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Lagunitas Imperial Stout - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Lagunitas Imperial StoutLagunitas Imperial Stout

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

1,565 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,565
Reviews: 580
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 12.73%
Wants: 53
Gots: 191 | 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
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Ratings: 1,565 | Reviews: 580 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tavernjef
3.65/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a ruby brown and settles deeply glowing dark brown with darker ruby-like hints to its low umbering glow. A slim capping of light tan foam skims the top well with a bunch of bubbles hanging around at the edge. Super thin sheets of lace graze the glass with some holes and breaks.

Aroma is deep and ample with a nice airy sweet roastyness mixed with alot of deep maple notes, vanilla, chocolate, cherry, and molasses.

Flavors are nicely put together, but not very RIS-like really. More like a beefy brown ale with a tender amount of brown sugar and maple cookie dough sweetness. Underscoring the main sweetness is a delighful touch of roast, cocoa, vanilla, and burnt graham cracker. Very light coffee ascents to its finish help its complexity a bit. It just doesn't hold much length in its flavors and does kind of come up weakended. Its definately tame by the standards of a solid RIS, but its well crafted and tasty enough to drink either way you put it.

The body is again short of most RIS's and seems more like a beefy brown closing in on a strong ale
maltyness with its light sided mediumness and tender grainy fluff and texture of roasty notes.

OK, so its not with par to what your typical super RIS would be. If you remove the labeling of Imperial stout and take a stab at what ya think...it's like their Brown Shugga with a nudge of extra roasty stuff throw in.

Photo of Pencible
3.73/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This poured an opaque mahogany with a bit of light tan head. It smelled like lots of bitter chocolate with roasted coffee and a bit of licorice and alcohol. It tasted very dry and earthy like burnt coffee and bitter chocolate with some soy and molasses. It was slightly thick with no carbonation, and had a bitter aftertaste. Overall this was good but not great. The flavor wasn't as delicious as I hoped, and the body wasn't as big. It was still clean and pretty easy to drink, but it just needed more sweetness. Oatmeal could have really helped balance the flavor; I'm not sure if age could.

Photo of madtowndmb1
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Very dark brown with a tan head that doesn't stick around at all.

S: The best part of this beer! There's molasses, chocolate, a touch of hops and some malty notes

T: Chocolate right away!Then moves into a bitter hop flavor. I like it.

M: Smooth and coating. With a chocolate flavor that hangs around

D: Now I bought an Imperial Stout and this is more of a chocolate stout if you'd ask me. If it were called that it's be quite good!

Photo of olmatty
3.3/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance- Pours a very thin tan head with poor retention, beer is a dark brown/black.

Smell- Surprisingly little aroma a bit of roasted malts is all I pick up.

Taste- A touch of bakers dark chocolate and espresso and a mouthload of licorice and dried fruits. Hop bitterness follows on all this, finish of overcooked coffee.

Mouthfeel- Moderate carbonation, somewhat thick but less mouthcoating and flavorful than many imperial stouts

Drinkability- Heavy enough flavor and high ABV enough to slow you down. Unfortunately, not a great example of the style or a good representative of Lagunitas beers.

Photo of Mdog
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black but a deep red when held to light, big head. I like this look better than solid opaque black.

Smell: Dark chocolate, some citrus hop.

Taste: Dark roast flavors, dark fruit, relatively mild bitterness.

Drinkability: Nicely priced, good for when you want a big stout but don't want to pay a lot.

The parade of stouts continues, Lagunitas' offering reminds me somewhat of Samuel Smith's, i.e. more of a drinkable stout than a sipper (even though it is quite strong). Pretty good and a good value beer.

Photo of pvsob
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Pours a dark brown color with ruby highlights. A very weak head (1/2 inch), that has no retention. No lacing.

S- Hugh molassas aroma with raisins, figs, and toffee as well. I'm really not getting any roasted malt, coffee, chocolate that I usually get with other RIS's. No hop aroma or alcohol for that matter.

T- Starts off with a sweet raisin flavor, but tiny hints of chocolate, coffee, and hops make themselves known. A hint of alcohol in the finish is present, but nothing outstanding.

M- Very thin with lots of carbonation.

D- This is a good beer, but I'm kind of confused with some to the characteristics. Barleywine? RIS? Wee Heavy? I just don't know. I'd drink this beer again, but I'm not going to be actively seeking it out. Cheers!

Photo of Hoopster4hire
3.25/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Not what you would typically expect of an Imperial Stout.

Pours a cherry stained finish of a color is the best way to describe it. The head is a frothy light brown and quickly dissipates.

Smell is of roasted malts, slight coffee aroma with a small alcohol odor to it.

Definitely can pick up the roasted and caramelized notes. Coffee tastes lingers as you drink it, while faint amounts of cherry flavor tweak the palate. Molasses makes an appearance, however brief. There is another flavor in there, somewhat sour, but hard to describe beyond that.

Surprisingly carbonated. When I think of Imperial Stouts, I think creamy and thick. This one definitely has some bite to it still.

Highly drinkable, which can be dangerous or a lot of fun considering this bomber was 3.50.

Overall, a good beer, but definitely not a great beer. I wouldn't turn it down if I was offered another, but I probably wouldn't purchase another.

Photo of beerthulhu
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a dark ruby-cherry color with dirty tan head.

S: roasted malts, coffee, chocolate and some dry pine hopping.

T: The initial flavor was roasted malt and pretty smooth, with some dark chocolate and a lingering coffee bitterness. There was some sweet vanilla creamer notes to balance things out a bit. Spicy dried citrus hops blend nicely with flavor, with some dried cherries and roasted nuttiness as well. Some sweet molasses and coca hints are present as well adding to the complexity.

M: a little thin per style but big on hopping and flavor. A light carbonation but was still a tad lackluster.

D: good drinkability with wide range of flavor keeps things intersting til the end.

Photo of PDXHops
2.28/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Been cellaring this 22 oz. bottle for about a year. Poured into a Duvel glass.

A: Doesn't seem to be any lack in carbonation. Nice fizz and a decent 3/4 finger cream-colored head. Color is not great- a dark reddish brown, not at all as dark as I expected. When I get to the point that there's 5 or 6 ounces left in the glass, I can clearly see through it.

S: The nose starts out interesting as I pick up raisins, burnt sugar, a little leather and tobacco? Not a lot of the expected roasty/chocolate type aromas, though. Kind of strange.

T: Once again, interesting, but somewhat unexpected. Only a hint of the usual stout roasted flavors. More fruity than roasty- figs and raisins. A bit of an unpleasant sourish and very sweet aftertaste.

M: Lighter in body than I expected, but it's velvety and smooth.

D: Not great for me due to the weird aftertaste and lack of dark roasted flavors I want in a stout.

Unexpected was definitely the theme of the day on this one. Sometimes unexpected is good; this time, not so much. By far my least favorite Lagunitas brew I've tried so far.

Photo of Wasatch
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to tburkhart for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Pours a very nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy tan head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some nice notes of chocolate/toffee/coffee. The taste is sweet, malty, with some chocolate, toffee, coffee. Medium body, the alcohol is very well hidden. Drinkable, this is a very tasty RIS.

Photo of mj001jk
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, coffee like color with a hazel-colored foam. The nose surprises me with a lighter profile, dried figs and raisins, toffee and hints of coffee. There is not as much dark-roasted character as I would have expected and there is also a slightly metallic aspect that is not entirely agreeable.

On the palate I like the soft, rich and silky mouthfeel that unloads a whallop of coffee, cream caramel flavors with a nice astringent, dry bite towards the end. Hops are barely noticeable and so is the high alcohol level. All-in-all a nice beer, but the nose is a little subpar and not as complex as I would have liked it.

Photo of glid02
3.3/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Got this from Tower on Piedmont in Atlanta.

Pours a very dark brown color that lets just a bit of light through. There's almost no head, even after emptying the bomber with a vigorous pour. What little head there is settles to a thin ring around the glass with no lacing.

Smells very sweet. The sweetness is accompanied by slight dark fruit and coffee aromas. As the beer warms the sweetness is brought to the front even more.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Very sweet up front, with a dark fruit and coffee flavor following shortly. As the beer warms the dark fruit flavors subside and just the sweet malt is left, with a very small amount of coffee. Bitterness is decent throughout.

Mouthfeel is alright. The thickness is good, but the carbonation is a bit much for me.

Drinkability is alright. This is a decent Imp Stout, but I'm not excited about getting this again.

Overall this is a good deal (~$3.70), but if you're looking for a very good Imp Stout keep looking.

Photo of AgingWarrior
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. Poured a deep dark brown, but not black, with minimal reddish brown head. The head dissipated rather quickly and provided only minimal lacing.

Smells of chocolate and fruit. I think I smell dates, but not positive.

Taste is very smooth, with almost no alcohol burn they I normally associate with an RIS.

Medium body, smooth and creamy in the mouth.

Very drinkable stout. I could have easily drank another one... maybe two!

This may not belong in the RIS style, but it's a tasty and enjoyable brew nonetheless.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.45/5  rDev -35%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Transparent dark cranberry with slim tangerine edges. A Russian IS that isn't even close to opaque? What the hell are these guys thinking? The appearance score deserves to be marked down for that fact alone. I've seen darker brown ales. The golden beige head is incredibly light in color as well. This could be interesting.

Unfortunately, the aroma is just as lacking. It's way too weak, delivering no more than a passing whiff of dark malt. None of the usual stoutiness is present, because not much of anything is present. Big disappointment so far.

Even though Imperial Stout is no kind of RIS at all, at least it has some amount of flavor. Could the brewers have meant for this beer to look, smell and taste like this? It's hard to imagine, especially since it's obvious that they know their way around a mash tun and are capable of brewing some real humdingers. In fact, I think they do a bang-up job (present company excepted) and are underappreciated on the whole.

My first impression was that LIS is barely average, but it doesn't even reach that low bar. It's horribly thin, with almost no malt sugar sweetness, and tastes like burnt black bread, charred coffee beans and bits of bitter black licorice. Cappuccino Stout is damn good stuff, so this abomination is even harder to figure.

The body/mouthfeel is worse than pathetic (for the style). Thin, thinner, thinnest. The carbonation is okay in terms of quantity, but there's no creaminess whatsoever. With very few ingredients to run interference, it's no wonder the bubbles feel harsh.

Imperial Stout needs a bumper-to-bumper overhaul and needs it right now. It's tempting to assume that this bottle isn't representative, but it looks like this offering is near the bottom for Lagunitas when sorted by overall score. Yikes, this is bad.

Photo of DrJay
2.83/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got this one recently from Ding as part of Good, Bad, and Ugly BIF. Thanks!
Dark brown with a reddish hue, clear and not quit opaque. A two finger cap off the pour settled quickly to a solid, light tan collar and skim of fine bubbles covering the top of the beer. Sticky lacing. Malty aroma, mild roast character with sweetness, toasty and chocolate. Thin flavour for an imperial stout. Quite sweet overall with caramel throughout, some chocolate notes, but not much in the way of burnt or roast character (just a hint in the finish). Mild to moderate bitterness. A little brown sugar and nuttiness lingered on the palate. A little more than medium bodied with average carbonation. Definitely lacking the bold complexity I expect from an imperial stout.

Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
2.73/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22oz Twist-off bomber

Pours a surprisingly clear deep brown with intense ruby highlights. The appearance has me a little concerned right off the bat when expecting a bit more depth and darkness from an RIS. The head created a slight and quickly disappearing layer of beige head. The aroma, although slightly roasted, also concerns me before I take my first sip. The slight diacytel and all malt smells immediately remind me of a dopplebock and not an RIS. Coming from Lagunitas, I was anticipating the always-present hop punch, but that was nowhere to be found. The taste follows suit on the dopplebock. A slightly buttery and metallic taste seems far from a stout and confuses my mental palate. There seems to be very little that resembles an RIS. I am not an advocate of style guidelines at all, but this one just doesn't fit the bill for me. Lagunitas has never failed me and I consider them to be one of the best West Coast brewers that have kept it real on the price gouging of other brewers. They have earned a great reputation, but this one is a definite miss. I LOVE a good RIS, but this one is a bit tough to put down. Besides, I didn't even get to reuse the bomber for homebrewing (twist off) :(

Photo of clayrock81
3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brownish body with a one-finger tan head that stayed around for awhile and left a lace ring. Good whiff of some chocolate and roasted malts, as well as some coffee and sweet malts. Medium-bodied but a little thinnish for an Imperial Stout, the ABV is hidden well and it is more of a sweet and smooth malt taste with less dryness on the backbite than most heavy stouts. Still, the coffee and roasted malts make their presence felt along with the sweetness. A good beer all the way around, although not my first pick if I'm looking for a real heavy imperial stout.

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

Bottle from Smoke Rise Bottle Shoppe, Lilburn, GA. Poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a thick, brown but not nearly opaque or black liquid with what is initially a nice, slightly tan head that quickly fades into nothing but a ring of lace. Lacing forms runny sheets that just drop down the side of the glass in glittery, shimmering curtains. Nice, but stylistically, some better retention/sticking of lace would be nice.

Aroma: Faint, with cocoa powder, baker's chocolate, and both dark and light fruits coming through. Well balanced though.

Taste: Lighter than most RISs, and in line with the abv%. Lots of toasted malts, dry, with more (dark, powdery) chocolate than coffee, and some other toasty, bready notes. Faint smoke. Some fruit comes through as well, though it's mostly light, fruity, perhaps "off" notes from the yeast, though there are hints of raisins and figs. Lightly hopped. Solventy alcohol begins to rear its head as this beer warms near room temperature (and a bomberful of beer definitely provides enough drinking-time to allow this to happen).

Mouthfeel: Pretty uneven in the mouthfeel, a little slick, pretty thick and chewy, but not bad by any means.

Drinkability: Not nearly as bad as I think the score suggests it should be, but certainly not the best RIS I've ever had. It's a lighter one, with a few fruity off notes, and I know Lagunitas's quality control isn't as good as it should be (I got a good bottle), but I really didn't think this one was terrible. There may have been a few light, lower molecular weight fruity esters from over-active yeasties, but still, this was a decent beer. The alcohol was largely well-hidden, the malt profile was decent and balanced ... hell, give it a shot.

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.33/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber time! Pours a super dark brown color with a creamy tan head.

Chocolate, cocoa, honey, fried plantains...mostly scents from sweet dark malts.

Mmmm, whats this? A hoppy chocolate candy bar?! Very smooth. Very drinkable. Fresh tasting with hints of dark berries and hot cocoa with marshmallows. Alcohol is hidden well and the hops add a nice clean, dry finish.

A smooth, semi-sweet easy drinking Impy Stout. Does not exactly fit the "Russian IS" category, but it does taste very good. I will be buying this again. Another fine offering from Lah-Goo-Knee-Tuss.

Photo of jwinship83
4.22/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks goes out to Lvnloud for this extra in a trade

A- black body with a tan head on it. minimal lacing

S- lots of chocolate and roasted malt. faint touch of toffee. mildly hoppy finish.

T- very dry and roasty with a coffeeish aftertaste. i got alot of dark chocolate as well. just a little bit of warming from the alcohol. better than i was expecting.

M- full bodied and slightly chewy. not as much so as i would like, but far from bad.

D- this was alot better than i was expecting. the other offerings i have had from lagunitas have been good for bargin brews, but nothing too special. this one is something ill try to search out again. very happy for the opportunity to try it.

Photo of PorterLambic
4.28/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brownwith ruby red throughout, no light penetration. Smallish tan head, creamy looking. Good retention.
Smell notes of malt, coffee, peat, chocolate, light hops, wheat, smoke.
Taste is all that and oak, soy sauce and milk with a touch of sweetness. well balanced with a fruitcake note.
Smooth, creamy, very light effervescence, with the smooth, flowing character of a milk stout. Aftertaste is just a continuation of the taste. Nearly perfect.

A second bottle 5 months later came up nearly the same except for the mouthfeel. The body was weak and watery for an Imp. stout, more like a brown ale. I'm hoping this was an aberration but have knocked the mouthfeel score down from 5 to average the two scores.

Photo of tedpeer
3.35/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce into a chalice.

A - Pours a dark brown (ruby highlights) with a sand colored head that quickly became a whispy layer and ring around.

S - Coffee and chocolate.

T - Sweet, a little roasted flavor. No real aftertaste or linger.

M - Thin, fizzy.

D - Weak for the style

Have to say that this is not a RIS, or if it is really considered one, it is a very weak one.

Photo of popery
3.8/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Admittedly, I don't have the most experience with the glory that is RIS, and my other forays into the style have been with the hallowed offerings from Stone and North Coast (Old Rasputin), so my RIS palate might be a bit pampered and narrow. This is not to say that I disliked this beer from Lagunitas but rather that it's not in the same class as my idea of the top tier of the style.

In my glass, the beer is dark with a light dissipating head. The apparent viscosity seems a tad on the weak side. Maybe, my taste impressions are influencing my thoughts here, but all the same I like when dark beers look thick and heavy.

The beer has a very pleasant aroma that mostly carries over to the taste. The aromatic promise of roasted malt and chocolate does not carry through entirely to the tongue. The taste just doesn't have enough body, which is really my main problem with the beer. With a big stout, I want more flavor than this beer offers. It's certainly on the right track, but it almost tastes scaled back. This sounds a bit snobby but making a RIS is a golden ticket to snobbish review city.

Oddly for a beer that lacks body, I really like the mouthfeel. It's well-carbonated and drifts around the mouth very nicely. The aftertaste, particularly, is a bit sweet, which detracts from the drinkability. I attribute this sweetness to the deficient taste.

The beer isn't bad on its own, but it suffers from the competitive nature of the style. If you're going to do a RIS, you better go all out and get it right.

Photo of bigdeuce
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an oblique color, not much head or lacing. Tastes of coffee, toffee, and chocolate. Very appealing. Nice hoppy action, also on the back half. A bit thin in the mouthfeel, but full of kick. Nice price and I think if aged longer, this will be a great one.

Photo of bbothen
2.6/5  rDev -31%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my delerium snifter. That totally matters!

Pours more dark brown/red than black with a small tab colored head that doesn't stick around. Not much lacing or webbing on the glass.

Very mild roasted/toasted aroma. Slight sweetness.

Light roasted flavor with a nice hop fruitiness & bitterness. Drinks more like a porter to me.

Very thin for the style. Moderate carbonation.

A very rare miss from Lagunitas for me. If you're judging this by the style, well, it's dissapointing and doesn't compare to other well known imp stouts. Not horrible as a beer though. If you're having an Imp stout tasting, start with this one first.

Still a bargain for the $2.99 I paid for the bomber.

Lagunitas Imperial Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,565 ratings.