Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...
Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest BeerAdvocate updates delivered to your inbox.

Lagunitas Imperial Stout - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Lagunitas Imperial StoutLagunitas Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

631 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 631
Hads: 1,837
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 13.62%
Wants: 74
Gots: 333 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

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: 631 | Hads: 1,837
Photo of Derek
3.98/5  rDev +8.4%
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 +0.8%
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)

Photo of Blakaeris
2.29/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours very dark velvety brown, almost black. Generous head is tan and creamy with nice lacing.

Smell is very slight. I expected a full and rich aroma from a RIS. What I can pick up is subdued dark malt and lactose sweetness.

Taste is sweet, smooth and very chocolatey. Flavor is very mild. Lightly malty with a mild hop finish. No dark burnt grain to speak of. High ABV is very well hidden.

Mouthfeel is light bodied.

This would be a very solid dark lager. Very mild and drinkable with a smooth chocolate character. However, this is a terribly dissapointing RIS. I have been impressed with the other offerings from Lagunitas. What happened here? I've had porters with much more robust and complex flavor (Fuller's London Porter for example). This isn't a terrible beer but it is way off from the style... (817 characters)

Photo of orfeu
3.55/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sampled at cellar temperature in a 17-ounce snifter. Dark cola brown with deep ruby highlights and a sizzling and somewhat modest dark tan head. I know it's probably a dumb prejudice, but I'm always apprehensive about the quality of stouts (of any strength or style) that aren't pretty much black in color. Hmm. Nose is earthy at first, with some leafy hop aromas and increasingly louder murmurings of alcohol-soaked plums. Soft scents of chewy cocoa, like Tootsie Rolls, in the background. Not as intense or powerful as I'd expect an Imperial Stout to be. The taste is actually quite good, unfortunately just not to style. There are roasted coffee grain notes along with dark cherries and raisins, some chocolate aspects, and a demure leafy hop presence. Slight alcohol-induced pepperiness on the palate. Far too thin in body for a beer labeled as "Imperial," not to mention one that is so insistent about its "Russian" pedigree. I mean, look: This is actually a very tasty and drinkable stout. It's just not the particular *style* of stout Lagunitas claims it is. The only thing big enough here (for the intended style) is the alcohol content, and even that's just barely so. I like this beer, I really do. I just can't in good conscience rate this any higher when I consider the characteristics of other RIS's. This one just doesn't fit in.

Still a worthy purchase, however. Just don't expect a "traditional" RIS. (1,419 characters)

Photo of Ego
3.03/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

$3.99 for a bomber @ oak tree buy rite

I think a duvel tulip glass was created by the gods (probably Dionysus)... but I digress...
pours with a decent half finger of white foam, recedes rather quickly to an O-ring with an island in the middle, lacing is decent, it is black but not completely opaque as some light manages to lewis and clark it through the brew. pretty good looking but nothing to get too chuffed about.

dark bitter hot chocolate, definite presence of alcohol, some sweetness also permeates, overall not a powerfull olefactory trip down RIS lane but not bad either.

taste etc...
medium bodied,, the carbonation seems very low, for 72 IBUs there is barely any bitterness noted, some residual bitterness in the back of my maw but nothing to write home from camp Grenada about... as this goes down more it is gettign hoppier though, almost to detriment for the style as the other aspects of this aren't holding up, the funny thing is, you taste the hop oils, not neccesarily the bitterness of the hops, the dark flavors are not nearly dark enough here and this comes off a bit sweet, this is thinning out a bit.. hrmmmm, not sure what to think of this one.

too sweet for my personal taste, not bad but there are much better RIS' out there, for the money Bear Republic slays this. I can't call this "bad" by any stretch but it is very very average. pick up the cappucino stout instead, you'll thank me. (1,456 characters)

Photo of doubleipa
3.8/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice creamy, half inch, light-brown head that fully diminished, fast. Aroma is dark chocolate and strong coffee. Moderately sweet initial flavor. The texture was a bit of a dissapointment; it was quite thin and watery. This beer is listed to 72.45 IBUs. It certainly didn't smell or taste like that. Overal, this is not a bad impy stout, but not great either. (359 characters)

Photo of AndoBrew
3.17/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

*did not like would not buy*

app: looks like granny's tea. brown ruby copper tinges in a slightly see through mess. nice head cause I dumped it in my glass pretty hard. tanish kahki stout colored heady looks, kinda pillowy.

smell: I will say this.. looks and smells like a brown ale, but it smells good. sweet light happy malts, nothing big and toasty. the malts smell red. not black. they are almost fruity.. huh....HUH. lets gulp it and see whats going on.

taste: nice cocoa dry flavor then water then trash.

2nd gulp, I dont like this. It tastes like a bad brown ale. the first cocooa flavor was nice. then way to much water and an un classy rude finish.

there are some malt notes that play on and off through out the gulping that are nice, but overall?? it is just not up to par. to weak to sour to bad.

mf: do I care at this point?? lets find out. thin and a bit to spritzy. not good or bad.. but more so not good.

drinkable?: yep. it has to much carbonation to rule this score, but it is very drinkable.

I WILL SAY THIS: clean clear booze flavor, very classy and nice. leaves a pleasant aftertaste. the numbers I gave this beer, may seem low. but thats because I did not like it. I like it better than new castle. (1,249 characters)

Photo of brewandbbq
3.2/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2000

Pours opaque black with translucent, ruby edging. Light brown head of medium density and shortish retention. No lacework, but a light ring of foam stays on top all the way down.
Aromatics are a bit middle of the road for the style, with some nice added complexity from the six years on it's side.
Chocolate dusted caramel, with mild coffee notes and a hint of vanilla bean.
Some light toasted grainyness finish the nose.
Mouthfeel is on the full side of medium, with some porters being fuller. A bit coke-like on the tongue.
Pallet is mild for a RIS, but here again, drinkability is good for the mellow character that comes with age.
Dark chocolate bits with an underlying toffee note and thinned coffee.
Finishes thinnish and quickly.
No apparent oxidation, but the overall character of this beer is a bit meek for my tastes.

Vintage 2004, re-reviewed on 3/4/08
Identical in appearance from the 2000 reviewed above, but less head that quickly dissapears.
The character of this beer is quite meek and faded. Moreso than I remember the six year old vintage to be.
Maybe the plethora of top-notch RIS's I've had recently doesn't help.
Plenty of coffee and dusty cocoa, with some caramel.
A limpy four-year old. (1,223 characters)

Photo of rayjay
3.27/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Relatively thin dark brown body with a sweet smokey carmel nose. A decent beer, nothing to turn me away, but a bit tame for the RIS title. Loses all of its carbonation very quickly. Its got a tangy roasted kick from the malts, lots of carmel malts too. Noticable bite from the hops as well.

The body isn't big enough for a stout; it reminds me more of a prickly tasting porter. It is too sweet for my taste, and the mouthfeel is a bit boring. I expect more from a beer in this category. It wasn't exactly horrible, but I wouldn't go out of my way. (551 characters)

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

Alas, this beer doesn't live up to its grand "imperial" billing. How does "Lagunitas Adequate Stout" sound?

It poured from a 650 mL bomber dark, but not completely opaque — there was a slight ruby hue to it when held up to the light. A creamy tan head with great retention topped it off.

Subtle roasted coffee bitterness wafted from the glass, along with a nice malty aroma and a hint of molasses. The well put-together smell wasn't matched by the taste, however. The flavour started grainy and metallic before giving way to a slightly bitter roasted malt finish. The alcohol was well-hidden.

The taste became less harsh and more subtle as the beer warmed, but the carbonation was too high and abrasive on the palate when it should have been smooth and silky. (769 characters)

Photo of ReebShorts
3.17/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Hmmm, Dark ruby appearance, not black as I would have expected from a Russian Imperial . Thin head.

Aroma of chocolate, maybe some orange....

No bite to this, kind of watery feeling really. Not bad flavor, just weaker and more watery than I was expecting. (261 characters)

Photo of sockeye101
3.57/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

As many have stated before, this is a stretch to put in the RIS category, and in my mind, it is barely in the American Stout category, closer to a porter in my book. But, that being said, it is still a good beer, and worth drinking, but not worth driving out of your way in search of the almighty Lagunitas Imperial Stout. Upon pouring I immediately noticed the dark brown with reddish tints, and not a jet black color, and the head just never devolped like I was expecting, about one finger, nicely tan, and lasted about a third of the drink. No lacing whatsoever. Aromas were nicely sweet, dried fruits and chocolate. Taste was good, with a nice rich malty flavor that focused on toasted grains and chocolate. Not much hop bitterness, but a little to balance the malts. Mouthfeel was decent, kind of thin and not at all RIS-like. Overall a good beer, worth drinking and the alcohol was masked very well. But if you want a kick you in the ass RIS, go elsewhere. (962 characters)

Photo of dgallina
3.42/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce brown bomber without freshness date.

Pours dark brown,with tiny head and thin lace. Smells coarse and grainy, with coffee malts, fusel alcohol. Weak in flavor. Thin grains up front; segues quickly into alcohol and toasted bread finish. Light-to-medium body, a bit high in carbonation and low in creaminess. Nothing wrong with it, but rather undistinguished overall. (377 characters)

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.07/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1 Pt 6 fl oz> oversize wine goblet

Appears dark brown but with red hues when in direct light, the color is a bit thin but the head is 2" thick, mocha colored and the "eye" of the head is bubbly and active like most high quality RIS display (and Belgian quads & trips.) The direct center of the head (I like to call it the eye) is very active in the center, the rest of the head dissipates to a scattered thin covering. The middle remains active and bubbly throughout.

Smells of rich sweet caramel malt, smokey oak scents. Alcohol content is mildly detectible. Overall, the aroma is very heady.

Taste: The first hit is an oaky malt flavor with semi-bitter green hops. It's not as sweet tasting as it smells, there is a sublte light-chocolate taste. This is a very hoppy RIS, not as hoppy as say...the Yeti RIS but the hops are very prominant.

As the look of the beer would suggest, it feels a bit thin, the lively and bubbly head gives it a smooth feel though.

The feel is thin, but the 8.2 % ABV makes it a bit more easily drinkable than some of the heavy RIS. (1,080 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.15/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear, dark mahogany body with a thin, frothed milk-colored head.

Smell: A hopeful scent of roasted malts, chocolate-covered coffee beans, almonds, glazed prunes and a tiny smidgen of spicy hops and alcohol.

Taste: This is a circus of chocolate flavors! Armed with plenty of lactic smoothness to round out the roasted flavors. Hints of vanilla beans and nuttiness. Finish is a blend of semi-sweet chocolate and herbaceous hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a milky texture and low carbonation.

Drinkability: This is my take: Certainly drinkable and fairly tasty, but this isn't really what I'd consider an "Imperial" Stout. One thing did jump out at me right from the get-go - the well-hidden 8.2%. (715 characters)

Photo of SilentSabre
2.95/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is my first sampling of anything from Lagunitas. I am reviewing this beer at approximately 20C (68F). It was easily the lightest coloured RIS I have ever seen. It was still dark, but light could easily pass through it. An aggressive pour yielded a khaki coloured foamy head the should have been the result of a standard pour. Plenty of hops in the nose, with moderate malt and nuances of coffee beans. I like the reverse to be true with my RIS's, quite honestly. Taste is citrusy bitter hops up front, with a dry roasted malt making itself noticeable several seconds after the sip is swallowed. Mouthfeel is very thin for the style. Overall, I'm a bit dissappointed in this. (679 characters)

Photo of rajendra82
3.4/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This “Unlimited Release” of Lagunitas Imperial Stout came home in a 22 oz. bomber. As I was pouring it in an oversized wine glass, I immediately noticed how clear and light the body was. When held up to the light, this was a far cry from the opaque and forbidding body that many other beers from this style exhibit. Instead, this was translucent reddish brown. The head was a little too small as well. While not an unattractive pour, I had to take a full point off the appearance score for being so light.

The smell of the beer was light as well, with grassy and spicy hops, and sweet toffee. Not much roasted coffee or chocolate on the nose. The taste was clean, sweet, and lightly roasty, with tinge of acidity. In other words, it was near dead on for a Baltic Porter, and way too light to be a Stout. Thin and sticky mouthfeel was Porter-ish too, and the slight but noticeable hop bitterness wiped the palette clean after each sip. This was a remarkably easy to drink beer, considering the 8.2% ABV. Not the Imperial Stout to go for, when you are in the mood for a heavy nightcap. (1,088 characters)

Photo of idResponse
3.86/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love you, Russian Imperial Stout.

By the way, this is a really good one!

See, I never thought Lagunitas could do anything other than big ales and big IPA's and big ... uh... beers...

but a big stout? can lagunitas really do that?


and with great fervor and happiness I would like to say this thing looks great! I'm drinking motor oil! Yes!

The smell doesn't get me off, I don't really notice much smell. I think my nose is broken from years of smoking cigarettes, but i'm reformed these days.

This thing tastes pretty damned fine. It's a little on the sweet side and at 8.2% i was suprised to see it come anywhere near sweet. Sometimes it overwhelms with sweet but it's offset by a really nice rich dark hop.

The mouthfeel is smooth and beautiful. I can hold this in my mouth for years.

This is easily a highly drinkable and easily consumed beer. I commend Lagunitas for having created something as wonderfully tasty as this. Thanks! (975 characters)

Photo of MLegendre
3.64/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Dark translucent brown. When held up to the light it looks blood red, carbonation is also visible when held up to light. Paperthin head that disapeared before it had a chance to even form leaving a little bit of film on the top. Kind of looks like a glass of coke.

S: What it lacks in appearence it makes up for in smell. Roasted dark fruits dominate the nose, chocolate also makes an appearence.

T: The taste is definatly weaker than the smell. Roasted malt and toffeelike flavors dominate in the beggining, midtaste some coffeelike bitterness comes in and takes over for the finish. Not a very strong beer, but good none the less.

M: Very light (for a stout), and a bit watery. Carbonation was a little too high. Alcohol is very well hidden.

D: This is a very light Imperial Stout. Fans of big beers like Stone will probably be disapointed, but this would be a good place to start for those new to the style (as I am). Not great, but drinkable and something I might get when I'm in the mood for a stout, but not in the mood for a big kick in the mouth. (1,073 characters)

Photo of akorsak
4.02/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a bomber of Lagunitas Imperial Stout served in a Troegenator seidel. The stout is cool.

A: The beer poured with a reddish tinted black color, fairly surprising given the style. There was a nice ring of head that did not retain well.

S: This stout has a deep chocolatey aroma.

T: Chocolate notes are, again, the dominant theme here. They also give way to some sweet caramel notes. The deep depth of a normal RIS is not present, giving it a nice change of pace from some of the bigger, badder RIS' on the market.

M: The chocolate is pleasant but there seems to be a lack of depth here, as that chocolate is a one-trick pony.

D: Even at 8.2%, this is very drinkable with a smooth sweet finish that yields hints of roasted malt. (747 characters)

Photo of TheBungyo
3.2/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A bit lighter than I'd like to see in terms of body color. The first pour out of the bomber had no head at all. The second had a nice solid finger's worth. Reminds me more of cola than stout. Nose is mostly milky chocolate and alcohol. Taste is the same but with a tart sourness in the finish. Weird that Lagunitas makes so many good beers but can't get the style right here. I'm honestly surprised. Mouth is too thin for a stout. Won't be buying this again. Spend a lonely penny down a well and wish for a better beer. (519 characters)

Photo of briman
3.59/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from bottle into standard pint glass.

Pours dark brown, with ruby around the edges when held up to the light. Light also shows that it's noticeable clear, and not opaque. About a half-inch dark tan head, decent retention. Little lacing.

Aroma is dark roasted malts, chocolate, & coffee.

Taste follows through. Chocolate is light upfront, giving way to rich dark roasted malts through the middle, and finally moving to nice roasted coffee notes towards the finish. Not much aftertaste, no bitterness, and no noticeable hop contribution.

Medium-full body, low carbonation. Very smooth, mabye too much so. Alcohol is hidden very well, I almost wonder if it's really there. Only negative is, it really doesn't seem much like an imperial stout. Maybe a nice porter, or a very, very mild stout, but an imperial stout ??? I think not. It's really not a bad beer, and I wouldn't mind having another, just doesn't fit the style...at all. (947 characters)

Photo of Crotor
3.91/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Why are imperial stouts ever done as a summer release? Lagunitas, Stone... It just doesn't make sense. It's 90+ degrees in the Sacramento Sprawl right now, and I'm feeling the light (in alcohol and flavor) kolschs and light (in mouthfeel, but not flavor) saisons, not the impy stouts. Nevertheless, I finally decided to try Lagunitas' offering in the style. And I'm glad I did.

I have issues with Lagunitas. I don't quite trust the brewery. Half of their beers I hate. Half I love. Until now, I couldn't quite discern the pattern of their schizophrenia. It's the hopping. I love their "non-hoppy" beers, while I loathe (nearly) everything they do in the "hoppy" styles. Something about their hop choice turns me off from their IPAs, DIPAs, and pale ales - the Imperial Red is the only exception. But their "non-hoppys" have all been damned good. Their saison (#9) and Neuvo Noir were both *wonderful,* and this imperial stout aint too shabby.

It poured a clear and exceedingly deep amber. Not black, mind you, but *dark* amber. Not unpleasant, but a bit out-of-style, so I'd dock a few points on appearance.

The aroma is all I like in an imperial stout. A hint of roastiness, hopping subdued, and a big, mealy, malty, gamey, indefinable odor unique to good RISs and dopplebocks. There are also undercurrents of currant and plum. And chocolate. A definite winner on the aroma...

The flavor fills the mouth with stabbing bits of charcoal and chocolate, and there's sweet, dark fruit at the end, but in the middle it's a bit anemic... I could use a bit more malt body to carry it through. The mouthfeel suffers with the lack of residual sugars that impact the "middle" of the flavor, but the acrid bits at the end from the roasted malts make up enough to land the beer in the territory of "interesting" in terms of mouthfeel.

Overall, a damned drinkable RIS, and at the relatively low price at which my nearest supermarket is offering it, I should think I should often find myself drinking this beer. That is, were this not a bloody hot late-spring/early-summer. Move this release to winter, and I might choose to live off this stuff through the cold months... (2,172 characters)

Photo of MattBrooks
4.52/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Shared this 22oz bomber with some friends the other night, and I was totally impressed. Imperial Stouts are my thing, and I usually like them black as night with tons of chocolate overtones...but this one's a little bit different. It has a serious toffee, coffee, caramel nose and flavors to go with that as well. It pours brown with not too much head, and the finish is a little on the hoppy side, but that's what they're known for. Excellent version of an Imperial Stout. I was impressed! (490 characters)

Photo of ddarity
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a pretty good beer. Although the head is a little thin, I do not know that is inappropriate for the style. Nice dark color.

The aroma has a hint of green apple and a few buttery notes. There are also some roast notes but they are pretty muted.

Nice tasting beer, maybe a little sweeter than I expected. Not many flavors that I would attribute to hops. I think a few more finishing hops would really make this a great beer.

The mouthfeel finishes with a nicedry bite that I enjoyed but found overall to be a little thin.

Over all found this a very enjoyable Imperial Stout. (593 characters)

Lagunitas Imperial Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 631 ratings.