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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: 769
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 17.76%
Wants: 802
Gots: 253 | FT: 21
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 269 | Hads: 769
Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours thick dark chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate aroma mostly. Above average mouthfeel of course and its chocolate and coffee. On the sweet side, drinkable to a point. Bourbon in the secondary, not slight rather significant.Good though not th best RIS I have had.

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Photo of mothman
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

Pours 1/4 finger of tan head. Color is near black.

Aroma: Cocoa powder, bourbon, oak, vanilla, chocolate, dates, dried fruits. Warming and rich.

Taste: Big cocoa powder again. Light chocolate. The bourbon is warming, but somewhat subtle. Has molasses flavors. Some other dry fruits as well. It shows some vanilla and caramel.

Mouthfeel: A bit fizzy, creamy, and warming. Medium to full bodied, but a bit higher amount of carbonation is present. Ends a bit dry and boozy.

Overall, a decent beer. It is warming which I like. The barrels are a bit subtle. I dig it, but it could have used less cocoa notes.

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Photo of robwestcott
3.92/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

cold from the bottle black as night to a plastic cup with a 1/2 finger head at the FFF XV party.

dark fruit, subtle coffee and cocoa.

dark fruit forward. cocoa and roared malts.

medium bodied, big carbonation, smooth and sweet.

overall: way above par.

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Photo of Retsinis
3.92/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A friend got a bottle of this at Blue Palms once, and I didn’t get a chance to review it at that time, though I did enjoy it. This review is from notes from a bottle a fellow BA (thanks Skuter) brought to a tasting at Instant Replay.

A: The beer pours black, with a dark brown hue. A dark tan brown head forms, about a quarter inch, leaving some smooth lace.

S: Mocha espresso, cream, dark chocolate, light roasted malt, oak, vanilla, bourbon.

T: Mirrors the nose nearly exactly. Vanilla, cream, mocha coffee & cream, light oak, and roasted malt. Only slight variation from the aroma’s with some light brown sugar & caramel on the finish after it warmed a bit.

M: medium carbonation, light bitterness.

O: Good beer. I've had it at tastings, as well as by itself, and it holds up fairly well either way even against some stronger RIS.

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Photo of cnbrown313
3.93/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 Cork and cage 750ml bottle poured into a snifter glass

A - Pours almost totally black, but with a nice amount of carbonation and a beautiful chocolate colored head (maybe 1.5 fingers worth)

S - Smells of dark fruit, chocolate, and oak.

T - Initially you get a touch of bitter dark chocolate, but that is well balanced by some sweet, dark fruit flavors. It is surprisingly easy to drink for a big imperial stout. Being a bourbon fan though, I was let down by the fact that there just wasn't a lot of bourbon flavor or bourbon barrel characteristics. There is definitely a strong oaky taste and finish to the beer, but I feel like it's lacking the bourbon.

M - This was actually my favorite part of the beer. The mouth feel was silky and smooth - it glides down easily. And why don't more big RIS's have awesome bubbles like this? They really mastered the fine carbonation on the 2012 batch.

O - If I had to chose between this and say a BCS or a KBS, I would take those every time. But, this was a unique barrel aged imperial stout with a nice mouth feel and nose, so if you're a fan of the style and you see one, I would check it out.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.93/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Tasting with AgentZero...I drank this from a 750ml bottle into my Rochefort glass...The beer is dark black with some really nice head. At least two fingers of light tan head, decent retention and lacing...The aroma is super sweet on the front, tons of caramel, vanilla and bourbon. Light alcoholic finish...The taste is super sweet, almost to sweet to be very drinkable. Tons of vanilla and bourbon, not enough coffee or body or bitterness...Sweet and easy to crush, but would you want to??

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.95/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle poured into a snifter. Thanks to MarcatGSB for this bottle!

Appearance - Not jet black. Dark, but it looks like a light stout. Huge head with lots of carbonation. Good lacing and retention. Lots of sediment, too. Chunks of nastiness floating about.

Smell - Sweet bourbon and some coffee. Really, not a lot of the stout character comes through. It's a lot of coffee and bourbon.

Taste - Bourbon up front. Again, not a lot of stout character until the finish. Some coffee and roasted malts in the background. Hefty grassy bitterness in the finish that reminds you it's an RIS.

Mouthfeel - Not heavy. Very light in body in fact. Bitterness is nice and adds to the stout's feel. The carbonation is quite high and is not really appealing for the style.

Overall - Disappointing, considering the ratings. Tastes good, but not up to the standards of the best stouts. Either other reviewers are tasting other flavors I'm missing or they're tasting the bottle count.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.95/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml, 8.75% ABV, bottle # 328. Pours a pitch black color with just a bit of sediment. Mocha head trickles down to a thin collar rather quickly.

Roasty notes, with some oak and bourbon mixed in. A whiff of dark chocolate along with some alcohol.

A bit of milk chocolate up front, fading into some very nice oak and bourbon notes. Nice flavors here, but not very complex.

A bit thin, with a lower amount of carbonation. A little warming from alcohol. Pretty nice.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.95/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 bottle
The beer pours a rich (but relatively thin looking) black with a thin tan head that laces. The nose is fruity and boozy, some bourbon vanilla, and relatively little sweetness or chocolate. The same fruitiness is present in the taste, but with a bit more grain, caramel sweetness and tobacco-y bitterness to help round things out. The mouthfeel is fruity, medium bodied, slightly dry, has adequate carbonation and caramelized sugars competing against the potent, burning booziness. This is an interesting beer, great flavors without a thick body, and it really highlights the bourbon stout without making it tough to drink.

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Photo of Khazadum
3.96/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Huge creamy head that was easy to produce. Tons of miniature bubbles that never get overwhelmed or distrubed by an active carbonation profile. Inky darkness and a sticky lacing create a picture perfect design on my glassware.

S- Strong oak presence comes forth with vanilla tones in the beginning, background of sweet syrup that the bourbon provides. Little bit of dark fruits laced in bourbon sweetness as well.

T- First impressions are of the vanilla and oak character that fades quickly as the bourbon starts to heat up. Middle is a bit alcoholic, tad astringent, and minor sweetness from the bourbon character.

M- Thin, disappointing, over-carbonated. This is the big let down of this beer. Watery while having a tad creamy nature. The carbonation persists on the opening and through the middle. Lingers barely. Almost a dry finish.

D- Regardless of how off this is from a traditional bourbon barrel aged beer, it isn't a bad beer. It has some issues, it does come forth with a bit of silk on occasions, but overall it is a decent offering. Not as good as I was expecting, though.

Wanted some chocolate, or dark fruits, or roasted grain, or even burnt grain. It is too plain in terms of flavors, but what it does have it does well.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.96/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

bottle 426/1152. Thanks Chris for sharing!

A- Body is a dark brown, nearly black. Pours with a 2 finger creme brulee colored head. Some lacing is left behind in the glass-retention is good at 1/2 finger.

S-Classic RIS nose. Plum, anise, raisin, ripened dark fruit, licorice. Balance leans toward sweet and fruity-but there is a slight alcohol presence as well as mild cocoa and very mild dark chocolate.

T- Taste is completely different than nose. Lots of dark chocolate, raisin, complex-but slightly over ripe. A touch of bourbon and oak come through for the finish as the fruit flavors intensify and the chocolate fades. Dark fruit and a slight alcohol warmth linger.

M-Very well done-thick, creamy, and full body. Soft carbonation but slightly chalky.

D- This is a good RIS overall. Doesn't compare to my favorites of the style thought. Was very happy to have the opportunity to try this!

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Photo of Ricelikesbeer
3.96/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I've heard great things and was excited to try this one.

A: Pours somewhat thin, with close to no head whatsoever... a few oily bubbles quickly dissipated. I don't think this beer is supposed to be flat. The beer looks somewhat thin and oily. It is black as night and hard to see through.

S: Lots of alcohol up front, and some bourbon and barrel character. There is some malt sweetness, a slight estery fruitiness, and no apparent hops whatsoever. Some char and burnt character is there as well.

T: Bourbon, chocolate, oak, and some sweet maltiness are all there. This has the complexity of a very strong, big stout with bourbon and barrel flavors. The more the beer warms, the more I enjoy it and the complexity really stands out. The roastiness of the stout is really mellowed by the bourbon and vanilla flavors from the oak.

M: Despite being over 13% abv, this beer, the lack of any carbonation makes this beer feel much thinner and watery than it probably should be. I think this was an off batch. However, it still has a slick and sugary mouthfeel, and coats your tongue for a while.

O: I would certainly try this one again, and it is priced very well for being a huge bourbon barrel stout. I would hope the beer is carbonated next time which could really improve my scores on this one.

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Photo of oakbluff
3.97/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Stub & Herbs in beer haven Minneapolis this past weekend. Served in a nifty half pint, beer was a smoky ebony with minimal head, light mocha lacing. Nose was not overpowering, anise, dark chocolate. Taste- not all that thick, medium bodied, relatively dry and well attenuated. Moderate roastiness and overally just easy drinking for a RIS.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at Binny's South Loop.

Finally getting to try some Ivan the Terrible, and, surprise to me, it's at South Loop's little in-house bar. Gotta love having days off during the week, right? This stuff pours a deep black-brown topped by a small finger of khaki foam. The nose comprises chocolate powder, roasted malts, a hint of molasses, and a kiss of coffee. Straight impy stout fumes here, people. The taste brings in more of the same, with the chocolate taking more of a syrup character and some very mild bourbon peeking in at times. The body is a straight medium, with a rather light moderate carbonation and a smooth feel. Overall, though a touch thin (we're not talking Eclipse-style thinness, but it definitely ain't chewy), this is a solid impy stout. It's not quite as great as it's been advertised over the years, but I'd glady have more if given the opportunity.

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Photo of strohme2
3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

2010. I don't know why I was saving this, maybe the champagne bottle size was a bit intimidating for me. The beer was properly cellared for just over 4 years then placed in the fridge for the last 6 months or so of it's life. Ever since then, it's been staring at me with every opening of the fridge.

The beer pours a dark chestnut with some dull red highlights. A cappuccino colored head is fairly thick. At first taste, the beer is thin for a imperial stout. I've never had this beer fresh so I can't compare but after almost 5 years it's pretty impressive. Large smell of dark fruits, heavy on the oak, light on bourbon. Some cocoa at first that melts away the more I drink it. There is no heat, everything has blended so well together. Again, I don't know how it was when fresh, but the bourbon is almost nonexistent.

A great beer but I prefer my imperial stouts, especially aged in bourbon barrels, to have a better body and a bit more bourbon. Still very good.

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Photo of Crosling
3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown with a solid black body in the glass. Natural carbonation adds to the appearance of the ale, producing a long lasting foamy tan head. Snickers bar aroma with notes of chocolate, caramel, nougat, nuts, bourbon, vanilla, coconut and wood. Flavor is well balanced, sweet, richly flavored. Finish is a touch short though. A nice ale all around.

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Photo of pagriley
3.99/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 750ml (~8 months bottle age)

L - Dark brown pour that settles to pitch black in the glass. Lighter than I was expecting, with a thick 3 inch caramel head
S - Soft chocolate and a touch of roast on the nose. Not really any barrel but a thwack of hot booze
T - Alcohol heat masks a lot of the flavor. As it warms chocolate and bitter roast come through
F - Lighter bodied for a big stout, a touch thin. Prickly and a bit over-carbed for my preference, and it took a few minutes of swirling in the glass to knock the excess out.

Overall an interesting barrel stout. Lighter bodied, and quite hot. For the price ($14 for a 750) it is a good deal, and worth trying, but given the limited bottle count, not worth hunting down - several year round shelf beers at a similar price (barrel aged Hoppn Frog BORIS comes to mind) are just as good, and much easier to find.

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Photo of billab914
3.99/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2008 vintage bottle #636 out of 1152. Poured from a 750ml bottle into a tasting glass. It poured a dark brown, pretty close to black in color with very little signs of carbonation or head.

The aroma has a big dark chocolate presence to it. It's very rich with a chocolate brownie like quality to it. I get some lighter bourbon qualities to it with some very nice vanilla notes to it. Some sweeter dark fruits seemed to come out a little more as it warmed. Great aroma, I loved how rich chocolate and vanilla notes came together.

The taste is very smooth with with some nice notes of dark chocolate, vanilla and bourbon all coming out. I get a little more of a woody oak presence in the finish. The bourbon is a little more reserved at this point but it still adds some very good complimenting flavors to it.

The mouthfeel feels thin with very low carbonation. The low carbonation hurts it and makes it feel a little watery and thin. I'm sure this is attributed at least partially to it's age.

Overall I thought it had some really great flavors to it. The bold chocolate was complimented very well with the bourbon and vanilla. The thin mouthfeel and lower carbonation hurts it some, but overall I thought it was a very smooth and flavorful beer.

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Photo of dirtylou
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on-tap, brouwers

appearance: served in a 12oz nonic, rich dark chocolate body, very light mocha cream

smell: rich dark chocolate, sweet booze soaked dark fruit, bourbon, molasses

taste: Perhaps leftover from back-in-black, or maybe a new arrival - regardless, figured I would go ahead and tick this one off the list. This is a really big stout with a heavy sweetness - molasses, dark fruit, bourbon, oak, coffee, coconut, undertones of orange peel and citrus hops

mouthfeel: heavy, hot and sweet

overall: solid stuff - but not something to shell out high dollar for a 750

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Photo of Buebie
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle # 924 of 1152.

Poured from my thick wrapped tin knecked 750ml green bottle, into an oversized snifter. The lable on this is old fashioned, I like it, its simple with an old school font.

The beer itself pours a glug glug slow glug with its long thin kneck. Black in color, zero light penetration. The head is a fizzy cola like 1'' brown. It quickly dissipates to a very thin film of retention and some thin greasy drapeage.

The aroma itself is not somthing I'd call a traditiona RIS. The aroma here is sort of a turnoff. A root beer like port wine oaky aroma. A swirl brings around alcahol at the knose, also some roasty chocolate grain aroma. This was not detectable to me without swirling. But still, that cheap port wine aroma will not leave.

Mouthfeel is quite heavy and creamy, with little carbonation. The only carbonation that is present is upfront, then creamyness kicks in and dominates. A bit of a slickness on this coating my mouth aswell. Terrific feel to this beer.

Upfront this is sweet with protein like oaty flavors, and plenty of chocolate grain roastyness. Some carmelised brown sugar with hints at vanilla beans, maple syrup, mollasses. At the swallow things heat up and coat my mouth and throat with a modest amount of warmth. Dark roasted oaky wood come blasting down the door at the swallow kicking my tounges ass. Just a touch of bourbon here, with plenty of roasty chocolate character, as well as a cocoa powder like flavor. Reminding me of a dark chocolate truffle with that cocoa poder dusting over the top, and an infusion of booze inside the creamy chocolate center.
Lingering is a bitter roasty flavor of wood, and plenty of hop backing. Bitter and grapefruit like, these hops linger bitterly for plenty of time after the swallow.

I think when Marry Poppins was talking about "a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down" she was referring to ivan the terrible.
IMHO, the mouthfeel on this was up there with Darklord, and too me, Darklord has the best mouthfeel of any RIS I've ever had.
This beer is superb, the aroma is lacking, as is any head retention and lace. But overall, this is a fantastic ris!

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Photo of rye726
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Bill for the chance to try this one. Poured from a 750ml bottle into a oint glass at room temp. Pours dark brown, near black with atan head. Nose is roasty with some very faint barrel notes. Needs more barrels. Medium body. Not quite what I was expecting, but a decent stout.

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Photo of kbutler1
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. From the latest release. Poured into a snifter glass a dark brown/black color with a thin light tan head. The aroma is made up of the usual IS characteristics of; dark chocolate, molasses, a touch of leather, and some oak earthiness. Medium/heavy mouthfeel. Sweet vanilla, dark chocolate, molasses, and dark fruit round out the flavors. Very smooth and balanced is the best that I can describe this. It didn’t necessarily stand out in a bad or good way with all the other beers we tried this night. Just a solid well done IS.

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Photo of tewaris
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Stub & Herb's. Served in a pint, woo hoo.

Dark, charred, ashy all around. The barrels take a backseat which is somewhat disappointing. Some vanilla, yeah; but not nearly as creamy and sweet as I hoped/wanted it to be. Medium to high carbonation on a medium body. Good but definitely not great in my humble opinion.

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. 2009 vintage, 2398 out of 3000.

An uber-generous extra from inflatablechair. Thanks, Sam.

A: Pours a pitch black body. I'm wearing a white shirt (this is relevant), so I pour it gently to avoid splashing. Even so, the pour produces a finger of mocha colored head that neatly caps the brew for half a minute. As it dissolves, it leaves swirls of bubbles on top of the beer, with a nice, medium collar around the edge.

S: Caramelly bourbon and vanilla. A touch of smoked oak and dark fruit. The base beer's chocolate is most evident in the nose; roasted grain and coffee are less evident. Great aroma; really a strong point of this beer.

T: The flavor isn't quite as great as the nose. It has a nice interplay of bourbon, caramel, and chocolate without being too dominant in any one flavor. I pick up touches of anise and dark fruits. Vanilla, tannins, and char on the finish, with an undercurrent of earth. While the variety is there, the flavors aren't quite in balance and I find myself wishing that caramel and vanilla were played up more.

M: Low carbonation; it's just a little light to be velvety, especially by the end of my first glass. There's a mild heat in the finish. My major complaint is that the beer is a little thin (as in, with a watery finish), and with the low carbonation that makes it feel like a flat cola.

D: In both the nose and taste, this beer reminded me of the 50/50 Eclipse (Elijah Craig) and even BA Blackout. I prefer both to this beer, but it's in the same conversation. As far as barrel-aged imperial stouts go, this one is solid but not top-tier.

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Photo of doopiedoopiedoo
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jeffo brought this over for Tuesday night beer and sports! Very cool...

From a 750ml bottle into a snifter.

Good looking black stout. Two fingers fluffy foam.

Slight smell of bourbon. lots of wood, aok, a hint of smoke and some dark fruits.

Taste follows the nose but with some added coffee and hop bitterness.

A lighter body than with most beers of this style it's a bit airy and a good amount of carbonation.

A highly recomended stout. Actually very easy to drink. Thanks a bunch Jeff for sharing this beer with me.

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