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

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
1,758 Reviews
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
England, United Kingdom
samuelsmithsbrewery.co.uk

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,758
Ratings:
3,721
Avg:
4.17
pDev:
11.27%
 
 
Wants:
235
Gots:
518
For Trade:
3
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,758 | Ratings: 3,721
Photo of jvajda
3.33/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Black as night and a very dark head that dissapates quickly.
Smell: Strong smell of sweet bananas in the nose.
Taste: Very sweet banana tones and small alcohol taste. Somewhat simple for a stout.
Mouthfeel: Creamy. Leaves the lips sticky.
Drinkability: I don't feel like this beer has much to offer that would bring me back.

 340 characters

Photo of 99bottles
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Into a tulip, this stout poured a very near black color with almost an inch of deep tan head. The retention was lacking, and a thin lace was all that remained after a minute.

Smell: A rich roasted scent from the barely that nearly stings the nostrils, and then wraps them up in soft richness.

Taste: This stout is my Imperial benchmark. It has a very classic taste and flavor; that is of roasted barley, some acidic coffee, very strong notes of dark chocolate, raisins, figs, and alcohol. It has modest bitterness, without too much hop flavor. Very very good.

Mouthfeel: This might be thinner than what most imperial stout drinkers have come to expect. In this case, I think it does well with matching the flavor to the viscosity and thickness of the beer.

Drinkability: A great beer to herald in the change of the seasons. This is a nice beer to sip, and though I think multiple bottles coudl be consumed in one sitting, I'd rather sit and reflect over one.

 982 characters

Photo of sutcliff
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the first imperial stout I ever tried years ago and I made it a point to have a pint of it on a regular occassion. An excellent example of the style with a warm, rich taste, and a low amount of hop aroma. The color is a deep black and the head was significant.

 269 characters

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.53/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Victorian style label is very cool.

The beer pours pure black with a big tan head and good lacing. The aroma is of sweet cocoa powder, with the expected coffee and roasted barley notes as well. The taste is incredibly rich and complex. The coffee flavors are so well defined. There is a diversity of chocolatey flavors. The hops very evident. Theres also a smokey faintly acidity (from the roasted barley?). The carbonation is light in this thick brew making for a creamy mouthfeel. This beer is eminently drinkable because it is so well balanced and alcohol flavors are completely concealed behind a wall of richness. An excellent Imperial Stout.

 654 characters

Photo of meathookjones
3.38/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I haven’t had a bottle of this in years, basically the last time I had it I was still drinking craft brew from the bottle. So seeing how it is right behind on of my favorites in Stone Russian imperial stout I had to pick it up to review it. Pours out used oil black that looked a little thinner than other RIS’ I have had but great nonetheless. A full dark tan head formed atop the oily liquid and left no much in the way of lace as it faded away. There seems to be a strong smell of chocolate liquor coming from this with fruits and a bit of alcohol as well. Sweet chocolate covered fruit came to mind when I first sipped this. Chocolate and a touch of coffee were also present as well as a bittersweet finish. There was an odd sour taste that hit me a few times that was very unpleasant, not sure what this is from. Mouthfeel was good but not as thick as other Imperial Stouts but creamy still. Drinkability was lower than I would have though with that odd taste really putting me off. Not sure if I got a bad bottle or what but I plan on revisiting this in the future and giving it another chance.

 1,102 characters

Photo of garymuchow
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I sat on this for a few months after purchase (don't ask me why, 'cuz I don't know), plus how long did it sit in the store? Nonetheless, it didn't seem worse for the wear.
Aroma is heavy sweet malt, like molasses and with a strong fruit quality and bits of roast.
As it pours it looks lighter in color, but once in the glass it's black as night. One inch firm dense head.
Flavor is rich without being excessive. Pushes cloy but never too much. Fruit. Roast. Coffee. Really sweet up front, moderate bitterness in middle that adds nice comlexity.
Smooth as silk. One of the softest smoothest beers I"ve ever head. Appropriately thick.
Everything is perfectly balanced for style. Dessert, slow sipper or multi-purpose beer. Excellent.

 737 characters

Photo of Jacobob10
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A truly beautiful appearance. Pitch black with the darkest tan head I have ever seen. Awesome! The only reason this didn't get a 5 for appearance is because it left virtually no lacing on the glass. Great aroma as well. Very crisp and fresh for something with such a dark and roasted smell. Full bodied beer that contains flavors of caramel, roasted malts, and coffee, but it has a touch of sweetness to it. Very creamy mouthfeel. The drinkability takes a hit due to the high alcohol content and the thickness of this beer.

 523 characters

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

Poured black as tar with about a 15cm thick dirty off-white head. The smell is absolutely fantastic, if you like this style of course. Roasted malt, chocolately, a little fig like, some caramel. The taste, too, is very chocolatey with that burnt malt taste I do love so about this style. Very smooth. Very easy to drink. Quite heavy, however, and three or less in a single sitting would be plenty. Excellent.

 408 characters

Photo of rajendra82
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer came in a 550 ml. sturdy looking clear (why?) bottle that released an a dark brown liquid with red highlights. This beer does not have the inky black look of other imperial stouts. The head was coffee-colored and formed at about 1½ inches thick initially, but then quickly dissipated to a thin layer of foam and some decent lace. The aroma was roasted coffer and dark chocolate goodness, with a dollop of dark skinned fruits thrown in the mix. The taste was a delightfully intense balance between the sweet flavors of raisins, figs, toffee, and apples; and bitter notes of old coffee and unsweetened chocolate. The alcohol warmth was pretty tepid for an imperial stout, and is clearly not the draw in this beer. The mouthfeel was also quite a bit lighter that the big boys, but was satisfying nonetheless. An easy drinking stout that is clearly a step above the ordinary, but remains very approachable still. A sessionable imperial stout if you will.

 960 characters

Photo of dmbfrat420beers
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation - Attractive clear (why do so many British breweries use clear bottles?) bottle with white label declaring Sam Smith's as the "contractors to Her Majesty's foces" haha.

Appearance - Dark with red tint around the edges. Big, tightly packed tan head. Lacing clings nice and thick to the side of the mug - very nice touch.

Aroma - hmm...very different from the other Imperial Stouts I have tried (Stone '04 and Old Rasputin). I would describe it as sort of a musty smell with grassy hop hints and some alcohol. Very strong, especially as you get ready to drink.

Mouthfeel - full bodied, decent carbonation

Taste - Like Sam Smith's India Ale, this beer is a far cry from its American style cousins. Strong grassy hop flavor up front that gives way to an ample roasted malty sweetness. Hints of bitterness left on the lips and in the back of the mouth, but otherwise turns into an almost candy like sweetness on the sides of the cheeks and tounge. Also leaves a nice fruity tartness. Lots of flavors going on here and it changes quite a bit from sip to swallow. Finishes very clean, no alcohol flavor to speak of, except a warm feeling as it goes down. Quite tasty and complex, though I wish there were little more of a bitter kick, but that is just my predilection.

Drinkability - Thought by the size and pungent aroma this beer would not go down easily, but was suprised about how easy it was to drink.

Final Words: Bought a 4-pack of this for $10, can't wait to finish the rest. The best of their beers I have had so far. It is hard to say how this compares to the American Double Stouts, they seem so very much different.

 1,651 characters

Photo of beertaster13
4.88/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have found the stout to end all stouts. Pours a deathly crude oil black with streaks of ruby, the mocha/tan head is wickedly awesome and the lacing will leave gobs on the glass. The smell is of espresso and mocha chocolate raisins. A slight nut smell as well, alcohol is detectable. The taste is pure glory, the sweetness of the roasted chocolate invites you for more, a graham cracker marshmellow sweetness is icing on the cake. Hints of fruit, dried raisins detected. Alcohol is detected as well. Medium bodied for a stout, not to thick but perfect to invite more and more, a very drinkable stout and will become the staple for me. Awesome.

 644 characters

Photo of mattcrill
3.56/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I guess I'm going to be the one to go against trend here but I can't help how I feel about this beer. So here it goes....

Appearance: Great appearance. Pours black as black can be. Lovely dark brown head that forms but after one sip, it's gone. Still, it leaves nice lacings around the glass.

Smell: Very complex. I definitely smell dried fruits (raisins or prunes) with some malty undertones. I don't pick up much other than the sweetness.

Taste: This is where I was let down. I really enjoyed the taste however, I just thought it was a very one-dimensional brew. I picked up the taste of licorice, raisins, and a slightly dry and mild alcohol finish. It just didn't taste as big or as complex as I had hoped.

Mouthfeel: Very full and chunky but not very balance. Virtually no carbonation which made this beer feel very heavy.

Drinkability: I can't imagine having more than one of these at a time. Leaves you feeling very full.

Overall: I'd definitely recommend trying it once. Maybe this is closer to the true style of an RIS and maybe the only ones I've tried have deviated from this standard. So maybe I'm the one that's screwed up. Also, with all the review I read, expectations were pretty high. Who knows...

 1,234 characters

Photo of tjd25
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Very silky thick and foamy head. I had the impression that it disappeared quicker than some for some other samuel smith brews. The body is of an intense black color, totally opaque.

The smell shows an emphasis on a roasted coffee aspect with fruity notes of chestnut. Earthy and bread-like cereal character, with hints of bacon bites. The fruity character is quite developed.

The taste shows a strong coffee aspect, combined with a dark chocolate bitterness and a sweet fruitiness, almost slightly citric. Almost burnt grain, and maybe a very light hint of liquorice. Alcohol gets noticeable in the finish, quite warming and not overwhelming. Just enjoyable.

The mouthfeel is incredibly round, very smooth, but not really creamy, with a thick dark chocolate grassy bitterness. The alcohol progressively warms the throat, but this brew is still almost as drinkable as water. Very nice.

 896 characters

Photo of mobyfann
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Paid $2.49 for a 12 oz. bottle...

The appearance on this one was quite nice for a stout, typical black-brown base with the chocolatey colored small-to-mid sized low carb head and a great lacing effect on the glass. The aroma is pleasent, a nice mocha smell to it, with a few hints of some fruits.

The taste is great, a simple but productive stout with all hints of the aroma plus some caramel and roasted goodness, absolutely splendid. The mouthfeel is great, smooth as a 7% stout could get, feels less heavy than some porters that I've sampled as well. The drinkability is high as this stout went down fast and smoothly.

Final Thought: Another winner from Sam Smith's collection, this is the way a stout should be, ideally.

 733 characters

Photo of JISurfer
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow! This had a nice deep, rich, chocolate/dark fruit taste to it. Was very thick and chewy, just like I like 'em. The head was super thick and pillowy in the beginning, but then died out to a laceing. I would reccommend this brew to anyone who hasn't had it yet. I thought it was a little better when it was colder, but that's just me. All in all a great imperial and a top notch example of the style.

 402 characters

Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black with thick beige head that decided to stick around for the entire time. Sweet matly, nutty and mollasses aroma off the head. The alcohol produces a sweet and warming taste in the mouth. Very thick lacing as the glass got emptier. Finish is very bold and not for the beginning stout drinker, but damn, does it taste good. Thumbs up!

 343 characters

Photo of bigone4
4.67/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great stout straight from England. Great color and aroma. Smooth stout I really enjoy drinking this beer a little below room temp. The flavors come out and are remarkable on my tounge. Hint of coffee and a nice after taste. Samuel Smith deffinately gets a great vote of approval from me.

 297 characters

Photo of kegerator
4.95/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I enjoyed this beer quite a bit.
Poured out black as night with a nice brown head, appearance was right on for this style.
the best way i can describe the aroma is oily chocolate with some hints of coffee and port. I was excited by this.
taste was just about the same as the aromas, but I wasn't getting the oily part in the taste. very smooth.
I will buy this one again for sure. It would have gotten all 5's and probably deserves it but in comparison this one just didn't quite have the heartiness of storm king almost too smooth. get it and taste it. you won't be disappointed

 583 characters

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

When this baby was poured out of her clear glass dwelling, it was of a deep dark blackish-brown color with a thick inch or so of head. You stick your nose into this beer before that first tasting, and it revs up your senses for a malted wonderland. The taste going down is nicely complimented by its buttered rye bread aftertaste. Each sip brings the aroma of nutty malted goodness before this masterpiece rolls over your palette. The head follows the beer down the side of the glass until the last sip. This is stout worthy of more tastings in the future.

 556 characters

Photo of smcolw
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not even opaque, this is a dark, dark mahogany brew. This features a truly awesome head for a bottle. Deep tan in color, the head leaves an impressive sticky lace throughout the tasting.

Strong oily alcohol fullness in the aroma. Powerful dark malt richness--chocolate, black patent malts.

Rich and oily, this is a beer to be consumed slowly. Strong chicory coffee flavors. Unlike pale ales, the hop is used strictly as a spice. The aftertaste is long lasting and bitter in an espresso way (the hop is quietly present as a touch of counterbalance) . This is a big beer in every way.

 588 characters

Photo of egajdzis
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown, not opaque color with a large tan. It left some lacing on the glass. Had an aroma of chocolate malt, and fruits, most notably raisins. Taste of coffee, chocolate malt and some hops as well. It finished with a quick oily taste. The best session Imperial Stout I had tonight, if there ever was one.

 317 characters

Photo of TastyTaste
3.75/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bought a 4 pack for my girlfriend for our anniversary (that's true romance). Poured from a 12 oz. clear glass bottle into a Samuel Smith Tulip. Black, opaque beer, appears almost as soy sauce. Smell was rich in coffee, bill gates-rich, even. The bitter aroms coreesponded with the bitter flavors, the flavor was off the charts. Not a session brew, that's for sure. It makes you pause after every sip and try to recover, almost as the challenge of drinking hot sauce. A good, huge beer. May or may not get it again. I almost prefer a smoother sipping stout.

 556 characters

Photo of Hagbard
4.41/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black as night. So dark, it makes it impossible to tell whether the bottle is, in fact, clear or not until you pour (it is). A nice thick, creamy, dark tan head forms, making for an impressive looking beer sitting in my goblet. A beautiful sweet dark malt aroma tantalizes your nose, waiting for the promise of the taste. There is definitely some dark chocolate in the background of the aroma. The taste is simply wonderful! The smoothest imperial stout I've ever had the privilege to drink. Dark chocolate, plums, and even a nutty presence all make themselve known. All riding a great malt background. Truly a great tasting stout! I get none of the typical off flavors common to stouts. The mouthfeel is thick and full, as an imperial stout should be. It is dangerously drinkable due to the smoothness. The 7% ABV is hidden. It goes down very easily! I love this beer and wish it could be had more readily to me. Another great stout from Samuel Smith.

 952 characters

Photo of aaronbeach69
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

WOW! this is my favorite stout to date, granted I can still count the number of different stouts I have had on two hands... well, maybe a few toes too. But, this one was amazing, very drinkable yet very real, very hoppy, very thick = very happy.

In particular the beauty of this beer (and one of the greatest things about all imperial stouts) is the great mouthfeel. As this thick syrup slides down my throat and sticks to the sides of my mouth I can hardly believe that this substance can even be called by the same name as what most people gulp down by the can all over this country, I really feel the calling to spread the word to the ends of the earth that a veil has been drawn over the eyes of the public and this dark slosh is just the substance to wash away ignorance and replace it with a knowledge of thick, full, roasted goodness!!!

 846 characters

Photo of PudTinkler
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have yet to have a Samuel Smith beer that wasn't near perfection, regardless of style. This is no exception. This is not the highest-alcohol imperial stout you will find, but it is high quality. One of the smoothest stouts...as dark as one can find..I've often wondered why it would be in a clear bottle. Definitely a sipping beer...worthwhile to seek out, as all of this brewer's treasures are.

 397 characters

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,721 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe