Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout | Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,747 Reviews
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
United Kingdom (England)

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 02-27-2001

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,747 | Ratings: 3,671
Photo of NastyNorseman
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Delicious roasted malts tickle the tongue on this beast. Dark black with brown hues with a light tan head that lingers. Rich and full-bodied, creamy and dense. This is a delicious toasty meal in a bottle that finished slippery and coats the pallette with malty and a hint of hoppy bitterness with the finished.

 310 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.41/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This might have been the first RIS/IS I ever drank. Back in the mid to late 90s I came across this beer. Oily and black it produces a 1" brown head. Looks oppressive. Aromas of roasted malt, dark fruit bitterness and alcohol.

Taste is a mixture of roasted malt, dark fruit, bitterness, alcohol, licorice, coffee from the malt. Mouthfeel is a little hot relative to the abv, the dark fruit aspect doesn't help things there.

 431 characters

Photo of JoLight
4.44/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Off-white-khaki, thick, frothy/milky head that leaves lots of thick lacing and retains well. Black in color with brown hues at the bottom of the glass.

Sweet typical stout aroma, initially. Roasted malt, of course. I pick up maple. I also pick up some sweet yeasty thing going on. Then there's some kind of creamy character at the end of the aroma. I also detect a fruity character, like Twizzlers; maybe some chocolate-covered cherries, as well. A tiny hint of smoke becomes more present as the beer warms.

The flavor is full of roasted malt. I pick up a hint of alcohol on the flavor. It's yeasty, too. And on the end of the sip, there's a generalized yet earthy hop bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium-to-thick, fluffy, and lightly but perfectly carbonated. The finish is slightly creamy/fluffy and semi-dry.

 818 characters

Photo of erk0607
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Inky black with slight brown hue, pillowy foam head that is light khaki in color that lingers
Smell: Roasted chocolate nibs and malt hit you, bread, caramel candies
Taste: Much like the smell, definite roast, crispy brown bread, intense malt bitterness... it just tastes like something you would imagine this dark tasting. Also has a sweet hint to it, not sure what it is though.
Feel: Heavier, thick, rolls off the tongue but will foam up on the palate a bit, leaves a bitter aftertaste
Overall: Quite a sipper that evolved flavors over time. Would definitely get again for a guaranteed complex classic.

 610 characters

Photo of DJ-Hophead
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

355 ml bottle, King William, Bristol - Pours dark black with a medium tanned foamy head. Medium carbonation. Nice lacing. Smell - dark fruit, coffee. Taste - sweet, roasted malt base - coffee/chocolate, medium bitter finish. Lower ABV than other RIS's but very well balanced.

 275 characters

Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.59/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black, with a one-finger, creamy, tan head.
Smells of dark chocolate malt and slight licorice.
Wonderful creamy chocolate taste, especially in the finish. More sweet licorice up front. Nice imperial burn at the end, but not as big as some. I was really suprised with this Imperial Stout as it was excellent, but different from many excellent Imperial stouts. The smooth, chocolate finish was the highlight.

 419 characters

Photo of Hat_Fulla_Beer
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

550ml bottle poured into Sam Adams pint glass.

Pours a very dark brown with one fat finger of light brown head that leaves splashing ocean wave lace as it recedes.

Smells of dark fruit, licorice, molasses, chocolate and coffee grounds.

Tastes of molasses, sugared raisins, prunes, fig, dark chocolate, creamed coffee and mild herbal hops.

Feels like a Sam Smith beer, all right. Big and soft. Full bodied with smooth, creamy carbonation. Finishes dry.

Verdict: Vigorously recommended. Another knockout by my favorite English brewery.

 538 characters

Photo of JonCorbett
4.24/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Poured into a Spiegelau Stout glass. A gorgeous black - barely a tint of anything else. The head is a medium tan and comes to a wonderful fluff and foam. It has a fairly good retention and great thin foam top once it does dissipate.

Aromatics: Raisins and dates are the fruit scents I get, almost like a fresh Christmas fruitcake. Wonderfully sweet with a some toasty undertones.

Taste: The aroma before the sip really helps accentuate the fruitiness, it has a great balance where the bitterness kind of gets run over with the boozy before it can settle on the palate. There is a slight coffee type bitterness, but it very well off set by the subtle hint of spice and the malt. The finish is a relatively mild bitter, slightly boozy but doesn't linger too long.

Feel: The carbonation softens over time giving way to the liquid itself which is very smooth and creamy with a sturdy but not heavy body, overall it is very kind to the palate.

Overall: I liked its creaminess, and the caring gentle notes to the nose, and I love that first foamy sip when the head is high. I think this is one of the best stouts I have had and I believe will be a regular when I'm not hunting for new ones to try.

 1,209 characters

Photo of jrsqc7
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Liquor slicked highway everyday
Pitch black
Toasted tobacco
Does not taste burnt at all
The hops need to hold me tighter
Strung out on the outskirts of town
Purchases from my man and enjoyed immediately after

 210 characters

Photo of TH28
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

355ml bottle. Can’t decipher the code date. Appearance: Black, opaque, with a low brown head that dissipates. Aroma: Dark fruit (cherry, plum, raisin) with a light roast and chocolate. Fruit and chocolate character most prominent. Taste: An earthy, caramel, roasted malt base, with a moderately strong bitterness and increasing astringent roast on the swallow. Mouthfeel: Medium body with some creaminess and low carbonation. No noticeable alcohol warmth. Finish: Leaves a crystal and roasted malt character long after the swallow. Overall: An earthier, more crystal malt based version of an American imperial stout. Also has a slightly more astringent roast character on the finish, and lacks the sometimes harsh alcohol warmth of American versions. A well made English version of the style reflecting on the harder water of the region.

 839 characters

Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.29/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A superb and original take on the imperial stout. Really strong smell of molasses, same on the nose but with dark fruit sweetness thrown in.excellent stout

 155 characters

Photo of cmurkar
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an extremely dark brown, almost black. Head is two and a half inches and dark tan. Disappears pretty quickly. Smell is dark malt and chocolate, with a roasted finish. Taste comes through with the roasted malt and coffee. Lingering cocoa and molasses on the finish. Feel is surprisingly light for an imperial stout, yet very smooth.

 337 characters

Photo of Jls9312
2.66/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75

Looks good almost no head poured from bottle at first taste it's good taste of molasses mouth feel is fairly light but the finish has a certain twang that I have noticed with other beers from Samuel smiths that I just do not like likely will not purchase again

 260 characters

Photo of cipherbreak
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Excellent supple mouthfeel; very rich compared to other stouts. Tastes like roasted carbonated Malta. Well balanced. A very drinkable stout.

L - Pitch black with a very thin beige crown that sticks around
S - Complex smell, more characteristic of a Porter: roasted nuts, dark cocoa
T - 75% Dark cocoa, sweet molasses, Malta
F - Rich, supple, filling mouthfeel. More like a Porter than a Stout.
O - Perfect balance between sweet and roasted. A Stout 3/4 of the way to Porter.

 477 characters

Photo of SLewis
4.31/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark black with ruby tint around the edges, with a cream colored head.
Smells of figs and burnt caramel.
Taste is more fruity than any imperial stout I've had. Figs, raisin, and caramel tastes are prominent. There is a slight roasty note but no real chocolate flavors are present.
Mouthfeel is medium but the head's creamy texture adds to the overall experience.

It's good, but if you are used to American Imperial Stouts, this won't be similar at all. Would buy again.

 482 characters

Photo of WildMaverick1200
4.94/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is truly a world class beer. It pours beautiful black and creamy into the glass with just the right amount of foam. Teased by a moderate aroma of malts, wood and good bread, the taste is just the right balance of kick, bitterness, sourness and sweet. It's never too much or too little, it's just right. Most stouts (especially imperial) tend to lean heavily to either side; too bitter and strong or not at all. This beer has the flavor complexities one would expect of a Porter, as opposed to typical stouts. This is a medium-heavy body beer, just barely entering into sipping territory. Carbonation is extremely even, contributing to its smoothness.

Overall, you will feel fantastic after trying this one. You will.

 723 characters

Photo of josanguapo
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From XXXII. In Teku glass. Playing South Park The Stick of Truth. Has something that makes crave for more after each sip. Really good tasting, smelling and feeling, and with an ABV lower than usual in the style

 210 characters

Photo of sjccmd
4.29/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Prunes, rum cake, spices in the aroma. Rich and bready. Blueberries, toast, cocoa, and figs. Herbal, almost minty hops. Raspberries, cherries, chocolate. Complex aroma that continues to evolve. Fruit seems to fade initially allowing burnt sugar, caramel, and hearty toasted bread to come forward.

Pours pretty much jet black with a decent sized tan head. The head fades slowly, some lacing.

Burnt toast and figs on the palate. The fruit is more subdued than expected. Cocoa and cold press coffee. Berries linger more in the background. Fruity herbal hops provide balancing bitterness. A hint of clove. Surprisingly dry and balanced for the style.

Medium full body with medium low carbonation. Somewhat silky but not heavy or chewy.

Though the abv is low for the style, but I appreciate the dry finish and balance. Enough complexity up front to keep me happy.

 864 characters

Photo of stlfatguy
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good, I just don't quite get the hype. Nice looking stout, black with dark head, but not too creamy. Smell was tough to describe. Hints at something like a fruity , heavy alcohol... maybe Mincemeat pie is the closest I can think of, which was super weird for a stout. I didn't get much coffee or cocoa, which would have been expected. Taste was Nice. Not what I would describe as creamy though. Thick enough. No drying experienced. Malt, slight caramel bite, and I keep getting that raisin/stone fruit/Mincemeat reminder. Interesting beer.

 540 characters

Photo of kitschiguy
4.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a wonderfully thick, dark, chocolate brown with a thick, fluffy, light brown head. Lovely

Nose is a heady mix of coffee, caramel, chocolate, brown sugar, malt, biscuit and cooking spices.

Palate is big with lots of coffee and caramel dark malty flavours and spice and dark stone fruit. beautifully balanced.

Mouth is lighter than expected but welcome. Makes it very drinkable. very well rounded.

I was expecting a ig bitter beast with this one but was very pleasantly surprised as this is very drinkable. It make me wonder why so many people drink abominations like Guinness..... oh well....

Highly recommended.

 625 characters

Photo of Miles_Wilson
4.84/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Wow! After enjoying the Sam Smith Pale Ale immensely I had to try the Imperial Stout out to experience its mettle. The look is exactly what you would expect from a stout, a nice foamy head with easy pour from the bottle but so thick and perfect you would think it might be a nitro brew. The smell is nothing short of intoxicating, full of deep malty and toasty notes much the same as the Pale Ale was for me.
The taste and feel are what this beer is all about; those malty cocoa notes roll over the tongue with a creamy but effortlessly smooth finish, full of malty lingering flavor.

 584 characters

Photo of Bruno74200
4.48/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L - pitch black with a beige head that lasts

S - porter like smell, roasted, dark chocolate, a bite boozy

T - licorice, cocoa, more complex as it warms up

F - good mouthfeel

O - an amazing beer. It might be the benchmark for the style. Really balanced

 255 characters

Photo of bobstockwell
4.44/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

jet black, tan head, Coffee,toffee, molasses, a delicious malty mouthfeel, I went to get Taddy Porter, but this called to me. I still prefer my founders breakfast stout, and rasputin's evil glare will continue to tempt me, but this is a damn good stout from the first "craft" beer company I remember buying, great balance, little low % for the style, but makes it more sessionable

 383 characters

Photo of MacMalt
4.31/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into Samuel Smith Pint glass. It pours virtually jet black with a two-finger, foamy khaki-colored head and thick lacing. It smells of roasted malt, cocoa, dark coffee, molasses, and toffee. The taste largely follows the nose with lots of malt, burnt coffee, baker's chocolate, molasses, toffee, raisin, and a hint of hoppy bitterness. The tastes blend together very well and the stout sweetens as it warms in the glass. This stout is rather thin and lightly carbonated. With a manageable ABV of 7%, it is very drinkable for the style. Overall, this legendary Imperial Stout deserves its high rating. It is truly well crafted and enjoyable.

 652 characters

Photo of thehyperduck
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

550 mL bottle from the LCBO; bottled Sept 2 2015 and served a little cooler than cellar temp. Last sampled in April 2014, though I neglected to write a review at the time.

Pours an opaque black-brown colour, crowned with just over a finger's worth of beige-coloured froth. It dissipates over the next couple of minutes, leaving behind a thin, filmy cap and a modest-sized collar. Minimal lace. Molasses and caramelized sugar are primary fixtures of the aroma, along with accompanying notes of milk chocolate, raisin, anise and cherry-flavoured red licorice candy. No complaints thus far.

And none are forthcoming - this is a very solid strong stout. Sweet flavours of treacle and caramel remain prominent, while roasted malt flavours of milk chocolate and coffee provide some much-needed complexity. Suggestions of prune-y dark fruit mid-sip. Herbal hops, roasted coffee astringency and some char/ash start to shine through on the back end, along with slight hints of alcohol and anise. Lingering roasty aftertaste with a bit of metallicity, and that's the only knock against this one that I can come up with here. Nearing full-bodied, with a silky-smooth, creamy and luxurious mouthfeel that makes this stout incredibly satisfying to sip. Not super-interesting, but the quality of this one's craftsmanship is undeniable.

Final Grade: 4.15, a worthy A-. If the original imperial stouts that were exported from Britain to Russia were anything like Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout... well then it's not hard to see why the Tsars were so keen on the stuff. Beer geeks who have been spoiled by the adjunct-laden "extreme" stouts that can be found across North America may not be overly impressed by this one, but screw them - that leaves more for the rest of us. If you are seeking out a classic-style RIS that focuses purely on the roasted malts, look no further.

 1,861 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,671 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!