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

1,755 Reviews
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

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

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

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Reviews: 1,755 | Ratings: 3,713
Photo of twiggamortis420
3.08/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Large bottle calls for a large oversized widemouth mug, right?

This beer is black. Very rich 3 finger head lingers on and on and on...not overly viscous though.

Heavy malts, dark raspberries and dark chocolate on the nose.

Hmmm, one of the fruitier RIS I have had...has me wondering if this bottle might be a bit off. Not overly malty like I was expecting. I taste wheat bread, burnt toffee, a bit bitter. Full body and mouthfeel.

This one does not do it for me...I will gladly take a Rasputin or a Storm King over this any day.

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Photo of oakbluff
3.08/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle sample- pours jet black with frothy tan head. Nose- dark fruit and chocolate. Taste- very fruity, plums, raisins, chocolate and slight alcohol taste. Medium to low carbonation. Finish is bitter chocolate, maybe a touch of hops, but not much. Mostly a roast free, fruit forward stout. I prefer less fruity notes, so drinkability suffers somewhat. Quite light bodied for style.

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Photo of TheAlamoWrocker
3.12/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 550 mL bottle into a Blue Star Brewery Pint Glass.


Pours a beautiful black with hardly any reddening around the edges. The only shade of red that this has is on its base, but on it's sides it's beautifully black. I can easily say that this is the blackest thing in my room and is easily one of the best looking stouts I've seen. Sadly the head comes one fingered and goes, but a small remnant stays on top and it reminds me of delicious coffee.


This oddly just smells lightly coffee-like. It does have some toffee notes, but I can't pick up the chocolate that I'm used to in a Russian Imperial Stout.


This hits the usual coffee notes that I'm used to in a Russian Imperial Stout, but it misses out on the sweetness that I'm used to from one. Roasted malts are present. There is oddly what seems like a alcoholic dark chocolate to this.


The mouthful is creamy and nicely smooth. The only carbonation this feels like it has is whatever of the head hits the palate.


This feels like a standard Russian Imperial Stout. It's far from anything special, but it's a nice starter to the style. I guess if I wanted a roasted malty coffee this would be a nice choice, but it's hard to find a time to enjoy something like this. If this was possible to drink while studying then that would be the best time, but I'm studying! The best time to enjoy this drink is probably the worst.
If you are going with a Samuel Smith then the Oatmeal Stout is a far better stout than this one in my opinion.

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Photo of Anthony1
3.13/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ruby-black, lots of tan head, only a little retention, but plenty of lace. The perfect stout would have better head retention. Slightly fruity profile from the British yeast, pleasant sweet roastyness. Bittersweet; very well balanced. Dark caramel malt, mocha, raisins, smooth hop/roasted malt bitterness. Slight fruity tang in the aftertaste. Not much alcohol taste, but it does become more warming as it warms up. Very nice flavour, but lacking the depth of some. Moderate to full body, a little chalky. Moderate carbonation.

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Photo of jeonseh
3.15/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

From a bottle poured into my Snifter Glass.

A - poured into the snifter and left a small, off white head that didn't last long and then just sat on the top. when poured it was a black color but it actually looked a bit thin for an RIS

S - smelled a bit of milk, figs and dates, and also a hint of pepper and smokiness that reminded me a bit of beef jerky. Also smells a bit like a manhattan cocktail in that it smells like vermouth and alcoholic cherries.

T - the taste on the whole is at first rather smoky and roasty to me. I noticed that there is is very peppery and even a bit like a hickory taste to it. A light chocolate flavor also seems to pop. Even reminds me a bit of a beef broth or something. There is also a slight hint of the date flavor that I picked up in the nose that is mixed in with a bit of a tart orange flavor that also seems to pop out in the end of the taste; however the full meaty flavors are what I noticed that most.

MF - Very thick and full feeling brew. I think the body of this adds to the fact that it reminds me of eating beef jerky. it is a mouth full of thick breadiness that just sits there in the mouth and even makes me feel full in the stomach. This almost makes this beer feel like a meal in itself.

D - overall an average RIS that doesn't really seems to have the complexities of some of the other RISs that I have had. It is huge on the smoky characters and does not taste bad but has nothing beyond that that makes this beer stick out. Plus as noted in the MF section it is so thick in the mouth and the body and maybe even mixed in with the smoky taste that makes this hard to have more than one in my opinion.

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Photo of Tupperwolf
3.16/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a plumlike dark brown, not quite black, into my imperial nonic, capped with a spongy light tan mocha head. It leaves lots of lacing behind; If you find a bright enough light source, you can see some hints of ruby, but it's mostly opaque.

Let this warm up! Seriously, don't drink it out of the fridge. I have mine set on 0.5 and it is still too cold for most beers, this one included. Before it warms all you'll get is astringency. As it warms, gentle coffee aromas begin to come out, building along with a little bit of caramel and some veggielike greenness.

Coffee with cream, some lemony stout zest - slight smoky roastiness.

An enigma of a mouthfeel - thin for an imperial stout, yet damn filling. It's not 'thin' per se, just compared to a lot of other Impies I've had - smooth, imperceptible carbonation, slight alcohol zest.

All of the Imperial Stouts I've had have been American, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that an honest English version isn't as in-your-face.

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Photo of dojobrewco
3.16/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice dark pour with a roasted aroma. Not as full bodied as I had thought it would be however very drinkable. The bottle I poured had been sitting in my fridge for about a month or so; not sure if this affected the flavor as this is the only one I have ever had.

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Photo of bowersdm
3.18/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Normal sized bottle poured into a mug

A - nearly black. 2cm of brown-ish head

S - roasted barley, coffee, chocolate, fruit, hops (kind of citrusy, but there's also a spiciness), alcohol

T - fruit, coffee, chocolate, barley, and hops at the very end. everything is very subdued and subtle.

M - thin and watery. too thin for an RIS

D - this wasn't a bad RIS, but it lacked the beefiness that I'm used to with an RIS.

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Photo of SWMeyer4141
3.18/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into Sam Smith Pint

Appearance-Pretty dark, almost a dark dark red. Head was a tan 2 finger head that had pretty good retention for a RIS, probably cause the ABVs only 7. Lacing was pretty good.

Smell-Roasted Malts, Coffee, Dark fruits, and some booze.

Taste-Follows the smell, alot of flavors going on in a 7% stout. Only problem is it's a little bit sour, not sure whats going on here. I still get some nice Roasty Malts, Coffee, and Plum. Something about this beer is different then I remembered.

Mouthfeel-Light to Medium bodied, I'd say more on the lighter side. Carbonation was pretty low.

Overall-I remember enjoying this beer alot more a while back. Going to have to try another bottle soon. Still a good beer, but an Imperial Stout it's just to thin, I'd consider it more of a Stout.

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Photo of Briken
3.19/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Dark bubbly brown and frothy/foamy brown head with good retention. Bright fruity chocolate aroma. Taste follows the aroma with a roasted malt finish. Fairly thick but a sharp bite and a bit foamy.

An interesting flavor but a bit put off by an almost lager feel. Roasted malts start to take over about halfway through. This one's definitely better near room temperature

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Photo of jcalabre
3.2/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Originally sampled on 24 June 2002. I am writing this review from my notes. Opaque black w/ a frothy head that settles down quickly, this Imperial Stout has more of the 'coffee' taste than other I.S.'s I've tried. I didn't think that the overall taste was that strong. Also, the alcohol wasn't well hidden. A decent imperial stout, but I prefer others.

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Photo of Raime
3.2/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Pours pitch black with a thing mocha head. Leaves no lacing.

S - Bitter dark coffee, roasted malt, alcohol.

T - Medium coffee, roasted malt, a bit of lactose.

M - Slick oily body with moderate carbonation.

O - Overall, I'd say this was closer to a regular stout than an RIS. I'm simply not a fan of this brewery. It was pretty average.

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Photo of scottmichaelland
3.2/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into over sized wine glass, after about 30 minutes rest out of fridge.

Appearance: Color was extremely dark chocolate with a tint of brandy coloring towards the light. Very dark, no see through. Soda type bubbles on pour, but very minimal visible carbonation after. Had about a half inch of light brown head immediately following pour but it dissipated very quickly. I think this is because the beer was in the fridge for too long. No head retention because of this. Semi cloudy pour, black in glass.

Smell: Black licorice is the most prominent for me. I get a lot of alcohol smell, hint of roast, coffee, and raisins. Possible very small hint of vanilla.

Taste: Roasted malt was the most prominent. I do still get the licorice and bitterness on the back of the tongue. I get a little bit of coffee. This beer has character but I think it could be balanced better.

Mouth feel: Perfect carbonation for an Imperial Stout. Not too much or too little. Medium mouth feel. Could be "stickier" but it's extremely drinkable. Stickiness is subjective anyway.

Giving this beer slightly above average. I was expecting better. I think what brought it down slightly overall for me was the balance, or lack there of. It's still very drinkable and has a lot of flavor, you just have to like what's there.

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Photo of JudgeRoughneck
3.21/5  rDev -23%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

RE-reviewed November 2015 -

APP - black with ruby highlights, brilliant clarity, large bubbled mocha head fades fast and leaves thin but persistent ring.

Aroma -raisin, fig, jam, iron, all medium intensity. Fig is standout. Low herbal hop, medium-low caramel, medium plus acetlaldehyde / white grape / iron Sam Smith house character. Possibly a small amount of diacetyl, bright roasted barley aroma is medium-high, with a wet coffee-ground note on the backend. No alcohol. Sounds messy but is enticing.

Flavor - White grape ester is huge, and only slightly out-competes acetlyaldehyde. Fresh plum ester is medium-low, herbal hop flavor is medium, malt sweetness is very low if present at all, roasted malt flavor is medium-high but oddly flat and not at all astringent, low level smokiness emerges with warmth, as does faint anise in the finish, which is unexpectedly short and dry. Again, no alcohol. No noticeable bitterness.

MF- medium-full bodied with medium-low carbonation, again strangely flat on the palate. No astringency no velvet, none of the mouth-filling sensations one expects from an imperial.

Overall - very British, not really a stand out among RIS, but might be lovely example of Baltic Porter. Odd little beer.

Appearance- Pitch black with a thin but tenacious layer of espresso to chocolate milk colored head.

Smell- Dark fruit, dark chocolate, dark rum,hop spice, deep caramel, brown sugar, and a hint of sweet wort. Pretty great smell but I wish it was stronger.

Taste- Starts out with a strong roasted coffee character, then dark chocolate, then spicy/earthy hop bitter clears the way for a finish of burnt coacoa, and roasted grain bitter. The finish is much better than it sounds I promise. Some more of that earthiness in the aftertaste. A nugat tone comes out with warmth. Later I get a bit of black cherry. This isn't super-complex but it is exactly what I expect Imperial Stout to taste like. Rich, but more bitter than sweet, and dark as midnight.

Mouthfeel- Hefty but far from oppressive. Chewy.

Drinkability- Barely a hint of booze anywhere definately helps.

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Photo of dciBA
3.21/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

550ml bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Pours nice a black like an imperial stout should. Finger of brown creamy fades quickly into a thin head that last forever. Smells of chocolate, dried fruit, and a touch alcohol.

Taste is OK at best IMO. Getting some raisin, chocolate and little coffee. The overwhelming flavor though is a green/earthiness, however that is just not pleasant to my tastebuds. As it warms the coffee makes a return but can't battle the green flavor.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are the high lights of this brew. Creamy, but yet still fairly thin. Definitely the thinnest RIS I've had. At only 7.0% this is probably one of the more drinkable imperial stouts out there. Overall, not too impressed with this one, probabaly won't buy it again.

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Photo of RichardMNixon
3.22/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.25

Looks like a great stout. Smell is chocolate, raisins, must, and feet. Taste is cleaner but fairly plain and one dimensional. Mouthfeel is the strong suit, silky smooth and very chewy.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.22/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Opaque black with a large mud brown head. Cavernous retnetion and multiple droopy lace rings. Stouts don't look better.

Roast malt, char, and brown sugar. Milk sugars come off smelling like wet paint.

Smooth. Roast and char flavors dominate but is pricked up by dried dark fruit. Has a nutty brown sugar taste in back that makes me think of plaster.

Between the wet paint milk sugars and the plaster brown sugars I though about Home Depot for the entire beer.

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Photo of cyoung35
3.22/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Drink this beer with your mouth hole. Appearance is black in the natural light. Lovely fuggle aroma and light hop bittering. Tastes and feels like a smooth cold coffee.

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Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

puors brillent onyx, slight lacy head.

the aroma was toffey, molasses, smoky.
the flavor was burnt, not to bitter, with a very thick mouth feel.

the aroma toffey, mollasses, less smoke, coffee.
the flavor very rich, alcohol, smoke not as strong, toffey, molasses, coffee.

i was really disapointed in this beer until it was room temp.

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Photo of Realale
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Clear black with a significant ruby component. Nice very fine mocha head.

Nose is initially sour cherry with a touch of chocolate. The fruitiness comes more into balance with time and a medicinal aspect appears. Rather distinctive nose.

On the thin side of medium in the mouth. A little light on malt, and comes off a touch sweet. Really could use more bitterness to balance. Average length.

Mouthfeel is fine. Quite drinkable for an Imperial, but not terribly interesting.

Tasted blind at the 12/14/03 St. Louis BA tasting. This was perhaps the most conspicuous victim of the blind tasting format. This bottle certainly did not live up to the lofty reputation of the beer, yet nothing indicated a bad or mistreated bottle to me.

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Photo of Can_has_beer
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this one a few times now and I just can't behind those flavors. I think its the yeast, which comes off as a bit Belgian to me. I think it needs less yeast and more roast.

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Photo of popery
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A thin, somewhat disappointing Russian Imperial Stout with a flavor profile that is not bad but merely average for the category. I was really expecting more from Samuel Smith with this one. The Taddy Porter knocked my socks off and their other beers are generally, at least, excellent values. This offering is basically RIS light. It lacks the depth and complexity of flavor that is nearly commonplace amongst its competition. The feel is somewhat watery and really fails to bring the required breadth. That said, it's not bad, at all. This beer's rating is very much a product of its place relative to some truly great competition, and with Old Rasputin sharing its shelf space, it's not even a very good value in this neck of the woods (I imagine other areas have better Imp Stouts and RIS's as well). At any rate, the beer pours opaquely black with good lacing from a nice beige-mocha head. There are notes of toasted malt and English, minerally hops. The flavors just aren't big and strong enough. Also, while I usually like a thick, viscous feel on my Imperial Stouts, this one manages it while still being too watery, which turns out to be not altogether pleasant. Not a bad beer but far below the heights of the style.

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Photo of hotstuff
3.24/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer's appearance included a small sized tan head with fine-small bubbles that completely dissipated.The body was uncarbonated and opaque with a black hue.The nose of this beer was that of sweaty feet (oh yum) with a very mild coffee flavor.It had a smooth, watery and thin mouthfeel and it was light bodied.The lacing was very sparse.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
3.25/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Much anticipated as this beer currently sits in the Top 10 of the BA best beers. Was getting even more excited as I watched this beer pour from the clear (uh, oh) bottle. A wonderful obsidian colored beer without any brown or ruby highlights flowed forth into my glass. A two-finger rich, creamy cappuccino colored head formed and grudgingly faded to a thin skim and left bands of lace.
Okay, we had a problem with the smell. I could smell a moderate skunkiness coming off this beer from nearly a foot away. Damn clear bottle! I'm guessing it was light-struck somewhere along the way from the UK to SoCal. I could also detect some espresso coffee notes but the skunk really interfered with picking up anything else.
Taste was better. Still, I wonder what went wrong as it seemed rather one-dimensional. Lots of chocolate malt, a lingering burnt coffee taste and a mildly bitter finish but missing the dark fruit flavors and caramel and toffee sweetness I've noted in other imperial stouts. Alcohol was very well camouflaged; virtually undetectable.
Feel was medium-bodied and dry.
Overall, I'm going to give Samuel Smith's the benefit of the doubt and chock this one up to a storage problem affecting this particular bottle, not a problem with the beer itself. I intend on getting this again (soon), hopefully on tap, and re-reviewing. But for now, I've had better imperial stouts.

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Photo of biggmike
3.25/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark, dark brown pour with light brown head that was long-lasting. I was kind of disappointed because I am a big fan of the Oatmeal Stout and Taddy Porter. Alright but to me not great. The taste was just a bit metallic and I just didnt think it was that good. I will try again because I'm a big fan of their other beers.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,713 ratings.
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