Left Hand Imperial Stout - Left Hand Brewing Company
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 498 | Reviews: 428 | Display Reviews Only:
1.78/5 rDev -53.3%
man this is a weird Imperial Stout, and not weird in a good way.
So the head is really sticky and solid, pretty light colored, but nice otherwise. The color of the body is very light for a stout,really noticable on the pour from the bottle, you can see through it, IMO a Imperial Stout should be black, with no light coming through. but this was like pouring Pespi in color.
Both the smell and the taste are way off. So far off i don't know what to tell you, other then some nasty stale Soy sauce, and a musty basement aroma and taste. ugh.
This beer has a decent amount of carbination
and a medium thickness.
Man, i spent some good money one this just for a drainpour.
04-08-2010 03:44:46 | More by ChadQuest
1.88/5 rDev -50.7%
WOW. Maybe I got a bad bottle, because I am nowhere near everyone else's reviews....
Let's start at the top, and pause at one of the most important aspects, the initial aroma. In this case, SO much heat from the alcohol, I couldn't smell anything. I'm talking burn the nose hairs heat. And who could wonder with 10.4% ABV. But the point is, that Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Three Floyds Dark Lord, and Brooklyn Brewery's Chocolate Stout so artfully mastered, is that you SHOULD NOT sense the high alcohol in either the aromas or the palate. It should be complex, smooth, and balanced. Like any high octane, California bomber wine should be as well. It should not burn like moonshine down your gullet. Which it did. I think I still have heartburn from it. When that blew off a little (because it never went away), the nose was an extracted, almost sickening syrupy smell.
And then comes the palate. My first instinct, as I mentioned above: cough syrup. No kidding guys. Like Robitussin. Medicinal cherry and dark currant flavors. I just don't get it.
Maybe I need to try this one again...
12-12-2009 03:53:59 | More by darkmaven
1.9/5 rDev -50.1%
Poured into a snifter on 2/17/09
Bottled on 4/8/09
Pours a medium-hued brown, settling dark. A few hints of dark ruby peak through when held directly to light. One finger of tan-colored head dissipates quickly; swirling revives the foam a bit, but has the tendency to keep thinning. Retention is light & on again, off again in this vein. Lacing is ok at the start but by the end is minimal at best.
Upon taking lighter to bottle cap, I took a quick sniff off the freshly opened bottle & was greeted by a potent chocolate aroma. Surprising then, that said chocolate is buried once the beer is in the glass. Indeed, the most notable aroma is black licorice & all others must pass through its filter. Notes of caramel give way to fainter dark, roasted malts. Maybe a notion of butterscotch.
The taste is rather sweet with plenty notes of caramel, brown sugar & toffee, as well as a decent bit of bittersweet chocolate (more restrained than in the nose) & inclinations of candied malts. Black licorice undertones aren't as notable as the aroma suggests. Offsetting the sweetness is something of a residual hop bitterness; I get the impression this is quite a bit hoppier when fresh (though I don't know for sure). There are a few vague roasted hints on the finish.
Basically full-bodied, the beer nevertheless feels far too thin for the style, in my opinion. The carbonation is reasonably low but isn't exactly smooth or creamy. Grittiness is pervasive throughout. The finish is mostly dry, with some lingering bitterness.
To me, Left Hand's Imperial Stout doesn't seem very imperial or very stout. Rather, this would likely make for a decent barleywine with a tweak or two. It's ok beer I suppose, just maybe not the best representation of an imperial stout.
02-20-2010 05:00:02 | More by Ryan011235
2.08/5 rDev -45.4%
Bomber poured in my Mass Transit shaker, Left Hand's Imperial Stout is a very dark garnet with an average sized, very creamy tan head with decent last, leaving heavy lace. Served at cellar temp, perhaps a tad warmer.
Smell is sweet yet roasty malt, like and oatmeal stout, with some fruity esters and a big punch of alcohol.
Taste is less sweet and more roasty then the nose, but still estery, with a chocolatly vanilla flavor quickly yielding to the super boozy finish, with lots of fusels. This drinks like an Irish car bomb made with vodka. 10.4 by my bottle, it's about as boozy as beer can taste (and I've had many strong beers up to Utopia). Half way through the first glass I adjusted to it, but it's still a distracting flaw that is quickly tiring my palate.
MF is pretty smooth (I'm still thinking oats), slick but with some decent carbonation and a medium-heavy body.
Drinkability is lower for me b/c it tastes so boozy, it's tough to explore any further depth of flavors. I drink A LOT of big beers, this is the first I can remember that has triggered the old vodka shot gag reflex. I didn't even bother with the second glass, there just to much good beer out there for me to beat myself up with another glass of moonshine like this...
03-06-2008 04:04:18 | More by ccrida
2.13/5 rDev -44.1%
I drove out to Hudson Wisconsin for a few beers and grabbed this one, its not sold in MN.
Poured from a bomber with unknown freshness date, into a pub glass. The pour has produced a 1'' light brown head. Its appearance is cola like, although its a bit more slow to recede, leaving thin smallish lace drapes. The color is dark, with ruby red highlights. So far, this looks nothing like an RIS, appearnace is poor for the style.
Aroma is of a chocolate A&W cream soda. Some mild bitter chocolate, this comes off as a sweet almost like a chocolate addative, like its a liquid chocolate extract kind of aroma. Nothing roasty or again, RIS like about this.
Taste is super boozy with an oddball aftertaste of pepper, malt and some mild robustness after the swallow. The lingering flavors after the swallow are pretty distant and again, poor attempt for an RIS.
Too much alcohol solvent flavors, this is thin and watery with an over carbonated mouthfeel.
Very disappointed in this beer.
In my opinion, I should not be able to see through this, there should be no red highlights, there should be a big thick dark head. It should look inky when poured, not watery and thin. It should be potent in aroma with big roasty grain flavors and chocolate that doesnt smell like addatives. It shouldnt remind me of the Sam Adams chocolate Bock.
07-12-2009 22:51:30 | More by Buebie
2.2/5 rDev -42.3%
I tried this in a 22 oz. bottle two days ago and had previously tasted it at a festival in Vail last January. My recollection was that this was a rather unimpressive, but I was willing to give it a second shot. Unfortuantely, my memory wasn't that far off. It poured with little head and carbonation. The color was slightly off-black at first, but when I held it up to the light, it was a transluscent deep amber. To taste, I was surprised by how light the body was; there were no residual malt or alcohol flavors and the initial splash of stouty-sweetness (a little weaker than I would have liked) was quick to diminish.
Hoping that the flavors might intensify if I let it sit and warm to room temperature, I waited for forty-five minutes before continuing to drink. But, the strength of flavor and overall body that I hope for in this style were still absent.
For a Left Hand stout, I recommend their Milk Stout well before this release.
10-20-2005 17:25:23 | More by benito
2.42/5 rDev -36.5%
Pours a very dark brown with a nice 1/2 inch, light brown head that retains very well. Some lacing is left behind with each sip. Aroma is very nutty. Some hints of cocoa, lactose, and a slight roastiness. Taste is is ripe with dark fruits, much alcohol is evident, very sweet, and not much roastiness at all on the palate. This isn't my type of stout at all. Mouthfeel is sort of thin for the style and a little too much carbonation. Not very drinkable in my opinion.
02-01-2008 19:21:33 | More by Doomcifer
2.58/5 rDev -32.3%
served on-tap at Wilhagan's, Tuscaloosa, AL, into a tulip glass
Pours a cola brown, like Mr. Pibb to be precise. Mostly darker brown that is heavily informed by red, which reveals itself when the glass is held to light. Camel head sits up at a frothy two fingers. Lovely cap, that. Spindly lacing all over the place. Love the head, don't much care for the body's color. It doesn't look like the average impy stout, but I feel that 3.0 is what this beer deserves.
The first sniff is very much fruit-forward. Not in an "Oooooh, Belgian!" way but in a "Oh no, is this beer infected?" way. I don't think that it is infected. But the smell was so off-putting as to put that possibility in my mind. Tons of blueberry and black licorice and anise on the nose here. Trace amounts of chocolate malt, maybe some vanilla. The sorts of smells you look for in an Imperial Stout are either not present here or are overshadowed by the licorice/blueberry combo.
Man, this really tastes like blueberries. SO MANY BLUEBERRIES. Also, black licorice jelly beans. This basically tastes like a Jagerbomb. I wish there were more of it upfront. Some sweet lactose sugar thing sucks all the complexity out of the beer and leaves it a sweet, fruity mess. The finish sees some milk chocolate, finally, and that chocolate plays well with what lingers of the Jagerbomb-ness.
Nice, substantive body here. Silky smooth, with satisfying heft. The 10% ABV, while pretty well-hidden in terms of taste, will get to you after a while. The only reason you won't consume enough to really get hit by the alcohol is because the blueberry/licorice flavors will get to be annoying way before you get wasted.
This is a misstep. Too much fruit. I don't think this keg was infected (though it could easily be too old and not ordered from enough). It didn't taste infected. The flavors themselves made sense together, just not in the completely imbalanced way that they were presented in.
09-19-2010 01:57:22 | More by Reaper16
2.65/5 rDev -30.4%
A: Deep dark red, almost black in color. Thin foam that doesn't stick around long. Very little lacing that I could see.
S: Cinnamon clove and prominent sweet malty aromas.
T: Toasted caramel, raisin, and chocolate to start. Burnt sugar finish, and the slightest bitter hop aftertaste. As I progressed, this brew got sweeter and more cherry-flavored.
M: Surprisingly thin and watery. Medium carbonation.
D: Drinkable, but almost too sickly sweet for my taste, and I prefer a more viscous imperal stout. I might buy this brew again to pair with the right dessert, or to cure a serious sweet tooth, but in this price range I could do a lot better.
09-01-2010 01:15:59 | More by Jeriba
2.7/5 rDev -29.1%
I really wanted to like this one. Imperial Stouts have become a favorite of mine. This had a subtle aroma with very little hop. The color was a deep red-black and it had a mild carbonation. The coffee and chocolate flavors jumped to the front on sipping but then were quickly pushed down by the sharp alcohol flavor. It actually became a little harsh. Perhaps it would mellow some with a cellaring period. Maybe Ill try that when it becomes available in my area.
10-20-2005 19:23:00 | More by Silenus
2.7/5 rDev -29.1%
I was not impressed by this one. It was mediocre at best for an imp. stout. It was poured a brownish black with a very small cream colored head. Looks rather slick (the body, not the head).
Not getting much in the smell. Some roasted coffee beans, roasted nuts, bit of caramel and then thats it. Lacking.
The taste was just as unimpressive as the smell. Low carbonation, but still a slick mouthfeel. Some charcoal smoke and espresso coming through, but overall not strong.
Easy to drink for 10%, but the lack of flavor and weird mouthfeel don't make me run back to it.
05-28-2009 13:15:09 | More by youngblood
2.7/5 rDev -29.1%
Poured into an imperial pint glass from a 22 oz bottle.
Appearance of this beer is difficult to rate. A very nice creamy head was formed and left plenty of lacing; pro. Translucent, deep mahogany in color which seems a bit light for an imperial stout; con. So slightly above average in appearance.
Smell is quite pleasant. Lots of toasted malts and caramel and raisins. No hop aroma. Actually as the beer warms, the alcohol becomes quite noticeable and detracts somewhat from the chocolate notes and malt character. Well, as the beer warms more, alcohol becomes very strong. Too much alcohol in the aroma.
Taste is very very sweet. Too sweet for me. Tastes like some sort of alcoholic tootsie roll. Chocolate notes and no hop profile at all. Very alcoholic in taste. Tastes medicinal.
I will pass on this brew in the future. Much better imperial stouts out there to spend my money on.
12-02-2005 21:56:27 | More by SaCkErZ9
2.7/5 rDev -29.1%
Brewed with 2-row, Munich, Crystal, Chocolate un-malted barley, Roasted and Flaked Oats, and Black Patent malt. Hopped with Magnum and Kent Goldings.
65 IBU, 9.5% ABV, 22 oz. bomber.
Pours out to a clear nearly black dark brown, forming a small tan head with poor retention and absent lacing. Not quite as dark or thick as I was expecting for an Imperial Stout. Carbonation is mild to moderate. Aroma is pretty good, but certainly not as intense as the style mandates...some moderately roasted grains, milk chocolate, cocoa powder, faint coffee, faint black walnut. Mouthfeel is pillowy soft with a very smooth finish and medium-dense body. Taste starts with some herbal hops and then is quickly replaced by almost nauseatingly sweet dark malts and alcohol. Ugh...way too sweet. Sickly sweet, but not as disgustingly sweet as Black Abbot. Finishes with very mild herbal and woody bitterness, chalk and black walnut flavor.
I like Left Hand's brews, but I've got two words for the brewer of this here beer: "Alpha Addition". Even if this beer was balanced, it still would have a hard time calling itself an Imperial Stout. I'm gonna be hard pressed to finish this candy-in-a-bottle.
11-15-2004 17:38:31 | More by Mitchster
2.7/5 rDev -29.1%
A: Dark ruby red color. Looks black but lets light pass when held to a light. Pours with a thick light tan colored head. Leaves very little lacing. Has lots of bubbles streaming upwards.
S: Uh oh. I smell cardboard and the smell of infection. Oxidation and infected smells are not good to begin with. But then I am hit by a mild roasted coffee smell. Hmmm not as strong as most RIS. But it could be the infection...
T: The oxidation is still present here. Not as bad as I had thought. very little off flavors. Taste the deep rich taste of roasted malt. Little hops. Kinda spicy, but seems flavorful enough. The after taste is ruined by the tart tang of an unwanted microbe. Really not bad for being a bad batch.
M: meh. A little to carbonated for my taste, but again the infection could have changed this. Feels light bodied for a RIS, which I am a fan of. It allows a constant sipping of the beer to go down better. Not very syrupy of alcoholy for its 10% abv. I think its not bad at all.
D: Seems like it would be a very drinkable beer. But not this bottle in particular. Sadly I cannot finish this. But I will give it some bonus points for what I think would be much better had I gotten a better bottle.
I really want to try this beer again with a better batch. Hopefully I will and will re review it accordingly...
05-27-2006 22:19:35 | More by KyleVick4
2.7/5 rDev -29.1%
I believe Left Hand may have mis-labled this bottle; it's decidedly not an Imperial Stout. If this is what they are selling as an Imperial Stout, they need to go back to the drawing board.
Poured a dark amber-brown with no head to speak of and no lace.
Aroma of chocolate with a bit of maltiness.
Taste is a failure. This is basically just a brown ale or maybe a weak porter labeled as imperial stout. No big flavors at all. A bit of hop bitterness with some dark malt flavors and a dry finish.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied but again, way short of imperial.
This is a drinkable beer, considering that it's a brown ale. Would be a decent session beer at that.
Bottled in April of 2005 according to the label.
03-11-2007 19:06:44 | More by joedon
2.73/5 rDev -28.3%
12 oz bottle. Pours a dark brown with ruby highlights. You can barely see some yeast floaties in there. It has a small fizzy brown head that quickly dissipates to a collar then completely diminishes.
The aroma is chocolate, figs, cherries, and wood with a slight hint of alcohol.
The flavor is bitter anise and some chalky chocolate and a touch of sweet dark fruit. There is a strong smokey alcohol flavor that is a little overbearing. The nouthfeel is thin to medium-bodied and not very carbonated with a sticky, bitter,chalky finish.
Overall, I did not like this nearly as well as the Oak Aged version. This was too sharp and biting in comparison to the mellowed out oak-aged version. I couldn't get past the chalky bitterness and the strong alcohol.
06-29-2005 23:19:25 | More by Beaver13
2.73/5 rDev -28.3%
Purchased at Binny's in Skokie for $2 from the clearance bin. Bottled on 11/29/06, so we're looking at a year and a half old beer here. Thanks for not putting the price tag over the date this time. At 10% it should still be viable for review. This style was meant to stand the test of time. Still, I expect some things will be lost in aging. Maybe worth mentioning that this is one of the worst looking beer labels I've seen. Crappy computer art that looks like it belongs in about 1994.
Poured out very dark, but far from the opaque blackness of many other impy stouts. Dark brown with raspberry hues is visible on the edges. The head retention was very minimal. Started with a fizzy dark tan head that dissipated to a few islands of foam and a ring around the edge. No lacing. Quite a bit of light gets through towards the end of the glass. Not to style, but color is more interesting than a colorless void.
The aroma was a pleasant surprise. Smells like a rum-soaked chocolate cake. Very sweet, and a definite alcohol presence in the nose. Some bourbon-like hints as well. It's inviting, and reminds me of Bourbon County Stout, which is a good thing.
The taste is rather unbalanced. There's a huge clash between the sweet front end and the bitter back end. The oxidation seems to be interfering with the back, imparting a sherry-like finish that does not suit this beer at all. Sour acidity at the end, and some burnt coffee bitterness. Lacks smoky or roasty elements to a large degree. The sweetness that dominates the front of the palate is odd. More of a berry character (black current) than usual suspects like molasses or caramel. That, and just plain sugar. In many ways the rest of the palate is actually like an African coffee blend, with the fruity, winey, acidic character. I would expect coffee hints in this style, but not like this. It's growing on me a bit, but it's so far off of my style expectations that it's taken me a while to get into. Alcohol is fairly obvious.
For the style, this was a bit on the watery side. Once the carbonation fizzes out, leaves a very slick, oily mouthful of beer. Alcohol is noticeable in every sip.
I didn't have much interest in finishing this one, even though I did. Let this be a lesson to anyone thinking about aging this. However, my observations don't seem to clash with other reviews too much. I want to respect this beer and this brewery by giving them a more fair shake in the future, but this style is so loaded with beers that I know I enjoy that I doubt I'll get to this again any time soon. Probably will appeal more to fans of non-traditional RISs, as there are significant deviations from the style in most regards.
03-17-2008 07:37:36 | More by ommegoose
2.73/5 rDev -28.3%
Poured a very dark opaque brown with a small tan head that had little retention and left very little lacing. Seemed thinner than other imp. stouts while pouring, it didn't make me think of the motor oil that others do. Aroma is of roasted coffee, toasted malts and some caramel. As the beer warms, the alcohol becomes quite noticeable and takes over as the dominant smell. Taste is sweet at first with some chocolate and coffee flavors that leads to a bitter finish. The problem is that the alcohol is harsh and overpowering and hurts the drinkability. Maybe it's just the time of year and temps., I'll give it another shot in the winter and maybe then it'll be a better fit.
09-04-2006 00:48:09 | More by Fuller
2.73/5 rDev -28.3%
A - dark brown with ruby highlights, thick head that is well retained, leaves a nice lacing
S - slight roasted grain, alcohol noted
T - sweet malt that leads to an astringent alcohol and roasted grain finish, hops are hiding here
M - medium-full body, moderate carbonation
D - This is a very one-dimensional imperial stout. There's some roast and a lot of alcohol, but the malt lacks depth and there's virtually no hop flavor whatsoever. I would say it's disappointing, but Left Hand tends to excel in some styles and falls behind in others - so I should have known. I won't be seeking this out, but I'm not pouring it down the drain, but I wouldn't recommend it.
08-12-2010 02:28:54 | More by scoobybrew
2.75/5 rDev -27.8%
This was my first brew from Left Hand, and I was pretty dissappointed. This felt like the Golden Monkey of imperial stouts. It is perhaps the weakest tasting Imperial Stout that I have had to date, and the least representative of the style. Maybe the bottle I had was bad.
Poured 22oz. into a pint glass.
Appearance - When looked like watered down motor oil pouring out of the bottle, I got a really bad feeling about it. This beer should pour like motor oil - a lot thicker. And since it appeared so thin pouring out of the bottle, I was expecting to see more carbonation - and there wasn't any. Not much head to speak of - a one finger frothy head that lasted all of about 30 seconds. Then I was really let down when I could see light coming through it when held up to a lamp. It is a deep garnet color instead of an opaque black. This is the first translucent imperial stout that I have seen. No lacing to speak of.
Smell - The smell was just so-so. I could smell the roasted malt, coffee, and dark chocolate that are typically characteristic of this style, but it was a fairly weak scent. Should have been more pronounced. The scent is probably the best part about this brew, which really isn't saying much.
Taste - When I reach for an RIS, I want big flavor - I couldn't find it here. It wasn't bad tasting as much as it didn't have much taste at all. It had the typical roasty malt, coffee, and chocolate flavor, but only half as much as the best tasting RISs out there. It was I could detect the smallest amount of hop bitterness at the end. I could barely detect the ABV.
Mouthfeel - Extremely light bodied for the style - almost watered down. Creamy, but really watery. There should be more carbonation to cut though the thinness of this stout. Should be much thicker. The mouthfeel was by far the worst part about this brew.
Drinkability - The drinkability was good. I almost couldn't drink it fast enough. Most RIS are sippers, and you could easily chug this one. And you probably should. It went down extremely easy for the 10% ABV.
As I said earlier, this felt like the Golden Monkey of imperial stouts, in the way that this is an okay brew, but when compared to others in the same style, this falls pretty flat. Someone else on this site called this "a beginner's Imperial Stout" - but even then, I wouldn't steer a beginner towards this stout. If there is such a thing as an RIS Lite, I imagine this would be it.
Do yourself a favor and reach for a Sam Smith's, Storm King, Yeti and OA Yeti, or Old Rasputin.
08-01-2007 05:11:01 | More by MiguelMandingo
2.75/5 rDev -27.8%
A - Opaque black with one finger of coffee head
S - Smells kind of sweet with a light soy sauce throw in
T - Good coffee taste with a little heat but doesn't feel like 10% and still some soy sauce from the nose
M - Average stout feel with medium carbonation
D - Not very impressive won't be picking up another bottle
This beer reminded me of Sam Adams Triple Bock but not nearly as good and then mixed with a stout.
07-26-2008 22:42:04 | More by midaszero
2.75/5 rDev -27.8%
Served from a 12 oz brown bottle. Bottled on 04/08/09. Hmm...over a year old, but the high ABV gives it a longer shelf life.
Appearance: Nice black body with a hint of colour through the light. A tan head that retains ok.
Smell: Roasty caramel with some mild alcohol fumes. Maybe some hints of dark fruit and burnt aromas. Some weird astringent/lacto smell that is putting me off.
Taste: Malty and a bit sweet and bready upfront with a sharp roasted astringency and bitterness after. Some earthy hops enhance the bitterness. It's a bit too harsh, leaving a somewhat acrid and unpleasant lingering bitter aftertaste. Tastes a bit like the kind of grainy bitterness left by too much oats in the mash.
Mouthfeel: Pretty smooth, with a low carbonation and full body.
Impressions: It's alright. This one has too many harsh and unbalanced flavors to be really good. I think that they went overboard with the amount of oats used, which gave it a bitter aftertaste. I don't think I would buy this again, especially considering there are better imperial stouts that can be had for less money.
05-30-2010 21:13:15 | More by irisier
2.8/5 rDev -26.5%
Poured a dark brown/amber color with a head that dissipated quickly and left little to no lacing.
The smell was of caramel malt with hints of chocolate and alcohol.
Tasted just like the smell but with a little too much prominence on the malt of this one, not as well-rounded as I would have hoped.
Mouthfeel is medium at most. I would have hoped that an imperial stout would have been a little thicker and smoother.
Drinkability just isn't too high for me on this one considering I really didn't enjoy it. I wish it had been thicker and smoother with a more complex flavor profile. I really do enjoy Left Hand beers though and will give this another shot in case the bottle I got was old and poorly aged. I couldn't find a date on this bottle and got it from a store I don't usually shop at.
05-01-2008 04:07:19 | More by abankovich
2.83/5 rDev -25.7%
A- A deep dark brown that is very clear when held to a light. The light gets through the edges pretty well. The is quick to rise and falls to nothing. Doesn't really have any meat on its bones.
S- Sweet chocolate and a slightly floral aspect. Overall, it just smells clean and a little nutty. Not that complex or even appealing.
T- Sweet, slightly chocolaty and boozy. Very rich, but lacks some complex flavors. Not bad, just not very good.
M- Smooth, a little thin and slightly numbing from the alcohol.
D- Boozy, sweet, and a little bland. Sadly, this is most definitely forgettable.
04-09-2009 04:34:22 | More by david131
2.88/5 rDev -24.4%
Appearance: For an Imperial Stout, this is extrememly light bodied. It's almost translucent with some red bricking.
Aroma: The nose has some notes of coffee and chocolate
Flavor: I would characterize this as a beginner's Imperial Stout. It's pretty easy drinking, but certainly lacks the depth & richness of other imperials, like Stone, Alesmith, Avery & Bell's.
08-18-2003 00:25:30 | More by jcalabre
Left Hand Imperial Stout from Left Hand Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 498 ratings.