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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.
very good

1,579 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,579
Reviews: 818
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 66
Gots: 159 | 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: 1,579 | Reviews: 818 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of IntriqKen
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black with a hint of dark, chocolate brown if the light hits it right. Head is a quarter to half finger of moderately dark tan, tight bubbles that melt to leave very little. Just a tiny bit of stickiness.

Aroma is incredibly rich with a sweet dark roasted malt scent, dark chocolate, coffee, and dark fruits...mostly raisins. A bit of smoke hides behind all of these lucious aromas.

Taste is surprisingly creamy chocolate almost like milk chocolate, but definitely richer...not dark...but a richer milk chocolate. Some dark fruit mildly in the flavors...a hint of coffee....and some of the roasted malt, but everything remains smooth, sweet, and blended very well. Again, the smokiness comes to the forefront on the end. Nothing overpowers. It all sort of melts together in your mouth.

Aftertaste is cocoa.
A different sort of RIS for sure lacking the usual hop bite at the end found in most American versions. Makes for a wonderful desert beer.

Photo of neobassman
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In the process of sampling and evaluating a number of stouts, this one was recommended to me by my local retailer. I was not disappointed. With Guinness as the de facto standard, I say this one surpasses Guinness on most every factor except appearance and smell where Old Heathen is merely on par. Color is virtually black, carbonation is present but not distracting. I appreciate this beer's fullness of flavor but absence of salty, burnt flavors that I find unpleasant in Guinness. The taste is full, round, and balanced. It reminds me of a quality oatmeal stout, but without the oaty shadow. Mouthfeel is not especially creamy, more like passing a hard candy over one's tongue, though without excessive sweetness. There is a slight tartness to the aftertaste, but nothing unpleasant. I liked this stout and expect to have it again.

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

Poured a dark brown, near black, that had an okay head that faded relatively quickly. No lacing to speak of. The smell had aromas of prunes, figs, soy, and roasted grain. The taste was rich and fruity up front, and then fell off toward the finish and became winier and roastier. Relatively dry. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and pretty creamy. Fairly enjoyable, but eclipsed by many other examples of the style.

Photo of BWH3
2.62/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Old Heathen Russian Imperial Stout Weyerbacher Brewery
12 oz bottle in Pint Glass at 50 degrees F

Appearance: Perfect for an imperial stout. Thick chocolate brown-black that pours more viscous than an Irish stout. The head is huge and hangs around like a cappuccino. (4.5)

Smell: The ashy scent of black patent or carafe. A mineral/metallic aroma as well. Hops are subdued. (2.5)

Taste: The chocolate, coffee, and liqueur are simply absent. The flavor is most roasted barely which isn’t the world’s most pleasurable flavor on its own. The bitterness is also a bit off because it comes on immediately rather than helping to cleanse the palate. (2.0)

Mouthfeel: The viscosity of this beer is not up to par with other imperial stouts popular on this site. Don’t get me wrong the body is big compared to most stouts, but it just doesn’t cling to the glass or my palate like the best Imps. (3.5)

Drinkability: Check. I’ve had it once and don’t need to again. Seriously, the Old Heathen is nothing compared to Dark Lord or one of the Stouts from Bell's (3.0)

Photo of bboven
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Blacker than black with no head or lacing, per style.

Smells very figgy, also raisiny and roasty with more than a hint of alcohol Very good for the style..

The taste has some licorice right away and a lot of dark chocolate bitterness. The alcohol is there, but provides almost a tart bite that hops would normally leave.

The carbonation is mellow and completely hidden from the eyes. The beer looks flat at this point in the review but one taste... the carbonation is mellow but consistent and the beer stick to your mouth but doesn't coat your tongue like a Belgian would. The flavor definitely stays with you.

The perfect carbonation of this stout makes it very drinkable. The layers of flavor make every sip a true experience. I'll definitely buy this one again.

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

a: Nice mocha head with a decent ring left behind. The beer is practically black in color.

s: Aromas of creamy roasts and fine bittersweet chocolates. Lightly hopped. Spicy cookies in the background and a touch of smoke.

m: good mouthfeel...exceptionally smooth and creamy in both carbonation and body, and quite full

t: Certainly a "good" beer, in that it's very solid but there's nothing very exciting going on. Milky, creamy roasts dominate the palate. Pretty sweet, but checked enough to where it doesn't really detract. Leans a bit toward the double stout side of things at times. Hops take a backseat, with a moderate-light bitterness in the finish.

d: a sipper for sure, as it should be

Photo of LittleBreeze
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasting Party 10/26/2007

Black. Milkshake type chocolate foam

Has the classic smells of an I.S. Chocolate, vanilla, coffee ... deep earthy smell.

Very nice stout. Nice feel in the mouth...at first it seemed to carbonated with a slightly bitter bite.

Drinkability - Good. This one goes down easy

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

Poured out of a bottle into pint glass.

Nice dark deep brown apperance, inch or so of foam.

Smells amazing, like dark chocolate, and coffee. Tastes exactly how it smells, nicely balanced beer, milkshake like, as it warms it gets more exoctic with all flavors being released. Not hoppy - just right. Wonderfully drinkable - disguises alcohol, you don't even know it's there, even though it shows it's legs when you swirl the glass. Perfectly decadent, buy it by the case. :)

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - pours black, a thin mocha head atop which holds until I accidentally touch it with my schnozz. Then it starts a-bubbling and evaporates quite fast.

Aroma - good roasted grain presence, a solid roasted coffee influence, too. Edges of alcohol creep in with a long sniff. Solid, not overly complex, and good.

Taste - a nice mouthful of richly roasted grains, espresso, and a slight sour sweetness. The swallow has some burnt notes to the grain profile, but doesn't go overboard. The aftertaste is a mellow treat of fresh coffee and dark chocolate, an undercurrent of alcohol warmth fusing the flavors together. Very tasty I.S.

Mouthfeel - mouth-filling smoothness, velvety feel, subdued carbonation. Right on.

Drinkability - on the low end for abv, putting them on the high end for a few more. A great solid I.S.

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

Tried this beer last night while watching the Yanks-Indians. I picked it up in a mix six pack yesterday at Total Wine and tried it after a Peg Leg Imperial Stout. It poured a nice dark brown color with a dark foamy head. Not much lacing. Had a nose of roasted coffee. Had a nice taste and a little more bite to it than the Peg Leg. Had a good feel in the mouth and was pretty smooth.

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2005 release, Sampled October 2007
Pours with a one finger thick, light brown colored head that sits atop an opaque, black colored brew. The aroma is quite concentrated with notes of roasted, dried figs, cherries, a touch of sherry, light chocolate notes, smooth espresso roast coffee beans, and a touch of alcohol, which adds some fruit-brandy like notes here that is quite distinct. An aged character has thinned out the malt a bit here, but seems to have smoothed things out quite a bit as well.

This has somewhat of a light body, at least for an Imperial Stout, but it does have some heft to it which provides some palate coating character and body to this brew. The taste has a touch of caramelized, slightly roasted sweetness to it and it is actually fairly fruity tasting as well (raisins, figs, perhaps a hint of cherry, and even some notes of prunes; all of which have been roasted / burnt to one degree or other). Chalky chocolate malt notes and roasted grain flavors (reminiscent of smooth espresso) linger in the finish as does a very slight, hop bitterness. A burnt plum character becomes more prominent as the beer warms up a bit. This is quite smooth tasting & feeling, though it could be a touch too thin.

This has clearly aged in the two years since bottling, perhaps a bit more than expected, but it is still a tasty brew and would even age gracefully for at least another couple of years.

Photo of JamesS
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured nicely, thick and dark with a nice head of foam, just like a stout should. Good smell, loamy with a chocolate/coffee hint, but the high level of alcohol detracts a bit from the scent. It has a nice feel going down, but not as smooth as most stouts I've had. Very deep flavor, malty and rich with a bit of a coffee overtone. I like that it has a high ABV, but even for an imperial the alcohol takes away slightly from the overall taste. Even though it's not high on my list of stouts, it's worth a try.

EDIT: I've had several more of these in the past year and it gets nothing but better. Wonderful smoky, coffee flavors, smoother going down. Better all around than the first 1/4 case.

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

Into a chalice glass, pours pitch black, very fizzy, a thick two inch dark tan head eventually settling to a quarter inch or so... a little less fizzy and more smooth and this gets a perfect score. Molasses and a boozy, rummy alcohol are most present in the nose, toasty, roasted malts, roasted coffee, dark fruits like plum, maybe some tobacco, and maybe some Dr. Pepper? It'd explain the massive carbonation!

The taste is similarly good, full of roasted goodness, plum, roasted and black strap malts, molasses, espresso, and a warm rum through the middle. Unfortunately, that carbonation I've been talking about is very distracting in the mouth, and hampers the onslaught of flavors. Fortunately, after some warming, that carbonation also tones down, and am able to enjoy it better. Overall, a pretty good impy stout, not my fav, but glad I had it for sure.

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

another solid RIS from another great brewery.

A - pitch black color, small dark tan head
S - Sweet dark malts, roasted grains & cocoa
T - similar to the aroma but with a modest hop bite and a bit of ABV making itself known.
M - Medium to full body, nicely carbonated, smooth and balanced.
D - A nice solid RIS. I could drink a couple over an evening and be happy.

Not over the top, not underwhelming. A nice RIS. If it was in my marketplace I'd pick some up for the winter season.

Photo of russpowell
3.81/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this bottle back in late July, based on notes:

Poured mahogany with 2 fingers of mocha head. Good head retention & lacing

S: Some roasted malt

T: Chocolate & chewy malt up front. A little iron as this warms. Finishes dry with more chocolate

MF: Medium bodied with low carbonation

Drank easy for the abv, a decent not great IMP Stout

Photo of Risser09
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a large snifter - 2007 bottling

Appearance: Pours a darbk black thing of beauty. The head is a bountiful inch and is brown. Nothing like a dark stout during the dog days of summer. Bubbles range from large in size to mostly miniscule. No light can possibly penetrate this dark elixir.

Smell: Roasted malt and coffee are huge aromas. The aroma is that of a freshly roasted espresso bean. Vanilla and cocoa powder are also present. The sweet smells remind me of the homemade chocolate cake my grandma made. Nicely done.

Taste: Roasted malt profile, huge espresso flavor and lots of sweetness. Dark chocolate and no really fruity flavors. If you don't like fruity stouts, this is for you. I find this one to be very earthy in its aroma and taste. There is a nice touch of smoke at the finish. Complex with its earthy flavor build.

Mouthfeel: Pinchy with carbonation at first touch. This beer has a medium body and a sugary sweetness that is followed up by mocha espresso flavors. Alcohol is present but does not get in the way of the flavors. Slight warming belt in the throat and stomach. Creamy finish is pleasant and doesn't make you drink just to quench yourself.

Drinkability: Great. I think this beer has improved since the first time I had it a few years ago. It's a very very drinkable stout that isn't outrageously expensive. I could see myself buying a case/keg of this during the winter months. The earthy flavors are very approachable for my palate. I would pair this with some funky cheeses or even alone as a dessert. It would do well with grilled meat, too. Very nice. One of the better stouts I've had this year.

Photo of brewcrew76
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours deep black with a thin brown head and patchey lacing. Ruby shades when held to the light but still deeply black.

S - Nice aroma of roasted malt, chocolate and hints of coffee and a milky vanilla. The aroma is very promising.

T - Slightly astringent to start followed by sweet milk chocolate and a burnt coffee finish. The taste is missing some of the nice aromas and is a touch harsh on the burnt astringency.

M - Mouthfeel is medium full and creamy.

D - ABV is well hidden. Tasty but flavor needs to reflect aroma a bit more to be outstanding.

Photo of templar316
4.62/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As beautiful as beer gets on the pour. A thick black unable to see through you have to be ready for a beer like this. Extraordinary aroma; bready, yeasty, and above all malty. The head dissapates too fast and you certainly need to decant to serve as they're is defineatly an over carbonation straight from the bottle. However once you get to the taste it can't be beat: malty, bready, chocolately, a perfect finish to any evenings enjoyment. Though the complex flavor is best limited to a few rather then a dozen.
Still smooth and malty, nowadays it seems like everyones trying to knock you out at the first sip. Old Heathen is a beer that knows balance.

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

A: An absolute pitch-black sea, no light getting through a rather viscous looking liquid. Topped by a thick, voluminous tan head that likes to stick around.

S: Roasted malt aroma with a spike of hops and/or alcohol in the nose. Notes of dark fruit, currant. Bready.

T: Verbose and powerful malts that roll over the palate in a smooth but heavy wave. Sweet and smoky flavor that carries notes of cocoa and an espresso-like character toward the end. Alcohol warms the tongue while the flavor becomes more pronounced as the beer itself warms.

M: Well-carbonated little number, with a syrupy and creamy texture.

D: Perhaps not the most fantastic RIS I've come across, but definitely worth a try, especially for fans of the style. A quite quaffable brew in the RIS category, yet perhaps a little tame compared to its competitors. Nevertheless, it's still a good offering by Weyerbacher, as this beer is not without merit.

Photo of dmamiano
3.46/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drank this one a bit warm, but just had to try one.
Beer poured an almost black, motor oil brown. Perfect for style.
Left a small half inch head that went away too fast.

The nose was chocolatey, with hints of roasted barly and even a slightly metalic twinge.

Taste was very much of chocolate, toasted grains, nicely balanced with bittering hops.
A little disapointng on the mouthfeel, though. Seemed to be a bit thin. I expected more for a "impy" stout.

Photo of smcolw
3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour black without light being able to penetrate the glass. Nice beige head, although it has a short life. Good lace

Classic stout aromas--black patent malt, slight alcohol, low hop.

High alcohol warmth. Dark malt flavors upfront. Not overly complex. Relatively thin body but I think this comes from the higher alcohol content. Reasonable body and carbonation.

This is a potent brew, although it seems more alcoholic than the abv would suggest. That leads me to believe that this beer is underflavored. It's good but, IMHO, not as good as some of the other reviews suggest.

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 Overlord
3.23/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to leftmindedrighty for the beer trade.

A drinkable stout, but not much going on with it. Except for a deep smoky, roasted malt flavor, I didn't detect much of anything. Not a lot of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, roast fruit, etc.

It did pour a nice inky black with a good finger sized head. Decent, but not superlative.

Photo of Atron67
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- poured an opaque black with a big brown head that stayed for a little while, and left only light lacing
S- strong roasted and malt scents, a slight alcohol whiff, a little bitterness at then end
T- strong roasted malts provide the bulk of the flavor, a nice lingering complexity underneath. there is a bitterness at the finish which provides a nice balance
M- a crisp fine carbonation, with a surprizingly light body, but is still not That light of a body
D- pretty solid and enjoyable to drink, but ide prolly pick up some bells stout or something else before this

Photo of ericj551
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Weyerbacher Old Heathen pours a thick inky black with a small head that dissipates quickly. The smell is rich caramel malts, very sweet with a decent amount of roastiness. The flavor is nice and sweet first, with a light fruitiness that gives way to chocolatey roasted malts. Warming alcohol is apparent in the finish, more than I would expect for 8%. It has a slightly whiskey like flavor to it, as if it was aged in oak barrels.

Old Heathen Imperial Stout from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 1,579 ratings.