasted malts, with hints of coffee, and fairly well balanced by some bittering hops and no alcohol to speak of. This is very thin for a RIS, but between the light mouth feel and well balanced flavor it becomes quite drinkable.

dickieb, Dec 17, 2007
Photo of sethmeister
3.1/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

22oz bomber with no expiration date. This has been in my cellar for several months.

Pours black but is translucent. Ruby colored when held to a light. Head is a light beige and leaves little to no lace.

Scent is primarily coffee and roasty notes.

I taste a sweet caramel flavor, coffee, a hint of chocolate, a hint of molasses.

Mouthfeel is unsatisfyingly thin and watery for the style.

Drinkability is high since there is very little alcohol presence.

Though I would hardly call this a Russian Imperial Stout it is a pleasant enough beer. Seems almost more like a porter to me. Enjoyed drinking this but expect much much more from an RIS.

sethmeister, Dec 15, 2007
Photo of aerozeppl
3.3/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz into a glass

A: Black in color but on the light side for a RIS. 2 fingers of tan head with some lacing.

S: Roasted malt. Not as bold as you would expect for the style.

T: Roasted malt some coffee notes and a slightly bitter finish. Nothing spectacular. Alcohol is very well hidden.

M: Really thin for the style. I mean this is the thinest RIS I have ever tasted.

D: For a RIS this is a very drinkable beer. The alcohol is hardly noticeable. On the other hand when I reach for a RIS I expect something thicker and to be more of s sipper. Don't get me wrong this is not a bad beer but I expect more from Lagunitas. It was on the cheap side so pick it up and give it a try especially if you are new to a Russian Imperial Stout.

aerozeppl, Dec 14, 2007
Photo of markaberrant
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - black, but very clear, light easily passes through. Creamy tan head recedes to a thick ring, no lacing.

S - hoppy citrus nose, balanced with cocoa

T - the first sip really caught me off guard, quite different from the aroma. Has a weird sort of sweetness, almost like maraschino cherries mixed with caramel. Roast flavours are subdued for the most part, showing up at the end and in the aftertaste. Aftertaste is fairly short lived, which is dissapointing in a RIS.

M - too thin for the style, does not help carry the flavours at all. Carbonation is ok.

D - This takes awhile to adjust to, but becomes more enjoyable as I work my way through it.

I bought this as a mistake, I had heard this was a less than spectacular beer, but in my excitement at a really good beer store I accidentally grabbed this one. This is not an outstanding RIS, or even a really good one, but it isn't necessarily bad. Kind of an oddball, it doesn't remind me of any other beer. Certainly not the best offering from Lagunitas, but enough of a curiousity to try at least once.

markaberrant, Nov 25, 2007
Lagunitas Imperial Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,396 ratings.