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

3,747 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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,747 |  Reviews: 1,767
Photo of Rifugium
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle from Total Wine, Cherry Hill, NJ

Pours a dark cola brown-black with bronzed tints, and a pillowy beige head. Roasty malt aroma, sugary, with coffee notes. More dark roasted malts in the taste, molasses, licorice, coffee bitterness. Not quite full-bodied, but quite rich and tasty, and a very drinkable stout.

 327 characters

Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
3.06/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass

A: Pours a translucent black with very little head.

S: There is some coffee in the aroma but not much else. Maybe it was just my bottle, but I was really surprised at the lack of odor. Hell, make the cap out of chocolate or something, I don’t know, just give me more.

T: Fortunately, it tastes good…for a porter. It has a medium amount of carbonation and a smooth body. There are notes of coffee and a nutty finish. As far as beer goes, it’s a solid offering. As far as imperial stouts go, it’s about as bland as it gets.

Don’t expect a true, strong imperial experience with this one, just take it for what it is. And that is a good, smooth beer. With gold foil. Shiny, gold foil.

 733 characters

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

Bottle from 1988 (yes, you read that right) poured into a Weyerbacher tulip. Thanks to Knifestyles for sharing this bit of vintage excitement.

A: Black body with clear brown highlights underneath and incredibly nice, persistent ring of frothy tan foam. Just lovely considering its age.

S: Oxidized, but not terribly so. Malt, cardboard, chocolate and coffee. Toasty, bready, slightly roasty. Quite nice for what it is.

T: Intensely flavorful, with some meaty saltiness, spicy chocolate, and dark fruit. Only light cardboard. Tastes great for such an ancient bottle.

M: Slick medium body with soft carbonation. Fantastic.

O: What a pleasant surprise. I never expected a 7% beer to hold up whatsoever over the course of 23 years, but I'll be damned if this wasn't a genuinely enjoyable brew. The oxidation was kept acceptably in the background, and the weird mutations of maltiness were allowed freedom to shine with flavor. Very cool.


 947 characters

Photo of Hojaminbag
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sam Smith Imperial Stout has a black, thick-looking body with a solid head about as tall as a finger. Retention is good, and the lacing is OK.

The aroma is a little bit boozy, with a lot of chocolate and a little bit of roasted malt.

The flavor is both large and rich. Black malt and loads of chocolate and coffe are the strongest flavors, followed by dark fruit and a little bit of anise. There is some sweet, molasses like malt flavors in there also. The slight taste of alcohol sneaks into the finish, with a moderate amount of bitterness.

Big, smooth mouthfeel, pretty good.

I got this bottle at a bar, and I would guess that it spent 8-12 months in the fridge. Just like everything from Samuel Smith, this is a solid beer.

 732 characters

Photo of jmdrpi
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, they've now switched to brown bottles.

black, with ruby highlights in the edges. almost no head. aroma is of roasty, but mild. taste is also mild roasted malt flavor, but not overly complex or bold. body is not as thick as most Imperial Stouts.

A solid beer, but just doesn't stand up to the top versions of this style.

 337 characters

Photo of jacobseyb
3.8/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Samuel Smith's Old Brewery does a great job with the old style Russian Imperial Stout. The beer pours a dark, deep brown nearly opaque, and has a slight head at one finger, that dissipates quickly and laces slightly. Smell is generally coffee malts with some chocolate and a slight bit of hops, primarily floral in nature, mostly for bitterness. Taste is very much chocolate-coffee in nature, with little hop flavoring. Maybe a hair of floral hops. Anyway, feel is smooth, with a slight carbonation, some oiliness, and a generally full body. Overall, Samuel Smith's has done a great one with a style that they probably have been doing for nearly a century. I enjoyed it and will have it again.

 693 characters

Photo of RashyGrillCook
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- As black as night topped with a deep beige head.
S- Dominated by breads and grains. Some sweet chocolate and java, as well as, a hint of the 7%ABV.
T&M- Very malty, super sweet with a bitter finish. Some chocolate notes coming through and a bit of a warm booze tinge. The feel is creamy, smooth, and heavy.

A good beer, but I felt it was either too sweet for the amount of bitterness or too bitter for the amount of sweetness.

 430 characters

Photo of rickyleepotts
2/5  rDev -52%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

It smells wet. There is no better way to explain it. Not a big nose, with subtle chocolate notes. The beer is very thick, though. But that’s okay… most stouts, especially imperial stouts, are meant to be dessert beers. There is no way you could drink one more of these beers. This beer is actually a Russian imperial stout… I am not sure what that means, but we shall see.

The beer is VERY thick on the tongue, and has a immediate sweetness to it. Then it just hangs back on the tongue as the sweetness continues around the mouth. The beer as a pretty high ABV, coming in at 7%… but doesn’t drink that big. As thick as this beer pours, and as smooth as it tastes it doesn’t make me think stout. Let alone imperial stout. (Or Russian imperial stout, whatever that means!)

The beer is good. I would buy it again, mainly because they are cheap. Cheaper than most beers in a bottle this size. I actually like their brown more than this. But it’s thick and black, and would go well with a nice cigar or meat based meal. Man… I wanted it to be so much more. As we move along 1001 bottles… I am sure I will be let down time and time again! Bottoms up people!

 1,171 characters

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

Poured from a 335 ml bottle into a Samuel Smith pint glass.

Appears the darkest black you can imagine, classic Russian Imperial Stout here!

With the smell i'm getting roasted notes, coffee, alcohol reminiscent of Capt Morgans Rum with a slight hint of spicy fruit too.

Tastes incredibly roasted and burnt, very dry. Also a slight sweetness, but nothing like the RISs with dark syrupy coffee and dark chocolate tastes i've had before. Hops are present in the background as well, also a bitterness.

Overall a very tasty brew which I would have again.

 554 characters

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

I stored this beer in the fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before pouring into a tulip-shaped snifter. It poured out super black with a perfect light tan frothy head that quickly dissipates. I swear I could smell this beer before I even stuck my nose into the glass. Coffee, chocolate, and toast.

This beer is incredibly well balanced. It is neither sweet, nor bitter. Moreover, the flavor is divine. You taste the malt first, nuts and molasses, then coffee and more nuts. It has a finish just dry enough to leave you wanting more. This beer is very complex. At various times I swear I tasted hazelnut, sarsaparilla, nutmeg, raisins, and whoppers candy (or maybe I just had something stuck in my teeth). Despite this, it is very smooth and easy to drink.

It has been a while since I drank a bottle of this classic beer. It's better than I remember it and I should go back to this more often. So should you.

 933 characters

Photo of tykees88
4.06/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Perfect pitch of black hue, a fantastic color of mocha head. Lacing is beautiful. A true blueblood of what this style should be.

S-Rich with coffee and toffee, malts.

T- A chocolate taste, coffee just a little bit of the toffee, and there is a noticeable hop presence in the end.

M- Not like oil, but not guinness either. A happy medium. Very smooth.

O- Pretty great beer here. If it was ever on tap I would jump at the chance when I saw it.

 449 characters

Photo of SylviaFaye
4.73/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As this stout pours into the glass, you can visually see how viscous it is. The body from the start of the pour to the final luscious capping is so dark that it puts abandoned mine shafts to shame. Good luck finding your way through if you dare to search for the other side. The thick, 1-inch toffee-colored head causes the beer to match quite well with it's bottle (which is topped with gold foil).

Coffee and toffee aromas rise from the liquid, but the most predominate smell is that of chocolate liqueur.

Sweet mocha waves wash over the tongue, culminating in a gentle apple bread pull at the finish, which leaves the mouth feeling faintly hoppy in all of its crevices. As this sensation fades, a bubblegum sweetness takes over, caressing the roof of the mouth.

How can a beer be so simultaneously thick and smooth? The intoxicating fullness was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

Overall: Forgive me for my sentimentality, but I may have just found my soul mate. Thank you, beer gods.

 993 characters

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

The stout pours dark with a frothy mocha colored head with medium sized bubbles reminiscent of soda. The head lingers nicely.

The smell is dark and earthy with a hint of hops and roasted malts. As the beer opens up hints of dark chocolate come through.

The taste is a mix of bitter and sweet, with the bitter overpowering in the beginning giving way to some sweetness on the finish. A pleasant hopped mouthfeel lingers on afterwards.

Overall the beer looks and tastes great. A full-bodied stout with a good taste and smell that isn't watered down.

 550 characters

Photo of Spider889
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

For whatever reason Samuel Smith is everywhere, and yet I don't ever recall seeing this around town until yesterday. Bought this very cheap at From the Vine. ($3.99 I believe)

Pours a thick jet black, with a fast rising mocha colored head. Decent retention and thin veins of lace arching across my snifter.

Smells very rich. Decadent sweet dark chocolate and dense roasted barley. A little char in there from the malt, and toffee on the finish.

The flavor is very nice here. This is an excellent RIS brewed very classically. You first notice how sweet this is. Fudge brownie meets vanilla bean. Then there are notes of bitter black coffee. Roasted barley flavors finish the beer off with more bitterness and ash.

Very smooth, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some oats hiding in here. The alcohol isn't hidden from the flavor profile, but it's not really hot or anything.

Overall a wonderful beer. I really wish I could find this at every grocery store like all the other Samuel Smith offerings.

 1,005 characters

Photo of RuudJH
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

English brewed russian imperial stout, 355 ml bottle.

Looks very dark brown, with a light brown head
Smell is massively nutty, coffee, a bit chocolate.
Coffee stays in both flavour and aroma the longest, with the roasted nutts as a close second.
Very bitter, medium body. Not too alcoholic in the aftertaste.
A good stout. Very bitter. Not too complex.

 353 characters

Photo of JohnnyChicago
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a Euro-sizing bottle into a tulip pint.

A: Dark brown body with a tan head.

S: Roast and coffee pop out here. There is chocolate and a bit of vanilla back there as well.

T: Roasty dark grains dominate. The hops are a bit present in the finish, as well as that dry, black coffee taste.

D: Mouthfeel is a bit thin, but the alcohol is well hidden. Warming and tasty, it definitely satisfies.

Overall: This is a great little impy stout. It is eclipsed by larger, more flavourful American counterparts, but it is still a great example of the style.

 560 characters

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

A 550ml bottle poured into a Samuel Smith nonic glass.

A- Dark color, almost black, with a fluffy dark tan head, little retention on the glass.

S- Roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, raisins, and some floral notes.

T- Roasted malts, burnt coffee, chocolate, mild tobacco like flavor, a touch of booze with a lingering bitterness. I detect some hops as well.

M- Surprisingly thin, slightly carbonated and very smooth.

O- Very easy to drink, maybe a little to easy. A solid beer, this is the first Russian Imperial stout I've ever had, glad I got the chance to try it. I would definitely drink this again, I'd love to have it on tap.

 639 characters

Photo of 1Adam12
2.96/5  rDev -29%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured this into a beer mug. Very dark with a decent sized carmel colored head on it. Smelled notes of chocolate and maybe just a little bit of coffee. Taste was very light compared to many of the other Imperial Stouts I've tried. Tastes of chocolate and malt, but kind of watery to me, however did have a very nice lingering coffee aftertaste. Ahhhh there's the coffee! At 3.99, this is something I would drink if I wanted an Imperial Stout, but didn't have the money to get anything else

 489 characters

Photo of projectflam86
3.76/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

550ml bottle.

A- Pours a deep brown color, almost black, with a huge coffee colored head that leaves nice lacing.

S- Definite malt sweetness with some roasted nuts, toffee, and breadiness. Not quite as strong of a roasted or chocolate aroma as I was expecting.

T- The roastiness is a touch more apparent in the flavor and gives off a nice sweet finish. Its hard to place, but there is that signature english yeast flavor in here that has sort of a buttery toffee taste.

M- Medium bodied with ok carbonation. A bit thin considering the style.

O- Overall a very solid brew but doesn't have quite the muscle that some of the other russian imperial stouts flex.

 663 characters

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

Appearance. Pours black with two fingers of chocolate-tan head that leaves some nice lace bands.

Smell. Molasses ...and more molasses. A little chocolate and a hint of smoke.

Taste. Molasses, licorice, smokey wood.

Mouthfeel. Medium body. medium-low carbonation. Good for the style.

Overall. A good strong stout. A little heavy on the molasses in the taste, but drinks pretty good.

 386 characters

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

Poured from a bottle into a Spiegelau Stemmed Pilsner (tulip) glass. Served at 45 degrees out of my beer fridge, but gets better after warming a bit to 50-55 degrees.

I'm going to do something a little different with this review, as there has already been a ton of good things written about it by other members that I happen to agree with.

I think Todd (Alstrom Bros) pretty much hit the nail on the head with his summary. Aroma, taste, mouthfeel, etc. is spot-on. So rather than repeat his review, I'll just refer to it. Done.

Definitely a classic and an outstanding take on the style. Leaning towards the dark fruits more so than my favorite RIS (Old Rasputin) and not quite as chocolaty, but it's just as tasty, in a slightly different way.

You cannot possibly go wrong with this one and it will be a staple of mine for the foreseeable future.

 850 characters

Photo of AnPiobaire
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout poured a nice dark inky brown with a thick creamed coffee colored head that took quite a bit of time to recede.

The nose is of roasted malt, coffee, and a note of raisin or plum.

The taste is a nice balanced roasted malt and coffee and nice hoppy finish.

The mouthfeel is a little lighter and more carbonated then I am looking for in the Imperial Stout category.

However, overall this is a nice drinkable brew that would do anyone good. Cheers!!!

 480 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a deep brown, almost black with a one finger tan head. Moderate retention, dissipating to a small layer on top with splotches of bubbles. Spotty lacing.

S: Roasted malt, some caramelized sugar, and a surprising amount of dark fruits - some figs. The fruit intensifies as the beer warms.

T: At first there was some hints of chocolate, but as it warmed some darker fruit came forward, raisins, plums, and figs. There is a coffee flavor on the finish.

M: Medium bodied with good carbonation. Very smooth and creamy.

O: Really nice, the dark fruit flavors were a bit unexpected, but this one came together well. Had it once before and remember it differently, but that was a few years ago. Need to get it one more time.

 732 characters

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

Pours very dark, with a thick, dark, rich, rolling head. Lacing follows as I drank.

Very pleasant aroma of roasted malts, coffee and chocolates.

The flavor was not nearly as strong or intense as a typical Imperial Stout. There was a better balance of the roasted chocolate, malts, and coffee flavors. Incredibly smooth and mellow for an Imperial. More like their Oatmeal Stout than an Imperial. But that was fine with me. I love their Oatmeal stout as well.

Mouth feel was excellent for this style. Very smooth. Not too thick, not too thin.

 544 characters

Photo of charmcityboh
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a glass. Very dark, a total blackout pour with the perfect tan head you expect from the style. Roasty smell, hints of coffee and chocolate. Taste is very licorice up front, moving to the roasty malts which is quickly overtaken by the hops. Nice balance, a tad hot at the very end. Mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style, if I must find something, but hardly worth mentioning.
Overall a very nice Imperial Stout.
For whatever reason, mostly just the huge variety of options with beer, Samuel Smith's well regarded brews just never found their way into my cart. Thats changed. 5 years into my beer rebirth, and I'm having a lot of fun getting to know this "old Master" brewery.

 688 characters

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,747 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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