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

1,751 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: 1,751 | Ratings: 3,709
Photo of TheCondor
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%

Of course I love imperial stouts. Of course I love everything I have ever had from Samuel Smith's brewery in Tadcaster. Of course I am watching the Royals put on a clinic in the World Series game 6. All that notwithstanding, let's side pour with standard aggression this beer into a pint glass from the bottle.

Appearance - Just like you would expect, although it does have a nice three finger caramel colored head that lasts only for a minute or two and leaves little lacing. Deep chocolate brown coloring, cool packaging, everything I would expect from a world-class imperial stout.

Smell - As I poured this beer to take a picture of i t for my post on BA, I could actually smell the dark fruits and malts from several feet away when I went to pick up my camera. Roasted barley is also present in the nose, creating a strong, sensational olfactory experience. Raisins.

Taste - Like mothers milk. So smooth, deep and rich, its like drinking melted dark choclate ice cream, with beer and liquified dark fruits. Amazing. Intense raisin flavor makes for an incredible beer.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, creamy, rich. No alcohol bite.

Overall - This beer is raising the bar on beer like your loser brother raises his consciousness when he drops acid. This is probably the most amazing imperial stout I have ever had, it is so balanced, drinakable, and smooth. No amount of superlative speech can describe this brew. You need to try this one immediately if you like stouts or dark beer at all. Game changer.

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Photo of Meyers1023
4.94/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the beer I compare all Imperial stouts to. It pours a perfect black color with a tan head that disappears leaving a lace along the glass. The smell is sweet, i get cherries but I'm not the best at guessing what something smells like. It's a very smooth beer with a creamy mouthfeel. You get roasted malts and raisins with a slight chocolate finish. This brewery has set the standard on many styles for me!

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Sampling right now on 10/8/14. Comes in a single 550ml (18.7 ounce) bottle for $4.99 but seen it in 330ml (11.2) 4-packs as well. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a handled glass stein.

Pours a pitch black in color with a good 3-finger beige head that settles finally down to a 2mm head after about 20 mins of sipping on it. A good amount of sticky lacing is seen that clings all the way up the sides of the glass. The aroma is of roasted malts, dark fruit (plums?) with a hint of bittersweet chocolate. The taste has even more going on that starts out with the roasted malts at first, with a slight sweet raisin-like taste than ends with a hint of semi-sweet chocolate. Actually very smooth and goes down easy. Medium+ bodied but a tad below average for carbonation that is good for this style of brew. One of the best Russian Imperial Stouts I have tasted.

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Photo of dmgeng
4/5  rDev -4.1%

I've seen this beer 100 times but never could convince myself to spend $4 on 12oz of 7%, and then that day came.

A - Deep chestnut black/brown color. Khaki colored head with good lacing.

S - Strong chocolaty aroma with some toffee, roasted, and malty tones. The chocolate and roasted smells seem to stick out above the rest and swirl together to and mix well. There may seem to be some coffee tones but no alcohol present.

T - Tons of chocolate flavor that shines through but is mixed with the roasted/burnt flavor. It is some how complex and easy to dissect which makes this stout very tasty. Overall it is slightly sweet but it is balanced with the roasted character. Not as sweet or as chocolaty as Young's and it is a much better beer for it.
M - Moderate to high mouth-feel especially for being only 7%. Moderate carbonation which somewhat helps the beer not be cloying. It's not the heaviest or the lightest Imperial stout and it goes down very smooth.

Overall, this is a delicious "imperial" stout (i.e. imperial on flavor but not on buzz). Not my #1 imperial stout ever but is still very good with a tilt towards the chocolate side. I'd prefer the beer to be ever so slightly more balanced and with more booze but it's very good. This beer would make a great desert beer but it isn't one I could drink over and over again. I would get this again and would recommend it to any dark beer fan. Just not every week.

Glass- Snifter

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Photo of stcules
3.94/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Black, light brown foam, not bad.
Good but not too intense smell. Coffee, toasted, almond.
In the mouth a good toaste note, chocolate, some vanilla.
A good hoppiness, balancing the present sweetness.
Some artichoke and nut hints.
After a bit of warming, the flavours and aromas are more opened and intense. Good balance.
It remains a quite drinkable beer, despite its 7 ABV, and it structure.

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Photo of titvs
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%

Review based on the BJCP2008 guidelines (style 13F). Bottle 36cl - Batch L14023. AROMA: roasted aromas mixed with port-like vinous notes. chocolate aromas and dried fruits (figs). APPEARANCE: black and opaque with a Brown head with average retention. slight legging. TASTE: roasted malt, chocolate, strong coffe and slight dried dark fruits. faint hop flavours and some vinous like notes. medium-low bitterness with a relatively sweet finish. low alcohol warmth. PALATE: medium body with low alcohol warmth. medium carbonation. OVERALL: an intense and complex imperial stout with a good range of aromas and flavours. lacks a bit of body and alcohol presence.

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Photo of risendragon
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%

Bought a bomber from Market Basket (go ATD!) and poured into my trusty kitchen glass.

A- As black as the IKEA table that it's resting on, nice tan head, about two fingers high (4)

S- I get chocolate, dark fruits, caramel, some booze, very floral and nice overall (4.25)

T- Milk chocolate, sweet, but not much else. I am somewhat disappointed considering the nose was huge with all the aromas I listed above. At least the booze is hidden rather well (2.75).

M- Heavily carbonated for a stout, more porter-like, somewhat watery and thin (3)

O- Looked good, smelled good, but did not deliver on the tongue. I was somewhat disappointed, maybe if I had not drank it chilled it would have been better. Oh well, next time I will not refrigerate it and try again (3.5)

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Photo of Mikus
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%

This was very good. Some interesting toffee notes, etc on the nose, however the deep, full flavors and dark roasty nightmares I expect in an RIS were a bit lacking. That said, this is a really nice beer, and I would definitely drink again (esp. if I were out of my homebrewed RIS!).

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Photo of beerdedking
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

I suppose I've been ruined by American Imp Stouts weighing in at 10% ABV and higher. My first time with
this one, and I've been left wanting more. It's great, no doubt, with sweet toasted malt and dark fruit hitting home.
I like it. It's great. But I passed up an Expedition Stout in my fridge to have it, and there's where I went wrong.
I would gladly have this again, but I'd say think of this as a bigger single porter or a smaller imp stout...

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Photo of at7000
4/5  rDev -4.1%

Second time I have bought this. English "bomber" sized bottle. Raisin to the extreme, even prune juice. That sounds horrid, but this is indeed a great beer. Definitely works. The Brits know what they are doing I suppose, after all those years. I'm an IPA guy and still like this one. Like a Guinness Stout that has some extreme flavors going on. Intense. Complex. Nuff said.

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Photo of TimZebGir
3.8/5  rDev -8.9%

A: Black, barely perceptible ruby when held up to light, foamy, well-retained head (3/3)
S: Lots of chocolate, alcohol, raisin throughout (10/12)
T: Imperial, lot of sweet maltiness in beginning, roasty, light chocolate undertones, and light metallic/astringent on finish (15/20)
F: Very bubbly and light, pretty dry finish (3/5)
O: The longer it lingered on the palate, the more I got used to it, but the body was surprisingly light in comparison to the flavor, and left it a little hollow therefore. (7/10)

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Photo of Immortale25
3.97/5  rDev -4.8%

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. Bottleneck says SE12N1.

A- Pours a 99% opaque black color with an 1/8 inch dark tan head that immediately fades to a paper-thin ring around the edge of the glass and the faintest specs of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves small clots behind.

S- Quite sweet-smelling with notes of dark roast, wood and raisin.

T- The sweetness continues and the raisin notes are even more apparent here. Almost tastes like a barleywine with its dark fruit complexity however it's not very boozy. Biscuity, buttery and, once again, woody.

M- Dry and slightly chalky with medium-low carbonation and a full body.

O- Although I like the Oatmeal Stout better, this one is quite enjoyable as well. A lot different than the American RIS's out there with its high level of sweetness and what is likely English yeast.

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Photo of Gear54
4.71/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From a 550ml bottle into a pint glass.

A: pitch black with zero light penetration. Two fingers of thick kaki head with amazing thick lace. I have never seen a stout stick to a glass as well as this one.

S: roasted malts and dark chocolate. I don't pick up any hops what so ever.

T: follows the smell well. Roasty dark chocolate with some carmel undertone. Absolutely no hop bitterness to offset the malt.

M: thick on every swig with lots of head and heavy on the tung.

O: this is my opinion of a great IS. Not my favorite but one hell of a good beer.

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Photo of Admbmb92
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

550ml bottle poured into Bruery snifter. Bottle date is June 17 2013.
A-oil black with mocha brown head. Great lacing.
S-chocolate, cherry, vanilla, coffee, very sweet aromas. Very nice.
T- follows up with aroma. Lots of sweet chocolate, incredibly smooth. No hop bitterness which is a plus for me.
M- full bodied and sticky. Insanely smooth, head makes it all the way down to the bottom of the glass.
O-perfect imperial stout, aged very well no offensive or off flavors. Would pair great with vanilla Ice cream

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Photo of EvoRich
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Look: Pours pitch black with about two fingers of head. Head actually sticks around for awhile, but does eventually reduce to a small layer.

Smell: Carmel, brown sugar, some dark fruits, cherry, chocolate. A lot going on here!

Taste: Not quite as good as I was hoping, but still excellent. Not as sweet as the smell.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied. Very smooth. Just the right amount of carbonation.

Overall: A little let down by the flavor. and I must say, the flavor is the biggest factor in a beer to me. But, just because I was a little let down does not mean this is not a good beer. I always get excited about an RIS and always expect the world. RIS's always score big with me, and this is no exception.

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Photo of fscottkey
2.68/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Jet black with 1 finger head that quickly disapates.

S: Dark fruit and licorice

T: Malts, raisins and dark fruits. Sweet finish with no bitter taste at all.

M: Not as sily or smooth as I would expect.

O: Nose is weak for an Imerial Stout. The mouthfeel is watery for an I.S. I prefer a coffee or chocolate forward I.S.

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Photo of leantom
4.69/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm very happy that I bought this. Here goes:

A: A dark black that lets no light through - completely opaque. The beers pours a small brown head that leaves plenty of lacing upon consumption (good protein content). Lovely, but not that impressive for the realm of imperial stouts.

S: Exquisite. Lots of brown sugar, caramel, toffee and milk chocolate at the forefront, but can also detect many dark fruits like plums and raisins. Emphasis on the milk chocolate bit. Can't detect any hops and the English brewer's yeast is also imperceptible (which is to be expected; it's not a Belgian ale).

T: Taste follows the nose. Lots of dark malt leading to an obvious chocolatey flavor profile, but there's also a lot of raisins and plums that linger in the aftertaste. Rather, the initial taste is one of robust chocolate but this gives way to darker, sweeter fruit. Very nice and well balanced interplay of dark fruit and chocolate.

M: Nice. Decently carbonated and well-rounded thickness/creaminess.

O: A very nice, well-balanced stout bursting with chocolate and dark fruit.

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Photo of DanielMB
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was not a typical imperial stout. It has a good look, but the smell and taste is overwhelmingly choclately, with little of the hoppy roastiness that typical RIS boasts. Some of this may be the result of the unusually low ABV of 7%. It is still a very good beer, but anyone looking to buy this would be well-advised to purchase a single first if he can. I bought an entire 4-pack for $10 at Total Wine, and it just hasn't really panned out for me.

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Photo of patre_tim
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque dark brown in glass, with a head of two fingers dark brown head which dissipates.

Smells of malt, and yeast (slight sour) coke, dark liquorice, malt.

Taste of malt, yeast, emanthal cheese, and dark coffee. Slight bitterness at the end which dissipates. As it warms, becomes more chocolatey and slightly sweeter. Cherries at times, and red wine.

Low carbonation. Feel of sharp carbonation comes first with no taste, then dissipates to nothing as it passes smoothly, its smooth moderately heavy body over the tongue.

Nothing like this I’ve had, thick texture, rich textured aromas and flavours, and a great history to go with it. Would give it 8.5 out of 10. Goes well with pork rinds.

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Photo of janubio
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

335 ml. bottle. Pours an opaque black clour, with a tan head that lasts forever and leaves a ring all around the glass. Smell is impressive: chocolate is predominant, but there's caramel, dark fruits, port wine, vanilla, liquorice, and ome coffee. Taste is more or less the same, chocolate everywhere, with coffeemore noticeable than in the nose, caramel, dark fruits and vanilla. The only that doesn´t do it justice, IMO is the medium body and thin palate. Anyway, a great beer.

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Photo of Bizz88
3.81/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out into a standard pint glass, non-cloudy, deep, dark, almost black mahogany. 1 + inch foamy caramel head. Burnt malts with dark chocolate undertones with a slight alcohol esters permeated on the nose, as did the palate with this medium heavy on the tongue Imperial Stout. The 7 % ABVs served well for my perchance for high octane brews. Thought not over the top in that category. A foam lace of the entire glass of this consumption. As expected, a quality

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Photo of chogm54
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

355mL bottle purchased from a local imported beer store. Annoyingly noticed when I got home that the best before date was June 2013. Luckily the store had been storing the beer in almost cellar like conditions (cool, dark), so i decided to give it a go.

A - black, so black that its almost opaque. Pours a thin, brown head.

S - Whoomph! like christmas pudding - dark fruits and a strong port, mixed with liqourice. A bit overwhelming and hard to get away from.

T - sweet coffee with strong roasted malts coming in halfway. Earthy yeasts in the background. Slightly acidic aftertaste - Kind of like flat cola.

M - full and creamy body, low carbonination, feels rich and hearty.

O - very good, the coffee and roasted malts are very warming, and the mouthfeel is perfect for a stout. The smell put me off, as I am not an aniseed fan. Stay clear if its hot summer months, this is the winter warmer!

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Photo of hoegaardenhero
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

550ml bottle poured into snifter

a: deep black body that is completely solid with a tan/brown head that fades to eventually leave a centimeter of tan head that stays the duration

s: what hits my nose first is a sweet spicy coffee fragrance; hints of alcohol; some dark chocolate and darker fruits

t: strongest is the roast coffee malts; a hint of yeasty bitterness as well; floral hops; prunes and apples; strong sweet chocolate at finish; seriously complex flavor

m: thick w/ light carb; could maybe be just a teeny bit creamier

d: this is a great beer but it is not to be taken lightly; it is like a full meal both in terms of how much it fills you up and the complexity and strength of flavor; i have had this beer on numerous occasions and have never been able to finish the 550ml because i feel so stuffed after about 400ml
it is hard to believe it, but it has been approximately 6 years since I reviewed this beer and it has been aging in my cellar. Time for a review of Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout after 6 years:

a: the beer still pours a thick opaque black although it has some sort of burgundy highlights near the bottom of the glass that I don't remember from before. Same beautiful tan head that fades leaving a thin coating on the top of the glass that lasts for the whole experience. very light carbonation is visible in the black depths.

s: really fragrant; port and alcohol are the predominant aromas; dark prunes and raisins are present as well; chocolate;

t: chocolate and raisins are the predominant tastes; the raisiny sweetness lingers while some more roasted/burnt flavors come into the sip; overall, very sweet and smooth with a good blend; a lot sweeter than i remember, but very, very well balanced

m: incredibly smooth with very, very mild carbonation; creamy and silky; this may be the area that has improved the most.

d: in my opinion, this beer has improved and mellowed with age and as it last lost some of those burnt notes, it has gained some great fruity notes and really found a warm spicy balance.

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Photo of Bone53
3.74/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a snifter at around 55°F

Appearance: Dark pour with a thin tan head. Black as can be with no light coming through.

Smell: Dark fruit, light roasted malt, classic SS yeast character

Taste: Nice balance of lightly roasted and subtle sweet malts, yeast, and bittering hops

Mouthfeel: light medium body, and watery for an imperial stout; Moderately bitter finish

Overall: I could see this being mind blowing before the existence of American craft beer, but now it seems weak in aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and abv for an imperial stout. I respect their tradition, but in this day and age they need to reclassify this as a regular stout and brew a real imperial. I dont even think this is a good value anymore at $5 for a 18.7 oz bottle. You're much better off grabbing a four pack of Old Rasputin or the like

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Photo of archyquaffer
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I love the label on this beer- ornate, black and white, pictures of all their medals of yore, and includes a variation on the Yorkshire rose symbol. It looks like something straight out of the 19th century.

Poured from a 18.7 ounce narrow necked bottle into a shaker pint. A moderate pour produces about 2 inches of frothy, billowing sticky and semi-stiff head. The beer is very dark brown, bordering on black. When I drink a little down and fill it up again, the last ounce or two causes the head to billow up again.

I get a lovely sweet mineral and malt aroma right off the bat- best beer aroma ever. Tons of complexity are evident in the flavor-aromas, including distinct dark cherry, chocolate, plum, coffee, nut, chocolate, and a slight leafy note reminiscent of celery. A fruity, spicy tang is quite apparent, particularly when you draw the foam off the top. This lightly sweet tang lingers into the aftertaste to balance some bitterness. Bitterness is relatively low in comparison to a stout brewed in the U.S., but it is subtle, and complements and even draws forth the malt flavors rather than hiding or overwhelming them. Not as chewy as many stouts are, and completely lacking in the over-the-top hop or extremely bitter, stale, burnt coffee flavors found in some American stouts.

I think yeast and mineral water are doing some unique things here. I wonder what chorus of little, beneficial bugs inhabit those Yorkshire squares? It's interesting to note, as I found out with a little online searching, that the Yorkshire Square process developed from early 18th century research on the absorption of gases into liquids. These squares are made of slate, which is known for its thermal stability and chemical inertness.

This is a classic and very accessible beer, and perhaps the best beer available in my area (and actually kinda cheap!). It is very unique and complex, and should be savored. I gotta remember to load up on this at Christmastime. Cheerio!

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,709 ratings.
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