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

Not Rated.
Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-AgedIvan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged

Educational use only; do not reuse.

269 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 269
Hads: 759
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 17.52%
Wants: 803
Gots: 252 | 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: 269 | Hads: 759
Photo of scottbham
1.35/5  rDev -68.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.25

Bad bottle.

2013 #2655 of 3000. Purchased off dry shelf in October of 2014 within days of distribution (I work there). Kept ~60 deg after. Opened today (July 18).

No carbonation on pull. None on pour save for a dozen bubbles on the sizes of the glass. Chocolate and caramel color. Smells of alcoholic stone fruit and fruity chocolate. Flat and syrupy on the tongue. Sour like early blackberries and then sour like cheap candy. Finishes tongue curdling.
You get a bad bottle every once in a while. This is the 2nd from Big Sky iI have gotten after their Kriek. I've had some great ones from them, too: Ivan the Terrible (not aged) and Moose Drool. Just FYI to all the BAs.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.03/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 06/05/2009. Bottle at PPRBSG09. This beer pours brown with a tan head. The aroma is of burnt malt and pretzels. Flavor is overwhelmingly bourbon and sweet malt. Basically it's just a big mess of bourbon and malt. Yeah, it is pretty terrible...

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Photo of jjanega08
3.07/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A= thick black color with a small tan head that leaves some sticky lacing behind
S= whew! Alcohol up front hard! There's the obvious burbon smell following with chocolate and coffee... mostly the burbon alcohol
T= deep coffee taste with a lot of chocolate. The alcohol burned my throat before the sip hit my mouth as I inhaled. Very little but some hop bitterness is detected
M= heavy and sticky
D= maybe the style isn't for me but it's a sipper for sure. Good representation of a barrel aged beer though. Unique
Bottle number 929

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Photo of Nashvillain
3.24/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 bottle 350/3800 shared by TheGordianKnot.

Appearance is dark as night. Huge pillow of dark tan head sits atop the brew and leaves behind prodigious lacing.

Smells like booze made from soy sauce. This is that type of stout apparently. I get that alcoholic licorice smell that normally comes from young ultra-high alcohol stouts like WWS and Tokio.

Honestly, not so amazing. My first thought at the taste was, "Meh". I've heard that the hype comes mainly from the 2009 batch, but this one doesn't taste new by any stretch. A lot of licorice in the taste, more sharp and abrasive than normal and definitely not pleasing. Very sweet, not in a syrupy way, just in a diabetic way. Carbonation is on point for the point in this beer's life cycle.

Decent at best, I think I'd prefer a Palo Santo on all fronts.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.25/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Served on-draught into a chalice at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, California in May 2012. Cost was $8.00. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger head of khaki-tan colour, great creaminess, good thickness, and good retention for the ABV. Body colour is a solid nontransparent black. Good lacing. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Chocolate, vanilla, roasted barley, dark malts, cream, and chocolate malt. A mild to moderate strength aroma.

T: Dark malts provide the foundation. Some underlying cream. Chocolate, hints of vanilla, and caramel. Nicely built and balanced, though quite simple for the style. There's nothing unique or special here (especially considering the demands of the style), though I do like it.

Mf: Smooth and wet; should be coarse and dry. Thick enough. Adequately carbonated. Bad execution for the style; it feels more like a porter or oatmeal stout.

Dr: Drinkable but relatively simple - quite a crime for an imperial stout. I'd get it again at a better price, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it. It's probably this brewery's best offering, but that isn't saying much. Hides its ABV well.

High C+

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Photo of ChadQuest
3.28/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Starts off like you would expect a stout to, very dark in hue and with a large tan head standing well above the body.
The aroma has a lot of roasts present, dry chocolates too, and some oak and vanilla mixed in there somewhere.
The flavors seem a bit harsh, this does have a prominant alcohol note and barrel note, but this harshness was differant and really coarse in a differant way, slightly astringent. Maybe it is the roasted malts and the alcohol, do not know. The oak and vanilla comes in and gives some depth and does end up with a good mix of flavors overall but the coarseness hurts it.
The mouthfeel is slightly creamy and coating.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.35/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

2008 bottle Vintage, #527/1152; Sampled January 2012
A steady pour produces an almost two-finger thick, light brown colored head. The beer is fairly black smelling and it is clear if you look through a thin sliver of it, but is opaque otherwise. The beer smells vaguely of toasted coconuts at first, but this gets quite a bit more pronounced in short order. Notes of Bourbon, touches of alcohol, lots of vanillin and a backdrop of toasted, brown malt, a touch of roasted malt (though not quite as much as I might have expected), lots of brown bread toasted grain character,

Light sweet malt up front, gets sweeter as it rolls across the palate, the beer dries out in the finish with a slightly bitter, burnt, roast-grain character, and some warming, not quite hot alcohol and Bourbon. The roast character is quite prominent here with notes of dark chocolate, sweet coffee liquor, chalky roasted notes, and some bitter burnt character that isn’t really overly sharp. There is a touch too much heat and spicy alcohol in the finish; spicy oak notes also accentuate this, but also provide a touch of astringency. The body, while having a certain heft and viscosity, is a touch on the light side for a rich Imperial stout.

The body of this beer is actually a touch lighter than I would have liked; more malt richness would have supported the Bourbon Barrel notes better (despite the Bourbon character really not being over the top in this beer). Not bad, but I wish it was a touch richer and maltier.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.36/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

750ml, 2012 2536 of 4200
Lost Abbey TEKU

A: Dark brown. Seems like a lot of carbonation. Tight bubbled light tan head. Sticky lacing.

S: Tartness is there. Smells fishy. Don't know if it's full on infected, but not getting the normal vanilla and bourbon hints that I was expecting. Dark fruit. Some minimal roast character.

T: This is possibility infected.

M: Full bodied.

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Photo of rowingbrewer
3.45/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this beer at a recent tasting. This beer pours a dark black color with a decent tan head. the smell is roasty with hiints of bourbon and chocolate. the taste was fairly disappointing as the bourbon was barely there, and there was an off flavor that I could not put my finger on. the mouthfeel was medium to full bodied with good carbonation. overall I was not as impressed with this beer as i was expecting.

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Photo of BieresDesMoines
3.66/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a small light head that leaves some lace. The aroma is cocoa and raw roasted grain with some apple and a bit of bourbon. The flavor is roasty and plenty bitter with some dark fruit and woody tones. The bourbon and vanilla are well featured but not overdone, which makes this a pretty nice version of a bourboned RIS.

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Photo of hellbilly
3.68/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle # 495/1152...

fairly black pour... walnut stained brown black color with a large spongy orange tinted light brown head. moderate trails of lace.

the aroma is surprisingly quite floral... mixed in are notes of sour fruit possibly cherries?, roast, brown sugar, chocolate and mellow bourbon spiciness and woody vanilla.

i pick up a lot of tartness on the palate (weird? maybe from the grain?). it also has a dusty oatmeal quality which combines with the aroma characteristics... there's a bit of ash, nuttiness and smokiness before a spicy vaporous finish. it's pretty well balanced and nothing really wants to jump out. the aftertaste is of mediocre bourbon. light to medium body with a strange gritty texture. it is however, not sticky and is creamy/ smooth enough to make enjoyable.

it's good and certainly much better when warm. but, there isn't anything about it to make it memorable or stand out.

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Photo of caskstrength
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 750ml corked and caged.

Lots of light brown head, more than enough carbonation. Dark beer, looks like a stout. (which, as a stout, it should). Some brown on the edges in the light. More bubbly than I'd like.

Roasted smells; chocolate, brown sugar, subtle coffee. Some alcohol, sharper than I'd like. not a ton of bourbon or oak, but it's there. Some darker fruits show up too. It's not a very intense smelling beer, but what you get is pretty complex, a lot going on and hard to pin down.

Tastes don't quite match the complexity of the aroma. Sweet milk chocolate with mild roasted espresso, alcohol there too, maybe too much. some oak and bourbon, but as a compliment and not a dominant flavor. ("needed more time in the barrel" is becoming a common theme in these caskstrength reviews) Fairly typical, nothing that stands out in the bourbon barrel stout crowd.

Thinner on the mouthfeel, but it's thick enough. Those who like chewy stouts should look elsewhere.

Won't be looking for more, but a solid offering.

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Photo of seeswo
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Bruery snifter. I'll comment on the appearance at the end. Smell is dark fruit, roasted malts, vanilla, oak, and a touch of coffee/chocolate. The flavor is the big combination of the dark fruit, bourbon and the roasted flavor of the malts and coffee. Lesser so is the specific vanilla and oak. The nose and the flavor come together pretty well to make a quite nice -bal imperial stout. The mouthfeel and appearance will be bundled together in failure. Slurping its way out of the bottle was something that could be best described as a beer oyster, plopping its way into the glass. The shape and texture were of an oyster, with a brownish color. After snagging and poking this thing, I decided to give it a taste - sugarless chocolate and bland cocoa, basically. It was really gross to see this thing plop into a glass and it was relieving to find out that it was an ingredient in the beer and not something else. Either way, it is impossible to positively rank the mouthfeel and appearance given the cocoa oyster we received.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.71/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

From 750mL bottle to snifter on 2/4/12
*From notes

-- Thanks, Bill --

*I think we determined this was a 2008 vintage, bottle 636 of 1152

A: Not the best looking beer I've ever poured. Hearty brownish, and on a standard pour, I get a meager head that's not even .25 fingers. No lacing and the tiniest damn collar you've ever seen.

S: Chocolate chip cookies, raw cocoa and a touch of charred wood.

T: Solid. Packed from jowel to jowel with warm dark chocolate, mature bourbon, vanilla and a touch of grassiness.

M: Jesus is this thin. It's lacking carbonation in the worst way. In fact it's so thin that it negatively affects the flavor profile, therefore kncoking it down a peg. This is hands down the low point of a fine beer.

O: I don't know what happened with the feel of this beer, but it really took away from the entirety of the experience. If you can look past it's flaws, Ivan's an above average BA RIS. Here's to hoping that the later vintages have better quality control and balance.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.72/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had again, drank the 09.

pour has very little head, a few bubble tan in color, jet black beer. The nose is rich, dark chocolate, light olive, notes of roast, and light sweetness in back. The taste is a bit sweeter, similar to Adam but sweeter, light roast and vanilla note, nice rich chocolate, smooth body, a bit thin, decent carbonation especially for 3 years old.
Shared at our recent tasting, either an 06 or 07, 8.75% ABV with an 1152 bottle count.

A-pours a jet black liquid with a nice dense tan head with good retention.

S-strong notes of oak and vanilla up front, anise comes in behind, lightly roasted malts, dark rich chocolate in the back.

T-the oak and vanilla are right up front, notes of bourbon behind. light anise, lots of roasted malts and rich decatant dark chocolate. the back has a hint of sweetness, dark fruits of plums and cherries. there is some heat throughout and in the back but very light and just let you know its a big beer.

M-good full body with lots of carbonation still and a good crisp finish. smooth and velvety on the palate with a good creamy feel.

D-this is a delicious RIS with a good complexity. the oak is done well, present but not dominant. tons of roasted malty goodness with a nice light sweetness in the back. great feel and good carb, not too heavy but definitely big.

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Photo of StoneTSR
3.76/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: A large, inch-thick, rocky, off-white head swells up as about six ounces of beer is poured into a tulip glass. Almost zero light gets through the beer itself. Some very subtle shades of reddish brown escape from the edges of the glass when held up to light. With a much larger and longer lasting head than I expected, there was, surprisingly, no lacing to speak of.

SMELL: Sweet, dark fruits dominate the aroma at first, but after a few sniffs big chocolate and vanilla flavors waft in.

TASTE: Cherry, raisins and dates are very strong in this beer while the vanilla, chocolate and oak notes serve to round out the flavor. A little balance comes in the form of some increasingly intense roasty notes as the beer warms along with a touch of hops.

MOUTHFEEL: Sweet start with a pretty dry finish. A subtle sparkle tickle the tongue, just enough to gives this otherwise silky beer a little bite.

OVERALL: The oak does not come through as strongly as I would like, and the fruit on
the nose was a bit of a turn off at first, but as I began taking in the subtleties of this beer it became much more enjoyable.

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Photo of MCain04
3.77/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle from 2013 vintage, bottle 653/3000 poured into a Half Acre snifter at around 50F. Price $16/bottle.

Pours a dark brown body, almost no head to speak of, large beige bubbles quickly dissipate into mild rimming.

Smells of bourbon, sweet molasses, dark fruits, figs, vanilla, and light grape sweetness.

Taste is bourbon-forward with strong notes of molasses and vanilla. Drying alcohol esters. Subdued roast character. Taste is thin. Drying finish.

Feel is thin for as big as the beer is. Low carbonation. Easy drinking.

Overall, for as much as I anticipated this, I'm disappointed. This needs improvement in several areas. My other bottle will be happily donated to a friend who didn't get a bottle from the latest release, and here's hoping that future releases improve.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.78/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Nice looking, big two finger tan head that dissipated nicely with a little cap on the top. Some sheet/chunk lacing left on the sides throughout the drink.

S - Very sweet, maybe more caramel in a beer than I've ever smelled before. Some roasted malts, pretty big bourbon smell. Pretty nice, one of the sweeter things I've smelled.

T - Caramel and malt comes through, but this is a big bourbon tasting beer. Quite sweet, with a hot bourbon taste, some slight bitterness. Little bit of coffee, but this is really just a huge bourbon. Hot in the stomach.

M - Medium carbonation, medium bodied. Not great feel.

D - Too hot, had Parabola at 13% earlier and it was much easier to drink than this.

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Photo of sisuspeed
3.78/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to spycow for the bottle!
2010 Vintage
Bottle 343 of 3800

Poured into a Portsmouth tulip. Ivan produces an essentially black body with a thick, light-tan, head on top. Nice lacing.

Lots of oakiness on the nose with well roasted malts and some sweet bourbon. I'm not sure what barrels Big Sky used, but there is some earthy spiciness to bourbon as well. Touch of dark fruit and a hint of coffee. On par with most bourbon barrel aged stouts.

Roasty malts and fig molasses on the tongue with oaky, spicy, bourbon in the background. Quite sweet with some ethanol burn on the finish. I like the flavor up front, but the finish is kind of a sugary, alcoholic, mess. Light chocolate presence throughout.

Mouthfeel is good. Ivan has some nice thickness to it, but the carbonation is a bit too high. Warming alcohol on the finish. I wish the carbonation was knocked down a bit, but swirling the glass a lot helps.

Drinkability is good. Even with the higher than normal carbonation for the style and messy finish, I'm still enjoying the glass in front of me. Gets fairly quaffable as the carbonation drops off and it rises to room temp. Ivan is better than the average BA RIS, but their are others that are still another level or two above this. Worth checking out if you like the style and have easy access to it.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes. Thanks to ShanePB for bringing this down to share with me. 2009 Vintage.

A: Poured a dark brown/black with a slight reddish tint when held up to the light. A small tan head formed on top with little retention and spotty lacing.

S: Lots of cherry and oak, the oak intensifies as the beer warms. There is a hint of cocoa and vanilla. The strongest aroma reminds me of sherry/port though, I could smell it immediately.

T: Heavy dark fruit flavors with cherry, plum, and some dates. There is a mixture of oak and vanilla, the sherry/port flavors are present. This beer, more than any other I can remember, reminds me of wine. As the beer opens up there is a slight tartness on the finish.

M: Medium to full bodied with a nice level of carbonation for a bottle form 2009.

O: A bit of a let down based on the hype. Its good, but the fruit flavor and wine like qualities aren't typically what I am looking for in the style. Would love to try it again to see if there was just something a little off about this bottle.

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Photo of ShanePB
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After Matt aka mdaschaf, my girlfriend and I opened up the Menagerie No. 5, we moved onto my bottle of Ivan. 750 ml corked and caged green bottle, poured into tulip glasses.

Vintage 2009.

A: Deep brown edging to a full black body with some amber hues around the top edges in the light. Atop is a light beige head, along with sporadic lacing and a thin retention ring. Not a bad looking beer though I did expect a darker head.

S: Sherry, port wine, very sweet with obvious fruity undertones. Cherry, plum come through midway and end with cocoa powder and slightly charred oak wood. It's not infected, but the sweeter fruity notes definitely threw me off.

T: Oak dominates up front and even more so as this beer warms. Faint dark baker's chocolate, black cherry and some sweet sugary dates are mid-palate. The finish is quite tart that opens up the longer this sits. The fruity, tartness in the finish wasn't necessarily unpleasant but something unexpected.

M: Well carbonated for being a vintage 2009, maybe a bit too much for the style. Fairly smooth, not as creamy as I wanted and a touch dry in the linger.

In comparison to other Russian Imperial Stouts, this is definitely a good one but it doesn't match up to other breweries. The beer itself had a weird combination of roast, wood and fruit that I think perhaps was unintentional but it definitely came through big.

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Photo of Brad007
3.81/5  rDev -11%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch-black with a thick and frothy brown head into my glass. Lots of foam, which I beleive is unusual for this style.

Lots of oak upfront followed by just a bit of roasted malt and cream. Not really a big fan of oaked beers but this isn't too strong.

Roasted malt, chocolate and cream mingle with oak flavors. Again, oak flavors are strong but not as strong as if this beer were fresher.

Lingering oak and roasted malt at the back of the throat. Not much else. Not as much of a bite here.

It's a decent example of the style. Received it in a trade and it's been sitting in my fridge for months. Not bad.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.81/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2010 bottle courtesy of Harrymel, thanks man! Ink black with a super foamy head. Smells like wood and booze. The flavor at first like drinking a whiskey or bourbon, very strong but then I got roasted malts and a very odd tartness. Given the tartness and super foam I wonder if this was showing early signs of infection? Overall not bad but a bit of a let down after the olde bluehair was so surprising.

Update 2013 bottle

Aroma is a pretty awesome chocolate and bourbon mash up. Flavor is also a nicely bourbon barrel influenced stout. Much better than the last incarnation I had and for $12.99 this is kind of a deal given the way pricing has gone.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
3.82/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750mL bottle split 2 ways. 2010 vintage.

A: Rambunctious head, a full inch of fluffy cappuccino foam, after a glugging pour. Nice legs. Absence worthy black.

N: Bourbon, oak, prunes, chocolate. Slight roast and moderate licorice. Some soy sauce. Caramel and fudge - more of the wood and bourbon.

T: Oak, prune, raisin, fudge. Honey and low levels of roastiness. Espresso sweetened with two lumps of sugar in the grind. Very sweet, but it's not cloying as some of its competitors are wont to be. Hints of soy sauce. Hops are here with some earthy bite, but they mostly add balance.

M: Creamy mouthfeel which is on the lighter side of the spectrum. Lots of booze still.

O: A really well balanced and fairly delicate beer. Very enjoyable, and worth recommending.

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Photo of Gfunk720
3.83/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle, out of my Lost Abbey stemware. Shared with a couple buddies.

A- Pitch black with a crazy foamy tannish head. There is just sooo much head. Pretty typical stout appearance though.

S- A little muted. Notes of coffee, bourbon, and booze. Also some dark fruits and chcolate malt.

T- A rich chocolatey flavor is the first thing that hits my tongue. I also get hints of coffee, bourbon, and oak. It is very nice and smooth. The bourbon isn't over the top, but a nice addition to the base beer.

M- A little fizzy, and could have use a bit more body. I knew it was going to be fizzy based on the foamy head, but it wasn't as bad as I expected.

O- A very nice sipper, that has plenty of flavor and complexity. The mouthfeel was probably the biggest let down here, but this was also a fairly fresh bottle. Would be curious to see what it would be like with some more age.


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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged from Big Sky Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 269 ratings.