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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

619 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 619
Reviews: 259
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 10.51%
Wants: 765
Gots: 198 | FT: 13
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: 619 | Reviews: 259 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of moshea
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

moshea, Jun 30, 2014
Photo of sisuspeed
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Thanks to spycow for the bottle!
2010 Vintage
Bottle 343 of 3800

Poured into a Portsmouth tulip. Ivan produces an essentially black body with a thick, light-tan, head on top. Nice lacing.

Lots of oakiness on the nose with well roasted malts and some sweet bourbon. I'm not sure what barrels Big Sky used, but there is some earthy spiciness to bourbon as well. Touch of dark fruit and a hint of coffee. On par with most bourbon barrel aged stouts.

Roasty malts and fig molasses on the tongue with oaky, spicy, bourbon in the background. Quite sweet with some ethanol burn on the finish. I like the flavor up front, but the finish is kind of a sugary, alcoholic, mess. Light chocolate presence throughout.

Mouthfeel is good. Ivan has some nice thickness to it, but the carbonation is a bit too high. Warming alcohol on the finish. I wish the carbonation was knocked down a bit, but swirling the glass a lot helps.

Drinkability is good. Even with the higher than normal carbonation for the style and messy finish, I'm still enjoying the glass in front of me. Gets fairly quaffable as the carbonation drops off and it rises to room temp. Ivan is better than the average BA RIS, but their are others that are still another level or two above this. Worth checking out if you like the style and have easy access to it.

sisuspeed, Mar 08, 2011
Photo of duff247
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

duff247, Jul 18, 2013
Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

coreyfmcdonald, Jan 01, 2012
Photo of hopluva1
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

hopluva1, Mar 22, 2012
Photo of CoolEthan
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

CoolEthan, Oct 11, 2013
Photo of xraided81
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

xraided81, Jul 04, 2012
Photo of Michigan
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Michigan, Jul 12, 2013
Photo of BMart
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

BMart, Aug 09, 2013
Photo of MCain04
3.76/5  rDev -12.1%

750ml bottle from 2013 vintage, bottle 653/3000 poured into a Half Acre snifter at around 50F. Price $16/bottle.

Pours a dark brown body, almost no head to speak of, large beige bubbles quickly dissipate into mild rimming.

Smells of bourbon, sweet molasses, dark fruits, figs, vanilla, and light grape sweetness.

Taste is bourbon-forward with strong notes of molasses and vanilla. Drying alcohol esters. Subdued roast character. Taste is thin. Drying finish.

Feel is thin for as big as the beer is. Low carbonation. Easy drinking.

Overall, for as much as I anticipated this, I'm disappointed. This needs improvement in several areas. My other bottle will be happily donated to a friend who didn't get a bottle from the latest release, and here's hoping that future releases improve.

MCain04, Feb 12, 2014
Photo of mdaschaf
3.78/5  rDev -11.7%

Review from notes. Thanks to ShanePB for bringing this down to share with me. 2009 Vintage.

A: Poured a dark brown/black with a slight reddish tint when held up to the light. A small tan head formed on top with little retention and spotty lacing.

S: Lots of cherry and oak, the oak intensifies as the beer warms. There is a hint of cocoa and vanilla. The strongest aroma reminds me of sherry/port though, I could smell it immediately.

T: Heavy dark fruit flavors with cherry, plum, and some dates. There is a mixture of oak and vanilla, the sherry/port flavors are present. This beer, more than any other I can remember, reminds me of wine. As the beer opens up there is a slight tartness on the finish.

M: Medium to full bodied with a nice level of carbonation for a bottle form 2009.

O: A bit of a let down based on the hype. Its good, but the fruit flavor and wine like qualities aren't typically what I am looking for in the style. Would love to try it again to see if there was just something a little off about this bottle.

mdaschaf, Jul 24, 2011
Photo of ShanePB
3.78/5  rDev -11.7%

After Matt aka mdaschaf, my girlfriend and I opened up the Menagerie No. 5, we moved onto my bottle of Ivan. 750 ml corked and caged green bottle, poured into tulip glasses.

Vintage 2009.

A: Deep brown edging to a full black body with some amber hues around the top edges in the light. Atop is a light beige head, along with sporadic lacing and a thin retention ring. Not a bad looking beer though I did expect a darker head.

S: Sherry, port wine, very sweet with obvious fruity undertones. Cherry, plum come through midway and end with cocoa powder and slightly charred oak wood. It's not infected, but the sweeter fruity notes definitely threw me off.

T: Oak dominates up front and even more so as this beer warms. Faint dark baker's chocolate, black cherry and some sweet sugary dates are mid-palate. The finish is quite tart that opens up the longer this sits. The fruity, tartness in the finish wasn't necessarily unpleasant but something unexpected.

M: Well carbonated for being a vintage 2009, maybe a bit too much for the style. Fairly smooth, not as creamy as I wanted and a touch dry in the linger.

In comparison to other Russian Imperial Stouts, this is definitely a good one but it doesn't match up to other breweries. The beer itself had a weird combination of roast, wood and fruit that I think perhaps was unintentional but it definitely came through big.

ShanePB, Jul 20, 2011
Photo of AgentZero
3.78/5  rDev -11.7%

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.

AgentZero, Jun 05, 2010
Photo of Brad007
3.78/5  rDev -11.7%

Pours a pitch-black with a thick and frothy brown head into my glass. Lots of foam, which I beleive is unusual for this style.

Lots of oak upfront followed by just a bit of roasted malt and cream. Not really a big fan of oaked beers but this isn't too strong.

Roasted malt, chocolate and cream mingle with oak flavors. Again, oak flavors are strong but not as strong as if this beer were fresher.

Lingering oak and roasted malt at the back of the throat. Not much else. Not as much of a bite here.

It's a decent example of the style. Received it in a trade and it's been sitting in my fridge for months. Not bad.

Brad007, Jun 20, 2011
Photo of ArrogantB
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%

2010 bottle courtesy of Harrymel, thanks man! Ink black with a super foamy head. Smells like wood and booze. The flavor at first like drinking a whiskey or bourbon, very strong but then I got roasted malts and a very odd tartness. Given the tartness and super foam I wonder if this was showing early signs of infection? Overall not bad but a bit of a let down after the olde bluehair was so surprising.

Update 2013 bottle

Aroma is a pretty awesome chocolate and bourbon mash up. Flavor is also a nicely bourbon barrel influenced stout. Much better than the last incarnation I had and for $12.99 this is kind of a deal given the way pricing has gone.

ArrogantB, Aug 31, 2011
Photo of Sarlacc83
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%

750mL bottle split 2 ways. 2010 vintage.

A: Rambunctious head, a full inch of fluffy cappuccino foam, after a glugging pour. Nice legs. Absence worthy black.

N: Bourbon, oak, prunes, chocolate. Slight roast and moderate licorice. Some soy sauce. Caramel and fudge - more of the wood and bourbon.

T: Oak, prune, raisin, fudge. Honey and low levels of roastiness. Espresso sweetened with two lumps of sugar in the grind. Very sweet, but it's not cloying as some of its competitors are wont to be. Hints of soy sauce. Hops are here with some earthy bite, but they mostly add balance.

M: Creamy mouthfeel which is on the lighter side of the spectrum. Lots of booze still.

O: A really well balanced and fairly delicate beer. Very enjoyable, and worth recommending.

Sarlacc83, Feb 26, 2013
Photo of Gfunk720
3.85/5  rDev -10%

2010 bottle, out of my Lost Abbey stemware. Shared with a couple buddies.

A- Pitch black with a crazy foamy tannish head. There is just sooo much head. Pretty typical stout appearance though.

S- A little muted. Notes of coffee, bourbon, and booze. Also some dark fruits and chcolate malt.

T- A rich chocolatey flavor is the first thing that hits my tongue. I also get hints of coffee, bourbon, and oak. It is very nice and smooth. The bourbon isn't over the top, but a nice addition to the base beer.

M- A little fizzy, and could have use a bit more body. I knew it was going to be fizzy based on the foamy head, but it wasn't as bad as I expected.

O- A very nice sipper, that has plenty of flavor and complexity. The mouthfeel was probably the biggest let down here, but this was also a fairly fresh bottle. Would be curious to see what it would be like with some more age.

-GFunk

Gfunk720, Aug 07, 2011
Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%

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

Sammy, Oct 18, 2009
Photo of mothman
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%

Poured into a snifter.

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

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

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

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

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

mothman, Oct 19, 2010
Photo of cnbrown313
3.91/5  rDev -8.6%

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

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

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

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

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

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

cnbrown313, Jan 30, 2013
Photo of robwestcott
3.93/5  rDev -8.2%

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

dark fruit, subtle coffee and cocoa.

dark fruit forward. cocoa and roared malts.

medium bodied, big carbonation, smooth and sweet.

overall: way above par.

robwestcott, Nov 12, 2011
Photo of Retsinis
3.93/5  rDev -8.2%

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

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

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

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

M: medium carbonation, light bitterness.

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

Retsinis, Oct 31, 2011
Photo of jrallen34
3.93/5  rDev -8.2%

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??

jrallen34, Jun 05, 2010
Photo of Alieniloquium
3.95/5  rDev -7.7%

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alieniloquium, Nov 11, 2011
Photo of Bierguy5
3.95/5  rDev -7.7%

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

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

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

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

Bierguy5, Apr 14, 2009
Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout from Big Sky Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 619 ratings.