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Imperial Stout - Boulevard Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Imperial StoutImperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

955 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 955
Reviews: 314
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 10.79%
Wants: 239
Gots: 283 | FT: 20
Brewed by:
Boulevard Brewing Co. visit their website
Missouri, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  11.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-23-2008

Like India Pale Ale, the classic Imperial Stouts were originally brewed with high levels of alcohol and hops to withstand the rigors of a long sea journey, not to India but to Imperial Russia and the Baltic States. Our version is an over-the-top riff on the style, with a huge grain bill featuring several kinds of malted barley, wheat, rye, oats, and spelt. Robust grain and coffee flavors are counterbalanced by date and plum notes from the Belgian yeast. To add extra complexity and depth, this Imperial Stout is made up of a blend of freshly brewed beer and several barrel-aged beers, carefully balanced. Za Vas!

63 IBU
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Ratings: 955 | Reviews: 314 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ErinDanielle
1/5  rDev -76%

Photo of Sicknot
1.2/5  rDev -71.2%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

750 ml Batch 2-2011

A: Black with a nice amount of head. Looks beautiful

S: Over the top Brett...nothing short of stinging the nostrils awful

T: Bitter, Tart, Sour, and awkward with slight licorice notes. Painful to swallow

M: Painful to swallow due to being overly carbonated (most likely the brett)

O: Took only three sips, after the third I threw in the towel. I cannot believe BLVD. though people who like wine will like this. I like sours, just not in RIS let alone any stouts. This is one of the most disturbing beers Ive ever tasted. This shouldn't have been released. Looking forward to a refund.

Photo of harrymel
1.63/5  rDev -60.9%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Batch 2 from 2011 (supposed brett infection)

A: Pours a dark brown, near black ale with insane head. Three+ fingers of mocha head loosely packed falls in five minutes or so to leave a thick quilt of the same. Near sheeting lace.

S: Yep, Brett. No mistake. Therefore, fail. Don't care if Blvd says stuff like, subtle, or wine drinkers will like. Look, if my beer says imperial stout, I want imperial stout. Not infected (unintentionally) imperial stout. This is bullshit.

T: Plenty malty, but the brett is already starting to take over on the mouth as well. Tart, farm funk is evident and it takes my attention away. There's plenty of malt, and licorice. This, I'm sure, is a great beer, when not flawed severely.

M: Thick, slicking mouthfeel with medium to high carbonation. Guessing carb was gonna be lower if brett hadn't infected.

O: This years batch should not have been released if they new there was a problem. Huge fail. I'm less and less impressed by Blvd with every beer.

Photo of Rhettroactive
1.88/5  rDev -54.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

From 750mL C&C bottle to Devil's Backbone glass on 5/5/12

-- Thanks to whichever of you degenerates supplied this one. --

A: Dark copper and a bit cloudy. A decent pour yields a small head and a reasonable collar.

S: Ugh...infection has set in, and it ain't good.

T: It's a bit better then the nose, at least. I do get some bourbon and chocolate. But as it warms, out comes the hiney hole.

M: If it weren't for the infection, I'd bet this would be pretty solid. It's got the proper structure, but it's overly bubbly and simply not right for a bigger BA RIS like this.

O: To clarify: this is not one of the (so-called) intenionally soured Imperial Stouts. I'm disappointed, as I really feel this has the makings of a good beer. But in it's current state, I highly recommend saving your dinero and cellar space for something that actually tastes good.

Another in a recent run of underwhelming Boulevard brews.

Drain pour.

Photo of Jared14
2.15/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Originally had this on tap in Dec and it was outstanding (4.15) but revisited it on tap 2 weeks ago, and it tasted off. Opened a bottle on Tuesday and was much more noticeably off. This year's batch seems to have been infected, specifically with some lacto. The beer poured well but smelled like nail polish remover and tasted sour. The bar's manager, a certified Cicerone agreed and emailed the distributor and brewery the next day.

Photo of waltonc
2.25/5  rDev -46%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

A friend generously opened a bottle of the most recent batch with me and bardwashrind. Unfortunately, this is already showing signs of infection. The same sour cherry quality that was present in 2009 Abyss is present here and makes it very undrinkable in more than small quantities. Hopefully the infection is just limited to certain bottles, but I remember from the bottling a few years ago that this was not sour at all (and was quite tasty). I assume Boulevard didn't decide to intentionally make this year's version sour. But regardless, it doesn't work very well.

5/1/11 Update: I opened up a bottle of the 2008 batch last night just to make sure I wasn't crazy thinking that this beer is not intended to have brett and I was right. The 2008 bottle is still drinking very well, and had no signs of a brett infection.

Photo of Spica66
2.28/5  rDev -45.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2011 vintage shared with gwuilliums on Friday night. Poured into tulip glasses. Bottle #4301.

A: Black as pitch. Decent head formation with some slight retention. Looks right for a barrel-aged brew.

S: Uh-oh. What the funk? Some sour cherry notes here. Sickly-sweet with no roast or bitter notes at all. Smells like '09 The Abyss. I am not thrilled with what I think is about to happen.

T: I am right. Tastes sour cherry and nasty. Dammit! $13 for a bottle of nastiness. They definitely have some sort of wild something in there. Maybe they used the same barrels as Deschutes did!

M: Body is fine. Carbonation holds up very nicely for a barrel-aged 11% brew.

O: If you like sour or tart beers, this is an RIS for you. I don't, so it does not score well in my book.

Edit: I looked up on their web site and it stated that they knew there were some Brett in this batch and let it go anyway. Poor choice, in my opinion.

Photo of jmdrpi
2.3/5  rDev -44.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

750 mL bottle, corked & caged. batch number 2011-2. Unfortunately after I brought this back from Colorado, I learned this is the batch that Boulevard issued the statement that it was infected with Brett.

appears jet black, with 1/2" tan head. head retention is pretty good. a roasty aroma mixed with a bit of brett funkiness.

taste starts a bit of roasted malt and bitter cocoa, but then the brett flavor takes over. musty flavor. body is fairly thick, smooth body, good for the style.

overall - the infection hasn't ruined it. it's drinkable, but it's not real good.

Photo of pokesbeerdude
2.45/5  rDev -41.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle 14276 from 2011 Batch 2, best by 01-2013. Potential for bret contamination. Purchased from Supermarket Liquors in Ft. Collins, CO for $13. Into a Stone IRS glass. This definitely has bret in it, tons of funk immediately after opening the bottle.

A: Opaque black in color with an incredibly dense tan colored head that rises up to a good 2 inches and slowly recedes leaving enormous rings of lacing as it continues to fade. Really a nice looking beer.

S: Funk, without a doubt the first thing that hits the nose, sour cherries, burnt malts, and a decent amount whiskey as well, especially for a blended beer. Surprisingly not much booze in the nose. The funk is the dominant feature of the nose though and I'm not sold on that.

T: Again, funk and sour cherries dominate the initial taste, the middle is roasted barley, a bit of caramel, charred oak, toffee and vanilla, and the finish again is classic bretanomyces funky, sour cherries, and just a touch of sour. Whiskey shines a little bit on the finish as well which is nice, and works with the bit of bret in here. Noticeably there isn't much of a chocolate flavor. Slight little bit of booze in there as well. Definitely along the lines of a wild ale at this point as the bret is slowly taking over every aspect of this beer. I don't know how I feel about this, I love funk, but not necessarily in a stout, it doesn't impress me but I don't hate it.

M: Completely overcarbonated, mouthfeel is about right with a decent amount of viscosity, fairly sticky on the lips, and finishes with some heat that warms the whole way down. I'd say that the carbonation is probably from the bret tackling all the residuals that the sach didn't eat.

O: The beer isn't a total loss from the infection, there are some nice things about it, the slight sour cherry/fruit works well with the whiskey flavors, but I guess I'm just not sold on an infected stout. I'm not sure what to think about the overall beer, Boulevard knew that this batch had issues, and released it anyway. This shows some courage on their part, and me calling them out for releasing it would be hypocritical as I've bottled many homebrews that didn't taste exactly right before bottling and turned out okay, but I'm just not digging this. It will be interesting to see how this matures, as it could turn into a very interesting wild ale. Hmmm.

Photo of Wadsey
2.45/5  rDev -41.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle No 3514 of batch 2011-1. Poured into North Coast Brewing Co. snifter.

A: The beer itself strikes somewhere between dark brown and black. So it is appropriately dark with insubstantial head. It appears to be clear.

S: Acetic note, like Rodenbach Grand Cru, pops out. Next, dark dried fruits, nail polish remover/solvent, and roses (from fusels, I assume). A touch of damp wood.

T: The acetic character is still evident albeit more muted than in the smell. Dark, dried fruits, nail polish remover and roses play prominently. Fairly sweet and alcoholic. Barrel is initially evident in damp wood and tanic quality, although once the beer hits room temperature, some whiskey shows itself. A little roastiness comes out. Finishes with solventy, boozey fruits.

M: A medium body and warming. Higher level of carbonation than expected for a barrel-aged imperial stout. Surprisingly astringent in finish.

D: Boulevard Imperial Stout hits all the wrong notes for me. I like it less and less as I drink more. Too much crystal malt, too little barrel. 11 abv is obvious and I do not know what to make of the out-of-place acetic smell/taste.

With all that said, I'm very curious how this beer ages. Good thing I'm sitting on a couple bottles of '08 and plan to open one for a side-by-side tasting with my group.

Photo of whartontallboy
2.5/5  rDev -40%

Photo of DeutschesBier
2.5/5  rDev -40%

Photo of mfgreene
3/5  rDev -28.1%

Photo of carlitos92
3/5  rDev -28.1%

Photo of Reed
3/5  rDev -28.1%

Photo of brewintheLou
3/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours black with a tan head that leaves some lacing down the snifter.

Smell doesn't have much there. Getting mostly a boozey smell.

Taste has a slight roastiness. There is a strong alcohol warmth to this beer. Ever so slight espresso, but not much. I don't think this one of the top RIS I've had. Not a lot of flavor that jump out with this beer. That being said, it is not bad, just not something worth seeking out.

Photo of Kataco16
3/5  rDev -28.1%

Photo of eagles22
3/5  rDev -28.1%

Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.03/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Note: Boulevard has stated on their website that this year's batch has been at least partially contaminated with brettanomyces. If they feel it's fair to release the beer as-is, I feel it's fair to review it as such.

2011 Batch

Appearance -- Pours a rich dark brown, nearly black, with one finger of stiff sudsy tan head. Appeared still until halfway through the poor - mild carbonation. The head soon dissipates into a dirty halo.

Smell -- My fears have been confirmed: brettanomyces is definitely present. Red wine vinegar, apple must, and dank cellar. Chocolate malt, coffee, and oaky vanilla.

Taste -- The malting is exceptional with cocoa, coffee, black malt, and the faintest bit of anise. Barrel character is nice, lending lots of vanillin and wet oak with a little bit of bourbon character. Brett is present, but certainly not dominant. Musty and earthy with green apple and horse barn. Lingering flavor of char, cocoa, vanilla, and lemony brett funk.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-full in body with milder carbonation. Feels velvety, but could use more bubbles. Alcohol is very hot. I was hoping to have the time to let this age for at least six months, but the brett infection issues

Overall -- Fortunately Boulevard mentioned that their sensory panel picked up 'brett-character' in the bottles, otherwise I would have broken into this one after it was too late to enjoy.

Yes, this batch has clearly been contaminated with brett. This hasn't progressed too far as of yet, but there is a definite funky/musty/vinegar-like character, especially in the nose. The taste hasn't been tainted too terribly yet but it has definitely muted some of the good stuff happening in the beer. The fact that I'm rating this so high speaks to how incredible this base beer tastes. The barrel-aging lent nice oaky character, but the alcohol heat was through the roof. This one really could've helped with time in the cellar.

It's okay for now, but I'm sure this will be undrinkable in another six months.

Photo of FosterJM
3.08/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

448th review on BA
Bottle to snifter
750 ML C/C
Batch 2
2011-2 Best by: 1/2013
Bottle #9711

App- A gorgeous garnet red with a huge two finger head. No real cling at all. Puddles sit on top of this brew. Highlighted browns come threw into the light.

Smell- HUGE Brett as soon as I pop the cork (shit). This was a shot to get a clean bottle in trade and it didn't work everything is just over powered by the funk on this. Got none of the malt, coffee, chocolate flavors I was hoping/expecting.

Taste- It's a stout with some tinged of regular flavors but again the Brett is just too strong on the nose and the taste. All I got were slight malts and some booze.

Mouth- Medium bodied and highly carbonated. Like a black ops and a jester king the bubbles on this are quite nice. 2nd best part of this beer.

Drink- Well I gambled and lost with seeing if this batch 2 was indeed infected and I lost. I did get an 08 to drink as well. I really hope that one knocks my socks off. I won't come back to a batch 2 because to expensive to trade and keep searching for right bottle.

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.08/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured jet black with great carbonation leaving a big brown cap and lots of bubbles

S: Well, it was funk, booze, whiskey

T: Not a big fan. I like most Boulevard Smokestack and big beers but this one not so much. I noticed immediate sourness, whiskey, roasted malt, any wood was subdued, booze, light cocoa

M; Thin for style, warm on the end, funky

D: Average

Photo of jcompton
3.1/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

appearance: opaque black into a snifter. bubbly head rescinds to a slight foam. nice lacing around the glass

smell: a slight roastiness on the nose with a slight alcohol burn

taste: slight mocha followed sharply by a heavy alcohol burn. the alcohol over powers the flavors in this one

feel: high level of carbonation. fairly creamy, but still a bit thin for others i've had of this style

drinkability: sharing this 750ml, and i'm not really wanting anymore than that. even if this was always produced i wouldn't go out of my way to grab one. maybe i was looking forward to this a bit too much, but i am disappointed

Photo of Blaketj80
3.13/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours with monstrous tan head and has less aroma than one would think. Tastes of sweet roastiness with a bitter black patent kick. Alcohol notes are subtle in the aftertaste and has legitimate body. Would recommend for the average stout drinker, but nothing exceptional for the money.

Photo of ShanePB
3.14/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2014 bottle: Over-carbonated, flavor is a bit flat

Photo of phishisphunk
3.15/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 Vintage. Bottle # 3522.

I had intended on cellaring this bottle for a few months until I heard through the threads that Boulevard reported possible brett infection through their sensory panel. Respect the manner with which they identified this character but found it humorous that they encourage immediate consumption even though the bottle has a best by 2013 date.

As always, beautiful bottle. I love the simplicity of the smokestack series.

Served straight from the refrigerator (into my Dogfish signature snifter) as I promptly placed in the fridge to stave off infection not quite knowing when I would get to it. I plan on talking my time with the bottle so I will pick up the nuances as it warms.

A: Appearance is pretty standard for a imperial stout. Pours dark with an initial mocha colored head that quickly recedes to leave a thin ring around the edge of the glass. Little to no head retention as the thin bubbles struggle unsuccessfully to retain to the glass. Lots of tiny little bubbles noted ascending upward give the appearance of a thin body.

S: The nose has 2 distinct aromas. The initial aroma is mildly tart with hints of sweet cherry and vanilla extract presumably from the barrel. Following this is the aroma from the stout itself. Roasted malt and baker's chocolate finish the nose if you hang out long enough to discover them.

T: The taste follows the aroma verbatim. Hints of cherry, vanilla, oak, rolled oats, roasted malts, and dark chocolate. The beer is sweet and boozy (DFH WWS comes to mind). Piney/soapy hops round off the taste. Finish is clean. The barrel and base beer don't feel real well integrated and they seem to compete from the finish to the end. The tart, sour notes overpower the what I suspect is a solid Russian imperial stout.

M: Despite the taste, the beer has wonderful carbonation and creaminess despite feeling a bit thin.

D: At this point, I'm not sure I will finish the bottle. As far as Barrel aged stouts go, I'm pretty underwhelmed. I do prefer big bourbon bombs, but the barrel did not do much for the base. Glad I didn't sit on this one. Probably drinking as well as it will right now. However, I can see how some folks would really enjoy this one. Pick one up and try for yourself!

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Imperial Stout from Boulevard Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 955 ratings.