Dismiss Notice
Microbrew Invitational
Join us June 3 + 4 in Boston and help us drink 300+ beers, ciders, kombuchas, meads, sakes and more!

TICKETS: beeradvocate.com/micro/

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

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
95
world-class
278 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
BEER STATS
Reviews:
278
Ratings:
808
Avg:
4.28
pDev:
17.76%
 
 
Wants:
804
Gots:
275
For Trade:
24
Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-AgedIvan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by Bitterbill on 11-10-2008

User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 278 | Ratings: 808
Photo of drabmuh
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer shared by Lunch at a recent tasting. Thanks Paul! This was pretty high on my list of things to taste. I really appreciate it. Bottle 1209 / 3000. Beer served in a tulip. Beer is black with a brown head. Head leaves some lacing on the glass. Beer is brownish at the corners, almost a red hue to it. Looks good.

Aroma is WONDERFUL, unfortunate I find out that the taste does not live up to the hype of the aroma this time but its full of bourbon, chocolate, a little vanilla, some oakiness, sweetness and roast in the back. Complex but distinct, wonderful.

The beer is medium bodied and seems at times a little thin on the palate. There is some of the flavors that were in the aroma but its not quite as good as the smell would lead you to believe. Its a good beer and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It may have been slated for failure when we tried it next to Parabola but it still held its own.

 895 characters

Photo of Lakes
4.62/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

bourbon aged Ivan:

This is an excellent example of a barrel aged Imperial stout. Poured thick and dark. Head struggled but left nice lacing. Color was black. Aroma was mild bourbon with rich roasted malts, chocolate, toasted caramel. Nutty, tawny, sweet. Flavor matched the nose with just the right amount of bourbon mixed in with a strong roasted barley. Hops were well balanced and marched lock step with the malt.

This is an excellent beer.

 446 characters

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!

 896 characters

Photo of largadeer
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chswimmer opened this one. Thank you, Craig. 2009 vintage.

Ivan rests in the glass an impenetrable black with a light tan head that retains well for the style, and even leaves some scattered lacing behind.

The sweet whiskey aroma is huge, with a backing of caramel and chocolate, hints of black licorice. The bourbon barrel aroma is fantastic, displaying the sweet rich scents of a good whiskey without any harshness and very little noticeable alcohol.

Whiskey, caramel and chocolate hit the palate up front. It's medium-bodied, not extremely viscous but quite sweet and dessert-like. There's a lot of nuance behind the dominant flavors of caramel and chocolate; subtle anise, vanilla bean, roasted grain. Some mellow, pleasant heat lingers in the finish. Unexpectedly great, this holds its own against some of the better imperial stouts out there.

 851 characters

Photo of Bung
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml, 2009. MPLS with the fine send.
Nearly black pour, a good finger of tan head from a normal pour. Pretty solid looking and sticks to the glass well.

Aroma is very potent, vanilla, caramel, oak. Some cocoa and estery heat.

Excellent flavors. Taste has oaky caramel, toffee and vanilla bean. Finishes with cocoa and barrel, just a bit of roast.

There are a good amount of layers and the body was solid medium. It's a creamy mouthfeel, and thicker than many of the barrel aged attempts I've had of late. Thicker would have made this less drinkable, so I don't know if that is bad or good really. Easier to drink than the Goose Island, though not quite as flavorful. Probably the closest comparison that or BA Sexual Choc.

Only tag is that it could use more roast, but one of the best beers I have had in quite some time. Was waiting to have this for my 500th review, but it's beer so who cares when.

 905 characters

Photo of ChrisPro
4.58/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle tasted on 6/5/10 thanks to callmemickey!

Pours jet black with huge bubbly dark mocha head.

Aroma was beautiful oak and coconut, with some great chocolate and vanilla and hints of molasses.

Flavor was nice sweet chocolate and bourbon, with a slightly bitter, balanced finish.

This was easily one of the smoothest imperial stouts I have every head and the mouthfeel was like silk sliding across my tongue.

Incredibly drinkable and I feel like I could put away a whole 750 mL if given the chance. I now understand why I like the Bottleworks XI so much.

 567 characters

Photo of callmemickey
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 release

A: Pitch black body. Large, frothy dark khaki colored head. Good retention and nice lacing left behind after each sip. A damn good looking beer.

S: A light, smooth, refined bourbon highlights the malty base. Light vanilla, molasses, chocolate, and warmed caramel.

T: Delicious. Bourbon, oak and vanilla are present from the barrels. Not hot, abrasive or overwhelming. Well integrated with the roasty sweet malt backbone. Caramel, molasses, chocolate, and a general roasted vibe.

M: Medium-full bodied. Good even carbonation throughout. No excessive heat. Lingering roasted sweetness in the finish.

D: A very nice beer that epitomizes subtlety in bourbon barrel treatment. A real find that people should try to seek out.

 738 characters

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.

 697 characters

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??

 490 characters

Photo of hawks10
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage - #381/3000 - 750ml bottle poured into a snifter...

Pours dark, black as expected. Three fingers of light brown, THICK, head forms and sticks around for a while. But the more I drink and the lower the beer gets in the snifter this beer really starts to look good. Not black like I thought at first, the edges are amber, further in a nice mahogany before the beer becomes black again...very nice...

Delicious nose, sweet, vanilla and bourbon, molasses and maple syrup and a little bit of chocolate. Some ripe dark fruits briefly give this beer a Belgian Strong Dark characteristic...Very strong aromas and beautiful complexity...

Roasted dark malts nicely mixed with some sweet bourbon, think Goose Island Bourbon County Stout but toned down a bit...beer becomes less roasted and much more sweet as it warms, vanilla bourbon sweetness shines here, the barrels have done this beer well...after my palette gets used to the bourbon and alcohol heat, I start to pick up some dark fruit flavors that I thought I smelled...complex, with not a single aspect/flavor of the beer being overpowering, very balanced...

Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than expected given how "dense" the smell was...full bodied and decently carbed. A nice lingering alcohol burn warms you up and lasts long past the finish...more of a regular (yet heavy) stout feel than an RIS feel...

Overall a very good beer, an easier to drink version of Goose Island BCS, mouthfeel was a little too thin for my tastes and that is pretty much the only knock against this beer...

 1,548 characters

Photo of hayesez
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a few of these the last time I was back in Montana. Have had it several times but haven't posted a review before. Definitely an excellent Russian Imperial. I've included this beer in several beer tastings and it routinely finishes at (or near) the top. High time to give it a review.

2009 vintage poured into a Portsmouth tulip. Dark, dark brown (nearly black), with average viscosity. Very little light comes through at all, save a brick colored border when held up toward the sun. A thick dense head of dark tan quickly billows up before withdrawing to a nice one finger cap, leaving nice sticky lace behind. This continues throughout the session, although not quite as dense. This is a great looking beer.

So apparent that this beer spent time taking in some whiskey. The bourbon is the dominant smell, but a great roasted nuttiness is also very prevalent. If you like bourbon-barrel stouts, this guy is a must-try. In addition to the prevailing bourbon and roasted nuts, there is a nice sweetness as well as some dark sweet fruit that comes through. Ivan the Terrible definitely wins the aroma race most of the time.

The taste is every bit of what one might imagine given the smell. Again, the time spent in bourbon barrels shines through. It is a very nice balance, however, as the bourbon does not overpower as much as adds a very nice sweet vanilla to the mix. Dark fruits are also easily found, as well as chocolate and a slight hint of coffee. There is a lot going on with Ivan, and none of it is "too much." Throughout the session, the beer itself fills out a bit and gives a slightly more viscous mouthfeel than originally conveyed via the pour, however this still isn't a thick Russian Imperial.

Each time I drink Ivan the Terrible, I am more and more impressed. The bourbon barrel aging really is timed perfectly. At a moderate (for the style) 10% ABV, the alcohol is barely noticed. Quite easy to put away ¾ of a liter. Great job Big Sky!

Consumed: 5/23/2010

 1,986 characters

Photo of Overlord
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oddly enough, very similar to the Parabola I had just an hour or so before.

Pours black, with dark foam edging. No real head at all.

Smells like vanilla, bourbon, dark roasted chocolate, and caramel. INteresting.

Tastes surprisingly bourbon-y, with rich vanilla, and a kind of oatmeal/roasted malt background. The aftertaste has some sort of dark fruit, but just a bit. Really more of a double stout than a RIS in its flavor profile.

Pretty darn good. Mouthfeel could use just a tad more body, but nicely viscous.

 520 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.57/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Shared with bmanning, Azurelimits, amyliz4, and hhanson at a recent tasting.

A: Pours a deep chestnut brown, bordering on black. Slight hints of crimson in the light.

S: Bourbon, oak, roasted malt, vanilla, and a bit of dark fruit.

T: The bourbon and oak really explode here atop the roasted malt. Excellent taste and much more than I expected. Nice undertons of vanilla and brown sugar.

M: Pretty full body with good carbonation and not much of any alcohol heat, especially considering all the wonderful flavors that came out of the barrel aging.

D: Incredibly drinkable. I don't know when the last time was that I had a barrel-aged beer drink so smoothly. Almost reminds me of BA Speedway in that regard. Something I'd love to get my hands on more of.

 760 characters

Photo of bmanning
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared by Thorpe429 at a recent tasting. Thanks Mike!

A: Pours close to black with a thin tan head

S: Lots of vanilla upfront with chocolate, caramel, bourbon, and nice roastiness.

T: Very rich flavors of double chocolate brownie and vanilla, dark fruit, coffee, brown sugar, and tobacco.

M: Medium bodied mouthfeel with nice carbonation and coats the mouth very well.

D: A sipper for sure, but a very well made Bourbon Barrel Stout. For a 10% beer, it went down very smooth and with very little alcohol burn. I wish I could get this beer in my area - it's very good!

 572 characters

Photo of HopHead84
4.67/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

4/28/2010

I was on my way home from the gym at 8:45 PM stinking of sweat and iron and about to eat a meal of boneless skinless chicken breast and brown rice when I felt an unmistakable sensation: the call of Advocacy. I quickly checked the web browser on my phone. Sure enough, there was a keg of Ivan the Terrible in distress at Stone. "Someone may already be there Advocating it" I mused, "though...it's best not to leave these things to chance." And so it was, I found myself heeding the call of Beer Advocacy and putting aside all prior obligations.

The beer appears very Stouty, with a dark color and a billowing light brown head. The thing takes forever to recede.

The nose on the tap version is every bit as magical as the bottle I advocated a few months back. The beer reeks of bourbon and dark chocolate. It's like a dark chocolate bourbon brown sugar cookie. A light roasted malt presence is perceivable. Notes of vanilla linger in the background with caramel and a little oak. The flavor is boozy bourbon chocolate with a restrained roast and a light caramel presence. Every bit as awesome as it was from the bottle. The carbonation is at a moderate level and the mouthfeel is thick, sticky, and silky with alcohol warming. This beer is great.

 1,257 characters

Photo of nickd717
4.12/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 bottle shared at a BeerAdvocate gathering a few months back. Reviewing this from notes I took back then now that it's cracked the top 100.

Very dark brown in color, not quite pitch black but pretty near it, with a small tan head, leaving swirls on the beer.

Aroma is roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, and strong bourbon. -Bal aged, this was, and you can tell.

Flavor is roast, chocolate, caramel, and coffee - a well balanced imperial stout - with Jim Beam really evident on the finish. Some oak and vanilla from the barrel also.

Smooth palate with a medium-full body. Just a tiny bit boozy.

This is a very solid -bal aged RIS. I'm trying not to pump this style (which is my favorite) up too much these days though, and while this was a very good example, it wasn't quite an outstanding one, so an A- sounds about right.

 829 characters

Photo of DmanGTR
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
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 Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mar for sharing this bottle.

Bottle 1,173 of 3,000. The beer pours black with a brown head. The aroma is great and very complex. I get notes of dark fruit, alcohol, vanilla, chocolate and some light whiskey notes. The flavor is brown sugar, caramel, toffee, vanilla, chocolate and coffee. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. This is an excellent beer.

 367 characters

Photo of bonkers
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I split this with a friend and a 750 ml bottle was poured into standard pint glasses. Jet black in color with a thin tan head. The aroma is full of sweet bourbon, oak and vanilla. The flavor is sweet and full of rich malt, then the bourbon and oak flavors kick in. They are rounded out by a pleasant amount of chocolate. The bourbon lingers for a while on the finish. The beer is full bodied and has a creamy mouth feel to it. One of the better RIS I have enjoyed. Thanks to Dunt for this one.

 493 characters

Photo of mikeyv35
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled: 03/04/10
Sample Type: 750ml. Bottle
Vintage: 2009
Glassware: Portsmouth Tulip

Shared this brew w/ a BA buddy beerloco. Poured a charcoal opaque black in color w/ a one finger tan head that dissapated gently. Nice lacing hangs on the glass. Aromas of roasted malts, oak, and subtle bourbon and vanilla. In the taste, the bourbon rears it's head in the forefront, but does not overwhelm. The finish and is of darkfruit and burnt chocolate. Medium bodied and creamy, but not too heavy. Pretty drinkable for the style, but te 10% ABV would catch up to most BAs in a hurry.

Overall, I really enjoyed this brew! If this had been a touch more viscose it would be world-class. Will be seeking out more bottles of this brew.

 726 characters

Photo of alcstradamus
4.31/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with 3 fingers of head. Lots of lacing coating the glass.

Aroma is lightly toasted malts, a solid amount of floral hops, fudge, vanilla, and a hint of coffee.

The flavor is dominated up front by sweet dark fruitiness and big fudge brownie. Very rich and complex, with underlying notes of coffee, floral/citrus hops, oak, leather, tobacco, vanilla...basically all the usual suspects that you would expect a high quality imperial stout to have. The way I describe it, it should be an easy 5 for taste. However, there is something about the way the dark fruits and the hops interact that holds it back a bit. Still, very solid.

The body is full and carbonation is high. Fairly creamy. Very nice.

Drinkability is pretty damn good for 10%. This beer is of very high quality. Very close to breaking into the realm of the absolute top imperial stouts.

 860 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
5/5  rDev +16.8%
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 drpimento
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

HUGE. Smackdown. Poured a nice tan foamy fothy head with lots of lace. Color is an opaque brownish black. Aroma is a volatile mix of fermented malt, tar, grapes, oak, walnut, acorns, treacle. Flavor's the same but much more full. Body is luscious with perfect carbonation. Very sweet finish with a little dark malt bitterness and hop. Not a session.

 349 characters

Photo of jcnd9803
5/5  rDev +16.8%
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 jjayjaye
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque darkness with an absolutely HUGE stiff tan head that fades slowly in 3D, like an ice cream sundae. The smell is AMAZING...primarily bourbon over malted chocolate and dark fruits. The mouth feel is adequately carbonated, moderately thin..meaning that there isn't a true coating texture, ULTRA-smooth sipping qualities kicking major butt!! I NEED MORE! Full flavored, the bourbon barrel aging has the leading role supported nicely by raisins and fig over a more subtle chocolate character. Calling all bourbon enthusiasts..you NEED this! The 10% ABV is showcased really well. Many thanks Pops!! Highly recommended!

 628 characters

Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged from Big Sky Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 278 ratings.