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

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
1,754 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:
1,754
Ratings:
3,712
Avg:
4.17
pDev:
11.27%
 
 
Wants:
235
Gots:
513
For Trade:
3
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Reviews: 1,754 | Ratings: 3,712
Photo of AbePhroman
4.67/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a bottle of this earlier, 550ml. I've had alot of this before and finally decided to write a review. Pours extremely dark into a glass with a dark tan head that doesn't dissipate. Smelled fruitier to me then most other imperials. This will sound silly but at first whiff I thought I may have accidentally purchased a bottle of red wine lol.

Very good taste. Not too bitter at all. Chocolate malt aftertaste makes this a very drinkable brew. A very sweet taste that makes me say, "I should have bought 2 bottles!!"

All in all a great imperial stout. Glad it's always available.

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Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first Imperial, and I can't help but be excited.

It poured with a thin, espresso-brown head and a very, very dark body, as close to black as anything I've seen. The aroma hints at alcohol-soaked dark fruits.

Upon first taste, it's apparent that this is an exceptional beer. It has a great complexity of flavor, with rich chocolate tones, rum-soaked raisins, espresso notes, and a strong caramel flavor that really shows itself as the brew warms. The high(er) ABV hides nicely amongst the multitude of flavors, though at only 7%, there isn't that much to hide.

Beautiful. Awesome. Wow. If all Imperials are this good, I'm hooked for life.

Spoils of the 10/11/03 Knoxville Raid.

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

Big malt and calm ester nose; light phenols and hops, too -- what you'd hope for in an imperial. Licorice and currants, maybe?

The taste is of true, roasted malt. There's a caramel and chocolate backbone well supported by barley, a creamy sweetness, and a black patent bite. The hops are late to arrive in this brew, but are there. The residual sweetness adds a good body to the beer and is augmented by an estery hop accent like chocolate fondue. The cocoa elements, typically overpowering in a beer, are mellowed by the other malts. I suspect that a lot of the "black patent bite" is actually the hop bittering as this is an imperial stout. The finish, too, is largely chocolate and coffee, but it's put in its place to the point where this tastes more like a classic stout rather than an imperia; also, light cognac. The trademark Sammy Smith diacetyl works wonders here.

I can see the chocolate-covered raisins others have mentioned and as I think about it, it comes out more and more above the gums. This has so much in it, that whatever you think of will probably be there. Buy a few and let your imagination run wild.

The harsh qualities of big beers are nicely assuaged in this brew, but then this isn't all that big either.

As it warms, the depth of flavor comes to a head. The malts harmonize like a symphony that has played together for decades. Samuel Smith Imperial Stout isn't as inventive as Bell's Expedition, but perhaps a benchmark for the style en masse. Tradition meets excellence.

Relax, relax.
ng

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

Poured black from a 12 oz bottle. 2 finger tan head that has a lot of pop and fizz to it. Solid lacing.

Smells very sweet and fruity. Lots of fig, raisin, and molasses. Very creamy and malty tasting. You get the big dark malt without it being dry, harsh, or burnt. Goes down very smooth for a big beer. I get some chocolate and coffee in there too. Mouthfeel is very soild.

Incredibly drinkable beer for an Imperial Stout. Not just for manly men. A great choice for review #50.

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

Pitch black pour, dark brown head; incredible retention and lacing until the last drop. Eager, highly anticipative aroma of burnt malts, plums, raisins, heavy notes of alcohol. Up front this bad boy is thick, yet smooth and creamy. Velvety slick, with a port feel to it; roasted malts, the alcohol is quite noticeable, yet it is in the background and does not offend. Character notes are many, to include nuts, raisins, port, burnt malts, coffee beans and chocolate; absolutely incredible flavoring and taste. Savoring, enjoyable, a warming brew, immensely drinkable, quite complex, worth a novel; clearly one of the best brews out there.

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

Bottle purchased at Huckleberry's in Spokane. Poured a dark brown with a big mocha colored head that hung around for a while. Notes of coffee, dark chocolate and dark fruit in the nose. Taste starts out like bitter dark chocolate, then a little bit of a fruity, cherry-like taste slips in, before ending on a tiny, crisp citrusy note. The mouthfeel of this is not too thin, not too thick, just about right. This is very drinkable for a stout lover such as myself. For others not so enamored of the style, this might be too heavy, too "bitter tasting." They know not what they spurn.

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very fine stout that would surely satisfy most stout lovers. This is a good looking and smelling beer. The appearance is of deep darkness and a thin beige head. The residual layer gives nice lacing from the thin remainder.

The nose is roasted malt and very nice chocolate notes. The flavor comes on strong with great chocolate flavor, roasted malt goodness, and dark cherry notes. There is also a very subtle, but noticeable woodiness to this great stout. This is a very nicely balanced beer that finishes with very fine dryness.

The feel is very substantive and rich, smooth yet clean, with light carbonation and a clean finish. This is a truly drinkable stout that has limited drinkability only because of its fullness and ABV. Very nise stuff, to be sure.

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

Package: Appropriately regal, extra-tall 12oz. foil-topped, crowned, clear bottle. Label notches, but no date key or ABV. Old-fashioned white label with gold and black lettering.

Cost: $6.99 per 4-pack

Presentation: Imperial pint at ~50º

Appearance: Very dark brown with some ruby glow. Generated a moderate 1 to 2 finger head, that quickly resolved to a thick foam collar that gradually receded. Not the darkest stout, but plenty dark enough.

Smell: Very toasty, with some fortified-wine notes, coffee, chocolate, and dark blackberry and currant fruitiness on the nose. A generous, round, full aroma.

Taste: The flavors follow through on what the aroma promised, adding just the right amount of burnt-sugar sweetness, nuttiness, bitterness, and alcohol volatility to keep things from being bland or cloying. An homage to good water, skilled brewing, and the art of toasting malt. Very multi-dimensional, with the finish of Methuselah.

Mouthfeel: Excels. This powerful, flavorful beer defines finesse. Creamy, perfectly carbonated, with a full, rounded body. Coats the tongue, but remains dry enough to remind you you’re drinking beer!

Drinkability: Stouts don’t get more drinkable than this! Rich, satisfying, but not overwhelming. Delivers a surfeit of flavor without being hugely filling and lets one have two or three without repercussions. I should deduct 0.5 because I want a 20oz. serving!

Backwash: I haven’t had this in some time, and more’s the shame! A recent article in the Times led me to buy some and try it again. Boy, was I impressed. Not the darkest, not the hoppiest, not the highest ABV; but still the archetype of Imperial Stout. You can have all the Storm King you want, I’ll be happy with this! They haven’t forgotten that malt is at least as important as hops when it comes to stouts. And, what are you guys who mention the price talking about? It’s beautifully made and shipped over here, for less than what a lot of US microcraft brewers charge for inferior beers, and worth every cent! This beer clearly proves what Mies van de Rohe said, “Less is more.”

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Photo of Stopper
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is black, but held to the light just right almost looks an extremely deep purple. It's initially topped with a thin head not unlike one you'd find on hot cocoa. The head recedes to a very thin layer of fine bubbles over the surface. This smells like chocolate -- and I do mean chocolate malts, but I also mean actual dark chocolate. This big malt aroma almost totally dominates a slight hint of hops. The initial taste brings a medium smooth body balanced slightly toward sweet maltiness, which is quickly joined by the roasted astringency of dark malt. This flavor is predominant into the finish, but as it fades a bit it reveals a very noticeable earthy hop flavor and bitterness. The hop flavor takes over for an instant, then steps back to join the dark grains. Then the wonderful flavor and bitterness of the hops and roasted malt ride off together into the sunset of my palate.

Samuel Smith makes some awesome beers. This is definitely no exception.

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Photo of byrd
4.57/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout pours a very dark brown (almost black) with a few garnet highlights around the edges of the glass. A thick tan head (slightly sticky) of small frothy bubbles with long staying power lies on top of this great brew. An amazing aroma is immediately noticeable from a good distance away. Chocolates, spices, dark fruits, and coffee are all evident... rich and somewhat sweet... begging to be partaken of. This brew is smooth at the start and somewhat sweet. Notes of chocolate and coffee are evident. Some spice notes are also apparent (coriander or anise – tough for me to tell – still a beginner at identifying specific spices). Towards the middle, roasted notes pick up, and there’s a roasted bitterness in the finish that stays around until the next sip. Fairly full mouthfeel. Carbonation is pretty low and there’s a somewhat draughty smoothness to this brew.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve had an Imperial Stout. I’ll be sure not to let this happen again. This is a great brew that is SO easy to drink. Not really a session beer simply by its nature, however, I don’t think it would be too difficult to finish off a few of these.

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

Appearance: Great same massive sized head as most Samuel Smith's brews out there, but this one has a deep brown amber black dark chocolate hue to it allows minimal light to pass through with a streak of prune hue purple deepness, lacing nice thickets of tan lacing clinging to my imperial pint. Aroma: Once again deep chocolate and coffee tones are present with fruit edges there fermented prunes or figs with chocolate sauce englazoned uone them how wonderful every dark roasted stout should smell this magnifcant. Minimal hopping in the aroma for the fruit and deep flavoful roasts mean to steal the show. Tase: Alcohol infused deep roasted malts with fruit remaninsce leaving their mark upon this heavenly dark ale, I really think this is one of the best imperial stouts on the market maybe not extreme or over the top but most flavorful and consistent the Sam Smith's reportoire get's the gold. Mouhfeel: A bit fuller than most Sammy Smith's this one packs quite the body keeping each sip not only flavorful but chewy. Drinkability: Is incredible for the amount of alcohol and flavor coming through I can't believe they allow this type of beer out there in this semi prohibitional state this country sometimes seems to be stuck in.

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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 beerguy101
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Eclipse Black color. Nice big frothing foamy head. Its alive..Its alive..Its alive... Aroma is chocolate and plums. A full-bodied stout. Deeply roasted chocolate malts. Deep and rich chocolate flavor. Very flavorful and complex. Chocolate, coffee, caramel and fruit. Some hop bite. Nice beer. Worth trying. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and dry. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

There's a little deception with the bottle with the gold foil over the top so you're tricked into thinking you have a dark brown bottle, but as you pour it the bottle empties and it becomes a clear bottle. It pours out blubbing from its longer, thinner neck to a super thick dark brown used motor oil color, much like that of what it looks like in the bottle, a finger high head of cocoa brown, very dense whipped cream froth appears with a momentary rocky top then settles slowly down to a thin haze and the lace is in thick sticky sheets with some moth holes in it. Smell has a bunch of licorice and a touch of cherry with notes of sweet chocolate, dark toffee, and french silk pie, sweet tangy roastyness is there but modestly soft. Taste is a mild mellow mix of sweet chocolate, soft tangy roasted malts, and some fruit cake or breads, cherry mostly with some raisin and fig notions. Smooth and lasting medium body feel with some light coffeeish like drying and muffled, dulled fruity roasted tangyness in the finish which lingers for a shortened minute. Goes down easy with some carbonation that lends a somewhat flat soda pop. I just wonder if the light getting through the clear bottle is doing something to it? A solid well balanced Imperial Stout but not all that intriguing or complex really. The nose got a bit more lively as it warmed which was nice, as for the taste the warmth only brought out a flatter roastyness and lost the fruity notions that I did like at first. A great start for any would-be beer lover that wishes to aspire to better beer.

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Photo of SetarconeX
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black as night, and with a deep brown head. Fairly good looking little brew. Takes a couple hits for some odd brown crud under the foil wrapper, around the edge of the cap.

Smells deep and malty, with a nice toasty backing. Tastes the same way. Definately one of the better stouts I've had. Wonderful almost creamy smoothness going down. Perhaps one of the weightier stouts I've had lately.

A superb stout. Also one of the most expensive in the store I bought it at. It proves that sometimes, you really do get what you pay for. Pay top dollar, get a top stout. Good job, Smith!

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Photo of ellman
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mmm Stout.
Apperance: BLACK, when I bought it i did not realize that the bottle was clear. It has a this tan head
Smell: Roasted malty sweetness.
Taste: Like no stout i have ever tasted, a little bit of a burnt flavor (not in a bad way). and some bitter ends
Mouthfeel: a bit thinner the i expected but overall quite good.
Drinkabliity: quite drink abt but if a drank to many i would surely fall down.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thick looking black, with a thick burnt beige head floating atop. Completely opaque. Very nice. Great retention, maintaining a collar of head all the way through.
Aroma is very big and roasty, heady, with a subtle hopping. Tons of roasted black malts, subtle and refined. Light alcohol. Some estery black cherry and currant, with a hint of chocolate and black coffee. Very much in the english style, mellow and subdued.
Flavor is very bold, yet subtle, with huge sweetness and a big roasted flavor. Fairly easy drinking for an imperial stout. Hints of black cherry, coffee, chocolate, plum, and currant. Wonderfully rich, yet not overwhelming. Mild alcohol towards the ned, mingling with a soft hoppy bitterness. Slightly dry in the finish, with a lingering roasty bittersweetness. Body is a touch thinner than its american counterparts, but the subtleties more than make up for it. Smooth carbonation. Black liquid satin. Hearty and warming. I don't think my palate can handle too many of these, but it's very drinkable for an imperial stout.
A great dessert beer. Easily one of my favorite imperial stouts. Incredibly easy drinking for it's power of flavor. Top shelf.

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Photo of RenoZymurgist
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thick almost creamy head sits with no sign of dissipating and leaving slight amount of belgian lace. Aroma is very nice as it is sweet yet dark with a hint of roastiness. The taste of this beer is so good i could drink it for the rest of my life and still find new flavors. Rich in malt sweetness and a creamy roast character with a phenomenal balance of hop bitterness and flavor. It is so refreshing and clean that i can easily drink large gulps of this and never have to worry about a bitter aftertaste. Medium bodied yet filling and definetly a bit alcoholic. Very drinkable by itself, as a session beer (if you want to get toasted), or paired with foods that would not be so bold as to overpower the depth of this brew.

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Photo of DarrellK
4.31/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance wis is is a fairly typical black brew with a very nice brown head leaving a good lace. The high gravity of the stout adds to the aroma with a whiff of alcohol. The only real downside to the brew was a fairly light to medium body which seemed out of character for the style out of a bottle. Still it has a great finish which is good because you probably wouldn't too many of these in a session. In my database I rate this in my top five stout with a rating of 8.9 out of 10.

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

Comes in a tall, clear bottle with gold foil covering the cap and bottle neck. Pours a wonderful BLACK with a tan, frothy, one finger thick and very long lasting head which sticks to the glass wherever it touches. Smells of chocolate and roasted malt. Scents of plumes are also present. Wonderful rich deep and complex flavor. The taste of chocolate and fruit (plumes) really comes forth. Very smooth and sweet, this full-bodied beer is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

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Photo of Jables
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A very nice, very roasted imperial stout. Almost no carbonation. A beautiful roasted malt flavor with a slight hop balance. Roasted malt flavor persists throughout the finish. slightly heavy but the flavor picks up the alcholol warmth leaves off. a top notch imperial stout

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Photo of beergeek279
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is dark amber, with excellent head. The smell is very malty, with hints of anise sweetness. The taste is malty, with the slight hints of licorice sweetness...much more subdued than the American Imperial Stouts for sure. Mouthfeel is fairly heavy. As for drinkability, at only 7% I could have many of these.

As a top 10 beer, I've been wanting to try this one for a long time, and it was surely worth the wait. Though it's a lower ABV than the monster American Imperial stouts, it still stands up with them, and at 7% ABV, I can drink a lot more of em!

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Photo of RoyalT
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Absolutely gorgeous! The body is black as night. The volcanic head rises slowly, collapses slowly, and laces extensively.

Smell – Highly refined coffee aroma. There’s a special, highly-prized shaded Columbian bean that a coffee bar by my house serves occasionally, and this has the same scent. There’s also huge toffee (which I love), again, highly refined. We also have hints of chocolate, dark fruit (prunes, I think), sticky molasses, brown sugar, (slightly) burnt malt, and even some hops for balance.

Taste – There’s a lot going on in there. It has a bitter English balance that I can’t quite finger, but basically you’ve got a wonderful mix of fine coffee, select toffee truffles, quality raw, and brown sugar. There’s also a whole array of fruits, mostly dark, let by prunes and maybe dates.

Mouthfeel – Little carbonation in accordance with the style. This one is a bit bigger than medium-bodied and very smooth.

Drinkability – This one is very well done. My preferences tend to be off the balance that they did here, but this is a good RIP nevertheless.

Update – This was one of the first reviews that I did after joining the site in the fall of 2003 but decided to re-rate this with an ’04 vintage after it bombed in a blind RIP tasting that I did with some friends. It stood out as one of the worst examples of the style and most of us actually dumped it in the sink.

This RIP does well as a stand-alone, but other prominent examples were so much bigger and more flavorful that this seemed like a lightweight. Sam Smith’s strong point is its smoothness and creamy mouthfeel, but a lot of the big boys were able to attain the same or even better feel with superior flavors.

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Photo of grynder33
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark cola like color,a head that looked and smelled like a chocolate soda, aroma seemed soft and disappeared quickly. Initial taste was cocoa and sweet port, with a roasted malt aftertaste. Mouthfeel started off crisp with tingly bubbles, and then melted into a creamy smoothness.A little bitterness showed up at the end. Will try to always keep one in stock.

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Photo of Darkale
4.72/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Before I get into the bits and pieces, let me just say, Wow.

OK.

Black-brown body, thick tan head that is slow to fade. Aroma is sweet, sort of like deep cocoa from a distance.

Mouthfeel is wonderful, fabulous, and noteworthy. Creamy! Foamy!

The taste starts off like chocolate and ends with hops, with a sour and sweet mix lingering in the aftertaste.

I had been told that this was the grandfather of all imperial stouts, and I concur. A must-try.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,712 ratings.
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