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Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout - SweetWater Brewing Company

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

910 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 910
Reviews: 397
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 12.28%
Wants: 97
Gots: 150 | 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:
Beer added by: rajendra82 on 08-26-2004

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 910 | Reviews: 397 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of maximum12
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to mhewes for a little one & gford217 for the massive (1L) one. The biggie is being saved for my birthday tasting next month - gotta put the little guy down to make sure he's OK for the party. Yes, the cellar cleaning continues! Perhaps another week or so to go!

I haven't giggled at things like this beer's name in 20 odd years, but I do find Happy Ending to be rather amusing. And black (white would have been funnier). Little to no head. Smell is rich & enticing, chocolate, malts, yumm. Very nice.

Happy Ending isn't as sweet as advertised by the stink. The roasted malts, with a background of cofee, are ascendant, with the sweetening of the chocolate an afterthought. After that thought comes a stroke of bitterness, which might be the end of the roast or the fading hops - undeterminable by this palate. Nice & smooth, especially since this bottle is probalby a year old, with no evident alcohol. There's a bit of an aftertaste with the bitterness as it warms that's not as good as the beer itself.

Good brew. Peaks with the smell, and underneath that is a solid stout.

Photo of Bitterbill
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big old 1L gold foil wrapped swing top bottle courtesy of bhalter8. Thanks Ben!

A nice pop when I opened the bottle, it pours pitch black with close to a 1 finger head of rannish foam. Excellent lacing and it looks like the head retention will be too. Very damn good for a RIS.

The smell I got as soon as I opened the swing top. Huge notes of roasted malt, caramel sweetness, chocolate, toffee, and no smell of alcohol at all. A wonderful aroma.

The taste starts off with big roasted malt, lighter notes of chocolate than in the smell, toffee, and growing in intensity, a real hoppy bitterness that compliments the sweeter aspects of this beer nicely. Not much warming going on from the ample 9%abv...very bitter in the finish and it's a long lasting aftertaste. Very nice but I'd have to say the smell is more impressive than the taste. Not by much, mind you, but enough for me to say it.

It's rather light bodied for the style(still firmly in medium territory) but combined with the medium light carbonation, it works to my liking.

Drinkability? A very easy sipping brew that belies its hefty alcohol content big time. A wonderful job of hiding the potency by Sweetwater! Highly recommended!

Photo of Dogbrick
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sample at the Most Honorable SuperHappyFun Stout Tasting. Bottle from Smoke Rise in Stone Mountain, GA. 2008 bottle (#683/3000). This beer pours black with a medium thin and foamy light tan head that has good retention. Rings of lacing on the glass. Roasted malt, coffee and hops in the nose. Rich and smooth body with a roasted character and flavors of caramel malt, coffee and hops, plus a touch of chocolate. The finish is roasted malt and mocha with a lightly bitter hops aftertaste. Pretty good all around.

Photo of Mavajo
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 Oz bottle into a pint glass. Aged 3 years. Why? Because I bought it before I moved out of my parents house, and it's been sitting in my dad's beer fridge ever since. The freshness date was a year ago, but I decided to give it a go anyway.

Appearance - Pours a great black color - looks like motor oil coming out of the bottle. The head is one of the darkest I've ever seen - brown with a decent texture, about two-fingers thick. It fades to a moderate layer across the top and plasters lacing all over the glass.

Nose - Fair bit going on here. Roasted malts, toffee, and sweetness. Also a hint of hazelnut perhaps?

Taste - Not quite as dominant as the nose might suggest, but quite a pleasure none the less. There's a chocolatey/moderate cofee taste here, with some nice roasted malts rounding it out. It's not particularly bitter at all.

Mouthfeel - Exceptionally smooth and milky. Carbonation seemed fairly light. This just rolled across the tongue. Medium-heavy bodied.

Drinkability - Exceptional. It's a stout, so you can't exactly chug it, but I drank this down with no problem. It's filling, so that will slow you down some, but I could easily have a couple of these.

I'm not sure what this beer tastes like when it's "fresh", but it was an exceptional stout after sitting there for a few years. There's one or two more in my dad's fridge, so I'm gonna have to go back for more.

Photo of donkeyrunner
2.98/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A giant 1 liter bottle of RIS = fun for the whole family. Opaque black with a large cocoa colored head. Good retention that leaves multiple lace rings.

Suprise!, this stout smells like a citrusy IPA. Chocolaty roast malt background.

Upon contact with my palette a super-thin mouthfeel bursts my curiosity bubble. Really, this mouthfeel chaps my hide. Assertive citrus hop oil over a struggling chocolate malt base. I'd like more stout with my stout please.

Overall, a brave but lacking mix of an English, Sam Smith's type English RIS and a California citrus hop bomb.

Great website BTW with a catchy little ditty.

Photo of taylorhamrick
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice deep black color, with a nice tan head, about 2cm+, nearly brown, with kind of dense bubbles, that leave pretty nice lacing, sticking all over the glass. I like the way it looks, but a lot of impys can look this good. The smell is nice and chocolatey, a bit of roastiness, maybe some coffee notes, but sweetened, mocha, type coffee. The smell doesn't really wow anyone, but I think that it is very good - particularly because it doesn't have some fruity, hotter fermentation temperature type smells, not a lot of hoppy bitter smells (I don't dislike hops, but they must be done properly in a stout). If it had just a bit more of that roasty note, I think it would be a bit more impressive. The taste is good too. Nice and clean, a good hit of sweet coffee, dark chocolate, quite a nice dark, almost bitter dark chocolate. This really captures the kind of flavors I like in dark roasty foods, with enough sweetness to keep it from being annoying. I can sense the booze a little more than I'd expect at 9% and with the decent amount of age on it (It's not over a year I don't think, but I've had younger with higher ABV that I can taste less). But I'm always happy when an Imperial Stout doesn't have a really drying, kind of fruity, but very slick fermentation flavor. The body is good, nice and medium, a good level of sweetness, moderate carbonation, pretty good on the mouthfeel level. The drinkability is pretty good, too. I mean, I enjoy drinking it, it's a bit simple for the style, but quite nice and complex for a fairly drinkable beer. And at the 9% ABV, I would say that finishing the bottle will be quite managable.

Photo of Deuane
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A=Deep black/brown color with a thin tan head that reduces to a thin veil and leaves zero lace.

S-Roasted malts and hints of dry cocoa.chocolate. Light touch of spicy bitter citrus rind. Aroma not as powerful as I would like.

T-Roasted malt, chocolate and cocoa with a touch of coffee and citrus in the background. Pleasant and certainly this brews best feature.

M-Medium to maybe even medium-light. Missing the mark here to be a RIS. Leaves things fall short

D-Decent aroma and a nice flavour profile is left with a big letdown with the thin body. Needs improvement to step into school with the big boy RIS's!

Photo of HopHead84
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle received as an extra in a trade with tprokop7 some time ago. Thanks Todd. Consumed on 9/13/2009 and poured into a snifter. The beer pours black and looks like motor oil with a fizzy one finger light brown head. The head fades quickly and leaves no lacing.

The nose is primarily dark chocolate with notes of black strap molasses. The beer smells bittersweet, without even a trace of coffee in the aroma. As the beer warms some roasted character comes out. A touch of oxidation is evident. This is a nice smelling beer.

The flavor is of rich dark chocolate with a low moderate level of bitterness and notes of molasses. Some booze is evident. Roasted character is more pronounced in the flavor than it was in the aroma. This tastes as good as it smells. The finish exhibits some sweetness and molasses and chocolate linger.

The beer is full bodied with low moderate carbonation and a viscous and syrupy mouthfeel. A very solid Russian Imperial Stout if you're in the mood for one.

Photo of CoolJosh
2.8/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

1L Swing cap bottle, courtesy of Gford270. Poured into a pint glass. The appearance is awesome, this looks like a great RIS. Pitch black body with no visibility through and a nice lighter khaki with some spotty lacing.

The smell is very disappointing in and that it is very light. Very smokey and roasted malt scents. Some toasted chocolate and a semi salty scent. It just doesn't pop you in the nose like a good RIS normally does.

The taste is on par with the scent. Sort of bland, very light and very roasted. Actually very very roasted. A slight bitter chocolate taste develops from the roasts. Unfortunately there is no malt sweetness to this beer, which causes a lack of flavor and creates a one dimensional take on the style. Not impressed.

Photo of tai4ji2x
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thanks to jyounger30 for the trade

12oz bottle w best by date of 12/31/09. taste in mid/late may 2009. poured into tulip.

opaque black. 2-finger tan/brown head, gradually recedes to wispy layer and ring, w sudsy center. good lacing, esp up top.

aroma: obvious american dry hopping, with citrus rind and pine notes upfront, before giving way to roast malt and caramel underneath, though still quite subdued. faint notes of cherry vanilla cola.

taste: flavor shows more roast malt and coffee notes, but the hops are still central, with piney and citrusy character and an almost bold, resinous bitterness. mild mash acidity, subtle plum or cherry fruitiness, but roast and hop notes take over and linger. some coffee tones in aftertaste.

medium body, almost syrupy, with acidity and astringent resins, but strangely drops off into a watery finish. mild to moderate carbonation is lightly tingly, helps flavor lift and smooths out texture w moments of creaminess.

i'm going to score this more as an american imperial stout. too much american hopping for the english RIS category.

Photo of Reagan1984
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Bhalter8 for providing this in a recent trade.

Best by 12/31/09 date on the bottle. (interesting)

Well, it looks like an Imp Stout. Dark brown to almost black. Thick, creamy tan head that lasts and then provides plenty of lacing.

Aroma was surprisingly hoppy with a lot of citrus notes. This was very surprising to me. Also very roasty and almost burnt. More like cocoa powder vs. coffee. Nice.

I was struck by the yeasty notes (powdery) in the flavor. Nice, typical, Some light chocolate, roasted flavors and the hops did provide a nice balance. Slight warmth from the alcohol.

Mouth feel was a little light and also a little powdery. Not as thick as other big stouts.

A good effort, but not a classic.

Glad I tried it.

Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz single obtained by buying another locals cellar when he was moving. Poured into a standard Sweetwater/Taco Mac pint glass

A: Pours a black color with no highlights even when held up to the light. The tiny short lived head is a nice light brown color. The ring and whispy covering of bubbles that are left shortly after pour try to leave some lacing but most of it just slides down the glass. I would have bumped it up if it had better lacing or retention.

S: Nice roasted malts and hints of chocolate. There is also hints of citric hops which I never recall smelling when I have had it on tap. Maybe I have just always had it too cold.

T: I will be honest, I have had this beer on tap a couple of times locally, and I just didn't care much for it. I do not know if its the slight bit of aging, proper temperature or what, but this is a much different experience for me. There is nice malt presence that really sets the stage well on this one. Chocolate comes into the flavor as well before being balanced by a nice hoppy finish that isn't overly bitter. I have to say I enjoyed this, but its missing something for a stout. I would definitely give it a bit higher score if it were a porter and not a RIS.

M: Its creamy and smooth, but its very thin for a RIS. Once again, this would score much better if considered against porters.

D: Since its thin and not really a big beer outside of the ABV, this one drinks very easily. So even though it lost out due to its style in other categories, it gains some points here because of it.

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a nonic Imperial pint glass. The stout appears a super dark brown color with about an inch of creamy dark ecru foam. Smells and tastes of dark chocolate, cocoa, a hint of mocha, some light citrus, caramel and vanilla. Maybe a notch better than medium bodied and amply carbonated. Worth a try.

Photo of gford217
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Mellow Mushroom in Brookhaven.

Pours dark, dark brown, not quite pitch black, under a very small tan head that dissipated rather quickly and left a little lacing.

This one was served far too cold so the aroma took quite a while to open up. The first thing I noticed was the hops, which I wasn't expecting. There are some dark chocolate malts and licorice sweetness as well.

The taste followed the aroma and featured a hop kick up front, with some light citrus notes from the dry hopping. The backbone is the dark roasted malts, coffee and chocolate which leave a slightly dry roasted finish together with the hop bitterness.

The mouthfeel is pretty bubbly for an RIS and probably a tad over-carbonated honestly. It's still very smooth but certainly doesn't sit very heavily on the palate.

It's been quite a while since I tried this one and I especially enjoyed being reminded how aggressively dry-hopped this one is. It certainly makes for a unique RIS, but it lacks the body and complexity to be a great stout.

Photo of jjanega08
4.7/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Poured from a liter swingtop bottle into a snifter
A= pours a thick black color with a nice one finger brown head that lasts suprisingly long with amazing lacing. There's a little brown that shines through the sides.
S= huge hop notes which is amazing as well as a prominent coffee smell. The hops smell grapefruity and below that is toffee and under that is chocolate. Really complex smelling almost like a fresh barlywine.
T= the hops kiss the tip of my tounge with a washing coffee taste. Good toffee notes on the back of my tongue. Really complex. I'm getting some dark fruits in it buried a little deeper. The hops are there in the finish and taste sweet and juicy. Really good.
M= the only place lacking in this beer. I thought it was a little thin and a little dry in a chalky sort of way on the tip of my tongue.
D= very high. This baby is great a vert underappreciated RIS. Great brew and it comes in a huge bottle. I love it.

Photo of GeezLynn
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Almost black in color with a thin tan head and a nice, roasted earthy smell to it.
Full-bodied chocolate and coffee flavor with a perfect amount of sweetness followed by the pleasant zing from the dry hopping .
Smooth and creamy, and about as drinkable as you can get for the style.
Well named with an excellent finish. Personally, I love this approach to a stout, and I think Sweetwater turned out a nice one here.
Hands down this is the best beer I have experienced in my brief exposure to brews out of the Southeast.

Photo of carp420
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

big tall bottle->imperial pint glass

this beer pours out black as the night sky on a moonless night with little to no head, no lacing just black

smells very malty, burnt malts and hops, dark chocolate

taste almost exactly like it smells, lots of nearly over roasted malts with the hershey special dark chocolate flavor, with a very nice hop finish that usually isn't found as much in the RIS style

i thought the feel was somewhat thin for such an huge beer,
it was good but could have been thicker, very little carbonation

it's certainly drinkable throughout an evening but i think if you take down more than the elegantly packaged bottle than you might have a problem

i am looking forward to two more bottles one to cellar and one to check and see if i got a badly bottled beer, little to no carbonation which is slightly unusual for a sweetwater beer, love almost all their beers but i think i got a skunked one.

will edit when i get the chance:
i grabbed another bottle of this and sure enough, my first bottle of this was not skunked but flat. the flavor remained consistent but it had that punch that it was lacking before. The extra carbonation really helps the hoppy profile and gives it a nice little kick, i really like the effort to mix the hops in on this RIS, good beer that i'll be looking for more of in the future

Photo of williamherbert
4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The appearance is a thick chocolate-brown head, with little bubbly pockmarks; just massive. The beer is dark, dark brown-black; completely opaque. Looks like a Big Beer. Spiderweb of lace.

The smell is sweet hops, tangerine and blood oranges. The hops also have some sweet pine. Balanced with a roasted black malt. The hops are superior.

The taste is a very dark burnt-cookie malt; rich and burnt. The hops are a sweet, rich, fruity balance. The flavors are disparate but they are harmonious.

The feel is a dry malt, with an oily-wet hop feel. Overall, it's incredibly bitter, uncommonly sweet. I've had few stouts with this level of hops, and they make all the difference.

Photo of Buebie
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to gford217 for this very thoughtful extra.

2009 Bottle

Poured from a gynormous swing top bottle into an oversized snifter. The kneck is wrapped in a thick golden tin. Adds to the calssy appeal of the bottle.
The lable art is pretty nifty, as is all the sexual innuendoes, very funny one liners on here. My personal favorite being, "A huge dry hopped stiffy".
The pour produces a brown 2 inch head, slowly receeding. Leaving behind sticky foam lace trails. Retention is stellar, a good cap with plenty of globby bubbles.
Color is black, no light penetration.

Aroma of earthy spicie hops and plenty of pine with a citrus kick. Huge hop aroma here, very exceptional for an ris to allow the hops to come through all that malt.
Also quite a bit of malty bready aroma, chocolate, sweetness, and a touch of roasty grain aromas.
Delicious smelling.

Mouthfeel is a little overcarbonated, but still creamy with a thick full bodied feel. Creamyness isnt overly heavy, but definatly there and noticeable. Carbonation presence from beginning to end, sip to finish.
I'm wondering if this is bottle conditiond? Might explain the carbonation presence. I dont want to shy annyone away from buying it, its not terrible with carbonation.

The taste is very malty and bready. Good chocolate flavors throught, lending a bit of sweetness to the bitter roasted chocoalte grain flavors.
Starting out semi-sweet and becomming increasingly bitter. Plenty of hops into and through the swallow. Paring well with chocoalte roasty bitters and hop bitters lingering and strong arming the tastebuds into the finish.

This is a pretty awsome example of an american double. I cant really agree with the lableing of an ris. Definatly a classy brew. Great botlle and lable work with some funny one liners.
I have several glasses to go if I'm going to finish this, the size of the bottle is nice too. Great dinner party bottle.

Thanks again Grant for this awsome extra, really enjoyed drinking it.

Photo of atsprings
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Found this one on-tap at Mellow Mushroom in Asheville. Served in a standard pint-glass a not-quite opaque black with a very thin layer head that diminishes to a ring. Aroma is baker's cocoa right from the start with nice roasted malts and a hint of espresso right behind. The taste is a nice blend of roasted malts with slight chocolate and coffee presence as well. The beer is on the heavy side of medium with slight booziness. This one certainly seems to be better on draft than it was from the bottle, I'd like to see in in Raleigh next winter.

Photo of stoutfiend27
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

vintage 2008 33.8 fluid oz swing top bottle

a-brownish black when held up to light shows off some ruby highlights..very little head and lacing

s-very malty, smells like raisins or prune, very very subtle hops in the nose..smells very much like gd hibernation ale

t-very much like the nose..big malts up front followed by some fig and maybe plum or prune...slight hop sting before it goes down..warms a little as it drops to the stomach which surprised me..reminds me of a old ale kind of

m-kind of thin for my tastes when it comes to ris...i like mine thick and sludgy....but not bad just a minor flaw imo

d-i think with the malty character i would only like to have one bottle in one night...and it is a 1 qt bottle and 9% abv so i think it will suffice..

overall a nice offering from sweetwater my favorite to date by them...maybe fresh this is a different beer but it reminds of an old ale at this point in its life which im not complaining about seeing as how i like old ales...but there are better ris out there...i have another bottle i will let sit for a while longer just to see what happens....who knows

Photo of MasterSki
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
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 goatgoat
4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best by: 12/31/09.

Pours a thick opaque black. A thick foamy coffee head falls to a thin cap after a nice length of time. Moderate sticky lace.

Aroma is surprisingly piney, citrus. More hop presence than I've had in a RIS before, very enticing for this BA. Dark fruity sweetness is underneath, with a hint of chocolate.

Flavor is more typical, but compared to other RISs this has a huge hop character relative to dark malts. But unlike the aroma, malt is forward, with roasted, chocolate, and dark fruit notes. Same citrusy hop character joins in, leading to a nicely balanced finish. Alcohol is well hidden, with a little warmth down in the belly near the end of the bottle.

A little light in the body and the carbonation is a tends towards biting.

Much more hop forward than many other RISs. I'm loving it, but it's not usual for the style.

Photo of CrellMoset
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle courtesy of dkachur - thanks! Always good to try a brew from my home state. Poured into a 14 oz. tulip.

Appearance: Pours a thick, viscous, black-bodied beer, capped by a surprisingly fast-fading cocoa-colored head, about a finger-and-change tall. The lacing is erratic around the tip top but sheet-like and solid elsewhere, though I doubt that will remain so long. The sheen atop the surface of this one is also pretty persistent, thin but fairly uniform, interrupted only by a few stray bubbles.

Aroma: Very, very well hopped is my first impression. A potent, pungent grassy, leafy note is the first thing that hit me upon opening the bottle, much less when I stuck my nose into the glass. Not far behind is a heavily toasted batch of malt, perhaps even some peat (though it could be in my head), slightly earthy and dirty, which melds decently well with the hop presence.

Taste: Very, very well hopped is my first impression, again. This one presents a very interesting meld of flavors. The hop notes are very light, green, slightly fruity - orange zest, perhaps grapefruit, mint, grass, very Centennial/Columbus-esque - but are balanced on the other end of the scale by a surprisingly heavily toasted malt backbone, toasty, slightly smoky, hints of char, espresso roast coffee. As it warms, a few more lightly roasted notes emerge, faint chocolate, dark toffee. It's an interesting combination, even though I'm not quite sure that I'm crazy about it.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly well carbonated and much thinner than I would imagine from how this one looked, making for a creamy, reasonably light bodied beer, for an imperial stout. Truth be told, that's probably a good thing, given the huge hop presence in this one - it's tough to have a huge, heavily toasted, and dry hopped beer just chillin' there on your tongue.

Drinkability: A very unique beer, and an interesting attempt from a brewery not really known for its hop usage (or even for doing it particularly well when they do do it). I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first, but I'm going to call it a success now that I've finished the glass off. The hop presence somehow works, almost lending a hint of peppermint patties and/or chocolate oranges to the flavor profile, a combination which works well given the mouthfeel and other notes. It's also only 9%, which - while heady - is not particularly so for the style. I'm afraid I'm gonna have to recommend it, though with a note of caution that it might not be your thang.

I'm also interested to see how the hops in this one do after some aging. I have a 1L foiled swingtop courtesy of gford217 chillaxin' in my cellar, so I might whip that one out in a year or so and see how the backing beer here stands up without the dry hop notes as prominent.

Photo of joe1510
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Liter Bottle

2008 Vintage
Bottle #1824/3000

Thanks to RustyDiamond for this monster of a bottle, thank you Russ! Happy Ending pours like a black hole of a beer that actually sucks the light from the room. A dense milk chocolate head of two fingers grows easily on the pour and shows some decent staying power. It eventually falls to a thick cap and leaves some sticky, spotty lacing behind.

The nose has a lot of toasty grains bordering on the roasty variety along with a dense smattering of caramel. Some dark chocolate and mild coffee grounds make themselves known in the background with an interesting walnut quality. A spicy booziness adds a solid kick that I thoroughly enjoy deep in the trenches. This is a fairly straightforward RIS that seems to be a little big in the booze department.

This is an RIS on the sweeter side of things. There's a lot of caramel with a toastiness that adds a toasted walnut quality, it's strange but fits well. A touch of vanilla brings up the rear with a hint of clean and mild smokiness. The mild roastiness tends to stick and build on the tongue after each drink and finally ends up bringing a smooth bitterness.

The body has a dense feel with a surprising slickness that tends to gather on the tongue. The swallow is actually fairly dry which brings out the slight roastiness enough to add some bitterness.

Happy Ending is an easy RIS to put away, if that makes sense. The dryness keeps me coming back for drink after drink. The body is so smooth it flows easily over the tongue.

I'm glad I finally pulled this from the cellar. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would like to have another bottle lying around. This one did well over the year + in the cellar. Thanks for the bottle Russ!

Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout from SweetWater Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 910 ratings.