Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Imperial Stout - Boulevard Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Imperial StoutImperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

362 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 362
Hads: 1,260
Avg: 4.16
pDev: 19.23%
Wants: 265
Gots: 404 | FT: 28
Brewed by:
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Missouri, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout | 11.00% 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
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Imperial Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 362 | Hads: 1,260
Photo of bonesTdog
5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It's difficult to give this beer all 5s but I just can't find any reason to give it any less anywhere. Calling this an imperial stout sells it way short. There are so many fantastic layers of flavors from coffee and chocolate to fruit, aged wood and alcohol building to an amazing complexity. A beautiful dark coffee color and heavy body just complete the picture. Not a beer to drink with food in my opinion. You need to sip and savor to truly appreciate it.

Edited 11/6/2015
Drinking the 2014 vintage tonight. It went something like this... Sip, roll you eyes, comment "oh my gosh", repeat over and over. This beer is amazing.

 634 characters

Photo of chefbigjon
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 bottle. Lots of anise, molasses, dark malts and bourbon. Tastes really nice with lots of depth. If it was thicker it could be up there with the big bad bourbon barrel stouts.

 179 characters

Photo of dmgeng
4.69/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I have been eyeing this bottle for several weeks and I finally decided to pull the trigger on this Boulevard offering. (2014 bottling)

A - Deep dark black. It pours thick with light brown head and good lacing. Very fine bubbles that don't quit.

S - Initially the big bourbon barrel aroma hits you in the face. Full bourbon with vanilla, oak, toasted coconut, and caramel. Underneath are the dark fruits and then roast, some chocolate, and some sweet malt. More bourbon than beer from the smell but I like it.

T - The first sip there is an explosion of flavors. The bourbon is there but less impact-full than in the smell; again the bourbon, vanilla, oak, and caramel are all on the front of the palate but the sweet malt of the imperial stout is on the tip of the tongue. In the middle there is a slight tart hit from the amount of dark fruit, like prune, and then plenty more stout flavors with roast, cocoa, caramel, and malt. The finish has the roasted bitter you would expect along with some alcohol warming from the bourbon; however, there is so much flavor that there is still plenty to savor after you have swallowed the beer.

M - Very high mouth-feel with Moderate carbonation. I really like how the bourbon, carbonation, and roasted malt attempt balanced the sweet imperial stout flavors. It is soft and somewhat sticky on the finish.

Overall, this is a very delicious beer. I haven't been too impressed with Boulevard in the past so that is why I was initially apprehensive about getting this one but I was not disappointed. This beer is not the best BA beer I've had but it reminds me of a barrel-aged Bell's Expedition stout with tons of dark fruit character in the base beer in addition to all of the other big stout flavors to go along with the bourbon barrel flavors. I think that even more age would benefit by making it a little smoother and blending the flavors more but don't hesitate to get the previous years bottling if you get a chance.

Glass- Snifter

 1,980 characters

Photo of OGShotzy
4.14/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

25oz bomber from Craft Beer Outlet, NE Philly, into a 10oz snifter.

A: really dark. hard to see anything but dark brown/black, even when a full glass is held to light. Decent 2cm tan head that's bubbly.

S: getting lots of caramel, toffee, maybe a little licorice.

T: sweet — toffee and caramel. boozy/hot aftertaste at first, but that subsided once it warmed up.

F: more bubbly than most imperial stouts. I didn't mind it, though. makes me think about this beer's complexity.

O: very good beer, but not my kind of imperial stout. better options (1) in this style, and (2) at a better price point.

 604 characters

Photo of spoony
3.89/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a 750 ml bottle (2014 vintage, best by October 2016) into a tulip.

A-My first pour is a little hard and produces a significant head that is more than three fingers tall. Even my second pour, which is more gentle, results in a healthy finger's worth of brown foam. The beer is dark, almost black. Head retention is pretty good.

S-The aroma provides large doses of milk and dark chocolate and lots of dark, sweet fruit flavors. I get raisin, prune, and cherry to go with a slightly sweet honey note, and a little bit of alcohol heat. The barrel flavor is mild with just a hint of oak and caramel. Low bitterness.

T-The taste is also fruit forward versus bitter or roasty. There is a lot of milky chocolate here, as well as the aforementioned fruits. The finish dries out only slightly to reveal a bit of bitterness and coffee. The whiskey flavors increase as the temperature rises with some raspy oak, caramel, and heat, but this beer never gets fully barrel forward.

M-The beer is light to medium in heft with a milder level of carbonation.

O-This beer is on the fruity side of the BA stout spectrum. It looks nice in the glass and drinks well enough, but I can't say that it blew my mind. The barrel character here is mild, so if you like dark, dried fruit in your stouts with a hint of barrel, this is a good option. If you want a chewy monster with lots of whiskey character, look elsewhere.

 1,403 characters

Photo of Misanthropy_Sipping
4.29/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 Vintage. Pretty happy to have found a few bottles of this at Schmick's Market in McCook, NE! The beer oasis of far southwest Nebraska. I've had this in years past and it always seems slightly different each time, which I like. I like a little surprise and slight differences.

Anyway. 2014 Vintage, here I go!

Poured into a snifter, it is not entirely opaque at first. A nice milk chocolate see through. But becomes near black when the snifter is full. Can't really see through it. Gradually lowering crackly dark tan head. Reduces down to a thin ring around the edges. Looks fantastic. I like the black shade.

Smells very nice. The intermingling tones of roasty malts and whisky combine for a sort of almost maple like character which is intriguing. Smells sweet and a tad boozy. Slightly of dried currants and of raisins. I get a hint of coffee and milk chocolate.

The taste is pretty even throughout. The whisky is not overbearing, the sweetness is not cloying at all. The milk chocolate and iced coffee notes are just where they need to be. Nothing really outshines one or the other too much. The alcohol is noticeable but not at all bad for how high it is… some 11%. The whisky and milk chocolate gradually increase in potency toward the end at the pinnacle of the alcohol bite but it is a nice rush. A tad bit of bitterness that lands right where I feel it should for this beer.

The mouthfeel is surprisingly light. I would place this in an easy medium body beer. It is not huge and thick whatsoever. It is kind of nice in a way and with the flavor profile it fits in an odd way. I kind of expected a bit more thickness. Felt as though there was a bit more in years past. Maybe some more oiliness. Not this year I guess.

Overall, for the price point, for how good it tastes when it warms up and for the quality, there is no mistake. It is a great beer to pick up time and time again when you see it. Just a no brainer. It's not going to blow you to pieces or take you hostage with intensity. But it is smooth and rounded and just pretty damn nice.

 2,098 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
4.34/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2008 vintage 750 ml bottle poured at cellar temp into a snifter. the beer pours a dark cola brown and gives a creamy tan head of 4 cm that foams up and fades slowly to a sturdy surface layer and some clingy tightly packed lattice.
Aroma is roasted malt and molasses with some dark fruit and raisins. A little bit of boozy scents remind me that this is a pretty big beer at 11%.
First sip reveals a fairly thick body with a bit of chewy character and some fine yet tingly carbonation.
Flavor is all malt with brown sugar and molasses, some coffee grounds and dark fruit. Definitely some peppery booze on the finish and some warmth on the swallow. I have a 2011 bottle of this goody too, It will be interesting to compare the two years.
This is a solid Imp Stout and is robust and probably better to share with someone. But I do enjoy the beer and am glad to have had the opportunity to drink it.

 900 characters

Photo of champ103
4.39/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a dark black, nearly but not opaque. A massive, dense tan head rises to two fingers. Excellent retention and lace.
S: Not a lot of roast in the nose, more toasted malts and baked bread. Milk chocolate, vanilla, and vary light oak tannins in the finish. A bit of chocolate bitterness in the finish as well. Very nice.
T: More roasted malts than in the nose, with a bit of coffee up front. Slightly bitter chocolate, vanilla, and wood/oak comes through in the finish. As this warms, dark fruits and more wood comes out. I love the balance here.
M/O: A big, full body without being overly viscous or resiny. Good carbonation, even a bit effervescent. Which still happens to have a great smoothness. Really enjoyable to drink. Just a touch of alcohol warmth, which just adds to the likeablity here. I can sip this all night.

Nothing is overpowering here, which is why I love it. With plenty of other tannin bombs, it is obvious this is a blend but still the oak and vanilla are there. Which makes everything really well balanced. What else would you expect from the Smokestack Series? As always, well done.

 1,132 characters

Photo of Fcolle2
3.38/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Black in color somewhat thin looking with a big 2 finger tan fluffy head. Chocolate & dried berries in the nose. Caramel and bakers chocolate with moderate sweetness and a big metallic finish. Medium bodied, moderately csrbonated and a little thin

 254 characters

Photo of MysticRuler
2.91/5  rDev -30%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Another typically overwrought stout. Overly boozy, no finesse. Kind of like a lot of stuff the Bruery puts out to the punters. A pretty weak effort.

 150 characters

Photo of barczar
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Roasty, fairly sweet malt aroma, with cocoa notes abounding. Touch of booze.

Flavor is sweet, with dark chocolate and char contrasting. Chocolate dominates.

 157 characters

Photo of john0721
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle, 2013 Vintage

Pours black with a light brown head.

Nose and Taste: Dark fruit (prune,plum, grape), some chocolate, grain, cast wood and mild whiskey.

Lots of dark fruit in this one. With all the coffee and chocolate forward imperial stouts, this dark fruit forward one was a nice change.

The dark fruit forwardness is probably due to aging. 2013 is drinking well now.

 384 characters

Photo of SteveB24
4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look-motor oil black in color, very opaque, not shiny. pours an impressive finer and a half of off white head that retains very well and leaves beautiful lacing on the glass. About as good looking as an imperial stout gets.
Smell-some nice molasses, coffee and chocolate in the aroma, but the booze is pretty strong
Taste-Has the sweet, smokey flavor of molasses, without the unpleasant soy sauce taste that often comes with that profile, also some nice chocolate and coffee, with hints of vanilla and honey from the bourbon barrels. slightest bit of alcoholic warmth. very pleasant.
Feel-Medium/full body, very creamy, foamy in the finish.
Overall-Not the most deep, complex Barrel aged stout but it is smooth and sweet and really enjoyable, and a great value. if given the opportunity i would buy this several more times, at least.

 834 characters

Photo of dar482
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours out in dark brown, but black in the glass.

The beer offers rich roasted coffee up front, caramel sweetness, some chocolate flavor and lots of carbonation. The beer however is slightly thin for its ABV. A great amount of coffee for an imperial stout, despite it drinking below its ABV.

 300 characters

Photo of BWood
4.68/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a great stout. I like everything about it. Very smooth on the tongue and a nice heavy feel. High alcohol but drinks like a beer with much less power.

 157 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.97/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brief write-up. This is 11%? Seriously, Boulevard? It has a flavor profile that might suggest that, but it generally drinks like it's 6% or so. It starts off intensely fruity, with a gentle oak barrel finish. This is much better than I remembered Dark Truth being, too. A great dessert beer...yet it's never overbearing.

3.97/5: Deliciously dangerous

 351 characters

Photo of thebeers
4.19/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Red-tinted black with a finger of mocha-colored head. Smells of chocolate malt and sweet bourbon with just a kiss of straight-up alcohol. Rich, thick, creamy mouthfeel, with slight carbonation cutting through. The bourbon plays off nicely with roasted malts, leaving an almost coffee taste. Great beer, and relatively easy to come by in comparison to others in its class.

 375 characters

Photo of uvachief
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750ml bottle during a bottle share. Extremely good imperial stout. Dark chocolate brown with a full 2 fingers of tan head that dissipated slowly. Nice lacing. Loads of grain. Very bready or creamy. Very traditional stout with malts, grains and hints of chocolate and mild coffee. Big abv beer but very smooth. Liked it a lot.

 346 characters

Photo of dcscientist
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is a very heavy beer from Boulevard, and it's one of their best. You can immediately taste the balance of the stout, as it isn't dry or bitter at all, and then the sweetness of the imperial sets in hard. You can definitely feel the alcohol in this one - not for the faint of heart. Good to see Boulevard making a departure from their usual styles for this offering.

 373 characters

Photo of daryk77
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 out of a 750ml btl. A blend between 4 Roses, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Templeton Rye, Jack Daniels barrel aged beer and fresh beer. Incredibly balanced for a barrel aged stout, the blend really makes this beer exceptional out of the gate. This guy definitely flies under the radar for barrel aged stouts, I put it up there with Parabola.

 344 characters

Photo of LanguedocRocks
4.19/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Amazing bourbon flavors. One could say a bourbon bomb. Definately one of my favorite stouts out there, and at the perfect price point.

Had on tap 02/24/15. Have a bottle aging since December 2014. Will be interested to see how the taste changes.

 246 characters

Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 22 oz. bottle.

A - Black with dark brown highlights, solid, with light tan head and mild lacing.

S - Dark fruit, prunes and molasses, alcohol burn.

T - Starts with the nose, but with a subtle chocolate element, fruity cocoa nibs, fading toward roast coffee in the middle, roasted malts and a touch of tobacco and leather, a line of barrel and bourbon, slight hints of umami, closing slightly bitter, but very smooth.

M - Slick and heavy, but not cloying. A mild carbonation, and decent drying in the close keep this from becoming taxing.

O - This is a pleasure to drink. There are several layers to this, and it is fun to explore how they mix and mingle through each sip. This is a big beer, with a punchy roast and alcohol core that is quintessential imperial. A bomber worth its price, certainly, and an excellent choice when you've got nothing left to do for the night.

 886 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.23/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

BOTTLE: Batch number I14295-1. Best by: 10-2016. 2014 vintage. Brown glass. 750ml. Classic understated label design. Hood-and-wire cap over a cork.

11% ABV. Expectations are high. Served cold into a snifter and allowed to warm.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 1.5 fingers wide. Khaki colour head. Should be richer and darker, but it's decent, with nice creaminess and fullness. A thicker more even consistency would be ideal. It's supple and soft enough. Retention is excellent (esp. for the ABV) - ~10+ minutes.

BODY: Opaque solid black. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Appears well-carbonated. It's far from unique or special for an imperial stout, but is above average. Certainly appealing.

AROMA: The whiskey barrel character eclipses the base aromatics, with pungent whiskey-soaked wood, whiskey's signature spiciness, and hints of mesquite. The whiskey hides the base for the most part, but I do find cream, dark malts, oats, subtly spicy rye malt, and oats. Additionally, the barrel wood dips into sourness a bit, indicative perhaps of infection.

I find no roasted barley - to its detriment, and the rich dark malt backbone that should be prominent is absent. I find no smoke, chocolate, coffee, etc. This aroma suggests a neutral simplistic base beer with an eclipsing whiskey character, neither of which is interesting.

Aromatic intensity is quite low; this is a timid reticent aroma.

No yeast character, alcohol, hops, or off-notes are detectable.

TASTE: A light hint of sourness mixed with dampened cardboard is present, which throws off the balance and build substantially - but doesn't make this undrinkable. Just...different. I imagine if they'd stop mucking about with blending they wouldn't run into that problem.

The whiskey barrel isn't anywhere near as rich or evocative as one would hope, but it's present. Some subtle spice, a kiss of mesquite, whiskey soaked wood. There's no vanilla or rich toasted oak.

Mild as the whiskey barrel is, the base is even less interesting. I don't know that I've run into an imperial stout with such a neutral or even insipid malt backbone in a long time. I can tell dark malts were used, but there's just not an accompanying sweetness; it comes off depleted. Cream is the most notable note in the flavour profile, though the oats are nice as well, and bring a hint of starchiness to the taste in addition to their usual smoothening effect on the texture. I search for rye, but have trouble finding it; perhaps rye's subtle spiciness is overshadowed by whiskey's. Odd, since you'd think they'd work together.

Roasted barley is sorely missed, but frankly I'm desperate just for anything of interest from the base. This beer is crippled by its lack of a robust malt backbone, and it doesn't offer anything else in its place; there's no chocolate here (not even chocolate malt), no coffee, no smoke, no vanilla, no dark fruit, no charred or burnt sugars, no marshmallow, no caramel, no hazelnut, no nothing. It's oddly simple and lacks depth of flavour. There's not much subtlety or nuance to it. Flavour duration is average. Flavour intensity is below average. The beer doesn't have an American feel to it, and I suspect American yeast was not used - to its detriment.

I don't dislike it. As it warms, I find it flirts with a lactose sugar sweetness in the second act. And some faint raisin fades in.

TEXTURE: Way too thin, lending it a weak presence on the palate - an issue not helped by its surprisingly moderate body. I wonder why they used wheat in the grain bill of an imperial stout? This is oddly light, but of course unrefreshing, and there is some faint alcohol warmth. Smooth and wet. Slightly sticky, a biteen chewy, slightly syrupy. Its best attribute is its creaminess, and the smoothness lent by the oats works well here, bringing it closer to a porter without overstepping bounds. It's well-carbonated to boot, and has a slight powdery feel (which would be fantastic if this had any cacao presence at all).

Overall presence on the palate is above average, I guess - if only because of the creaminess and silkiness. Still, this texture fails to elevate the beer or to accentuate any specific notes from the flavour profile.

OVERALL: I expected far better given this is a Boulevard beer, but it's by no means a bad brew. Nor is it anywhere near world-class. In spite of its alcohol presence, it's drinkable enough, and I'll enjoy finishing the bottle. But with the wealth of widely available superior imperial stouts out there, I won't be buying this again. Even non barrel aged examples of the style like Victory Storm King, North Coast Old Rasputin, and Great Divide Yeti bring far more complexity to the table. This seems more like an attempt to cater to the market than an inspired brew; certainly Boulevard knows craft beer fans go apeshit for imperial stouts. I just hoped their offering would be consistent with the quality of the majority of their lineup.

High C+

 4,983 characters

Photo of CTbrew32
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a two finger dark mocha head. Aroma is very sweet with lots of roasted malt, milk chocolate, and a little bit of bourbon booze. Taste is very similar but the milk chocolate outweighs the roasted malts and the bourbon qualities are subtle, but complimentary to the chocolate sweetness. A little bit of dark fruit in the finish as well. Mouthfeel is full bodied, low carbonation, and loaded with sticky/chewy malts that coat the tongue and linger for a while. Overall, this is a great imperial stout that I'll definitely be getting again.

 546 characters

Photo of DeepBrew
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 version. Poured from 750ml corked and caged bottle into snifter. Label shows an ABV of 11% and Best By date o 10/16

A: Black with surprisingly great tan head and good retention retention. Medium lacing.

S: Malt, caramel and booze with some barrel. Smell improves and becomes more inviting as it warms

T: Booze and malt forward, actually tastes better than the initial smell. Rich dark fruit with some chocolate bitter in the background and hints of rye. Aftertaste of dark fruit and chocolate.

M: Creamy mouthfeel, with strong, at first overwhelming booze

O: Very pleasurable drink, this bottle may have benefited from some aging to temper the strong alcohol character.

 679 characters

Imperial Stout from Boulevard Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 362 ratings.