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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Big Sky Brewing Company

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

82 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 82
Hads: 441
Avg: 3.97
pDev: 20.65%
Wants: 11
Gots: 87 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, United States | website

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout | 9.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: jegross2 on 05-23-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 82 | Hads: 441
Photo of BeerWithMike
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled this evening on 2/8/16. Comes in a 12-ounce bottle. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a "MOOSE DROOL" handled-glass stein.

Brew pours a pitch-black in color with close to a 3-finger foamy/creamy beige head. LOTS of ring-like lacing is seen with each sip that stuck to the sides of the glass. Aroma is of dark fruits, roasted malts and black coffee. More going on with the taste with some bitter-sweet chocolate and a hint of smoke also in the mix. Minor bitterness for the finish which is common for this style of brew but doesn't last long. Medium+ to full-bodied with perfect carbonation. More of a sipping type brew then a chugging one for sure. Slow down and and enjoy it. Overall a great brew!

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Photo of THSdrummer
4.14/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a solid black, with a medium sized, creme head. Minor lacing left behind. Smoked malts and espresso form a delightful aroma. The espresso doesn't stand out, but plays along subtly. The taste a mix of roasted malts, espresso, and a slight bit of booze. It has a biscuit malt finish. Mouth feel is really good, although it feels a bit harsh in the carbonation. Still a pleasure to drink. Overall, this is a great stout. Fairly easy to drink with a good display of flavors.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

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Photo of arizcards
3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Picked up a single from the Craft Beer Hop Stop on Veteran's Day for $2.99. Bottled on 10-13-15.

Beer poured black with a nice head initially but dissipated quickly.

Nose has hints of espresso, dark fruits, and smoked malts.

Taste is similar to the nose but the smoked malts lend an off flavor for me as opposed to complimenting the flavor. The beer is a tad sweet for smoke to enhance it.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and smooth.

Overall a nice beer that represents the style nicely!

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Photo of draheim
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz into a tulip. Pours a deep rich brownish black w/ a 1-finger head.

Aroma is bitter dark roasted malt, coffee, chocolate. Similar to Yeti.

Taste likewise is a blend of dark roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, and espresso. Just a hint of sweetness.

Mouthfeel is balanced, medium to full body. Drinkable.

Overall a solid imperial stout, highly drinkable.

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Photo of SerialTicker
4.06/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

$3.39 single. Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

Appearance: Pretty much a downside-up poor hard into the glass. Almost the whole beer got in. Awesome three finger head that slowly went down to about one and lingered. Lots of lacing. Pretty much pitch black with some ruby tinges to it. Freakin' beautiful.

Smell: Roasted malt, a little coffee, some caramel malt. Not much else to speak of here. No alcohol. Smells like a quality RIS.

Taste/feel: The feel feels... tap-like. Great silkiness to it -- almost like a nitro'd beer. A little on the thin side despite that, but I dig it for the most part. A slow-coming, light-to-moderate prickling carbonation. Maybe a touch on the thin side, but I'm liking it right now ... dat silky feel tho. For taste, a lot like the nose -- nothing extraordinary going on. Mostly a lot of roasted malt. Some dark fruit creeps in as it warms up, and the roast flavor plays games on the tongue... becomes a little coffee-like. Bittersweet finish. It comes off as very slightly metallic when the beer is really cold, but that fades as it warms.

Really nice beer at a pretty inoffensive price, I think. $3.39 for a bottle iis a pretty decent deal, I think. No, it's not as mouth watering as many of the more critically acclaimed RISs out there, and it's not as deep in terms of flavor, either. Still, it's a nice beer from Big Sky and I can see this definitely being a great candidate for bourbon barrel aging -- I'll be looking out for that beer when it's released. Until then, I'll enjoy this "Terrible" beer.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thoroughly enjoyed form the 12 oz bottle in a snifter via a friend from work----Thanks Randy!

This roasted monster pours a a deep blackish brown with an excellent head of brown foam that dissipates to a thick ring, thin pool, and excellent lacing. Nose of roasted grains, deep coffee notes, subtle cream, dark chocolate, and a touch char. Flavors exceed the nose with coffee and dark chocolate blending together on the front and sides with a touch of cream and toffee. Dark berries and raisins blend into the middle to back of the taste featuring black berry and a hint of blueberry that settle on the back with deeply roasted malts and subtle grain notes. Great mouth feel; lightly warming that belies the alcohol in this one. Mild to medium carbonation with a moderately bitter malt aftertaste that lingers and a lightly chewy background.
Excellence that is easy drinking----smooth yet beefy. This brewery deserves more recognition for making this deeply roasted beast so approachable.


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Photo of stevoj
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice and smooth RIS, does not come off as heavy and boozy as others in this category. Lots of cocoa, roast grains, mild sweetness, masks the ABV completely.

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Photo of jaredsmith83
3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Black beer, light tan head on it that dissipated quickly. I picked up a good roast and hint of chocolate scent. Not overly boozy. It was a lighter Imperial stout and a very easy drinking beer. There was a decent boozy hit up front but it wasn't overwhelming with a bitter roast aftertaste mixed with espresso and coffee. Not the best I've ever had but far from the worst and one that I would drink again.

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Photo of Catracho5
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours pitch black with a mocha colored, head retention was minimal, got a decent amount of lacing, not seeing much carbonation, looks a little thin.

A: Roasted malts, charred oakiness, dark fruits, espresso, alcohol is well hidden, smells pretty good.

T: Like the nose but subtle, roasted malts, charred oakiness, dark fruits, moderate amount of bitterness like espresso, alcohol is not noticeable on the taste making this a very drinkable beer. Aftertaste is of espresso and dark fruits.

M: A little lighter than I expected, could use some body, dry finish.

O: A solid imperial stout, has a nice touch of charred/smoky oakiness I’ve never tasted in an imperial stout. Lacks some body, but overall very drinkable. I probably will not seek out again, however, I would not refuse if offered.

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Photo of Karibourgeois
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black pour with a one-finger dark brown head. Aroma of light bourbon and roasted malt. Taste has a bit of bourbon and cocoa upfront backed by slightly bitter roasted malt.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.59/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark black pour, dark brown head. Aroma of entirely roast.

Taste, leaned a little dark fruit bitter bdsa/ris for me. This is definitely an example of me wondering how they made the base beer so good when it went into barrels. Its better than average, but it really takes off when barreled. Too bitter, too much like an export stout for me.

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Photo of Ri0
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into chalice. Dark coffee brown with a cocoa colored 1.5 finger head. Retention is decent and the lacing is very fine webs and coats the glass. Rich, dark, intense maltiness with both bitter and sweet aromas of bakers chocolate and hints of coffee. Not quite as good as the nose, but enjoyable. Bitter malts and coffee flavor up front. I pick up some bakers chocolate in the middle. Finish is bitter with a big roasted malt flavor. It is medium bodied, smooth, somewhat creamy with a dry finish. A good RIS for the price.

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Photo of Zorro
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Black colored beer with a momentary brown head that promptly goes poof!

Smells fruity and strongly of grapes from a distance. Fairly boozy scent and t5he smell of brandy. Scents of chocolate and coconut, but not super strongly. Faint scent of licorice.

Starts out tasting of grapes and patent malt. Taste of brandy and a little chocolate. Slight berry flavor.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Overall an OK RIS.

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Photo of tzieser
4.46/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass (no tulip on hand, sorry proper glassware nerds!)

L: pitch black in color (completely opaque) with a thick eggshell colored head. The head on this beer never seems to quit. One of the best looking stouts I've seen in a while

S: rich, sweet malt aroma. suggestions of hot chocolate, roasted malt. Coffee. Alcohol is barley noticible in the nose. Quite nice

T: incredibly smooth. One of the smoothest Imperial Stouts I have ever had. Sweeter than I was expecting, lots of chocolate malt, dark chocolate, coffee, mocha, a bit of dried dark fruit in there as well. Finishes a little bitter, with roasted malts lingering. Excellent

M: mouthfeel is dry, inviting you to drink more

O: an outstanding imperial stout. Not too boozy or bitter. Well balanced for a beer of such high gravity. Well done!

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.94/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

From my craft beer expo notebook.

Look : 2 finger head, dark chocolate coffee brown, 100% opaque.

Smell : Strong bouquet with charred wood, coffee, licorice, and a tail of bourbon.

Taste : Heavy roasted malts, coffee bean. Black licorice and bourbon on the finish. Lots of char and roast kilned malts. It tastes like everything was artfully thrown into a kiln.

Feel : Bordering on full bodied, but still floating in a mediocre medium bodied arena. Creamy, dry, roasted, with a dry finish.

Overall : Impressive but not unique enough to set it apart from my other favorite stouts. The bourbon is the only unique factor here, with lots of char as well.

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Photo of Libeertarian
4.49/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2014 bottling. I had saved a few. I may review the 2015 bottling soon as well to see if aging the 2014s a year made much difference.

Nearly opaque and pitch black, although I can just barely see very dark red hues in the light. Head is fine and frothy, a slight orange-tinted medium or dark brown. Sinks down quickly at first, then retains a nice thick lining for the duration. Strong aromas of molasses, licorice, and pure ethanol. A bit of soil and burnt toast in there as well. So sweet and hot on the palate, it will take me a few moments to figure out just what is going on in this beer. Booziness runs through this beer all the way, which could be an effect of aging. Still, you can definitely make out such flavors as molasses, vanilla, toffee, baking chocolate, licorice/anise, leaf matter, menthol. Lots of good flavors, here, but the alcohol makes it a little too harsh. It is hard to distinguish roast qualities from hop qualities. Finish definitely produces hop bitterness, but it's subdued, and fairly nondescript, meshing well with roasty and boozy aftertastes. Medium body and fine, subtle effervescence makes this deceptively drinkable. Were I not reviewing this, I'd have been in danger of drinking it too quickly. It's watery, yes, but not watered-down. Only mildly astringent, and quite warm. 4.47.

Update: Okay, I'm reviewing the 2015 bottling now, approximately 24 hours later. Fresh, instead of aged a year. Let's see if there's much difference here:

Looks the same for the most part, but with better lacing. Smells roastier, smokier, with more chocolate notes, not much of anything else beyond ethanol, disproving my speculation that the latter aroma might be the result of aging. More chocolate as well on the palate. Otherwise, most of the same flavors as in the year-old 2014, except that leaf matter is swapped out for tobacco, and then booziness is not as pronounced in the taste, but still shows its full strength in the mouthfeel and finish. Mouthfeel is also slightly different. About the same level of carbonation, but more classic suds than effervescence. Fuller, less watery perhaps. Warming still, but less harsh. In all, I'd say appearance and smell are in the same range, but taste has slightly improved, though not really enough to change the rating, though the feel has vastly improved. I gave the year-old 4.75/4.5/4.5/4/4.5. I'll re-rate it based on this fresh batch. Fresh, in my opinion, it's slightly better than the 4.47 I had given it for year-old, but that is very much a matter of personal preference. 4.49.

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Photo of hotmailmsn
3.43/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

9.5% ABV, 39 ibu, 355 ml bottle.
A - dark brown almost black with half finger brown head.
S - coffee, brown sugar, berry candy, little chocolate, smoky, jujube, liquorice.
T - moderate carbonation. smooth, dark chocolate milk flavor, bourbon vanilla sweetness hint coating the tongue, liquorice, roasted coco chip like.
O - picked up single bottle randomly, not much expectation, but this surprised me!!

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Photo of K-Dog
3.94/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Aged about a year. Smell was chocolate milk. Standard appearance. Taste was of a typical stout with a little chocolate flavor. Thought a year of aging would help but I r ember it being about the same when I had fresh. Definitely a good stout but nothing great.

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Photo of woemad
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz ceramic(?) bottle of the 2014 vintage purchased at Huckleberry’s in Spokane for $2.99. I’ve been meaning to try this for years, but always wound up walking out with something else – probably because they used to be in 22oz bottles for high prices and I’ve sometimes found Big Sky to be a bit inconsistent.

Poured the color of my mood at the end of the Seahawk game. Big, bubbly tan head. Spotty lace.

Boozy nose to this, along with some sweet chocolate, bitter coffee and brown sugar. There was also a lactic acidity present.

More bitter in the taste than in the nose. Roasty dark malt flavor, a lactic sourness, some subordinate brown sugary sweetness. Ends on a dry note.

Velvety, coating mouthfeel.

A little too one dimensional tasting. Seems like it’s close to being an enjoyable RIS, but doesn’t seem to quite go the distance. THe elements are there, but they don't meld together.

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Photo of GallowsThief
3.84/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

In trade from Kevinpitts. Thanks as always my friend. Poured into my tulip.
A – Root beer brown with very little milk chocolate head that settles quick and dissipated.
S – Roasted malts, chocolate and some acidic smells.
T – Very strong roasted malt taste with a good bit of acidity and bitterness at the end. Cocoa, milk chocolate flavors. Has some light vanilla notes with dark fruit as well. Breathy alcohol at the end.
M – Touch on the thin side but still manages to be creamy. Light carbonation and but the alcohol leaves your palate tingling.
O – Really solid stout here. Nice taste. Tad too much acidity in my opinion but that does not take away from the beer.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.19/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle with my Stone IRS snifter glass
Notes taken 02/27/2015

A: Black as the beard of Ivan itself with a nice oily luster look. A thin layer of smooth khaki cream settles over top, holding true for a few shortened minutes. I see a few dots and random swaths of lace decorate my glass after each sip. Looks fitting for the Tsar of all the Russias to me.

S: Roasty and well composed with prevalent chocolate in the nose. I get some toasted bread and a brown sugar sweetness all encompassing. Finishes with a soft earthiness and a trailer of licorice with some alcohol spice noted. Pretty warm and inviting for me.

T: Cocoa melds with coffee, brown sugar, and dark toasted grains or breads. There is a relatively big hop bitterness that cuts through the sweetness nicely aiding in the overall balance. Segues into an earthier root like note akin to licorice or chicory. Never too harsh, acrid, or charry. Overall this is quite tasty and well balanced with a bit of alcohol spice exuding in the finish.

M: Full bodied with a silky mouthfeel and moderate amount of hop bitterness that leads into a somewhat dry finish. Fairly clean with a light sleek coating and some mild alcohol warmth noted.

D: Solid brew all around from Big Sky. Ivan ain’t so terrible you know. While his legacy is complex; he was an able diplomat, a patron of the arts and trade, and a leader highly popular among the common people of Russia. Albeit, wrought with mental instability and brutality. Any who, I will definitely be grabbing a few more of these. Worth checking out & the BA version could be promising.

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Photo of Mehinaman
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This might not be the best stout I've ever had, but it's still pretty damn good. Tastes or chocolate and coffee. Pours pitch black and is not too thin at all which gives it a good mouthfeel. I will buy again

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Opaque black body, cream- coffee-colored dense head that turns soapy. Cool label/matte bottle.

S & T: Acidic coffee/chocolate, probably aided by a moderate hop bill. Bitter chocolate flavor, vanilla, roasted malt adds onto the tongue. Some sips taste like a chocolate milkshake.Pretty sure the pine/orange rind addition to this melange from the hops are what's detracting from this otherwise great flavor, albeit their presence is mild.

M: Nice oily quality, but broken up by some unwelcome sharp carbonation, which I think somehow brings out the hop quality more, although that is probably just my mental association.

O: Pretty cool chameleon-shifting beer. First the head was dense, then non-uniform. Acidity on the nose turned into warmer flavors on the palate. All in all a great stout, surprised it has kept such a low profile.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours pitch black with a little head. Smells big dark roast and slightly boozy. Tastes of big dark roast. It's good and made well but, nothing to write home about.

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Photo of ManBearPat
4.75/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Great RIS. The comparisons to old Rasputin are legit. Only points off for a lack of proper carbonation... Otherwise, a well above average example of the style.

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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout from Big Sky Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 82 ratings.