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Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout - Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

Berkshire Russian Imperial StoutBerkshire Russian Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

447 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 447
Reviews: 297
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.86%

Brewed by:
Berkshire Brewing Company Inc. visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-30-2001)
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Ratings: 447 | Reviews: 297 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Sensaray


3.78/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown with red hues and a frothy light brown head

Smells of dark malts, dark fruits, raisins,

Taste is dark malty with some roastiness, light coffee, occasionally chocolate and red fruits . Finishes with a dark bready finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth kina creamy with a dry finish

Overall a solid option especially local and at a good price

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2014 21:33:32 | More by Sensaray
Photo of KelsoSaaz


4.29/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter

A: Pours a motor oil – like pitch black with a thin, quickly dissipating, khaki head.

S: Dark fruit, medicinal and herbal aromas with hints of baking chocolate.

T: Dark roasted, but not bitter malts. Flavors of black coffee and bittersweet choc late mixed with medicinal, woody and earthy tones. Alcohol warms the palate nicely

M: Moderately thick and chewy body with very little carbonation.

O: A top tier RIS is what we have here. Loaded with flavor but accessible to even a novice beer enthusiast. Seek this out if you are in New England.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2014 21:10:27 | More by KelsoSaaz
Photo of SABERG


3.91/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Just released bottle poured into a modified tulip glass.

A - Dark as night, with fine carbonation. A little movement brings a fine pale multi finger head.
S - Cocoa, a hint of licorace, a slight rasberry and warm molasses. Complex enough and not overbearing.
T - Dark fruity biscuit, lingers on the palate and finishes with dry chocolate. The taste wanders slightly as it warms. Toward the slighest of roast and brown sugar, in the best possible way.
M - Some could consider this a bit thin, I do not. The feel coats completely and has a great linger. Like the guest that stays just long enough!
O - Berkshire has this particular offering just right, approachable, affordable and delicious!

Strongly recommend

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2014 22:30:37 | More by SABERG
Photo of tbeckett

Ontario (Canada)

4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from Winooski Beverage Warehouse. From notes.

A - Black with two fingers of tight beige head. Good carbonation, good spotty lace and half a finger of retention.

S - Chocolater, leather. Kinda mild.

T - Woah! Pretty chocolatey and tamer on the roast profile than other examples of the style. Plenty of tasty dark malts. Sweet but not overly so. No alcohol evident. Seemed simple but very solid and well adapted to style.

M - Mild carbonation, medium to full body and nice finish with dryness.

O/D - Really nice stout. Punches above it's belt and hides the alcohol well. Great subtle, but very solid flavours. Could drink a few of these.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2013 23:40:09 | More by tbeckett
Photo of DrinkNewport

Rhode Island

3.75/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Black pour. Black. Black. Black. Not Onyx. Not Jet. Black...with a teeny-tiny head.

It smells...like a mild stout. Nothing too crazy going on here.

This Russian Imperial Stout has a flavor very typical of the genre, but just a tad weaker than you would expect and an aftertaste which is a tad off-kilter.

Despite having next to no head, this stout is probably carbonated more than most.

Overall, not a bad beer for the price, but nothing to write home about...unless your mother is on Twitter...then you can tweet her.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2013 23:23:28 | More by DrinkNewport
Photo of Kooz

New York

4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.75

Dark, almost black. Pours with a nice tan head, tightly packed. There's a subtle lacing on the glass, and a rim of suds stays around through the end.

Smells warm and sweet with a hint of molasses.

Tastes amazing. Sweet aftertaste, not too carbonated, very strong flavors. There's a slight booziness initially, but the chocalatey ending covers it perfectly. I get a little coffee flavor too. It's really sweeter than other Russian imperials I've had--it's almost like a milk stout.

The weakest part of this beer. It needs a little more body and a little more creaminess. It's not bad at all--maybe slightly above-average.

Despite the mouthfeel being a little less than I hoped, the other elements make up for it. In fact, this is the rare beer that gets a higher overall score than the individual scores--it's more than the sum of its parts.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2013 02:20:28 | More by Kooz
Photo of smcolw


3.4/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.25

Near black in color; no light shines through. Beige head (small). No lace.

Smells of chocolate and plastic--a little bit like Creepy Crawlers, if you're old enough to remember that smell.

Served warm, I'm guessing 55 degrees. That plastic presence remains...distracting. Creamy chocolate flavor. Semisweet. Rich, rich, rich body. Chewy. Low carbonation (naturally). There's a strong element of vanilla. Very mellow for the style, no extreme flavors at all.

Serving type: cask

09-28-2013 19:36:58 | More by smcolw
Photo of Dylan101


4.46/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a home town favorite of mine. Find myself grabbing this bottle more often then most. The rich dark brown/black that fills the glass is something you can't find every day. When the flavors ranging from chocolate to raisins enter your senses you find yourself quickly taking that first sip. Great beer and a must have.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2013 14:02:02 | More by Dylan101
Photo of Dope


4.09/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Best by 05/24/11. Guess I'm a little late to the party. Judging by the date I'm assuming this to be around 3 years old.

A: Pours a very dark brown but not quite black. Big fluffy medium brown head. Head fades slowly, leaving fluffy, almost soap sud-like rings behind. Good retention too.

S: Definitely has some age on it. Mellow roasted malt with some chocolate and a little bit of char. Maybe a hint of coffee? Pretty mild.

T: Nice sweet chocolate up front. Hints of dark fruits. Mild coffee in the middle with the sweet chocolate still mingling. Sweet all the way to the end, lasts a long time. Almost a vanilla-like sweetness. Just a hint of umami in the finish but only the very lightest bit. Those dark fruits pop up in the aftertaste again, very faint and integrated with all the chocolate but they're there. Figs, mainly, I think. Well integrated flavors betray the age.

M: Medium bodied, smooth and silky.

O: A nice mellow RIS that has aged quite well. Surprisingly low ABV for an RIS, one of the lowest I can think of, although Weyerbacher has a couple of low ABV RISes too around 8%. Tasty, drinkable and smooth. Can't complain, I enjoyed it a lot.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2013 04:51:11 | More by Dope
Photo of metter98

New York

3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a short light tan head that died down, leaving a thin head covering the surface and a collar of large bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of dark malts and licorice are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and also has notes of roasted malts along with a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels a bit more than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is a fairly solid Russian Imperial Stout but isn't as full-bodied compared to other beers in the style and also lacks a lot of roastiness.

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2013 20:15:18 | More by metter98
Photo of Gatch


4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Super dark brown, almost deep blood red, and nearly black with sediment floating around. Big, frothy, fizzy, light brown head that really sizzles near the edges of the glass. Never really seen that before. Just a bit of lace and retention.

S: Big aromas of dark chocolate, roasted malt, molasses, some booze, and some spice. Very rich.

T: Wow...spectacular. So smooth and so much flavor. I can already tell this beer kills you with consistency. Nothing too crazy...just big RIS character. Huge dark chocolate, heavily roasted malt, and a bit of lactose sugar to sweeten it up just enough. I loved every sip.

M: Velvet. Great balance of roasted malt, booze, and sweetness. Roasty finish is superb.

O: I'm very, very impressed by this beer. With all the hyped RIS out there, this is a safe alternative when you don't want to worry about off-flavors or a huge price tag. Relatively inexpensive but not short on flavor. A new favorite for the style. I never buy cases and rarely consider it but I may consider buying a case of this stuff next winter. I also like that the ABV isn't going to knock you on your ass. Huge fan.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2013 02:16:03 | More by Gatch
Photo of BoardwalkBock

New York

4.26/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a Stone pint glass.

A: Black. Get some hints of dark red when held up to the light, but really only around the top.

S: Boozy, Caramel, Coffee.

T: Chocolate and Caramel upfront. Coffee and roasted malts afterward and alcohol on the aftertaste. Alcohol comes in and mixes well. Overall, solid taste.

M: Heavy and smooth. Right up my alley.

O: Very solid beer. One of my top RIS and definitely a mainstay in my fridge. Haven't tried to age it yet, because I can't hold on a bottle long enough. It's just that good. Very comparable to Old Rasputin and Siberian Night, but doesn't take the rain of top RIS. Just moved to RI recently and can get it locally and on a constant basis. Relatively cheap too. Roughly $5.50 per bomber. Highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2013 03:59:14 | More by BoardwalkBock
Photo of brureview


4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a dark chocolate color with a 1 finger head into a snifter.

Excellent aroma initially: chocolate and cocoa. The strong aroma fades quickly with warming.

Mouth feel is quite carbonated and enjoyable in the style.

The taste is initially a strong chocolate-cocoa which also fades quickly with warming. Some hints of licorice.

Overall a good Russian imperial. The aroma and taste elements don't linger. The stout is also a bit thin for the style. Worthwhile drinking, but I was disappointed by the fading of important taste and aroma characteristics of the beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2013 02:47:33 | More by brureview
Photo of KalH

North Carolina

3.94/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Standard RIS black body with a quickly dissipating tan head.

A - Dark fruit, chocolate, roast - Subtle aroma coming from the nose.

T - Dark fruit plays a prominent role along with milk chocolate in the flavor profile. Rich and coating on the tongue with a nice black licorice and roast aspect in the finish.

M - A lot thinner than I like my RIS. Felt this could have been a little more full, though it does have a great silky smoothness and even carbonation.

O - Felt this could have been more forward in the aroma and been more viscous, but other than that this was a good RIS. Be aware, the alcohol definitely creeps up on you! The dark fruit really plays nicely in this and I felt this was surprisingly easy drinking for the style. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2013 01:27:24 | More by KalH
Photo of gueuzeonhigh


3.5/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer received accolades from the BA tasters.
I think as a Russian Imperial, this beer seemed to me more like average, ho-hum perhaps a bit below average. It was a yawn.

Poured a nice color.
Short lived head.
Presented a hopps laden, roasted malt even perhaps a flowery nose.

The flavor was thin-- this beer needed that over-used "gravitas"-- it need much more wieght.
If it was labeled a "porter" then I'd give it much higher marks.

The ABV is high enough to be a RIS, but the flavor got left behind somewhere.

Who knows, maybe I was the one with the "bum-bottle"--

Mouthfeel was average--

And overall hard as I might try-- I call it "average".

I'll seek another bottle-- maybe this present one is not the "real thing".

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2012 22:48:49 | More by gueuzeonhigh
Photo of ToasterChef


4.7/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm celebrating National Stout Day with a slightly chilled bottle of a new (to me) Russian Imperial Stout. It is poured into my Smuttynose Big Beer Series snifter.

The beer is an opaque black liquid with a thick tan foam head. Fairly good lacing is left behind.

The nose has some big roasted malt smells coming off of it, but it doesn't come across as overly sweet or alcoholic, a fault some other beers in this style have. I also smell some hints of oak and black licorice.

The beer has a very nice flavor. Like the aroma, the flavor isn't too sweet or alcoholic, but it does have subtle amounts of both. I taste brown sugar, raisins, plums and a touch of smoke. It provides a delayed warming sensation that is quite nice.

The beer is full bodied with average carbonation. It is a little sticky on much so on my lips. Within my mouth there is a long-lasting coat, but it doesn't feel to thick. It contains some of the dark fruit flavors I mentioned above.

This is a really good RIS. It also is fairly inexpensive (I paid 5.99 + tax & deposit for this 22oz bottle). I'm glad Berkshire is now distributed to Maine. I'll have to get more of this!

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2012 01:38:40 | More by ToasterChef
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.48/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to queens1130 for sharing this one at AndrewK’s tasting.

Pours an opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and dark fruits. Taste is much the same with a slight tartness on the finish. There is a mild roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the fruity aromas and flavors I am getting aren’t my favorite.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2012 19:52:19 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of DefenCorps


3.53/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle, Winter 2007 release that I received in a trade long, long ago. I think it was Cedromar who sent it to me. Thanks, man!

Almost black, this beer has reddish brown highlights and a thin, light brown head that falls off to a ring. The nose is decent. Moderately roasty, moderately licorice-like, with some coffee and cocoa, this isn't a particularly rich RIS. There's even a little bit of burnt sugar. The palate is similar. It seems to have thinned out with age, but hasn't picked up any off-flavors from oxidation. A blend of roast, licorice, coffee grounds and unsweetened cocoa, this is decent. Dry, modestly roasty on the finish, this beer is medium-light in body, moderately carbonated, and all-told, decent. Recommended, especially if you can get this locally.

Serving type: bottle

08-30-2012 15:45:48 | More by DefenCorps
Photo of matttttYCE


4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2 fingers high and light cocoa colored head. Stick around for a bit and the lace is decent as well. Jet black colored liquid.

Nice dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, some chocolate malts, maybe some caramel, and lovely notes of berry sweetness (maybe ever a grape too) in the background.

Dark, bitter chocolate, dark coffee, some burnt sugar and caramel, more of the lovely fruity and berry notes, hint of cola. Not a whole lot going on here, but more than enough to be complex (especially with the berry fruit notes) but pretty straight-forward at the same time.

Medium body, smooth and light viscous consistency, light carbonation, and a quick and light finish.

Overall this is a really good RIS. Is it amazingly complex? No. Is that a problem? Not in my mind. Does the mouthfeel leave a little bit to be desired? Yes, it's a tad too light for an IRS. But overall, is this a wonderfully executed RIS? Absolutely! Would gladly drink this again anytime. Love the berry fruit notes in the taste and smell. I think this is the first RIS that I've had that has had really clear cut mixed berry character in it and I love it!

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2012 06:15:19 | More by matttttYCE
Photo of ThePorterSorter


3.78/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Portsmouth

The beer pours a jet black with a thin tan head that fades fast. There is a light roast to the nose and some alcohol. The taste is no different, it's is a very drinkable ris. Mouthfeel is rather medium, it's not too chewed and not too watery. Overall this was a tasty ris, but nothing spectacular.

Serving type: on-tap

05-19-2012 03:06:39 | More by ThePorterSorter
Photo of bamadog


3.18/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've been sitting on this one for about 2 and 1/2 years -- let's see how it's done. Review is from notes taken on 5/12/2012 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour isn't as thick as I'd like to see on something that's being billed as a Russian Imperial, but I guess we'll see if it comes through any thicker in the mouth; color is, of course, darkest brown, like coffee; starts with a short 1/2 finger dark tan head that fades to a nice ring and island skim; opaque, tiny lines of thin carbonation near the surface and sides of the glass are all that are visible;

Smell: Smells off... not quite right and I'm thinking there's an infection; seems to be a bit of a saccharine and imitation grape; lots of dark roastiness and a little bit of chocolate, but again, something just isn't quite right...

Taste: Shit. Infected. Not what I was hoping for. It's not bad, in an Abyssident kind of way, but I was hoping for a straight up imperial stout kind of thing. Tart, sour cherry flavor is right up front, followed by a dark, burnt and earthy espresso grind; mild bittersweet chocolate in the back. The more I sip on it, the more I like it, but again, not what I was hoping for.

Mouthfeel: Thinner than what I would hope for, but the time in the bottle hasn't dampened the carbonation, but then again, that could be from the infection as well; a thin, sticky coating is left on the palate and the tummy is left a little warm from the acidity and infection.

Overall: Meh. I guess if I want a funky stout, I'm going to go with Obscura Madrugada, but this isn't too bad.

Serving type: bottle

05-13-2012 01:16:40 | More by bamadog
Photo of CharlieMurphy

New York

4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Superficially cola black. You can see through it with a red lens. Cola like carbonation and lacing only on the sides.

S: Pretty amazing. Rich mocha, chocolate, brown sugar, tweed, honey, toffee, and its probably in my head, but cola.

T: Lighter, soft roasted malts. This has a near flat cola like quality to the delivery of dark sugars, cane sugar, stale coffee, mild cacao.

M: Light for a stout, but very appropriate. Not cloying, not drying, not a huge RS liability.

O: Tasting + price point = high 5

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2012 01:09:26 | More by CharlieMurphy
Photo of harrymel


3.3/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled: unk

Black beer with a latte surface of foam and no lace. Nose brings through licorice, malts, licorice, molasses, some sweetness. Not really impressed, but not surprised - this seems to be the standard differentiation from Impy Stouts with the licorice. The flavor has plenty of dark malts, hints of leather and dark stone fruit and a little bit of molasses - the licorice doesn't dominate the flavor as much as the nose. Medium bodied and moderate carb with a dry finish. This is a decent beer, above average, but nothing worth seeking too hard.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2012 07:48:56 | More by harrymel
Photo of tobelerone


3.6/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep black body with minimal head or lacing although you can see the beer is on the thinner side for the style and that carbonation is still lively.

Hits all the appropriate aroma and flavor notes, just not in a big enough way for me. Not enough depth of flavor, unfortunately. Roastiness, chocolate, anise, molasses all present. Modest sweetness, caramel and toffee underneath. Brown sugar, prunes and raisins. Semi-dry finish.

Medium body, kind of thin and lacking. Medium carbonation as well, a touch on the high side for my taste. Just a little stickiness. Prefer a bigger body and smoother mouthfeel on a Russian Imperial. Overall not bad but a little forgettable.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2012 14:57:50 | More by tobelerone
Photo of datalager


4.93/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I won't go into the detail I usually do, or that others have already done. instead I'll say this: I picked up a 22 oz bomber at the local Whole Foods...on a whim. The blind purchase was made under the guise of both my love of stouts and Berkshire Brewing. Boom and boom on both counts!

I'll skip the details, because this is an imperial stout, so the profile isn't far from what you would expect. In brief, it is black, malty, roasted, boozy, and just downright delicious. It is not the individual details of this ale, but rather the sum of its characteristics that make this a real stout lover's dream. The one unique flavor here is the slight "fresh" coffee flavor, that nobody does better than Berkshire, IMO.

This is easily the best imperial stout I have ever had, and one of the tastiest stouts overalll. Don't hesitate to grab one. And enjoy it slowly...22 oz at 8.5% will make you happy...fast.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2012 00:09:23 | More by datalager
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Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
90 out of 100 based on 447 ratings.