1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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.
BA SCORE
88
very good

949 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 949
Reviews: 406
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 99
Gots: 170 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 949 | Reviews: 406 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JMC_TM
4.58/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap at the Flying Saucer in Charlotte, NC for one of their awesome rare beer Tap Nites!

This great IRS pours a deep, dark, opaque onyx. As implied, this beer gives you great head that is whipped and creamy with an alluring mocha tint. The nose on this one gives you plenty of roasted malt and unsweetened chocolate. The flavor of this IRS leads off with rich, dark, and roasty malt and is followed closely by dark caramel, hints of dark fruits, a kick of espresso and some citric hop following close behind. The smooth creaminess of this great seasonal offering from SweetWater is nice and easy to drink despite weighing in at 9.0% abv.

Photo of chaz410
3.19/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Got this at the flying saucer.
This is hands down the best beer I've gotten from Sweetwater.
Appearance is dark black with a thick mocha colored finger length head that leaves a ton of lacing.
Smell is not very impressive. Some crisp chocolate malt notes along with some roasted malt.
Taste if more full, lots of roasted chocolate malt and roasted barley. Not bitter but it does have a nice unsweetened chocolate flavor with hints of cocoa nibs and caramel.
Mouthfeel is thick and silky.
Easy to drink for the abv, a great stout to indroduce people to if they want to try the high octane stouts

Photo of Onenote81
3.14/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Super pumped to see this beer at my local store. I hadn't seen it the last few times it was released. Poured into a goblet. Pours a very thick deep black. There is no light coming through this beer at all. A nice frothy tan head caps this one off. Retains well; leaves some nice sticky lace. Let's take a whiff...Hops!! Whoah! That's weird. This smells just like an IPA. All citrus and pine. I'm not getting any roasted scents; nothing in the nose would tell me this is a Imp Stout.

Great smooth creamy body on this beer. Some light subtle carbonation kicks on the tongue. With the flavor, again, this is all hops. This is really strange. This tastes just like an IPA. Citrus flavors with a bitter kick from a fresh squeeze of hops. I gave it an 'average' rating because on the finish, just ever-so-faintly, I'm getting some light roasted flavors, like toasted malts. This beer is a conundrum. Not sure this is what it claims to be. A good beer, but horribly off style.

Photo of caresville
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

big thanks to jyounger30 for this southern special!!

a- pours a thick, motor oil black with fluffy and vibrant light brown head that sticks around for a bit. no carbonation and lots of lacing.

s- so hoppy!! piney and foresty, kinda odd. smells very fresh though. malty and chocolatey backbone extends through the thick hops smell.

t&m- a grapefruit covered in chocolate and caramel.

d- this beer is having a serious identity crisis. if i wanted a weak ipa i wouldnt have selected this. this in no way reminds me of any impy stout i have ever had. there is a hint of malts, roastyness, and other things that would define stouts but it is completely hidden by the overwhelming hoppy outburst. buyer beware, this is a black ipa.

Photo of wmaldridge
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this last night thanks to a friend that just brought me a bottle back from a trip to Atlanta. I am a fan of this beer. The appearance of the beer kind of scared me at first because it looked like it would be a super hoppy imperial with the dark head and the mainly hopped up aroma. The hops combined with the carmel/chocolate finish of this beer really comes together well. Overall, I am pleased that I got to try this beer and it will be one that I will seek out again. Nice work Sweetwater!

Photo of Thur123
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours an opaque black with rather frothy head for the style, giving me about one finger worth of caramel brown colored foam that sticks to the glass as is fades. The smell is bitter chocolate and a big hop punch from some spicy and herbal hops. In addition to that there are trace amounts of coffee and caramel.

Glug glug glug

Well of the bat this has more hops than I'm used to from this style, and so far it overwhelms any of the malty goodness that could be showing up stronger. The chocolate malt flavor reminds me both of cocoa powder and dark cocoa nibs, which is nice, but its followed much too quickly by a hop edge that's only sweet for a moment before it becomes a spicy and herbal mess that adds a lot of heat towards the tail end of the flavor which comes off has harsh tasting to me. Over all this is an ok IS, but the hop profile needs to be reeled in IMO and an overall more subtle and nuanced profile, as opposed to big malt and big hops with little bringing these two together.

Photo of DefenCorps
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the 2008 release that I received from SaintNathaniel in a monster trade many moons ago. Thanks, man! I split this with a couple of friends last night

The pour is pretty standard, jet black with a dense dark brown head that's way too big. It does settle to a good-looking disk, leaving some lacing.

The nose is OK. A blend of chocolate, molasses and some mellow pine hop, I also get some oxidation with some raisin character. Bitter chocolate is present, as is quite a bit of roasted malt character. The palate is similar, opening with a blend of bitter chocolate, heavily kilned malts and a touch of hop bitterness. I also get a little bit of an oxidized hop flavor, mildly soapy. Roasted malt character is quite heavy. I like the dark chocolate bitterness, though. Medium in body, this beer is initially over-carbonated, but once it's had time to settle down, there's a nice, creamy aspect to the mouthfeel. The bitter finish is pretty solid too. FAR from earth shattering, this beer is decent, I did finish my 12oz pour without much trouble. Not something I'd rush out to try again, though.

Photo of avalon07
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a growler to a pint glass. Had a black color and a totally thick, opaque consistency. There was an inch of tan-colored, long-lasting head and good lacing.

S: A mild yet pleasant aroma of malt, hops, cocoa and coffee.

T: Tasted of cocoa, coffee, roasted malt and hops up front, but it was surprisingly thin and watery in the finish. Good, but not great.

M: A nice amount of carbonation and a somewhat slick finish. Medium-bodied, not as thick and chewy as some RIS's.

D: A drinkable beer, if a bit uneven in places.

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

Picked up a growler of this at the CBX for their Rare Beer Tuesday offering today.

A - Pours murky black with no highlights and a thin, dark brown head that quickly dissipates.

S - Cocoa nubs, roast malt.

T - Sweet and slightly bitter hops up front rolling into rich stouty goodness. Cocoa, roasted malt, faint java. Really wonderful finish.

M - Medium bodied, sticky, sugary.

Photo of bamadog
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to my buddy Jeff who did another one of his infamous cross country treks and picked me up a six pack of this offering over the course of his travels. Pour is from the bottle to a snifter and the review is from notes taken on 1/11/10.

Appearance: Pour is darkest brown/near black; starts with a one finger dark tan, creamy looking head that fades quickly to an island of bubbles on the side; body is opaque and there are thin rings of lacing left on the sides of the glass.

Smell: Whoa - very hop forward, so hop forward in fact that I take a look at the bottle and see that it states: "Happy Ending is a huge dry hopped stiffy..." They nailed it if they were going for that, as the hops dominate the scent and behind that there is a more moderate burnt/roasty maltiness and an even more subtle chocolate scent.

Taste: Much like the smell, very much hop forward in the flavor as well -- it's a little grassy and metallic, but still very nice overall for a hopped up stout; once the strong hoppiness dissipates in the mouth a bit, the roastiness creeps in and makes it a bit more "stoutish" and in the far back, the subtle chocolate sneaks in as well and it's semi-sweet.

Mouthfeel: Body is moderately thick, but thinner than a lot of other Imperial Stouts out there; a nice coating is left on the roof of the mouth and the belly is left warm (probably from the 9% ABV).

Drinkability: Not bad, the hoppiness in a stout isn't really my personal preference, but knowing that it is what the brewers were going for, they nailed it and it's still very solid; I think I'm going to let the other five sit for about a year and see if the hops fade out of it a bit.

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

Thanks to mikesgroove for this nice extra. This is a 2007 vintage, poured from a 12oz bottle into a smuttynose tulip. The beer pours jet black with a thick mocha frothy head. The head fades, but stays thicker than most RISs, leaving behind some nice oily lacing.

The smell is chocolate, coffee and orange peel citrus hops. Kind of subdued, but nice.

The taste is much like the smell, with the citrus hoppy flavors coming through more than the dark chocolate and roasted coffee. The coffee qualities shine near the end of the flavor, and have some lasting power on the palate. There is also a little sweet alcohol presence that barely shows itself near the finish, very pleasant.

The mouthfeel is on the thinner side for the style, but still good. The beer is nicely carbonated, has a nice dry finish and a slight alcohol warmth as I finish the glass. A solid RIS for sure, I would like to try it fresh for comparison.

Photo of dpodratsky3
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Pitch black motor oil, with no head, what foam is there is brown

S: Like really heady weed for the hop aroma, plus some roasted malt in the background, surprised there isn't more malt although this is my first of the style

T: Tastes exactly like it smells, the really heady hop flavor is there and then a dose of malt comes, not really big on the malt still though, a slight roast is all, milder than I expected from the look and smell, pleasant though

M: Surprisingly medium, looks really thick but isn't that much

D: High, I like the roast and unique hop flavor

Notes: This is my first Russian Imperial Stout and I like it a lot. It has a nice hop profile that I wasn't expecting from such a dark beer. The roasted malt is definitely present but more of a supporting role than a main star. The hops stay as the main flavor the entire time, and it works really well. As it warms that heady aroma and taste fade a little in favor of some more developed hop flavor and bitterness.

Photo of merlin48
4.08/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best by date of 12/31/09

A - Your standard good RIS with a finger of head and minimal lacing.

S - Citrus hops, roasted malts, chocolate.

T - Fading hops, roasted malts, chocolate, and a long lasting bitterness reminiscent of espresso.

M/D - A slightly light body, but overall an easy drinker. It's like some one splashed an older IPA into a good stout. Interesting enough to keep me going back for more.

Photo of maximum12
3.79/5  rDev -3.1%
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
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
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
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
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
2.99/5  rDev -23.5%
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
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
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
3.87/5  rDev -1%
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
2.82/5  rDev -27.9%
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
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout from SweetWater Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 949 ratings.