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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

70 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 70
Hads: 399
Avg: 3.97
pDev: 21.66%
Wants: 9
Gots: 80 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company visit their website
Montana, United States

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: 70 | Hads: 399
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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Photo of alarmclock314
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 2014. Pours black with a small tan head on a hard pour. Smells of roasted malts, oak, and cocoa. Taste follows with cocoa, roasted malts, and some oak on the end. Some pleasing dryness in the finish. No alcohol warming. Surprisingly low carbonation, even for the style. Medium body. Overall, it has a good balance of favor and the lower carbonation works well.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle, 2014 release, 9.5% ABV
A - dark brown colored ale, nice creamy light brown head holds great retention
S - sweeter aroma with cocoa, molasses, brown sugar, and some mild roasted barley
T - roasted barley, bittersweet chocolate, a bit herbal and earthy, molasses, brown sugar
M - full body, ample carbonation, finishes bitter and semi-dry with roast and a bit of pine lingering
O - not my favorite RIS, but it's pretty good. I doubt I'd get it again with so many good ones out there.

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Photo of zfw
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Nice caramel start, roasted malt, alcohol is there but not overpowering even at 9.5. You can find a new dimension to the flavor with every sip. My only criticism is there are others in this style that I can buy much cheaper.

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Photo of ANiklaus
3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a regular pint glass. The look was incredible and the smell was almost overwhelming when poured. Very strong fruit smells which overpowered everything else. The taste was good but wasn't impressive. I feel like other similar beers are much more unique and flavorful than this one. Good but, just not outstanding.

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Photo of jellikit
3.91/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

2014 bottle.
Appearance: dark black with a thick foamy tan head. Nice, sticky lacing.
Smell: molasses, slight roasted barley. Chocolate malt.
Taste: Chocolate, leather, fig, prune.
Mouthfeel: medium carbonation. Big body. Dry
Overall: I like it. Don't love it. I think it needs to age a bit longer to mellow a bit. May need to review again in the future.

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Photo of uvachief
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter pitch black color with oily sick surface, minimal head that quickly dissipated along with minimal lacing. Looks great. Smells like a traditional Russian Imperial Stout. Dark roasted malts, chocolate, toffee and coffee hints. Tastes much the same with dark fruit blended in. Only draw back is it is thin in the mouth. Easy drinking though. 9.5% abv is hidden well. Complex. Tasty as it warms up. Pretty solid effort.

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Photo of Roguer
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark black, topped with a one finger dark brown head. Decent retention and nice lacing.

Huge roasty aroma. Notes of coffee, char, chocolate, and overripe dark fruit. Waves and waves of roasted barley. This is a beautiful traditional imperial stout aroma.

Flavor matches the nose across the board. It's a smoother, roastier Old Raspy. A touch of overripe fruit and red grapes up front, quickly washed away by extremely dark cacao, burnt coffee, and charred toast. Slightly creamy sweetness lingers throughout. Huge roasty finish that washes over your palate.

Big feel; not quite chewy or even all that thick, but full-bodied and potent. Very lively. ABV only really makes an appearance on the back-end.

This is a really good traditional RIS. It hits all the notes you want from the style.

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Photo of goochpunch
2.54/5  rDev -36%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.25

Pitch black body with a moderately sized frothy khaki head. Smells of loads of ethanol with fruity cherry coming from the yeast (?). Light roasted grain. Tastes of chocolate, fruity esters, lots of booze, and sugar sweetness. Body is thin, considering the size. Mild carbonation. The name is right: this is terrible.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.42/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a tan head.
Nose shows dry roast, sweet bready malt, toasty notes, soft coffee and liquorice.
Aggressive flavours, loads of roast, liquorice and booze. Almost abrasive.

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Photo of Mickeyp2814
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice hearty stout full of chocolate and vanilla notes up front. Has a boozy finish as if it were aged in a whiskey barrel. Really great stout that will fit well with a nice steak dinner, sipping on a cool night or enjoying with friends.

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Photo of markgugs
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Way underrated brew...this is one of the better non-BA imperial stout I've had, reminds me in many ways of Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout, only with a thicker, more viscous mouthfeel (thus, the surprise that it's not, in fact, barrel-aged). Nose is earthy, like freshly-ground espresso and cocoa beans, and the taste features so much fudge and mocha-like coffee it's overly decadent. Rich, thick, chewy, amazing. Excellent "normal" imperial stout.

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

On tap at McNellie's OKC. Pours deep brown with a finger or foamy mocha head. The aroma is minimal, but typical: chocolate, vanilla and a touch of coffee. The taste is bigger. Slightly dark chocolate, roasted coffee and dark cherries. The alcohol isn't hidden, but blends well and adds warmth. Medium mouth with decent carbonation. This is a solid stout that I've enjoyed drinking.

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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout from Big Sky Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 70 ratings.