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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

269 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 269
Hads: 769
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 17.76%
Wants: 800
Gots: 253 | FT: 21
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:
Beer added by: Bitterbill on 11-10-2008

2006 - 8.75% (draft only)
2007 - 8.75% (500ml flip top bottles ~ very limited)
2008 - 9.5% (750ml - capped - 1152 bottles)
2009 - 10% (750ml cork and cage)
2010 - 10% (750ml - cork and cage)
2011 - not brewed
2012 - 12.2% (750ml cork and cage)
2013 - 13.8%
2014 - 11.5% (750ml cork and cage)

Imperial stout aged 4 months in freshly dumped American oak Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels.

65 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 269 | Hads: 769
Photo of madelfonatree
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

In a pint glass September 26, 2015 2277 of 3600 2014 11.5%

Look - Dark brown with a lot of tan head. Thick bubbles. Lacing with the head. Lacing doesn't dissipate quickly. A lot of sediment in last pour.

Smell - Char. Bourbon. Cherry.

Taste - Bourbon. Chocolate. Char. Wine. Grape. Cherry.

Feel - Alcohol burn. Creamy. Not as carbonated as head hints at.

Overall - The wine taste surprised me and made it unique. Otherwise average.

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Photo of CooperEllis
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had the 2009, 2010 and 2012. This is the review from the 2012: Bottle # 1472/4200

I genuinely love this beer in every incarnation that I've been able to sample - and I've had several bottles of each of the above listed years. I haven't noticed any bottle variation, this is great fresh and it ages (for at least 3 years) very well when properly cellared.

Nose has a good amount of wood and booze when fresh and more of the malt comes to the front the longer it sits. The pour looks thin going into the glass, but there is a full tan head and robust lacing. The mouthfeel also does not reflect a 'thin' feel at all.

Taste and mouthfeel compliment each other perfectly, a well-balanced stout that benefits from the barrel treatment and is in no way overpowered by the bourbon notes. A smooth, velvety entrance with no bitterness or booze at the end. This reminds me more of a Kate, subtle complexity and lighter, than a big in-your face -bal STOUT that is ever so popular. Perhaps one for the less-is-more file.

A damn fine glass of beer. Big thanks to azaaron for the hook-up. I hope you enjoy your end of the trade as much.

5/5 across the board.


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

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

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

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

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Photo of fear025
4.21/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

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Photo of bigbelcher
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Limited release barrel aged beer. Hand numbered bottles, only 1152 bottles were released. Very big Russian Imperial Stout, lots of vanilla aroma and flavor from the barrel. Very drinkable, one that would be great with a big cigar. Nice head. Goes down smooth. If you can find it get it. About $10 a bottle and well worth every penny.

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

I had this at a recent store tasting, a 2011 batch into a small plastic cup. After a couple swirls the sides have a sheen on them like a coating of oil. The aroma is stong, smells of bourbon and oak dominate. The color is dark black with a small amount of tan / carmel colored head. Even a sampler is a sipper. Roasted malt, hints of chocolate and vanilla, but the bourbon and oak dominate, can't say much about the hops, and the alcohol is noticed at the end. This is one heck of an RIS, and from what I've tasted should be right up there with the best of them, and considering it's limited production, I'm surprised it's not, although maybe that's why too since it's hard to get.

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Photo of cmannes
4.37/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1pt 9.3oz Bottle poured into a New Belgium Tulip.

Appearance: Oily black, tan long lasting head.

Aroma: Malty, bourbon, caramel, molasses.

Taste: Rich, sweet. Caramel & molasses. Bourbon on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, little syrupy, more carbonated than you might expect, but it works.

Overall: Very very good. Smooth, easy, tasty. Bit of a kick with the alcohol, but it works. Nice.

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Photo of daveytheformer
4.06/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle poured into a snifter.
brewed in 2010 bottle number 2777 of 3800

Pours a beautiful pitch black with a thin tan head.

Smells like sweet malt, chocolate, vanilla, and I can pick up the oak and bourbon a little at the end.

Taste is of a light silky sweetness with the alcohol dancing around a little in there. The bourbon is there but seems real subdued compared to some other barrel aged stouts.

Mouthfeel is pretty smooth and carbonated with a mild alcohol burn that fades as the beer goes down.

Overall is a really good beer that only gets better as it warms up. Would do well with some aging or trying on older vintage of this for sure. Not the best in the world but still damn good!

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

A: Poured in low light, so I cannot tell how dark this beer actually is. An aggressive pour yields a nice espresso head. Carbonation looks scant, lacing is pretty spotty.

S: Bourbon is plentiful and the barrel aging is evident in the nose - vanilla and oaky alcohol. Underneath the bourbon barrels is dark lasted malts and a bunch of sweetness. There is an element of alcohol soaked figs in the finish.

T: The taste is very akin to the nose, bourbon is the primary taste activating the pleasure centers of my brain. The sweetness and dark lasted compete with alcohol blasting through.

M: Nice and creamy with minimum carbonation. The alcohol thins this out.

D: Sweet sweet warmth from the high abv. There is tons of snow outside and freezing temperatures, give me another bottle.

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Photo of Gfunk720
3.83/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.


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Photo of Impfan
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my new favorite RIS. The color is pitch black, and there's a lasting thick mousse of a tan head.

The texture is wonderfully creamy which adds the sensation of more fullness to a body that's just a smidge on the light side, and makes it ideal.

The taste is incredibly rich and layered with esters of dark chocolate, marzipan, pecan praline, coffee, toasted coconut, macadamia, port, bourbon, amaretto, hazelnut, Kahlua and Cream, plum pudding, dates, figs, and mandarin oranges.

The palate is on the sweet side, overall, but never crosses over into the cloying, and the finish definitely dries out the overall experience with some aromatic English hops, of which I suspect the delightful fuggles, and East Kent Goldings play a role.

I just ordered a case through my local Terra Organica, and I really hope they come through for me, because not having a few of these to cellar would be very sad, indeed.

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Photo of boomer31
4.74/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage

A - After the cork broke and I put my cork screw away, poured this into myduvel snifter. Black with a nice 1/4 inch brown head. Some lacing and stick on glass

S - Dark fruits, chocolatte, sugar, wood and bourbon. A really beautiful nose with a lot going on

T - Big chocolatte and sweet bourbon. There's a hint of alcohol in the back and more chocolatte. The bourbon is apparent but not over the top. You get some nice wood and vanilla which plays well with the chocolatte which is huge and very sweet. Nice long finish

M - Rich mouth and a high carbonation which isn't too off.

D - What a great beer. Very easy to drink even though there is so much going on.

Overall I am very impressed with this beer. Sweet and chocolatty, nice wood and barrel flavor

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Photo of afausser
4.15/5  rDev -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.

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Photo of Yagman3000
4.12/5  rDev -3.7%
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!

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Photo of Flashsp2
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big Sky Ivan the Terrible into Stone IRS tulip

Pours with an impossibly black body covered by a dense mocha head that is creamy and soft looking. Leaves delicate lace and lingers forever.

Nose is abundant with dark roasted grains, rich oak notes, sweet grainy bourbon, booze, dark caramels, earthy hops, dark fruits, heavy malty sweetness, vanilla, breakfast blend coffee, black cherries, and toasted almonds.

Chocolate fudge brownies, iced black coffee, lots of rich dark grains and intensely thick base malts, more of the black cherry tang, earth, soft oak tannins, delicious bourbon whiskey, iced black coffee, big roastiness, some alcohol heat, burnt caramels. Mmmmm, good stuff.

Body is super dense with a low level carbonation that is finely bubbled and smoothly caresses across the palette.

This is a seriously big beer, one that you can't just chug down without caution. That being said, it's easy to drink for a beer of this magnitude, certainly better than most beers of this alcohol content. One of the best bourbon stouts I've had to date, with everything in perfect harmony. Bourbon, roast, fruits, earth, booze all integrated very, very well together.


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Photo of doopiedoopiedoo
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jeffo brought this over for Tuesday night beer and sports! Very cool...

From a 750ml bottle into a snifter.

Good looking black stout. Two fingers fluffy foam.

Slight smell of bourbon. lots of wood, aok, a hint of smoke and some dark fruits.

Taste follows the nose but with some added coffee and hop bitterness.

A lighter body than with most beers of this style it's a bit airy and a good amount of carbonation.

A highly recomended stout. Actually very easy to drink. Thanks a bunch Jeff for sharing this beer with me.

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

about 12oz of the 750 into a chalice. bottle # 2249/3000

A- pours completely black with minimal brown head that leaves a spotty film and color of head. decent lacing but great legs.

S- not extremely robust but a nice blend of chocolate and oak barrel with light roasted notes. little to no bourbon on the nose, surprisingly. some of my favorite IRS aromas but I'm expecting everything to come out a little more clear in the taste.

T- this thing really opens up here. the mass of 2-row malt and chocolate malts mix with a heavy dose of vanilla oak and stays on the sweet side almost the whole time. some light roasted character and bitterness mixes in but it's definitely more in the backround. the bourbon finally shows its face in the finish but it's not too heavy. it's plays in well though and manages not to be too hot.

M- full in body but not quite as thick as some of the big RIS's. nice subtle carbonation. nothing standout but it drinks very well.

D- the bottle was shared between three and it didn't take anybody especially long to finish their glass. I say a great $15 dollars well spent. a great beer from one of my favorite places to do some snowboarding. I'd jump at any bottles I see again, either to drink or spread the love.

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Photo of Ricelikesbeer
3.96/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I've heard great things and was excited to try this one.

A: Pours somewhat thin, with close to no head whatsoever... a few oily bubbles quickly dissipated. I don't think this beer is supposed to be flat. The beer looks somewhat thin and oily. It is black as night and hard to see through.

S: Lots of alcohol up front, and some bourbon and barrel character. There is some malt sweetness, a slight estery fruitiness, and no apparent hops whatsoever. Some char and burnt character is there as well.

T: Bourbon, chocolate, oak, and some sweet maltiness are all there. This has the complexity of a very strong, big stout with bourbon and barrel flavors. The more the beer warms, the more I enjoy it and the complexity really stands out. The roastiness of the stout is really mellowed by the bourbon and vanilla flavors from the oak.

M: Despite being over 13% abv, this beer, the lack of any carbonation makes this beer feel much thinner and watery than it probably should be. I think this was an off batch. However, it still has a slick and sugary mouthfeel, and coats your tongue for a while.

O: I would certainly try this one again, and it is priced very well for being a huge bourbon barrel stout. I would hope the beer is carbonated next time which could really improve my scores on this one.

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

It poured a beautiful deep dark brown with a loose head a light shade of khaki. First sip seemed shockingly thin following the Central Waters - BBS. Second sip and I was taken aback by it's wild sweetness; I got lost in it. Loads of sugary dried figs and vanilla came swimming at me hinting at it's three months spend aging in a bourbon barrel. The bourbon itself was hiding in there, but very shyly. It finished with slight touch of roasted coffee beans hanging on for dear life through a sugar avalanche.

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Photo of hellbilly
3.68/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle # 495/1152...

fairly black pour... walnut stained brown black color with a large spongy orange tinted light brown head. moderate trails of lace.

the aroma is surprisingly quite floral... mixed in are notes of sour fruit possibly cherries?, roast, brown sugar, chocolate and mellow bourbon spiciness and woody vanilla.

i pick up a lot of tartness on the palate (weird? maybe from the grain?). it also has a dusty oatmeal quality which combines with the aroma characteristics... there's a bit of ash, nuttiness and smokiness before a spicy vaporous finish. it's pretty well balanced and nothing really wants to jump out. the aftertaste is of mediocre bourbon. light to medium body with a strange gritty texture. it is however, not sticky and is creamy/ smooth enough to make enjoyable.

it's good and certainly much better when warm. but, there isn't anything about it to make it memorable or stand out.

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Photo of BieresDesMoines
3.66/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a small light head that leaves some lace. The aroma is cocoa and raw roasted grain with some apple and a bit of bourbon. The flavor is roasty and plenty bitter with some dark fruit and woody tones. The bourbon and vanilla are well featured but not overdone, which makes this a pretty nice version of a bourboned RIS.

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Photo of caskstrength
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 750ml corked and caged.

Lots of light brown head, more than enough carbonation. Dark beer, looks like a stout. (which, as a stout, it should). Some brown on the edges in the light. More bubbly than I'd like.

Roasted smells; chocolate, brown sugar, subtle coffee. Some alcohol, sharper than I'd like. not a ton of bourbon or oak, but it's there. Some darker fruits show up too. It's not a very intense smelling beer, but what you get is pretty complex, a lot going on and hard to pin down.

Tastes don't quite match the complexity of the aroma. Sweet milk chocolate with mild roasted espresso, alcohol there too, maybe too much. some oak and bourbon, but as a compliment and not a dominant flavor. ("needed more time in the barrel" is becoming a common theme in these caskstrength reviews) Fairly typical, nothing that stands out in the bourbon barrel stout crowd.

Thinner on the mouthfeel, but it's thick enough. Those who like chewy stouts should look elsewhere.

Won't be looking for more, but a solid offering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consumed: 5/23/2010

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Photo of boothbeer
4.37/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml corked and caged bottle. 2009 Limited Edition. #190 of 3000.

A- pours dark black with a dark brown color around the edges. Dark Tan colored head. Good head retention. Very little lacing.

S-Tons of Vanilla, chocolate, and lots of Bourbon!

T- Tastes like it smells. Vanilla and Bourbon with some Roasty malts and oak flavors. Some sweetness and chocolate come through as well.

M-Very smooth and viscous. Nice oily texture. Medium carbonation. Very nice mouthfeel on this barrel aged RIS.

D- at 10%, this tasty beer went down very easily!

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Photo of airohead2001
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
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)...

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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged from Big Sky Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 269 ratings.