Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout - Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

Not Rated.
Berkshire Russian Imperial StoutBerkshire Russian Imperial Stout

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303 Reviews

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Reviews: 303
Hads: 502
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 7.23%
Wants: 76
Gots: 48 | FT: 2
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-30-2001

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 303 | Hads: 502
Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
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. (320 characters)

Photo of bamadog
3.14/5  rDev -21.7%
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. (1,585 characters)

Photo of CharlieMurphy
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
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 (512 characters)

Photo of harrymel
3.26/5  rDev -18.7%
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. (556 characters)

Photo of tobelerone
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
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. (673 characters)

Photo of datalager
4.92/5  rDev +22.7%
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 (904 characters)

Photo of ColForbinBC
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter

The body sits an ink black in the glass with chestnut brown edges when held up to the light. A foamy cap rose about a finger and fell quickly to a thin collar.

The aroma is overly sweet. Caramel and roast with some milk chocolate. Hops are present and lend a minty/fresh cut grass aroma throughout.

Just like the nose, the flavor profile is a little subdued. I like my RIS's to be bold and assertive. This is neither. It has some nice flavors, but really lacks a wow factor.

On the palate, roast and sweet caramel hit you up front before milk chocolate takes you to a finish of fresh cut grass and a blend of bitter roast and sweet caramel. As you work your way through, a warming begins to build as some faint booze begins to creep in.

The mouthfeel is full and lush. Smooth and creamy, a pleasure to sip. (845 characters)

Photo of KTCamm
4.54/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the Berkshire bomber into a pint glass.

Pours very dark black with just a smidge of foam on top. Strong dark chocolate smell, roasted too. Smooth creamy taste, some sweetness. Loads of chocolate in the flavor, and only mildly bitter. Remarkably clean with a flavorful finish. More chocolate than stout. Really tasty. (329 characters)

Photo of Kranders
4.7/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amazing beer. Poured pitch black with a small amount of head. Really rich aroma, full of coffee/chocolate and dark malts. One of the smoothest and most inviting RIS I've ever had. It's thick and full with chocolate, coffee, burnt sugar and all sorts of complex dark flavors. Still, it doesn't overwhelm the palate and it's easy to appreciate every little aspect of the brew. It's nice and thick, and leaves you tasting it for a bit after it's gone. (448 characters)

Photo of schlimenhaumer
3.42/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a Southampton snifter at low altitude. Thanks to ballmouse for bringing this one in from Connecticut.

A: Pours a deep, deep opaque brown color with a creamy light-tan head of little retention. Leaves some spotty lacing on the glass.

S: Roasty malts with some caramel. Smells relatively hoppy. Overall, smells very light for an imperial stout.

T: Some sweet caramel malts carry through from start to finish. The hops keep the sweetness in check to some extent. There's a bit of cream and a slight bit of alcohol on the finish. It's balanced, but not very complex at all for the style. Not sure why the reviews for this are so high.

M: Medium-bodied and very smooth, with some alcohol on the finish. It's much too light for the style in my opinion.

D: This is perhaps the most drinkable imperial stout I've had to date; it goes down extremely easy. At the same time, it doesn't have any of the complexity that makes imperial stouts great. Even though the price is relatively low, I'm not sure I would pick this one up again given the chance. (1,072 characters)

Photo of RyanLigeia
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jet black with a thin tan head that goes away quick but leaves a film over the top of the beer.
Smells like chocolate with roasted malts and a little coffee underneath.
Tastes incredible. Same as smell with an almost bitter or sour taste way underneath and a little kick from spices, the alcohol. content or both.
The mouthfeel is spot on for this beer. Its got a slight thickness to it but its also got a little bite from the carbonation and/or abv.
Overall this is a great stout but one would expect nothing less from BBC. (525 characters)

Photo of tylerprince
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a straight-edged pint glass and enjoyed with ribs and potatoes.

A: Pours close to pitch black with a beautiful bubbling-into-head effect (fancy beer term?) and an off-white two finger head. Good retention but minimal lacing.

S: Mostly chocolate and coffee. A hint of mint and cherries off the back.

T: One of the best-tasting stouts I've tried. Mostly chocolate, with a bit of coffee and cherries. Some nice oaty earthiness. Not much in the way of alcohol, but increases as it warms. Essentially tastes like black forest cake in a glass (but good, since most black forest cakes suck).

M: On the crisp side for a stout, but still creamy with the perfect amount of carbonation.

O: Delicious stout. Plan on buying again. Then again. Wonder how it would cellar. (791 characters)

Photo of gkatsoris
4.92/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Black as night, with a fizzled tan head. No lacing at all. Poured more like a porter than an RIS.

S: CHOCOLATE MILK. Smells like Hershey's Chocolate Milk. Slight vanilla, and very slight black cherries. Boiled peanuts.

T: Chocolate, cocoa, slight coffe, slight expresso. No bitterness at all. Extremely balanced!!! Slight peanuts. And chocolate milk.

M: Very thin, but not at all in a bad way. The maouthfeel is super balanced as well. goes in chewy, but is thin on the palate, and finishes thin also. Leaves a nice coat on the tongue.

O: Not rated as a top 100 brew, but should be rated as a top 100 brew. Thank God it's not rated as a top 100 brew; more for me!!! (673 characters)

Photo of nickfl
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours with a small head of medium tan foam on top of a very dark brown body with just a touch of amber showing through. The foam settles quickly and leaves only light lace.

S - Dark caramel, molasses, and a hint of smoky licorice.

T - Sweet, dark malt up front with lots of molasses and licorice character. Some dark bread character in the middle with a hint of herbal hops. Finishes with more dark sugar and a lingering note of smoky licorice.

M - A medium-thick, oily body, moderate carbonation, and a fairly sweet finish.

D - Not bad, but a bit too sweet for my taste. The licorice blends well with the dark, sugary notes but things get kind of cloying in the finish and it could really use some more bitterness to balance out the malt. (747 characters)

Photo of zeledonia
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed 25 November 2011, reviewed from notes.

Pours black, with minimal dark tan head.

Smell is quite sweet. Dark roasted malts are there, but the fruit aromas are much more obvious.

Taste is very much on the sweet side, but I like that. Has interesting dark fruit character, with a strong cherry presence, but also has some zippy tang and hoppy pop that keeps it from becoming cloying.

Mouthfeel is heavy, but not overly weighty. Has a syrupy stickiness that locks onto the sides of the tongue. Good lifting carbonation, long finish.

Another really tasty beer from Berkshire. Quite sweet for an imperial stout, with pronounced dark fruit flavors. Light on the hops and the roast. Good stuff. (699 characters)

Photo of SWMeyer4141
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Claret

Appearance-Dark brown. Almost black. Head is about a 2 finger beige head that dissipates pretty quickly. There is some lacing on the glass. Not too much carbonation in the appearance.

Smell-Lots of dark fruits, tons of cherry in the nose. Some subtle roasted coffee and dark chocolate as well. Doesn't smell all that sweet.

Taste-Dark fruits remain the most predominant flavor. Some sweetness comes through with some sugary goodness...molasses, but the dark fruits really take over much of the taste.

Mouthfeel-Creamy, very nice. Moderate carbonation, medium to full in body. Finish is sweet at first then becomes dry wanting you to come back for more.

Overall-Really like this beer. I think it cost me 5.99 or something. Very drinkable, nice to see a RIS below 10% sometimes, a little more drinkable, and can drink the whole bomber. Good beer. (871 characters)

Photo of Gushue3
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I dont know what the label removed the Russian from the Imperial Stout but here goes.

Comes out very dark, just slightly see through and has two finger head that's foamy and has big time retention. Body is black and looks very nice.
Big time roast and dark fruits come out along with some chocolate and light hops. tiny bit
Big malt bomb. roasty and a slight coffee taste but not too much other than that. becomes bitter toward the middle and finish is roasty. No lingering taste.
heavier side of medium and a decent amount of small carbo bubbles. very soft feel thats nice.
Looks and smells great but the taste just did not do much for me. Definately a disapointment from one of my favorite local breweries. I'll get another one and sit o it for a while.
3.5 (784 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
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. (651 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
3.99/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A – Dark khaki head holds up with ok retention and relatively poor lacing. Dark cola color with mahogany / amber highlights.

S – Dark roasted grain, soft booze, dark chocolate, and cherry cordial candies.

T – Big, toasty, malt character that stops just short of bitter char. More raw grain flavor than most stouts. There’s a milky sweetness in the center. Alcohol warms the backend over milk chocolate, roast, and a faint woody bitterness.

M – Soft and full bodied with a dry finish.

O – The grain character has an interesting homemade edge to it that I really enjoyed. (586 characters)

Photo of BierBliss
4.6/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured into a tulip

aroma: coffee notes

appearance: pours black, a large inch head that fades slowly, light lacing

flavor: malty, not very hoppy, no strong coffee or chocolate that would be expected

mouthfeel: smooth, not as boozy as many RIS, no real heat

overall impression: a fine drinking RIS, a personal favorite that I revisit often

certainly a beer that I will purchase again and again (398 characters)

Photo of jmerloni
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Solid dark brown color, big tan head. Laces moderately.

S - Robust stout aroma. Roasted chocolate, some mocha coffee, notes of vanilla. Big malt aroma here: brown sugar, most likely.

T - Sweet milk chocolate, big malt backbone that's somewhat unbalanced.

M - Good mouthfeel. Medium bodied, slightly overcarbonated.

D - Decent beer. Could see myself getting again, but only cuz I'm from mass and this stuff is everywhere. (429 characters)

Photo of russwbeck
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Provided as an extra by Jnorton00! While I am reviewing this directly after nhindian, we did not share a bottle!

A: Brown pour with about a finger of bubbly brown head. The retention is ok, and only a small amount of lacing is noted. The head seems to rush back into the beer after it sticks to the side for just a moment.

S: Full of roasts on the smell, perhaps some hops worked in as well. Not getting much chocolate, coffee, or anything like that. Perhaps some dark fruits mixed in.

T: I was a bit worried when the smell lacked some typical stout characteristics, but the taste actually doesn't disappoint. Starts off roasty and is followed by a nice chocolately middle. The finish is dry, roasted malts, again perhaps some residual hops and a hint of metal. The dark fruits are slightly noted, but take a back seat to the chocolate.

MF: A bit lighter than I like. Nicely carbonated. The alcohol actually is surprisingly notable for a 8.5% beer.

O: Nothing to write home about. Balanced, easy drinking RIS in my opinion. A little on the sweeter/lighter side for my tastes, however. (1,089 characters)

Photo of nhindian
3.45/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a large snifter. Bottle generously provided by apollokim in the 'You Ain't From Around Here?' BIF, thanks a lot Kim!

Two things strike me as odd right away after looking at this bottle... the first is the writing directly below the banner that says 'Russian Imperial Stout'. The writing says 'Keep Refrigerated'. Secondly, the Best By date is 04/26/11. Does Berkshire really not recommend aging this beer?

A - Although described as 'dark-as-night' per the label, it actually is a very dark brown, and when held up to the light, you get a very cool, dark red hue to it. About 2-fingers of tan lace adorn the crown of the beer, with good retention. The lacing breaks apart quickly, leaving very little behind but producing a nice cascading effect.

S - An interesting nose to say the least in that it isn't full of the typical RIS notes. Not much roast or chocolate, but rather a strong focus on the dark fruits here. Getting lots of raisin and residual sweetness. Also getting a metallic characteristic that could be a combination of the roast and some oxidation?

T - The flavors for the most part revolve around the fruits here. Just the slightest bit of roast to begin with, before riding a wave of grape and sugar to the Promised Land. A little more chocolate pokes through compared to the nose, just enough to give the fruits a chocolate-covered note. Some alcohol heat lingers in the finish. The metallic note continues here as well..

M - Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with good carbonation. Smooth and creamy. After the initial malts phase out, it does have a tendency to be thin at times.

D/O - This is definitely one of the more fruity / sugary RIS's I've had (stop looking at me, Dark Lord, of course nothing can top you in that department. You also take the cake for most syrupy.) Because of the sugar, I can also draw some characteristics to roasty Belgian or something like a Belgian take on a stout. Enjoyable, but would be that much more with less oxidation. (1,997 characters)

Photo of mlazzaro
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Looks like a R.I.S. : opaque, black with minimal brown head/retention. Reasonable carbonation. Smells of roasted and chocolate malts. Slight yeast in the aroma as well. Clearly a malt drivin beer. Tastes very similar to how it smells, mostly chocolate and little roasted barley, lacking the coffee flavors in my opinion. Acidity is surprisingly low and smooth. Low astringency. Body is reasonable, maybe slightly on the thinner side. Bitterness is spot on. Highly drinkable considering the ABV and extreme flavors happening. I'm kind of impressed. I would have again. (567 characters)

Photo of Trilogy31
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with bright chestnut at the rim under light, light fizzy head that quickly dissipates and leaves no lacing. The nose brings dark caramel, tootsie rolls, along with bourbon and prune notes. The taste brings rich chocolate notes, cafe au lait, light spicing as well as caramel and cotton candy. Finishes a bit hot putting it slightly off balance but a nice beer all the same. (385 characters)

Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
90 out of 100 based on 303 ratings.