John By Imperial Stout - Scotch Irish Brewing Company
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Ratings: 84 | Reviews: 82 | Display Reviews Only:
3.5/5 rDev -9.3%
G: Pint Glass
A: Opaque black body with one finger of dark mocha head. Yields poor retention and very little lacing.
S: Sweet milk chocolate and dark roasted coffee beans. The mix of the chocolate and coffee is very pleasing, but it falls short of a strong aroma.
T: Again with a nice balance of milk chocolate and coffee beans. It starts off with the sweet chocolate and ends with the coffee. Not a bad mixture, but again it's not strong.
M: Medium bodied and low carbonation. Feels very thin and smooth while leaving a bitter coffee feeling. Alcohol is also very well hidden and shows only the slightest burn in the throat as the drink warms up.
D: I was expecting a lot from this beer while reading the reviews, but it looks like the batches this year have changed quite a bit. It's not what I would expect from an Imperial, but it's not a bad stout.
01-23-2010 23:57:46 | More by Long813
3.78/5 rDev -2.1%
Pitch black with two fingers of mocha head. Decent retention with a little bit of lace left behind. Smells of dark roast coffee and molasses; dark chocolate and plums. Tastes of black coffee, burnt toast, blackstrap molasses, and dark fruit. Lingering char in the aftertaste. Medium-bodied with low carbonation. It feels smooth, but seems a little thin for an Imperial Stout. Even if the thin body makes it less filling and easier to drink, I still wish it was a bit chewier. Sometimes you want to drink something substantial. Body aside, this is still a tasty and enjoyable stout.
01-11-2010 05:13:19 | More by mintjellie
3.98/5 rDev +3.1%
Picked this one up upon the recommendation of a buddy. Love the bottle!
Pours an inky black, only the slightest touch of brown around the edges. Not much head to speak of, but the thin ring did stick around throughout, and there were a few flecks of lacing.
The nose is great: rich dark chocolate, roasted coffee grounds, a touch of bread. I drank this one at a fairly cold temperature, but surprisingly the nose came through right from the fridge.
A very rich and flavourful stout, with a lovely coffee and chocolate base, but with malty bitterness to the finish. Every so often I get a slight taste of dried dark fruits (plums or grapes). I detect a bit of the alcohol to the finish, but it isn't unpleasant.
A bit thin and syrupy for my liking, but the taste is robust enough to mask it. Still, not quite a imperial stout level.
Not a bad little stout actually, certainly a welcome surprise. So far only a few Ontario stouts have done the trick for me, and this one certainly will be added to the list. Great stuff, will be back for more!
12-31-2009 01:37:42 | More by JohnnyBarman
3.75/5 rDev -2.8%
Still sipping away on this one...
Poured into a normal water glass (visiting a place where they don't drink beer). It is an incredibly inky black colour with a short deep brown head that was not long lasting, but kept lacing for the last half hour. I can smell a sweet maltyness on the nose of the beer.
It is an interesting beer. Quite complex, it is sweet and bitter, but has a lingering aftertaste that to me is reminiscent of Drambuie. The alcohol character is quite strong to me. I have had stronger beers that have less of an alcohol feel. This to me is the drawback to the beer in both flavour and drinkability.
Glad to have tried it, but I know I won't be jumping back to buy this one again.
[EDIT] Just a note that my bottle claimed to be 8.5% ABV.
12-27-2009 21:22:21 | More by kjyost
3.53/5 rDev -8.5%
2007: Wonderfully attired stubby bottle from the LCBO. Pours pitch black with a generous milk chocolate head, leaving large amounts of lacing as the drink is consumed. Strong cocoa smell, accented with coffee. The taste reveals bittersweet chocolate and espresso, revelling in a thick, creamy palate. As the drink warms, some of the fruitier more vinous qualities become evident. This really is an excellent offering!
2008: A truly excellent beer, and just as good as I remember. The coffee seems more prominent this time, and provides a bitter kick in the finish. The body does not seem as heavy, but seems to increase from light to medium as the palate acclimatises. This beer really improves the more you drink - my first sip was worryingly underwhelming, but by the end of the second bottle I was craving another. While the bottle says imperial stout I feel that its a little unfair to compare it within the style. There are obviously a lot of similarities in the flavour, but the alcohol content and viscosity is simply not high enough. I prefer to view this as a strong stout, and the best one currently made in the province.
I have downgraded the mouthfeel and upped the drinkability.
2009: Less imperial stout than ever, with a thinner mouthfeel, poorer appearance and paler flavours, in which the coffee dominates. Its a damn decent stout, and would do well in that category, but its out of its depths playing with the big boys.
12-23-2009 14:46:38 | More by bobsy
3.45/5 rDev -10.6%
Cheers to biegaman for this brew in a trade/bet. Pours with a thick head which settles quickly. Black in color. Not much smell beyond a hint of burnt malt. Tastes of chocolate malt with some tartness which is out of place. Mouthfeel is smooth & a drinakble IS at 6.7%. I have had porters with more taste & kick.
08-23-2009 18:26:34 | More by SkinnyElvis
2.65/5 rDev -31.3%
Thanks to derek for sending this my way.
Poured from a 341ml. stubby.
Appearance: Pours an opaque black but as it's poured i see some definite brown tinges. Insanely thick, frothy head that's at least 3 fingers thick with a light mocha color.
Smell: A bit discrete, even at room temp. but still able to detect coffee with slight bitterness, some roasted malt and weirdly enough, a dry fruit-like aroma.
Taste: Wow, sourness hit's me like a punch in the face! I'm getting hints of coffee but it's totally overwhelmed but a permeating tartness. It gradually subsides to a whisper but that was not pleasant at all. Though hard to get that taste out, it gets better as i detect some espresso and more fruit but that sour aspect is still in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Creamy vs. watery and it's hard to tell which wins. Not entirely pleasant i must say.
Drinkability: I almost stopped drinking it but persisted and glad i did as the taste marginally improved but it's still a bit of a chore to get through this one.
Overall: At first i thought i got a bad bottle, but it got better taste-wise (a little) so i figure it can't be that. Maybe if i had tried it at a cooler temp? Regardless, it wasn't a great joy to drink but i will seek it out again and i'll be able to compare.
08-02-2009 18:33:08 | More by papat444
3.73/5 rDev -3.4%
Bottle sample- been hanging onto this one for a while. Pours inky black with a robust mocha head. Nose- milk chocolate, some anise. Taste- quite roasty, medium bodied. A little card board on the finish. One of the more dry RIS I've had. Lots of flavour in a relatively low abv stout. Best canadian RIS I've sampled (a low population).
05-03-2009 20:59:41 | More by oakbluff
3.73/5 rDev -3.4%
2009 (now 8.5%, reviewed on 01-12-10):
Pours black with a nice tan head. Aroma is roasty and fruity, still very nice. Taste is mostly cold coffee with less complexity and fruit and caramel sweetness than I remember. The mouthfeel is the real letdown here as the too-thin, light body in no way says imperial stout to me.
I've downgraded a few aspects and I can't help but sip this all the while imagining phantoms of a bottle that is about to turn sour. It's probably my imagination. But based on my experiences with Heritage, not completely unfounded.
2008 revisited (11/09):
I'm currently having another one of these seven months later that is sour, infected and undrinkable.
2008 (Reviewed (badly) on: 04-10-2009):
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 4
Light fears to penetrate this mighty brew. It is black like obsidian to the last sip. The foam and lacing are a beautiful tan cream colour.
Tastes of bittersweet coffee, with some fruitiness that cradles the tongue. Caramely pepperness and roasty malt. Fruitiness. Some espresso like characteristics are present. Has a really nice, smooth and creamy mouthfeel. This is a really complex beer with a lot of depth.
In a word: Wow.
04-10-2009 00:27:53 | More by MeisterBurger
4.45/5 rDev +15.3%
341 ml stubby bottle, thanks bobsy for this top notch Canadian-made RIS.
Poured inky black, no light can penetrate this one. Chocolate milk colored foam, good retention and smooth lace sheets. Awesome smell of milk chocolate and cocoa beans and just a whiff of coffee. The taste has coffee and chocolate, but more on the bitter side. Full body and flavorful, finishes with a good dose of hoppy bitterness. Thick, creamy mouthfeel, but could be even more robust.
Disappeared wat too quickly, thanks again.
Note to Self: Ranked #10/25 Top Beers in Canada when I tried it.
04-05-2009 04:37:19 | More by BigBry
4.78/5 rDev +23.8%
Poured into a snifter at cellar temp out of a stubby bottle.
A: Pours BLACK. Held this one up to the light from every angle possible and could not find a single tint of amber or red. Very full chunky and creamy looking one and a half inch tan head which sticks around for a while.
S: Fine dark chocolate, nutmeg, roasted malts, buttermilk pancakes, black coffee, espresso. A very complex array of scents.
T: Big roasted malt presence, espresso, dark chocolate, black pepper, bitter hops, alcohol. Long bitter finish in which I continue to detect the espresso flavour.
M: Creamy mouthfeel, medium carbonation that delivers the taste of this beer to every part of my tongue, medium to heavy body.
D: This is truly a great sipper. As it says on the bottle "Just the thing to ward off the cold of a Canadian winter" (were getting a little bit of a cold spell here as winter comes to a close and this quote is fitting).
I would buy this beer again. John By Imperial Stout is a very tasty beer which doesn't burn a hole in your wallet. If your on the fence as to whether or not you should pick this one up I suggest you pick one (or two) up to enjoy on a cold winters night. You won't be disappointed.
03-25-2009 02:50:06 | More by SingleCell
3.8/5 rDev -1.6%
Thanks a lot bobsy for this one!
Pours pitch black with huge caramel colour head. I mean head is actually bigger than an amount of a liquid in a glass. Good retention. Wow this beer looks yummy. Smell - dark chocolate mostly, some coffee. Taste - same deal - dark chocolaty bitterness, hint of coffee, maltiness. Rich and smooth, fairly well carbonated, warming alcohol slightly coming throug, but I can't say it's boozy. Drinkable for a style. Great beer, thanks again Rob!
03-23-2009 03:12:22 | More by Voonder
3.58/5 rDev -7.3%
33cl stubbie (thx northyorksammy!) poured into my large Gulden Draak tulip, John By IS is a blackish brown with a ridiculously large dark tan head that has tediously long last leaves heavy lace. The settle on this is as rocky as the best Belgian, and for that reason I have no choice but to give this a 5.
Smell is strong chocolate and caramel and light roast, nice robustness, but an interesting tang from the crystal.
Taste is also rather robust, a similar taste profile, I definitely appreciate the depth in spite of the relatively light strength for the style. Herbal hops. Reminds me a bit of Samuel Smiths. Still, like the nose, I think there's just too much crystal malt, or something else, minerals maybe, that provide excessive sharpness.
Mouthfeel is dry and malty, medium heavy body, nice carbonation though.
Drinkability isn't too bad, it's got a very robust flavor for the size, but it's really not quite my taste in the style regardless. If anything, I tend to be biased towards strongly flavored beers that aren't as strong, and while that this is, I just can't say I love it, to tangy.
03-21-2009 04:09:25 | More by ccrida
3.65/5 rDev -5.4%
Appearance - Came in a nice stubby bottle, man I wish they would bring back the stubby. This beer's head is out of control. Seriously, I thought I was giving it a modest pour and I ended up with a good two and a half fingers of creamy head that overflowed the glass. That being said, it laces incredibly well and retains exceptionally. The head is a nice light brown color and the beer itself is as dark as night. Perfect appearance, save I think it may be a bit over carbonated, judging by how much head I got.
Smell - Burnt malt smell is dominant, but strong coffee smell with a bit of dark chocolate is present. In the background I'm catching roasted almonds with a touch of plum and citrus. Great stuff thus far.
Taste - I know it's a stout, and it's supposed to be bitter, but this stuff is far too strong. Starts with a nice sweeter fruit and malt flavor but then it hammers your tongue with a strong coffee, dark chocolate and hop bitterness that feels like you just got hit by a wrecking ball. Finishes off with more of the same bitterness and a touch of fruit again. The bitterness however llingers a bit too long. I can't even notice the alcohol it's so bitter.
Mouthfeel - The extra head made the start of the beer quite good at the start, but as I got down near the end, the bitter aftertaste got out of control and built up over time, leaving me hesitant to drink more. It is a stout though, so I suppose I shouldn't knock that much off for that. Apart from the monstrous head, the carbonation is quite good.
Drinkability - It goes down smoothly and it isn't very heavy on the gut. That being said, the bitterness of this beer is out of control and untempered which stops you from having more then one.
Final Thoughts - This beer will wake you up, that is for sure. This stuff from pour, to smell, to taste is in your face a bitter as all heck. The only non-aggressive part of this beer is how it feels in your stomach. It's not that heavy, and sits quite well and I suspect the biggest problem I have with this beer is a problem with the style itself (being my first RIS). I'd prefer something a bit milder, but I can see the appeal.
03-17-2009 00:54:17 | More by TheHammer
4.5/5 rDev +16.6%
I bought this bottle in Toronto 1 month ago, something like $2-3 CAD. Odd-sized 341mL bottle with a carboy shape. The beer is really appetizing, roasted malts, sweet chocolate and maybe toffee, a little dark fruits, everything you could want in an RIS aroma. The beer tastes real sweet, rich and roasty, a meal. And at only 6.7% ABV this is extremely drinkable, an unexpectedly fine RIS.
03-16-2009 00:30:11 | More by TurdFurgison
4.45/5 rDev +15.3%
Bought this brew from the LCBO in Niagara Falls.The stubby bottle cost like 2.60. pretty good bargain. New to this whole beer-reviewing, so be patient.
a- Poured this out into a mug and thought it had gone bad or something. my first impression was that of coffee, a strong brew that had been left out all day on the burner. I let it settle and it looked like a watery-ish version of liquid chocolate. The head disappeared pretty quick, but left a ring close to the sides, with a tiny white chocolate island floating in the middle.
s- smells of rich chocolate, caramelly, malty, sweet.
T - whoa man. strong flavor of maltiness, kinda sweet to start, i taste a bit of coffee, but it could be my subconscious. it pretty bitter near the finish, but i'm into it. 6.7 ABV but i cant taste it due to the awesomeness.
M - the best part. it's got the perfect carbonation, feels smooth, and sticks around for a bit everywhere with a delicious coating
D - at first, hard to get used to the bitterness, by the second sip, i regretted that i didn't get two or three of these guys.
final thoughts - couldn't have had a more exciting new style for my first review. that was fun.
03-15-2009 03:37:17 | More by beerbuddah
4.03/5 rDev +4.4%
This is the winter 07/08 version (with red cap), so about 1 year of age on this bottle.
A - opaque black, dark tan head, very creamy, great retention, leaves lots of sticky lace behind
S - dry chocolate, quite fruity, plums
T - very fruity up front, vinous, not much caramel/toffee/licorice, excellent finish, chocolate then lingering roast
M - full body, creamy, low carbonation, carries the flavours well, alcohol is warm and gentle, some acidity from the roast malts/age
D - a nicely aged example of an english RIS
Very tasty, I quite like this, but I'm glad I drank it when I did, I don't think it will hold up much longer. The first beer I've tasted from Ontario that I am truly impressed with.
Thanks to NASH for the bottle!
03-09-2009 02:59:09 | More by markaberrant
3.78/5 rDev -2.1%
Got in a trade with Bobsy, many thanks for the hook-up!
Stubby bottle (Canada!) pours jet black with a finger of coffee head, ample carbonation leaves splotches of lacing down the glass. How a stout should look.
Smells heavy on the burnt malts. Some coffee, dark bitter chocolate, a hint of dark fruits and smoke.
Taste is more of the same. Heavy burnt, bitter malt, smoke, bitter chocolate, hints of coffee, caramel, a light smokiness, dark fruits. Fairly thin body for a RIS. Solid flavor though, would go great with dessert.
Not really a RIS, more of a stout proper. More bitter than your average RIS makes this a one-a-night bottle (IMO) but lower than average ABV (for a RIS) would make this a nice beverage to add to your rotation for a nightcap with chocolate lava cake or your choice of chocolaty dessert. John By can be hit or miss and has to be fresh but when on, it's as solid a stout as Ontario can produce... which is not really saying all that much.
03-01-2009 02:57:49 | More by ritzkiss
3.98/5 rDev +3.1%
Darkest mahogany that is actually opaque... and it isn't even close! A good looking crown of dark brown sugar colored foam sits atop the liquid and appears as if it will hang around for a spell. Fantastic looking lace decorates the glass as well. Even though the ABV is on the (make that *off the*) low end for the style, this is a big looking beer.
The aroma gets it done in fine fashion. Although it can't compete with the biggest stouts on the RIS block, JBIS is roasty, fruity, and isn't the least bit short on power. Impressive and pleasantly surprising.
I'm going to forget this whole Russian Imperial Stout nonsense and I suggest you do the same. It will only subject a pretty tasty, drinkable beer to competition that it was never meant to... uh... compete with. Better to think of it as John By English Style Stout.
There's a lactic sort of tanginess present that brings milk stout into consideration. Actually, it's more of an unripe fruity tartness that might put off some people. However, I think it nicely complements sweet and bitter. If you don't like puckery stouts, though, stay away.
The flavor profile is surprisingly deep. Let's go with chocolate-covered English toffee, java beans, tangy plums and a considerable amount of citrus peel. Hmmm... might American C-hops have been used? Nothing beats both unique *and* delicious.
I was prepared to cut the mouthfeel some slack, judging it more by ABV than stated style. That said, it's still a trifle thin and doesn't have quite enough creaminess for a beer pushing 7.0%. It still isn't a deal-breaker.
John By Imperial (cough, cough) Stout is good beer without a doubt. The ABV might be a little high to consider it sessionable, but I'd having no trouble killing a handful of stubbies now and again. Thanks biegaman.
02-26-2009 13:54:07 | More by BuckeyeNation
4.38/5 rDev +13.5%
This beer pours black with a thin brown tan head, I almost didn't catch it cause it dissapeared quickly. A bit of lacing.
Smells of coffee, burnt sweet malt, some slight piney hops, chocolate and caramel.
Tastes wonderful, coffee, chocolate, caramel, some dark fruit, kind of sweet, but finishes off with some nice bitterness.
Very smooth mouthfeel, this is by far one of my favourite stouts, I can't wait until I try there other beers.
02-18-2009 05:16:35 | More by GodOfBeer
2.73/5 rDev -29.3%
Sent in from northyorksammy.
341 ml stubby bottle (wtf up with that measurement?) poured into a goblet. Nice looking dark brown head and leaves some lacing on the glass. Color is a solid dark brown that is almost black.
Smell is pretty acrid and smells of charred wood and a little bit of licorice. Taste is very acrid and sort of taste like burnt hair smells. There is some aspirin chalkiness in the finish. Mouthfeel is pretty light for an RIS and is more on par with an American stout.
02-15-2009 06:19:00 | More by bort11
3.75/5 rDev -2.8%
Rich black soil with a very earthy complexion. It's an odd thing: even a tough inspection right up against the light won't yield any sort of highlighting, however, the beer still fails to be convincingly black. Even despite its staunch opaqueness it appears coated with a brownish tinge. Its top is completely barren although a few bubbles serve to amplify its outline.
If you didn't know otherwise you might guess you were drinking a coffee, or at least you were drinking in a coffee shop. This has an aroma identical to that of fresh roasted coffee and fortunately it does smells like fresh, gourmet beans and not their spent, astringent grinds. Nevertheless, I wish they would have scaled it back a touch to allow the notes of molasses, dark fruit and nuts more room to breath.
John By offers a good depth of flavour - the problem is a lot of it remains buried under the taste of coffee; this one feature is becoming obnoxiously persistent. On the whole, however, its flavour manages to be rich and sweet. This profile actually resembles something akin to a black forest cake; it has dark dried fruit and whipped cream accompanied by chocolate mousse and chocolate fudge on either side.
Subtle notes of black licorice and blackstrap molasses that are more typical of traditional Russian Imperials still have a lot of sway in the flavour department. They're nearly outweighed, however, by more boorish notes of pipe tobacco, smoke and heavy roast coffee. Ontario brewers usually take their key from British custom but the John By seems to have had a lot of inspiration from south of the border as well.
The beer is painfully flat even for a style that doesn't demand a lot of carbonation. The flavours might benefit from this in a sense but the mouthfeel certainly doesn't. The beer becomes a little astringent after some warmth get's to it. The brewer initially calculated the alcohol percentage at closer to 10% but subsequent lab test deemed it the only 6.7% that's listed on the bottle. I'd say it drinks much closer to the latter.
John By's predecessor - the Tsarina Katerina - was one of Ontario's first (and still only) Imperial Stouts. It was a world class offering created by an exceptionally talented brewer. Heritage Brewing has since bought out the Scotch-Irish portfolio and retooled their beers, this is suppose to be lifted from Mr. Mason's original Tsarina Katerina recipe. I have to say I greatly preferred the initial offering.
I do appreciate Heritage's effort to release an Imperial (sort of) Stout, I only wish they had done a slightly better job. The fact remains, however, that Ontario micro brewers suffer badly from a painfully over-regulated government monopoly. They're also the victim of a maladroitly conservative market. Those things considered, I'm more than happy Heritage took some initiative and tried steering our micro scene in the right direction.
02-03-2009 06:09:29 | More by biegaman
4/5 rDev +3.6%
I've had this a few times now and I notice that tonight's offering is a bit flatter than I'm used to, except for a fleeting tan-mocha fuzz when poured, there isn't much of a head. Lacing is there but sparse. Still, the flat black lustre and slight bubble ring impress. Smell initially is rich chocolate brownies, brown suger, cane, and mostly sweet molasses. Dry, dark chocolate taste with a tart bitter edge, leather, baker's chocolate, more molasses, sediment coats the bottom of my glass. A touch sour in the finish makes this particularly intriguing; not an outstanding Imperial Stout but certainly one well worth trying, I look forward to this appearing every Christmas season in the Ontario LCBO.
01-18-2009 03:12:23 | More by ThatWineGuy
4.1/5 rDev +6.2%
2008: Another superb Canadian stout. Pours ink black with a paper-thin tan head and grainy, sugary lacing on the snifter. Smell consists of dark bitter chocolate and sulfur. Taste is roasted malt, espresso, licorice, and pine nuts with a pronounced alcoholic finish. There's an underlying barley flavour. Mouthfeel is lush and velvety - in a word, perfect. I could certainly drink many of these despite the high ABV. Smooth, strong, and balanced. You need to try this brew!
2009: Heritage has stripped John By of its rich body, and the beer now emits a bizarre, burnt plastic aroma. So the rating reflects my 2008/2009 scores. To the brewer: go back to the old recipe.
01-15-2009 19:10:54 | More by cratez
4.2/5 rDev +8.8%
Somehow this beer gave no head at all from the pour, but it still looked really good. Similar to aged soy sauce by appearance. The smell is pleasant and the malt and coffee notes are evident. Upon initial tasting, I was caught off guard to the flavours that I was about to experience. Vaguely, the first sip was slightly sweet, malty, bitter, toffee like, all at once. After a few more sips and gulps, the hop aroma became very evident. This is a very hoppy beer, despite the chocolaty, malty, and roasted design. The roast coffee and malt served as the back bone, but the hop is highly aromatic. I admit that I cannot pinpoint the type of hop used, but I will hazard to guess that there is a high alpha acid hop variety used in the aroma development. Very nice. IMHP, this is one of the best stouts I have had.
PS, this beer is bottled conditioned. The yeast tasted nice.
01-07-2009 01:05:50 | More by wjimson
John By Imperial Stout from Scotch Irish Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 84 ratings.