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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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 447 | Reviews: 297 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of womencantsail


3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On nitro at Publick House

A: The beer pours essentially black in color with a finger of khaki colored head.

S: Strong aromas of licorice, molasses, coffee, and dark chocolate. Plenty of roasted malt as well as a mild booziness. There is also a touch of burnt sugar, maybe a slight caramel sweetness.

T: The flavor is fairly sweet with lots of molasses, burnt sugar, and licorice flavors. Heavy on the coffee and roasted malt, too. Some bitter dark chocolate is also present. A light booziness.

M: Medium bodied with low, smooth carbonation.

O: Usually I find nitrogen leaves beers relatively flavorless, but this was still quite bold. Impressive.

Serving type: nitro-tap

10-07-2011 14:09:27 | More by womencantsail
Photo of angelogarcia3

New York

4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An excellent imperial stout very dark in color with a dense tan head. Chocolate aroma leads to a very creamy mouthfeel. Tasting a very light burnt coffee though with spicy chilli fries you don't notice the bitterness at all. Had it at Eli Cannon's in Middletown, CT.

Serving type: nitro-tap

05-15-2011 03:06:30 | More by angelogarcia3
Photo of LittleDon


3.35/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An 8 oz. pour at the Publick House in Brookline.

Black, good head but little lace. Aroma was very muted with some coffee notes. Nice medium body but a bit of carbonation on the finish. Lots of residual sugar. A sweet middle and finish without the complexity of better RIS. Yes, there was a bit of smokiness and burnt sugar, but not what I would have liked for the style. Reminded me more of a sweet stout.

Serving type: nitro-tap

03-25-2011 01:26:50 | More by LittleDon
Photo of morebeergood


3.95/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap this past Saturday at The Publick House in Brookline. Served on nitro into a 10 oz goblet. Dark brown colored body. Thin white head that left lacing all down the glass. Smell was not potent, but it had a nice espresso aroma. Taste was very nice, with lots of roasted malt and mild dark chocolate flavors. Mouthfeel from the nitro was excellent, as it gave the beer a wonderfully creamy texture. I love stouts served this way. This beer may not be the most complex RIS I've ever had, but a great locally brewed one nonetheless.

Serving type: nitro-tap

03-20-2011 23:39:42 | More by morebeergood
Photo of BranfordBound


3.75/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nitro-tap at Mikro in Hamden.

Poured into a tulip glass, very dark brown color with that think nitro head which never goes away. Leaves very good lacing.

Muted aroma of chocolate and some coffee, maybe a touch of roasted malts.

Very sweet, lots of chocolate floating around and a little coffee. Not overly roasted by any means, not hoppy either, quite basic.

Very smooth from the nitro, pretty light bodied for the ABV.

Obviously an easy drinker, but I feel that maybe the nitro muted some of the flavor, I would probably prefer this to just be regularly tapped and see if it's different. Good beer, though.

Serving type: nitro-tap

03-12-2011 21:25:28 | More by BranfordBound
Photo of Damian


3.7/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank on nitro-tap at Mikro, Hamden, CT
Served in a snifter

The liquid poured a deep brown/black color and was topped by a two-finger head of super creamy and dense, light tan foam. Sheets of drippy lacing trickled down the glass. The head slowly dissipated to a thick, long-lasting film.

The aroma was very powdery and dry. Some black coffee was noticeable. Not much else going on. As the beer warmed, the nose became sweeter and a bit more interesting. Fruity with hints of brown sugar and licorice. Slightly spicy.

Dark fruits came through strong in the flavor profile. The beer was moderately roasty up front. Nutty in the center with notes of caramel, toffee and brown sugar. Some cold coffee as well. The beer finished off-dry with a kiss of hops.

From the nitro-tap, the mouthfeel was initially super smooth and slick. Ultra creamy with a fine, tongue-coating effervescence. As the beer sat and the carbonation died down, the liquid seemed quite thin for the style.

Berkshire Brewing Company's Imperial Stout may have been considered a fine beer when it debuted a number of years back but it seems rather unremarkable this day in age. The fact that I had this beer on nitro- tap made for an interesting experience but it did not mask its shortcomings.

Serving type: nitro-tap

02-27-2011 03:41:07 | More by Damian
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
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Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
90 out of 100 based on 447 ratings.