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Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout - SweetWater Brewing Company

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

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

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
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Ratings: 861 | Reviews: 388 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of turbine2475
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Georgiabeer for this nice little addition to our trade:
A - Pours a purely opaque black with a decent mocha head that had good retention with a light lace.
S - Dark chocolate and coffee with a little roasted oat and earthy spices...Very plesant.
T - Dark roasted coffee and some bittersweet chocolate that finishes suprisingly smooth given the ABV.
M - Creamy and smooth with good carbonation with a coating that contributes even more to the toasted nature.
D - Very good brew that I would enjoy again any time I get the chance.

turbine2475, Mar 19, 2008
Photo of drseamus
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Labeled as best by 6/12/07. Served in a DFH snifter.

A: Nice and jet black with a thin quickly disappearing mocha head. And that was with an aggressive pour.

S: Tons of coffee and chocolate and yummy goodness. This is a great smelling beer. In the background there is a touch of roasted malt and some evidence of the ABV.

T: Slightly bitter roastiness up front and some coffee in the aftertaste. Not too much in the way of chocolate.

M: A bit thin feeling for an RIS, but not so much so to make it completely out of style.

D: A good beer for sure, but there are better RIS out there.

drseamus, Mar 13, 2008
Photo of Kegatron
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours completely black with a finger of dark tan head. Retains nicley around the edges with some creamy wisps around the middle leaving lots of lace and oily brown residue down the sides of the glass. The aroma is chocolate, roasted malts, and a combo of dark fruits and hops that gives of a slightly funky smell.

The taste is a thick chocolate sweetness up front with some moderate roasted tones, a twang of dark fruits, and hop bitterness in the finish that lingers. The sweetness and bitterness do an OK job of balancing each other but the overall flavor profile just doesn't feel that deep to me. The mouthfeel is full bodied with a fairly thick and viscous feel. The 9% ABV is present but doesn't detract much from the taste.

I think a little more balance in the aroma and deepness in the taste could have really pushed this guy into a better category of RIS. That being said, I will say that the drinkability is still pretty good for a beer of this thickness and ABV level.

Kegatron, Mar 04, 2008
Photo of ruckzuck
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

#1948. Sat on this for a while before cracking into it.

A - really dark, lovely thick light chocolate colored head

S - roasted malt, really pleasant hop aroma

T - really enjoyable roasted malt, hints of chocolate, hops come through just right, really enjoyable!

M - medium body, bit of carbonation, goes down quite well

D - wow, I quite like this! I'm surprised as I've never been a huge Sweetwater fan and bought this on a whim a while ago. Really enjoyable. I got the ginromous bottle and am sharing it with my gf. She's a fan as well. Would drink again. Good work, Sweetwater!

ruckzuck, Mar 01, 2008
Photo of tiger88
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got a six pack over the weekend. Pours just like an Impy stout should; dark and opaque. Head was dark tan and hung around a decent amount of time. Smell was nothing like an Impy stout; hoppy and not nearly as sweet to the nose. Taste was wonderful. Maybe because it was the third in a series of Impy stouts we had or maybe because it was a totally new Impy stout experience. I will drink this beer again, without a doubt. Very enjoyable! Only thing that bothers me: I wish Sweetwater would have not changed the label. It now looks like every one of their other labels but is Black.

tiger88, Feb 25, 2008
Photo of pwoods
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mikesgroove for adding this in the great Black Booty package he sent me.

A: Pour motor oil black. 1/2 finger head, tight, and dark mocha. Good retention and some patchy lacing.

S: Very strong. Burnt malts that are very sweet. chocolaty and nicely hopped. No alcohol even after warming.

T/M: Hops are very present but are right in place. Adds a nice flora earthiness as well as citrus and bitterness to balance out the burnt malts. The burnt malts, added with a nice chocolate sweetness are the forefront with pulpy fig in the back. body is a bit light but nothing to complain about.

D: Easy to drink for a RIS and very tasty. I'm sure I'll find people that will trade this to me :)

pwoods, Feb 25, 2008
Photo of beavers
3.33/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Sam Adams Boston Lager glass

A: Super sticky thick black (opaque) goodness leaving a good finger of tan head that descends into a thin spotty covering. Not bad lacing, but not great my any means.
S: Roasted malt, burnt coffee, faint chocolate notes, sweet pumpernickel (?), with a quite dominating hop presence. Grainy. Alcohol at 9% is very well hidden behind the hoppy coffee aromatics.
T: Taste follows closely to the aroma profile. Strong roasty, coffee with powerful burn/bitterness combination from the ethanol heat and high IBUs. The hops are almost over-powering for the style. They hide the alcohol well but at a cost of covering up some of the subtlety of the rest of the profile...becoming the forefront of the beer.
M: Surprisingly thin-to-medium bodied leaving a dry, bittering finish.
D: I've had three of these on separate occasions and only wanted/could get through a single one. I'm all about some hop monsters and could take a quadruple IPA but the bitterness from the hops really feels out of place and I'd have to say I'm not down. I leave this beer thinking that its not bad by any means but that its missing something. I'd be really interested to see what this tastes like in 6 months to a year.

beavers, Feb 25, 2008
Photo of rsyberg01
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

S - 12 oz bottle courtesy of Georgiabeer. thanks for the delish sample! Best by 12-31-08

A - Pours black with a burnt caramel color breaking through at the edges, head is a nice shade of brown sugar. very nice.

S - floral notes, deep sugary fruits, slight citrus note, molasses, roasted malts, damn fine.

T - definite hop right up front, citrus runs through, then some fine molasses and slight caramel, bitter...but not too, sweet roasted malts. awesome.

M - smooth, slightly viscous, creamy, finishes somewhat dry but again not too much. very nice

D - Considering the 9% abv tag, I could still quaff 3 or 4 of these bad boys....or girls? Much appreciated robert.

rsyberg01, Feb 20, 2008
Photo of MSchae1017
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

For this tasting, we have a bottle of Happy Ending aged one year and then a fresh one from this year's release. Tasting these beers provided some very interesting results. These two beers barely resembled each other. The 2008 is unlike most Imperial Stouts. Powering through the dark and roasty characteristics is the very strong taste of American Hops. Meanwhile, the 2007 has lost almost all of its hop flavor and it seems as if the hops were holding the beer together. The beer just really has not held up well over the past year. The hops are gone and the remaining beer lacks any significant stout characteristics. One saving quality of the beer is that it does reach a much more appropriate level of sweetness. Additionally, the 2008 has a much fuller body than the 2007. As expected, the 2008 produces a better head than the 2007. Perhaps the 2008 will age better than the 2007 or maybe the 2007 will improve with further aging. We will have to wait until next year to see.

MSchae1017, Feb 19, 2008
Photo of brentk56
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a coffee brown color with a prodigious head that laces that glass nicely

Smell: Citrus fruit dominates, with burnt black bread elements underneath

Taste: Opens with a molasses and char element that is quickly joined and subsumed by the citrus; after the swallow, some chocolate kicks in to add some balance; surprisingly fruity for the style

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; not nearly full enough for the style

Drinkability: I really didn't care for the combination of the hops and the charred molasses flavors in this brew; seems like it goes a bit overboard in multiple directions

brentk56, Feb 19, 2008
Photo of Sammy
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Both on-tap in Atlanta brewery, and a hand bottle fresh of a second of three recipies about. I liked the bottle experiment the best as it was more chocolate than coffee in their lateral tasting. The tap was coffee, but lso a sour aroma and more dry bitterness there. The head of all was nice and soapy and suggested fresh. The bottle was creamer and would get a 3.9 rank.

Sammy, Feb 10, 2008
Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dispensed from a 12oz bottle into a New Belgium snifter. Pitch black, of course, with a rather small tan head. Sporadic lacing. Head leaves rather quickly and is almost nonexistent within three minutes.

Fruity aroma with some chocolate and coffee backing. Slight yeast aroma as well. Kind of a baked chocolate brownie aroma going on. Not bad overall. All of the aromas definitely open up after the warms a bit.

Nice flavor profile. Plenty of coffee, followed by a slight dark fruitiness, possibly raisins, and finished with some chocolate and chalkiness. Werid sort of salty/alkaline taste in the finish.

Medium bodied, finishes quite dry. Not a bad brew from Sweetwater. They are beginning to make some decent beers. Nice work.

PS I like the label indicated on this site better than the one on my bottle. NC has laws against such lude advertisement! :)

SaCkErZ9, Feb 09, 2008
Photo of MMAJYK
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Very dark brown; almost black. Head is one to two fingers and is orange/brown. Lacing is thick and sticky; hangs around for the duration of the drink.

S- Mocha, cocoa, and chocolate. The hop smell from the dry hopping is very much present. I am unsure of what hops they use, but to me it smells alot like weed.

T- Very rich cocoa and chocolate flavors. The mocha is there in the roasty and toasty malt backbone. The hops are present, but smoothed out well by the malt.

M- Thick in the mouth, and carb is mid to low.

D- For what it is, definitely not a session beer, I appreciate its qualities. I could only drink a couple of pints in a day.

Overall- Very nice brew. The guys at Sweetwater do a nice job in representing this style. It is rich, thick and high on ABV, but that is what a RIS is supposed to be, right? Nice job guys!

MMAJYK, Feb 04, 2008
Photo of jdubjacket
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased a couple six packs of these from Sherlock's in Marietta. First time I've had this in a while, and it didn't disappoint.

Pours a very dark brown. It's not black and is a little more watered down looking than most imperial stouts.

Smell is very sweet - a little bit of brown sugar.

Taste is definitely sweeter than most stouts. Not sure what the difference is, but it's definitely not a bad thing. A nice change of pace. The hops provide a good backing to the malts.

Typically I think that Sweetwater is too hoppy, but this beer covers all the bases. Good job by Sweetwater.

jdubjacket, Jan 30, 2008
Photo of meechum
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at the All Star Game tonight at Phillips arena. Poured into a plastic cup and still had a decent head that fell slowly leaving a decent lace for plastic.

The smell was mostly roasted coffee beans and a little bit of caramel and toffee along with a hint of floral hops

The taste was pretty sweet and malty with a strong coffee flavor and then moving on to a bit of hops that were a little underpowered but still doing ok. The mouthfeel was thick, but could have used just a bit more carbonation.

Overall it was pretty good for a RIS and it's certainly better than most of the fare offered at this venue. I think I'm going to try it out again in a real glass and see what differences it makes

meechum, Jan 27, 2008
Photo of DrJay
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received as part of JBIF from mikesgroove. Thanks!
This one was very dark brown with ruby highlights and brownish edges topped by a thin skim of fine, tan bubbles. It had good head retention, left some spotty lace on the glass, and looked quite viscous during the pour. The aroma had lots of toffee with a bit of roast, caramel, chocolate and licorice. Bitterness was solid, but balanced on the low side compared to the malt sweetness. The qualities in the aroma carried over to the flavour, plus there was a bit of citrusy hop. The finish was mostly toffee and chocolate. Medium/full bodied with low carbonation made up of very fine bubbles. Light warmth and a little bit of astringent dryness. Quite drinkable with well hidden alcohol. Roast was a little on the low side though.

DrJay, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of shivtim
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at the Brewery. Nice name, Sweetwater. I suppose they're rebelling against Georgia liquor laws as best as they know how.
It's a dark brown/black brew with a dense brown head that lasts. Nose is chocolate malts and plums. Taste is mostly dark chocolate, but you can actually get a strong hint of some of the hops. Alcohol is well hidden. Good mouthfeel and drinkability. A bit light for an RIS, but a good beer nonetheless.

shivtim, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass, the liquid is dark brown with great carbonation. The head is a nice 2 fingers, dark tan and leaves all kinds of crazy lace.

The smell is big and hoppy with a malty twang, like a Double Bastard.

The taste is very good really a very hopy RIS if that. Avery cool beer to be sure. Some nice roasty toasty malt, kinda reminds be of an ultra fresh DFH Indian Brown, a bit more hopy and a bit less roasty.

The mouthfeel is not quite up to RIS standard but better then medium body and great carbonation.

The drinkability is excellent, really a very good brew, even if it does step out of bounds just a bit.

Prosit und Zum Wohl, MK

MuenchenerKindl, Jan 11, 2008
3.58/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A very attractive look to thes brew, usually found with Imperial stouts. An inch and a half of rocky milk chocolate colored head sits atop a oily black body that lets no light through.

Nose has hints of cola, light zest smokey malt and coco.

Enters the mouth slightly thin for an Imperail stout. Bitter chocolate bites at the edges of the tongue with a malty richness developing on the back of the tongue.

Mouthfeel is a bitter thickness. Easy to drink though.

Overall I think this is the cleanest drinking Imperial stout I've had. Not that that is what I am looking for in the style though.

SPLITGRIN, Dec 17, 2007
Photo of BeerTruth
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to unclejedi for this one.

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Happy Ending, let's hope. Pours a complete black with a one finger dark tan head that quickly dies down to a thin layer. Stickiness is pretty minimal but there is some there. First whiff I get some grapefruit hops, hmm, interesting. Dark fruits and roasted barley follows with a big caramel malt presence. A tiny hint of alcohol is in the nose as well, overall, nice aroma. Smokey caramel flavors up front with a rich french roast coffee flavor, black and straight up. Molasses and fig flavors arise throughout. Aftertaste is mostly roasted flavors, almost like burnt toast. Mouthfeel is much smoother than I had anticipated, I love it. Carbonation is low, but fits the style. God I wish I could order this one at a bar some day. "Hey bartedner...finish me off with a Happy Ending please!"...someday.

BeerTruth, Dec 14, 2007
Photo of ArrogantB
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I really enjoyed the Sweetwater IPA so I got this in a trade. It pours black (is it even worth mentioning anymore?) with a light brown smattering of bubbles. The smells are many chocolates, milkshakes, some hops. The taste reminded me of Yeti at first, hoppy stout. The flavor is not as strong as I had expected and this goes down easy. I am surprised at how well hidden the 9% ABV. Good beer but it may not be enough for the Imperial Stout connoisseurs.

ArrogantB, Dec 07, 2007
Photo of mntlover
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Enola for this bottle, first off says best by 06/12/07 but I say have had many RIS years old that were tasty so here we go.

Pours a dark black body no light getting thru just a touch of red at the bottom. Sporting a one finger coca head that falls to a ring but leaves some decent lace behind.

Aroma is nice rich chocolate malts, hints of cherries and whiffs of coffee, good hop aromas some underlying malty sweetness.

Taste is chocolate malts from the nose show up first on a sweeter malt base. Some coffee shows up hints of fruit mostly cherries along with some light citrus hops. Flavors are ok but malt backbone seems little lacking over all nice though.

Mouthfeel is only thing hurting this brew seems lighter then it should for an IRS. Carbonation is good just enough to bring out the hops.

Drinkability is good easy drinking just not big enough for an real IRS but flavor is tasty so defiantly worth throwing a few back.

mntlover, Nov 11, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Impervious onyx with no lightening at the edges; not even with bright sunshine behind the pint glass. The compact, whipped creamy, mochachino colored crown is a looker and doesn't buy that shit about high ABV beer failing to generate lace. You want a great looking RIS? Here you go.

The nose leads me to think that Happy Ending is going to be a beautifully roasted, bittersweet, moderately hoppy ale with almost no alcohol presence. Let's hope it's right. Do I smell a hint of caramelized sugar and oak that would suggest whiskey barrel aging?

Hmmm, things aren't so rosy on the palate. What was setting itself up to be a humdinger of a big stout isn't panning out quite like I'd hoped. For one thing (and it's a major thing), there isn't enough malt. For a 6.0% American stout? Sure. For a 9.0% Double American Stout? Not even close. One sip is all it takes to determine that Happy Ending is no RIS.

The roasted malt flavor is as much dark caramel and dark fruit (sour figs and tangy raisins) as it is dark chocolate and coffee. The beer tastes quite a bit like a Baltic porter as a result. I don't usually mind citric hops in my stouts, as long as there's enough roastiness, but the Centennial, Willamette and Cascade seem out of place here. I'm really not thrilled with the way this one comes together. Or, rather, doesn't come together.

As beer, the flavor is above average. As a big stout, it's average. I've decided to go with the former when assigning a score. The mouthfeel takes the brunt of the malt deficit. I've had porters that were more full and more luxurious. Maybe it was more substantial when fresh, but any big stout unable to last 8 months isn't worth much anyway. Too bad it isn't the 'stiffy' that the brewery claims.

Unfortunately, this Sweetwater offering doesn't have a happy beginning, a happy middle or a happy ending. I don't want to slag it too much, but it isn't the beer that I thought it would be and I'm a little bitter as a result. The bottom line is that Happy Ending left me frustrated rather than satisfied.

BuckeyeNation, Oct 06, 2007
Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to unclejedi for this brew.

Best by 06/12/07

Poured into a chalice a black color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy tannish head, some small island/oil slicks remain. The nose is malty, chocolate, toffee, oak, and caramel. The taste is malty, nice touch of oak/roast, toffee/chocolate. The finish is slightly dry and bitter. Full body. Very drinkable, this is an easy drinking RIS for sure, alcohol content is hidden very well. Really enjoying this one tonight, very tasty, recommended.

Wasatch, Oct 04, 2007
Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 edition.

A - Poured a thick, opaque black as night liquid with a very full two inch plus head of tan creamy and sticky foamy lace on top. This hung around for a couple minutes before letting go to ample side glass lace.

S - Super sweet with lots of aromas of lactose and chocolate and a bit of coffee. I almost picked up some licorice in there as well. Definatly a very full aroma and no hint of the abv yet.

T - Wow, super sweet stout is the way this one goes. First thing that hits you is the ton of lactose sugar and a wall of chocolate. Deep german dark chocolate mixed in with some bron sugar and a touch of coffee. Definatly some licorice in here too. This was a mightly big RIS and the flavors were very well pronounced.

M - Super creamy. It had ample carbonation which really hung around well throughout the sesson and helped to give it a really full feel. Lots of creamy notes made this a definite dessert beer.

D - Well this was very full and to be honest it would be hard to drink alot of them simply for that reason however, there was really no hint what so ever of the abv and it had such a full creamy feeling that I could easily see myself having one after dinner almost every night.

Overall this was really a quality RIS. I did not find the feel distracting, rather I thought it really helped pull he whole thing together. A really fantastic overall aroma and yaste made this one far above just average. I hope they bottle it again this year as this was really a favorite of mine.

mikesgroove, Oct 01, 2007
Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout from SweetWater Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 861 ratings.