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Russian Imperial Stout - Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

Not Rated.
Russian Imperial StoutRussian Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

107 Reviews
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Reviews: 107
Hads: 225
Avg: 4.18
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 60
Gots: 47 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant visit their website
United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mophie on 12-13-2002

Full-bodied stout that starts with a complex, malty sweet and high-roasted character that is wonderfully balanced with the use of citrusy American hops.

75 IBU
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Reviews: 107 | Hads: 225
Reviews by jwinship83:
Photo of jwinship83
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml corked and caged bottle traded to me from user InjuredReserve. thanks! drank from my stone IRS snifter.

A- the beer pours out an opaque black body with a taller than expected khaki colored head on top. the head takes its time falling, and leaves behind small rings of lacing. very nice.

S- the first thing i pick out of the nose are roasted malts. after that i get some chocolate (both milk and dark) followed by a little bit of black licorice. coffee and earthy hops move in towards the end.

T- the taste starts out with more of the dark roasted malts that i could smell before moving onto some chocolate. both milk and dark are represented, but the dark makes a stronger showing. the little bit of black licorice that i was able to smell seems to have grown in the taste, but nothing near the offensive level (think belgo anise IRS). earthy hops and espresso on the finish. a little bit of alcohol shows throughout.

M- the body is on the lower side of full. the carbonation is a nice and subdued level. moderate alcohol warmth. very smooth.

O- this is a very good and under appreciated RIS. this is something id love to be able to pick up again. check this out if you get the chance.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of csmartin6
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of ehammond1
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Thanks for opening this, MrVonzipper!

Deep black in color with a thin brown head. Looks thick and substantial in the glass.

Big, complex aroma of roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate, a bit of dark fruit, and a bit of candy sugar sweetness as well. Complete.

This is simply a marvelous example of the style. Big, bold flavors of roasted malt, coffee, dark fruits, chocolate, and just a bit of sweetness. Big flavors, bold and assertive, yet balanced and drinkable.

Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation.

A great example of a favorite style.

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Photo of Cynic-ale
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of rudylaw
4.16/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to FooFaa for this bottle!

Pours a black, suffocating color with a prosperous dark tan head. It eventually yields to a thin rim.

Chocolate, vanilla, dark fruit, caramel, toffee and coffee and creme. Smells very sweet but almost too much. Hope it's not as jumbled in the taste.

It tastes more balanced than the nose. The same elements come together in concert. This is a pleasant surprise! I'm getting a nice roastiness as this warms. Terrific.

Extremely creamy with medium carbonation. This is what an RIS should feel like! Nailed it. Fairly drinkable for a big offering. This is my first experience with Iron Hill and I'm in no way disappointed. I look forward to trying the next batch of this!

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.17/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Shane for popping this bottle open.

A: Pours a dark brown color, practically black, with a small tan head on top. The small head lasted a good while and reduced to a thin layer on top. Minimal lacing.

S: Rather sweet with some chocolate, dark roasted malt, some dark fruit, and a surprising amount of hops by the way of light citrus and pine.

T: A good bit of roasted malt, coffee, and some chocolate. On the sweet side, with some cream, and more milk chocolate.

M: Medium to full bodied with low carbonation. Drinks a little thick, but smooth.

O: Very easy drinking with a nice flavor profile. Not overly complex, but I have no problem with that at all.

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Photo of MrVonzipper
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of cclark67789
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

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

750ml bottle, purchased from the Media brewpub last summer

served in a large snifter

A - pours with a bit over a finger of fizzy, khaki colored foam. the the beer goes down, so too does the foam, leaving some random wet spots behind. the beer is black, black, more black...no light geting through here.

S - very mineraly at first, though cut into off the front by some rich roasted malt, toasted nuts, ash, and bits of dark chocolate. gets slightly muddled from there, with some molasses and alcohol coming to life near the end. very nice.

T - right off the bat, a vicious attack of deep roasted malts meshes with ash and a hint of rum. then opens up a bit with an ample amount of sweetness, vanilla beans, molasses, and just a faint hint of dark fruit. a small amount of piney hops are still present as well, though a very minor bit of oxidation has already occurred. finishes on the sweet side, black licorice & dark chocolate before being cut into by some booze.

M - only complaint so far, body is a touch thin which is emphasized by the robust and complex flavors. carbonation is a quarter step above moderate, tingly though words well against the slightly watery body. sweetness is a touch oily, and not dry and sticky.

D - very well done, a bit better than i was expecting. this is solid all around: complex, rich, well integrated and not too fancy. who needs barrel-aged beers with regular RIS'es like this floating around. luckily i will be in the area shortly and will surely pickup another bottle.

 1,514 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with only minimla head. Last year vintage purchased at the brewpub, and Expensive. Roasty malty aroma. First sip is good balance of roast and malt, but a few more gulps finds it satisfying though not complex. More medium mouthfeel, than the thickness expected. Above average carbonation.A good drink but only an average candidate in this style.

 356 characters

Photo of KT123
4.19/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.82/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage (not noted but I knew when I bought it and it was fresh at that time). Poured from a corked and caged 750ml bottle into a Darkness snifter.

A: Standard pour yields a .5 finger fine light mocha head with good retention. Beer is an opaque black. Lacing is stringy and sparse with little cling, small legs too. The nice head and lack of lacing cancel each other out in scoring. Average.

S: Nose is moderately aromatic. Raisins, roasted malt, rich molasses, brown sugar, chocolate, liquorice, and prunes. Solid, but nothing really sets this apart.

T: Opens with some boozy spiciness. Notes of raisin, chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, and brownie along with a subtle hop bitterness that fades quickly. Sweet and robust. Middle is more liquified dark fruit and milk chocoalte. Finish is molasses sweetness with some coffee in the back. Aftertaste is molasses and liquorice. Complex and very balanced. Nice.

M: Medium bodied with low to moderate carbonation. Oily and slick in the mouth. Warm and silky going down with the slightest bit of heat at the end. Finish is messy with an aftertaste that lingers. Pretty standard but the way the alcohol is hidden is nice.

O: This is solidly in the upper tier of Russian Imperial Stouts that I've tried. No overwhelming flavors are present. Instead, there's a real nice balance of dark fruit, hop bitterness, and Imperial Stout characteristics. Those GABF medals were well deserved.

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Photo of Mpenders
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of prototypic
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to csmiley for sharing the growler!

This one pours a dark mahogany color. It's nowhere near opaque. It has burgundy highlights throughout. Unfortunately, there's not really any head. Just a few bubbles on the surface. They look to be tan in color. Lacing was very, very light. Not bad, but where's the head? C'mon now!

The nose is good. It kicks off with an excellent mix of chocolate and roasted malts. Roasted coffee is rather strong in the mix, and complements the malty notes very well. Secondary scents include molasses, caramel, and anise. Alcohol is a little more pronounced than I expected. It doesn't quite rise boozy, but it's not too far from that territory. Good smellin' stuff.

The flavor is very similar to the nose. The malt base is very flavorful and strong. Roasted and chocolate malts anchor things down very nicely. Roasted coffee is prominent and adds quite a bit to the overall flavorful. I'm a coffee fan, so that works perfectly for me. The secondary molasses and anise flavors add nice depth and complexity. Alcohol is a little better integrated here. Given its strength on the nose, I was anticipating some heat. It's not here though. Good stuff.

The body is best described as medium. Carbonation is very light, and it does feel smooth. Nonetheless, it could stand a little more body. Bottom line...big stouts need big bodies. This one isn't quite there. Drinkability is good. I like the flavor, and it's rather easy drinking for just under 10% abv.

Iron Hill did a nice job with Russian Imperial Stout. It includes all the bells and whistles of the style and doesn't make any huge missteps. It's not perfect. Its biggest needs are more body and maybe a little less alcohol. The alcohol isn't so apparent in flavor, but certainly is on the nose. Those are small gripes. It's pretty impressive overall. Easy recommendation.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On nitro-tap @ Iron Hill Phoenixville on 9/4/10. Served in an oversized mug. ABV was listed as 8.0%, which according to our bartender, came in a bit under what they were shooting for.

Pours black, with a deep brown, almost milk chocolate colored head. This retains with a smooth creaminess from the nitro-pour, leaving back a rich cascade of lacing. The aroma is very smoky smelling (and even a little acrid), with a big backing tang of sweet cocoa and toffee tones. Some floral and herbal hop character mixes in as well, as I'm also getting a little bit of a mineral feel in the back of the nostrils. Not quite off-putting but you can definitely pick it up.

The taste starts with a thick base of bitter chocolate and some sweeter toffee flavors, before a big blast of dark roast, coffee, and hop bitterness (a good bit of citric and herbal textures are present here). The smoke really kicks it into high gear in the back end, spreading a good bit of acrid bitterness out into the mouth. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a mouth filling creaminess to it. That 8% is mostly felt as some thick chewiness underneath and light warmth that aids in brining out those deep roasty flavors. It's mostly well hid though and is helped along by the smoothness of the nitro-pour.

Good depth of character here, even if that roasted nature was a bit overdone, and I thought that the 8% ABV actually felt about spot on for the flavors that were present. This was one of the better takes on the RIS style that I've had at the different Iron Hill locations.

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Photo of smitty23
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of GuisseppeFranco
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of Bunuelian
4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of larryarms847
4.16/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a richly dark brown and sits next to black in the glass with a fair amount of light khaki foam.

Sweet milk chocolate and bitter dark chocolate, vanilla, roast, citrus, and earthy tones.

Huge citrus and earthy hop flavor lends balance to the huge bitter roast, chocolate, and creamy vanilla notes.

Heavy-bodied, medium carbonation, roasty, sweet then bitter balance.

Overall, being my first sampling from Iron Hill, this did not disappoint. A great example of the style with a hefty dosing of American hops.

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Photo of richj1970
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 16 oz can into pint glass. No visible date.

A: Pitch black with two finger light tan head that lasted a couple of minutes with plenty of sticky lacing.

S: Roasted malts, coffee, vanilla, and chocolate.

T: Lots of rich roasted malts combined with subtle milk chocolate, vanilla, and coffee notes.

M: Full bodied but not thick. Finish is slightly dry and lightly bitter but in a good way.

O: This is a really nice RIS. If this was in my regular distribution area, I would be crushing these regularly.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.17/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

9/11/15...pours pitch black , thick brown foam with long retention. 1/4 inch lid. Hearty roasted coffee nose. Toasty. Strong roasted coffee flavor. Dry finish. Sweet malty background buried in a bitter coffee avalanche. Can sense the 9.5% but not overt.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.46/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a flute style glass. On location 2/20/10.

A: Poured a flat black with a very thin dark khaki colored head that dissipated almost immediately after the pour. A slight ring lacing was all that remained. It is hard to judge this by style appearance wise, its black, dark, so pretty hard to go off key here. I'll be generous and give this good regards.

S: The nose was lighter then expected, a clean roasted nature that lacked intimidation. Was more in line with a Schwarz style then a Russian imperial.

T: The flavor was smooth with a freshly roasted nature of coffee that was eloquently done. Dark chocolate with a smooth earthy bitterness with a finish that was clean with a mixture of dark chocolate sweetness and creamer laced coffee. Fairly clean per style and easy to handle flavor wise. Sweet dark grains ensures on the finishing swallow.

M: The mouthful had a bit of creaminess, but otherwise was very smooth in character with very little carbonation detected. The alcohol is perhaps the only hindrance here,

D: The flavor is exceptionally smooth per style making you almost forget its 9.5 %abv nature. A very clean approach to the style and easy to consume interpretation.

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Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap as part of the Winter Warmer tasting at IH Lancaster. From the North Wales location.

A: The imperial stout is a dark black color that absorbs the rest of the spectrum. Carboonation appears to be at a minimum, adding to the still beauty of the stout.

S: The nose is roasted, dark with burnt toast, chocolate and coffee. The nose seems muted, as compared to some of the bottles that I've had.

T: Warming, the stout is rich and malty. Layers of chocolate, nuts, coffee, burnt toast and char wash over the tastebuds. No one flavor is stronger than another, rather they all work in tandem to produce a full flavor. The hops are an afterthought, allowing the British side of the stout come through. A nice beer to finally have on tap.

M: Full and thick, this RIS isn't a pounder. The malt focus is a nice reminder of the stout's origin.

D: This version tips the scales at 9%, so it is not a pounding stout. The smaller pour that I had was a perfect size to reveal the intricate strength of the stout.

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Photo of TLove
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle bought at the Iron Hill Restaurant in Lancaster, PA a few weeks ago. Been dying to find an occasion to drink this and last night presented such an occasion.

Black, pourous substance, with a dark brown, thin and lightly carbonated head. Smells of vanilla bean, smoked berries, and dark chocolate. Really thick and strong body with minimal carbonation, though it does not appear so thick as it drinks. Begins to develop in the mouth as it warms, with a touch of toffee, dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, espresso, and condensed, sweetened rice milk to round out the back end. The smoky flavors of the chocolate and maple-laden malt produce a powerful profile. Hop structure is not particularly strong, primarily because of the presence of smoothening factors here such as the abovementioned rice milk and a bit of oatmeal. The minimal carbonation and maple/chocolate malt really follow through to the end.

This is truly one of the best of its style. I wish it was more affordable and more accessible. Either way, I'm really looking forward to Iron Hill's other offerings!

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Photo of mdillon86
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

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Russian Imperial Stout from Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
92 out of 100 based on 107 ratings.