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Imperial Stout - Boulevard Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Imperial StoutImperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

345 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 345
Hads: 1,160
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 12.14%
Wants: 259
Gots: 385 | FT: 30
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
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 345 | Hads: 1,160
Photo of jdubjacket
4.26/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle split last night between me and my dad. Pours an almost pitch black color with a milk-chocolate head on top. Lots of head on this one despite pouring along the side. Smell has traces of coffee, chocolate, and sweet, sweet alcohol. Taste is very well-balanced between the bitter hops and the malts. Coffee and chocolate eventually dominate the tastebuds with the roasted malts countering the initial bitterness of the hops. Silky mouthfeel and moderate carbonation make this beer very drinkable. A little high on the ABV might lower the drinkability for some, but I could probably have 2 or 3 of these in one night. Overall, I think this is the best of Boulevard. (676 characters)

Photo of Mazdajoe
3.52/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark Coffee in color w large cappuccino colored head.

Smell of sweet alcohol and hops with subtle hints of roasted coffee and dark chocolate.

Quite a bit of carbonation up front. This beer likes to be sipped for the best mouth-feel. When sipped the beer is quite smooth and creamy. A bit of cloying on the finish.

Taste pretty much mimics the aroma, as expected. Sweet alcohol and hops dominate the taste. Only on the exhale does the coffee and chocolate come through. A little bit too hoppy for what I look for in this style.

Alcohol takes center stage with this beer. If you can handle the 11% abv it is very drinkable.

Overall the decent alcohol content and acceptable taste make this a must try. I am a huge Boulevard fan, they could sell fermented urine and I'd purchase a bottle. I just wish this beer had less hop character and more chocolate and roasted coffee notes. (882 characters)

Photo of Pusa
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought the bottle at Cosintinso's Downtown Market, 26 January 2009. It is a 750 ml corked bottle. I opened it and poured slowly into a pint glass, 28 January 2009.

It forms a head fast. Despite my angled and slow pour, at least an inch and a half of head forms fast.

It has a dark bitter burnt malt smell with coffee and cocoa undertones.

The initial taste is like the smell. After a couple of seconds a strong alcohol taste comes through and competes with the dark bitter malt coffee taste.

The mouthfeel is smooth and soft, and expands nicely in the mouth.

I had to come back to my initial review because as the imperial stout came to room temperature, the taste softened. The strong alcohol taste that competed too harshly initially blends into the coffee and cocoa nicely.

The overall drinkability is good because of the feel of the beer and the eventual blend of flavors. The major drawback is the strong alcohol taste that comes through at first. I have not had many imperial stouts but none had that strong of an alcohol taste that competed with the initial taste. (1,080 characters)

Photo of Bitterbill
4.73/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased from The Wine & Cheese Place for $11.99

This pours from caged and corked 750ML bottle(no. 6037 of 11960) a pitch black with a 3 finger head of tan foam. The cork was very stubborn so I used my BA bottle opener's bigger end to wedge the cork out. It saved a lot of irritation on my hand. Just kep wedging and rotating and it's simple as pie. ;^)

The smell has a lot of roasted malt and dark fruits with side orders of chocolate and a wee bit of coffee. Very nice nose.

The taste comes out with a ton of roasted malt and grain followed by some chocolate, light coffee, and a good but not overpowering flavour of wood...bourbon, in fact. I started off this session with a very cold bottle that I just got so some warming is in order to get the full effects of what this beer has to offer.

I waited for about 30 minutes after my first sips and, man, was I rewarded. All of the flavours come out to the forefront and are tickling my palate like few Imperial Stouts can. Yum!

The mouthfeel is in fullish territory, the carbonation is on the light side of medium, and it finishes lightly bitter with a last mad dash of bourbon. This one is definitely made to savour and... the alcohol? At 11%abv, it appears to be on the very timid side. Very well hidden to my tastes. Wow.

Drinkability? Super drinkable given how strong it is. A very well made Imperial Stout indeed and I take my hat off to Boulevard for pushing the "envelope" for what an example of the style can be. Don't hesitate for a moment if you see this one on the shelf of your local liquor store. It is, imho, a must try.

Oh, and head retention and lacing are superb. This beer can do *no* wrong! (1,668 characters)

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.78/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nice presentation, numbered bottle. Cork took a wine opener to pop. Once it popped off the brew poured forth a solid black river. Deep black, even the edges didn't lighten up. Dense, tan head that foamed at a slow rate, it built up over 12 seconds after pour.
Good coffee and toffee smell. Not overpowering, but constant and thorough. A hint of cocoa is present as it warms. I can smell the dryness.

Taste seems to come out big, but settle down to a nice balance of coffee, cocoa, and molasses. A sharp bite grips the middle of the tongue, yet finishes smooth. Flavor tends to start to sour towards the end, but then calm down with subtle complexity.

Overall, this beer is very nice. Rivals the Abyss, and like the Abyss a big bottle is too much for one person. Not a bad thing, but just know this ahead of time. (815 characters)

Photo of hckyfn9999
4.53/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a thick and creamy tan colored head. Great retention of the head and loads of lace left on my Smokestack goblet. Aroma is of cocoa, roasted malt, a bit of dark fruit, some grain, and a touch of booze.

Taste is very roasted, with some dark chocolate, dark fruit, vanilla, bourbon, oak, and some rye. Very complex flavors here and very delicious. Mouthfeel is full but not syrupy, and silky smooth. Best beer in the Smokestack Series so far. (458 characters)

Photo of bfields4
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very dark brown with a nice full head. Bubbles are slightly large but very compact making for a puffy cream brown colored head. The head leaves a lacy finish down the side of the glass.

Smells nutty and chocolate with some coffee and roasted malts.

Tastes nutty and very malty oak leaves a nice lasting impression. A little hop is nice in this beer. Taste is just so complex. Leaves me speechless, guess I'll just have to drink my beer...

A little creaminess lets this beer flow along the palate nicely. (509 characters)

Photo of iasanlee
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Poured an opaque pitch black with HUGE rocky brown head that lasted ages, leaving loads of lacing.

First aroma is vibrant of the roasted malts (coffee/chocolate) and some subtle dark stone fruits and dark sugar. There is also a touch of lactic sourness in the nose.

Flavors start with some malt complexity. Coffee and chocolate dominate. A touch of oak, and again some subtle dark stone fruits, and a lactic acid sourness. The bitterness is high and lends a huge hand in the balance. This is nowhere as sweet or cloying as many other examples out there right now. The finish is dry.

Medium in body with mild carbonation. There is a definite astringency for a number of reasons.

Job well done. I will be grabbing a few of these while they are around, something I really would like to try every year. (809 characters)

Photo of kcillini77
4.9/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I gotta tell you - this is close to the perfect beer. I have to mark down the drinkability slightly just because it's so stinkin' high in alcohol and it takes a full evening to enjoy a bottle.

The pour (into my Ommegang chalice) is black as it should be. The tan head looks great and retains well.

The smell is of roasted grain, pure cocoa, coffee, and some faint hops.

Taste is the perfect mix of roasted oats, barley, dark chocolate, espresso beans, wood, and a little bit of boozy alcohol.

Taste is very complex.

I know this might be sacrilege but I enjoy it more than Stone Russian Imperial Stout. I have only had that once, and may have to revisit it on my upcoming trip west.

Phenomenal job by Boulevard. The best of a great Smokestack series to date. Keep 'em coming. (781 characters)

Photo of cschepers
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Boulevard Imperial Stout from a tightly corked bomber (had to use pliers) --> big wine glass.

A - Pours used motor oil black, no light getting through this one. Surprising amount of cappuccino-colored head, a little bit seems to stick around. Easily passes the "pencil test." Very nice lacing.

S - Fireplace smoke, a zillion different dark roasted malts, pencil lead. Just a tiny bit of sweetness.

T - No way this thing is this smooth... Mountains of malts.. oats, barley, rye. Baker's chocolate, coffee, espresso. Bits of burnt wood. Just enough metallic hops and the tiniest bit of sweetness just to bundle all the malt together. A little bit of boozy alcohol warming in the back. Aftertaste is of roasted malts and burnt coffee.

M - Thick and fairly slick. Just a little bit of carbonation, but don't expect much.

D - Not sure how to really rate this. Really good for an impy stout, but that's all pretty relative. Drink it fast and you'll get sick, drink it slow and you'll enjoy it nicely. The high ABV will also get you. Hard to believe there's 11% alcohol in this, it is very well hidden.

Pretty darn good imperial stout. Nicely balanced (if there is such a thing), it isn't hop-tarded like some (Old Rasputin).. very good stuff. (1,245 characters)

Photo of hwwty4
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle number 05105.

Just to start out, I had to open this cork with my teeth. Damn thing was just a pain in my ass. Ok, I vented. I poured this into my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. This beer pours more of a dark chocolaty brown then a true black. What also comes forth is like a 4 inch, chocolate moose head. It looks like I'm going to have to eat through it with a spoon. Luckily, 10 minutes later the head had receded leaving just a spotty bit of lacing. The aroma is a combination of dark chocolate malts, lightly roasted espresso beans, chocolate nibs, a bit of vanilla bean, and just a hint of wood. The flavor is full frontal chocolate malts. Not real chocolate but a really nice roasted chocolate malty flavor. There is definitely a bit of coffee and vanilla but both are more subdued then in the aroma. Also there are hints of cherry and still a bit of oaky astringency. The mouthfeel is still a bit thin. This definitely reminds me more of a Belgian stout then what is traditionally considered a "Imperial" stout. Wonder why? This is a great beer, it's defiantly worthy of its Smokestack series, and I'm ecstatic to see Boulevard pumping out so many great brews. (1,168 characters)

Photo of Buebie
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I couldnt think of a better way to go into Zealot, then with this review. #222

Picked this up last night, this beer is insanely limited in MN.
The cork on the BBQ was a huge pain in the ass to get off, this one came out a bit easier.
Poured from a 750ml brown bottle into an oversized snifter.
Bottle number 6351 of 11960

Off the pour I see a velvety inky thickness to the liquid. Poured semi rigerously I now watch this head take gynormous shape! Its like watching one of those sponge toys that you add water too, but it just gets bigger and bigger. Forming a 4 finger khaki brown fluffy head.
I've been waiting now for several minutes for this thing to receed. Still a finger left with sticky thick globs of lace all around, drapeing down the glass. The cap is a solid half finger of retention, looking alot like brown whip cream.
Color on this is black, with zero light penetration or glowing.

Aroma has a bit of a boozy warm alcahol smell, but not terribly bad as other aromas of chocolate and coffee help to soak up alot of the boozyness.
I get wiffs of oak soaked bourban, vanilla, chocolate nibs with a subtle cocoa nutty aroma, hints of coffee, burnt caramel and grassy pine like hoppy aroma.
The bourbon aoky aroma is really rich and just makes this one hell of an appatizing aromatic brew.

Wow, I dont have the vocabulary to describe how good this tastes.
Its warm up front with a rush of bourban and smooth heavily creamy textures and mouthfeel. Carbonation is present all the way through, but kept in check by all that is going on with the bourbon, the warmth and the super thick and creamy mouthfeel. This can not be low in calories! lol
Dense, this is definatly dense. If Darth Vader drank dark beer, this would be his beer.
Grassy hay like flavors with a minerally water flavor coming through the middle. Cocoa poder like flavor with a super bitter baking chocolate taste. Its sweet upfront, but all that is sweet and safe in this worl, turns to the dark side.
That bourbon made this beer somthing fantastic in the aroma! Holy hell its doing somthing even better in flavors with the lightly toasted oak and dark chocolate with just a touch of warm booze. This is one of the best, most original RIS's I've ever had.

The 11% is not well hidden, but it is well blended with the other flavors and aromas. Keeping it in line and not overwhelming. Brooklyn Monster ale would be a good example here. The alcahol solvent aroma and taste in that beer was far to much. This one is just right.

I highly recommend getting a bottle of this beer! (2,553 characters)

Photo of mdcrouser
4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

#01664 of 11960 - bought one for now and another for a year(s) from now.

Caged, capped, and corked, inside the Boulevard bomber.

Opaque black, with one of the largest heads I've ever seen at 2+ fingers. Sandy brown in color, it is light and fluffy, falling in "columns" as it rests, leaving behind lacing that covers nearly half of the glass where head was before, and clinging to everything it touches. And the head that remains (and remains) is still huge - chunky and bubbly.

Malts - yes, many of them - are heavy on the nose, giving way to a little bit of chocolate. Kind of like sticking your face in a box of malted milk balls, but much more fun.

Once in the mouth, those malts are immediately absorbed into the deepest recesses of your mouth, alighting the taste buds at the back of the cheeks. Exceptionally bitter on the tongue, I would guess that it's the oats that help everything blend so well together.

Subtle and exceedingly smooth carbonation percolates on the tongue, helping to mask the alcohol (though not completely), which at 11% is beneficial. Definitely a sipper though - I'll be spending the evening, enjoying this one.

Only a bottle this big could hold a beer this big. Well worth the wait. (1,226 characters)

Photo of stephens101
4.54/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is one of those beers that you have to ask yourself, is it all that good, and is all the hype just a little overblown? You never know until you try, but I pretty much have an idea by the Smokestack's history, it's probably going to be pretty good. Then again, there's always an exception to the rule, but let's hope this one isn't it. This one is numbered 00055/11960 and shows the 11% abv, which I like seeing, as the bigger Boulevard brews always have a good blend on the alcohol.

A massive multi-colored, light and dark-tan head explodes and rises quickly above the rim of the pint. It's topped with a crop of big bubbles, and recedes at a snails pace, leaving stacked sheets of slightly broken lacing all around. You have to be careful with the pours on the Smokestacks, i.e. the Doublewide, or you're gonna get froth all over the place. No complaints here though. Color is pitch-black and opaque, with virtually no lighter shades showing when held to light. Aromatically this one is very complex, but that's no surprise. Burnt wood, some ubiquitous Boulevard brettanomyces (which seem to show up lately), burnt sugar, toasted bread, wheat, pine, subtle dark fruits and hops all work in unison to create a perfectly balanced aromatic profile.

A smooth, creamy and very slightly viscous mouth-feel makes for a medium to full bodied experience that is actually highly drinkable, but warrants sipping due to the well-hidden alcohol content. The palate is filled with dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, furtive candy spices, roasted malts and a good hit of alcohol that works itself into the overall experience well and is not overbearing. In my opinion the hype surrounding this beer is well-deserved, but you'll just have to seek it out and give it a shot yourself. (1,774 characters)

Photo of turamarth
4.51/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 750ml bottle into a first gen smokestack goblet.

Appearance: This beer looks amazing. The body is a very very dark opaque brown near black. Very tiny amount of red tinge in the edges of the glass when held to a light. But, the most amazing part about the look of this beer is the head. A thick, creamy, crema (the foam you see on a good shot of espresso) colored head. This looks so creamy, the surface is shiny and looks more like a baked good than the head of a beer. Not to mention it lasts the entire glass and laces nicely.

Smell: At first out of the bottle there is a little metallic hop smell, but goes away quickly with some room heat. You can defiantly smell the different grains used. Dark barley malts make them selves present in some chocolate notes, the creaminess of the oats is there, and a hint of the rye. There is a tiny hoppiness to balance.

Taste: Much like the nose, but much more complex. Malts, malts, malts! The barley I think gives it the chocolate notes that are common in this style. The oats give a definite creamy sweetness. And, one of the most intriguing parts is the bitter rye that appears on the back of the tongue. Very complex. Superb.

Mouth: A very creamy body, but it maintains a light feel. Not too thick, and doesn't leave the mouth feeling overly thick.

Drink: Though this beer IS a sipper, it's pretty drinkable. The alcohol is VERY well hidden. I don't think you could tell this is 11% abv. (1,453 characters)

Photo of Reaper16
4.66/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

served from a 750mL bottle into an original Smokestack Series goblet

Pours a gorgeous, opaque black with a dense, lion-pelt head. The head is amazing; it doesn't quit. Ever. It is so very, very creamy looking. It leaves a solid wall of thick lacing after every sip. A superb looking beer.

Lots of chocolate in the nose, some coffee, a touch of hops. Yeast, too. I never got a whole lot of complexity from the nose, but the typical aroma points were present.

The complexity in the mouth is another story; this is an incredibly nuanced stout. The differing grains interact with each other in surprising and delicious ways, and the relationships change even as the beer warms. The interplay of oats, wheat and rye with the varying barley count (not to mention spelt) is a magical thing that remains difficult to pin down. Loads of roasty chocolate flavors, too, and a pleasant touch of smoke on the back end. Some dark fruit complexity goes well with the yeast. There are so many elements here, and they're all working.

A tremendously creamy mothfeel makes this beer feel like some grand indulgence. The 11%ABV is well-hidden, and I could have imbibed more than what I did.

Boulevard has out-done themselves with this latest limited-release Smokestack Series offering. One can only hope that this becomes a yearly release because this Imperial Stout is simply too good to be a one-shot affair. This is quite the achievement. (1,428 characters)

Photo of sjccmd
4.78/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Poured into a snifter, black with a tan inch and a half head. Sticks to the glass.

S: Roasted malts, dark bitter chocolate, coffee

T: More complex than the smell, chocolate, olives, coffee, oats, some alcohol warmness, and a hoppy aftertaste.

M: Good and Slimy, but I would like a little less carbonated. But, as it warms it gets better.

D: Entirely drinkable. For 11%...no complaints. (392 characters)

Photo of thehand
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into Le Merle goblet. Solid black color with a huge dense brown head which settles to a thin layer with some spotty lacing. Aroma is sweet, with dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, a little dried dark fruit. Taste is very rich and complex. Smooth rich and full bodied. Earthy hop finish with a little heat from the alcohol. Lingers on and on. Definitely a sipper, although very well balanced. (398 characters)

Photo of bearcamp
4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Picked up few of these from Beribglia. Store clerks said I was the 1st to pick up this brew. Got home threw one in the freezer and then put it in the fridge. Couldn't wait to try this. I had a few sips at the local beer fest in the fall.

Served this in a small snifter, and after 1st taste this is a very good beer. Wow one of the best of all time. No really it is in my top 5. This knocks the crap out of Old Rasputin.

Appearance is dark with a mocha colored head the dissipates by lingering on the side.

Smell is sweet with a small hint of hops.

Taste is exceptional, so much in the taste. Chocolate sweet creamy malt with the over bitterness of extreme hops.

Drinkability: This is a sipper. At 11% one should be enough for me.

I wish blvd would make this one a full time smokestack! This is a great beer. (819 characters)

Photo of bort11
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Boulevard keeps hitting home runs with the Smokestack series!

750 ml bottle, #5198 of 11960. Poured into my trusty Boulevard Smokestack goblet, freshly chipped on the foot :'( . Solid two finger head that is slightly orangish cocoa brown. Recedes to a mild ring with a thin smokey lace on the surface. Color is a velvety solid black with a dark brown finish.

Smell is very warming in the nose. There is bitter dark chocolate, brief notes of espresso and Belgian yeast. Taste is very complex. The label says the malt includes barley, wheat, rye, oats, and spelt. I don't even know what spelt is, but it is working. The oats create a creamy texture, the rye adds some bitterness. There are hints of lemon and citrus, which must be coming from the yeast and the wheat. There is chocolate a-plenty. This is one of the most complex beers I've ever had. Layers upon layers of flavor.

As said, there is a creamy texture that must come from the oats. The mouthfeel itself is not overly heavy. There a slickness to is, and is so smooth. Boulevard has truly outdone themselves with this one. Best Smokestack to date? YES! (1,114 characters)

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Imperial Stout from Boulevard Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 345 ratings.