Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Lagunitas Imperial Stout - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Lagunitas Imperial StoutLagunitas Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

654 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 654
Hads: 1,939
Avg: 3.71
pDev: 21.83%
Wants: 76
Gots: 386 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout | 9.90% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 08-31-2001

2010 8.2% abv
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 654 | Hads: 1,939
Photo of henrysunset
3.03/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle from bottleworks... dark brown beer with a modest head of tiny bubbly tan foam.

smell is a little strange, kind of like a dark whole grain bread. fairly sweet but no bitterness at all.

taste is somewhat bland too, some maltiness but not enough for the style. alcohol is apparent in the taste. aftertaste finally brings in some nutty coffee flavors.

reasonably smooth but thin. drinkable but otherwise underwhelming.

 436 characters

Photo of RonfromJersey
3.19/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Black body turns more than fifty percent red when held up to a light. Two-plus fingers of very light tan foam. Comes across a bit light on both fronts. A few scattered squiggles of lace.

Nice aroma of roasted coffee, chocolate, and alcohol-soaking dark fruits.

Taste starts off with coffee (au lait?) and a hint of chocolate, mild fruitiness follows, and an undercurrent of hops snaps up at the swallow. Slight sense of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is too thin for an imperial, needs to be chewy. Too drinkable, and not in a good way.

As a general stout, "eh". As a Russian Imperial, way too bureaucractic. I expected more.

 625 characters

Photo of yourunclewalt
3.3/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a watery, Coca-Cola black with a likewise head. Deep red around the edges when light hits it.

S - Obviously a very malty aroma, little to no hop presence. Toffee, caramel, butterscotch.

M - Surprisingly watery initially, medium carbonation in the middle to a sticky finish.

T - Caramel malt with a smooth butterscotch finish. Very faint spiciness.

D - A pretty well balanced, standard stout...but for an Imperial, I was expecting something inkier, heavier, and more complex than just your standard caramel twang.

 537 characters

Photo of msubulldog25
3.34/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

My first try of this "Unlimited Release" from Lagunitas, poured at cellar temperature from a 22 oz. bottle to a pint glass.

A: Notable light in color for the style. Deep mahogany brown that shines ruby in the light. Fizzy cola-bubble tan head, about 1-finger worth, that disappears in seconds. Lace is slippery, sticking for a few brief moments then gliding back down the glass.

S: Good smelling, with malt sweetness of smoke, cocoa, molasses, dark fruit and some vanilla. Not terribly complex, but pleasant and true to the style.

T: Smoky toasted grains and low-grade chocolate-covered raisins. Caramel, cocoa powder, and some earthy hoppy bitterness melds with a generally sweet, malty character.

M: Weak mouthfeel, quite thin. A little sticky on the lips and chalky/bitter in the finish, tasting mildly of stale coffee. Carbonation is light to moderate. Alcohol content is masked, but generally there's not much to like...

D: Compared with the many fine examples of Russian Imperial Stout out there, this lags well behind. Aromas and flavor are decent enough but mouthfeel really fails to match the robustness expected. The look of the beer also belies it's thinness. Despite the fact I've liked other beers from Lagunitas, I probably wouldn't get this again.

 1,278 characters

Photo of Kendo
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: From a 22 oz bottle into a Sam Smith's pint glass. The result: a 2-finger bubbly tan head settles over a mahogany reddish-brown body that looks black when not well lit. Leaves no lacing at all.

S: Not terribly strong at all, and what there is is all malt -- roasted malt and sugary sweet scents, maybe molasses-like.

T: Like the nose, predominantly malty -- roasted malt, some cocoa, a hint of coffee, and as it warms there's a taste of sweet dark fruit or berries. A dry bitterness finishes it off with some balance.

M: Nice and creamy, but light in heft for an Imperial Stout.

D: Goes down very easily, as it's light in the body and the 8.2% ABV is not even a faint presence.

Notes: If you told me this was an American Stout or even an Oatmeal Stout, this would have scored much higher. I actually enjoyed this beer quite a lot, but it surprised me -- it doesn't seem to have the characteristics that I associate with an Imperial Stout -- at all. There's no noticeable alcohol, no charcoal flavors, licorice or large body. The score reflects that failure to meet style expectations, but doesn't necessarily reflect my overall enjoyment of this beer. It was a solid stout, just not the big stout I was expecting.

 1,231 characters

Photo of BigBry
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

650 ml brown bottle, "Unlimited Release", no visible date on the label. I was glad to see a couple liquor stores carrying Lagunitas.
The beer pours black with a thick and creamy, light tan head. The foam fades, but never really disappears, and leaves thin lace sheets that cover the side of the glass. Held to the light, the liquid appears deep red. The smell has toasted grain, some chocolate, prunes, and a bit os smoke. Taste is nice, with a good flavor of roasted malt, sweet plums and raisins, just enough bitterness at the end. 8.2% alcohol well hidden with no burn or hotness. Might be just a touch thin in the mouthfell for such a big beer. Very good, but now that I have had other RISs to compare it too, it's rank is just a bit lower than others.

 757 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a slight head that fades all too readily. Smell is a little faint as well,but is a fairly balanced sweetness and roastiness with cleam lightly toated maltand a touch of chocolate. The taste is surprisingly light and very creamy. Milk chocolate, light roastiness, and an eggcream finish. Very creamy mouthfeel and restrained carbonation. Pretty drinkable- very smooth,but could use some more depth and complexity.Very pleasant, though.

 451 characters

Photo of czechsaaz
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Prunes and other ripe fruit on the nose. A background aroma of roasted malts and some chocolate. No hops to speak of which is OK for the style. There's nothing particularly standout about the aroma, no really bold aromas jumping out. Kind of short on what I'm looking for out of Impy Stout.

Held up to light, it is deep red and a lot more translucent than other examples of the style. Big thick solid head that fades to a beautiful creamy layer that lasts throughout a pint.

Flavor is very nice. I get a big hit of toasty bitterness and solid hop bite on my first sip but the more of it I drink I really start to focus on lots of fruity fermentation esters and lots of sweet malt backbone. It may be a little sweet to some peoples tastes, but I'm good with it since I would prefer a little malt sweetness to aggressive hopping in this style. The lingering aftertaste is mostly dark roast malt which balances out the sweetness.

Carbonation level is right on, light but still lively. The body feels a little thin, again for the style, and you wouldn't pick up the alcohol strength from mouthfeel or body.

A very approachable example of the style. Drinkable in that it isn't huge and doesn't feel like an end-of-the-night beer. It's still pretty big and flavorful but not over-the-top.

 1,295 characters

Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.75/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A very dark ruby red color but not quite opaque in appearance with a tan head that is somewhat bubbly and soda like. No lacing and generally unimpressive looking. Not very dark and not really black.

Aroma is a little oxidized with some astringency aromas. Mostly fruity in the aroma with tons of malt aromas and caramelly like a scotch ale. Some hoppiness but rather lackluster compared to other imperial stouts.

Overall a pretty poor example of the style. Lots of caramel flavors and aromas but devoid of any coffee or chocolate flavors or aromas. Mostly just a malt ladden beer with a nice mouthfeel and good drinkabiltiy due to the low (relatively) abv. Pass on this one for impy stouts and get something else.

 721 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.52/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a relatively dark brown color with a tan head that doesn't hang around very long nor provide much lacing

Smell: Dark chocolate covered raisins, with a touch of molasses

Taste: Starts out with a fairly distinct chocolate flavor that grows slightly more complex, mid-palate with some prune making an appearance; after the swallow, the fruity flavors stick around and develop a nutty aspect; somewhat vinous on the finish

Mouthfeel: Way too thin for a RIS; medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A reasonably tasty stout that falls short of the RIS category; a bit more like a Baltic Porter than a stout, frankly

 652 characters

Photo of Vancer
4.03/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Another great frosty from Lagunitas, this one could be a regular – but I’ll need to compare the price to Bear Republic and is taste comparable.

Solid dark brown/blackish, with a frothy tan head that just left a snail trail of lace down the glass. Excellent.

Potpourri aromas of chocolate, malts, and hints of citrus – which, carried over nicely into the quaff. This one is pleasurably complex – you can find something different in every taste. Sweet at times, hoppy with a burnt toast burst at others.

Body was a smidgen thin, but it held the 8% back quite well, I knew it was more that 5%, but that’s what I perceived from this great brew.

 655 characters

Photo of Big78CJ
3.17/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

I am becoming fond of the Lagunitas Brewing Company. I was introduced to their Cappucino Stout awhile back and liked it a lot. This beer was not bad but it did disappoint somewhat,

Appearance: Very little head on this beer and what was there disappeared instantly. Bublles line the inside of the glass, warning of potential over-carbonation. The beer pours a dark brown but lighter tones are visible around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Some sweet fruit smell hits me as I pour it, maybe raisin or grape. Despite the Imperial label and the 8.25% ABV, I smell no alcohol.

Taste. Mild sweetness thar doesn't need to be any more powerful to mask high alcohol. Amazingly, I can't even tell it's higher than normal! For a stout beer it is suprisingly thin though.

Mouthfeel: As I alluded to above, the thin nature of this stout gives it avery ordinary mouthfeel but this actually allows you to taste the beer a little better I find; no texture or chewiness to get in the way. It is a bit carbonated, however, and that leaves a bitter washout.

Drinkability: It's always the thickness of a stout that limits me to one each night. This beer breaks that barrier and if it weren't for the 8.25% ABV and the large bottle, I would open another. The alcohol definitely becomes more apparent towards the end of the first glass.

Serving Type: 650 ml (1pt 6oz) bottle poured into Leffe glass.

 1,394 characters

Photo of mynie
3.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Pours ruby with a small fizzy head that dies away fairly quickly. Not bad, but not impressive.

Well, it smells like a Russian Imperial, at least. Raisins, alcohol, roasted malt, dark chocolate, red wine. Very nice.

Tastes much like it smells. Sweet and dry red wine, burnt dark malt, juicy red fruit and an earthen, dry finish with a lingering stickycitrus hop that's more than a little uncommon, for the style.

Flavor is taken down a notch by a weak body, but this is more than drinkable. A good but uneven RIS. Maybe it could some aging...I dunno.

 558 characters

Photo of Gavage
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: deep black in color with a thick 2" light chocolate head that slowly falls to a thick surface foam.Some moderate lacing develops.

Smell: large chocolate nose and some malt sweetness.

Taste: dark chocolates, roasted malts, old coffee, prunes, and a soft bitterness. Alcohol is noticeable and doesn't totally blend in to the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: smooth from start to finish. The finish is also dry. Aftertaste is long on the flavors.

Drinkability: not a bad RIS, but this did not really excite me overall. Worth a try but one bottle is more than enough in a drinking session.

 606 characters

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.57/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 22oz bottle, no date. It was a dark brown, with a small head. A chocolate, coffee aroma. Mostly coffee taste, with a little chocolate detectable. I thought this beer was way too timid and thin for a Russian Imperial Stout: not one I'd want to try again.

 255 characters

Photo of brewcrew76
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle

A - Pours a deep brown/light black with slight ruby highlights and a thin brown head.

S - Chocolate and lactose and not a lot else.

T - Sweet chocolate and lactose again. Very one dimensional.

M - On the thin side for the style.

D - Not a bad overall beer, just more of a thin sweet milk stout.

 321 characters

Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz. bottle

Pours a rich black color with a creamy tan head that fades. Mild lacing on the glass.

Dark roasted malt aroma with hints of cocoa and coffee.

Roasty malt flavor upfront with nice caramel tones. Followed by light cocoa and espresso flavors, it finishes rather clean with a mild lingering roastedness.

Medium-light body, mild carbonation.

An overall solid IS with good drinkability, but could use a little more body and carbonation.

 458 characters

Photo of bjohnson
3.45/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Wyoming liquors in RI. $4.49.

A: Pours a deep brownish color with a one finger cream colored head. Tight lacing. I like my RIS jet black and this being a bit on the lighter side has me thinking...
S: Chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt notes. Dark fruitiness peaks in. Hop presence brings a freshness to the nose.
T/M: Dark fruit notes of prune and figs blend with bitter chocolate. Roasted malt notes are the most noticeable. Slight sweetness on the tip of the tongue leads into a dryer finish with a wafer like aftertaste. Thin body on this--way too thin for a impy stout.
D: Eh, I expected more from Lagunitas. A bit too thin of a mouthfeel for an impy stout. Flavors were there, but quite subdued. Not bursting like the style should be.

 765 characters

Photo of kimcgolf
3.08/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Not much to this one, especially for an Impy Stout. Poured to a dark brown with ruby tint, medium light-tan head that dissipated quickly and okaty lacing. Aroma showed hints of chocolatey caramel, but even as it warmed, the aroma was not real evident. Likewise, the flavor tried to taste like an Impy, but never quite made it. Mouthfell was very thin bodied, and the 8.2% alcohol never was noticewable, in either the taste or aroma. Aftertaste was mostly watery.

All and all, a disappointing Impy.

 500 characters

Photo of jaxon53
2.78/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served at about room temperature, in a pint glass. Poured a very dark brown which turned black in the glass. Had about a half inch of tannish colored head that had little retention. Left virtually no lace on the glass. Smelled of burnt coffee, and some chocolatey notes. Very faint aromas coming from the glass. Taste wasn't really there either. Some malty, coffee, milk chocolate , and charcoal like flavors. Seems more like a milk stout to me than a Russian Imperial Stout. Very thin and watery in the mouth with no pop. Very little carbonation . Doesn't have that almost chewy feel like alot of other RIS's. Pretty drinkable but nothing interesting here..

 658 characters

Photo of longbongsilver
4.46/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

After a long time of the nearest decent package store being an hour away, I found this not too far from here. The magic words "Stout" & "8.20%" prompted me to grab a bottle.

Appearance: dark brown with a lot of head when poured, gradually turns pretty much black. Exactly what I expected.

Smell: hints of chocolate-like scent, some coffee-ish tones too. I kinda like ANY smell to good beer, so take w/ a grain of salt.

Taste: slightly hoppy at the beginning, overall creamy & surprisingly smooth. Doesn't taste like 8.20% at all. The malt hits the back of your tongue.

Mouthfeel: very little carbonation, light but w/ character.

Drinkability: A strong stout being this smooth is just nuts. I'd put it as "you can chug it, but you wouldn't want to". I savored it just because.

I will be stocking up, oh yes...

 826 characters

Photo of mnj21655
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, nearly black with hints of red at the edges and 2 finger tan head that leaves some decent lacing. Nice sweet aromas of chocolate, some maltiness, and dried fruits. Good taste, very malty and chocolately with roasted notes dominant. Just a bit of hop bitterness at the finish which nicely balances the flavor. Mouthfeel is too thin, there isn't much body to this beer. As for drinkability I can't score this low. I found this beer very enjoyable and will have it again in the future.

I found the name "Imperial Stout" a bit misleading. If you open this expecting a big, bold RIS then you'll certainly be disappointed. However, you will find a solid, easy-drinking stout.

 696 characters

Photo of bashiba
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a nice dark brownish black with a thin creamy tan head.

Had some sweet milky chocolate smell along with a hint of anise.

Taste was light and mildly sweet with hints of coffee and chocolate. Very light amount of hop bitterness in the finish. Drinks like a cream stout. No discernable alcohol flavor.

Mouthfeel is creamy and slightly warming.

Overall it doesn't have the big bold flavors of most Imperial stouts, but easy to drink and decent.

 459 characters

Photo of Derek
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My 700th review...

This is a very good brew, but I wouldn't call it an "Imperial Stout". It doesn't have the hop flavour or bitterness of most American versions, but that's alright. The roastyness is too light for a stout... I think it actually boarders on the Baltic Porter style.

At the very least, call this an American Double Stout. I'm sure it's score would increase significantly.

A: Black with a light tan head. Some retention & lace.

S: Dark bread, brown sugar, slightly nutty & fruity, with a touch of alcohol in the aroma.

T: Dark bread, brown sugar, dark chocolate, dark fruit & nuts. It's mostly the malt here. The roastyness is very mild. Slight hints of grainy acidity. Bitterness is very smooth, I'd never guess it was 72.45 IBU's. Alcohol is fairly well hidden. I'd guess it was over 7%, but only because of its weight.

M: Fairly full body; creamy, almost silky smoothness. Carbonation is pleasantly on the low side of moderate.

D: Incredible for its strength.

I didn't rank this strictly to style because it would come up short. It's a well-crafted brew that I thoroughly enjoyed.

 1,121 characters

Photo of rkuhnel
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber. Nearly black in color (garnet on the edges) with a nice tan head that lasted for a while and left big chunks of lacing. Nose is mostly chocolate and coffee. Mouthfeel is a lttle light for a stout, but still not bad. There is a touch of sweetnes, and quite a bit of hops showing through the dark malts. A good stout, although a little lightweight for an Imperial Stout.

 376 characters

Lagunitas Imperial Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 654 ratings.