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Old Heathen Imperial Stout - Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Heathen Imperial StoutOld Heathen Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

1,567 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,567
Reviews: 815
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 65
Gots: 149 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co. visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-19-2001

Rich, velvety and deliciously complex, Old Heathen (8% ABV) is a truly distinctive stout. We use seven types of malt and two varieties of hops to bring forth this big brew. Quite robust and roasty on the palate, Old Heathen Imperial Stout has a wonderfully fruity nose and a moderately dry finish. The taste is highly complex. Perhaps you’ll even discern notes of espresso or chocolate.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,567 | Reviews: 815 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of olradetbalder
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of brentk56
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a tar black body with a tan head; nice lacing

Smell: Chocolate and coffee tones

Taste: Starts out with a chocolate base that, mid-palate is joined by caramel, coffee and a bit of hops; closes with a slightly harsh, grainy character

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; a little thin for the style

Overall: Haven't had this one since my original review in 2006 (thanks then to BeerBeing, one of the great BAs from the old days) but this is a much better beer than I remember so I am going to consider this one a re-review

Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Single finger tan head on a near jet black body. Very nice lacing. Vanilla and milk chocolate dominate the flavor with some dark fruit mostly raspberry and cherry. Roasted malt, vanilla, brown sugar as toffee form the smooth flavor. Medium to full body and moderate carbonation. A very nice flavorful stout but doesn't quite stand out in the genre.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Considered to be one of the godfathers of Imperial Stout, Weyerbacher's Old Heathen remains true to its rich English roots but weaves in an American twist here and there.

The massive stout starts with a rich and creamy pour- its slow separation of beer and foam eludes to its viscous creaminess. Once settled, its onyx-like deep "bark" brown hues are just shy from black but shows a depth of ominous clarity. Its tall column of foam is lightly mocha-stained and long lasting like mousse. Light speckled lace may be hindered because of its bold alcohol beneath.

Bold roasty alcohols portray a confident scent that borrows a slew of earthen character- cocoa, molasses, roasted walnuts, french-press coffee and burnt pine needles all contribute to a rich and roasty scent. There's a burnt dark fruit character that rises as the beer warms and tingles the nose ever so slightly.

Equally as bold are its verbose and roasty flavors- again, its the blend of espresso, bitter chocolate, roasted nuts and overall burnt taste that guide the taste over the tongue en route to finish. All the while, its underlying black-strap molasses sweetness slowly releases until the ale is malty-dry and mildly ashy tasting from that burnt pine-type resiny bitterness. A tinge of roasted currant and aniseed pronounces slightly as the ale warms and gives an extra tart taste to accompany its roasty dry finish.

The ale makes a lot of headway as it travels across the taste buds- creamy and viscous early, the ale fades consistently into a powdery-dry finish with mild roast-derived astringency and spicy bitterness. Certainly warm to close, the ale follows with a slim aftertaste of ash and burnt cinders.

Starting off very rich and creamy, Old Heathen shows its American influences with its somewhat naked dry finish that exposes rougher edges of its roast, along with a certain citrus pith and pine-like bitterness as the ale closes.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a thick black color stout with a small dark head with good retention. Aroma consisted of roasted malt and light coffee. Taste is dominated by the roasted malt and isn’t too bitter which I appreciated. Coffee and chocolate are bit too subtle for my liking but were still identifiable. Body is full and texture is real creamy and alcohol is not discernable. Good stuff and way better IMHO then the barrel-aged version.

Photo of jaydoc
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black as pitch with ruby and amber accents at the margins. The explosive golden beige cap very nearly got away from me. It started out as a rich, reverse cascader and is now a soft, puffy, rocky glass filler that I'll need to go through to get to the beer beneath. Lace isn't abundant because the cap isn't sticky enough.

The nose is incredibly black malty and is redolent of equal parts melted dark chocolate and heavily roasted coffee beans. I also pick up a whiff of hoppiness, but it's secondary to the dark malt monsters. This is a tremendous RIS nose that makes up for a slight lack of depth with sheer power.

The flavor profile is also a little short on depth and lacks that seamlessness that I look for in beer of this style. It's still good, but my standards for very good haven't quite been reached. On the palate, it's considerably more espresso-like than it is chocolate-like... and blackstrap molasses and tobacco have now entered the fray. There's also a mild char, but it isn't overdone and works well with rest of the flavors.

Thankfully, the citrusy hoppiness hasn't been drowned by the flood of coffee, chocolate and molasses. It's tiring, though, and is looking for a life preserver. Old Heathen is more bitter than sweet, which is as it should be. Big beer ought to have a big mouthfeel. This one is more than satisfactory, but big it ain't. It's smooth and silky without quite making it to chewy or viscous.

Old Heathen is a good take on the style from the good folks at Weyerbacher. Although it can't compete with the best of this style, it's definitely enjoyable beer. A bottle of the oak-aged version (Heresy) is lurking in my cellar right now and will be finding its way to my pint glass very soon. Thanks once again to blitheringidiot.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.17/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

dark as night inky black pour with a nice little tan head of about two inches that fades down into a nice layer of about an inch or so that hangs around for the remainder of the session.

nice aroma, rich cooca and coffee dominate with a nice touch of bitter and roasted malts that take over the profile very nicely. smooth, effortless flavor then wraps itself over the palate. light hints of vanilla mix in with the dark chocolate and rich roasted malts. small touch of alcohol but this fades quickly as it warms and leaves you with a nice touch of sweet vanilla and brown sugar that really compliments the cocoa and lightly hopped finish quite nicely

Photo of Knapp85
3.58/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer is ultra black when pouring it into a glass the look of oil always comes to mind. The few bubbles it had rise to the top and fade shortly after. The lacing wasn't too bad, kind of scattered about. The aroma was pretty strong with deep roasted malts and chocolate. The taste wasn't too bad either resembling similar characteristics of the aromas with the addition of some tasty hops in the finish. The Mouthfeel is thick without a doubt. The only other thought I have is that I would pass this one up if Heresy was right next to it.

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
2.5/5  rDev -36.2%

Photo of largadeer
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pitch black with a mocha head. Retention could be better.

Smell - Vinous and burnt. Chocolate, raisins, plums. Lacking a bit in aroma.

Taste & mouthfeel - Charred and dry, vinous, almost red wine-like in texture. Flavors of espresso and unsweetened chocolate shine through. Very bold despite the somewhat low (for the style) ABV. I like that this beer maintains a full body without tons of sweetness or alcohol.

Notes - Very good stuff that manages to stay true to the style but still stand out from the pack.

Photo of oberon
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pitch black with no head to speak of,aroma is softly sweet and I also got a light peppermint aroma (Iam glad Iam not the only one who got that).Taste is lightly chocolaty with an alcolic sweetness to it kinda hard to explain,the alcohol is very prevelant there is a nice earthiness in the finish as well.A real nice complex Imperial Stout here a nice one to savor.The big beers from Weyerbacher are very good I have to say.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Note: as of writing this, the bottle was purchased nearly one year ago.

Appearance: Pours a black body with a small brown head.

Smell: Aroma of dark chocolate with notes of vanilla and caramel and only a faint, faint bit of fruitiness and pine lurking beneath the maltiness.

Taste: A tasty, sweet mixture of high-percentage cocoa dark cocolate and crème de menthe, like a liquefied Andes mint. The finish is sweet and roasty, with a nice anise flavor lingering into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Soft carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: A delightful stout fresh and even moreso a year later.

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

wonderful stout, kind of a best of both worlds sort of vibe, with the sweet creamy vibe of a milk stout, and that burnt malt bitterness of a nice coffee forward stout. pours thick and dark, with an inch of tan foam hanging around awhile. the nose is bitter, very dark roast on the grains here, and a hint of dark chocolate and black coffee as well. the flavor starts a little sweet, akin to a left hand milk stout, im pretty sure i can identify lactose sugars here, but the sweetness is short lived and gives way to the bitter malt in a powerful way. the finish is long and complex, with more and more coffee coming into the picture. great feel on this too, smooth like an oatmeal stout, full bodied like the russian imperials should be, and a well disguised alcohol kick that can be felt but not tasted. one of the better stouts ive had this season, and one i look forward to revisiting again soon. the best weyerbacher beer i have had to date.

edit: boy does this age well!

Photo of zeff80
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a thick, firm, long-lasting head of tan foam. It left some nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled very roasty with subtle coffee (expresso) notes. There were chocolate smelled and some mild floral notes.

T - Great dark chocolate and roasted caramel malt flavors. It had a bitter hop bite to match to sweet chocolate and caramel taste.

M - It was smooth and crisp with a somewhat dry finish. A medium bodied ale with just a touch of alcohol warmth.

D - This is a very good RIS that is fairly easy drinking with an ABV that isn't over-the-top like many other imperial stouts.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Walter Payton shaker pint glass.

Thanks to YaKnowBrady for this bottle!

One of the few pleasant memories I have left from my year in NoVa is of drinking some o' these bad boys. I hope it's still as good to me... It pours a decidedly dark and bleak black-brown (almost black) topped by a short finger of sienna foam. The nose comprises roasted malts, cocoa powder, light molasses, and a light kiss of char. Yup, it certainly smells dark. The taste brings in more of the same, with the roast coming off as darker, the molasses darker still, and some coffee coming in to make things as dark as we can. I've had darker, but not many. It's almost too dark... The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a chewy feel. Overall, a damn fine impy stout, one of the best that's available year-round.

Photo of JAHMUR
3/5  rDev -23.5%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The body is an opaque black and reveals only a thin glint of mahogany at the base of the glass. The thin lid of creamy dark tan foam drops quickly to a razor thin surface covering and it leaves little more than spotty lace. The nose offers toasted chocolate; a berry-like yeasty fruitiness; and some alcohol. The body is medium-full, and it's silky smooth in the mouth with a low-level, very fine and natural carbonation from bottle conditioning that gently caresses the tongue. The flavor delivers a dark malt with a bittersweet chocolate character and a soft, roasted edge backed by a bold bitterness and some drying alcohol in the finish. Some floral and grassy hops rest under the surface don't don't really show themselves unless you seek them out.

Photo of nickfl
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - One finger of medium brown head on an opaque black body. The head settles pretty quickly and leaves little lace.

S - Dark and malty; caramel, figs and toffee. Some light milk chocolate and a hint of spicy hops as well.

T - Milk chocolate and smooth coffee. Caramel and toffee in the middle with some minor fruit notes. The character darkens in the finish with some more robust coffee notes and more bitter chocolate. Some slightly smoky, charred notes linger on the palate.

M - Medium-thick body, low carbonation, and an only slightly sweet finish.

D - This is a bit light for the style and unusually smooth. Neither hop character nor roasted malt is overly powerful and while, when combined with the smooth alcohol, this makes for easy drinkability, it also limits complexity. In some ways, this is almost more like an Imperial Porter. A good beer overall, nothing to complain about, but nothing special and not as interesting as I would hope for something in this price range to be.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.6/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer pours a deep dark blackish brown, with a short brown head that fades quickly and doesn’t leave much lacing.

S: The aroma is of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, caramelized malt, a little bit of hops and a hint of dark fruits.

T: Heavy chocolate and espresso flavor dominates, there is some hops character there that comes through and a touch of fruity sweetness. I found it to be very well-balanced.

M: Very smooth and it’s more crisp than other Russian Imperial Stouts that I’ve had. It has a medium-to-full body and medium carbonation and leaves a little bit of stickiness in the finish.

D: This beer is extremely easy to drink. There’s not hint of the 8.00% ABV and it’s not as filling as other RIS’s. It was one of those beers that I had a hard time keeping in the glass long enough to review. Overall, I think this is an excellent beer. I usually like a bigger kick with this style of beer, but I think any more strength would throw off the balance, so I consider it addition by subtraction.

Photo of Jason
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Used engine oil black with a nice frothy tan head and cascading effect. Ripe plum and the tartness of nectarine in the fruity nose, roasted grain develops a bit more in the aroma also. Silky smooth with undertones of espresso that bring a range of roasted flavours, hops are a tag-a-long as well as a dark ripe fruitiness. Alcohol is slightly deceiving, all in all a great Imp Stout.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.07/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is completely opaque with a very thin tan moccha head. One monster of darkness this beer looks great and very appetizing. Aroma is slighlty smokey with layers of plum, raisins, and mild hints of deep toasted malts, very nice imperial going on here. Creamy smooth milky goodness, what an amazing beer the flavor brings those hints of plum and other fruits and they coexist very nicely with the mild toasted malt profile. Everything is done right here in the flavor category. Fuller bodied creamy texture, awesome fullness to it. Is actually a great easy drinking beer for the style that masks the high abv quite nicely.

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.53/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black, tan head. Looks like trouble. Nose is deep coffee. Strong malts. Just a thick and deep fragrance. Hmmm. If only it tastes as good as it has built up to...

Flavor is thick with malts. Strong and firm, it does not waver. Hearty, tar like, so deep, it goes beyond coffee or chocolate and just enters a realm of robust that you don't want to mess with. Coffee hits you in the end after the thick malts have finally calmed down. Feel is thick on liquid with a lower carbonation that you'd expect. Definitely drinkable. Very smooth and very well made. This is one to try. Go get it.

Photo of Slatetank
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this at my cousins house in Lancaster on 8/7 enjoyed from a pint glass chilled.

The stout is deep black and opaque in clarity with a quick dropping sandstone cap w/ fine bead.The head falls to a a ring and spots of lace collect. The smell is deep with cocoa and the nose has light caramel notes with slight sweet vanilla cream and gentle grain aroma with light fruit from the yeast which has some prune and dark concentrated sugar with toasted nose and gentle spice accents.The feel is very good with decent smooth body, creamy malt with light bitterness and balance stays firmly in the malt camp with slight soft alcohol tinge and subtle roasted texture with some moderate spice and carbonation.

The flavor is great when sipped or taken in larger gulps, either way the malt expresses well with fantastic chocolate malt taste that lacks a lot of dark malt astringency. There is a moderately high level of caramel malt flavor but the hop spice stays in the background as a supporting roll. The toasted almost toffee like essence provides a nice complexity while some stone fruit from the yeast is evident. Overall a extremely drinkable stout --possibly my favorite offering from Weyerbacher, smooth drinkability which is coupled with relatively low alcohol in the taste for the style which I like- Kudos Weyerbacher!

Photo of XmnwildX12
4/5  rDev +2%

Old Heathen Imperial Stout from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 1,567 ratings.