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

3,736 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

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Ratings: 3,736 |  Reviews: 1,763
Photo of MbpBugeye
3.78/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Im a big fan of Sam Smith. I feel like nearly all of their stuff is the benchmark for the style or a very good representation of how many styles were originally. This fits into the latter category.

A- Super frothy sand colored head. It sticks around much longer than in many RIS, but it to, soon fades. A big thick, bubbly collar remains. The beer is obviously quite black and devious looking. Its not as crazy thick and viscous as many of the amped up American versions are.

S- Quite vinous. At first Im getting a lot of grape juice and port like character. Some chocolate, lots of licorice, molasses and grains with a slight roast to them.

T- Lots more vinous red wine and grape juice. Its pretty sweet. Roast is moderate and it helps bring a bitterness that tried to balance out the berry like flavors.

M- Very dry, full bodied but nothing insane. Carbonation is a bit high.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 550ML bottle into my Duvel tulip.

a - Pours a dark brown color with one finger of tan head and high carbonation evident.

s - Smells of dark fruits, roasted malts, and chocolate. Hint of toasted malts and grain.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, toasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits, and a hint of alcohol and coffee.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A pretty good imperial stout that is heavy on the dark fruits in both the smell and taste. Would try again.

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

The beer is very dark brown, almost black, the head is small, beige, leaving some lacing and curtains.

The smell is mostly dried fruits, some dark bread and a bit of alcohol.

The taste is raisins in roasted sweet bread finishing of with bitter burned notes.

Medium low carbonation, a nice small dryness.

A good, rather modest but not so sweet, imperial stout. Feels genuine. Sampled at beer tasting at De Klomp, Linköping, Sweden.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Notes from a bottle brought over by eat - thanks man!
Pours a dark brown, not quite black with 2 fingers of light khaki head.

Coffee, caramel, a hint of chocolate, earthy with a hint of fruit, a touch of biscuit.

Taste is a little on the thin side, says I. Some nice mellow roast, black-strap molasses, caramel, chocolate, toffee and a strong dark fruit element which gives almost a tart/tangy quality, figs, plums, etc...

Medium to thin body, not an overly complex brew but a pleasant quaff and with the low ABV (for style) you can imagine drinking this one often.

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Photo of Anthony1
3.13/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ruby-black, lots of tan head, only a little retention, but plenty of lace. The perfect stout would have better head retention. Slightly fruity profile from the British yeast, pleasant sweet roastyness. Bittersweet; very well balanced. Dark caramel malt, mocha, raisins, smooth hop/roasted malt bitterness. Slight fruity tang in the aftertaste. Not much alcohol taste, but it does become more warming as it warms up. Very nice flavour, but lacking the depth of some. Moderate to full body, a little chalky. Moderate carbonation.

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

not quite black with a generous light khaki head that sticks around a while and laces ok.

some coffee and chocolate, lots of caramel but with a lot of fruity, earthy, herbal, buttery english qualities to it. like a roasted english brown ale. not bad.

taste is dominated by black-strap molasses as well as lots of caramel. chocolate, coffee, toffee and soy sauce as well. some fruitiness with hints of dates, figs and raisins. ok.

medium bodied with a lot of syrupy molasses stickiness left in the mouth as well as some lingering sweetness.

drinks ok. flavor, aroma, and body are dominated a bit too much by molasses. complexity is lacking though its a decent brew.

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Photo of bogus564
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a weizen glass - there was an incident with my wife, a baseball bat, and my pint glass that won't be discussed...

Very dark brown in color - as expected with a Stout, I can't see through it. There's a large creamy head that lasts about three minutes before starting to give way. It's quite impressive in appearance.

I can smell chocolate, roasted malt, cream, a little smoke, and what might be black pepper - that's a lot to keep your nose involved.

The taste confirms - I first notice the creaminess, then the chocolate, the well-done roasted malt, and the hops, which produced a nice lemony flavor. I didn't think I liked Stouts, but I'm starting to re-evaluate that position.

Mouthfeel is good - it's medium-bodied, with good carbonation and not a lot of aftertaste.

I wouldn't drink a whole bunch of these in a night personally, but that's just because I'm a Witbier man. As Stouts go, this is pretty darn good.

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

Single bottle poured into a nonic glass. No date on bottle - just a laser marked batch code (SG13I1).

Appearance: Very dark brown/black that lets no light through except at the edges where it's just barely a cola-brown color. Poured a thick head that died down to a 1/8" persistent dense tan foam across the top with some chunks of lacing here and there.

Smell: Some chocolate along with a burnt sugar (caramel / roasted malt) smell. This smell is consistent regardless of the beer temperature.

Taste: I think I have to describe the taste of this beer like a dark chocolate + caramel candy bar. The dark chocolate is has just enough of a bittersweet flavor that you know you're drinking a beer and not eating a candy bar, but the sweetness of this beer is noticeable. It's a very tasty beer - it's a dessert in itself.

Mouthfeel: Creamy with moderate carbonation. Clings a tad to the teeth, but not excessively.

Drinkability: This has to be the lowest ABV RIS beer I've ever had, but after awhile I can note the alcohol. Still - even though this is a one beer a night for me, it's a fantastic beer. Good with a meal (balsamic chicken and rice pilaf), good for sipping and savoring afterwards, and still appealing that now I want dessert. I think if you have a sweet tooth, this beer is for you, but I think it's a damn good stand alone beer in it's own right.

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Photo of brownbeer
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A creamy, light brown head forms atop the black, opaque liquid. This is a good looking beer. I want to drink it.

The aroma has "English" written all over it, in permanent marker. Chocolaty with buttery molasses in a forward way. Quality.

Earthy on the palate, with hints of chocolate and bitter roast balanced by sweet maple and molasses flavors. The mouthfeel has a certain minerality to it and it's full in texture.

A well-made beer that's rich enough to challenge you a bit. One to try every once in a while.

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Photo of earthboundagain
3.26/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From Notes

Unfortunately this beer comes late in my RIS education; I wish I had had it sooner because I think other brews have spoiled me.

The color is dark brown, with a brown head, that leaves a skim of bubbles on the surface.

The smell is muted but I get some dark malt and some coffee.

The taste is of strong coffee and molasses and a bit of fig.

The mouthfeel is watery and thin.

The drinkability is not bad do to the lower abv and not overpowering flavor.

Notes: This would be a session RIS if such a thing existed, while its nice for breaking noobs into big stouts, it is not a monster RIS in anyway.

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

stout beers are by far my favorite beers and this is an exceptional brew. Smooth on the palat with minimal aftertaste and a nice arome, this is a great beer for beginners or expert stout entusiasts. This is a good beer with decent head and smoothe drinkability.

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

550 ml bottle poured into a nonic pint. Big thanks to my brother-in-law for the going away present.

A- A moderate pour left a 2-finger, dense, brown-tan head that maintained nicely at a foamy film throughout. The body was near jet, with burgundy hues at the edges. Nice sticky rings and webs were left on the glass as I drank.

S- It's quite bold. I was met with an initial fruity sweetness that developed into a definite raisin presence. Dark chocolate was present at colder temps. There was a pleasant alcohol aroma that was hard to place but came off as something on the hard liquor that's outta' my league (sherry perhaps?). A buttery characteristic came out with some woody/tobacco/earthy notes as it warmed.

T- Sweet raisin up front. Sweet alcohol came off of as something like a buttery rum. It had a little woody flavor. The finish was a little peppery with a residual sweetness.

M- Warming alcohol provides just a bit of a bite. A full body with light-medium carbonation makes for a creamy feel and adds to the viscus quality.

D- I'd definitely drink it again. Really good flavor makes me want to check this out again come cooler weather. It drinks a little bigger than the 7% ABV would suggest. The alcoholic qualities definitely add to the enjoyment rather than detracting from it.

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

Nice black color, no light seen through. Large caramel brown head that lingers for some time.
Smell is very sugary, nice malty sweet notes, and chocolate with just a hint of hops.
Taste is quite fantastic, with the back of the tongue and throat picking up the bitter hoppiness and the front picking up the sweet chocolate and coffee notes.

This is a great example of an Imperial Stout, and probably now one of my favorite Samuel Smith beers.

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Photo of bs870621345
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad offering, considering a pint costs 3 bucks.

Pours a dark brown with a tan head, small bubbles. Leaves minimal lacing on the glass.

Smells slightly hoppy, coffee, malty, a lot going on in this beer.

Tastes of coffee, licorice, and slightly sweet.

Mouthfeel is a little oily, but also a little thin.

Drinkability is alright, not great couldn't have too many in a night.

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

Need to pour carefully or you'll end fill half the glass with deep tan foam, good mixture of bubble sizes, uneven surface, dissolves noticeably slow with an unusually large amount of thick lacing. Dark brown color, closer to mahogany than black, clear liquid, not going for the easy "totally opaque" out. Big time banana, bubblegum in the nose, sweet without needing much from the caramel, café au lait, raisin bread, bread pudding or plum to cherry fruit scents, very low on the roast, quite unusual and unexpected, satisfying at face value. Full-bodied, fairly smooth and fluid without too much weight. Much more roast here in the coffee, dark chocolate, this along with a mineral water aspect gives it cut and definition. Still, no lack of coconut, banana, toffee to join the plum, apricot, cherry flavors. The carbonation not light, more subtle, if no less effective. As it warms you get more pork rinds and bacon notes through the finish. Familiar but individual enough to stand itself off to the side of the pack.

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Photo of mrkc
4.29/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The label on the stout 55cl bottle is a tad tacky, trying to look olde timey too much. When you open it, you're immediately slammed with fruity smells. This is only intensified as the coffee-black beer pours, leaving a dark tan head. In the goblet the lesser odour of yeast, and something faintly peppery peeks through. You definitely taste the peppery notes of the beer, a complex flavour almost like the offspring of coffee and banana. There are definitely bitter chocolates mixed into this mix. The carbonation is moderate, giving the beer a bit of a sparkling quality in the mouth. It's very reminiscent of Obsidian Stout by Deschutes, in a way, but with a sweet middle. In all, a pleasant though heady beer.

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Photo of jpoder
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: dark brown, almost black, with creamy tan head

s: chocolate and espresso

t: caramel...I get this taste in almost all SS beers. some chocolate, some honey, but overpowering caramel

m: a little heavy for me, but true to style

d: good beer! I'd like a little less caramel flavor and more chocolate/espresso, but all in all not bad.

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Photo of flannelman808
4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

A: This one Pours a very dark brown color, and has a light tan head. Beer has good head retention. Not totally opaque.

S: Mild chocolate malt on the nose, along with a columbian coffee afterthought (mild to medium coffee roast)

T: Leaving the palate bitter yet balanced... in a phrase of flavor: coco powdered columbian bean squeezed with a bit of citrus? lime?... there is a wonderful depth of chocolate here... Amazingly long finish on this beer. Though the nose is not impressive the depth of flavor is. I would love to drink this with a chocolate connoisseur to get further notes. Not many flavors this one keeps it simple, but how many of the worlds great chefs preach "simple flavors done right".

M: Milky yet carbonated to best bring out this beers flavors. A pinnacle of this rating area.

D: Great beer however its a nightcap. The alcohol weighs a bit and along with that its a rather rich beer.

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Photo of adam42381
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a nonic pint int glass. Bottled on May 25, 2010 per dating code printed on bottle.

Appearance: Pours motor oil black with a 4 finger creamy dark tan head.

Smell: Molasses, roasted malt, chocolate and a hint of espresso. Smells very sweet.

Taste: Bittersweet chocolate and sweet molasses up front followed by roasted malt and espresso in the middle and finished with a very mild hoppy bitterness. Aftertaste is burnt toast.

Mouthfeel: Medium-to-full-bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: High drinkability. Drinking a couple of these on a cold winter evening would be no problem.

Overall: Excellent stout overall. One of the best Russian Imperial Stouts I've had. It's not overly complex but it doesn't try to be. I would highly recommend this.

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Photo of longbongsilver
3.99/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally managed to get this one after a couple recommendations. Motor oil black pour, inch and a half of head. Bit of an espresso type smell, with some honey (a surprise, that one). Taste follows the smell, plus some sour fruit, getting more pronounced as it goes down, consistency of milk.

A bit subtle for an imperial stout IMO, but hits all the buttons regardless. Nice one...

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gradually decanted into a tulip. Endless, moussesque coffee/tan-colored head puffs up into a creamy dome. A hushed crackle emits from the bubbles, reminiscent of freezing rain pelting a window pane at night. Light does not get through. The lacing drapes down in patterns like Roman aqueducts and/or the craggy tree to the right of the haunted house in the first few frames of the Scooby Doo theme.

Italian dark roast coffee highlights the aroma. Bitter and lightly charred. A dark, syrupy Italian chocolate wafts about as well.

The flavor is not what I'm used to from the American RIS'. Some mild bitter roast flavors, but a good bit of licorice that lingers throughout. As it warms, a thin molasses spreads out on the tongue and some syrupy coffee and vinous notes toward the end.

This drinks with a healthy amount of carbonation and finishes softly warm and dry.

Delightfully complex but restrained. An occasional night cap.

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Photo of BranfordBound
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

550 mL bottle purchased at Coastal Wine and Spirits in Branford, CT.

This is the darkest beer I've had yet, even while pouring its practically black, never mind while sitting in the glass. There is a nice 1-2 finger light brown head that forms which settles to a covering leaving barely any lacing. Normal, maybe a little less than expected.

The smell is intense, there is a lot of dark fruits, very alcoholic, like a brandy. There is definitely a roasted and chocolate in the back, not much coffee.

The taste is very similar to the nose, there is a warm sensation from the alcohol while going down, and the dark fruits play the main role. In the back there is the typical stout flavors of roastiness and chocolate.

Whew, this is heavy stuff, albeit very smooth. Very heavily bodied.

This beer masks the alcohol well, which is to be expected seeing as it isn't too high compared to other RIS's. Still a sipper, though, drank 2/3's of the bottle and wouldn't want anymore, better for winter time, too.

All in all, not bad, I'll try a few other brands so I can choose my favorite to age, this one was a little too heavy on the dark fruits, but pretty darn good for not being aged.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
4.26/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 550 mL bottle into a pint glass.

A- pours jet black with a two finger light brown head. I like that the head isn't as dark as I've seen in other RISes...looks nice. No lacing, which is unfortunate

S- getting a lot of varying scents here...faint aroma of chocolate, with very slight hints of coffee, dark fruits, and as someone else mentioned, I'm actually getting some cookie dough. Very complex...and totally awesome

T- very, very mild...which stuns me based on the style. But you know what...its good. Not an alcohol bomb. I'm mostly getting dark fruits...which I'm not the biggest fan of, but there is a hint of some sweeter chocolate in the back of my throat as well. Nice.

M- feel is great. Creamy. Smooth.

D- I'm only going to give this a 4 here, because while there isn't any real booziness to it...the fruitiness puts me off. I'm not a huge fan of stouts that have the dark fruit in them as a rule, so yeah

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

Picked up a 550 ml bottle of this stuff at Giant Eagle (just started selling beer). That's roughly 1.5 beers at the 12 oz portion, which cost me $3.99. A legendary brewery's offering from England found its way into a supermarket in Pennsylvania. Translation: I'm not complaining.

The beer is black, unsurprisingly. An outstanding beige head with beautiful, fluffy lacing hangs out in my nonic pint glass.

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout smells of alcohol, tart fruit (indistinguishable, but I know it's present) with biscuity notes; even cookie dough.

The taste/mouthfeel is soft & delicate, but dark & toasty. One of the attributes that I find so incredible about stouts is their ability to carry a high number of IBU's (International Bittering Units) without the senses realizing it. I'm guessing there are 70-80 IBU's in this brew, but the dark quality of the style hides the quantity, rendering it at about half that estimate to ones sense of taste.

The beer is very buttery (diacetyl), but the more negative aspect of that byproduct doesn't seem to make it to the front. I have no qualms with its position in the beer. As far as I'm concerned, it knows where it stands, and doesn't get in the way like it tends to in certain English Pale Ales.

This one I certainly recommend. Sooner or later I'll get to the Nut Brown Ale...

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Photo of Graham5161986
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from it's classically beautiful bottle, this Imperial Stout has an absolutely opaque, jet-black colour with a creamy dark tan head made up of tiny little bubbles that sticks around quite well and leave some very nice thick lacing on my snifter.

The aroma is enchanting with massive notes of vanilla, roasted coffee-like malts and loads of dark fruits like plums and raisins in there (almost the way a fine port smells). I get a bit of Belgian-esque candied sugar in the background as well. Hints of milky, bitter-sweet chocolate round off the nose of this already impressive brew.

The flavour is so rich and creamy with loads of roasted malt and Dark fruit flavours intermingling with strong notes of coffee and touches here and there of creamy chocolate, bread, honey, herbs and spice. The linger features some light fruit and a hoppy bitterness that is matched with coffee and dark chocolate notes that last and last . . . The alcohol makes its presence felt, but is far from overpowering. Instead, it gives a nice warmth to the beer as well. Speaking of warmth, I am starting to get some subtle but really nice orange citrus notes as I go along here that make this brew feel like your eating a "Terry's" chocolate orange.

The mouthfeel of this brew is thick, very creamy and quite chewy with just the right level of carbonation to allow the creaminess of the malts to come through yet giving way to a crisp spiciness on the finish that leaves a surprisingly clean mouhtfeel given the viscosity of this brew.

This is definitely a one-per-evening, sipping type of brew. It's meant to be savoured slowly (preferably fireside with a Housecoat and cigar!) and, thus, can hardly be called sessionable at all. Still, it's such a pleasure to explore this beer with every sip becoming easier and easier. This is the type of beer that could easily creep up on you.

Another classic from the old Tadcaster Brewery.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,736 ratings.
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