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Samuel Adams Imperial Stout - Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

Not Rated.
Samuel Adams Imperial StoutSamuel Adams Imperial Stout

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very good

1,451 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,451
Reviews: 796
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 13.95%
Wants: 52
Gots: 70 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Imperial in stature and bigger than your average stout. This colossal stout was inspired by those created by 18th century English brewers for the Russian Imperial Court of Catherine II. The special malts in this intense and massive brew delivers rich flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, and anise.

(Beer added by: Duhast500 on 01-18-2009)
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Ratings: 1,451 | Reviews: 796 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Rainintheface
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Beautiful. Dark, dark black with nearly a one finger mocha head

S: dark chocolates, cherries, a little espresso and hint of vanilla

T: dark chocolate again. burnt malts, Coke,a little booze and as it warms a little smoke

M: thick, viscous and some sweetness

D: A great sipper

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.38/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

You can always trust Sam Adams to never let you down - to deliver something that's at the very least, up-to-snuff - but this one goes above and beyond.

Talk about flavor - it's packed to the gills! Super dark. Very full bodied. RICH !!! It's really quite intense, and at 9.2% alcohol, with all that malt still remaining in the body, it's got to be pretty high calorically. And I think that was probably something that the original "Russian Imperial" stouts had. The back label of the bottle reads "... our take on the stouts brewed by 18th century English brewers..." and I think they've probably actually tried to do that.

So, continuing with that thought, it's fairly moderately carbonated, which would have been the course, I'm sure, mimicking the cask ales enjoyed at home in Britain. Malty and smooth.

It also has a very English yeast character, which is obviously the first step and barely needs to be mentioned, but I pick up pears and apples.

Of course, there's also a bit of the "burnt currant" character that Michael Jackson used to refer to, which is more malt-led. Some of the roastiness of the malt leads to that, coupled with the fruitiness. There's black coffee and baker's chocolate, and the intensity of the dense malt offers anise as well, and even cola, althought they probably occur at least in part in combination with the leafy, softly grassy and floral, and even gently minty hops.

It's a sipper to be sure, but don't be surprised if it disappears more quickly than you'd expected ;)

It appears to be completely filtered, but I'd imagine that it would still age well, or at the very least, hold up for quite some time. Any oxidation would probably only lead to more bready flavors in the malt anyway. At the price they're putting this out, I'm buying more!!!

Photo of hopdog
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle.

Poured a dark black color with a large sized brown head. Nice lacing left on the glass. Aromas of chocolate, roastiness, anise, and licorice. Tastes of roast, chocolate, caramel, licorice, some dark fruitiness, and anise. Alcohol content well hidden.

Photo of lackenhauser
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jet black with a decent head. Leaves some great lacing. Inky, somewhat of an elderberry aroma to it. Deep, deep dried fruit flavors upfront. Very sweet tasting. Quite low roasted flavor-I was expecting more. Missing some of the graininess and roasted flavors of a RIS. Decent mouthfeel. A good RIS but not great. Rather sweet for the style. I was expecting a lot more from SA but this is still good.

Photo of jdhilt
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a four finger brown head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Totally black color. Chocolate nose. Light-medium carbonation and heavy bodied. Flavor is sweet chocolate and hints of anise, lingering anise aftertaste. Decent stout. $10.49 for a 4-pak of 12oz bottles from Northend Superette Manchester, NH.

Photo of mcallister
3.45/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours pitch black in appearance. Absolutely no light shines through with a flashlight held up to my snifter. Head is uncanny and beautiful for this brew considering ABV. Thick chunky pillowy mocha colored with great retention and even nicer thick sticky lace that has what is called forever retention.

Semi sweet dark chocolates with hints of coffee and black fruits. An odd sweetness in the aroma that I've smelled before and I've always found offsetting almost butterscotchy? Diacetyl?

A good amount of residual sugar resides in this brew and is very cloying to my palate. Caramel and sweet chocolate flavors with only the slightest hint of coffee. Black fruits undestinguished. Good complexity but if not slightly thin in mouthfeel with a bit of alcohol in the mouth. If not for the sweetness would be much better. The mouthfeel is almost sticky.

Photo of nriech
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black, as it should be.

Thick and oily, good brown head.

Chocolate and mocha. Espresso, mild tad of hop. Alcohol is not overt, in taste anyway. A little bitter.

Wasnt as thick as you would guess, carbonation was right on, not too much. Would have been nice to have it a little more creamy.

Not as big and bad as many RIS I've had, its a good introduction to many who wouldnt have tried one from a smaller brewer. Glad to see this will be readily available.

Photo of dananabanana
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: This beer is completely black, not the dark brown of many other stouts. Head is a medium brown. Foam does not cover the entire surface of the beer. Moderate lacing.

S: Slightly alcoholic. Smells rich and malty, even when someone is pouring it from a few feet away. A little chocolate and coffee scent.

T: Bitter coffee/ espresso hits right away. A little alcohol in the aftertaste. Burnt coffee beans. A hint of sweet cocoa, gets more intense as you drink more of the beer.

M: Thick, but not creamy. Well-balanced carbonation.

D: Too heavy for more than one, but it's not meant for that, anyhow. You can nurse a bottle for awhile.

Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.53/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from The Liquor Shop in Tyngsborro, Mass. Pours an opaque black body with a good inch of tan head. Chocolate and caramel dominate the aroma, with some coffee and hints of citrussy hops. Caramel, coffee, and chocolate dominate the flavor, sweet and tasty. Rich full body with moderate to high carbonation. Super tasty, full, no flaws to speak of. Delicious. I hope this becomes more widely available.

Photo of Tbn2
4.65/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours as black as a cave that has never seen the light of day with a one finger, brown head that retreats to the ring of the glass and lacing slightly down the side.

Smells like you just walked into a bakery that made a fresh batch of fudge or caramel. I get big aromas of caramel, burnt sugar, some coffee, and a hint of alcohol.

Taste like a dream. A silky smooth feel at first that turns a to a bitter chocolate and coffee towards the center. I get a little bit of an earthy raisin flavor that finishes somewhat earthy, perhaps from some late hop addition. Overall this thing taste great.

This is the first I have had from the imperial series and I will certainly be heading back for more of the other styles.


Photo of leif86
3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The brew is black blackity black black and topped with a dark brown froth that looks quite impressive but exits with the speed of the head on a coke. Little bits of lacing.

S: The aroma of rich chocolate and cherries reminds me of blackforest cake.

T: This is where I'm really let down. Subtle chocolate and barely any coffee is overpowered by a fruity alcohol flavor that makes this beer hot - and it lingers too.

M: A tad over carbonated makes it just a tad watery too. I'd rather see something just a little bit creamier.

D: Eh. For an imperial stout it's not bad for 9.2% but it's not just good enough to want to get any more.

Photo of edchicma
4.47/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent murky brown to black color with a small head and some lacing. Smell is rich, malty. molasses...extremely inviting. Taste follows suit with a richness of malt and molasses....burnt malt finish..creeeamy! Extremely smooth for high abv...I can only imagine what it will be like after aging. As above, this is so smooth and drinkable it belies the abv. Definitely in my top ten...keep it up!

Photo of tubeboy
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This Sam Adams Imperial Stout is a nice surprise. A strong smell of dark chocolate, coffee and roasted grains greet the nose. A good pour with a medium dark head that drops a bit too fast. A real nice flavor contrast while the head remains. The taste compliments the aroma very nicely. The mouthfeel for a stout is a little thin to my taste. All that being said I find this to be a pleasure to drink. I will definately buy this again in the absence of my favorite stout.

Photo of tigg924
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: dark black color, with big chocolate brown head, medium carb

Smell: chocolate, with malts, and some wood

Taste: bitter dark chocolate, coffee, alcohol, and roasted malt

Mouthfeel: dry, slightly bitter, rich full body

Drinkability: A drinkable Imperial Stout, the high ABV is moderately masked. If this were on draft, I may get it, but I have had better imperial stouts

Photo of Billolick
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, w/o freshness/vintage info...come on now, the label says "age it", how about some dating info? Anyway, rant over, this one pours Imperial stout dark/almost black, under the expected dark tan head, froth, film and leaves light and fine tiny spots of lace. Nose is full of dark chocolate, espresso, chocolate milk and burnt grains. Full flavor, heady stuff @ over 9%. Nose carries nicely into the tongue sensations, more dark, dark chocolate, roasted grains and dark coffee. Thick and smooth mouth feel. Real nice job here by S.A. Impressive.

Photo of asabreed
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Drinking near candlelight after the power went out in Richmond because of the freakish snowstorm.

Appearance: Solid opaque with a nice mocha-colored head that leaves an initially sticky ring of lacing, but not as much after that when it continues to move down the glass -- just some here and there drops and whatnot.

Smell: Burned malts, mild chocolate, dark berries, some charcoal, mild coffee. All balanced and nice.

Taste: Subdued, somehow, and balanced. Mild coffee, not much acridness or sourness, with some mildly bitter chocolate, earthy dark berries, all backed by the roasted malt flavors and long, subdued, again, yet balanced and flavorful.

Mouthfeel: Full but slightly watery-seeming yet it doesn't really detract, because there's there's weird almost chalkiness to it, like there's some dutch process cocoa powder in the mix.

Drinkability: Probably my favorite Sam Adams Imperial. Solid all around. Highly drinkable for a RIS, especially with the over 10% ABV, yet it remains balanced and doesn't try to do crazy things, which lets the flavors all come together well.

Photo of ToddT
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Deep dark chocolate color with a thick tan head. Head fades slowly to a cap but leaves nice lacing on the glass.

S- Roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol are the big notes. There are some subtle notes of fruit and vanilla in there as well. Nice complex and inviting smell.

T- Big bold hit of the chocolate and the coffee right off the bat. Fades quickly to roasted malts and then to a hop bitterness with a rush of warmth from the alcohol. Complex and well balanced, but the alcohol overpowers a bit at the end.

M- Full bodied, and viscous, but with a little bit too much carbonation. Would have hoped for a little more creaminess and a little less carbonation.

D- The 9.2% ABV shows through and cuts down the drinkability a little. Some time in the cellar would help this out, it should age quite well. It's a big bold beer and it would be hard to have more than a couple of these.

Nice beer, not a stellar stout, but well done. Age this some and it might be amazing. Glad to see a successful brewer continue to experiment and push the envelope of their line.

Photo of jwinship83
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle that lists 9.2% ABV drank out of a standard pint glass.

A- comes out a thick looking ink black colored body with a small tan head. the head dissipates quickly, becoming no more than a crown. rings of lace left on the sides of the glass after every sip.

S- dark roasted malts with alot of chocolate and coffee as well. a bunch of alcohol is noticeable. slight hints of dark fruits. plums and figs mostly.

T- lots of roasted malt upfront with plenty of chocolate as well. the finish is bitter and full of coffee. you can tell its pretty potent, but it doesnt taste as strong as it smells.

M- rich and creamy with a little too much carbonation. pretty thick feeling. a slight warming from the alcohol as it slides down.

D- the strength of this one, is a deterrent from having more than a couple of these in a sitting. its nice to see this new line coming out from boston beer, and even better that its going to be year round. ill check this one out again.

Photo of dohastmich
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours out thick and pitch black, minimal head which dissolved

S - Sweet mixture of chocolate, vanilla, toasted malt. Strong alcohol smell

T - strong toasted malt and chocolate, followed by vanilla and nut taste, the high alcohol is felt and tasted in the background. Moca coffee comes near the end for a good finish.

M - thick and creamy, strong malt aftertaste

D - This is a decent showing by Boston Beer despite it being out of its "normal" zone. This one is worth another try .

Photo of stoutfiend27
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into duvel glass

a-inky black and oily appearing with 3/4" tan head

s-sweet like ripe fruit but cant pin point which one...roasty character with slight hops in the nose

t-alot like the smell..sweet fruity esters ...chocolate, coffee and slight hop sting in the aftertaste followed by an espresso linger

m-slightly oily but not as thick as i would like my imperial stouts to be....it is thick but just never gets there for me

d-at 9.2 abv u would never know it..just a little on the sweet side to have more than 2-3 in one sitting...

overall a good beer from sam adams...i am impressed...just a little underwhelmed with the mouthfeel and the sweetness...if this beer was cleaned up it could be a steallar imperial stout

Photo of NEhophead
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 fl oz brown bottle; served in a snifter.

Syrupy, opaque black ink in color beneath a whispy, caramel-colored head. Spotted and patchy lacing with pretty good strength.

Rich, malty aromas: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet caramel, rich toffee. Touches of vanilla that round out the intense malts with a faint hint of peat smoke. Dark fruity esters: red apple, cherry, and plum that impart just enough of a balance to the rich, sweet malts.

Ripe plum and grape that initially creep through a dynamic, rich and chewy malt base. Rich and sweet toffee and caramel flavors that is followed by a dry chocolate and hazlenut. Very good balance of rich and dry characteristics. The vanilla sweetness isn't quite overpowering, but is certainly detectable throughout. The alcohol is slick and hot; unfortunately, it's a little bulky and not quite ripe. The floral hops impart quite an intense bitterness in the finish which is hurt by the lingering alcohol presence.

Full in body; rich and chewy with a good syrupy mouthfeel. It's too bad that the young alcohol causes such a slick texture in the finish.

Some very promising flavors going on here within a pretty good balance; however, the alcohol intensity is too readily apparent. I can imagine that putting this one away for a few years would really allow the alcohol to mellow and the other, already strong, rich flavors to really shine.

Photo of Haybeerman
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Black, no light coming through. Poured a 2 finger chocolate head that dissipated. Lace washed down the sides of the glass.

S: Big toasted malts; chocolate, coffee, toffee and roasted nuts. Also big alcohol.

T: The malts, and lots of them, work to create a very full roasty toasty taste with the warming of ample alcohol. A bit of bittering hops in the finish rounds the taste out nicely.

D: Full body. Low carbonation. Nice combination for this big beer.

M: This is a big beer. Fairly interesting and well made. Body and abv make this a good one and done.

Photo of Bung
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Near black pour, dark tan head. I was surprised by the lacing and retention of this one. Roast malt but mostly chocolate aroma. Taste is a little more expansive, roast malt, nut, but dominated by chocolate, molasses and vanilla. Settles into a rather creamy mouthfeel. Descent finish of a mocha coffee. Found this enjoyable and drinkable. Almost a dessert beer because of the sweetness, would be nice if there was a little more balance. Southern Tier Choklat is the thing I would most compare this too. Suprisingly good brew from a big brewer.

Photo of drseamus
3.18/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Inky black topped with a nice mocha head. It looks great in the Sam Adams glass.

S: The primary aroma I get is banana. I find this occasionally in imperial stouts that are too fresh but much more in homebrews than commercial beers. I am usually pretty sensitive to this aroma and it's hard to get by it.

T: Nice and full flavored. VERY sweet initially but it calms down and some slight roast gets though. No real chocolate or coffee. At the back of the palate the roast finally takes over as the dominant flavor but fades soon after. Too sweet in general for me.

M: Full bodied and smooth.

D: A good to decent homebrew at best. Way too sweet. It almost seems out of style.

Photo of aerozeppl
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black with only the faintest hints of brown around the edges when help up to direct light. Minimal coffee colored head that quickly dissipated.

S: A nice subtle chocolate balanced out by a nice amount of roasted malt. While not a super complex nose it is really enjoyable.

T: Reminds me of really good homebrew. The roast and the chocolate really work well together. A touch of hops in the finish to boot.

D: On the heavy side of mouthfeel. It is kind of a weird one in that one sip feels heavy and the next not so much.

D: I enjoyed this beer. Again it really did remind me of good homebrew. Nothing really stood out as excellent but it was good all around. Hopefully they will continue with their imperial series.

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
86 out of 100 based on 1,451 ratings.