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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

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

656 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 656
Reviews: 260
rAvg: 4.27
pDev: 10.54%
Wants: 780
Gots: 207 | FT: 15
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
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Ratings: 656 | Reviews: 260 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Etan
4.05/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage on tap at Binny's South Loop.

A: Rich black with a small light tan head. Nice lacing.

S: Dry, roasty black malt, chocolate, a bit of booze.

T: Roasted grain, dark chocolate, small dose of hop bitterness, sweet alcohol, oak. Rich and somewhat dry.

M: Thick, small tingly carbonation.

O: Really nice, but I wish the barrel character gave a little more bourbon/vanilla rather than just solid oak.

Etan, Jul 13, 2012
Photo of mcallister
4.05/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nearly black in color not completely opaque. Large mocha head fades quickly leaving little lace.

Great nose with thick toasty oak and vanilla riddle with light traces of bourbon. Black fuits and roasted malts with hints of milk chocolate and cocoa powder.

Nice bourbon and oak flavors. Vanilla woodiness really comes through. Wood tannins linger on the finish. Cocoa, slightly roasty quality, hints of leather and blackberry. Mouth is a little thin for my liking which actually helps drinkability. A very nice beer.

mcallister, Mar 21, 2009
Photo of kawilliams81
4.05/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage. Poured from a 750 ml cork n cage bottle into a Pipeworks snifter.

A- pours black with a 2 finger cola head. Big blotches and trails of lacing remain on the glass.

S- dark fruits, chocolate, light bourbon and vanilla.

T- chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla, bourbon, and some roast.

M- full body and medium carbonation. Drinks very well fresh for a 12% beer.

O- good RIS. Not a ton of barrel characteristics which is why I didn't rate it higher, but nice dark fruit notes that add some complexity to this beer.

kawilliams81, Jan 19, 2013
Photo of Oxymoron
4.05/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What did he do that was so terrible? Oh. Pours a milky midnight black color with a light tan colored head. Thick head and good retention and lacing through the full tasting. Some good legs on this one with a good viscosity.

The nose is rich and malty. To start there is a sweet caramel note that mixes with a coffee and toffee mixture. Some noticeable oak and whiskey notes that blend in well. Limited to no astringency, there is more of a milk stout thing going on. A light lactic note that emphasizes this. Some molasses notes with a minerally note that I usually associate with black strap. Also some darker fruit esters, specifically prunes and some stone fruit notes. The yeast is very clean with some light alcohol notes.

The taste is similar but the whiskey note really come out and hinder the beer. The malt is there with a more super sweet caramel taste coming through. This is really emphasized by the body and milkiness of the beer. The oak notes really come out as well, with stronger vanilla notes (almost like Mexican vanilla). Very strong caramel notes. Again the astringency is really lacking and would like some bite. Some fruit notes, mostly plums but some raisins and figs as well. The molasses isn't as noticeable as the nose and no real off ie mineral. Very clean yeast as well but some booze notes on the back end and as it warms.

The body is very creamy. This really makes the caramel notes really come out. Carbonation is light but almost like a nitro feel in the body. Overall I think the whiskey notes are a bit over the top and would have liked to see more astringency. But this should age very very nicely.

Oxymoron, Feb 11, 2009
Photo of Buebie
4.08/5  rDev -4.4%
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!

Buebie, Apr 08, 2009
Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.08/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle 281/1152

Pours a beautiful brownish red with simply gorgeous one finger quickly receding tan head. Smells of licorice and rum cake dominate the roasted malts. First sip is yeasty and bitter, very fruity with pears and raisins leading the way. The bottle conditioning leads to a wonderful creamy mouthfeel.

ATLbeerDog, Apr 10, 2009
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.08/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

one of the most unique Russian imperials out there, worth the hype. this one has the feel of a light and delicate porter, the most well hidden abv ive seen in years. dark and creamy pour, Hershey brown with all kinds of lacey cream head. lots of appeal and character. smoky smell a little bit, plenty of cocoa and dark malt, but a lightness to it that defies the style. semisweet taste, like the tollhouse chips, less bitter, but equally mild. complexity is not lacking, but neither is drinkability, which I think is what makes this stout special. how can a beer seem so light, so easy down, and so basic, but yet so decadent and rich and impressive. its a balancing act here between huge beer and every day drink, in a way that nobody else has really achieved. a special brew to say the least. the lightness of this will blow your mind, and when you realize its 10% abv plus, you will simply be floored. I was, and it takes a lot to do that to me these days. on tap at hops and pie for a very fair price too.

StonedTrippin, Nov 13, 2013
Photo of johnbjaeger
4.08/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been sitting on a couple of these for a while since they come in generous 750ml bottles and that's a tall order for me. The wife prefers things hoppy or sour so...

Anyway, I figured I could start drinking this around noon on a Saturday and get through it by bedtime. Corked and caged, this sucker opens with a mighty pop for an RIS. Pours nice and dark with a quickly dissipating head. Leaves just a hint around the edges to remind you ir...

So I forgot to finish this review and now the bottle is just about empty. Good lord. Gonna go ahead and finish this by saying it develops nicely as it warms, with the bourbon notes really asserting themselves. I am a lot more fond of this than I was when I opened the bottle (which, frankly, was pretty fond), so let it sit for a bit. I am going to, having fortified, get into a fight with some local ruffians now.

Ivan the Terrible? Ivan the Awesome more like.

johnbjaeger, Sep 18, 2011
Photo of nickd717
4.1/5  rDev -4%
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.

nickd717, Apr 26, 2010
Photo of thagr81us
4.1/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had during a recent Goose Island Bourbon County Tasting in Charlotte with marine1975, boodingo, CarolinaKevin, HopDiggityDawg, and GehenHerzog at Mike Brawley's house with Budweiser sign blazing! Big thanks to GehenHerzog for sharing this one with the group as a supplement to the Bourbon County series! Served from bottle into a Southern Tier tulip. Poured pitch black with a half finger tan head that subsided to a minimal amount. There was no lacing evident throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, roasted malt, wood, dark chocolate, and sweet alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, wood, and sweet alcohol. It had a heavy feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty nice RIS. Seemed to fit right in with the Bourbon Counties we were sampling that night. Big alcohol up-front but mellowed out upon warming slightly. I wouldn't call this one easy drinking due to this but still quite enjoyable. This one had a bottle number and I didn't write it down!?!? Ahhh!!! Maybe that's why I couldn't tasty any rarity in this one. Oh well, maybe next time... This one is a definite must try if you haven't had it and worth seeking out. Glad I got to tick this one.

thagr81us, Apr 29, 2011
Photo of airohead2001
4.1/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes. Huge thanks to glazeman for landing this monster - what a great beer!

A - Dark brown drink with a nice one finger head that resembles foamy, fluffy cappuccino topping. Looks very appetizing.

S - Just great. Vanilla, bourbon, melted butter, roasted almonds, booze, plums, and more booze. Mmmm.

T - Bourbon and dark chocolate covered oranges and lemons up front, with a nice, sugary malty finish.

M - Very smooth, especially considering the high ABV. Nice and thick as well.

D - This was a very fun beer to drink. I distinctly remember just having a good time with it, more than focusing on good descriptors and writing notes. The time of the evening, as well as my EtOH consumption, both truly shine through in any review when I start talking about dark chocolate covered lemons (wtf)...

airohead2001, Dec 09, 2010
Photo of abuliarose
4.1/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter, revealing a syrupy black body under four fingers of thick tanned head. Some lacing. Can't imagine a beer looking any better than this. Smells like chocolaty, molasses-y dried and poached fig with roasted malt. Pretty good smells.

Tastes sweet and warm with lots of milk chocolate and a slight roastiness. Possibly some dried fig in the flavor as well. Flavors are surprisingly light and more reminiscent of a high end milkshake than a heavy syrupy stout. Mouthfeel is heavy bodied but the carbonation starts small and expands so drastically that it flows smooth as a cream soda on the tongue. Very drinkable for the heaviness. Alcohol not at all noticeable in this brew.

I wish I had more of this. So much more.

abuliarose, Mar 08, 2011
Photo of cosmicevan
4.1/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer #7 of the drink down the cellar tasting. thank you to tpd975 for swapping this one my way a while ago. 2010 vintage #1562 of 3800.

a - opened the bottle and had my pour in a cbs snifter. poured a deep black (seems to be a theme for the night) with a thin off white head.

s - has somewhat sweet smell, but still roasted. milk like...

t - very nice flavor. spiciness is great. hot sauce kidk.

m - thinner and easy to drink. medium bodied.

o - overall, very solid imperial stout. this is a tough night for this beer to be a standout, but on another night with a clear palette i might have felt more highly about this one. don't get me wrong, great beer, but in an evening of kate, bt, hunah, cbs, etc this beer was towards the bottom of the list of favs.

cosmicevan, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of Yagman3000
4.1/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a .750 bottle (2010 vintage #1562 of 3800) into a snifter. Part of the very generous Pre-Thanksgiving Tasting Session offered by fellow BA CosmicEvan.

It appears a super dark brown. There is a noticeable film, not a head, that remains across the top of the beer.

I smell a bunch of coffee and a touch of licorice here too. The anise odor is pleasing and natural smelling.

The taste if this beer is rather woody - specifically oaky. There's a hint of coffee in the flavor profile here to.

In terms of the mouthfeel, there's a noticeable effervescence. It goes from bubbly to a thin exit. There could be more in the middle here.

Overall a good beer but it did not rock my world. I was actually expecting a little more flavor from this beer. At the same time, it does a decent job of hiding its 10% status... no easy feet!

Yagman3000, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.1/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour sampled at mrbubbler's tasting courtesy of mrbubbler himself.

2009 vintage. Bottle # 336/3000.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, wood, vanilla, and bourbon. Taste with the same with a woody finish and a slight alcohol kick with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good barrel aged stout but I like the way it smells more than the taste.

UCLABrewN84, Apr 09, 2012
Photo of birchstick
4.1/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage, bottle 37 of 3800

A - pours a deep, dark black color with a minimal head that forms a light taupe color around the glass

S - nose is lots of nice vanilla, some molasses, cola, milk to dark chocolates

T - taste starts off with milk chocolates that moves to a nice vanilla flavor imparted from the barrel aging. Moves on to a nice spicy bourbon flavor with some more vanilla in the mix. Ends spicy and a little hot.

M - mouth is medium to light bodied with a nice amount of carbonation - goes down really nicely

D - overall, this is a pretty nice barrel aged RIS. Personally, I think this is a nice example of barrel aged beer, however due to the bottle count being low I think this demands a little more than its worth. That being sad, I am glad I landed a bottle and would try to get again off the shelf if the opportunity presents itself in the future.

birchstick, Jul 14, 2012
Photo of zhanson88
4.1/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Finally getting around to drinking and reviewing this bad boy. 2010 version, bottle 1404/3800.

Appearance: Ivan pours a dark brown color that appears pitch black once in the glass. About 2" of tan head forms, which has great retention and decent lacing. Legs are okay. Almost a perfect looking RIS, but it does look a bit thin on the pour. That's my only beef with it.

Smell: Interesting. Very dark fruit heavy.... lots of fig, raisin and date. Lighter amounts of chocolate and coffee. The barrel treatment shows very nicely as well. Nice amounts of woodiness and vanilla, with lighter bourbon scents.

Taste: Once again, lots of dark fruits. Figs and dates especially have a strong showing. Coffee and bitter dark chocolate are present, but very lightly. There is a shitload of vanilla presence in this beer, which is awesome. Also some woody notes as well as bourbon. The finish is woody with a lot of dark fruits, and even some cherry-like notes. The cherry seems off-key which is disappointing....slight knock on that.

Mouthfeel/Overall: The body really disappoints me. Pretty light....high carbonation. A far cry from creamy and full. It does improve somewhat as it warms, but it's still below average. Overall this beer is on the cusp of something great, but not quite there. I really liked the barrel treatment, and the dark fruit notes were quite different and refreshing. Definitely a must try, but not quite world class. I wish I had access to previous versions, but I guess I'll have another shot at it next year.

zhanson88, Jul 25, 2011
Photo of hopfacebrew
4.1/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Note: This review was a re-post from my former account, jmkratt, which was hacked and I lost all my reviews...sorry for the redundancy.

Poured from 2010 bottle 2266 of 3800 that my man kiddwhiz hooked up to a globe glass. Thanks again.

A - The beer pours a pitch black color with huge 3 finger brown head! No matter how I poured the beer I got huge head which had unreal retention and nice lacing. At the bottom of each glass I still have a 1/2 finger head, unreal.

S - A fair bourbon aroma mixed with hints of roasted cocoa, chocolate, and a hint of dried fruit.

T - The beer starts with a bit of oak flavor on the front with a woody sweetness. Pale and Crystal malt character becomes prevalent in the middle with mild bitterness and a nice bourbon flavor. The beer finishes smooth with a druid fruit taste mixed with a little bourbon and roasted grains.

M - Full bodied with good carbonation. Very thick and tasty.

D - It goes down real easy for a stronger beer with such complex character.

Overall, I found the beer to be a bit much at the beginning but towards the middle that changed and the final glass I was really yearning for more. It was a pleasure to try and I wish I had another to cellar!

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-10-2011 14:03:38

hopfacebrew, Jan 27, 2012
Photo of kels
4.13/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not sure who brought this to the Holiday Inn, but thanks:) Cheers, unclejedi, Joan, ftownthrowdown, RoyMunson and pwoods. Next time remind me to write this stuff down.

Pours a nice, super-dark brown, totally opaque. There's a little skim of brown bubbles with a bit of swirly brown skim on the top of the beer. There's really no lace to speak of.

The smell is full of nice, cracked coffee beans with a hint of bittersweet chocolate. A bit of the alcohol creeps through in the nose.

Taste is full of sweet chocolatiness and a little dry coffee grounds. The alcohol has a huge presence, but isn't overwhelming in a distracting or disappointing kind of way. The sweetness is added to by flavors of vanilla and sweet cream. The feel is moderately full and creamy, and the aftertaste is exceptionally dry for the style. The alcohol is present in the taste, and it adds a nicely warming dimension.

Drinkability is moderate at best. It is quite tasty, but the alcohol is also quite notable.

kels, Jan 30, 2010
Photo of homebrew311
4.13/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip, served at Binnys south loop. Apperance is inky black with dark brown head. Opaque. The nose is full of rich chocolate and delicate vanilla. The bourbon is much tamer than the bottled version, mellow vanilla with sturdy oak coming through. Taste is full of rich dark chocolate and mellow vanilla. The mouthfeel is hefty with mild carbonation. Overall, the tap version is a step down from the bottled version, the barrel character is tough to pick up. Great stout nonetheless.

homebrew311, Jul 13, 2012
Photo of afausser
4.13/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours (into a snifter) a dark, rapidly moving chocolate brown with two fingers of head. Carbonation appears to be tiny and voluminous at once; tiny bubbles move in a wave to the top of the glass creating a head that almost appears to be on nitro-tap. The head itself is fluffy and a color slightly darker than a mocha-latte--a touch of caramel added in. Drank this one on a particularly hot day (who says it's the end of summer?) so the glass quickly has a large amount of condensation on the outside, creating a somewhat glittering effect/illusion. The head glistens like soap bubbles on its own. An extremely consistent and good looking beer with a lot of movement. Very nice (and fairly long-lasting) lacing as well.

Smell: Very earthy, with berry, dark fruit, and a slight hint of chocolate. Some vanilla notes as well, blending with the slightest hint of bourbon notes, though both of these are an undercurrent to the bright berry notes. Very well-balanced.

Taste: More dark fruits than in the nose, with a nice caramel twist added in. Slightly milky as well, and very smooth. Slightly tangy, with a bit of charcoal bitterness thrown in as well which carries through into the aftertaste. The bitterness provides an interesting element to the taste--when you first take a drink, (or at least when I do) you notice first the sour cherry notes, but almost instantly are hit by a blast of syrupy--something--which comes across at times also as cherry cough syrup, though if it were exactly that I wouldn't be drinking it. Then, shortly thereafter, the bitterness hits. It's probably better than I'm making it sound...but it's definitely strange.

Mouthfeel is sub-par for what otherwise is an excellent beer. Very little heat, but the carbonation doesn't hold up the way I would have hoped (or expected from the appearance). There is very little carbonation, in fact, the beer seems rather flat save for an unpleasant foaminess at the end of the sip indicating, as the appearance did, that indeed there was once carbonation somehow present in this beer. Looking back a few minutes later, the carbonation is in fact there but sort of just _sits_ on your tongue.

Drinkability: Very smooth and low heat--wouldn't expect it to be this good at this ABV--though at the same time it is also very obvious that it is a 10%. The fact that I can drink this on such an oppressively hot day speaks volumes.

afausser, Sep 22, 2010
Photo of youradhere
4.13/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

3024 of 3800 2010 Vintage

Let's see if this one isn't suspect. Bottle cork pops and then a brown gush of foam, fluffy light head with deep mahogany body. Chunks of yeast sediment seen floating about the bottom. Smell is bourbon and licorice, slight chocolate. Chocolate and licorice, bourbon vanilla, some coffee char. Mouthfeel is creamy with prickly carbonation, carbonation is a bit high yet less that the one bottle which leads me to believe #1119 was just off. Very drinkable brew, will do nice for tonight!

1119 of 3800 2010 Vintage

Pours thick black with lost of tan head with deep red edges lots of apparent carbonation. Smells of bourbon, vinous notes, oak, grapes, licorice. Taste is coffee, licorice, bourbon booze, vanilla, cola. Mouthfeel is thin, carbonation high, really high, almost champagne like. A bit on the acidic side, I think the carbonation isn't helping this bottle. I'll have to crack another to make sure this isn't batch wide, oh darn ;). Still good, just not quite like last year.

1811 of 3000 2009 Vintage; 4-27-2010. 4.5/ 5/ 4 /4.5 /5

A- Impenetrably black, with a thick, chunky like tan head which falls to leave nice thick lacing up the sides of the glass. This beer also has noticable legs up the glass.

S- Sweet vanilla bourbon notes overpower an underlying theme of chocolate, and dare I say that I am picking up the faintest hint of Play-doh? Its not bad at all and in every way pleasing.

T- A light bready sweetness cloaks an assault of bourbon and chocolate, with a hot vanilla alcohol burn that does not overwhelm. Light char, and barely noticable hop bitters do not make this an overpowering drink. As it sits on my palate longer I am picking up dark breads and dates. I like this beer.

M- Not as heavy as some RIS I've had; it is thick without being cloyingly so. Very well balanced.

D- Cliche: dangerously drinkable. Not too thick as to slow you down while enjoying a bottle to yourself, this is something that I could drink several bottles of throughout a dark winter night!

youradhere, Mar 24, 2011
Photo of CrellMoset
4.13/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL corked and caged bottle - hand-numbered 517 of 3000, 2009 edition - courtesy of a very generous trader up in Idaho. Many thanks! Poured in to a snifter for review #1100.

Appearance: This one was split between two snifters to accommodate the volume (and the other glass was given to a fellow BA). My snifter - the larger of the two, naturally - initially showcased a brilliant finger-tall crown, perfectly cocoa-hued, and with perfectly poor retention. On the other hand, my fellow merrymaker's snifter showcased a similarly constituted head that remained so constituted on in to the evening. A magnificent tall, dark, and creamy mass, the cap was consistently and quickly replenished by bullets of effervescence zipping upwards en masse up the sides of the snifter. My snifter showcased similar carbonation, but I suppose the quality of my pour (or the aperture of my vessel) was different enough to alter the retention pretty profoundly. Regardless, my snifter still showcased a thick, sudsy collar and a nearly uniform surface dusting. Lacing on the sides of the glass is what one would expect from a barrel aged beer of this style and abv%. We'll split the baby and call it a 4.5. Very nice.

Aroma: Waves of dark malts are absolutely decadent, but nonetheless heavily toasted. The malts are deep, showcasing flame-kissed toffee, toast, full roast coffee, bittersweet cocoa, and hints and kisses of char and smoke. The fruity notes are quintessential English RIS - cherries (both sweet and slightly tart), dates, and raisins, as well as a few spicy hop notes that mingle well with the slight but earthy bourbon notes here. The aroma reminds me of a slightly less fudgy (and less intense - duh) Black Tuesday. Splendid.

Taste: Intense and varied, but not without its drawbacks. Toast, caramel, bittersweet cocoa, and blackstrap molasses intermingle with a slew of dark fruits, as well as a few lighter and tarter notes, ranging from raisins on the heavy end to nectarines on the light end, and everything (cherries, peaches, grapes, a faint figgy tartness, and even a soupcon of berry). Hints of vanilla and leather emerge to meld with an ever-increasingly pungent bourbon presence. The bourbon is surprisingly mellow at the outset, and this beer isn't really about the bourbon - it merely adds a few spicy, rye-like, earthy, and lighter caramelized sugar notes.

Mouthfeel: Slight disagreement between my fellow imbiber and I here. Her snifter contained a rather flat, creamy beer, and mind a zippy, thinned-out beer. I can't split the baby here, unfortunately, as neither is the ideal, though - having tasted both - I liked mine a little more, even if it is lacking somewhat. A barrel aged beer will already be thinned out somewhat by aging and spirit additions, and an overcarbonated mouth can make it feel even lighter and less creamy - not what you want in a beer that's supposed to be showcasing flavor notes that are traditionally associated with adjectives like "creamy," "velvety," and "sleek." I'll revisit it as the carbonation dies down. And it does get a little better, but not terribly much. This beer's weakest component.

Drinkability: A pretty excellent beer, though not without its flaws. This tastes like a small craft brewery beer, though, and you gotta love that - an authentic RIS, made with American toasty malts and English hops, with a not-too-overpowering barrel presence ... what's not to like? This one's definitely a treat though (not that you could, Big Sky, but don't put it in 6-packs!) - it made a good #1100, and I'd be happy to have it again from time to time ... maybe paired with some robust, creamy cheese or some dark Belgian chocolate ... but not too often. I think this would be a true world class beer if it were tweaked ever so slightly, particularly the carbonation.

CrellMoset, Sep 22, 2010
Photo of Powderhornphil
4.14/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage.

Pours black. Several fingers head with great retention.

Bourbon booze and vanilla. Barrel notes.

Taste is great. Bourbon, dark fruit, chocolates. Taste is more dynamic than the nose.

Full mouthfeel but a bit stickier on the finish than I would prefer but nice.

Powderhornphil, Jan 18, 2014
Photo of glazeman
4.15/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thanks goes out jcnd9803 for hooking me up with this in a recent trade. Split with airohead2001. Poured into a snifter. Hmmm...a stout that is corked and caged...interesting

A: Pours black in color with a 1.5 finger mocha head that has excellent retention and lacing.

S: Nice notes of chocolate and bourbon that are blended well, interesting and balanced. Deeper down there is some espresso and vanilla.

T: Lots of vanilla in the taste. A little sweeter than I had expected. Nice amount of bourbon at the finish. I didn't taste as much chocolate as I thought I would based on the smell.

M: Pretty good, though not quite as viscous as I would like in a big stout.

D: I would defiantly have this beer again. It was a very soothing drink on a cooler night outdoors at the start of fall. With that being said, I feel the drinkability is somewhat limited by the sweetness.

glazeman, Sep 09, 2010
Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged from Big Sky Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 656 ratings.