1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

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

Samuel Adams Imperial StoutSamuel Adams Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,371 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1371
Reviews: 793
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 13.95%

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)
View: Beers (117) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Samuel Adams Imperial Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,371 | Reviews: 793 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of scratch69


3.13/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured a bottle into a mug.

Appearance- Black color with a fingers worth of tan head. Thin Amount of clinging lace.

Smell- Bitter chocolate, char and coffee.

Taste- Dark roasted malt, chocolate and a bit of char. Those flavors fade quickly and leave a bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Full bodied and smooth with a small amount of carbonation.

Overall- I have tried many of Samuel Adams beers and many are quite enjoyable. But I've never been impressed with any of their Imperial Series. This is the best of that group but it still isn't that great.

Serving type: bottle

06-24-2012 20:33:01 | More by scratch69
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

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

You might say that a good Imperial Stout is unworthy unless it leaves your teeth as black as the bottle it comes in - this one looks like it will do the trick. The kind of thing most people are accustomed to seeing at Starbucks, this beer pours inky black with a frothy, brownish skim over top. No sprinkles needed - the lacing is pretty enough.

Judging by smell, this offering more likely resembles the stouts of the 18th century Russian Imperial Court than most modern American renditions, the aggressiveness and decadence of which scream stars-and-stripes. This bouquet, however, is mild (relatively speaking) and quite vinous, with oxidized notes of currant and anise, not unlike an aged red wine.

Those flavors are accompanied on the palate by plum, coffee and a distinct mintiness that is certainly traced back to a generous addition of hops. Trickles of blueberry and blackstrap molasses are noted but quickly budded out by a strong licorice taste. Bitterness is substantial although each sip rewards with a roasty mocha-java finish.

The earlier comparison to a gritty, meaty red wine is apropos. Oenophiles should be at home with this beer - assuming they can bear the bitterness and roast - and are sure to appreciate the pepper-and-chocolate mouthfeel, the sensations of tar and tobacco, and the trace of herbaceousness (again, courtesy of the hops). Not to mention it should keep in the cellar; this bottle has at least a year on it and it's in tip-top drinking shape.

Samuel Adams' Imperial Stout is better compared to more traditional English examples of the RIS style, but it should still be considered a masculine, muscular monster. The tasting notes listed above speak for themselves. If you salivate at the thought of game-meat basted in coffee and roasted in the fireplace, then you may have found heaven. If not, but you think that sounds intriguing, then maybe you've found your next purchase.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2012 22:29:39 | More by biegaman
Photo of mrasskicktastic

New Jersey

3.2/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

A - Very dark brown with a large mocha head. Ample clump of lacing.

S - Gamey meats, slightly smoked oak, brown sugar, raisins, soy sauce and bourbon.

T - Initially, soy sauce, oak and bourbon. Hint of gamey meat. Aftertaste is faint - lingering soy sauce and mild campfire.

M - Smooth, thick, pretty refreshing.

D - For some reason I can't explain, I'm not a huge fan. It is really a case where the some of the parts is greater than the whole. It looks good, smells good, feels good, tastes okay (maybe that is it), but I just am not thrilled about it. It's not bad, but I doubt I'll buy it again.

Serving type: bottle

06-21-2012 03:55:20 | More by mrasskicktastic
Photo of warnerry


3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Pours pitch black with two fingers of brown head. Head looks creamy and has good retention. A nice amount of lacing left behind.

S - Chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, dark fruits and a bit of anise. Also a touch of hops. Pretty nice.

T - The taste has more coffee than chocolate, moderate roastedoak malt, a subtle but noticeable hop punch, a bit of anise, raisin and faint cherry. Alcohol not noticeable at all.

M - Mouthfeel is medium, definitely not heavy, slighty bitter and dry on the finish.

O - Pretty good RIS overall, at a great price. Like a lot of Sam Adams beers, this seems a bit subdued, and so doesn't really stand out. But it is a tasty and easy drinking RIS that I could see having again.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2012 02:13:45 | More by warnerry
Photo of BarryMFBurton


4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one of my favorite styles, but from a brewery that’s been hit-and-miss for me. Let’s see how Sam Adams does the stout thang…

A: Not a single gurgle from the bottle, even from an aggressive pour – this one’s thick. Pours as black as the ace of spades, adorned by a creamy gray-brown half-inch of foam. Not a ton of retention, as it fizzes away momentarily, but there are a few spots of lacing on the inside of the glass.

S: Whoa, that’s great! Hits immediately with bold dark chocolate, anise, thick roasts, caramel, and vanilla marshmallow – more like a s’more than any stout I’ve had in a long time. I love the way it hits with those deep, roasty sugars, especially since it’s backed up by rich hickory and honey (like a glazed ham, but much more appetizing in a beer than it sounds). Picked up by a spicy hit of alcohol, woody and peppery, with a cinnamon touch. Excellent, excellent character.

T: Bold, woody tastes everywhere – bitter and roasty. Starts out strong with a mouthful of oaky char, popping with hints of burnt coffee and salty, piney hops. Big, chewy barley is smooth, tasting like caramel, anise, vanilla, honey, and chocolate fondue, all under a light note of raisin and molasses. And just in case you weren’t sure that it was a big beer, there’s that familiar whiskey warmth that it leaves on the way out, woody and peppery. Finishes very lightly, with only a mild taste of wet oak and dry roasts to remember it by.

M: Smooth and rich, without any thinness whatsoever. There’s just a tickle of carbonation every once in a while, but it’s only a passing phase to the thickness of the body.

O: Like the Double Bock, this member of the Sam Adams Imperial Series could be considered a standard for the style. Absolutely wonderful, and for only $2 a bottle or so, I have a feeling I’ll be buying this one again and again.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2012 00:49:27 | More by BarryMFBurton
Photo of Greywulfken

New York

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

The Sam Adams Imperial line served as my intro to craft beers, microbrews, and non-BMC beers. That said, the first three "cool" beers I had were Sam Adams' Imperial White, Imperial Stout, and Double Bock.

So now, three heavy beer-drinkin' years later, I am returning to them (and a new addition since then, a Wee Heavy!) to see how they stand up to all the amazing beers I have had since...

A: Solid black pour, head forms of dark foam, and then settles into a creamy collar with some film and low-lying lace

S: roasted malty chocolate, espresso coffee

T: by-the-books RIS: roasty and chocolately up front, bitter espresso coffee in the middle, and tints of anise around the edges

M: full, rich, mellow, noce balance between bitter and sweet

O: a much better RIS than I expected - my past recollection was of a much sweeter, more syrupy brew - this was pretty on par with the other good imperial stouts I'd had.

Now that I've had the Imperial White, Double Bock, and this, I can say that Sam Adams' RIS is probably the one that held up best over time (by virtue of comparison to other world-class beers of various styles I've had since).

Serving type: bottle

05-30-2012 17:34:29 | More by Greywulfken
Photo of KTCamm

New Jersey

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Pours black as tar with that kind of consistency. Some brown flecks but otherwise picth black. Nose is chocolate, raisins, licorice. Taste is a rich roasted stout. Dark fruits swirl in the mix. Thick and hearty. Bittering close that lingers. Anise. Espresso. Its all in there.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2012 23:22:22 | More by KTCamm
Photo of markmiller

New York

3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured very nice and dark, creamy and vicious. Produced a nice tan head. Looks inviting.

The smell is surprisingly sweet. Cream and cocoa with just light roasty malts and coffee.

The taste and flavor of this RIS is nice, but not particularly complex, and finishes with a weird astringent quality I cannot place my finger on. The brew ends up being rather thin and sharp and tinny. The nice dark roast and creamy chocolate flavors do not stick around, which is a shame.

Mouthfeel is sub-par for a RIS. I wanted this beer to take it's nice flavors and last and coat my tongue and it never happened. Carbonation is fine.

Overall, I enjoyed this beer enough to have it again and it would make a nice choice for mixing it up when enjoying RIS.

Serving type: bottle

05-08-2012 03:00:58 | More by markmiller
Photo of MatthewWilde


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

Sample: 1 bottle 2012

A: Deep mahogany, moderate internal carbonation, pours a small medium brown head that lasts, unknown translucency

S: Cocoa, espresso, some spiciness as well, decently sweet, pretty fragrant overall, touch of alcohol

T: Quite malty, heavy coffee, hints of cocoa, almost has some light pepper elements, strong roasted taste, finishes clean

M: Smooth, but feels a bit cumbersome in the mouth, light espresso aftertaste, drying on the palate, but not extremely

O: A straightforward imperial stout, fragrant with strong flavors, just wish it was smoother and more complex

Serving type: bottle

05-08-2012 01:33:26 | More by MatthewWilde
Photo of kojevergas


2.95/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

23 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Guinness goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Acquired at a local Ralph's market. Reviewed live. No best before date is listed. Expectations are average; Sam Adams' beers usually hover right around a C+ for me (with a couple exceptions).

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a four finger head of great tan colour, impressive cream, good thickness, and fantastic retention considering the high ABV. Colour is a solid nontransparent opaque black. The appearance is rather impressive all around; I'm excited to try it. No yeast particles are visible (though it is nontransparent) and no bubble show is present. Decent lacing.

Sm: A moderately strong aroma of chocolate, nuts, cream, some roast, dark malts, and milk. Intriguing, but not particularly complex or subtle.

T: Creamy, with overdone milky notes and bland chocolate. Vague unlayered dark malts form the mundane foundation. Not particularly complex nor subtle. No nuts come through; perhaps I was wrong concerning the aroma. Most egregiously, roast is missing - the central element needed to make this good. Balanced decently. Built okay for the style, but lacking true quality.

Mf: Creamy, smooth, and wet. Largely downright wrong for the style; should be coarse and dry yet with pleasant creaminess. Adequately carbonated. A touch too thin for the style.

Dr: A drinkable little imperial stout from Sam Adam's. Enjoyable and pleasant for the price, but largely forgettable. A decent introduction to the style for the masses, but not an ideal choice for true fans of imperial stouts. I like it, but it's in serious need of work. To its credit, it hides its ABV very welll.

A poor candidate for aging.

Would pair decently with cheap chocolate.


Serving type: bottle

05-07-2012 04:06:15 | More by kojevergas
Photo of Krakistophales


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

A: Pours black with a chocolate colored head

S: Lots of caramel, chocolate, some smoke, malt, touch of coffee and anise

T: Much like the smell. Starts off with chocolate, moving into a caramel/coffee middle, and finishing with a boozy cherry sort of finish.

O: Pretty good, but I've had much better RIS.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2012 02:42:10 | More by Krakistophales
Photo of Bobheed


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

A: Pours a nice deep black with very little light coming through around the edges. A small light tan colored head. Fair amount of lacing.

S: Smells super, super roasty. Getting lots of burnt coffee, small chocolate notes, but mainly those nice charred, roasted malts

T: Follows the nose pretty well, tons of roastiness, but I'm picking up a lot of dark fruit also. Getting a lot of boozy plums and raisins. Finishes with a strong coffee burst

M: Very thick and highly carbonated. Not typical of a RIS, but it seemed to work quite well.

Overall I like this one. Not my go-to RIS, but it's a nice, widely available, affordable one. Would recommend.

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2012 03:29:02 | More by Bobheed
Photo of EricCioe


3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours black with a nice dark head and decent lace. On the nose there are a smattering of dark fruit, chocolate, smoke, and some roast in the background. In the mouth there is an anise note early on with the fruit coming out later with chocolate and a bit of smoke. The body is medium full with a nice finish long on roasted malt.

Overall, this is a very decent imperial stout. I would buy this again for sure. I wonder what age does to it?

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2012 02:54:14 | More by EricCioe
Photo of BEERMILER12


4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a pitch black color with 2 fingers of tan head that retains for quite a while

S: Roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, anise, and slight alcohol all come through

T: Follows the nose. Very roasty with a semi-sweet dark chocolate start things off. This is followed by a faint coffee and anise. Finishes lightly sweet

M: Full bodied with low-moderate carbonation. Thick

O: This is one of the beers that got me into craft in the first place, so I definitely have a soft spot for it. It also helps that this is a very solid imperial stout that gets a lot of flak for no reason. Almost a must-try if you like the style

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2012 03:21:13 | More by BEERMILER12
Photo of WoodBrew


3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 13 oz tulip. Pours an opaque black, with a thick looking, sticky, one inch expresso colored head. Lacing and lots of it and wonderful retention. Smell is chocolate covered raisins, dark malts, figs, and some roasted coffee. Taste is all of that, huge blast of strong coffee in the finish. Fairly dry finish, body is on the large side, and perfect amount of life. This beer really surprised me, my taste buds have changed, years ago wasn't much of a fan.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2012 00:51:05 | More by WoodBrew
Photo of minnesotaryan


4.73/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter, pours a deep black, one finger thick khaki head. Nice retention and excellent lacing.

Smells of booze! Malt sweetness, more booze with bitter bitter dark baking chocolate.

Raisins, lots of raisins, bitter baking chocolate, black cherries in the middle, roasted malt, perhaps some light roasted malt, licorice and nice bitter finish.

Bright, thick, lingering carbonation, lively, wonderful. Pretty smooth for the abv.

This is great, you get a lot for the price point. Also nice to find a stellar RIS in a 12 oz bottle.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2012 02:08:51 | More by minnesotaryan
Photo of harrymel


3.03/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bottled: unk. Newer label design

Dark black with a broken mocha sheet leaving spotty lace. Smells of chocolate, black cherry, caramel, licorice and molasses with a little bit of raisin. Alcohol is the first thing I taste, then there is a good dose of toasted malts and cocoa tones with a little metallic season on the finish. There are some coffee grounds and sweet malts as well. Medium on thin for the style with a hi carb for the style. Semi dry finish. The beer is decent, and apporachable. I would recommend this as a starter Impy stout as it carries the character without spoiling the newcomer with the best aspects.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2012 16:00:29 | More by harrymel
Photo of BucannonXC5


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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Color was black with brown trim, almost purple. About two fingers of head. Light brown caramel lacing on the top. Light a sporadic film on the sides.

Smelled of coffee and dark chocolate malts. Could definitely smell the alcohol. Roasty charcoal malts as well.

Tasted dark chocolate malts. Also some dark fruit, coffee and charcoal.

Full body. Thin texture. Average carbonation. Smooth finish.

Not a bad beer. I’m a bit of a Sam Adams homer, but this one hit the spot. Good RIS.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2012 04:47:13 | More by BucannonXC5
Photo of Lars3


4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I purchased this bottle in April 2009 as part of a 4 pack. I drank two fresh and saved two for later. Now is later.

Pours a jet black with very think short lived tan head. Despite the head the bear looks great in my Duvel tulip.

I'll be honest I'm not getting much aroma out of this beer. However there is some yeast, roasted malt and caramel.

What this beer lacks in smell is more than makes up for in taste. What I recall about this beer when it was fresh was that it was hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. One of the booziest and more alcoholic tasting stouts I've had. After sitting in my cellar, I mean milk crate in the closest, for three years all of that is gone. Not a hint of booze in this thing. Very rich roasted quality to this beer. This would be a great introductory RIS. I wish I could buy this beer as its three year old version. There is coffee, chocolate, a bit of caramel sweetness. I love it.

This beer just fills my mouth. The beer has almost non-exsitant carbonation and it just floats across my tongue.

I love this beer. As I said above I wish Boston Beer Company would sell an aged version of this beer. I've still got one bottle left, I'll be updating this review in another 2-5 years.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2012 03:50:58 | More by Lars3
Photo of MoreThanWine


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

Poured a 3/4" mocha head with decent lifespan. The body is a clear dark walnut woodstain brown. It's got the Imperial Stout smell right with roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee. The taste repeats those flavors but there's also a very yeasty aspect to it, and the finish equals the bitterness of a bite of very dark chocolate. A pretty decent Imperial Stout.

Serving type: bottle

03-09-2012 09:29:25 | More by MoreThanWine
Photo of Loudiamonds305

3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ill start by saying Im new to Beer advocate, I hope to build a good and accurate profile for my self and all of the forums members. Im no expert beer taster, but will use this profile as a tool to fine tune my palette on how to properly taste beer. I love beer like everyone on here. Cheers!!! And ill get on with my review.

A- The color, is very balanced not exactly old engine oil but close enough to be in the Imp. stout category.

S- The smell, theres a lot going on rich chocolate and roasted barley comes through just as strong as the alcohol aroma can honestly smell all day very rich but well balanced.

T- The taste is delicious full flavor but not over the top especially being at 9.2% abv. the presence of the alcohol is there very much but its really complemented by the amount of roasted barley they used not overly bitter for a Imp. stout all around anyone can drink this beer and would like it .

O- My overal on this brew is hands down totally drinkable. I've had this beer several times before and I've grown to love it more and more every time. Its not a super crazy Imp. stout but very well put together and would recommend to anyone.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2012 03:53:33 | More by Loudiamonds305
Photo of Doppelbockulus


3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown with a dense tan head about an inch thick.

Smell is full of heavily roasted malt and alcohol.

The taste is very smooth and has a coffee acidity with dark character. There is also a slight presence of dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel is soft and slightly thick, it is comfortable.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2012 00:42:26 | More by Doppelbockulus
Photo of WastingFreetime


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

Reviewed from notes.

Has the expected inky dark color and two fingers of dark tan colored head that recedes to a crown layer in about two minutes, with some minor lace curtains left behind. Smells mostly of dark chocolate but also contains a decent amount of roasted character with a smaller background levels of prunes and other dark fruits. Flavor leans more on the roasted malt side of the equation, with the black bitter coffee and dark fruits coming in second and third place respectively. I'm not really picking up on any of the anise flavor that everybody else seems to be getting. Body is on the heavy side, but smooth and soft enough to avoid becoming clingy. Straight 4s across the board, a well made RIS.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2012 19:16:35 | More by WastingFreetime
Photo of divineaudio


3.3/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

tulip glass.

a - pours black with a finger of dense, creamy, light brown foam. retention is good and leaves rings of lacing in my glass.

s - dark chocolate, freshly roasted coffee, faint anise, faint dark fruits.

t - lots of roasted malt character with little hints of other flavors here and there. tobacco, chocolate, dark fruits. black coffee like bitterness in the finish. lacks the depth that many other big stouts have.

m - full bodied with medium carbonation. slight alcohol warming.

o - a good beer but so many other imperial stouts blow this out of the water. not really cheap enough to keep some on hand either, ~$12/4pk. worth trying if you come across it though.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2012 05:05:25 | More by divineaudio
Photo of ksimons

New York

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

A-pours almost black with a thin layer of tan head that leaves a ring around the top

S-roasted malt, molasses, dark chocolate

T-rich roasted malt, roasted black coffee, molasses, and light dark chocolate and dark fruit. Is a little bit hot, I wonder how aging this one would taste.

M-medium to full body, light to medium carbonation, dry bitter mouthfeel

Overall I like it, this RIS has a good roasted malt profile and body. I enjoyed it and would have again.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2012 00:03:52 | More by ksimons
Samuel Adams Imperial Stout from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
86 out of 100 based on 1,371 ratings.