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The Czar | Avery Brewing Company

very good
928 Reviews
For Trade:
The CzarThe Czar

Brewed by:
Avery Brewing Company
Colorado, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.10%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Wildman on 01-05-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 928 | Ratings: 2,025
Photo of scotorum
3.84/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle code 14303B7 suggests an October 29th 2014 bottling date. So now it is four months old.

Poured from the 22 oz. bomber into a Samuel Adams nonick.

a: Opaque black with the barest trace of clear ruby at the bottom when seen through light. Inch thick tan head receded to thin even surface foam and dense lacing.

s: Dominated by alcohol

t: Smoothness is the first impression, followed by alcohol and dark roastiness and then a moderate hop/alcohol bite at the sides of the tongue and throat.

m: Very smooth medium to full, oatmeal or milk stoutlike in that respect. Great body, considerable carbonation tingle.

o: An unusual imperial stout, with mild roastiness and no real coffee/chocolate notes to speak of, which seems to leave the alcohol rather naked. Yet it is enjoyable and wonderfully silky. One can imagine this actually having been consumed a century ago by a Russian potentate with great gusto and pleasure.

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Photo of jjboesen
3.89/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This review is based on the Czar Batch 13. It opens in a large puffy beige foam atop a dark ruby body; after the initial pour, there is little lacing and a minimal head. The nose detects a subtle whiff of molasses while the palate receives a delectable blend of said molasses and toffee, both of which are finely controlled by the Hallertau hops and English yeast. (Fact: the Russian Imperial Stout is a British style - not actually Russian - of course, you knew this ...?)

There is a tad crispiness in the mouthfeel along with a semi-sweet body that makes for a very nice quaff, despite the potent alcohol boost.

If you really want to expand the experience, I recommend letting this one sit for about 10-15 minutes; this will bring more of the flavor and allow the body to settle. Nice, Comrade!

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Photo of aderousseau
4.46/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Easily one of the best stouts you can halfway find on your shop's shelves. Nose is loaded with cereal malts and molasses. I love the sweetness and back of throat alcohol. Another Avery gem that should have higher BA scores in my opinion.

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Photo of MadCat
4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Pours black with a thick tan head that leaves considerable lacing

Smell: Earthy, chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, a hint of sweetness

Taste: Starts off earthy, gives you nice dark chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. A lingering bitterness

Mouthfeel: Full body and chewy. Medium carbonation, which is surprising considering the style and the age of the bottle

Overall: This is a pretty good brew, my bottle is labeled October 2013, so it is about a year and a half old (forgot about it in the cellar). It is pretty good. Love big stouts, especially this time of year.

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Photo of bman13
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Not "bad" but the 2014 batch isn't very good. First off, it's only 8.5% ABV. Second, it's so ridiculously thin for an Imperial Stout. Third, it's way too sweet for a stout. There's absolutely zero lacing whatsoever. It tastes of a watered down stout with bananas, no alcohol, no chocolate, no coffee, nothing. This was an extreme letdown. I'll try this year's and hopefully it is better, because I'm not very pleased with the 2014 batch at all.

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Photo of barczar
3.91/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Loved this beer when I first started drinking craft.

Aroma is roasty, with cocoa sweetness and booze, and a bit of banana ester.

Flavor is sweet, with just a hint of roast and char at the lightly bitter finish. The esters come through here, as well. It's a bit harsh.

Dark fruit adds complexity, but it's not enough to counter the sweetness.

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Photo of TX-Badger
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with tan head. Floral notes, coffee, molasses, roasted malt, and caramel sweetness on the nose; follows onto the palate. Finishes with just a little anise, but mostly roasted malt.

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Photo of TheDoctor
4.04/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Service: Bottle
Batch 13, brewed October 2014

Pitch black with a finger of milky tan head. Sticks around pretty good. Finally to patchy film. Decent retention; some swoops of web-like and speckled lacing. (4)

Nutty. Leather right up front and a touch of lacquer-like alcohol, some more dark sweet smells, but isn't too crazy. (3.75)

Roasty and smooth. Rich dark chocolate with a leathery, dirty flat roast taste that really holds it all together. (4.25)

Coating burnt character with subtle small bubbles of carbonation, medium-full body, lingering roasted warmth on the palate. (4)

Really good, solidly made Imperial Stout of the Russian variety.
Excellent tasting, drinkable beer with a very simple and straightforward feel to everything about it.
Roasty and burnt notes in the nose and taste, but there is very little bitterness and there is a creamy sweetness ubstantiveness to it that really keeps it mellow and makes it very drinkable. Palate is similar with a lingering toasted malt sweetness that is always there but doesn't eventually overwhelm itself.
Admittedly, I think that I like this one a lot because it doesn't seem to only exist to be big and bold. I like a hefty, burny, filling, roasty, molasses-feeling stout as much as the next guy, but in smaller doses. There is something to be said for taking a step back. This is a great beer for people wanting to find a nice, easy drinking Imperial Stout that won't weigh them down or fatigue them or for anyone who hasn't ever had a RIS that they liked.
Would have again; worth finding. (4)

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Photo of TBoneJones
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours black in my stout glass, with a tan towering head that fades to leave some nice lacing. Rich body.
Smells like chocolate, coffee, malts and hops. A standard ok.
Tastes like charred chocolate, with bitter hops a standout, and some lingering coffee within there. Not bad, but also not my go-to RIS profile since I don't prefer char and hops-dominance in the style.
Feels medium and slick, and fairly big considering its bottle indicates 8.5% and not the 10+ % indicated on this review site.
ALL things considered, a solid example.

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Photo of WJones
4.28/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Exactly what an imperial Russian stout should be. I would like a little more carbonation and head but I am sure the high alcohol makes this prohibitive.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.13/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

650ml bottle into a teku glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown color - it doesn't seem pitch black (the pour looked almost 'light'), though the body is more or less opaque. The head is two fingers high, with a khaki shade. I'm not particularly impressed with the retention, or the texture's lack of softness. A ring of lacing does stick to the glass, though. (3.25)

Smell: Very fruity. There are definite hints of chocolate, but I'm mainly picking up stewed dark fruits; that, and brown sugar. It almost seems bready like a Belgian ale, even packing some noble hops. There's a decent amount going on here, except for the one thing I love most in an imperial stout...roasted notes. Seriously, it's not roasty at all, not even a little bit. So then, let's call it a brown stout? (3.25)

Taste: Brown stout. Totally. An initial hoppiness quickly fades into notes of toffee, bread, brown sugar, molasses, and marzipan. The back end reveals some powerful dark fruit notes. For an 8.5% imperial stout, it's surprisingly alcohol-sodden - in a way, though, it actually nuances and adds to this brew rather than hampering it. I never grow to love this one, but it's not exactly 'bad', either. (3)

Mouthfeel: Not very heavy or dense at all. Instead, it's somewhat light (just somewhat) and a bit sharp-edged. Because it's so seemingly well attenuated, the drinkability is pretty good. Carbonation remains medium-low. (3.5)

Overall: This is interesting to say the least. It doesn't taste like an American-style imperial stout (Ten Fidy) or even like a modern European-style RIS (Beer Geek Brunch Weasel). It's seemingly old-school, almost as if it were a brown stout. It isn't my favorite example of the style, though. Having said that, this would make an amazing soured stout...are you guys listening, Avery? (3)

3.11/5: Just okay; not very stout-like at the end of the day

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Photo of Mikus
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I really liked the couple of Avery big beers that I tried. This pour (into my snifter) was viscous, perfectly black, and nicely carbonated. No visible head though. Really a light nose for an RIS though, with a few roasty malt notes coming through (opened up a bit as the glass warmed up). Malt - forward (obviously), but some nice balanced bitterness on the back end. Flavors also opened up a bit with some dark chocolate and smoky character coming out as the glass warmed. Nice heavy, but not too chewy, of a mouthfeel. Overall, this was quite good, but maybe not quite up to par aroma and taste - wise with some of my other faves. Still a great brew, and worth a taste!

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Photo of KYGunner
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The nose is a light chocolate malt, tinges of grain, dark fruit, dry maltiness and a bit of roast.

The flavors are not overly pronounced but what's presented is delicious. Light creaminess, milk chocolate, molasses, coffee roast, a touch of booze, and some burnt embers.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.42/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Batch no 10. November 2011.

BOTTLE: 1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass with a gold foil-ed over pry-off pressure cap. Served cold into a Guinness goblet and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Reviewed live as an imperial stout per the label. 10.57% ABV.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 1 finger wide. Khaki colour. No lacing sticks to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Retention is poor - maybe 20 seconds.

BODY: Opaque amber-black. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Appears undercarbonated (though this may be from age). Not unique or special for the style, but satisfactory.

AROMA: Raisin, prune, dark malts, dates, grape, and a hint of cherry. Dark malts. Sweet. Fruit dominates.

An obviously aged brew with plenty of depleted sugars.

A decent aroma of average strength. No alcohol or off-notes is/are detectable.

TASTE: Raisin, prune, dark malts, dates, grape, malty sweetness. Raisin and prune dominates. Decidedly Belgian yeast character guides it.

This just plain isn't an imperial stout; it's a Belgian dark ale.

No yeast, alcohol, or off-notes come through.

Fairly balanced. Lacks much complexity/intricacy. There isn't any subtlety here.

TEXTURE: Subtly dry and coarse. Medium-bodied. Overcarbonated. A biteen rough. Uncomfortably astringent. The dryness and coarseness suits the raisin.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, scratchy, or rough.

OVERALL: Downable but underwhelming, and just plain not an imperial stout. It has a Belgian character and lacks sufficient complexity and subtlety. I expected far better.


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Photo of damndirtyape
3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No date, 22oz bottle, shared with friends, served in a clear plastic cup.

Appearance: Black, but not pitch black. Mahogany brown at the edges when held up to the light. Thin light tan ring of foam, with some lacing here and there.

Smell: Fruity, light, sugary, cocoa powder.

Taste: Cherry, dark fruits, burnt sugar, light bittersweet chocolate, with a bitter finish of bittersweet chocolate and roasted malt.

Mouthfeel: Light carbonation, sticky, but smooth.

Overall / Drinkability: Very different for a RIS than other styles I’ve had, lighter, but full of flavor. The wider range of flavors and aromas worked for this beer rather than heading towards the extremes of thickness and chocolate/coffee flavors. Quite drinkable and I’ll have to pick up a bottle again to savor all on its own.

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Photo of LouZ
3.86/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very smooth. It did not pack the sweet, malty punch that the Maharaja has and was sort of expected given the description, but very drinkable and subtle alcohol for an imperial.

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Photo of Bradrey5
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

A: Small head, mild cloudiness. Light carbonation.
S: A bit of nuttiness, chocolate as well.
T: Light coffee flavor with a little spice. Thick but balanced.
M: Smooth finish, a bit heavy but not no biting aftertaste.
O: Solid imperial, and would def have again, but was rated 99 by the warehouse I visited. Wouldn't rank it so high, but certainly a good strong stout for those looking for a tasty buzz.

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Photo of BenwayPHD
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Pours black with brown along the edges and a tan, mocha head. The smell is sweeter than i expected. Less roast than i would think from this style and a good amount of chocolate. Perfect thick mouthfeel. The flavor is very roasty. Coffee and burnt carbon with a perfect amount of hop bitterness. Although this beer is quite delicious, it's not as complex as i was hoping.

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Photo of Franziskaner
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Midnight black with a fingernail of khaki colored head. Sweet aroma of plums and fig while roasted barley takes a backseat. The taste is very much on the sweet end of the spectrum with strong plum notes with raisins and some gentle bitterness from the roasted barley at the back of the palate. The mouth is velvety smooth,oily and viscous.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

Bottled 11/2011, enjoyed 11/2013.
Pours deep mahogany with some brightness under a thick light tan tinted off-white film that provides rich lace.
Nose: prune, some sherry notes, dried fig, mild roast.
Palate: Big dried fruit soaked in sherry backed by roast malts that suggest light coffee.
Chewy, creamy, warming, luscious, medium low carbonation.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.04/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review updated with a 2015 bottle:

A - Pitch black pour with a thick, creamy, toffee colored lacing ring.

S - Deep roasted chocolate, char, and oak.

T - Dark roasted chocolate malt, oak, minimal dark fruit, some alcohol presence.

M - Big, full, thick, velvety, alot of dryness on the back of the tongue.

O - Old or fresh, this is an exceptional stout.

In review is Batch #11 from Nov. 2012.

A - Pours pitch black and the color of tar (sounds like "Czar", eh?). A thick cocoa colored creamy head covers the beer and lasts for a long time before forming a THICK creamy ring around the top.

S - Dark cocoa, burnt chocolate, light char, and cream.

T - Has a moderate amount of boozy effervescence underneath shoots up through the sinuses on the first sip. Lots of oak, dark chocolate, some dark sweet chocolate buried way below with a hint of dark fruit.

M - Thick medium to full body, a little slippery, the oak and alcohol combo make for a semi-dry finish.

O - Because of the bottle age, everything has blended rather nicely but the boozy heat can't be ignored. Overall, with two years on this bottle, it's better than the overall rating and a great sipper.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%

On tap at The Mayor of Old Town

A- Dark khaki head that dissipates quickly but leaves a layer of lace. Pitch black body. 4

S- Heavy oak aroma, chocolate and sweet malt. A tad of cherry-like aroma or something fruity. 3.8

T- Heavy sweet malts, milk chocolate, vanilla and oak flavors are prominent, before a heavy booze finish with subtle dark chocolate. Hints of baker's chocolate linger on my tongue. I also notice something like tobacco. 3.8

M- Heavy mouthfeel with a bit of booziness, smoothes out mid-palate before a bitter, dry, finish. 3.75

Overall, a good Imperial Stout but not one that really sets itself apart from others or drinks incredibly smoothly. 3.82

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.16/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage. Poured on tap and served in a snifter, the beer is jet black, with subtle ruby highlights, and a dense, foamy, dark tan head. Aromas of coffee and booze forward, with old world fruit sweetness, woody notes, and an underlying coffee bitterness. Beast. Flavors are a blast of rich sweetness on the tongue, with black strap molasses leading the charge, followed by cocoa nibs, bitter coffee, vanilla, oak spice, and a ribbon of booze. Holy hell, this is big! Smooth and velvety in mouth, with a rich, darkly sweet aftertaste of molasses and brown sugar. Slick, smooth finish. Wow...this is a greay beer!

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Photo of SebD
4.07/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: It has a nice jet black color to it. It has a nice creamy tan head that dies down moderately slow and leaves some nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, coffee and some dark fruit (mainly raisins).

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a some sweet roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, a slight nuttiness, vanilla and raisins.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied by good flavors and aromas.

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Photo of putonyourwalkingshoes
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2013 bottle. Found on shelf of a Whole Foods-eque store. Sitting on the shelf. Needed a stout and haven't had this Avery in awhile if ever. One of those Saturday mornings where I opted for a dark beer instead of coffee.

A: Black mocha brown coloring with a light carbonated head that dissipates quickly. Not too thick. Has the color of a porter in my opinion.

S: Real subtle scents. Very unoffending for a high ABV beer. No detection of alcohol. Aside from a slighty malty chocolate muted scent there isn't much there. Almost milk-like at the end. Sweet.

T: Follows through with the nose, pretty easy going stout. Nice malty and nice low hoppy character that I like in stouts. Vanilla but somewhat chalky at the end. Little bit of smoke but this chalkiness blended in. It makes you desire more but for given the price, I'm not too bummed.

M: Kind of unfulfilling for a stout. You get the carbonation but it has this finish that mimics bitter chocolate without sugar. Not thick at all for a high ABV stout. but smooth. No hard esters as noted in the scent and equally detected in the mouthfeel.

O: A decent stout. There is nothing complex here but at the same time it's pretty inoffensive for the alcohol content and would be an excellent beer to introduce to someone who doesn't care for stouts. Its one of those rare stouts that I like less as it warms up. I love Avery especially some of their earlier sours and Uncle Jacobs. I'd pick this up again. It's right on par with the other stouts that I can get for $8. It did sit on the shelf so that could be factored in but not too much.

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The Czar from Avery Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 928 ratings.