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

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Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout
3,792 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 3,792 |  Reviews: 1,779
Photo of brewskifan55
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass

Appearance: blackish-brown; thick, tan, 1 finger head that froths away. Great lacing.

Smell: Chocolate, malty, floral

Taste: Expresso, dark chocolate; smooth finish

Mouthfeel: medium; thick on the tongue, creamy

Overall: A decent example of an IRS; rich, regal. Let it warm and the smoothness dominates.

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Photo of TheAlamoWrocker
3.12/5  rDev -25%
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 Callaghan
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into a Pint glass.

A: Black, no question about it. 2 finger mocha head, borderline brown. Minimal lacing left on the glass. About a 1/2 inch of head retains for the entire glass, until the last drop. I would have scored higher if the lacing was there.

S: Sweet and malty, like chocolate and molasses. Alcohol is there too, but not strong at all. A little bit of sweet fruit brings it all around! One of my favorites for sure!

T: Dark chocolates, caramel, dark fruits, prunes and even dark cherries, bitterness that turns to smokiness. Roasted malts and then a great aftertaste that lingers around for a bit. A touch of alcohol just makes things right. There are stronger and more "slap you in the face" RIS's, but this one perfectly balanced.

M: Silky smooth, light and bubbly, yet medium bodied. I expected something heavier based of the look and smell, but I was greeted with a slightly oily feel, but not heavy. The carbonation really brings it together and finishes this beer right!

O: I can't quite give a "5" to any of these categories. The beer didn't seem to have the same depth as some other RIS. I don't think it really compares to many other RIS, in that it falls a little short in that respect, but as a beer, it is great! I do like the other Samuel Smith's stuff, and this one did not disappoint.

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Photo of depechemode1983
3.92/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours black with a brown tint when held to the light. It has a nice two finger brown head with excellent retention. Not much lacing.

S - Nose is sweet. Getting molasses, toasted malts, and alcohol up front. The middle is on the sweet side. Lots of maple syrup and toasted grains. Finish is again sweet and alcoholic.

T - There is a lot going on. Mostly toasted malts with coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits. You get nice roasted flavors along with sweet chocolate, raisins, plums and a nice alcohol warmth.

M - Medium bodied and mostly soft. Carbonation is just right on this. Washes over the palate gently with no rough edges.

O - A bit different from the American versions. Although this is lower in alcohol than most American RIS's its got some pretty pronounced alcohol notes in the nose and taste. This is perfect for a winter setting. Top notch brew.

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Photo of azorie
4.8/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

a: jet black with a large head. no lacing seen. very nice

s: earthy rich dark chocolate malts, some hops, lots of fig like fruit. a touch of booze his the nose after it warms more. Smells good to me.

t: ahh its has that well water bitterness of all the SS beers. dark bitter chocolate, some hops, a tad touch of the booze, some coffee, mostly rich fruit like a roasted fig or something. reminds me of some of the great quads.

m: smooth, rich, low carbonation, medium to heavy body.

o: outstanding beer. its a standard, too bad others go beyond this.

drank 2 550ml bottles good stuff.

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Photo of bramsdell
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle to Imperial pint glass.

A: It's very dark with tan/mocha-colored head. Hold it up to light and you will not see any difference in color.

S: Coffee aromas are most prevalent with some smokiness.

T: This is not a bold entry into the style, but it is an extremely solid beer. This is a great example of the style, but never daring in any regard. There are distinct coffee notes first, some smokiness to follow. Pretty much follows the smell.

M: Feels great. Thick without being syrupy, this beer is far heavier than most, but certainly light enough to drink a couple.

O: This beer is, again, not superlative in any sense, but a great beer nonetheless. There are no risks here. It's thick without being too thick. The ABV is higher than a stout, but still low for the style. There are no crazy flavors present. This a beer that will not let you down, but also will not shock in any way.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.89/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: very dark. Handsome full mocha head. The head, were the abv higher would be quite impressive.
Smell: Black coffee with a sweet roll. Hints of cola.
Taste: Something unusual and unexpected I can't quite put my finger on as well as expected flavors from the nose. Closest I can get is that it's more like tea than coffee but that's not quite on the nose.
Body is thin for an imp. Still a fine brew.

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Photo of pBRale
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

From tasting notes on 9-10-11

Appearance: Black pour, chocolatey tan head that is foamy and settles fast, leaving lots of lacing.

Smell: Sweet malts, candied sugar, alcohol booziness, ripe bananas. As the beer warms, the banana scent fades a bit while the alcohol smell increases.

Taste: Roasted malts, roasted coffee, a little bit of the sugar and fruity sweetness. The aftertaste lingers and is of roasted coffee. Bold roasty brew with a bit of alcohol in the afterburn. This becomes more prominent as the beer warms, but then diminishes as the beer warms further.

Mouthfeel: Rich, velvety mouthfeel. Mild/subtle carbonation, but enough. Just coats the mouth so wonderfully.

Overall: Bold flavorful taste, velvety smooth, and a very good beer overall.

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Photo of mtschmitz
3.33/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice dark opaque brown with single finger head. The head seems to dissipate quickly to a fine lace but inconsistent.

S: Smell is a bit less aromatic than i was anticipating being an imperial. Subtle hints of chocolate and coffee. Even after letting it sit for a while the aroma did not expose itself too much.

T: Lots of smoky flavor and a taste of coffee and dark chocolate. Tones of alcohol which quickly diminish to smoke. A bit overpowering on the alcohol taste, but good nonetheless.

M: Mouthfeel is pretty thin but the flavors evolve on the palate quite well. A bit less chewy than is my liking for an imperial

O: Overall I'd say that it's a decent Imperial Stout. Im a big fan of their nut brown and porter but this left me wanting more out of the beer. You can't beat the price and I'm I'll return to this some time in the future.

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Photo of AdamBear
3.01/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A-black with a thin tan head that thins to almost nothing

S-smells strong. boozey, some scent of mocha. intimidating.

T-comes in with a slightly boozey taste of baking chocolate and very dark malts. there's also a taste of dark fruits such as plums and dates. the after-taste is matching. has a burnt taste to it.

M-low carbonation. slightly watery. watery finish

O-a decent tasting stout that seems to have a lot of loose ends. the tastes are alright, but not very drinkable. the burnt taste seemed to be over dominating. it just isn't something i want a lot of.

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Photo of DIM
4.36/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: This was black and it poured with a huge, uneven, extremely sticky, and very long lasting tan head.

s: Very nice combination of chocolate covered cherry liqueur, cake batter, and molasses.

t: Strong roasty chocolate with fairly potent musty fruit, and darl bread. There is nice char flavor at the finish.

m: Not as big feeling as I've come to expect from the American big for stouts I've tried. But this feels right for 7% abv.

o: This was a really nice change of pace from the over-the-top American stouts I love so much.

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Photo of Lemke10
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A bought a single 550mL bottle from Woodman's in Janesville, WI for $3.79 in Summer 2011.

Pours a very dark brown/black color with a thick, fluffy light brown head. The scent is great with bold roasted malts, carmel, burnt sugar, and cocoa. It rather thick and creamy in taste. Very robust malts mixed nicely with carmal malts and sugar with just a little spice to it. A great thick creamy stout that is great for sipping with lots of great flavor. Another great beer from Samuel Smith!

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Photo of JMad
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I drank this from an imperial pint glass...

Pours a black color with a dark khaki head that left lots of foamy lacing. Smells of dark chocolate, it's a little smoky and has some herbal hops. Tastes of bitter dark chocolate and coffee grinds with a slightly metallic tang. This beer is nice and thick, very smooth and it's extra dry. Very good stout, it's very drinkable I would never guess the abv was that high.

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Photo of DavidST
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a goblet. Coded bottled date SI12J1 so maybe Oct, 13, 2010. I don't know why they try to make this so complicated.

Anyways this pours a pitch black and semi thick flow with a mocha head which doesn't last long and goes down to a thin layer on the top. The smell is of roasted coffee and malts, also some sweet smells perhaps molasses. Feel is thick and creamy, one of the better feeling beers I can remember, very nice. Taste is good, I get the dark roasted malts, come dark chocolate and the little bit of sweetness, molasses or something, overall this is a very good beer, I've had better RIS, but this is one I'd gladly pick up again and again. Good stuff.

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Photo of dansmcd
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a very dark brown/black with a finger of tan creamy head. Lace rings the glass.

S - Roasted coffee, toffee.

T - Nice balance of bitter and sweet with the coffee and cinnamon. Roasted barley malts. Yeasty with some heat and a pang of saltiness.

M - Full, spicy mouthful. Creamy, rich and smooth.

O - Lots of character. Great with a dessert, possibly a slice of cheesecake.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.48/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pitch black, thick and creamy tan head, looks great.

S- Mocha, prunes, cofee, molasses, sweet rum, sweet chocolate.

T- So many great things going on here. Chocolate, prunes, malty. The aftertaste is the best, slightly bitter chocolate that transfors into a sweet yet smoky finish. Awesome taste.

M-Rich and creamy,well balanced, perfection.

Overall my favorite stout, so many flavors going on with this brew. Everything is balanced and is virtually flawless.

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Photo of Hachiman
3.83/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ebony black with a mocha-colored head that persists well. Some good lacing too.

Smell is of spicy hops, cocoa, coffee, dark-roasted malt.

Tasty but almost too balanced. Expected a deeper roasted flavor. A volatile alcohol note was actually the strongest element.

Nice full mouth feel due to adequate carbonation and hi specific gravity. A little sticky on the lips.

Not a session beer but one could enjoy two before acclimation.

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Photo of keysofebony
5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is by far one of my favorite beers.

This is a pretty dark beer although a slight hint of red when held up to a bright light. Tan head that sticks around.

Smell is like a snickers bar put in coffee. a little funk to it, but that's more of a caramel smell.

Taste is outstanding. Definitely what is expected from the nose; caramel, coffee, and chocolate mostly. No alcohol taste really and it is not too dry and the slightest bit sweet. Small amount bitterness and comfortable malty taste.

I bought a bottle of this for a friend's dad who swears by Guinness and he was blown away. I have to say this is one of very few imperial stouts I have had, but every time now I have a guinness or regular stout it is just not enough. Will continue to buy (this is the third time I've gotten it)

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Photo of Krakistophales
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours jet black with a huge 3 finger tan head that sticks around for a while

S: Lots of dark fruit and sweet milk chocolate up front. This one has an especially sweet, creamy smell, something like marshmallows or chocolate covered bananas. Not sure if it's the yeast, or malts, or whatever, but it's funky, in a great way.

T: More of that interesting, funky sweetness in the front of the palate. Almost like a chocolatey yogurt, or a blackberry pie. It's extremely odd and very hard to place. It's pretty one note, but I really like the flavor, just don't know what to call it...really nice, and definitely different than most RIS.

O: Very nice brew. Totally stumped me. Not sure what to call the smell or the flavor, but both are spot on. It must be the well water they use in the brewing, or something, but very nice.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.83/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle dated December 15, 2010.

Beer is black, totally opaque, and has a big thick-looking tan head. Head fades, of course, but slowly. Good retention.

Nose carries roasted malt and a bit of coffee. Nice but rather faint.

Taste consists of roasted malt and a bit of dark chocolate. A bit of sweetness. Slightly bitter finish. A nice taste, but not particularly complex or strong. Enjoyable but certainly does not pack the punch that I expect for a RIS.

Mouthfeel is thinner than expected- disappointingly so. Otherwise pretty good. Very mild carbonation.

Overall, enjoyable but somewhat disappointing. Obviously not every RIS has to be over the top in strength, but I found this beer to be somewhat underwhelming. While I tend to like imperial stouts, I prefer Sam Smith's Oatmeal to this offering. A good beer, but not the gem I was hoping for.

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Photo of ksimons
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-pours a dark inky brown black with a fingers worth of sticky tan head

S-roasted malts, coffee, and molasses

T-similar to the smell with roasted malts and coffee, molasses, dark fruits, and a slight bitterness

M-medium body, light carbonation, very creamy

Overall I really like this beer, the ABV is not as high as other RIS but that is a welcome change. The taste could be a bit richer but that is my only complaint

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Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

an awesome looking 12 oz. bottle with a Old English style label. Very classic looking. Poured into a nonic pint glass and one in a snifter.

A - Black. Very dark. Hardly any garnet red when held to the light. A definite black beauty. A huge, rich, and creamy mocha head that seems to last forever. I had very nice lace. This has the ultimate look of any brew I've seen. I like my brew black.
S - She was definitely a sweet smelling brew. A little bit of dark fruit up front. Then came the rich molasses which dominated my nose. It was a good solid smell, but I was looking for more of the other sweet notes in my nose. It has the sweet milky smell with a hint of coffee(these were the smells I wanted more of) But I can't complain.
T - The bitterness of these chocolate notes were to die for. Absolutely A+. The hoppy taste was nice as well. I just got stuck with the chocolate like coffee taste it brought. Almost wanted everything else to go away. However the taste of dark raisins and prunes were a lot better in taste than smell. Great tasting brew nonetheless.
M - Medium to full body that is good all the way through. You can taste the alcohol, but it's less than most English style RIS.
O - A superb RIS. I really am fond of this style of brew. I've had many different ones, and they all seem to please in their own way. This is a winner for sure. World class, and one of the less alc % ones out there, so it's one of the best ones to get if you arent used to this style of stout. It's also great tasting to those who are. I buy at least a single bottle almost everytime I see it. A real deal winner here.

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Photo of rdub
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was my first R.I.S. and from what I've read, one of the best. Poured from the foil sealed bottle into my Duvel tulip. Nearly pitch black, maybe a touch of ruby color. Tan head diminished to a wisp of foam here and there. Roasty smell, quite inviting actually. The taste was smooth and balanced. Roasted coffee, chocolate, molasses, etc. Malt and hops in balance. Mouthfeel was actually thinner than I expected but nice nonetheless. A solid brew, can't wait to try more Russian Imperial Stouts to compare.

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Photo of dreed3333
4.48/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a large creamy light brown head. The beer is pitch black even on the corners. Smells of carmel mainly with hints of coffee and toffee and somewhat faint. The is much like the smell but much stronger the mouthfeel is like whole milk. Overall this is a top notch stout and o e of my favorites

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Photo of DeltaGolfSierra
3.77/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Color is nearly pitch black, with some dark burgundy around the edges when held to light. Head is a light brown or dark tan color, which initiall leaves some nice lacing but fades quickly. Scents of chocolate, raisin, and alcohol are pleasant if a bit weak. The taste is sweet, but not overly sweet - it is a nice plum or fig sweetness, with a slight floral twinge from the hops. Thin mouthfeel is keeping this good beer from a higher score.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 3,792 ratings
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