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Old Heathen Imperial Stout - Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

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Old Heathen Imperial Stout
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very good

1,544 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,544
Reviews: 810
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 11.73%
Wants: 64
Gots: 139 | 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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-19-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,544 | Reviews: 810 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JohnGalt1
3.6/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Diving into the cellar because I'm still broke.. Been eying this 12oz for a while.. Got this a very long while ago from Vintage Cellars.. Poured into my Delrium goblet.

1 finger dark tan head.. went away quickly.. only spotty lace as the glass goes away..

Nose is comprised of only medium dark malts .. quite a bit of English fruitiness reminds me of sour cherries..

Flavor begins with a bang of coffee and bittersweet chocolate.. again, the sour cherries are pretty prevalent that combines with some slight acidic elements from the dark malts.. lingering cocoa.. descent body for the style.. carbonation seems spot-on..

Not sure what to think of this one.... The fruitiness reminds me of English Olde Ales.. It isn't infected, just maybe I let this one sit for too long.


Photo of mullenite
2.48/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Glassware - Allagash Tulip

Appearance - Black color with a finger and a half tan head that sunk down quickly and doesn't really leave any lacing. Not very impressive to look at really.

Nose - Lots of chocolate and roasted malt in the nose along with some alcohol. Some roasted malt but mostly alcohol and chocolate.

Taste - Somewhat of an off-flavor on the first sip, and the second... kind of tastes of acetone. The finish is nice with a lot of roasted malt flavor but acetone up front kind of ruins it.

Mouthfeel - Astringent and kind of thin.

Overall - I can't imagine that this beer gains so much from being put in to a bourbon barrel and will have to revisit it down the road but it doesn't have any kind of depth or complexity. I'm sadly disappointed.

Photo of MPLS
3.33/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was one of the many single Weyerbacher beers that came into my possession from a $pendy trip to Hudson. Unsure as to how fresh this beer is, but I imagine it was brewed in 2009.

A: The beer has a burnt hazelnut color with a pale mocha head that had risen to 3 cm with an aggressive pour. Retention is decent and lacing is spotty.

S: Roasted malts, cocoa infused soy sauce, raisins, and some evidence of hops.

T: This beer is unfortunately not as good as the nose led me believe. The cocoa and anything related to chocolate isn't that prominent and seem to be replaced with some tongue numbing alcohol, @8%? The roasted malts have a change to shine through. Apart from numbing the finish there is some spice, smoked earth, and exaggerated dryness.

M: Medium bodied and I don't know if the taste is leading me to believe that it's thinner than it really is. High levels of carbonation give it a little creaminess.

D: This beer wasn't bad, but it lacked the big body and flavors I've come to expect from RIS's.

Photo of bamadog
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review is from notes taken on 1/24/10 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown/near black and starts with a one finger head that is tan in color and fades to a thin and uneven looking skim; body is entirely opaque and leaves spotty lacing here and there as the drink dwindles down the glass; the body looks a little thick, but not as thick as other Imperials...

Smell: Defininte presence of some deep dark roasted malts with some bittersweet chocolate in there; a slightly grassy hoppy presence in the nose (that will prove momentarily to be absent in the taste); there's also an interesting creamy and dark berry like quality to the nose, very interesting...

Taste: Not very "Imperial" in the taste as it's not especially robust... but the flavors are solid enough; definitely that roasty coffee bean flavor along with the hints of the bittersweet chocolate; there's also that same creamy dark berry aspect in the back of the mouth as well that's in the nose - quite interesting and enjoyable, but the lack of "oomph" in the flavors do lower it just a bit.

Mouthfeel: Body is a little thin for an Imperial, but it's still quite creamy and has soft and smooth carbonation, which is a great quality and compliments this beer very well; the mouth has a pretty thin coating but it's consistent and all over and I feel the gums are a bit dry and the belly is left just a little warm.

Drinkability: Not too bad overall - while I do wish it was more robust in flavor and body, I definitely dig the smooth creamy mouthfeel even though it's not especially thick like I would expect; also, the ABV doesn't seem to hit me that hard for being 8%, so I really feel like I could get through a couple of these in a sitting and really enjoy them; another great offering from Weyerbacher.


Photo of BigDank
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a Matilda glass.

Pours black with a darker brown head with a short stay. Minor spotted lacing left around the glass. Sweet chocolate scent with a touch of coffee. Nothing outstanding really. Taste is decent but light in comparison to the really good imperial stouts. I like something you may possibly have to chew. This one is fairly mellow and light across the tongue. Medium carbonation. Maybe a hint of hoppiness? Drinkability is good as it's easy drinking and moderate ABV. Either way, easy to drink but not one of the best I've had. Definitely a good beer but I'm into much heavier stouts than this. For sure this beer is worth a try and I don't get it here so I'm not sure what they run but I would have to say, if it's moderately priced it's worth drinking regularly. Most beers from this brewery, as I've experienced, have been mediocre except for a couple. I would say though this beer is one of the better.

Photo of CampusCrew
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: deep dark black, nearly ebony,

smell: loaded coffee, and heavy chocolate aromas

taste: rich and slight chocolate roasted flavors but had a smooth rich taste, a little on the sweet side for my liking in RIS. there's alot of chocolate upfront, bitter backend

mouthfeel: thick, creamy, good carbonation/full bodied

drinkability: decent. Not the best RIS, but good

Photo of DougBrew
3.23/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep, dark body, topped with a half inch of gorgeous golden brown head- loose, with moderately sized bubbles.
S - Maybe my nose isn't working today, but this beer didn't produce a largely noticeable aroma. Slight notes of chocolate and roasted coffee, but underwhelming.
T- Similar to the aroma, but more pronounced cocoa, coffee, and a slight smokiness, which is quite pleasant. Ends with a cooked, malty, sweetness that is appropriate to style, but it is not overpowering.
M - Surprisingly thin for an imperial stout, undoubtedly helped by the high level of carbonation.
D - Awesome. I don't think all "big" have to be challenging. On the contrary, this beer is quite accessible for seasoned enthusiasts as well as those who may not consider an Imperial their go to beer of choice.

Photo of alkemy
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is black as night with a very thin tan head that vanished pretty quickly. Espreso, dark fruit (mainly plum), and chocolate. Espreso/strong coffee on the front end. Then comes the slight bitter chocolate taste mixed with a hint of prunes. You can even taste the hops in this one...great bitter finish is both clean and slightly dry. This is my favorite RIS I've had to date. It doesn't have that strong alcohol finish that I've noticed in others. There's alot of flavors and without the overpowering taste of alcohol you can really taste them Just a well balanced and fantastic tasting stout.

Photo of irishking1977
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pitch black with a chocolate milk, two finger head. Head disappears quickly, leaving good lacing. Very impressed, so far.

S: Nothing really detected, except a faint bitter chocolate scent.

T: Wow, I was shocked at how good this one tasted. Some of Weyerbacher's brews were hit or miss; some weren't too refined and had alcohol at the front of the brew, other's were overly sweet. This one has a mildly sweet, bitter chocolate taste with a malt background and a dry finish. One of the better RIS I've had.

M: Chalky and nicely carbonated with an abrupt finish. As long as I'm not thinking about how the brew feels and concentrating on how it tastes, that is when a brewery has done a good job with the "mouthfeel" of the brew, IMHO.

D: Yes, this could be a reasonable session beer, or a beer to simply enjoy during the cold winter months.

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

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into pint glass. Dark, black in color, almost opaque with thin tan head. Slight retention with a bit of lacing. Chocolate and dark fruit notes. Tastes sweet upfront, hints of molasses, coffee and dark chocolate. A little alcohol bite in the finish. Full bodied with lighter carbonation.

Photo of homebrew311
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured 12 oz bottle into NB globe.

A: pours thick and black, pretty typical for the style, decent amount of tan head that retains nicely, some lacing

S: front of nose is sweet, dark fruits- raisins and black cherries, molasses, some tobacco, roasted barley, smells a bit sweet. No hints of the abv on the nose.

T: the taste isn't as sweet as the nose indicates, more roast on the palate in the form of roasted barley, the molasses and dark fruit is still there. Not picking up anything in the hops or alcohol department. The flavor is pretty mellow for an imperial stout, nothing in your face, but it is nicely balanced.

MF: thick chewy body, low carbonation

D: this is a good introduction imperial stout. It has the body and appearance of some of the boldest imperial stouts, but the flavor is a bit subdued for the style. Lots of nice sweet notes followed by roasted notes. Pretty well balanced. 8.0% abv is non existent.

Photo of grayburn
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a viscous black with a huge muddy head that fades a little too quickly, but leaves some nice soapy lacing.

The smell is roasted chocolate with just a touch of warming alcohol, my only complaint here is that the nose is a bit weak. I'd like to smell a little more burly machoness in an imperial stouts.

The taste is again dominated by some toasty roasty goodness. This buffering is balanced by some sweet chocolate, which lasts all the way to the finish. Nice and easy, nothing too powerful, I'm beginning to see a trend here, this beer isn't huge, it is a nice change from some of the massive stouts we see today. I can't believe I'm calling eight percent small, but I'm calling it that in a good way.

There is still a nice big body, luxurious in its creaminess. Mild carbonation is right on the spot here, makes for the easiest drinking imperial stout I have ever had. Definitely worth checking out.

Photo of darklordlager
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Old Heathen
A: Pours a very dark brown/black, with a creamy dark tan coloured head. The head dies down within a couple minutes of the pour.

S: Roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, a little caramel and dark fruit. Floral bittering hops meld with the bitterness from the darker malts. Tropical fruit nestled within.

T: Roasted malt comes up big right away, followed by a succession of dried fruit, layered caramel and dark chocolate Bitter citrus also works its way it. Aftertaste is roasted malt/chocolate, with a slightly bitter twang. The caramel layers, chocolate, and light citrus balance eachother very well as it warms.

M: A little thin and medium carbonation, not exaclty how I prefer this type of beer.

D: Too much roasted malt for my liking, and lacking in body. Other than that--a nice offering from Weyerbacher.

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

Pours a nearly opaque dark brown with one finger khaki head, spotty lacing. Smell: toffee, brown sugar, background earthy hop, a little buttery. Taste: toffee, a little coffee, lightly roasted, buttery, background hop spiciness. Kind of an English interpretation with a touch of coffee. Mildly creamy, nicely carbonated. The alcohol doesn't make an appearance. Almost sessionable but not particularly complex or exciting.

Photo of tattooedtolley
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a beautiful black with a tall creamy light brown head which dissipated quickly. Nose is big on the roasted malt with a sweet alcohol finish to it. Fairly mild aroma, seems like the 8% abv and the aroma indicates this is going to be a fairly mild impy stout. Taste is mainly roasted malt with a bit of oats. The bit of alcohol I was picking up in the nose is well hidden in the taste. I think the most shocking part of this beer is the mouthfeel. Normally if a beer has some crispness to it, I don't think much about the mouthfeel but this beer is like velvet. I've always wished there was some middle ground between co2 and nitro and whatever Weyerbacher did here, it happened to have some crispness but that velvety body, pretty cool. Drinkability is amazing, I'm not used to being able to easily drink an impy stout but this one might be the best I've had as far as drinkability.

Overall, real nice and quite surprising. In a style that is typically way too big and aggressive for most people this one seems like it could be approachable by anyone. Nicely done.

Photo of Katahdin
4.65/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Not a typical Weyerbacher beer. It pours very thick, very black, almostt like a heavy motor oil. Definitely has the body of an Imperiqal Stout but is more creamy in the taste than most Imperial Stouts. Texture on the tongue is smooth with almost an aftertaste of roasted oatmeal. Drinks just as smooth and belies it's big beer charcteristics. Complex maltiness adds to the experience as it goes down. A wonderful beer for a cold winter night in front of a fire.

Photo of SIRIUS2
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.

Pours very dark brown, with a heavy, almost viscous appearance. Decent light brown head of a couple fingers width that dissipates relatively quickly to a heavy ring around the glass. Surprisingly good lacing down the glass.

Aromas are mostly a dark fruit, similar to dates, but mixes with a modest roasty coffee smell. It's a complicated well combined aroma that is singular in nature, rather hard to pick out individual smells. Kinda cool.

On a long pull, the first thing I noticed a rather heavy, full, creamy to slick mouth feel. The flavors are rather full bodies with lots of dark fruit and fig on the front side that slowly yields to a dark bitter chocolate and eventually finishes to a coffee linger. A relatively light carbonation allows for a rather long finish.

This was not the Russian Imperial that I was expecting but it was very tasty! Definitely worth checking out.

Photo of swizzlenuts
3.45/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When pouring the beer, there was a little bit of ruby highlights, but when I look through the glass, all I see is blackness. The is a small off white/slightly tan head that sits atop the beer, but it dissipated quickly to a right. Not surprising considering the high ABV of the beer. It looks like a delicious Imperial Stout for sure. Putting my nose near the beer gives me tons of roasted malts with a slight bit of chocolate There is also a nice sweetness that comes through. I can get a hint of hoppiness, something earthy perhaps. Everything comes together in the nose, but I'd expect a little bit more roasted malts or coffee notes. It comes together more of a big sweet nose. I don't get any alcohol in the beer, which is pleasing and surprising.

The flavour of the beer is quite strange and unique for a russian imperial stout. I get a huge amount of fruitiness/mineral flavour from the yeast, undoubtedly. At the end of the tasting, there is a nice bitterness from the roasted malts, but as quick as it shows up, it fades away. The main flavour of the beer is estery yeast character. There is a little bit of alcohol in there as well, but not enough to hurt the experience. Over all, the flavour is kind of like the nose. Everything blends together, and nothing really hits me. I want more roasted flavours and gruffness. Even if I don't judge this beer as an imperial stout, it doesn't have any distinct flavours I can really latch onto. Just sweetness followed by a roasted character that shows up way too late to the party.

The mouthfeel is creamy and nice, but it doesn't add anything to the beer. I think the beer is drinkable, only because it doesn't have a lot of flavours. Not sure if this is just a badly handled bottle or a bit too old (I'd doubt this possibility the mose), but it's just very plain.

Photo of bbeane
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a snifter... about a 1/4 inch of somewhat fizzy brown head... little retention with a tiny bit of lacing. Beer is black in color with no light shining through when held up

S- First smell provides a toasted/burnt smell accompanied by some chocolate, but after some vigorous swirls of the glass... a great sweet dark fruit smell with a chocolate finish

T- Starts out with a sweet taste of dark fruits and molasses; finishes with a subtle yet tasty coffee and chocolate finish

M- Full bodied, yet somewhat watery mouth feel... smooth with little carbonation

D- Great tasting RIS. No alcohol/boozy taste... I would definately drink more


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

Excellent offer from Weyerbacher. Really top notch round oat feel for a RIS that renders the flavor reminiscent of an oatmeal stout.

A wonderful color, with a thin, translucent brown head with a glass clinging, creamy cap. Molasses, brown sugar, and dark chocolate on the nose with some sweet dark fruits. Dark chocolate taste, roasted grains, and a little heavy cream and vanilla.

Oats in the taste and in the mouth, which really round out the taste and, combined with the thin carbonation, really round out the finish, and curb the bitterness and alcohol.

Photo of Mistofminn
3.35/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Picked this up the last time I made it out to Hudson. Being my favorite style and all, of course I had to give it a shot.

Poured into a tulip glass, this is dark brown, nearly black in color, with a light brown head produced from a cautious pour. Head doesn't last long, and is reduced to a small ring. Leaves some spotty lacing here and there, but nothing special.

The nose is awfully muted. I get lightly roasted malts, sweet malts and bitter chocolate/coffee. I also get a substantial alcohol smell, which isn't very appealing.

The taste is even more muted than the nose leads on. I get everything I mentioned in the aroma section, but it's all so muted. I'm kinda disappointed.

Mouthfeel is light to medium, definitely not on par with some of the better Imperial Stouts. Sharp bite from the carbonation, and only the lightest lingering bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability is ok. I'm not really enjoying this so I'm taking my time with it hoping it gets better as it hits room temperature...but unfortunately it's not.

Overall, kinda disappointed with this one. Not a whole lot going on. I will definitely have this again, as it's not terrible and still a good brew, but compared to other Imperial Stouts I've had this just doesn't stand up to them.

Photo of pwoods
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to tedpeer for the extra.

12oz. brown bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours pitch black, no light. Decent sized head on the rough pour with only a little bit of retention but decent lacing.

S: Roast/burn/char is pretty mild. More of the dark fruits and muted hops... almost like a big porter with more hops. There is a bit of deeper sweetness in the back, maybe some light molasses.

T/M: Some roasty malts try to peek past the dark fruits, milky chocolate, and muted hops. Maybe a small touch of alcohol as well. Some mocha like flavors and maybe even some lactose? Body is medium to medium full with slightly lower carbonation.

D: Definitely on the lighter side for a RIS. Tasty but there are others I'd turn to.

Photo of pokesbeerdude
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Awesome extra in my recent trade with roopy40.

A: Dark brown, very close to black in color with a tan head that decided to disappear almost as fast as it got there. No lacing to speak of, interesting looking beer.

S: Dark chocolate, roasted grains, slightly sour grain smell, molasses, and a hint of soy, but it isn't terribly strong. Touch of milk/milk chocolate and just a whiff of booze.

T: Very chocolatey up front followed by a decent dose of coffee as well. Dark roasted malts, slightly burnt character, a little bit of a hop bite at the end, but gets lost among the other flavors. Has some light notes of vanilla, and a little bit of booze, but not too shabby.

M: Nice on the mouth, fairly thick, slight alcohol heat. I wouldn't say that it's syrupy, but it's close, and that's alright by me for the style.

D: Fairly drinkable and has nice flavors, but a little too strong to think about a second one. I could see myself keeping this in the fridge year round though. Measures up nicely, but isn't over the top. Nice beer.

Thanks Paul!

Photo of KarlHungus
3.4/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours a nearly opaque black color. The head is an inch and a half in height, and recedes slowly into nice lacing. The aroma is of graham cracker, alcohol (which seems odd in that this beer is only 8% ABV), and roasted malt. It is a rather fragrant aroma, but it lacks true complexity. The taste is like the aroma, but not as pronounced. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. This beer seems too thin for a beer of its strength. Overall, this is a decent beer. However, I can't see myself drinking it again with so many great stouts out there.

Photo of MrStark
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter glass.

Appearance is opaque black with a thin light brown/tan head that dissipated quickly. Light amount of lacing.

Smell is a mix of roasted malts, coffee and slight amount of chocolate.

Taste is very good. Roasted malts, coffee and a light dark chocolate bitterness with a mild sweetness as well. It seams pretty balanced.

Mouthfeel is creamy but not particularly thick. Subtle carbonation makes it very pleasant. Medium bodied.

Drinkablilty is very good. Its not as high in abv as others from this style, so I could see having a few at a time. Not to mention this is my favorite style of beer.

Old Heathen Imperial Stout from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 1,544 ratings.