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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

667 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 667
Reviews: 260
rAvg: 4.27
pDev: 10.77%
Wants: 781
Gots: 208 | FT: 14
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: 667 | Reviews: 260 | Display Reviews Only:
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!

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.

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.

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.

Photo of emmasdad
4.15/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this one at a tasting a while back at schmittymack's and never got around to entering it. Poured this one with a few other imperial stouts, including Darkness, Dark Lord and Black Tuesday. Even still, it more than held its own. Poured a deep, dark black color, with a bit of mocha colored foam. Big aromas of roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate, toffee and vanilla. On the the palate, more roast, along with more of the bourbon character, vanilla and oak. A very good stout.

Photo of stakem
4.15/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'10 bottle #3207/3800 poured into a snifter. The brew appears dark brown to black with a solid finger and a half of dark tan froth. The cap slowly recedes leaving fingers and string-like patches of lacing on the glass. Constantly rising bubbles support the cap. A light swirl revives a finger of froth back to the surface. Very visually appearing brew with some solid head retention for a brew of 10% strength. When held to the light, some brown clarity is seen around the edges.

The initial smell of this brew is pungent with dark fruits. Raisiny alcohol is the first thing I think of with more sniffs bringing out some notes of chocolate and tobacco. Oak is present along with a whiskey accent that really plays off of the fruity alcohol notes in the nose. Towards the back are some mellow vanilla scents that really draw you back into this. This is a fine smelling brew right here.

The taste has just as much dark fruited alcohol character as you would expect based off of the aroma. Raisins, dates, plums, prunes.. it all is here initially. As more sips are taking, a bit more focus draws away from the fruity alcohol and back to the dark roast of the grain. A flavor of semi-sweet chocolate mixes with some notes of coffee, oak, whiskey tobacco, earth and roasted grain. The aftertaste is lightly nutty that draws back into the flavoring of chocolate and whiskey infused dark fruits.

This is a medium to full bodied brew that really boasts a lively level of carbonation. It flirts with having just a bit too much fizz in the mouth. If you try to swirl it around, it quickly turns to nothing but froth in the mouth. Luckily, I would rather have it over-carbed than under since some swirling can help ease the bubbles out of solution. Regardless, this was a solid brew. It is something I would certainly enjoy again. Really no complaints here other than it really focuses a lot on the dark fruity aspects which I think for my taste was a bit much. The alcohol is masterfully integrated for 10%. It is there totally in flavor but does not carry with it the expected burn. Really well done offering.

Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.15/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer I remember being awesome at GABF! Finally crack a bottle from a tasting.

A: Black with bubbly tan head and good lacing! Nice.

S: Nice Bourbon and malt base, roasty stout, and then theres a butterscotch smell at the end! Infection I'd say, not sure what it is, Diacytl? Some soy sauce. Uh oh...

T: Thank goodness the taste is still very good. Refined vanilla oak pairs nicely with the sweet bourbon tinged chocolate and roast stout. A little licorice and soy sauce as well. Very nice.

M: A little overcarbonated for me but still pretty thick and good.

D: Hmm, wasnt all I hoped for but not terrible. Did anyone else seem to get a infected bottle? Everyone at the small tasting I had agreed that it was infected in the nose especially, though it didnt seem to affect the taste.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.15/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood I,

A: Pours an inpenetrable black with a soft finger of mocha head. Good lace left behind.

S: Heavy dark chocolate and coffee grinds. Fragrant classic RIS nose.

T: As with the nose, heavy on dark chocolate and coffee. Some sweet brown sugar as well. Hops are there, but this is really dominated by the strong malt profile.

M: Rich, full-bodied, creamy, soft carboanation.

O: This is classic American RIS to a T. Very well made, not mind-blowing, but I can see why it's highly regarded.

Photo of FreshHawk
4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of DefenCorps
4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

podunkparte was generous enough to send me a couple of bottles of the 2009 vintage of this. I shared one, bottle #1947/3000 , with John last night.

Pouring jet black with a dense, dark brown head with excellent retention and lacing, this is an attractive imperial stout. The nose is unique in the pantheon of imperial stouts. There's plenty of dark fruit and an almost port-like character. Very fruity with plums and raisins, there's a moderate milk chocolate, some vanilla and licorice. That port character brings to mind one of my favorite stouts, Kate the Great. Bourboon is rather light, there's just a little bourbon and vanilla present. Pretty excellent.

The palate opens moderately sweet with a little caramel, a little sugar, some licorice. A little vanilla is present as well. Again, a port-like sweetness and fruitiness is present, there's raisins and a little oxidation is present. Roasted malt character is low. Mildly sweet on the finish with also a little cola, there's a rather low but perceptible bourbon and oak character. Soft and creamy carbonation is present, this feels wonderful on the palate. Excellent stuff, I do wish there were a little more roast present.

Photo of caresville
4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

big thanks to tytoanderso for this beauty a few months back, been waiting to crack it for a while!! bottle #307 of 3000.

a- totally jet black with a little brown head that dissipates fast. decent lacing.

s- bourbon, chocolate, coffee, raisins, prunes, cocoa powder and butter?

t&m- surprisingly im not getting much on the bourbon taste as i expected, lots of woody and oaky notes followed by lots of bitter hersheys dark chocolate. faint hops and faint brown sugar. the swallow is easy on the throat and doesnt burn like most beers that bourbon barreled. good stuff.

d- this one is a sipper for sure, but definitely a real treat. not overpowering and not boring, very complex and interesting.

Photo of Onenote81
4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2010. Bottle# 1581/3800. 10.00% ABV. Bottle courtesy of yeahnatenelson.

This one was cracked open for the fourth installment of "A Beer Observed" with ClarkPinnock. Poured my allotment into a standard snifter.

This beer pours slowly a dark black with a stunning thick tan head. Excellent retention with this one. Light lace left behind. The nose is sweet with notes of vanilla, pancake syrup, wet oak, toasted chocolate.

The mouth is weaker than I'd have hoped for such a big beer. Thin at times, and the carbonation becomes a little spritzy in the absence of a full body. I'd love this one to be a bit heavier. The bourbon is wonderfully integrated in this beer. Sweet vanilla tannins washed out with bitter dark chocolate and heavy roasted malts. Booze character is mild here. Surprising really. Wonderfully executed. I really dig this beer. A bit thicker and this one is one of the best.

Photo of Damian
4.19/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Drank from a 1 pint 9.3 fl. oz. (750ml) corked and caged bottle
2010
Limited edition 1916 of 3800
Served in a snifter

Big thanks to Fclfcs for sharing this bottle.

The beer poured dark brown and slightly thin for the style. An inch-tall crown of tan colored foam topped the liquid and faded to a lasting collar. Odd shaped patches of lacing trickled down the glass.

The nose was solid. Strong roasted malt and powdered cocoa notes were apparent. Noticeable boozy, bourbon-like presence. Semi-sweet with indications of brown sugar and raisins. Overall, not super complex but smooth and well balanced.

Boozy, bourbon notes came through strong in the flavor profile. Initially, the beer seemed a bit hot, but it settled down with time. Roasted malts appeared on the front end. Dark fruit notes came through in the center. Raisins were most noticeable. Moderately sweet. Lots of brown sugar and dark chocolate as well. Good amount of whiskey/bourbon. Hint of vanilla. The finish was boozy, woody and slightly tannic with a noticeable ashy flavor.

For the style, the beer was surprisingly effervescent and felt quite thin on the palate. Almost champagne-like. Once the liquid settled, it turned creamy and smooth.

With its balanced flavor profile and lighter bodied mouthfeel, this 2010 vintage of Ivan the Terrible may not have been one of the more extreme imperial stouts I have ever sampled, but it was tasty, drinkable and quite enjoyable nonetheless. I would love to see how the more recent vintages with higher ABVs compare to this.

Photo of scottfrie
4.19/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2010 vintage poured into snifter.

A: Pours black with an unexpected huge foamy light brown head that really frothed up despite an easy pour.
S: Very smooth and integrated notes of bourbon, rich dark chocolate, light vanilla and light oak. I get mild caramel and brown sugar in there as well.
T: Richer than the nose. Definitely a potent sipper. Rich chocolate and fudge dominate with smooth flavors of bourbon, caramel, and slight vanilla and oak tannins in the finish.
M: Mellow flavors but the mouth still has a rough edge to it. Sharp kick of bourbon. Fluffy carbonation, tingly alcohol (but not hot). Thick body.
O: Very very solid. One of the richest and most potent out there. Very good.

Photo of tut2528
4.19/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

First and foremost a huge thanks to Match1112 for this one!

A: the body resembles a black hole with no light penetration whatsoever. It creates a fingers worth of s tan colored head formation that has moderate density and thus moderate lacing. Nice carbonation as it takes very little to re-create the head.

S: oh wow. A huge oaky/barrel character, grassy hops, alcohol soaked dark fruits, big bourbon, leather, lactose/vanilla. Decently balanced, but not a huge fan of the hoppy presence.

T: again, big oaky, bourbon barrel character right at the front of this one. Slight chocolate and raisin presence. There is more of a smoked wood, presence here that was detectable in the nose. The hops are still present but definitely tamed back and actually adds a nice touch of complexity (really didn’t care for its presence in the nose). the finish consists of a quick blast of alcohol heat and a slight tough of vanilla sweetness that tries to tone the alcohol down but there simply not enough to do so.

M: on the heavier side of medium body. Has a higher carbonation that I’m used to in a barrel aged stout. Alcohol tends to linger on the palate with a slight touch of bourbon and oak.

O: solid bourbon barrel aged stout and thoroughly enjoyable. Cannot thank Match1112 enough for this one. truly a terrific BA.

Photo of KlayWey
4.2/5  rDev -1.6%

Photo of josephBOROWY
4.2/5  rDev -1.6%

Photo of GilGarp
4.21/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2010 vintage. Corked and caged 750ml green glass bottle. #2263 of 3800.

Served slightly cooler than cellar temperature in a tulip glass.

Ivan the terrible is a deep brown color, black in the glass, with thick off white head. It has good retention for an aged strong ale.

Aroma is evident from a distance. It is a combination of dark malts, bourbon, vanilla, and red wine.

Flavor is bold too with a balanced combination of the elements mentioned above. The stout is actually the most forward flavor which is unusal for a barrel aged beer. Many times the bourbon overwhelms.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and nicely carbonated.

It may be slightly oxidized but is still enjoyable. A well made barrel aged stout from a small Montana brewery. An unexpected surprise.

Photo of dbossman
4.21/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a 2010 bottle.

A: Black hue with a large and steady, chocolate colored hue and really nice lacing

S: Lots of bourbon up front; followed by oak; there is a caramel and vanilla undertone; lots of booze up front but it calms down and smells pretty darn good

T: Roasty, chocolate and coffee malts; this beer is still surprisingly hot (it's nearly 3 years old) but not as much bourbon as I expected but lots of oak--especially in the finish

F: Creamy and viscous and pretty chewy in the finish but also pretty dry from the wood

O: A nice beer but still pretty hot for a '10

Photo of alleykatking
4.22/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 750ml bottle. Thanks to VinnieVanGogh for splitting this bottle with me. I cant't believe you just found this in some random store.

A- Pours a pretty much black color. Hints of darker brown when held to the light. Two finger dark mocha colored head shows medium retention. Head caps the beer and leaving some light streaks of lace on the sides of the glass.

S- Chocolate notes in the front of the aroma blend with a straight-forward vanilla scent. Hints of oak barrel come through next with some charred coffee notes. Bourbon only really sneaks up in the ending aroma. Licorice and light darker fruits come up in the ending with a light alcohol heat to tingle the nose.

T- Darker fruits start off this wonder beer. Plum, fig and light darker cherry come through and mix with a hint of vanilla. The vanilla gets bigger toward the middle of the beer. Barrel notes in the middle with a light caramel sweetness. The middle also shows a light coffee roast as well. The ending shows chocolate with a light vanilla hint to it. Roasted malt does show in the ending along with a warming bourbon alcohol flavor.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is a little on the light side I thought for the beer. Darker fruits, chocolate, oak, and hints of coffee are left on the palate. Aftertaste is bourbon like alcohol heat, oak, roasted malts and light chocolate. Flavors were blended very well with the style in mind. No off flavors were present while drinking this one. Medium alcohol drying on the palate.

O- This beer was a beast. By the end of the my part of the beer it seemed like my palate was hurting. A little more lively carbonation would have done wonders for this beer. The ABV does show a little in the front of the beer and by the ending it was crushing. The alcohol heat warmed the belly making this beer a nice wintertime drink. I will be looking for this beer in the future but want to make sure I let this one sit a bit before cracking open.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.22/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle very generously shared by Unclejedi. Always a pleasure!

Pours a very dark brown in color. This is as near to black as you can get. No light gets through, especially around the edges.
Smell is nice dark cocoa, some light coffee. The bourbon is very well integrated into the beer. Very balanced and complimentary, not too dominant.
This beer is pretty damn viscous as well. And that's the way I prefer them, so that's good. A touch of prickly carbonation to liven up the mouthfeel as well.
Pretty nice beer.

Photo of fear025
4.22/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 release, bottle number 1581 of 3800.

Aroma:Dark fruits , sweet malt, and bourbon in the nose.

Appearance:Black in color. Head is thick, long lasting and light tan in color.

Taste:The smooth bourbon is the dominant flavor in the foretaste, followed by dark fruits, and sweetness. This fades to a more harsh bourbon flavor in the mid to aftertaste.

Mouthfeel:The mouthfeel has a ton of hot alcohol. The body is thick, and there is a nice creaminess. Good carbonation.

Drinkability:This is a very tasty beer, and I'm looking forward to getting one with some age on it to smooth out the hot alcohol.

Photo of afksports
4.22/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage. Shared with my friends Nikolai, Sergei, and Svetlana. One more complex oak bourbon-barrel aged beer in the coffers of what I've tried. Another one knocked off the Top100. This one is from Big Sky in Montana, and took some doing to get. But after I called on my Russian friends, everyone seemed to want to help me just a bit more. Faaantastic.

The appearance... this beer is sexy as hell. Beautiful head that bubbles on the initial popping of the cork. Deep and rich and dark, vicious and viscous, Ivan has a full finger or more of head on a tiny pour into my glass and sustains thorough lacing that clings all over. The smell is oak, bourbon, booze, and hints of dark fruits, hops, and mean caramel roasty malts. It tastes primarily of bourbon up front, but has a hop forward character at the lips. As it goes through the bourbon presents itself more strongly, and despite the sweetness, booze heat finishes the taste. Minus the heat, this might be a Storm King Stout type of feel. But the heat is good for some, like my friend Nikolai who noted that in Mother Russia this beer would keep the cold Siberian winters warm.

Its thick and full bodied, with tons of carbonation. Best stored standing up, it seems like there's some goopy sediment that I mistakenly got in the brew because I had it on its side like a dumbass. Discounting for my error, this is a drinkable brew for the folks that are in to 10% alcohol by volume Bourbony beers. Sergei was giving me high fives and even called his friend Marshal Zhukov to tell him about it.

As for me, I don't plan on a St. Petersburg visit anytime soon, and I probably won't see Montana too soon either. So I'll take it as a lukewarm appreciation. I'm a little over bourbon-barrel aging, and I'd love to keep this one to cellar it and see how it develops. Until then, give me a good ol' brown anytime.

But don't let the Russians see this. I told them it was exceptional (and truthfully, it kind of is...)

Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.22/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 release. Bottle 2569/3800. 750 mL bottle poured into a tulip. Thanks to readbaron for sharing this.

Appearance: This pours almost black, with walnut brown edges. Thick and viscous, with a small mocha head that recedes

Smell: Bourbon, raisins, and figs, roasted malt, and a little bit of toffee, molasses, and peat.

Taste: The malt flavor is definitely heavy here, with a surprisingly strong and noticeable peat flavor. Bourbon soaked raisins and figs combine with smooth toffee to provide a nice sweetness. A little bit of smoke and tobacco step in on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, with medium carbonation. A sticky residue is left after each sip, and it has a sort of buttery smoothness to it.

Drinkability: A very enjoyable beer, it is a shame this is only released in small quantities.

Photo of claspada
4.24/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2009 Limited edition; Bottle 780 of 3000. Courtesy of hoppymcgee, a gentleman and a scholar.

Man that cork was really in there. Pours a Coca Cola dark dark brown with no visible light what so ever. A small brown inch of head that slowly recedes leaving thick soapy lacing.

Aromas begin with dark bitter bakers cocoa and some lesser milk cocoa chocolate bar. After the initial cacao smells I get the barrel; vanilla, bourbon, light nuttiness and generic wood. Roasted, mildly charred dark malts intermingle with the barrel and some lesser sweet chocolate/dark fruit.

The tastes explode with so much flavor I am at a loss for words initially. First I get loads of dark chocolate, then vanilla and light bourbon, then some dark dark dried fruit (prunes/raisins), then some sweeter milk chocolate and the light oak rounds out the flavor profile. Barrel flavors become more predominant as it warms as expected. No boozy or alcohol flavors at all. Barrel flavors perfectly balance the viscous stout flavors. The base stout isn't too roasty or bitter as some Russian Imperial Stouts can tend to be.

The mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied with medium to low carbonation. Surprisingly drinkable with the above mouthfeel characteristics, the beer drinks rather light (for the style); I am attributing that to this being only (only...) 10%ABV compared to the higher ABV-ed monsters that exist today.

Overall, this is definitely top 5 Stouts/Barrel-aged stouts I have ever had. This beer is once again a winner for me because it fits the criteria that I love which is balance. The barrel doesn't overpower but is definitely still a strong presence. The drinkability is off the charts in that I could finish the whole 750ml if I wanted/had to. Highly recommended and worth seeking out.

Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged from Big Sky Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 667 ratings.