Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout - SweetWater Brewing Company

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Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial StoutSweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout

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very good

1,035 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,035
Reviews: 430
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 11.99%
Wants: 109
Gots: 206 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
SweetWater Brewing Company visit their website
Georgia, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: rajendra82 on 08-26-2004

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,035 | Reviews: 430
Reviews by barczar:
Photo of barczar
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque onyx with a frothy one inch tan head that slowly dissipates, leaving sheets of lacing.

Licorice, chocolate, roast malt, tar, and hints of dark fruit form the initial aroma. Seems fairly sweet. Chocolate and nutty, buttery toffee dominate in the end. Coffee grounds add complexity.

Flavor reveals deep notes of chocolate, becoming roasty and slightly charred mid palate, with a slightly acrid, coffee bitter, nutty finish. Dark cherry and berry notes surface early, but are accompanied by a slightly off, plastic flavor. Notes of grapefruit become evident in subsequent sips, along with char at the finish. Fairly sweet, overall.

Body is light, almost watery, with moderate carbonation and alcohol warmth.

The aroma is incredible, but slight off flavors hurt the overall experience. Body is also too thin. Could use more malt backbone.

More User Reviews:
Photo of smakawhat
4.24/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Classic dark walnut brown to black body, and totally opaque. Thick whipped up mocha head, hits nearly three fingers with big smooth top and retention, some light lacing, and huge staying power. Big, controlled, aggressive, and large. Real nice looker.

Sweet fruit hop like sense and a bit of malt char. Hints towards a sweetened plum and cherry but moves to enough roast to bring some real charring character along with it. Comes off with a bit of fleshy tone as well, almost juiced. Light hints of smoke as well, real nice.

A real interesting palate. Hits with classic charring and roast, big and classic to imperial stout with thick roast body. Finish is really impressive, wonderful notes of penny candy and sweetness. Hits with lots of fruit and a big dry licorice notes that come throughout the body. Simple bodied, with a nice almost cascadian dark fruit quality that really coats with some oily sheen. The sweetness comes with some real unexpected character, peppermint, white sugar with a good controlled juiced hop bitterness of wood and spice.

This is a real neat Imperial stout, very impressive. Not wizz bang bowl you over, but very memorable.

Photo of ilikebeer03
3.76/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: pours a dark black with a finger of tan head. really good retention an lacing.

S: dank hops dominate the nose, likely simcoe. slight bitter chocolate.

T: hops upfront. dank, cirtusy, piney hops. followed by a bit of smoke and dark, roasted malts.

M: decent mouth. more like that of an ipa...light and crsip.

O: a really interesting, unique take on imperial stout...i feel like its more like an imperial black ipa.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to J2Brew2 for sending me this one!

Pours a pitch black color with a 1 inch khaki head made up of tiny bubbles. Good rings of lace on the drink down. Smells of bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee, and herbal hops. Tastes of bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee, with very minor hop essence. There is a bit of an acidic/tangy flavor on the tongue after each sip. A tiny bit of alcohol burn in the throat. Mouthfeel is very carbonated with a prickly sensation in the throat after each swallow. A little too much carbonation for this beer style. Overall, this is a pretty good stout that suffers a little from the acidic/tangy taste and the over carbonation.

Photo of MasterSki
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to - damn, not sure - Photekut, maybe? This is what happens after too many trades. Anyways, served in my brand new Pisgah pint glass, which definitely was from Photekut! Best before 12/31/09.

A - Dark, dark, slightly translucent brown, with a one finger dark mocha foam that lives some solid lacing after slowly dissipating. It's pretty solid, but nothing spectacular.

S - Surprising amount of citrus, floral, and dank earthy hop notes. There's also some chocolate, Whopper's malt balls, and a hint of umami and soy that I don't totally enjoy. The smell is quite potent, and while busy it actually works surprisingly well.

T - Starts with the sweet citrus hoppiness then quickly morphs into bittersweet chocolate and burnt malt/espresso bitterness at the back end. Again, it's pretty good and I do like the dry-hopping, but it's not mind-blowing.

M - Medium bodied, almost porter viscosity. Very creamy, but with moderate carbonation that has just the right amount of tingle to it. Lots of residual stickiness. It should probably be a little denser.

D - It didn't take me long to down 12oz of this one. The aftertaste has only mild bitterness, moderate carbonation, and the texture lends itself to bigger sips. There's something intangible that just made this brew easy to drink.

Definitely recommended to fans of hoppier stouts.

Photo of oberon
3.6/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Sweetwater in my mind is a very underrated brewery maybe because its in the south and doesnt have the largest ditribution area?I dont know.This brew poured into a standard pint glass a jet black with a nice tight formed dark mocha colored head that left broken lace behind as it settled pretty quickly.Awesome aromas very fruity with notes of bitter chocolate,coffee,and some wood underneath,it seems to go downhill from there a little.Really thin for a RIS in my mind no chewey big mouthfeel here it glides down effortlessly wich is good for alot of beers but in my opinion not this style,flavors have alot of RIS qualities but are muted a little.Dark roast coffee and bitter chocolate are there with some dark fruit but its not real firm,one thing I like is a nice leafy hop profile in the finish wich was the high water mark for me.Man it started out great but just didnt have the goods to be stellar,all in all decent.

Photo of ExtraStout
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Thick and black. Big ol’ dark mocha head. Killer lacing.

S: First thing that hits me is the hops. Earthy, dank and spicy. Then it's milky toffee and powdered chocolate.

T: The flavors develop as dark and bitter chocolate with a huge dose of the dank hops noted in the aroma. Coffee comes in to play in the finish. I like the way the flavors play off the bouquet.

M: Way too thin for the thick syrupy pour I got. Meek carbonation and a skinny body.

D: Excellent. No sign of the 9% ABV. This beer is downright quaffable.

Overall: Sweetwater entices me with this my first glimpse at their offerings. The amazing hop flavor on this beer is by far its best feature. Pleasantly strong in the nose, the hops bring a subdued bitterness and pack a huge punch in the flavor department. Apparently some people are turned off by this in their RIS's, but I'd call it pretty friggin' awesome in this one!

Photo of TCHopCraver
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to boonecal for bringing this back from Atlanta for me. I shared this with zoso1967 and BuckyFresh on 2/5/11 while we were brewing up some tasty beer of our own.

Happy Ending pours very dark brown, as close to black as possible, with a medium mocha-cream one-finger head into a snifter. The lacing is quite nice, with fine, splashy, intricate patterns forming on the sides of my glass.

Holy citrus hops! This is by far the hoppiest Imperial Stout that I've smelled. I pick up plenty of sweet orange and lime mixed in with roasted malts, but really the sweet fruitiness dominates. I also can smell some darker fruit hints of cherry and plum in the bouquet. There are also some honey and toasty aromas hiding in there. This must have been dry-hopped like crazy to achieved that aroma. Very unique.

Roasted malt flavors balance out hops a lot better than in the smell. That roastiness actually dominates the taste, but the citrus and tropical fruit flavors still nudge their way into the profile. A little milk chocolate blends with the roasted malts and citrus, while the darker fruit flavors linger in the background.

The mouthfeel is light for the style, especially at the outset of each sip. It is not as bold and coating as I like from an Imperial Stout, but the feel is nicely roasty and biting from the malts and hops, though.

Happy Ending was enjoyably drinkable and very different from other Imperial Stouts that I have had. It was quite a bit hoppier, sweeter, and lighter. Frankly, it was a weird combination of qualities for the style, but I appreciate its originality.

Photo of tbryan5
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bomber poured into Parish Tulip.

Looks great with a 1 finger off white head. Smells pretty hoppy with lots of roast. Taste is more of the smoke and roasted coffee. A lot more than I was expecting. It has a medium mouthfeel with equal if not a little more carbonation. Overall, it was different than I was expecting, but I was a pleasant surprise. A nice, and unique take on the style.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #40 (May 2010):

Dark appearance dons a tan lacing that keeps dropping rings on the glass. The aroma is a mix of sweet floral hop victory and spice-laced burnt sugar. Thick, muscular malt body flexes and gives a smoothness to think about. Spicy hops tingle the taste buds as the roasty malt digs in with a burnt sugar and grilled bread flavor. Alcohol is no secret, nor does it want to be, with a growing warmth that pleases by providing some balance. Hop flavor engulfs all of this with layers of complexity that take a whole bottle to unfold in a timely fashion.

From start to finish, this beer shines--seriously a great brew with a drinkability that's uncommon in bigger beers.

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours into my glass a deep, viscous black with a wisp of dark tan head that becomes a ring quickly. Spotty lacing on the glass and no light getting through. Aromas of deeply roasted, sweet malt alongside a intermingling of chocolate, coffee and vinous notes. Caramel hints as well as some fig and raisin accents. Mild smoke and nut with hops in the background.

First sip brings a bid roasted dark malt flavor upfront with a slight smoky edge. Chocolate, caramel and coffee intertwine with a touch of vinous fruit flavor as well. Flows down with some solid bitterness and a touch of hops. Mellow raisin accents round out this one. Not a bad imperial stout, but not one of my top picks either.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a rich deepness to it, sort of smooth as well. For an imperial stout this ends up going down rather easily. Overall, a tasty brew that I'm glad to have had the chance to sample, but won't go crazy seeking out again.

Photo of blitz134
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just picked this up. It was nicely chilled by the time I got home since I have no heat in my truck at the moment...

Pours absolutely jet black. Expresso colored head on top, a quarter inch thick to start with and finished with a thin layer and a ring around the glass. Nice Belgian lace as I drink this one down.

Aroma is strong with hops, grapefruits and other citrus and a touch of pine sap. It almost overwhelms the aroma. A little dark chocolate and toffee underneath. I'm not usually a huge fan of overly hopped stouts, so we'll see how this one goes (although I've had it before...on tap though...this seems different).

Dark toasted malts come through with chocolate. The hops are pretty overwhelming again and the citrus and grapefruit finish this out after the swallow. The flavor is good, but there are a lot of American hops in this, although it isn't all that bitter, neither from hops or dark malts. I personally think the hops cover up a lot of the subtleties I remember when having this on tap. I'm knocking this down a bit on the flavor. While I know its not supposed to be exactly to the RIS style, this seems too much like drinking a pale ale or something. The toasted parts of this beer just fail to come through. I'm a hophead, but not in my stouts please, unless its subtle.

Mouthfeel is medium to full, slightly oily actually. Not creamy like some stouts. Low carbonation is right for the style. Flavor coats the mouth okay but this one washes away fairly quickly.

Good drinkability. No alcohol hints at all...none. This one goes down super easy though, really smooth. I have a feeling that given some time this beer will really stand out. I know there are some good toasted notes in this one, they just can't come out yet.

Photo of marvin213
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black like night with a dark brown head, it levelly laces my Sweetwater pint glass. Hops leaving lacing with a color as dark as the pitch, only the froth's dissipation before I pull this up presents a problem.

The aroma is malty and hoppy. Sweet like candied balls and bitter like aspirin with a headache, things are looking better. It's a hop stout.

Bitter like the smell, hops dominate this freshly poured stout. It's reminiscent of GI Night Stalker as the hops pierce thru the stout in the making. Just as a chocolate glaze suitably complements a donut, this hop stout is balanced like a ballerina.

The hops really dance--a bittering dance--on the tongue, as malted sweetness coats the palate. It's a chocolate beer without going dessert. The aftertaste is lip-smacking good. After instinctively calling it "exceptional," I'm going with the 5!

It's neat enough--core principles of Sweetwater marketing at work here--that it's worth always having around for the unexpected beer advocate visit AND to enjoy with frequency. Unlike the greatest of stouts, however, I don't see considering two consecutive. It is, nonetheless, an impressive beverage.

Photo of merlin48
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Swingtop liter bottle pours dark, oily, and opaque. Large cocoa hued head retains well and has some garnet fringes. Sticky patch lacing.

Aroma of nutty malts, a hint of chocolate, grassy hops, and some fruity red apples.

Silky smooth mouthfeel is full bodied with a low medium carbonation.

Taste has some bitter dark roasty maltiness, a hint of citrusy and grassy hops, nuttiness, red apples, and faint notes of coffee and dark chocolate.

A solid impy stout that I've had in the cellar for several months. Wish I had another.

Photo of banglin
3.33/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A: rich dark brown to black color. Very good lacing.

S: strong roasted malts aroma

T: strong dark chocolate flavors along with the roasted malts flavor. Lacks the imperial stout flavor I have come to appreciate in other imperial stouts.

M: not as thick as I would have liked from an Imperial Stout, but not too thing. Carbonation is good.

O: it is a good beer but lacks many of the characteristics of imperial stouts that I grown to love an crave.

Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Taste is cocoa, vanilla, sugar cane, and roasted malt. Beer falls on the sweeter side for the style. Would make a delicious dessert beer with the sugar cane being pronounced at times. One of my favorites from the brewery.

Photo of kingcrowing
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a tasting glass, black waxed 2010.

Pours a very dark black color with a small brown head. Nose is fantastic - hoppy, fruity and a bit sweet.

Taste is lightly boozy, malty and crisp. There's chocolate and light malt with a really creamy and smooth mouthfeel. Really solid.

Photo of chinchill
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in a pint glass. Best by date of Feb. 2012.

A: pours black and, I think, cloudy with just 1 cm of light brown head. Good head retention with plenty of lacing.

S: aromas of roasted malt, for sure, but this also has a substantial hop character of the weedy/herbal sort. Higher ABV is evident even while cold and contributes to floral notes and hints of dark fruits

T: semi-sweet mocha and malt flavors appear initially. Hints of dark toast and molasses. The hop component remains partly herbal in tasting but is less pronounced on the tongue than in the nose, and turns more piney here. The hop contribution grows in power, and comes to the fore in the aftertaste, which is also nicely, if lightly, fruity and bitter. These hop characteristics seem well-matched to the malt profile, producing a stout that is relatively hoppy but still seems well-balanced. The fine and lingering aftertaste has good bit of mocha tint.

M: creamy smooth and full bodied with a soft medium-light carbonation. The high ABV has exceptionally little negative impact on the feel.

D- exceptionally hoppy yet drinkable imperial stout, with a high ABV that is well-hidden in the taste and feel, although fairly obvious to the nose.

Photo of glid02
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 version out of a 1L bottle tried in Jan. of 2009.

Pours black with dark brown highlights. Head is one-finger of light brown foam that recedes into a wispy layer on top. Not a whole lot of lacing.

Smells of roasted malts and chocolate. There's a massive difference in the fresh version as there's almost no hop aroma, however the smells that I'm getting aren't very clean.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Roasted malts and light chocolate flavors are built of a backbone of sweet malt and molasses. Again, as with the smell it just doesn't taste very clean - all of the flavors seem to run into each other instead of working with each other.

Mouthfeel is good. The carbonation is a bit on the low side, but it's got a good thickness and goes down smoothly.

Drinkability is good - I had some help finishing off the 1L bottle and I needed it as I wouldn't have enjoyed finishing it myself.

Overall it seems like the stopper may have let a bit too much air in over the last year, I'd be interested to see how the 12 oz bottles compare. I will say that I blended half a bottle of this years with the 2008 version and it gave me the best of both worlds - a mildly hoppy nose with a better maltiness and likewise in the flavor.

Photo of Fulkrum78
4.45/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I snagged a bottle and poured it not expecting a whole heckuva lot. Aroma is all hops. Much hoppier than I had expected. Mouthfeel is a lill thin, but very nice overall. Flavor is hoppy and tasty while being rather excellent. Alcohol is felt more in the belly than in the mouth. I'll definitely look to get another one of these to cellar. Great beer!

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter) Bottle number 423
A- This beer pours a jet black deep tan body with a creamy head of coco that last a good bit.
S- The chocolate roasted malt flavor has a green hop pine aroma to follow. There is a earthy roasted char note in the finish.
T- The smooth roasted chocolate malt flavor has some dark roasted coffee hints with a nice green pine hop finish. The hops linger a bit after each sip and start to take on a minty quality as the beer warms. There is a roasted bitterness that blends with the hops bitterness in the linger adding some nice depth.
M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with no alcohol heat except for a very faint spicy hint when the beer is pretty warm. D- This beer is easy to drink and pretty mellow as it goes down quick. I'm not sure I would call in imperial but it is a nice stout.

Photo of pwoods
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mikesgroove for adding this in the great Black Booty package he sent me.

A: Pour motor oil black. 1/2 finger head, tight, and dark mocha. Good retention and some patchy lacing.

S: Very strong. Burnt malts that are very sweet. chocolaty and nicely hopped. No alcohol even after warming.

T/M: Hops are very present but are right in place. Adds a nice flora earthiness as well as citrus and bitterness to balance out the burnt malts. The burnt malts, added with a nice chocolate sweetness are the forefront with pulpy fig in the back. body is a bit light but nothing to complain about.

D: Easy to drink for a RIS and very tasty. I'm sure I'll find people that will trade this to me :)

Photo of lnashsig
3.99/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many thanks to Ahlthe3rd for this one. waxed bottle top, great looking bottle. Poured from bottle into Brooklyn tulip. Pours a pitch black color, tan/brown head fills the glass, then recedes with a little lacing. Classic looking imperial stout. Smell- not a lot exciting here, one of my only dings on this beer. Some plastic/chemical flavors, some roast and mocha. Not great aroma. Taste- awesome complexity with dark fruit, a tart hit to the back of my throat and waves of roasted malt bitterness. coffee, chocolate, tart ending. Good carbonation and mouthfeel. I liked this beer- a great offering from Sweetwater.

Photo of JamesStreet
3.57/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bomber into snifter at about 55-58 degrees
A - nice black licorice color with surprisingly thick tan head. Good-lasting lacing
S - not so bad but not what I was expecting. Lots of piney hop aroma. Pretty hop forward
T - again, the hop profile dominates with subtle notes of roasty, nutty malt.
M - very light on the tongue, almost slick. Hop bite lingers awhile on the tongue.
O - this smells, tastes and feels more like a black IPA than an ImpStout. Not a bad beer, but really not a top of the line Black IPA either.

Photo of nickthegun12
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage....drank in dec. 2010...

black as night....with a little tan head...and nice lacing...

smells of hops...weird for a stout, but i like it!....chocolate comes out in the nose too...

taste is a wonderful medley...of chocolate....and hops....weird too...don't really get much roasted malt in the taste...

feel is slightly dry but smooth...prob. due to the year of aging...

great drink ability....even though its 9% abv

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Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout from SweetWater Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 1,035 ratings.