1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Big Sky Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Ivan The Terrible Imperial StoutIvan The Terrible Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

605 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 605
Reviews: 259
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 10.51%
Wants: 769
Gots: 196 | FT: 11
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:
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%

65 IBU

(Beer added by: Bitterbill on 11-10-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 605 | Reviews: 259 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Skagnetti
Skagnetti

Colorado

4.75/5  rDev +11%

07-08-2014 23:18:18 | More by Skagnetti
Photo of oldsailor
oldsailor

Nevada

4.75/5  rDev +11%

03-01-2014 16:18:30 | More by oldsailor
Photo of afsdan
afsdan

Colorado

4.75/5  rDev +11%

05-21-2014 22:23:59 | More by afsdan
Photo of WhiteJordan
WhiteJordan

Washington

4.75/5  rDev +11%

01-30-2013 21:14:47 | More by WhiteJordan
Photo of hardy008
hardy008

Minnesota

4.75/5  rDev +11%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-14-2010 01:41:51 | More by hardy008
Photo of BarrytheBear
BarrytheBear

Wisconsin

4.73/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

cork and caged bottle into a snifter

nice dark pour with a half inch head that sits gallantly upon the surface

pleasant nose of powdered cocoa, vanilla and bourbon

kapow....what a harmonious beer. Vanilla, milk chocolate, vaporous bourbon that lingers throughout but never over powers, and a touch of licorice slapped with a sweet malty finish. Really an enjoyable experience; well blended without the bruising experience that some Impy/bourbon stouts impart.
Barrel lays major tannins along the back.

Carbonation is quite high. While surprising, it works well. Great body: a bit oily and thick.

Each sip begs for another. Ten percent hidden well in the taste. This is an extremely well executed bourbon stout, and one that encourages drinking rather than limits with overpowering alcohol content.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2010 00:48:29 | More by BarrytheBear
Photo of scottoale
scottoale

California

4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml. green champagne bottle #728 of 1152 that has silver foil over the cap and neck. Foil underside is gold. A big pop from the cap and out pours a black as pitch brown liquid with a foam three-finger light brown head. Great carbonation eventually lets the head down to 1/8" and some coating of sticky lace.

Sweet and roasty nose with a good backing of bourbony alcohol. Caramel, chocolate, dark fruit, oak, vanilla and booze really come through as it warms.

Big flavor starts out sweet and fruity with plum, pear, fig, raisen and currants. In steps some roasted malt and oak with some notes of chocolate, toffee, vanilla and charcoal. All of these flavors melding with a bourbon infused oakness. Sweet and earthy, balanced completely with a nice warming finish. The taste dept. scores a big "5". Super tasty stuff.

Full bodied with complimenting carbonation, the alcohol stand right out but never dominates the overall expirience. I truly feel a few years age on this brew will make it incredible and put it up high in the top ten for it's class and style. A big bold barrel-aged monster to be reckoned with. Super job Big Sky! And another big thanks to travisd13 for making this trade one to remember...cheers!

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2009 03:54:55 | More by scottoale
Photo of hayesez
hayesez

Indiana

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

Serving type: bottle

05-23-2010 23:17:28 | More by hayesez
Photo of chugalug06
chugalug06

Colorado

4.71/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2010 - Bottle 0986 of 3800

Awesome two layered Coffee cream colored head. Brew is pitch black. Decent lacing too. Snap and crackle. No lacing, no legs. Kinda thin appearance.

Lots of cherries and bananas. Smooth dark chocolate. Very light, but well put together. Slight alcohol burn on the nose.

Awesome dark chocolate flavors, but it drinks like a milk stout, nicely sweet. Nice light flavor, not a heavy overwhelming stout flavor. Great (light) carbonation, zero bitterness, drinks wonderful!!! Thin body, but it's a great beer that drinks heavy and hearty. Amazing meld of toasty caramel and milky toffee.

Highly recommended brew! One of the most underrated stouts I've had. Awesome! It could be thicker, but it would lose some of it's appeal, it's a great afternoon drinker.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2012 22:58:14 | More by chugalug06
Photo of yamar68
yamar68

Minnesota

4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2012 01:19:28 | More by yamar68
Photo of HuskyinPDX
HuskyinPDX

Washington

4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 bottle #948/3800

Poured into my Duvel Tulip glass.

A - Pours a deep dark black with a huge dark tan head. Great retention and tons of lacing left on the glass.

S - Strong chocolate and coffee, some slight booze pokes through at the end.

T - Fizzy explosion of coffee, chocolate, malts, hops, and bourbon.

O - The cork broke while opening so I had to use a wine opener, it made me nervouse, but all is good. A wonderful RIS, and I hope to score more in the future.

Serving type: bottle

10-05-2011 03:02:15 | More by HuskyinPDX
Photo of CuriousMonk
CuriousMonk

Virginia

4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

We cracked open a 2010 vintage bottle (limited edition #3087 of 3800) poured into a tulip glass. What a special treat! Poured dark black-brown with a frothy medium creamy off-white head with sticky lacing that lasted throughout. The aroma and flavor balances well between esters of dried fruit and roasted cocoa with a slight oaky bourbon presence. There was subtle coffee notes throughout and some alcohol heat. Some vanilla was detected. Smooth and silky bodied beer with a nice finish. Excellent brew!

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2011 22:14:57 | More by CuriousMonk
Photo of dragonWhale
dragonWhale

New York

4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From the events of the Wood Age..

Darkness is spreading! If you look into this glass carefully, you can see your soul being sucked out of you. The foamy brown sits atop, as if its a comfortable place. But, tis a lie! Put not your nose in there!
Oh, shit, I did. Big roasted malts and chocolate, alcohol, sweet bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark fruits, sanctuary, lewdness.
The flavor is big and thick, burnt sugar and bourbon start off with the sweetness lingering before encountering some bitter dark grains, leveling off into a finish with the dates and more alcohol. My god it is outstanding. The flavors twist and turn as they play with each other, so drinkable, so terrible. Ivan, you are a man after my own heart!

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2010 22:44:50 | More by dragonWhale
Photo of chilly460
chilly460

Virginia

4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark black, impenetrable black. Puffy, milk chocolate brown head towers, a full inch high. Sticky lacing lines the glass, amazing looking beer.

S: Quite nice, get the immediate bourbon aroma, warm smelling, not overpowering. Other note I get is just pure chocolate brownie or cake, very sweet and rich. Not much on the roast.

T: Unbelievably good. Immediate flavor is that bourbon tone, warming, soothing. Get plenty of the big vanilla flavor expected to accompany the bourbon, tastes like vanilla creamer. Here's where the huge chocolate comes in, tastes like a thick fudge brownie, very sweet. Think of Godiva truffles. Beer finishes out with more roastiness then picked up in the nose, nice deep roast that lets it finish clean.

M: Right on target for this type beer, big bodied brew with a creamy, small bubbled carbonation. Reminds me of a good chocolate milk.

O: I've had a couple very good BA stouts lately, and this may be the best. Just incredible flavor profile kept hitting with different aspects of it's complex profile. Flavors are well integrated and balanced, wish I could get more.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2012 02:51:28 | More by chilly460
Photo of HopHead84
HopHead84

California

4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

04-29-2010 05:07:35 | More by HopHead84
Photo of thekevlarkid
thekevlarkid

Maryland

4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Out of hand-numbered bottle # 356 of 1152 this RIS was an opaque black color. The head was a full three-fingers of dark tan foam that retained excellently as a cap and left lacing in sticky curtains. Impressive looking! The aroma was dry and complex, wood, nuts, roasted malt, chocolate malt. The flavors were equally complex and on-point, a notable sweetness of molasses, lots of chocolate, toffee, brown sugar, dark fruit esters, hints of smoke and a pleasant bitterness on the finish. As it warmed the dark fruit esters became better pronounced and really paired nicely with all the chocolate it presented. I was actually blown away by how enjoyable the palate was; if I'd known what a gem it was I would have mined more out of Santa Fe where I found it! The mouthfeel was rich and silky, the body full and the carbonation delicate. One of the best RISs I've had and a joy to drink one of the first bottles of this ever produced.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2009 21:59:26 | More by thekevlarkid
Photo of beerdrifter
beerdrifter

Germany

4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A friend picked this up from the brewery for me! An aggressive pour yields a pitch black body with a nice one finger caramel-colored head with decent retention and lacing. The nose is really nice with loads of cocoa and dark chocolate initially, and big bourbon notes as it warms. Also getting some wood, leather, and dark fruit. The taste follows the nose with tons of mocha and chocolate, perfectly complemented by some really nice roasty malt and oaky bourbon notes. As it warms the dark fruit emerges along with hints of brown bread, vanilla, espresso, leather, and tobacco. The mouthfeel is absolutely smooth as silk with minimal carbonation and a velvet finish. The 13.8% ABV is nowhere to be found. It's not boozey at all and there's almost no heat for such a big beer. The bourbon character is as close to perfect as I can remember in an Imperial Stout. Overall, this is a huge and pleasant surprise. This beer is every bit as good as any of the big names in this category. My first beer from Big Sky, but not my last! A really impressive offering!!!

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2013 19:56:11 | More by beerdrifter
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber

Washington

4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Lucifer snifter. Pours a dark, dark black with a chocolate colored head and nice lacing. Delicious bourbon and toasted malt aroma with a hint of chocolate. Intense oak and bourbon and dark and toasted malts. Vanilla, coffee and more oak middle and finish. Kinda boozy, which which lowers the score and should improve with aging. Medium bodied with some creaminess. On second taste, the alcohol is so firey and overwhelming, I down graded this one by a point. I hope it mellows with age. The positive elements are excellent, but it's covered with a pure alcohol burn. 2012 update: I was lucky enough to stumble on a fresh bottle of the current Ivan. The aroma and taste is similar, but the booziness noted in the earlier review is well covered by the flavor in this version. A nicely balanced and well made RIS, that I will revisit whenever it's made; score for taste adjusted upward.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2012 22:37:56 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of Lakes
Lakes

Idaho

4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2010 20:02:09 | More by Lakes
Photo of mdfb79
mdfb79

New York

4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 09/25/10 notes. Brought to a small tasting.
2009 Vintage, bottle 2223 of 3000.

a - Pours a dark black color with one inch of light tan head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of bourbon, roasted malts, vanilla, cocoa, sweet chocolate, and dark fruits. Very complex yet balanced and very enjoyable. I was glad to see the bourbon didn't dominate the nose. One of the best smelling RIS's I've smelled.

t -Tastes of roasted malts, vanilla, bourbon, light coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits. Taste is very good, though a step down from the nose.

m - Full body and low carbonation. Smooth and thick, great feel. Not hot at all.

d - I thought this was a great RIS; one of the better ones I have had. It smelt amazing and taste and felt really good as well. I'm hoping they brew more of this because I'd love to get another bottle.

Serving type: bottle

09-27-2010 15:22:54 | More by mdfb79
Photo of aerozeppl
aerozeppl

New York

4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to dmeadows for the share on this 2008 bottle a little while ago.

A: Mostly jet black with a touch of cola around the edges of the glass. About a inger and a half of mocha colored head with some lacing.

S: Nice bourbon note. Big oak component. Vanilla and chocolate. Really quite nice. Not so much roasty but a little bit.

T: The bourbon and vanilla/oak are really done well in this beer. The chocolate is a nice touch but always stays in the background. The bourbon is so clean. Really well done. Curious as to how much time this had in the barrels because it got everything good without the heat and booziness.

M: Creamy. Little bit on the heavier side without ever becomming overbearing.

D: I really enjoyed my nip of this. Would have this again in a heartbeat. One of the best examples of a bourbon aged stout I have ever had hands down.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2010 14:44:31 | More by aerozeppl
Photo of jera1350
jera1350

Minnesota

4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2009, bottle 41 of 3000.

Solid black color with a brown head of creamy suds. Some nice lacing to match.

The nose is a mouthwatering array of oaky bourbon, toasty malt and rich sweetness. The bourbon is amazing and the overall nose outstanding.

Reminds me of a less bourbony, but sweeter GI Bourbon County Stout. Oaked bourbon is moderately strong and adds a good dose of warmth. Sweet, sweet toasted malt goodness. Notes of vanilla bean, coffee, lightly smoked malt and molasses. Just wonderful.

Full bodied with a lightly syrupy slick feel. Soft and creamy smooth carbonation.

Drinks really well for a beer this big. Has to go into my list of favorite beers. If you like GIBCS, this will be right up your alley. I am only now regretting buying one last year. I highly recommend this one and will have no problem drinking this whole bottle with my wife. Awesome beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2010 03:58:35 | More by jera1350
Photo of ChrisPro
ChrisPro

Illinois

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.

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2010 02:22:29 | More by ChrisPro
Photo of Thorpe429
Thorpe429

Illinois

4.58/5  rDev +7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2010 14:13:31 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of drabmuh
drabmuh

Maryland

4.58/5  rDev +7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2010 18:37:35 | More by drabmuh
Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout from Big Sky Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 605 ratings.