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Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout - SweetWater Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial StoutSweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout

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

895 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 895
Reviews: 389
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 96
Gots: 136 | FT: 3
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: rajendra82 on 08-26-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 895 | Reviews: 389 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DrDemento456
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this single up at the Gateway Grill.

A - Pours a bountiful deep black with a nice inch of tan head.

S - Smells of slight hops, roasted malts, chocolate and coffee.

T - A very balanced stout. Taste of bittersweet chocolate first then the roasted malts play along side of the hops which are mild and it finishes with a touch of coffee. Creamy and smooth.

M - Wow it drinks with a great medium body. Alcohol well hidden.

Overall I really enjoyed this one especially after so many hop forward Imperial Stouts I have had lately. I believe they have a couple more left and at 3.00 a bottle it is a bit steep but definitely worth it.

Photo of sweetwaterman
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served on-tap(!) at Jocks N' Jills, Vinings, GA ~March 2011

Appearance: Dark Mahogany. Head reminiscent of crema on a good cappuccino. very persistent.

Smell: Hoppy, roasted malt undertones. "Bright" for a stout.

Taste: Initial rush of fresh hops followed by dark roasted malt. Fruity toffee. Toasted figs? Sweet candied (caramel/toffee) fruit finish. Well balanced.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, High carbonation for a Stout IMO.

Overall: One of my favorite Imperial Stouts. Could be mistaken for a Black DIPA though.

Highly recommended.

Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I couldn't resist the urge to start this before my review, so here's an abriged version:

Thanks to Briann44556 for this nice extra.

The basics: 9% ABV and no idea on price (part of a trade)

Dark, viscous, nice lacing.

Roasty, muted, not as robust as I would like.

Creamy, velvety smooth texture. Wonderful roasted chocolate malt flavors abound. Not as in your face as other Imperial Stouts, but also not as flavorful, overall...Nice malt Tang in the middle.

What I like most: The price (heh heh) and creamy texture.

What I like least: The lack of nuance and uniqueness.

Verdict: Average but good. Probably not as good value as many others.

Photo of Chaney
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got one of these as an extra from both GatorBeerNerd and BulbMan. Thanks Donnie and Jon. I really wanted some Sweetwater IS beer love!

A: Poured almost a pitch black color, with absolutely no light showing through.... even around the edges. The head was a VERY frothy and pepper mocha colored one that stuck around and then some.

S: Dark fruit, dark chocolate, and a good presence of teriyaki sauce. Very bright and hoppy.... for an IS anyway.

T: The first thing I noticed after first sip was the very smooth finish on this thing. I mean.... wow! This is definitely on the bright, hoppy, and fruity side as opposed to the deep, roasty, coffee one. Craft beer lovers candy!

M: Velvety and creamy +! Low carbonation, and this was definitely a thick, sludgy beer.... that happens to also be extremely fruity.

O: I could actually taste the Sweetwater IPA imbedded in this mother! I loved that beer... and I loved this one!

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours pitch black with a finger and a half of thick coffee coloured head; not great retention but leaves some lacing.

S: The first thing you notice is the smell of hops which is odd for an imperial stout. Buried beneath this are some booze and coffee/chocolate aromas.

T: The hops present a blast of fruit flavour upfront but then we sink into familiar stout territory: sweetness and roasted flavours.

M: The mouthfeel is fairly creamy with medium-full body and suitably low carbonation.

D: A very tasty stout with well hidden alcohol.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
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 jpro
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz wax dipped bomber from Total Wine, West Ashley... looks cool with the silkscreen "label" and other graphics & tidbits.

A: Pours a deep, rusty uber-mahogany with a coca-cola head that even with a heavy handed pour, only yields about half a finger of tight, bubbly foam... Not much lace gets left behind, despite a small amount of creamy retention.

S: Hmmm... interesting. A lot of rich, sweet malts and a lot of sugariness. Raisins in there, too. Some notes of dark chocolate and minty / grassy hops. Piney hops lurk in the background.

T: When it hits your lips, you're thinking hop bomb, incoming... but almost immediately you get a pre-emptive, sugary malt strike which takes the edge off. Not too roasty or chocolately... just burnt sugar, brown sugar and a tiny smidge of dark cocoa. Big, piney finish rounds things out (and maybe a touch of citrus, too). Its bitter, but not overbearingly so.

M: Pretty dern full, yet highly carbonated... good combo as you get something that coats the palate and does a good job of cleansing it - I like it.

D/O: Wow... pretty drinkable if you want to call this an Imperial Stout! I think of it more as a Cascadian Dark Ale with a big mouthfeel... Seriously, though - where's the roastiness, the chocolate, the coffee, etc?? Pretty interesting / weird for an Imp Stout, but enjoyable nonetheless. Good stuff - glad I picked it up, and'll probably grab some next year, too.

Photo of beerdown77
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This pours black with dark tan head. It doesn't smell over chocolaty or coffee-y. I think I faintly smell hops, but definitely dark malts and sugar. The taste is pretty mild for being a 9%. The aftertaste is where most of the flavor hits you with a lot of bitterness, burnt coffee, and woody toastiness. I don't consider myself to be overly versed in imperial stouts, but I like this much better than the sweeter versions, i.e., Samuel Adams Imperial Stout. The body is pretty heavy, but there is a surprising amount of carbonation and bite; I was expecting this to be more syrupy. One or two of these would be my limit.

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.4/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I picked this beer up today at Hop City in Atlanta. This is one of the few readily available Sweetwater beers I haven't tried yet, so let's give it a shot:

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with a small head of tan bubbles that faded back into the beer within about 30 seconds and ended up as a small ring where the beer meets the glass. Looking through the corner of the glass, you can tell that this beer is pretty clear overall.

Aroma: Pretty well blended aroma with Chocolate and cocoa mixed with ample floral hops. The malts have significant sweet caramel and some toasty notes. In the cold beer, I don't really get any alcohol yet.

Taste: There is some pretty significant hops in this beer, and is probably one of the hoppier representations of this style that I have tried. The malt is there in the flavor, but it is playing a supporting role. The body is quite thin for the style with low carbonation, and the alcohol is also lightening the impression of this beer up and it is coming across the palate quite watery. The finish is balanced, and I am hard-pressed to say who wins in the end. I think that I would go with malt, but only by a nose. The alcohol is pretty well hidden in this beer from the perspective of warming and flavor, but it is thinning out the mouthfeel and definitely adding warmth to the back of the throat after the sip.

Opinion: This is a pretty good beer, but there are numerous other examples in this style that I prefer over this. This beer comes across more like a dark IPA, or maybe bordering on Imperial IPA, but as an imperial Stout, they are up against some serious contenders...and fall short in my opinion. This beer isn't bad and I will finish it and all that, but I wouldn't drink this thinking that it will stand up to The Yeti or anything like that.

Photo of dam0ne4
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - pours a dark color (almost black) with 1/4 - 1/2 finger of head, minimal carbonation

Smell - a roasty hop smell is prominent with a hint of chocolate/caramel

Taste - Has a very hoppy taste with a stout aftertaste- like an IPA and a stout mixed together. I could also taste a hint of chocolate

Mouthfeel - Almost no carbonation and very thick

Drinkability - I enjoyed this, the chocolate, hops, and roasted nutty taste blended together nicely. Good hearty beer with a lot of flavor. The 9% alcohol does sneak up on you after a couple, so I probably wouldn't drink more than 1 or 2 at a time.

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

Pours a dark black with a thin tan head that doesnt lace much. Aroma of piny hops and burnt sugar. More hops in the taste, very hop forward, joined by some roasted malt flavors of chocolate and brown sugar. lots of layers here alternating between hoppy bitterness and roasty malt sweetness. Complex, but i feel it is more like a double black IPA than a stout. Mouthfeel is a bit thin for a stout as well. Very drinkable for the ABV, but not as a stout.

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

12oz bottle, best before 12/31/11, poured into snifter. Thanks goes out to GPHarris for including this one as an extra in a trade. Thanks Gabe!

A: Pours an opaque dark brown/black with a finger of dense light brown head; decent retention and a touch of spotty lacing. Standard quality imperial stout appearance.

S: Extremely strong pine aroma here; my mind has me alternating between the Christmas trees of winter and the piny lakes of summer (which resemble the bottle art quite well actually). Once you get past that, there's a good deal of roasted and chocolaty malts, along with a hint of coffee.

T: Pine upfront again, though there's a bit more balance than I picked up from the smell; a good deal of chocolate and coffee both come out easily here. Not a whole lot else going on; this is a bittersweet in the favor of sweet flavor- well balanced and easy to have sip after sip.

M: Medium-bodied and rather light for the style, with very light carbonation. Quite smooth, with a moderate stickiness lingering on the finish to keep the flavor around.

D: For a 9% stout this goes down very easily, but I'm not quite sold enough on the flavor to give it a 4 or higher for drinkability. A good beer, and if you like hoppy stouts (or pine hops), it's one to check out for sure.

Photo of shrek806
3.13/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a DFH snifter

Pours a oil dark black with a thin head and a slightly tan lacing. Once it settled, there was almost no head and not alot going on

Smells of hops right away, not what I expected to smell from the color of the pour.Some Chocolate, maybe coffee bean as well

Tastes like a light stout. Not overly creamy or smooth. Almost zero hoppy bitterness. Some mild malt flavor with an alcohol finish

The mouthfeel is thin. it feels more like a soda in my mouth and finishes with a minor alcohol burn

This one is not my cup of tea, lacks depth in just about every direction.


Photo of haddon
3.38/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

on-tap at Mellow Mushroom.

pours a black onyx color with brown mocha head. doesn't stay around long but much lacing down the

sweet like licorice with a bit of roasted coffee bean. bit of woody undertone, perhaps oak. to be fair, MM does serve their beer too cold in frosty pint glasses but didn't change much even after it warmed.

sweet notes at first: light malts, caramelized sugars & oak. ends with hop bitterness and salty. almost tastes like soy. a bit off- putting and strange for an RIS.

Medium body that comes across as light and watery for a stout at 9% abv.

not really my thing. for a class of beers that is loaded with legends, I'll probably pass on this one next time.

Photo of marvin213
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
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 birchstick
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap at the Atlanta Fish Market

A - pours a deep dark black with a half finger mocha head

S - smells of dark chocolates and a lot of sweet grapefruit hops

T - starts off with milk and very rich dark chocolates that fades to a nice burnt malt / roasted coffee flavors. Hidden beneath these flavors are some grapefruit flavors. This is more sweet than roasted, dark chocolates being the dominant flavor.

M - thick as a milkshake without much carbonation

D - this is a really good dark chocolate stout. More hoppy than your typical stout too. I was very excited to hear this was one tap and had one with the breaded pudding, which was an awesome pairing.

Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a Thomas Hooker pint glass. Thanks for the trade, CrookedStill!

A: Black with root beer colored highlights near the head and base under a one and a half finger head of creamy, espresso brown foam which settles slowly and leaves a good trace of lacing on the glass.

S: Creamy, roasted black malt sweetness, licorice, bitter coffee grounds and an earthy, floral hop aroma. A hearty sweet bread aroma mixes in with the spicy scent of ginger root and anise.

T: Bittersweet, creamy roasted malt flavor up front that throws bold flavors of fresh brewed coffee and earthy, chocolate notes. A very spicy, herbal, fruity bitterness creeps through mid-palate lending flavors of raisin, chicory and alcohol. The finish is almost meaty, with a certain smoky cigar taste. The aftertaste leaves bitter hop resins and a roasted malt slick on the palate.

M: Big, rich, slightly creamy mouthfeel with decent balance and an expect, although well-blended alcohol sting relative to the brew's strength.

D: I can see why Happy Ending is an award-winning American stout and a heck of an Americanized RIS clocking in at 9% ABV. A happy ending indeed, I thought this brew was well-crafted and balanced between roasted malt bittersweetness and just the right hop profile. Very good indeed!

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

12oz bottle / best by 12/31/11 - thanks to kirkpjr for this one.

poured cold and black from the bottle to a founders brewing snifter with a thin, short lasting, dark mocha head.

somewhat subtle aroma of dark chocolate and dark roast coffee.

bitter black coffee followed by semi-sweet chocolate.

medium bodied, more carbonation than expected.

drinkable - yes

Photo of PDXHops
2.17/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

2010 vintage bomber poured into an oversized snifter on 3/2/11. Appropriately dark with a finger of frothy tan head. OK retention- mainly bubbly islands- and some scattered speckly lace.

Smells like a load of piney hops remain. Roasted and burnt malts and chocolate, but also a touch of something odd, almost like burnt plastic. It's not overwhelming, but certainly distracting. Tastes almost exactly like it smells, right down to that weird hint of burnt plastic. There's a lot of positive things going on here- a nice balance of sweet and burnt malts, substantial bitterness, a surprisingly nimble feel- but that odd plastic quality can't be ignored. In fact, it becomes rather pronounced as the brew warms.

Overall impression: A rare dud from the best GA brewery. Where the heck did that plastic come from?

Photo of n00tz
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Ultra dark body, a thin tan head that reduces to lacing and a mildly active carbonation, visable only from the top side.

S - Citrus hops and alcohol are immediately detectable, a woody chocolate is detected among a heavy bit of dark malt. Sharper alcohol than I expected, but nothing shy of admiration.

T - Woody yeast and alcohol hit the palate sharply. The coffee or chocolate malts are not the forerunner to this flavor but rather take second place, something less common in my experience. Bringing up the rear is some hops bitterness which shows itself with an alcohol finish. Tastefully accomplished.

M - Finishes dry with a bitter coffee palate from the alcohol and malt.

D - Easy to drink dessert beer. Enjoy with some mild fruits to get a desirable effect.

Photo of Pellinore1
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to SlickMcCricket for sending this one.

Pours nearly black, producing a finger of brown head. This slowly fades to some lacing.

There is a nice blend of malt and hops in the smell. I pick up chocolate and coffee first, but there is definitely some citrus going on as well.

While I do like the hops in the nose, they don't seem to work quite as well for me in the taste of this beer. Certainly not bad, but not really what I'm going for when I reach for an imperial stout. I taste dark roasted grain and chocolate alongside citrus and pine. The finish is nicely roasty and bitter.

This beer is full and smooth, with some nice carbonation.

Very little detectable alcohol, I find this to be a very drinkable imperial stout.

Photo of GJ40
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled in a chalice from a 12oz bottle purchased at Lowes Foods in Apex, NC. Label says best by 12/31/11.

A - Pours like motor oil. A light covering of carbonation emerges as it fills the glass. A deep dark beer with little to no light coming through.

S - Mostly cocoa with some citrusy hops coming through as well. A hint of coffee.

T - Mostly cocoa with a citrusy hop flavor and bitterness toward the end. Extremely smooth. Very little sign of the 9% alcohol.

M - Surprisingly creamy and light with a nice low carbonation.

D - Smooth and easy to drink but not especially flavorful. I plan to age some to see how it develops.

Photo of Metalmonk
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Oh my does this look nice...a stiff, firm cap of mocha brown sits on top of a deep deep black liquid that I might as well just call oil. Bubbles can be seen moving up to the top, but they do so with what appears to be great labor, pushing their way through that chubby ebony body. Silly-string lace left on the glass as the head slowly diminishes.

Incredibly hoppy aroma for a stout, even a hop heavy American double stout. Big and green and bright, the hops dominate the nose, barely letting that charred grain smell get through, although some of that does squeak in.

Taste still favors hops, big and bright and clean, although the bitterness of charred grain comes in a little stronger than in the nose. Alcohol is tasted as the distinctive third element of Happy Ending, and these three (bright hops, charred grain, warming alcohol) pretty much epitomize what's going on here. I do get some gooey and milky chocolate as the beer warms, but it still never nudges in enough to take center stage in the taste. Not the most complex or deep stout of its kind, taste-wise, but satisfying enough as long as you don't mind the Americanized hop-heavy slant.

Tingly and airy, slick and silky, this is a bit of a different feel for an imperial stout, and it points to the equation favoring hops over malt. The malt here might be pitch black, but I'm guessing Sweetwater didn't throw a ton into the mix relative to the hop additions. Interesting.

Really unique take on the American double stout. Probably not the most amazing exemplar of one, but memorable for sure.

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 seeswo
3.58/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black into my Bruery tulip with extensive cocoa head that lingers. Looks good. Tastes has reasonable balance. Just a bit of chocolate comes off the nose, but even a violent whisking of the beer reveals little. A bit of chocolate, maybe even coffee, with some hop carry through. Above average taste for a smaller ABV imperial stout. Would love to try this beer barrel aged. Maybe just a touch thin, but definitely appropriate carbonation. Pretty drinkable for an imperial stout. Altogether, this is a solidly average imperial stout with nothing negative to bring to light, though no bells or whistles.

Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout from SweetWater Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 895 ratings.