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Left Hand Imperial Stout - Left Hand Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Left Hand Imperial StoutLeft Hand Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

431 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 431
Hads: 517
Avg: 3.81
pDev: 13.39%
Wants: 37
Gots: 15 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Left Hand Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.40% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: UncleJimbo on 01-27-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Left Hand Imperial Stout Alström Bros
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Reviews: 431 | Hads: 517
Photo of ThaneMcC
4.21/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

With a vigorous pour (as directed) with copious light tan foamy head (2fb) and solid lacing. Smells of roasted malts, cocoa, dark fruits, molasses. Tastes of dark licorice, dark, semi sweet chocolate, fig/prune and a hint of smoke/leather. Despite the sweetness, very small floral hop influence and leaves a rather clean finish.
Mouthfeel is creamy, smooth, not quite full bodied but still a solid mouthfeel.

Overall, this is a tasty RIS – more complex than their nitro milk stout and equally good. I will pick this up wherever I can find it.

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Photo of pat61
4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours bright dark brown under a very finely bubbled 1” tan cap that hugs the side of the glass. The aroma is very muted and disappointing. Palate a little molassy sweet up front with roast and chocolate and hints of dark fruit that give way to a big bitter finish. It feel soft and luscious in the mouth with a big body and a little above average carbonation. This is a nice big beer but it is not as well balanced as some.

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Photo of jeranbrews
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

A - thick dark ruddy Dr. Pepper brown. Lots of fine nitro bubbles. Brown head sluggish lacing. Higher clarity than I'd prefer.4

S - tobacco, fresh tree roots. Faint anise. Black Swedish fish. Pumpernickel toast crumbs.4

T - Sweet + hoppy extract. Molasses and bitter hops. Nice blend of sweet sour bitter. Initially sugary but finishes a bit bitter. Some in clearly defined malts in there too.3.5

M - Happy. Syrupy. Sour hoppy after-tang is almost unwelcome. Silky.4

O - a fine beer. In the same league but perhaps slightly below Old Rasputen and such. I did enjoy the nitro take on the style. 3.5

Overall 3.75

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Photo of dar482
3.43/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

The beer comes in a black/dark brown color.

The aroma has roasty stout character, some chocolate, a bit of umami.

The flavor has that roasty malt in the front, a bit of bitter chocolate, a dark fruitiness, then it moves onto tons of bitterness on the end. Almost like molasses, but with tons of herbal, licorice. Quite bitter.

A good mouthfeel and not much booze, but the bitterness is not really something I'm looking for.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
3.84/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. No date anywhere on this, but I've had it cellared for at least three years. At 10.4% abv, I would expect it to be able to handle some age.

A: Dark red-brown color. Tan colored head does not retain well, but this can be forgiven somewhat due to the strength. A thin, broken ring of lacing traces the glass.

S: Fruity esters of raisin, fig, and blackberry. Concord grape. Vinous. Jab of alcohol. Traces of sherry and cardboard. Plenty of cocoa. Oatmeal raisin cookies.

T: Cocoa and milk chocolate build on the attack. Lots of bakers chocolate and chocolate truffles. Drizzle of caramel. Fruity esters of raisin and concord grape. Alcohol really flexes some muscle. Some oxidation is present in the form of cardboard-like flavors, but this is normal with the age on the bottle. Spicy sherry too. Long lingering finish of cocoa and bakers chocolate.

M: Medium-thick body. Very full on the palate, and silky smooth. Low carbonation. Very high attenuation takes the sludgy, weighty feel out of the equation and creates a whipped, airy texture. Big alcohol warmth all the way through, though it never feels hot.

O: This is a beast of a beer, but time in the cellar has helped to tame it and round it out. The alcohol character is not off-putting, but it does make this one a slow sipper. The thorough fermentation and dryness of the beer has turned it into something a little more elegant than the sludgy, fudgy monsters that tend to dominate the Imperial Russian Stout landscape. Good stuff.

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Photo of Dope
3.14/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

I don't see a date but this has been hanging around the cellar for a while. At least 3 years old, maybe 4.

A: Pours a dark, dark brown, not really black though. Big fizzy light/medium brown head. Head fades out slowly with great retention. Surprisingly halfway decent lacing too.

S: Big roasty character. Smoke, umami and lots of creamy chocolate.

T: Lots of smoke and umami up front. Bitter char in the middle with hints of chocolate. Finish is all bittersweet chocolate with more hints of smoke and umami. Get some hints of old hops maybe?

M: A bit thin for 10.4% but pretty smooth.

O: Meh. Not my favorite style RIS. Very smoky and meaty which is not how I like them. I'm more of a coffee/chocolate lover. This one is borderline a smoked stout it's got so much smoke and umami (despite years of aging).

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Photo of jonandhisflask
4.21/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle 04/05/06 vintage

A:pours a brown, almost flat cola like color.a white that head didn't last more than a few seconds.

S:smells immediately of vanilla, dark and milk chocolates, faint coffees, grassy hops.

T:silky chocolates, vanillas, hints of the roasted and coffee malts.
some oxidation(it being a 6 year old bottle) held up very well. alcohol in no where near present....until the last bit fades and you can get some faint roasted malt notes with booze.

M:body was light for a 10% imperial stout, light carb, although the taste lingered for a little bit.

O: great beer, wish i had a case or more. also wish i had it fresh. very smooth, ive had some 15%+ beers that didn't hold up as well as this.

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Photo of rawfish
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2009 vintage, 22oz. bomber into a tulip glass. Split 3 ways. From notes dated 1/2/12.

Pours dark brown, nearly back with a touch of ruby highlight on the bottom of the glass. Pour is fast leaving a thin cap of mocha with no lacing. Noticeably thin for a stout.

Coffee grounds, molasses and charcoal ash. Limited sweetness backed by some berry skins and earthy hops. Alcohol noticeable but couples very well with the strong espresso.

Dark malt, burnt coffee grounds, and ash. Very earthy and rough on the forefront. Sweetness comes in late with a touch of currant juice and molasses. Hops are near nonexistent with a slight metallic twinge and herbal bitterness on the end. Nagging dankness and finishes with bitter coffee and ashy.

Very thin for a stout with rough carbonation in contrast. Alcohol present on the nose but not so much in the drink. Charcoal and bitterness are accentuated by the carbonation.

Perhaps I let this sit a bit too long but a decent stout that goes a bit thin on the palate and lacks the residual sugars I was expecting. Coffee and roasted flavors are on display though more hop backing would be desired. Odd flavors with a bit of stale metallic notes but I attribute that to aging and not the overall crafting of this beer.

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

330ml bottle poured in a chalice.

A: Pours a black-like-oil colour. Head is medium yellow to beige, very bubbled. Retention is small but a small layer of medium bubbles persist. Many lacings are left

S: Smells like an authentic American Imperial Stout, I mean, very biscuity and roasted with hints of dark chocolate and coffee beans followed by this very stingy and grassy smell of hops. Some hints of vanilla and liquor

T: Follows the nose. Strong on roasted malts, notes of dark chocolate, coffee followed by grassy and earthy hops. Very biscuity too. Upfront is sweet but mild and finish is quite stingy bitter. Balanced after all

M: Body is heavy and molasses. Carbonation is low. Quite bitter aftertaste, pleasure

O: Easy drinking beer despite the high ABV. Complex as an American Imperial Stout should be. Good beer

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.17/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: black with no light getting through. Very nice lace but only a quarter finger or so head.

S: licorice and coffee mixing together to form a bittersweet medley

T: very complex taste. No dominating flavor. Raisin, coffee, licorice and chocolate all combining to create a conglomerate of those flavors without one standing out.

M: moderate carbonation and full bodied.

Overall: The taste is right on. One of the better russian stouts out there for sure.

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Photo of jgagne
3.85/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Opaque black body with medium to small head retention.

S-Nice sweet chocolate notes. Hints of molasses and coffee

T-At first taste a nice smooth,sweet blend of syrupy chocolate flows through your palate. Than a very nice bitter black malt bite. Very good and balanced

M-Very drinkable. They have seem to take heavy ingredients and yet made it extremely drinkable. Medium carbonation

O-Very impressed,nice balance and feel. Nothing to special just really well made.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.29/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty well deep black. Fair head, elementary, basic lace. Not spectacular.

Aroma is wonderful. I get chocolate and something else. A little raisin. Yummy.

Taste echoes the chocolate character. To be exact, burnt chocolate. I also sense some dried dark fruit somewhere in the tasting. There's a dry finish, and a definite alcohol presence. No surprise as this one's a sturdy 10.4% ABV.

Potent, complex, and an ideal imperial stout. I really enjoyed this one.

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

Nose of dark chocolate with a creamy edge does not prevent it to be pervasive and mature. The body is quite heavy but is still far from monsters as the Great Divide Yeti. The entrance is easy on the palate, soft, somewhat reminiscent of red fruits, but soon it offers a true chocolate lava flowing across the mouth with an alcoholic strength not insignificant, as the cream of whiskey, without being as unbalanced. Very warming, little bitterness, but for a stout with a real power that delivers fairly strong and authentic flavors.

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Photo of beergod1
4.17/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured kinda light for an Imperial Stout....Dark, but more brown than anything. Big fluffy head that fades quickly. Aroma is resinous hops with a bit of citrus, alcohol, and sweet malt. Taste is of caramel malt, light chocolate and coffee notes are there as expected but there is some slight dark fruitiness that balances nicely. Moderate carbonation and a nice alcohol warmth make this well made Imperial. Better than their last offering (See TNT).

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Photo of jcurtis55
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I split a bomber of this with a friend recently and really enjoyed it. Had a thick mouth-feel and excellent flavor. The alcohol really came out though as the beer warmed. I didn’t get much head on the pour, but the beer was starting off colder than what would be considered an ideal drinking temperature.

Well balanced with the coffee/chocolate flavors you would expect from an Imperial stout.

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Photo of Coplains
3.47/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a twenty two ounce bomber into a pint glass. Very dark brown, not fully black on edges, minimal head that dissipates with very little lacing on glass. Rich dark almost chocolate flavor with good mouthfeel. Pretty well balanced considering the 10 plus ABV. Overall a very good, but not great imperial stout. Would buy again.

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Photo of rsdaugherty
3.42/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bomber into pint glass
A – Very dark brown brew just a few shades from black in darkness, half a finger of head disappeared quickly to a thin layer with no lacing 3
S – Dark chocolate, figs, a little licorice and cherry/fruit notes I cannot place 3.5
T – Acidic dark chocolate, ripe fruits, molasses , notes of coffee. Nearly charred malt perhaps? 3.5
M – Very low carbonation, full body and smooth but not quite enough of the creaminess I like in a stout 3
O – A unique stout for me, big amounts of flavor here that are worth a try by any stout lover. 3.5

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Photo of smwesson500
4.08/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a steiner.

A- Very dark. Not quite black but very dark shades of brouwn.

S- Very grainy, smells kind of dull at first but then you catch the wiff of the hops and grains.

Taste- Very mellow at first touch. Upon ingestion it becomes bitter and you receive the coffee taste. However, this is not overpowering.

Mouthfeel- In large- its very smooth. It puckers your mouth up towards the end but it is a very easy sensation.

O- A very drinkable (heavy) stout. Almost unnoticable in the mouth but after ingestion you understand were the ABV comes in. Very dark look and taste. Not for the faint of heart.

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Photo of GallowsThief
3.28/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Purchased at the Picky Gourmet. Poured into my tulip.

A – Pretty damn dark brown on the pour. Two inches of tan head that leave a sticky lacing all the way down.

S – Roasted malts with a touch of alcohol in the nose. Bit tame on the smell.

T – Malt here all over to start giving off that roasty taste. Coffee, chocolate and caramel roll through. It has some sweetness but not as much as I expected with the nose. Some hop bitterness at the end along with a fairly strong alcohol burn. Its almost an astringent like taste to close.

M – Very creamy brew here. Light to moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is strong on this.

O – This is a good imperial stout but not in my top tier. The finish was a bit odd to me. It had a bit of an off flavor. It’s well worth a try but there are far better imperials.

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Photo of RickS95
3.43/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Extremely dark brown, but not quite black with some lighter notes on the edges. On top is an off tan head.

Lots of alcohol in the nose. If you can get past the burn, you'll pick up some roasty malt, a slight touch of coffee, and a pinch of licorice. As it warms, some toffee presents.

Alcohol and more alcohol abuse the taste buds. A bit of coffee and the licorice make appearances, but it's mostly alcohol.

This beer means business. The alcohol hits you and it hits you hard. The burn is from the second it touches your lips til deep in the swallow. There is a bit of smoke and quite a bit of bitter in the finish.

I'm not sure if some aging would help, but this beer lacks anything resembling smooth. The alcohol needs to be hidden and softened a bit.

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Photo of Fieldzy27
4.11/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Sierra Nevada snifter from 22oz bomber

A-A slightly vigorous pour give rise to a foamy tan head comprised of big bubbles. It deflates fairly fast and leaves no lace yet. Settling down to a 8th of an inch of thin foam. The actual color of the beer is deep dark brown not quite black but unable to be seen through. A good looking beer.

S- The smell of this beer caught me off guard as fairly sweet. A for sure sweet chocolate with a hint of cookie followed by a hint of roasty and maybe a little mocha? Impressive. Also not only does the smell come together very well but its also quite powerful. No need to stick your nose in the foam for this one.

T-The flavor is very intricate indeed. As the nose i does have a flick of sweetness on the tounge which quickly turns in to deep strong dark chocolate. The bittersweet finish is biting but leaves the mouth watering for more. Sadly though after a few sips the bittersweet dominates the beer almost too much. Well see how it pans out as it warms. As it warms other flavors edge there way in a bit but the dark coco stands strong. Something is missing in the balance here that keeps it from the higher score.

M-The mouthfeel of this beer is big and smooth. Its silky and full without being sticky. The carbonation is almost silent but the beer fairs very well like this. All together its I feel the best part of this beer as its near perfect.

O-Overall a solid enjoyable option. Not really any flaws here just nothing spectacular either. I will have it again im sure as this is a tasty beer however there area few other RIS's out there in this price range that I will be grabbing for quicker as a daily rinker.

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Photo of nickfl
4.27/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with half a finger of light tan foam on top of a black body with some brown highlights showing through. The head settles out pretty quickly and leaves light lace.

S - Dark, malty aromas of molasses, licorice, caramel, and red apple. Not much in the way of roasted character, almost more like a barleywine than a stout.

T - Dark, sugary malt with notes of caramel, molasses, and dark chocolate. More chocolate in the middle, accompanied by licorice and dark bread notes. Things finish up with smoky, spicy chocolate and caramel with a bit of earthy Turkish coffee that lingers in the finish.

M - Medium-thick body, moderately low carbonation, and a fairly sweet finish.

D - Very nicely done, this beer is complex and interesting with a nice balance that keeps it drinkable. The aroma is not as dark as I would have expected in that it focuses mostly on dark sugary notes of caramel and molasses with very little roast to mark it as a stout. The roast character does manage to make a more significant impact in the flavor profile where some earthy coffee flavors show up in the finish and a dark chocolate character that plays a strong role throughout. It becomes particularly complex in the finish with notes of licorice and smoke as well as complex spices notes that linger on the palate. A very enjoyable and well made beer; all the more so since it is reasonably priced and comes in a reasonable, 12oz serving size.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.2/5  rDev -16%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

A: Poured into a tulip, leaves 3mm head throughout the session, light brown or burnt meringue in color. Simple, but effective lacing. Body is opaque, black-brown away from light, red-amber with orange highlights when held up to light. Visible carbonation streams alongside glass.

S: Charred bread dominant (pretty nice), malt sweetness becomes apparent with warmth. Where's the typical coffee or chocolate flavors, though? Did you not use those malts? Some vague ingredients list would have been helpful; I'm guessing the brewery left those specialty malts out?

T: Opens with bready maltiness, pleasant vanilla and semi-dark chocolate, which are gradually overwhelmed by alcohol on the palate. Would be better with some age on it to mellow the alcohol. A bit too malt and not roasty enough for an imperial stout. The vanilla and chocolate are nice enough, but the beer is too sweet and too alcoholic for its own good. Where is the roasted malt backbone? Aftertaste slightly bitter, with some hints at coffee, but nothing substantial.

M: Feels thick and creamy, with just enough prickly carbonation to keep the beer moving along the palate. Very nice. Finishes semi-dry.

O: This doesn't strike me as a particularly strong imperial stout. It's too sweet, too alcoholic, and lacking the mix of roasted, smoked, and mocha-like flavors that I've come to expect via the standards of this style.

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Photo of schoolboy
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Oeverall, this is an OK imperial stout. The bottles I bought were old (4-1-2010). I normally would think that a good thing for a 10% russian imperial stout. It seems well settled in and mellowed, but I am not a big fan so far. I will try the next one much colder (and later). It will probably give me a hangover toomorrow.

It's somewhat sweet, roasty, and bitter. It is fairly mellow - no bite - presumably from aging. Unless it is much better colder, I would not buy it again (that's why I make these BA notes!).

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Photo of pge17
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle in a Sam Adams Boston Lager glass

Appearance: Very dark brown, almost black. Able to see through it though. A medium tan head. Lacing isn't great but it does leave streaks on the side of the glass.

Smell: A pretty nice sweet malt with an alcohol touch. A bit of coffee if you search for it

Taste: Starts with a roasted malt sweetness and alcohol up front (although the booze is covered up pretty well for a 10.4% brew. Some nice bitter balance to follow. It ends with some nice coffee notes, maybe a hint of roasted cocoa beans.

Mouthfeel: Typical stout thickness, but still very smooth and drinkable, not as syrupy as other imperial stouts.

Notes: A very solid imperial stout, pretty enjoyable

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Left Hand Imperial Stout from Left Hand Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 431 ratings.