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Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout - SweetWater Brewing Company

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

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very good

980 Ratings

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Ratings: 980
Reviews: 414
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 12.28%
Wants: 102
Gots: 187 | FT: 5
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: 980 | Reviews: 414
Photo of JMforman
4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was given this one blind and could've sworn that I was drinking a black IPA. Very interesting approach to the style and definitely the best that I've had from Sweetwater.

A- Black as night with a fantastic tan head and good lacing throughout.

S- Grapefruit, chocolate, coffee, grass, roasted malt

T- Grapefruit rind upfront (just like an IPA) and then a wave of chocolaty malt with some coffee and booze in there. Each sip is literally like taking a sip of a modestly hopped IPA and then taking a sip of a rich malty imperial stout. Pretty cool experience.

M- Peppery upfront, then coating.

Photo of aepb1
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Dark brownish/black body with a creamy tan head

S- Floral hops and some sweet burnt malts

T- Strong roasted malts, hops and alcohol finish. Decent ride, above average but not spectacular

M- Full-bodied, thick and creamy

D- Not hard to do a bomber but with nothing to outshine others, I don't think I'd remember to come back too often

Photo of saintwarrick
4.01/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark black pour with a very foamy tannish brown head. Aroma is caramel, coffee and dark chocolate. Coffee grinds, cocoa and bitter chocolate dominate the taste. A little thin in the mouth, but that's OK for such a big beer, as this is a lot more drinkable than some RIS's. Finish is very smooth. Really drinkable RIS here. Not quite top level, but very tasty.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
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 Snamnoum
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This on the whole, is a beer confused about it's identity. The addition of a substatial amout of hops makes it more like a black ipa with the dry molasses bitterness of a porter. While this same bitterness greatly increase this beers drinkability especially for it's style, IMO it overwhelms the subtle coffee and cocoa notes which are still perceived but muted by reding oily hops. Still a very good brew complex, round, and full bodied but miss marketed. Interesting and worth a try but not my favorite brew.

Photo of nickthegun12
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
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

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

Again, having this at the Atlanta airport. Not a bad spot at all!
Arrives big and brown/black in a snifter.
Large hops - HUGE hops, kick in with a good mix of roasted malts, molasses, dark chocolate, and dried fruits. This stuff is bold. Reminds me a lot of Yeti, which is quite the compliment. It lacks a bit of focus, and the hops can be a little much at times, but this really is pretty solid stuff.
You know you're drinking a monster, but that's okay.
A surprising item for an airport. Excellent beer!

Photo of jampics2
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 big one liter bottle, opened by me about 22 months after it's brew date and shared with the boys watching football. Poured into a snifter.

The beer looks good in the glass - a black liquid fills the snifter and is pretty close to totally opaque. The beer is topped with a mocah colored head. There's some good head retention and lace - overall, a nice looking beer.

The smell is full of roasted malt and more hoppiness than the average American Double stout. Huge notes of pine and citrus (grapefruit and orange) make this beer seem like a bruiser. The chocolate from the malt and the orange make me think of one of those chocolate orange candies that break into wedges. I bet this is a bruiser with less age on it, though.

The beer is unique in that, at this time in its life, it really tastes like a toned-down black IPA. Huge tastes of roasted malt end up giving chocolate and roast qualities, but they certainly aren't up to the level of most big American Stouts and end up just above average. There's also some sweet caramel and nice bitterness from the hops. Speaking of which, some citrus as well as tea leaf end the experience - I'm assuming these are from the hops. I like the way this has come together, but it's not what I think of for a stout as I think it could use more roast.

The mouthfeel is thin for the style, and, unfortunately for me, that makes me a little unhappy with the ending. There's also a splash of booze. Overall, this was OK but isn't something I'd recommend except if you're looking for Cascadian Dark Ales.

Photo of EgadBananas
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage

Pours black, with a medium tan head. Lace is minimal. Aroma is a little bitter, with some chocolate and malts. With the age it has, it had a nice little hop aroma, but I know had it have been fresh, it would have been much greater. The taste too still had some hop bite to it, but mostly chocolate and sweet malts. Body was medium, and smooth. Would have preferred a bit more of a heavier feel, but it wasn't bad at all and lent itself well to the grea drinkability though still.

Photo of harpus
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. Nice dark body with almost a finger of tan head. Gentle lacing on the glass.

A good helping of bitter hops and dark roasted malts on the nose. Some cocoa comes through with a touch of alcohol. Decent aroma, but nothing too special.

Dark malts and hops mix to give a bitter kick to the flavor. Some malty sweetness is apparent as well, but the bitterness typically overpowers it. Grassy, piney hops really steal the show with this imperial stout and give it something a bit different from the mainstream. Reminds me a bit of Storm King Stout. Also tastes like it has some barrel presence.

Mouthfeel is good. Nice, smooth body with a bitter punch of hops. Some warming alcohol, but pretty well hidden.

Drinkability is good, especially for an imperial stout. I tend to like big hoppy stouts like Storm King and '09 Darkness, but for others it may cut down on the drinkability. One bottle is about good for me, but I could be easily persuaded to have another.

Overall, this is my first brew from Sweetwater and I'm finding it pretty tasty. Lots of hops and dark roasted malts contained in a smooth body. Not the most complex IS, but still a great beer. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more Sweetwater brews.

Photo of biglite351
2.92/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - a bit of red around the edges. Tall creamy dark tan head that leaves a little lacing.

S - heavy malts and hops. I do not think I have smelt such hops in a RIS before, nearly IPA like. Under toe of dark chocolate.

T - chocolate coffee IPA... heavy hop bitterness mixed with malts, chocolate and a hint of coffee.

M - good coating, tingle on sides of tongue. Alcohol burn in the top back of throat.

D - too much true hop flavor for me to want too many.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours near black with a tan head that is a single finger and lasts for a decent time, slowly falling. Nose brings some strong notes of coffee, roasted malt, and chocolate. Some nice hops in there as well. Really interesting. The taste doesn't bring the flavors as strongly as the nose brought different scents forward, but this is a tasty beer. Light hop presence. Hops find their way again into the mouthfeel with a bit of booze and some nice dryness, yet it does not finish terribly so. Drinks quite well and is a really nice offering from them.

Photo of axeman9182
2.86/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

1 liter bottle, courtesy of I believe of gford217, split with my cousin after a successfull brew day and poured into my Duvel tulip.

The beer pours an all encompassing black, with a massive, gorgeous light chocolate head rising up and displaying some staying power. Gobs of lacing cling to the glass and leave Happy Ending as one of the best looking stouts I've ever seen. The nose is fairly good, dark chocolate and coffee, and more of the former than the latter (which is to my liking). Things take a turn for the worse as I sip though, as the luxuriant chocolaty malty opening is rudely interrupted by an entirely unwelcome flash of hop bitterness. And then... there's just nothing, no segue into citrus or any other hop flavors. It's almost like the beer stops halfway through what should be the flavor progression. The body is a little bit thin for the style, but the carbonation is spot on. Drinkability is hurt by the harsh bitter end note of each sip, but any alcohol is nicely masked. I think that Happy Ending might well be a great stout, but I just caught it at an awkward time in it's life. It's old enough that the hop flavor I imagine was quite present when it was fresh has faded, but the hop bitterness still lingers and the result is a beer that was just consumed at the wrong time. I'd very much like to try this beer again under different circumstances

Photo of stakem
2.26/5  rDev -42.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

12oz brown bottle care of Cashew70. Poured into a snifter it appears a dark brown almost black color with a finger of tanned head that receeds leaving a curtain of lace all about the glass.

The aroma of this brew includes citrus hops, dark fruitiness like plum and alcohol. Also included is a peculiar note reminescent of plastic. Taste is bitter upfront from a combination of burnt grains and hops with an alcohol aspect that is both astringent and warming. However, through the body of this brew is a taste of plastic as indicated by the aroma. The plastic taste lingers in the mouth along with a flavor similar to stale coffee blended with hops. The flavor of alcohol is evident from upfront straight through till the finish and really is not enjoyable as it just exaggerates the plastic taste.

This is a lighter bodied brew than I was expecting with a moderately high level of carbonation. I am struggling to try and get through this brew, it really started off enjoyable but as it got warmer each sip exaggerated both the plastic smell and taste. As the alcohol gets increasingly warmer it gets more fusel-like to the point of just outright being bad.

I am not certain this is the flavor the brewer was shooting for with this stout or if something is wrong with it. Unfortunately I do not readily have access to try this one again anytime soon.

Photo of ktrillionaire
1.92/5  rDev -50.9%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This was poured from a 1-liter swingtop, thanks to an unknown generous (or sadistic) BA.

A - Looks like stout. Not exceptional in any way, however.

S - Eeewww. Burnt plastic. This is terrible.

T - Yuck yuck yuck. Burnt plastic, again.

M - Okay, I guess. It felt real good when I spit out a mouthfull, to rid myself of this inexplicably bad brew.

D - Two whiffs, and two sips is all I would ever want of this awful brew.

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a pint glass. Best before date of 12.10.10.

The Happy Ending stout pours a deep brown almost black color. A small tan head pops out after an aggressive pour. No retention remains. Smell of chocolate, coffee and some roasted malts. Taste is very robust and in my opinion would cool down nicely with some age. There is some coffee and in chocolate in the flavor. Faint hints of plums and raisins as the beer cools. Mouthfeel is fairly thick, but goes down pretty easily. Drinkability is pretty solid, although I do think it will get better with some age. Definitely my favorite sampling from Sweetwater.

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

Poured from a growler into an oversized clear wine glass. Purchased from The Lodge (Hilton Head, SC) for $13.

A: Black body with short, 1/2 finger beige head with a short reticulated lacing pattern at the top of the glass.

S: Dark malts with bitter dark chocolate and strong black coffee dominate. Some softer earthy hoppiness also is present. Some caramel/cola aromas are present too.

T: Bitter dark chocolate is the easiest flavor to detect, but other flavors including dark malts, espresso, earthy hops, and alcohol are evident too. A malty beer all the way, but a bit of a bludgeoning type of RIS without much subtlety.

M: Surprisingly thin feel overall with no more than medium body. Carbonation is mid-range for the style and aftertaste is dry with bitter chocolate tones.

D: A fine beer but not close to the upper tier due to the aroma profile (too heavy on chocolate) and light body for the style.

Photo of jrallen34
4.06/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into my Orval glass...Black with a dark tan head, good retention and lacing..The aroma is way too sweet, mostly all chocolate, with pine and alcohol. On the boring side... I like the taste better than the nose as it shows off a couple more dimensions, sweet chocolate, coffee, and a piney alcohol finish.

Photo of johnnnniee
3.69/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Received as an extra in a trade with kirkpjr, thanks for the opportunity and the great trade. Best by 12/31/10
Pours a solid black color with a stingy tan head that recedes quickly to a ring that leaves some lace. This smells wonderful! Roasted grains mixed with spicy citrus hops some chocolate, burnt sugar and a touch of alcohol on the edges especially as it warms. Taste is chocolate up front, some dark fruit follows, more alcohol burn than I expected comes next, followed by a citrus hop bitterness and a fruity roasty lingering finish. Mouthfeel is roasty creamy and oily, Body is a little thinner than I expected, this one does finish rather dry as well. Carbonation is low and ample. I like my Imp Stouts to be thick and chewy and this one is not that. The body on this one is definitely lacking. I think the aroma fools you a bit into thinking this is going to taste differently than it does. The alcohol in the taste is still a bit hot. Overall this is a decent stout and I certainly wouldn't hesitate to drink it again, but world class this is not.

Photo of DavoleBomb
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Big thanks to jyounger30 for this one. 2417 of 3400.

4.0 A: Near black color. Three fingers of foamy tan head with damn good retention and tons of lacing.

4.5 S: Whoa! Twould appear that this is an IPA/IS hybrid. The citrus is poured on hard with focus on orange, grapefruit, and hints of mango. Sweet chocolate behind the hops and hints of roasted barley.

4.0 T: While I found the nose to be awesome, the taste is a bit disappointing or is at least a distance departure from what I was expecting. I thought the hoppiness and the roastiness worked well together in the nose (with the hops dominating), but in the taste they compete with the malts not putting up much of a fight. Midway through my second glass I decided to drop the expectation of Imperial Stout and view this as a Black IPA. From that perspective it isn't a bad brew by any means, but as a stout, it's laughable. Hops dominate with orange and grapefruit recurring. Pine is introduced as well, but he mango in the nose is practically gone. Malts are thin, but a moderate roastiness and a touch of chocolate make this different than a regular IPA.

4.0 M: Lighter medium body. Healthy, if not aggressive, carbonation. Somewhat creamy and smooth. Alcohol is very well hidden. Good mouthfeel for the IPA that it is, but it would be terrible if this was actually an IS.

4.0 D: The few SW brews that I've had have all been pretty good, but they need to figure out how to classify their beers a bit better. I would drink this beer again for sure, but wouldn't want an aged one.

Photo of TK5150
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle sent as an extra by the awesome trader TimmyP....been wanting to try this for a while...

A-Pours a murky very dark brown/black with a beige/light brown head. Brown edges are seen when held up to the light.

S- A hint of grapefruit and orange mixed with caramel and roasted malts.

T- Caramel abounds with a hint of hoppiness, though fairly well balanced. Light roasted maltiness lingers in a sweet finish. The finish is light and ends somewhat abruptly.

M- Medium bodied, especially for an Imperial Stout. Good carbonation.

D- This is one really drinkable Imperial Stout. Its quite light, but enjoyable. Even though 9% is low for an Impy, I wouldn't have guessed this to be that high in alcohol. Not nearly as hoppy as the Smuttynose Imperial Stout, but somewhat hoppy. Overall, an enjoyable beer that I am glad to finally check off the list. Thanks Tim.

Photo of mklinger
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a shaker pint glass. Jet black with a inch of thick mocha colored head composed of too large bubbles. It left just a little lacing behind. Good but not great looking Imperial Stout.

Aroma is great though, full of citrusy/floral dry hops and roast malt and just a bit of alcohol. Very rich nice aroma.

Flavor is rich with many complex, balanced flavors -- citrus, coffee & chocolate, rich sweetness, bitterness. Very nice beer.

This beer is well carbonated and fairly rich but didn't quite have the big mouthfeel I expect from an imperial stout. On the other hand this is such an easy to drink beer that it's dangerous. It would be easy to drink 4 or 5 of these and at 9 or 10% abv that could do some damage!

Photo of mothman
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to pmccallum86 for sharing this one.

2008 Vintage

Poured into CCB snifter.

Pours a light layer of light tan head. Color is a dark brown, nothing overly black.

Aroma: rich chocolate. silky smooth. dark dried fruits. very sweet. lots of roasted malt, not to bad.

Taste: Not that big of a flavor as I would expect from an imp stout. Big roasted malt and silky milk chocolate. Some dark fruit notes. Not to much hop profile here. It is very sweet. Not to bad.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, silky, creamy. Medium bodied, a lot lighter for an imp stout. Lower amount of carbonation, but not bad. Ends relatively clean.

Overall, this is a pretty decent imp stout, but not as big as I was expecting. Decent. Fairly easy drinking since its not that big. Glad I got to try it.

Photo of pmccallum86
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Blazer06 for sending this my way. 2008 Vintage

Pours a deep dark brown/black with a small head. Kind of thin looking body relative to the rest of the style.

Smell is of big licorice and roasted malts, very mellowed out smell due to the age I'm sure.

Taste very smooth, a little lighter in flavor than the rest in the style, but good and smooth. Not a whole lot going, very mellowed and smooth is the best quality it has going.

Mouthfeel is velvety and smooth, light carbonation.

Very drinkable beer, the alcohol is very hard to detect. An enjoyable beer from Sweetwater.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.57/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Mike Thorpe for this one. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Blue Point snifter.

A: Gentle pour yields a .5 finger semi-fine reddish-chocolate head that dissipates quickly. Beer is appropriately opaque black. Lacing is spotty/patchy but stays close to the edge of the brew.

S: Cream-of-hop, raisins, prunes, chocolate, with a light backbone of booze. The nose is very telling here and it informs me I'm in for a hoppy imperial stout with a big dose of alcohol.

T: Toasted malts, cocoa, and vanilla. Hoppiness is all the way in the back. Rather hot with a burnt dark fruit flavor in the middle. Boozy sourness towards the end and finishes medium-dry and pretty clean. Aftertaste is of aforementioned burnt malts and a slight cocoa bitterness.

M: Medium bodied, carbonated, and a bit coarse for my taste. More lively than most in its style which prevents the complexities of this beer from really melding together. Finish is dry, with a slightly oily aftertaste.

D: Would I have this again? Probably, but its not one of my favorites. Perhaps a little less or a little more time might change the feel which is the main component lacking here. And its just complex and tasty enough for me to give it another shot.

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Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout from SweetWater Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 980 ratings.