1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

861 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 861
Reviews: 388
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 87
Gots: 127 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 861 | Reviews: 388 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of everetends
3.43/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

1 liter swingtop bottle with almost a year of age on it. Served up in pint glasses. Finally got some help with this one so I didn't have to tackle it all on my own. 1 liter of RIS sounds like a chore on my own.

A: Pours a super dark black. As my buddy said, "This is a pretty damn black and opaque beer, no light is getting through". A vigourous pour will yield huge, dark tan head. So pour with ease and care or the glass will be nothing but head. the head has really good staying power but has almost zero stickiness to it. For so much head, it seems it would leave some nice lacing. That is my only complaint in this category.

S: Smell is of some really heavily roasted malts first and foremost. The malts really come through. Decent dark coffee presence is there along with some dark chocolate. There is also a heavy booze smell coming in as well. The booze is a bit strong.

T: Taste follows the nose almost perfectly. Starts off with some heavily roasted malt. Bitter hops mix nicely with the coffee flavors making a decent bitter dark coffee flavor. Chocolate is there but not too impressive. Once again, heavy booze that is almost a turn off.

M: Medium to full in body, has a bit of thickness to it. ABV burn on the palate and throat, a bit too much of a burn. Carbonation is bit too high, but it does ease the heaviness a bit. Lots of booze on the aftertaste.

D: Overall, this is a pretty basic RIS. Doesn't appear they wanted to get too experimental on this one. This is still a very solid brew that has some good points, like the malts are damn near perfectly roasted. Decent brew that was enjoyable and a good choice on the holidays to share with some buddies, it didn't disappoint.

everetends, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of JoeMayo
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a pitch black with a one-finger, fluffy tan head. The head sticks around for a while, but leaves no lacing behind.

S- Nice malty nose. Notes of smoke and caramel/toffee. A slight bitter hop aroma is detected.

T- Slightly disappointing. A very unblananced, bitter stout. It lacks the sweetness and/or creaminess of a good RIS. Burned barley and dark malt dominate the flavor. Very heavy malty flavors, but minimal complexity behind them. Smokey, burned notes come through, with a slight bitter espresso flavor. Mild hop bitterness as well.

M- Decent body with a dry finish and slightly nutty texture.

D- The alcohol is well-hidden, but overall, this one's kinda hard to get through. It took me well over an hour to finish half of a 1L swingtop. I kinda wish I had another to age. This would do well with a couple years on it.

JoeMayo, Nov 14, 2008
Photo of orcasteve
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into my duvel tulip glass, poured a thick black with a heavy tan head that fades to a thin tan rim around the glass, the smell is sweet and a rush of alchoal. the tast is bitter hops and coffiee blended with silkey dark choclate in the begining, the middle gets a tuch smokie and has a bone dry mouthfeal to it, the end flavor is a tuch sweet almost like toffiee or carmel then a wave of dry citrusy hops rush in and you are left with a bitter dark baking chocalet and alchoal flavor, this one is quite good indeed. i wish i had more than the one bottle i traded for

orcasteve, Nov 07, 2008
Photo of Likeburning
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased by a friend of mine at Bruisin' Ales in Asheville. #2899 of 3000 for this run. This dark chocolaty stout's aroma roared out of the grolsch-style flip-top like the scent of a warm fire being lit for the first time since last winter and I was immediately put in a happy place. The brown foamy head actually looked like chocolate. This was a wonderful stout, but (and I hate to say "but") being tasted next to the Yeti Oak Aged Imperial Stout, there was no comparison. I kind of wished I saved the Yeti for later instead of doing the side-by-side. I blame no one but myself.

Likeburning, Oct 21, 2008
Photo of orbitalr0x
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

orbitalr0x, Oct 15, 2008
Photo of GilGarp
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to rnorgart for the trade that included this one!

Best before 12/31/08.

Pours from a 12oz. bottle into a globe glass with no head even after trying to provoke it with a vigorous pour. Black in color without even a hint of transparancy around the edges.

Aroma is nice and chocolately with a bit of hops.

Flavor is rich in roasted malt, chocolate malt, and coffee. It has a nice smoothness like an oatmeal stout. Good bitterness there to balance out the huge malt backbone.

Mouthfeel is good with nice smooth mouth-coating texture. I like that it is low in carbonation. Drinkability is also very good for something of such high alcohol. It's best enjoyed slowly so it can warm gradually and release subtle flavors.

GilGarp, Sep 27, 2008
Photo of iconoklaztor
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pick this up from a BIF...thanks Brewfan

Pours a nice black with a head that quickly went away. Its decent. Its a little sweet but has a slight card board flavor! The finish is a little thin but its still a decent IMPY. I'd drink it everynow and again but wouldnt seek it out! However, its still a nice treat to mix up in there from time to time!

Overall, its decent. I wouldnt die if I never had it again but its still decent!

iconoklaztor, Sep 17, 2008
Photo of Vancer
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Happy Ending? A happy start to a nice day, courtacy of brentk56 via trade - THANKS again.

Poured a coal black with almost no head - no surprise with the kick ass 9% smacking me.

Smells and tastes like a black ale on hop steroids, sharp, crisp and cutting. The malty b ackbone is there, but struggling to make itself known. The booze is nowhere to be seen, but damn, sure to be felt by bottle end.

Classy brew.

Vancer, Aug 31, 2008
Photo of kasper
3.2/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Best by 12/31/08

A: nearly black, opaque, finger and half creamy, foamy chocolate milk colored head that leaves sheets of lacing

S: chocolate covered malt balls, earthy hops, and smoked meat.

T: malty, roasty, smokey and bitter.

M: medium to full bodied, prickly carbonation, slippery

D: interesting aromas and taste, but not necessarily my bag. there's a lacking in complexity up front on the taste that kind of ruins it for me. but it's still a solid stout that masks the abv well.

kasper, Aug 29, 2008
Photo of Viggo
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to grub for sharing this one, in the 1 liter foiled swingtop bottle. Bottle # 1283/3000.

Pours black, some dark red in the edges, huge brown head forms, tons of lacing, solid retention, looks like an imperial stout! Smell is nice, very hoppy, some floral and grapefruit, pine and burnt sugar, toffee, chocolate, cream, roast, pretty nice. Taste is chocolate and roast, toffee, floral hops, caramelized sugar, bitter dark chocolate, alcohol, dark fruits in the finish with a lacto sweetness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation, very smooth. Pretty nice imperial stout, very hoppy and I'd like to try this with some age on it. Thanks Russ!

Viggo, Jul 29, 2008
Photo of Crosling
3.35/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

1.0 L swingtop. Dark brown color with a very light head (for an Imperial Stout.) The head and color should be darker, hurting its score. Nose shows some dark fruit and dark chocolate hints, but it's very light overall. Flavor is well balanced, quite hoppy with some citrus notes. Also, notes of cherry and blackberry, with some other hints of roast and chocolate. Not a complex beer, but it's fairly enjoyable.

Crosling, Jun 21, 2008
Photo of BattleRoadBrewer
3.35/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served at cellar temp from a 12 oz bottle into a Maudite snifter.

Delectable pour, extremely dark ruby/garnet and crystal clear (not inky or opaque), nice 3/4 inch dark-tan-colored head, leaves lots of sticky lacing all the way down. A beautiful looking beer.

Aroma is strong with yeast aromas, banana and Band-Aid--mmm, good. (Not.) Their house yeast, or fermenation temps? Besides phenolic, also some fusel alcoholic aroma, utterly dominating what ought to be a roasty or chocolately nose. No hints of malt that I can pick up, unfortunately.

Flavor is flat as well, with some smoke, some fruitiness, dominated by plenty of cola flavor. Not that bad, but weak in character. The nose hurts more than the flavor.

Mouthfeel is thin, insufficient sweetness, body, slickness, bitterness, everything. This poor beer just can't make it into the top tier.

At the end of the day, it's not that bad. But in my opinion, Imperial Stout is a special tier of beer, and either you have a winner or you should not bother trying. Happy Ending is a decent beer (worth drinking if it's your local beer) competing against the best beers in the world.

BattleRoadBrewer, Jun 06, 2008
Photo of wagenvolks
3.28/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

thanks to atpsrings for this one!

An aggressive pour into a Duvel chalice builds a 1" tall, khaki-brown head. Retention is good and leaves an inital ring of lacing around the glass. Body is seal brown and entirely opaque. The aroma isn't particularly strong, but still good: roasted grains, a hint of chocolate and espresso, and a big hop presence due to the dry-hopped finish.

Flavor is kind of a malty mess, with roasted notes here, some coffee and cocoa there, but all in all lacking coherence. The hoppiness feels out of place, too, and is actually the most significant part of the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is dry and chalky, and leaves a weird, filmy texture on my teeth. Body is a bit thin and overcarbonated. While this isn't a great beer, the flavor is a little better than the 3.0 I gave it, but for the style, this falls flat as a RIS. I wouldn't necessarily call it an "unhappy ending", but it's close.

wagenvolks, May 16, 2008
Photo of drxandy
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

got in trade from beavers, thanks!!
poured into mini snifter from 12oz bottle

pours an oily black/deep deep brown, a heavy pour brings out some head

smells faint bakers chocolate, bitterness, but no alchohol smell really

tastes lactosey, very much bakers chocolate, lots of bitter hopping blends nicely into and not offensive to even someone who isn't the biggest fan of hops.

mouthfeel is good, but not as rich as i'd expect based off of smell. The hops do kick in a dry finish as well.

overall for the abv and style, this is an easy drinker - bold and bitter but still easy to drink more than one.

drxandy, May 12, 2008
Photo of dnichols
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I thank shuajw for a great trade that landed this gem in my stash (at least until last night when imacoug and I polished it off). We poured the massive gold foiled and swing capped bottle into chalices.

A: It poured a drark black body with a modest tan head. There was even and layered lacing.

S: It emitted rich coffee aromas accented by floral hops and dark roasted malts. There was a milk chocolate like aroma that rose to the top, especially as the brew warmed.

T: It tasted like a milk chocolate stout laced with a wicked blend of hops. The flavors were a bit thin but milk chocolate dominated the chocolate profile and French roast coffee was evident on the back side. The hops were floral and bitter giving it a complex flavor unusually for a RIS.

M: It was medium to full bodied with a thinness that approached a porter or dry stout. However, the milk chocolate and bitter hops gave it a complex mouth fell that was entertaining. It finished warm and clean with little aftertaste.

D: It was a pleasant and well balanced beer with a moderately heavy body and bold ABV that limit its utility as a session brew. The large bottle makes it a great candidate to share with a beer buddy and if no friends are around the swing top cap makes it possible to stash it away for a second round.

dnichols, May 09, 2008
Photo of tpd975
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another GA brew from OskarsBamaBlues

A: Pours deep dark black with an average sized khaki colored head. The head dies and some vein like lacing is left behind.

S: Lots of dark roasted malt with hints of chocolate. There is a bit of a lactic ice cream type quality to the nose.

T: Lots of roasted malt and bitter cocoa flavors. There is a hint of licorice and some sweet toffee. A touch of charcoal in the finish.

M: Medium in body pretty smooth.

D: The 12 oz bottle makes it easy to drink a few.

Overall: A solid RIS, and the fact that it comes in a 12 oz bottle is a bonus. I like to see brewers put big beers in small bottles. Sweetwater has a winner with this one, and if avaliable I would have a sixer in the fridge all winter long.

tpd975, May 02, 2008
Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

thanks to stopbarking for this bottle

A - inky darkness that wells up a chocolate milk colored head about a finger thick

S - rich in roasted malts and a lactic mily sweetness all supported by a surprisingly strong hop profile, rather interesting

T - wow, a great mocha/malty sweetness, that is quickly balanced by that strong hop profile, a true juxtaposition in a bottle, and damn tasty

M&D - smooth and easy drinkable especially for a highish ABV, not a sessionable beer (perhaps) but still a darn fine brew, wish i lived closer to this brewery

sinstaineddemon, Apr 23, 2008
Photo of Avryle
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm afraid this review may suffer. Its following the consumption of a bottle of Bell's Expedition Stout.

A- Pours uber-dark brown. Thin mocha-colored head with a vigorous pour that quickly disapated.

S- Roasted malts. Maybe some caramel lingering in the back...

T- Primarily roasted malts with a caramel and toffee sweetness. Finishes with a slight, cocoa powdery bitterness.

M- Medium bodied. Pleasant sweetness lingers a bit.

D- Extroidinarily drinkable. Maybe its becauase I had a tootsie-roll bodied RIS immediately before. Who knows.

Avryle, Apr 18, 2008
Photo of aerozeppl
3.13/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to goryshkewych for this beer.

When I was down in Georgia a few years back I drank a ton of sweetwater but never had this.

A: Mostly black with some brown around the edges. Minimal spoty lacing.

S: Tons of roast but none of the other things I love about the style.

T: Roast. No real complexity to it. Finishes with a slight hint of sweetness. I expect much more complexity for the style as well as ABV.

M: Thin for the style. Doesn't feel like a stout.

D: Very drinkable but I am glad I split the 12oz bottle. Geting through this solo would have been a chore.

aerozeppl, Apr 18, 2008
Photo of tayner
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle with best before 12-31-08.

Poured very dark, black with dark brown edges to light. milk chocolate head that lasted awhile but dissipated as it warmed leaving a ring. the lacing was sticky while it was cold but as it warmed it pretty much stopped lacing the glass.

Smell was pretty dominant alcohol up front. past that you could smell slight licorice and then some sweet and well roasted malt notes. not much hops in the nose for being a "dry hopped stiffy" as the bottle describes.

Taste surprised me based on the smell. the alcohol is much less of a factor than i thought it would be, and so is the licorice (which is good because i dont care for loads of either in the taste). I get a roasted, bittersweet chocolate flavor up front with a midpalate burst of floral/citrus hops. There is an alcohol warming on the back end after swallowing, but nothing outrageous.

The midpalate hops dried out my mouth making this one clean and crisp which is not what i usually expect from a RIS, but i liked it alot for that very reason.

It was pretty easy to drink, especially as it warmed up a bit.. but at 9% not too sessionable and more of a nightcap.

tayner, Apr 15, 2008
Photo of younger35
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this brew from Brent56k in a recent trade. This will be my first Sweet Water brew but you gotta love the names!! Drank from my Stone India Pale Ale tulip.

Appearance- Pours a super dark brown/black with a nice foamy half inch dark tan head. Leaves a nice creamy cap the duration of the beer along with some webby lacing.
Smell- Lots of really light coffee and semi sweet chocolate. Roasted but not to the degree to which most Imp Stouts that I'm used to are. The hops add a bit of light citrus that is quite zesty and bright. Light whiffs of alcohol are present but not much.
Taste- Starts with a slightly bitter black licorice taste that is fairly unique. Not as big as a punch as I was expecting but still very good. As in the nose there is light coffee present and bits of dark bitter chocolate along with hints of smoke. Hoppy with a citrus finish. A bit warm but not bad considering its 9%. Lingering dark roasted aftertaste that has hints of cotton candy (?, just what it reminded me of), seems a bit off.
Mouthfeel- Light body with zesty carbonation and slight warming, fairly dry finish.
Drinkability- Overall a pretty tasty Imperial Stout that I rather enjoyed. It's a bit different than most I've had (reminded me most of Siberian Night) but a good different. Big thanks again to Brent for the opportunity!

younger35, Mar 28, 2008
Photo of oberon
3.58/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

oberon, Mar 27, 2008
Photo of Cyberkedi
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another winner from Sweetwater!

Pours a rich chocolate brown with a thick, brown, persistent head. Aroma has strong burnt coffee component and also a curious "rubbery" hint, like a car tire. Flavor is like a good mocha - coffee dominates the taste, and there are ribbons of smoke and chocolate. Aftertaste has just a hint of unsweetened chocolate, and there is a little hoppy bitterness as well. It feels just a tad thinner than most stouts, but still does not disappoint.

Cyberkedi, Mar 23, 2008
Photo of joepais
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to ncvbc for this great extra
Best by 12/31/08 Bottle poured into my sniffer produced a good fingers worth of tan head that turns into a ring of lace around the glass on top of a jet black body

Aromas of toasted malts, coffee and chocolate with a slight funk (I'm glad I am not the only one to pick it up I though my nose was going)

Earthiness, sweat malts, light chocolate, molasses good balance of flavors

The only real complaint is it is a little thin for a stout

Good drinkability I could drink a few of these a night easy. A good brew and I will seek this one out again

joepais, Mar 21, 2008
Photo of shirfan
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black with a thin but sticky layer of brown foam.

Smell is evenly split between roasty black malt and juicy, orangey hops -- amarillo maybe?

Flavor: Yup, a hoppier-than-average RIS. Smooth, slightly oily at the outset with a good deal of charred flavor coming through. Moves on to a slightly thin but creamy middle with malt sweetness hanging around, and then finishes big on orange/tangerine hops.

I like the idea here, but it seems like it could use a slightly fuller body and less burnt flavor upfront to really shine. Not bad as it is, though.

shirfan, Mar 20, 2008
Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout from SweetWater Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 861 ratings.