Joshua Norton Imperial Stout - The Tap Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Joshua Norton Imperial StoutJoshua Norton Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

118 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 118
Reviews: 67
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 10.69%
Wants: 6
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
The Tap Brewing Company visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.10% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: WanderingFool on 11-02-2008

You love stouts. Or you love colonial swords and this color scheme. We add just a touch of smoked malt for another layer in an already intensely deep and roasty brew. As far as the name goes: Joshua Norton was the self-proclaimed emperor of the United States in 1859. He was crazy and probably fun to talk to -- like us.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 118 | Reviews: 67
Reviews by greenengineer:
Photo of greenengineer
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle into my Pretty Things pint glass. Served refrigerator temperature, which is probably too cold for this beer.
A - Inky black, very little head. Lacings persist.
S - bitter, burnt chocolate smell. Hints of black pepper. Very 'stouty'.
T - somewhat bitter burnt chocolate or coffee taste upfront. Malty flavor persists.
M - alcohol and carbonation tingle the tongue. A little sticky
O - 4's across the board. Nice Imperial Stout. Not my favorite beer style, but good execution of the style. Extra point for local.

More User Reviews:
Photo of lordofthewiens
3.73/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a tulip glass the beer was black in color with a thin orange/brown head.
Roasted malt/chocolate/coffee aroma, not very fragrant.
Fortunately it tasted much better than the aroma had promised. Espresso coffee, a little bit of chocolate.
A little thin in the mouth.
A decent imperial stout, but not that impressive.

Photo of Doomcifer
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, light caramel colored, frothy head, tremendous retention

S: Cocoa powder, milk chocolate, slight roast

T: More milk chocolate, slight roast and cocoa in the finish, bitter finish reminiscent of bittersweet chocolate

M: For the style, comes off thin. Wish it had a bit more body.

D: Very much so!

Photo of tigg924
3.81/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: minimal head, dark brown in color, clear

Smell: cream, caramel, burnt malt--smells more like a Baltic porter than a RIS

Taste: Wow--a lot better than the smell, creamy start followed by dark coffee and chocolate, cream at the end with a touch of smoke

Mouthfeel: low carbonation, sweet with a bitter backbone, moderately light body for the style

Drinkability: A very good and solidly layered RIS that tastes better than it smells. I would get this again for its complexity. Another winner from the brewery.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma is a mix of cocoa, soy and alcohol. The flavor is chocolate and burnt malt. I also get a little coffee but it is the chocolate and malt that dominate this beer. Medium mouthfeel and low carbonation. Not a bad imperial stout, but not as good as some others I have tried.

Photo of degerbah
4.6/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This Imperial Stout pours motor oil black with no head at all. The smell is an overwhelming amount of coffee taste. Most coffee I drink doesn't smell as much like coffee as this does. The taste isn't quite as coffeeish as the smell hinted at, but it's still incredibly coffee like. Very light on the palate for such a stong beer. I have to say that I really enjoy this and its amazing drinkability.

Photo of jmerloni
3.12/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - purple/black in coloration. Medium beige head that is uncommitted toward any retention or lacing,

S - Tootsie Roll Chocolate, hops, molasses malt.

T - Unpleasant chocolate laced with a girl. There's nothing good here.

M - Thick but over carbonated and boring.

D - Wouldn't get this again. In fact, this it's so poor that I wouldn't get anything from Haverhill Brewing Co. again.

Photo of angusblackheart
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown, medium head, good lacing.

This beer smells like winter to me. Tree bark, pine, cold earth. Roasty coffee. Fire smoke.

The roasty smoky qualities make it into the taste, but a molasses sweetness balances out the dark and bitter edges.

Great beer for a great price!!

Photo of puboflyons
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the 22 ouncer with a bottling date of October 2009. Sampled on February 1, 2010. The pour is dark evergreen brown with an inch of foamy tan head that fizzles down to nothing in short order. The aroma cannot wait to escape from the bottle as it emits a nice strong aura of chocolate malts, smokiness, and light Northwestern hops. The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I expected but I would still put it in the medium range with a kind of resiny feel to it. The taste is a nice smoked coffee and chocolate mix with a a pleasing background of hops the warms the insides. It has a 9.3% ABV but you would never know it. The alcohol is well-masked. This was excellent.

Photo of u2carew
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz Bomber. Consumed 12/06/09

A) Opaque. Quick thin head then settles. Lacing is thin and weak.
S) Dark chocolate. Coffee. Mild smoky notes. Hints of alcohol.
T) Roasted grain. Chocolate. Coffee. Notes of alcohol but not overpowering. Some spicy black pepper tones.
M) Thick. Chewy. Full bodied.
D) A delicious imperial stout. I'd drink another!

Photo of MisterSH
4.35/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

a harsh pour comes up jet black with a finger thick frothy, caramel colored head.

Aroma is coffee, dark biscuity malt, and strong chocolate notes. Also a bourbon-like subtlety here. Some vanilla.

Flavor is deep and almost exclusively malty. Some roasty notes, prevalent but not overwhelming. A hint of coffee. Easy on the fruitiness, a slight dark sugary note but very minimal. Strong roasty finish. Bitter finish, but not particularly hoppy - bitterness does not seem linked to any citrusy flavor at all. This is a dark, deep beer. Some subtle bits of chocolate and creme in the exceptionally deep finish.

Mouthfeel is perfect. Very heavy and thick but not quite syrupy. Carbonation is pretty low but just enough to let it stay active on your tongue.

This is a malt-bomb no doubt, but doesn't let itself wallow in roasty or smoky flavors. Instead, it takes a more subtle route,
letting no particular flavor hijack the overall experience. Subtly hopped and not nearly as sweet as many of it's counterparts, fruitiness is kept to an absolute minimum. This is smooth and easy to drink, an excellent offering from haverhill.

Photo of kirkpjr
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to jmu500 for this one.

Poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a pitch black dark with one finger of caramel colored head. Pours a little more thin than I would expect, but a nice stout nonetheless.

S: Roasted malts, chocolate, and a very subtle hop that I can't discern. A few dark fruits barely make it through. Also a vinegarish hint in the nose.

T: The roasted, and smoked (from what I read on the bottle and taste too) come through strongly. A nice strong chocolate finish. Alcohol is well hidden.

M: Thick and mildly creamy. Chocolate leaves a pleasant aftertaste and feel. Moderate to low carbonation.

D: Nice dessert for a meal on a Friday night. A little strong for a session beer of course.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown almost black color with a thin bubbly tan head, fades and leaves no lacing, not very viscous for a RIS.

Smell has a huge amount of roasted coffee aroma, roasted malt also a big contributor, other thn that its fairly two note but that coffee is surprising.

Taste starts out with a coffee bitterness which adds a depth of flavor, roasted malt is a solid backing, unfortunately the body is severely lacking, the body is much too thin to pass as an imperial stout with carbonation too high as well, fortunately it drinks like a regular stout with the alcohol very well hidden, I would guess this to be closer to 5% than 9.1%.

Photo of doopiedoopiedoo
3.2/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A 22 oz bottle of this was brought to me by Steve when he came over from MA. Shared with Jeffo after we decided low abv stouts weren't cutting it for a Thursdaynight.

Not the blackest, nor the thickest of stouts I've seen. Coca Cola comes to mind especially after hearing the lively carbonation. Came with a minimal tan head that went away quickly. Move on nothing special to see here.

Smells are of roasted dark malts and chocolate and a hint of hops. Nothing huge but still pleasant on the nose.

Taste is iniatially bland and things aren't really happening untill after the swallow. There is chocolate, there is some sweetnes and there is a nice bitterness after the swallow. Sit, sip and enjoy.

A rather light to medium body witha dry finish. A bit too light for my liking.

Nothing mindblowing. The strong suit of this one are the pleasant bitter flavors that linger for a while after the swallow. Would I seek this out to have again. No. Would I drink another glass? Sure...

Photo of boothbeer
3.67/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to JusDrinkIt for hooking me up with this bottle.

A: Pours a dark black with 2 fingers of light tan head. good retention that goes down to a thick film as it is consumed.

S: Lots of coffee and roasty malts. Hint of vanilla. Some sweet chocolate is picked up as well.

T: first impression-tastes like an oatmeal/milk stout. Kind of sweet with a roasty finish. Coffee and a little bitterness in the finish as well.

M: Kind of thin and a little too carbonated for the style. If this were less carbonated, I think it would work well with the sweetness of this beer.

D: Overall, this is a good beer. Mouthfeel is off, and I like the taste but not sure it is typical for Imperial Stout taste.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.59/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in date of November 2010, poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a thin light brown head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains chocolate, dark fruit, licorice, roasted malts and a very faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts sweet with flavors of dark chocolate, licorice and dark fruits. Then a hearty but not too heavy roasted malt character comes in. Then there’s an odd bite that seems to come from alcohol, hops and something else that I can’t place, possibly related to the beer’s age. The balance isn’t quite there either. The after-taste is bitter-sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, good kick, decent representation of style, there are definitely better choices within the style.

Photo of ppoitras
3.65/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle purchased as a single at Julio's, Westboro, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" dark brown head over the dark brown/black head. Head quickly fell to a thin swirl, with leggy, lasting lace. Aroma is roasty coffee and alcohol. Taste is sweet to start, slightly acrid coffee in the middle, and closes with bitterness and a moderate warming. Mouthfeel is slickery, not really in a good way, and drinkability is okay as well. Maybe some more carbonation or something would help.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.58/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Very smokey, I'll say that much. Pours a very dark brown color nearing black with a bit of a light mocha head. The nose carries quite a bit of smoke with some roast and a bit of mild citrus. Pretty strong roast and hints of chocolate. The flavor has roast, smoke, chocolate, and also a bit of brown sugar. Smoke and roast dominate. Medium body. The smoke places well here, leaving a nice ashy feeling. Pretty drinkable; I'd have this again.

Photo of AgentZero
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours black with a nice tan head that rose up to about 1 1/2 fingers before settling down.

S - Huge roasted smell, mostly like bitter chocolate. Little bit of burnt coffee taste, with a bit of toffee.

T - Very bitter chocolatey notes, although you get the sweetness as well. Mild coffee, and nice toffee and carmel. This beer really gets bitter as you drink.

M - Quite creamy, but a little bit thin, carbonation gives it a kick that is slightly more than needed.

D - Gets hard to drink as it gets more bitter, seems to be a lot like a milk stout. Tastes decent, but had a hard time getting through the whole bomber.

Photo of BeerMusketeer
4.38/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer surprised me. Typical looking Imp Stout with a nice head and decent lacing. The smell is chocalte and roast and I detect the smoke. In the taste the smoke is perfectly balanced with lovely roasty body. On the dry side, which i prefer in a stout. Very impressive brew from the guys at haverhill.

Photo of jdaelhousen
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pour is thick and produces a dark brown head that withstands good disipation. Color of the body is deep black, almost completely opaque with a very mild glow shining though the top of the beer line. Aroma contains smoked malt aromas, coffee, roasted barley, all over a chocolate base. Flavor at the center produces a chocolate and caramel malt flavor. Smokiness of the roasted barley comes out instantly and lasts well into the aftertaste. Other flavors noticed is some very mild cherry at the finish. Mouthfeel is thick, but not too cloying. Balance of the malt sugars and hop bitterness at the finish is relatively perfect, and provides for great drinkability. Aftertaste leaves lingering trails of chocolate malt and roasted barley on the palate, with those mild hints of cherry. Overall, outstanding imperial stout from the The Tap.

Photo of Ryan011235
3.43/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 1/6/11

Bottled in November 2010

Much appreciation to jleblanc

Poured a medium brown. It settles dark but is far from the darkest imperial stout I've seen; When held to the light there are deep hues of ruby. Sandy brown foam two fingers in height dissipated to a thin layer. Solid wall of lace that crackles & webs as it dries.

The aroma seems bright for the style. A solid smoke aroma is swirled into earthy & lightly citric hop notes. Beyond the smoke/hop couplet lies roasted malt, semi-sweet chocolate, grains & a hint of coffee. Faint yeast undertones. Chocolate becomes more apparent as it warms.

A hoppy kick leads off, sporting a good bit of bitterness - dry & piney. Said hop character carries over mid-swallow & to some degree makes it to the finish. On the whole this is a very dry beer; despite the malt bill mentioned on the bottle, sweetness is at a minimum. Bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee, grain & smoke.

Maybe a hair shy of entirely full bodied. Carbonation is higher than I prefer; to its credit, though, it isn't a sharp, prickly sort of carbonation. Finishes with notions of roasted residuals, hops & grains amid a smoky sheen. A coating feel develops over time.

Drinkability is pretty good, though it is dry to the extent of wanting a drink of water after each sip (I refrained until the end of the first glass). It seems a bit unsettled; a year or two in the cellar might allow this better to become more cohesive.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.6/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served in a Lexington Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle!

I'll admit it: I'm thoroughly confused by the name/label here. Whatever. The beer itself pours a straight onyx topped by a finger of light sandstone foam. The nose comprises molasses, cocoa, roasted malts, chocolate syrup, and a light touch of vanilla. The taste holds notes of roasted malts, dark chocolate, bitter coffee, cedar, and dirt. Basically, it starts out all nice and stout-y, but then dives into some sort of bitter hatred spiral. It ain't completely offensive, but it comes close. The body is a strong medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a dry finish. Overall, a decent impy stout, but just not my personal cup o' beer.

Photo of smcolw
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not much of a head since it dies to only rim bubbles. Leaves good initial lace but there's none at the bottom of the glass. Near black where no light shines through.

Chaulky cocoa aroma. Slightly milky.

Darker malt flavor of black patent and perhaps some burnt unmalted barley. Chewy finish with some definitive hop bitterness. Good body that seems thicker with the lower carbonation.

Photo of WanderingFool
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This review is for the oak aged whiskey barrell Joshua Norton Imperial Stout that was available on cask at the pub. The beer pours an inky black with very little foam on top. No lace on the glass. The aroma has strong notes of vanilla, oak and alcohol.

Each sip of this medium to full bodied beer is very soft and silky on the palate. A light carbonated fizz tingles the sides of the tongue. The flavor has strong notes of oak and vanilla with a nice chocolate and malt finish. It finishes dry leaving behind a vanilla taste on the palate.

If I had one word to describe this beer it would be smooth! It's well balanced and hides it's 9% alcohol very well. I need to try the standard version of this beer to sample the flavors that created this brew.

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Joshua Norton Imperial Stout from The Tap Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 118 ratings.