Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged - Big Sky Brewing Company

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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-AgedIvan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

268 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 268
Hads: 751
rAvg: 4.29
pDev: 8.86%
Wants: 799
Gots: 254 | FT: 20
Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company visit their website
Montana, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bitterbill on 11-10-2008

2006 - 8.75% (draft only)
2007 - 8.75% (500ml flip top bottles ~ very limited)
2008 - 9.5% (750ml - capped - 1152 bottles)
2009 - 10% (750ml cork and cage)
2010 - 10% (750ml - cork and cage)
2011 - not brewed
2012 - 12.2% (750ml cork and cage)
2013 - 13.8%
2014 - 11.5% (750ml cork and cage)

Imperial stout aged 4 months in freshly dumped American oak Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels.

65 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 268 | Hads: 751
Photo of CooperEllis
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had the 2009, 2010 and 2012. This is the review from the 2012: Bottle # 1472/4200

I genuinely love this beer in every incarnation that I've been able to sample - and I've had several bottles of each of the above listed years. I haven't noticed any bottle variation, this is great fresh and it ages (for at least 3 years) very well when properly cellared.

Nose has a good amount of wood and booze when fresh and more of the malt comes to the front the longer it sits. The pour looks thin going into the glass, but there is a full tan head and robust lacing. The mouthfeel also does not reflect a 'thin' feel at all.

Taste and mouthfeel compliment each other perfectly, a well-balanced stout that benefits from the barrel treatment and is in no way overpowered by the bourbon notes. A smooth, velvety entrance with no bitterness or booze at the end. This reminds me more of a Kate, subtle complexity and lighter, than a big in-your face -bal STOUT that is ever so popular. Perhaps one for the less-is-more file.

A damn fine glass of beer. Big thanks to azaaron for the hook-up. I hope you enjoy your end of the trade as much.

5/5 across the board.

(199th) (1,162 characters)

Photo of jcnd9803
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Completely dark black body with two solid fingers of coffee colored head.

S - The smell on this thing is special. Sweet malts, chocolate, and molasses. Plus, a definite pronounced bourbon and vanilla smell.

T - And the smell continues into the taste. Delicious. WOW! It is like melted chocolate with bourbon, with an aftertaste of vanilla.

M - Medium body with slight creaminess.

D - Unbelievably drinkable. I am stocking up to see how this ages. Not many beers get this kind of rating from me, but this does. This stuff is delicious! (542 characters)

Photo of haydukeqc
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010- Black as satan's heart, impenetrable crude. The oak is on top of the smell, followed by the malt. First taste is the oak balanced with a coffee flavor. This is followed by chocolate and berry notes, very pleasant. The mouth on is medium to full. I could drink this forever. (279 characters)

Photo of Impfan
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my new favorite RIS. The color is pitch black, and there's a lasting thick mousse of a tan head.

The texture is wonderfully creamy which adds the sensation of more fullness to a body that's just a smidge on the light side, and makes it ideal.

The taste is incredibly rich and layered with esters of dark chocolate, marzipan, pecan praline, coffee, toasted coconut, macadamia, port, bourbon, amaretto, hazelnut, Kahlua and Cream, plum pudding, dates, figs, and mandarin oranges.

The palate is on the sweet side, overall, but never crosses over into the cloying, and the finish definitely dries out the overall experience with some aromatic English hops, of which I suspect the delightful fuggles, and East Kent Goldings play a role.

I just ordered a case through my local Terra Organica, and I really hope they come through for me, because not having a few of these to cellar would be very sad, indeed. (915 characters)

Photo of BillHilly
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Nice 1 finger head pour, stout obsidian appearance, incredible head retention.

S: Bourbon, malt, cocoa

T: mild malt front, sweet dark fruits, bourbon essence, slight vanilla finish.

M: So smooth, perfect balance

D: this is the first beer I have ever given all 5's...you have got to be kidding me! Fantastic bourbon barrel stout.

This was a 2010 bottle poured in my favorite Duvel tulip. Recommend this beer - hands down a new favorite. (443 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a jet black with with good carbonation and a nice fluffy brown head. Nose is bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, wood, bourbon and booze, light smell of oats as well. Taste is roasted malt, oats, vanilla, oak, bourbon, well balanced for such a complex, big beer. Taste is best of the best and defines a Barrel aged RIS. I have had some good ones and Ivan the Terrible slain them all in every way. Mouthfeel is booze, vanilla, bourbon, cocoa, tobacco. Drinkability. Hell yeah. Nothing better IMHO. Musty try and worth the price. (527 characters)

Photo of Tilley4
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle 678 of 1152...

I've been wanting to delve into this one for a while and in celebtation of Ivan's recent birthday, I decided to pull this one out of the cellar and enjoy it... I'm glad I did...

Absolutely completely pitch black with a thick creamy cocoa foamy head... The perfect looking RIS...

Lovely delicious aromas of dark bitter chocolate, raisins, bourbon, vanilla, oak, and loads of sweet dark roasted malts... The aromas coming off of this are unbelievable... I had hyped this brew up and its meeting my expectations thus far...

I only wish that every RIS could match this one in this dept... The complexity and depth of this brew are almost overwhelming... Chocolate covered raisins that have been soaked in bourbon is the first thing that comes to mind...and that's a wonderful thing in my book... Its delicious all the way around. Each sip seems to get better and better and more complex... A true classic..

Without a doubt, one of the best RIS that I've ever had the privilege to have... Nothing but awesome things to say (1,045 characters)

Photo of Svejk
4.97/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have had this beer several times over the last few years, and each time it has amazed me. My most recent experience was a 2009 bottle at a tasting.

A: Just what you'd expect - super dark with a tannish head.

S: The right roasty stout smell accented by vanilla and bourbon from the barrel, along with toffee and caramel. Among the most delicious beers I've ever smelled.

T: The taste is right in line with the smell, the right balance of all of the vanilla, roast, caramel, toffee and bourbon. Simply amazing.

M: Silky smooth, and surprisingly drinkable for such a big beer. Sometimes these big barrel aged stouts go overboard with a beer that seems like it needs to be chewed, but I think Big Sky hit just the right balance with this one. Most likely the carbonation level is the reason this beer seems just perfect.

O: This is really a top-tier example of the style. (874 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.97/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt with light lactose and deep creamy black chocolate note is pretty much perfect. Light bourbon and vanilla notes are also perceptible. Taste is pretty much a perfect mix between some bourbon with creamy black chocolate notes, light lactose and light dry roasted malt notes. Body is full with perfect nice creamy texture and good carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Wow, what a surprise this one was with perfect balance and not too much barrel-aging. (586 characters)

Photo of bgramer
4.97/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Opened a 2009 Ivan. Aroma was fantastic smelling like vanilla, chocolate, fruits and coconut. Pouring the Ivan into glass, there was a frothy brown head that slowly bubbles away but leaves a nice thick lacing on the sides of my glass.

The aroma really sets you up for what's to come which is a huge flavorful mouthfeel of creamy chocolate (almost like malted balls) toasty oak, roasty malts, caramels and toffee notes and some dark fruit. It comes across as woody and boozy but in a very well balanced way.

This is a hell of a stout, comparable to Black Tuesday and other highly regarded stouts. Why isn't this more well known or as heralded beats the hell out of me but I'd have to guess that Big Sky's kinda out in the middle of nowhere and their brewing capacity isn't very large.

2 years seems to be the sweet spot for aging Ivans - at least for me. I plan to continue to stock this beer in my cellar. (910 characters)

Photo of mdvatab
4.92/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 Vintage
Acquired in trade from nlabruyere.
Poured from 750ml bottle into snifter. Shared w/ Barfwin on homebrew bottling day.

Aroma: Cherry tartness, a touch of sashimi soy sauce, toasted vanilla, coconut, dried fruit, and milk chocolate. Out of this world aroma!

Appearance: Light tan two finger head with great retention. Espresso black body, and foamy lacing.

Flavor: Oaken barrel flavor (vanilla & toasted coconut), smooth, sweet and fruity maltiness. Very light, and masterfully-integrated bourbon. A grape juice note, followed by more coconut and vanilla on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-low carbonation, medium-full body, and a warming feeling in mouth and throat after swallowing. (warming, but not hot or peppery)

Overall: One heck of a barrel-aged imperial stout! The coconut notes are wonderful. The beer is smooth with fruity sweetness, and overall complexity from the both the beer itself, and from the oak barrels. Very highly recommended! (963 characters)

Photo of KarlHungus
4.92/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle number 320 of 3000. This beer pours a thick used motor oil black color. The head is one inch of dark tan colored foam that recedes slowly into nice lacing. The aroma is of is very strong. Roasted malt, alcohol, bitter chocolate, burnt malt, graham cracker, wood, and licorice. It is a very interesting aroma. The taste is full of all the things the aroma is, but everything is magnified a bit. The mouthfeel is full bodied with appropriately low carbonation, and a velvety texture. Overall, this is one of the best RIS I have had I a long while. I will certainly go out of my way to drink this beer again. (612 characters)

Photo of wagenvolks
4.92/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750ml bottle shared by midaszero at a tasting.

Ivan pours with a Terrible pitch black body, opaque as limousine windows. A fluffy cookie dough-colored head rests comfortably atop the blackness, superbly retained and mottled with large bubbles. Viscous brown liquid cascades downward through the foam with each sip. The aroma brings a spicy hop profile balanced by milk chocolate candies, caramel toffee, and a slight hint of peppery, oaken funk.

On the first taste, the palate is coated with dark Baker's chocolate and vinous, port-like tannins. Lots of fudge and vanilla bean with a hint of heat from the barrel-aging. Incredibly smooth and subtle for a 10% Russian Imperial Stout. Mouthfeel is creamy and chewy, with a viscously thick finish. Never syrupy, and packs just the right amount of roast and bitterness from earthy hops to keep it drinkable. An overall fantastic beer. After being completely "wow-ed" by Ivan two times straight, my mission is clear: I need more! (977 characters)

Photo of Pigwings6
4.9/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into DFH Signature Glass. 2009 Vintage 1033 out of 3000

A- Pours pitch black with a beautiful tan head, leaves beautiful lacing all around the glass. Looks like a globe haha.

S- Superb smell, a lot of bourbon barrel tones of vanilla and light booze. Very sweet, very much like a lighter BCS.

T- Follows the nose very closely. Vanilla bourbon barrel on the front with mild booze following. Then bitter dark chocolate and the end with a mild carbonation tingle. Very smooth. Again, to me it's like a much lighter, less hot version of BCS.

M- Here's the only downfall in my opinion, it's very thin for a russian imperial stout. Not to say it's like water, but more like a middle mouthfeel between water and heavy RIS. The mild carbonation seems to be perfect for the style.

D- Polished of a 750ml to myself without any hesitation. This thing is very smooth tasty brew. It's very balanced with enough bourbon to get the flavors, but not too much that it's like licking a barrel.

All in all this is my favorite Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, I have other stouts that I think are better, but this in my opinion is the epitome of balance between the aging in the barrel, and the stout itself. (1,203 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.85/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have to say this was really a tremendous RIS. I really did not think this one was really going to be as good as it was. Rich, and served chilled into an oversixed pint glass, this one was consumed on 01/06/2009. Bottle 216/1125

The pour was perfect. Rich dark black in color, no light coming through on this one at all. Lots of tan colored foam on top that just would not fade at all. Lots of side glass lacing here, really intense i have to say, this could not have looked better and I was psyched to get started.]

The aroma was loaded down with coffee, chocolate malts, hints of oak and whiskey, and a really nice touch of roasted touches. As I reach in for the first sip, ahh, this is what it is all about. Smooth, subtle, full bodied profile. Wonderful flavor of coffee and chocolate, dark prune like fruit notes and a very nicely balanced sweetness that was reminiscent of molasses really provided a very solid flavor here. I went back and forth with a score here, but ultimitaly I could not think of what i would do to improve the taste of this, so seriously this was that good ofr me.

Overall really, go find this one. One of the best RIS I have had ever, let alone lately. I would say you have to find this one. (1,224 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.82/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by mdfb79. Thanks Dan! I've wanted to try this beer for a long time.

2009 Vintage
Bottle 2223 of 3000.

A: Ivan the Terrible has an opaque black body. When held to the light, the beer is dark brown at the apex. There is about an inch of tan head that leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

S: This aroma is world class. Roasted malt and bourbon, hints of chocolate and coffee. Incredibly inviting.

T: Though not as amazing as the aroma, this beer is a pleasure to drink. It's extremely well-balanced, and the flavor is outstanding. The bourbon component is very present, but doesn't overpower the roasted malt or any of the other more subtle flavors.

M: Nice, thick feel. The 10% is not entirely disguised per se, but I certainly would not describe the beer as hot.

D: A pleasure to drink. I'm thankful for the opportunity to try it for the first time. I hope to have it again. (902 characters)

Photo of DmanGTR
4.8/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to unclejedi for a generous pour at DLD. From notes on 4/24/10

A - poured extremely dark brown, pretty much black. Deep garnet hues in the edges. Light tan head that retained nicely and lent a creamy look in the light. 4.5

S - A lovely explosion of vanilla, charred oak, smoke, and roastiness. Wonderfully balanced. 4.5

T - Very similar to the aroma but less smoky flavor. The chocolate and expresso are prominent but mellowed by some vanilla in the finish. A wonderful beer, the taste is nearly flawless. I wish I could get this near me. 5.0

M - Rich, thick, and coats the palate. Subtle carbonation. Not too chewy. 4.5

D - For a 10% beer, this went down so smooth and so velvety. I could not taste any alcoholic warmth at all. 5.0 (748 characters)

Photo of canuckns
4.78/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured int a duvel tulip glass

A: Oily black. Head poured thick and about 3 fingers. lacing all the way down the glass

Aroma: Malty, bourbon, caramel, molasses.

Taste: Rich, sweet. Caramel & molasses. Bourbon on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, little syrupy, more carbonated than you might expect, but it works.

Overall: Very very good. Smooth, easy, tasty. Bit of a kick with the alcohol, but it works. Nice.

Serving type: bottle (440 characters)

Photo of JamnesCameron
4.75/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased from my local Binny's, thanks to George for the advance taste before I bought. Bottle number 196/3000.

Poured into a snifter, leaving a large tan head that dissipates quickly, leaving a slight shimmer of a head. Black as night, even up to a light bulb, nothing gets through.

Aromas of candied, chocolate-covered fruit, and vanilla. Slight roast aroams as well.

First sip is bourbon (vanilla and alcohol). Some roast and chocolate at the back of the sip. Good balance of beer and barrel aging.

Mouthfeel is medium to full, but not heavy or filling. Bourbon richness fills your mouth with vanilla and a nice warm alcohol bite.

Drinkability is very good. I'm going to enjoy this over the next hour or so as it warms.

I wouldn't categorize this as a RIS, belongs in the barrel aged group. Not a lot of RIS coming through in this, but excellent none the less. I'm going to have to pick up a few bottles to age, if I can make it through the winter without opening another one. (986 characters)

Photo of KeefD
4.75/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 - Bottle 167 of 3000. Pours a dark brown which becomes absolutely black in the glass, small tan head that was gone quickly but kept a nice cap for some time. Great aroma wafting up from the glass! Chocolate dominates the nose, followed by some dark fruits (raisins), charred grains, and just a hint of woody barrel and bourbon. Wow! This beer tastes amazing. Chocolaty deliciousness through and through, hints of coffee in the background, and wonderfully sweet, but nowhere near cloying, inviting dark caramel/burnt sugar middle, rounded out by barrel-aged vanilla goodness. Bourbon is there, but not in huge amounts. So perfectly balanced between the sweetness and the roast, and the alcohol is barely noticeable. Silky, smooth, low carbonation. I just can't get enough of this beer. I don't know how long this sat in the barrels, but Big Sky somehow found the sweet spot when aging this delectable brew for us. I'm very impressed as Big Sky typically doesn't do it for me. But this beer just blew me away. The balance is incredible, and I can't believe how easy it is to drink at 10%. Well done, Big Sky. Well done indeed. (1,129 characters)

Photo of boomer31
4.74/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage

A - After the cork broke and I put my cork screw away, poured this into myduvel snifter. Black with a nice 1/4 inch brown head. Some lacing and stick on glass

S - Dark fruits, chocolatte, sugar, wood and bourbon. A really beautiful nose with a lot going on

T - Big chocolatte and sweet bourbon. There's a hint of alcohol in the back and more chocolatte. The bourbon is apparent but not over the top. You get some nice wood and vanilla which plays well with the chocolatte which is huge and very sweet. Nice long finish

M - Rich mouth and a high carbonation which isn't too off.

D - What a great beer. Very easy to drink even though there is so much going on.

Overall I am very impressed with this beer. Sweet and chocolatty, nice wood and barrel flavor (773 characters)

Photo of dlello2
4.73/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ivan The Terrible
A – Creamy, cloudy black with maybe even a hint of grey? Interesting. Few fingers of creamy, micro-bubble head fade slowly. 5.0

S – Bittersweet chocolate dominates. A suggestion of hops follows. As it warms the smell develops into a rich chocolate roastiness. 4.5

T – Immediately reminds me of Surly Darkness (which I haven’t had or thought about in a while… interesting). I’ll start by saying this is very good. Not super complicated (much like darkness) but what it’s got is freaking spot on. Perfect amount of roasty bitterness. 10% alcohol, but super drinkable. 5.0

M – Great full bodied mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Not as thick as a Ten Fidy or FIS. Goes down easy. Again, if it weren’t for feeling the alcohol I wouldn’t know it was there. 4.5

O – This was a great beer. As it warmed up it got even better. I can’t believe it but I can confidently say my first 10oz pour of this beer catapulted it into my top 10. Will definitely be seeking it out to try in the future. 4.5 (1,026 characters)

Photo of Parrotbeak
4.73/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours jet black into a snifter, with a thin, tan head that dissipates almost completely, leaving some remnants on the surface. No light passes through this one, even when held up to direct light.
Nose is chocolate, butterscotch, bourbon, and slight alcohol. Delicious.
As is the taste. Slight chocolately bitterness is up front, followed by a nice bourbon/alcohol heat. Aftertaste is warm and complex; butterscotch definitely noticeable. Very well-balanced imperial stout--the bourbon is not overwhelming by any means.
Mouthfeel is just as thick as I'd want an imperial stout to be. Heavy and slightly oily, but with just enough crisp bitterness to balance it out.
This one is very drinkable. I finished this bottle with no problem, and while I doubt I could polish off another full bottle, another snifter of this one would be a perfect way to finish off the evening.
This is an excellent, well-balanced imperial stout- one of my favorites so far, and a great beer for my first review. (986 characters)

Photo of hardy008
4.73/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Limited Edition 338 of 3000.

Dark black with a 3 finger head which looks like a chocolate milk shake. Very nice retention and lacing. The aroma has bourbon, vanilla, cocoa, dark fruit, and roasted coffee, Very nice.

The flavor is just like the aroma. Bourbon, vanilla, cocoa, dark fruit, roasted coffee blend together beautifully, and make for an outstanding beer. A very nice sweet beer.

The mouth feel on this is very nice. Proper carbonation, smooth, almost like velvet. Sweet, medium bodied, and a pleasure to drink. The alcohol is detectable, but not overbearing. A very nice beer. (594 characters)

Photo of yamar68
4.72/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2012 vintage (12.2% abv):

Gorgeous looking stuff... motor oil body with edges of copper clarity, a dense pale khaki head retains well, producing smears of oily lacing and beading beneath. It looks alive and quite scary. A second pour provides a darker shade of brown, making a yin yang in the glass.

The nose is even more impressive... smooth bourbon and chocolate layered with mushy cherries, vanilla, fudge, molasses... all the tasty things you would hope to find in a big barreled stout like this. No individual aspect steals the show, everything is totally in sync which is remarkable to me given the size of the beer.

Delicious. Booze soaked dark fruits that fall just short of "hot." It's very hard to believe that this one packs the 12 percent alcohol that it claims to. Sweet bourbon with chocolate, creamy vanilla flavors, cocoa beans, faint bitter coffee presence surfaces at the finish. I've heard people say that 2010 was better... if that's the case, 2010 Ivan must be the best beer on earth because this stuff can hang with the best of 'em.

Hot damn. Fantastic. (1,079 characters)

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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged from Big Sky Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 268 ratings.