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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

1,452 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,452
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: 1,452 | Reviews: 796 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of jbphoto88
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The label say this IS has 9.2% ABV, it pours super dark and slightly syrupy thick. Very deep brown, along the lines of motor oil. A milked coffee head dissolves quickly but not before leaving some suds everywhere on the sides of the glass.

There are traces of several dark fruits like currants and prunes. Slightly earthy roasted malts follow and create a mix of chocolate and coffee scents.

Taste is as dark as it looks. Molasses body with a strong roast malt backbone. They must have boiled a gallon of wort down to 12 ounces for each bottle because this one is thick and hearty. The fruits that are present in the nose appear again in the flavor. There is a slightly charred oak finish that is masked with light coffee and chocolate and a thin but durable bitterness.

An excellent stout. It's nice to see Sam Adams moving towards a more craft beer market. I've always enjoyed their product before but now with a this husky bodied stout and the imperial pilsner in the lineup, consider me a super fan.

Photo of jmz62565
3.55/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a jet black with a huge brown foamy head that leaves great lacing. The smell isn't as strong as other stouts,but you can still pick out dark fruit,alcohol,and chocolate. The taste has coffee,alcohol,chocolate,and dark fruits. Not bad,but nothing all that great either. The m/f is heavy with the flavors mixing well,but it is alittle harsh. Not a bad beer from Sam, but there is room for improvement.

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

12oz bottle into 8oz snifter.

Pitch black. I can't get any light to pass through this beer. A thin light brown head settles to a thin rim along the glass. Rings of lacing along the glass.

The label seems to describe this one perfectly: "The special barley in this ... brew delvers rich flavors [note: and aromas] like dark chocolate, coffee, and anise." Anise? Well, it's true. Comes out smelling like it was dry hopped with a bit of black licorice. Roasty grains are there as well, like any other imperial stout.

The anise doesn't show up as much in the flavor compared to the aroma, but the dark roasty grains are certainly there. A bit of dark fruit is in the background, and gives way to some lingering roasted barley. The alcohol comes more apparent as the beer warms. Full bodied, almost syrupy.

Not a bad entry into the RIS domain by Sam Adams. I've tasted licorice in these before, but the amount of anise-like flavors in this one is higher than average. Overall a good RIS, worthy of comparison to the incumbents. Recommended.

Photo of Bierman9
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I first tried a sample of this at the EBF, which later led me to snag a couple of bottles for further research. The label here says this ale checks-in at 9.2% abv, and notes that it's suitable for aging or immediate quaffing. I'll opt for the latter choice!

It looked a bit thick and oily as it poured into a small tulip glass. Head is a rich mocha hue, kicking off at about 1/4" but ebbing rapidly to a rim-job, with decent lacing. Bier itself is dense and opaque. Nose has some bitter, roasty choco and coffee notes, with suggestions of espresso. The body is more than medium, with a bit of chewiness present. On the tongue it passes quite smoothly, with nay but a hint of prickliness.

Light sweetness coats the tongue, with intimations of currants and raisins. Chocolate and mocha hit the palate, with an even-tempered bitterness, melding with the aforementioned sweetness. Espresso-tinged cocoa hits the tastebuds, with a mild, albeit tasty, smattering of hop florality. The alcohol is quite well-hidden in this bier, surprisingly so since it's a big-leaguer at 9.2%. I am impressed with this one. It didn't come across as much to write home about at EBF, though a 2oz sample served from an ice-cold bottle is hardly the best way to give a good impression. But at about 45-50F, in a small tulip or snifter, it gets the job done in fine fashion.


look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | drink: 4.5


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

Appearance: pours a blakc color with a dark chocolate colored 3" head. The head slowly fades, and a nice layer of lace paints the glass.

Smell: loads of roasted malt sweetness, dark chocolates and a hint of coffee are easy to pull from the glass.

Taste: follows the nose as roasted malts and dark chocolate are up front, and coffee, prunes, and a nice bitterness rounds it out. Alcohol is barely noticeable here which enhances the experience.

Mouthfeel: light crispness to start, smooth and velvety at the finish. Medium-heavy bodied beer. Aftertaste is long as the roasted malts and chocolates last a while in the mouth.

Drinkability: for the style this one is extremely enjoyable since the alcohol levels aren't in your face. IMHO, this is one of the best beers from Sam Adams.

Photo of lordofthewiens
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was a syrupy-looking black brew with a small orange/tan head and a tiny bit of lace. It had a bittersweet chocoloate and roasted malt aroma. A nice espresso bitterness, also some chocolate and dark fruit. More bitter than sweet, a pretty good stout.

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

Pours a dark, dark, black with a large head for a stout that sticks around. Had a faint hint of coffee and even berry? Strong taste, as expected from the style, a good sipping beer. Not up to par with Rasputin, and a bit more expensive, perhaps worth a try. It is interesting that Sam Adams has now marketed itself as a micro...

Photo of david131
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Absolutely pitch black, thick and syrupy. The head is very thick and brown and settles to a nice covering. The lacing is pretty sweet.

S- It smells surprisingly sweet and fruity, with some toffee, chocolate, coffee, anise, smoke, alcohol, and some spices. Not as roasty and intimidating as some stouts in the style. The more I huffed this, the more I really enjoyed it.

T- Extremely sweet with some fruit, toffee, chocolate cake, anise, smoke, some alcohol. The flavors blend very well together, but this is extremely rich.

M- A little syrupy with a bit of a numbing alcohol presence on the tail end. The sweetness is a bit cloying.

D- A very rich beer that requires a bit of time to consume. I was not expecting this much of a sipper out of this. I am impressed, but also pretty numbed.

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

Bottle from S&V, Fort Wayne.

Poured black color with a large creamy brown head that mostly lasted with excellent lacing. Moderate to heavy roasted coffee and chocolate aroma. Medium to full body with a smooth texture and flat carbonation. Medium to heavy smooth sweet flavor with a medium to heavy sweet finish of moderate to long duration.

My expectations where met with a solid drinkable beer.

Photo of Jwale73
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle served in my New Belgium goblet. Poured one shade shy of black. Opaque with a one inch, dense, mocha-colored head that eventually dissipated into a quarter inch consistent cap. Spatters of sticky lacing were revealed as the brew was consumed. Nose indicates anise (a little too much), a roasted quality, some alcohol and mocha. Taste follows nose; anise continues to be too up front for my liking. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, but carbonation is a little overstated. Some acidity is revealed towards the finish. I found the texture to be a little thin and watery; lacking the viscosity of great examples of the style. This is a solid offering, but anise is too in the forefront of the brew; however, alcohol was well-hidden.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black with a very creamy, somewhat dark, chocolate colored head of great size and density. A thin layer of lacing completely covers the sides of the glass, making the glass look hazy and stained.

Aroma is different for an impy stout. Quite fruity with some bubble gum, licorice, roasted and burnt malts. Not a whole lot of choclate or coffee which is typical in the American Double. Perhaps this is more of an RIS (the bottle notes "This is our take on the stouts brewed by 18th century English brewers for the Russian Imperial Court or Catherine II.") Right on par for RIS. Slightly smoky.

Smoky and sweet flavor. Bitter chocolate, figs, dark roasted coffee. Pretty nice. Perhaps a little sweet but not really cloying. Soy sauce and salty beef jerky.

Chewy and syrupy on the tongue. Full bodied with a slight hop bite in the finish. A really nice RIS. I began judging this as an American Double but the bottle clearly indicates this as an RIS, so my judgement reflects this beer in that category.

Photo of brianjay
3.35/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Pours dark, with a lacey, dark brown head. Really liked the smell: Notes of chocolate, some berry. The taste is where it lost me: A light maltiness (some coffee) which disappered after passing the palate. It was drinkable, in fact almost TOO drinkable. Disappointed with the body. When I hear "STOUT" I imagine a full bodied beer. This one was thin, indistinguishable. High alcohol content is un-noticable.

Photo of Psilo707
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark, jet black opaque into the mug, with a good looking brown head that leaves sporadic lacing. Very cocoa-ish look to it. Scent could have been a bit stronger but it was one of malty chocolate and the alcohol smell is apparent.

Tastes very piney/woodly. It's not nearly as milk chocolate tasting as I would have thought, but the overall cocoa taste is very prominent, especially when it's leaving the mouth. Dark butterscotch and wood chips are reminiscent.

Mouthfeel is alright, though might be the low point of the brew. And drinkability is right around where an Imperial Stout should be.

Overall, I think this is a good release from Sam Adams, and truly their darkest of all time.

Photo of riversider76
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours the darkest of browns...almost black.Thin brown head with good retention and excellent laceing. Aroma is of dark chocolate,roasted coffee and malts. Body is medium with some carbonation. Taste is a milky mix of roasted coffee,chocolate,and dark fruits. Littl bit of a bitter edge make this one excellent stout!

Photo of bgjohnston
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured the bottle into my favorite snifter. It was opaque black with a nice dark brown head. The taste was surprisingly dry, with very much a dark, dark chocolate flavor. No milk chocolate here. I didn't find it at all sweet, but had a woodiness that was kind of interesting and nice. Overall I enjoyed it very much, although I expected more fruitiness and more of a hint of the alcohol contained therein.

Photo of beachbum1975
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have been excited to try this since I read about it on BN over a month ago. It's nice to see Samuel Adam's give it a shot... 2009 Vintage

Impressive eyes on this one, for a Sammy Adam's. True to it's style, it pours a dark brown, almost black, with an attractive dark tan head with GREAT lacing.

Smells sweet (young?)... Lactose-like sweet quality with more sweet malts all around.

Taste is nice. Medium to full bodied, full flavored and high carbonation on the mouthfeel (That is high, at least, for a RIS). Lots of anise (black licorice), molasses, and sweet malts in the flavor profile. Maybe, some touches of pepper, as well. Hate to say this, but it's almost like "Abyss Lite".

Though it lacked some of the core qualities I like in a RIS (BIG flavor mixed with smoke, burn and some char), it was still very nice. I added some drinkability points to this review, as it's cheap for a RIS and easy to find. I will buy more of this and throw it in the cellar - I bet this would really improve with some age/mellowing on it. Nice work, Jim!

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

Out of a bottle this beer look like used motor oil when I poured it into my glass. The two-fingers of head was cocoa colored, retained well and laced in sheets. The aroma was of chocolate, toasted malt, butterscotch and alcohol. The flavors were rather dry, coffee, bittersweet chocolate, alcohol, spices, roasted malt, alcohol and some citrus rind bitterness from the hops. The mouthfeel was slick and tongue coating. It was also a little rough, the body was full and the carbonation a little too high and prickly. Not a bad brew but the mouthfeel needed work and the alcohol was a little too transparent.

Photo of CrellMoset
4.08/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of dkachur - thanks!! Split w/ dkachur and poured into a brandy snifter.

Appearance: Pours a thick, dark, milky, chocolatey, black body, not quite oily but close, with a relatively fast-fading one-finger of pretty dark brown head. There are a few flourishes of tan lace, glittery and thin, but there's not too much stickage goin' on.

Aroma: A slight kiss of alcohol over a sea of heavily roasted malts, mostly chocolate, very sweet and milky, plenty of toast, and hints of anise, raisins, spice.

Taste: Surprisingly bitter - much more bitter than the nose would suggest - with strong hints of raisins and other dark fruits, toast, bitter chocolate, earthy woodiness, and a definite anisey note that's reasonably well-integrated. The bitterness is reminiscent of but not quite coffee-esque, too. Let's call this one a licorice latte, shall we?

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as it looked, or perhaps that's the carbonation cutting through, but this one comes across as a little prickly, with a decent amount of carbonation, making for a crisp but even mouthfeel, not as creamy or milky as it may smell.

Drinkability: The alcohol on this one is a little apparent - though not up there for the style at 9.2% - and the flavors decently interesting, really pretty unusual for a RIS. Quite the Boston Beer Co. touch. I'd be happy to try this one again, though I don't know if it's going to become a fridge staple.

Photo of Gosox8787
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a glass from a bottle I bought as part of a four pack. The beer was completely black and opaque with a small lacing of brown. The aroma from this brew is heavy on the roasted notes. The taste is extremely strong, with the chocolate flavor of the malt taking center stage. There is also a coffee flavor that lingers after finishing a taste. The moutfeel is moderate and nothing special but works well for the beer. The drinkability is not that high, as this is a strong stout, but it does not have to be to be effective.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable and strong beer. Good for anyone who wants to try an imperial stout. Its good that a large brewer, like Boston Beer, is taking chances like this.

Photo of SpecialK088
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a sam adams pint

A-Deep near black with a nice 2 finger head and lacing all the wya down the glass. Almost has a redish tint when put to direct light

S-Very very sweet near sugary malt with some nice roasted notes as well

T-Brown sugar sweetness with nice roasted carmel malt, pretty full bitter finish

M-Medium body but still a little thin for an imperial stout, full bodied flavor all the way thru though an relitively complex.

D-Far from the 1st imperial stout I would reach for and to be completly honest it just seems to be more of what sam does best a great gateway to the style.

Photo of gmc234
4.75/5  rDev +25%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Sam Adams beer glass.

A: Pours like black syrup with a thick brown head. Completely opaque. Typical appearance for an imperial stout.

S: Roasted coffee notes, hops barely detectable

T: Powerful bitter dark chocolate (think >80% cocoa bar) followed up by a ristretto espresso

M: Thick character, barely carbonated

D: Excellent, but you wouldn't want to drink too many of these (unless you want to end up on the floor)

Overall this is an excellent imperial stout. In a way this seems to me to like a ramped up version of the chocolate bock. As far as food pairings go, this beer would go better either with or as dessert vs. pairing with hearty fare.

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

Pours a completely black color, even when held to the light. There is a very thin head with a nice dark brown, almost purplish color.
Not the strong smells that I am used to on an imperial stout. There is a slight bit of chocolate and coffee malts, but not much else.
The taste is much stronger than the smell, but still subdued for the category. There are a lot of malt tastes, mostly of a smoky, coffee taste, with a slight bit of chocolate as well.
In an imperial stout I am used to a much thicker liquid, but the drink is very velvety and smooth all the way down.
Sam Adams Imperial Stout is a lot more subdued than imperial stouts than I am used to. It is easier to drink than most, because the taste is more balanced and a lot less of an alcohol taste than normal. Although, the brew does not have some of the strong and great tastes of others of its style, it is more drinkable because of the good balanced taste.

Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

9.2% ABV. per label.Good to see SA branch out and make a foray into this style.Poured into a snifter an oil slick black with a minimal cappuccino (like the bottle says)colored head that is gone rather quickly.Aromas of charred dark fruit and black licorice,dark roast coffee and a bit of wood as well.Flavors are heavy on the black licorice with molasses and dark fruit quite prevelant as well,a nice bit of raw earthiness in the finish as well.A solid stab at the style,just all around good.

Photo of Domingo
4.18/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Solid RIS that's on par with any of the other big names out there.
Big and dark with tannish head. Looks thick and murky.
Flavors lean towards coffee, semisweet chocolate, dried fruits, molasses, and a little bit of rum. Unlike some others, it's not just a one-dimensional "roasty" stout either. It's sweeter, a little boozier, but it has the right amount of depth to back it up.
Doesn't go down as thick or as hot as it sounds. For a beer style that's intended to be sipped, it's as drinkable as any.
Way to go Boston Beer. As the largest craft brewer (or at least close to it), they're still able to bust out the big styles as well as anyone else.
If you like the style, you'll like this one. Not the absolute best one, but it's better than many. At $10 per 4-pack, the price is right, too.

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
86 out of 100 based on 1,452 ratings.