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

3,730 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: 3,730 |  Reviews: 1,761
Photo of johnmichael712
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured out of a 12 oz bottle into a nonic glass. There is no freshness date on the bottle. This beer pours a deep black color that just barely allows some lamp light through it, but in normal light you'd swear it's as black as they come. The two-fingered head is easily formed and is a beautiful medium brown color that takes quite a long time to dissipate, and eventually fades to a ring around the top of the beer with moderate surface coverage. A good amount of Belgian lace is left behind on the sides of my glass, and this is one fabulous looking beer.

Smell: The nose of this beer isn't as strong as some of the other Russian Imperial Stouts I've had, but it's still a pleasure to behold. Notes of black and chocolate roasted malts are well balanced with bittersweet chocolate, blackstrap molasses, and black currant fruit. There are also hints of espresso and a coffee-like earthiness, and a bit of alcohol to round it all out. Overall a subdued, yet wonderfully balanced, nose.

Taste: This beer starts out with a moderate acidity that has strong notes of raisins and other dark fruits, along with a strong hop flavor that is reminiscent of bitter orange peel or lemon zest. The flavor then moves to a moderate amount of roasted malt flavor that has notes of bittersweet chocolate and freshly-ground coffee, and this beer finally fades to a bit off treacle toffee sweetness and alcohol flavor along with a bit more acidity and hop flavor that compliments the exceptionally dry finish. I have to complain, however, because there are times that the flavor of this beer is downright astringent, and for a beer that's only 7% that's quite a shame. I was expecting a bit more complexity and depth, and unfortunately Sam didn't deliver.

Mouthfeel: I was surprised with my first sip of Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout, mainly because it doesn't feel like some of the much heavier American versions that I've been drinking lately. This one is much more acidic, much more carbonated, and bit oilier. Other than that, this beer has a medium body with a pleasant creamy-smoothness.

Drinkability: Not an exceptionally heavy beer, the texture and the low carbonation makes it possible to put back quite a few of these. The acidity, however, might be a bit too much, but this beer still manages to maintain good drinkability.

Notes: Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is definitely a classic beer, and it's hard to fault something that's been winning gold medals since 1896 and that comes from as respected a brewery as Samuel Smith's. Unfortunately, however, I must do exactly that, and in my opinion this beer is no where near the level of Stone's IRS, North Coast's Old Rasputin, Founder's RIS, or countless other Russian Imperial Stouts. For a category of beer that is absolutely bursting forth with quality, Samuel Smith's version just isn't quite what I'm looking for. Judging by the other ratings for this beer it's possible that I got a bad bottle, but it's more likely that this beer just isn't quite up to snuff. I'll be buying this beer again to see if this was just a bad bottle, so look for possible changes coming up.

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Photo of DesMoinesMike
1.85/5  rDev -55.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I was feeling a bit daring at the Mile so I decided to try a bottle I've never had before. Well, I'm sorry to say that I wasn't too happy with my choice.

The darkness of my glass was very impressive. Help up to a light the brew had just a hint of red filter through, while the edges appeared a dark brown. The head was almost two fingers thick and steadily dissipated.

The aroma and taste were a bit of a shock. MAPLE. VERY MAPLE. The aroma was somewhat noticeable. The flavor was a smack to my pallet, and not a good one. It was very overbearing, and intensified as it had time to breathe. I'm not getting this one again.

It took a while for me to remember what this reminded me of, then it hit me, SA Triple Bock, my lowest score on BA. Maple just doesn't belong in beer, I feel.

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

Poured into a pint glass. Kept around cellar temperature. Dark brown like black coffee, one finger of caramel colored head that dissipates. Slight lacing as I twist the glass in the light to see the tinges of red-browns.

First Imperial Stout, but I've been around stouts and porters for a few years now.

Aroma of rough oatmeal grains, coffee, and raisins or dates, namely, sweet dark fruits. A lot more going on that I thought, but not as much as I'd hoped. Compared to the porters and stouts I've had, it's got a bit more depth.

Tastes of roasted coffee, hints of sweetness, more raisins than dates, maybe some nuts. A trifle smoky like a porter or stout should be. Some alcohol, pleasant and warming. Reminds me in a distant way of an au jus beef, and I'd take it with same without reservation.

Creamy, almost no carbonation. Smooth in the mouth, easy going, a good last pitcher of the night. Exceeds the best qualities of the Lazy Jake Porter at the brew pub near my hometown, in Long Valley NJ.

While that won't mean anything to most folks, it's high praise where I'm from.

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

Jet black with creamy caramel brown head that leaves decent lacing.
Aroma is sweet coffee, chocolate, lots of grains, plums, dates and earthy hops.
Taste is more coffee, some molasses, noticeable alcohol, and a complex roasted malt bitterness that lingers for some time.
Very thick and cream, with some alcholic heat.

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Photo of Buschyfor3
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 550ml bottle with a gold foil seal into my engraved Lambda Chi Alpha pint glass. Yeah, I'm a frat boy.

A: Poured a deep, rich brown almost black liquid; held up to the light, just the faintest ruby hues appear along the edges of the glass. Thin, creamy, khaki head bubbled up but quickly dissipated. If looks are any indicator, this beer looks rich and complex!

S: The first whiff I took after opening the bottle but before pouring, and I got hints of sweet, dried fruits: raisins and dates. Upon pouring, the nose opened even more and I got hints of soy sauce, coffee and what reminded me of cinnamon and brown sugar oatmeal.

T: the very first sip presents a lot of bold flavors (at least to me): again I taste a salty note reminiscent of soy sauce, but that gradually smoothes out. This saltiness is balanced by notes of roasted coffee, faint dark chocolate and a toffee-like sweetness that shows underneath. The finish rounds out with some malty breadiness. Smooth finish leaves you coming back for more.

M: chewy and pleasantly thick, but there is enough carbonation is present to cause some prickly sensation on my tongue (and I can see the bubbles floating up the surface of the glass after every sip. However, this is a quite a filling beer as it does coat the throat with each sip. Delicious.

D: Bottle indicates this beers is 7.0% ABV but I feel like the alcohol is hidden fairly well. As I get further into the bottle, though, I do begin to notice a bit of a warming sensation with each sip. Definitely an enjoyable beer, but it will probably only take two of these and you'll be good to go for the evening.

I'm really impressed with this beer. I am a big fan of stouts, but this is my first ever Russian Imperial Stout and I tried the Samuel Smith based on what reviews I had read from BA. Definitely a good choice and I will seek out this beer any time I get the chance.

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Photo of willyumlong
3.3/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

bottle looks great love the gold wrapping
black as tar with good head retention and lacing
not a very potent smell but still good
disappointing probably because i had such high expectations due to the style and price, im glad i didn't see its reviews before drinking or i would have been even more disappointed. don't get me wrong it is good beer but not spectacular to my pallet. in all honesty i would be just as happy with a plain old guiness. sorry.
probably won't be buying any more but was fun to experience.

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Photo of hardy008
4.39/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours black with a one finger tan foamy head.

Smell - Fruit, Molasses, and Alcohol are very noticeable.

Taste - Chocolate, molasses, and fruit. Very good. Sweet flavor, also malt and coffee flavors present.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied and creamy.

Drinkability - An excellent beer. Very drinkable, I like this a lot.

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Photo of oakbluff
3.08/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle sample- pours jet black with frothy tan head. Nose- dark fruit and chocolate. Taste- very fruity, plums, raisins, chocolate and slight alcohol taste. Medium to low carbonation. Finish is bitter chocolate, maybe a touch of hops, but not much. Mostly a roast free, fruit forward stout. I prefer less fruity notes, so drinkability suffers somewhat. Quite light bodied for style.

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Photo of endincolorado
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Dark brown (nearly black) with ruby highlights. Tan head. Low retention. Great lacing.

Smell- Fairly strong, roasty malt, cocoa, and dark fruit.

Taste- Roasted malt, balanced by some hop-bitterness. Cocoa, dark fruits, and a slight alcohol flavor.

Mouthfeel- medium-heavy body. Nicely carbonated. A little light for an imperial stout.

Drinkability- Good for an imperial stout. Alcohol isn't overwhelming.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.04/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Standard bottle poured into an imperial pint.

A - A thick yet loose tan head floats above an almost opaque amber color.

S - Huge raisin, oat and roasted malt on the nose with a slight cinnamon raisin bread hints.

T - Giant roasted malt hits like a ton of bricks and fellows with a raisiny sweetness.

M - Smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

D - I think its creamy smooth mouthfeel compliments the rich, fuller bodied aspect of this beer but after one I think I'd make it switch to something lighter.

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Photo of tigg924
3.91/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: huge head, dark brown

Smell:malt, coffee, faint chocolate--not overly strong a smell

Taste: dark coffee, sugar, cream, chocolate

Mouthfeel: smooth, creamy, a sweet start that lasts through the middle part with a bitter dry finish, medium body for a RIS

Drinkability: A very subtle RIS. A very good example of the style, which hides the alcohol well. I would drink several of these if not for the high ABV. I will have this again.

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Photo of mwagner1018
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark deep coffee color, nice creamy head.

S- Definite espresso note, roasted malt...light but delightful aroma.

T- Nice balance, bitterness is astounding, and very nice to the pallet, balances well with the strong malt character. Distinct and interesting, a very dry stout.

M- Residual sweetness, and bitterness of hops and alcohol...clean on the tongue, interesting in the mouth, flows nicely, well rounded.

D- Any more than a couple of these might overwhelm my taste, but I could see having a few, very interesting and nice alcohol note, reminds me of the warming character of a nice scotch, deep, toasty, and very good.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.48/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lovely cascade out of the bottle, a very dark black-blood-red hue, just giving a glimmer of ruby when held to light. Head is a creamy crest of beige bubbles. Good lacing. Just delicious looking.

Dark chocolate-sweet notes on the nose. Not huge but tasty and sweet. Hints of something slightly tannic as well, like tea leaves or red wine cork. Nice.

Very solid, roasted and smoky characters on the palate. Dark and bitter - everything implies fire and charcoal, except that it has this wonderful airy sweetness that never drags it right down. Back palate is quite ashy, but in a pleasant drinkable dryness. Mouthfeel is creamy and thick, but with a pleasant levity. Very nice.

Extremely drinkable, despite the darkness. Just creamy, rich, sweet, and slick. A superbly balanced and extremely well made brew. This beer cements Samuel Smith's reputation for me.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.43/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Great head when poured, thin film now. Very, very solid cradle of lacing. Copper-tinged black colour. This is truly, madly, deeply a great-looking beer.

Unusual nose. Pear (Yes, pear) is a big aspect of the smell, with a spiced, cinnamon edge. Nothing really dark or burned here, which deserves kudos. It's an extraordinary smell for a dark beer but that doesn't necessarily equal extraordinarily good. It's good, just not extraordinarily.

Slightly more dark on the flavour with a cocoa kind of undercurrent and a sout, cabernet kind of finish, but not really cabernet-flavoured. A slightly simple drop, with flavours that are nice but subdued. Mouthfeel is excellent. This seems to have a healing power - my mouth is in pain when this beer isn't gushing through it.

Overall this is a nice, drinkable drop, but it doesn't command too much of my respect.

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Photo of dogfishandi
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured from 12 oz. bottle at cellar temp into an oversized wine glass. pours opaque black with a nice light mocha colored head. pretty decent retention, head faded to a nice ring and some spotty foam in the middle. some lacing.

some nice roasty notes, a medicine like aroma, cocoa, roasted coffee, prunes, anise, dried fruit, pretty complex.

roasted malts and dried fruits gives way to a nice chocolate semi bitter finish. very nice taste.

the mouthfeel was medium to heavy bodied. medium carbonation. it seems a little light for the style, but it is still full of all the RIS taste. this and the somewhat low ABV makes the drinkability awesome. i definately recommend this to anyone, but definately to someone wanting to get into big stouts without the alcohol.

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Photo of Beejay
3.48/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark black body with a nice creamy tan head. Looks good enough to drink.

S: Alcohol, fruits and vinegar.

T: Sharp, distinct. Slightly sour to begin with, then settles in to nice smokey tones, and barley.

M: Slightly thin and watery feeling.

D: Don't think I am going to hop on board with this one. It is good, but not good enough to get a sixer.

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

A- Very dark brown colored opaque body. Nice brown head

S- Molasses and sweet, roasted grains along with some bitterness from hopping

T- Taste is alike the smell. The balance in this beer is great. Nothing is cloying and the sweet and bitter flavors combine well

M&D- Sticky, light and refreshing

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Photo of argock
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Single purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $2.75.

A: Black as night with frothy, 2-finger tan head with excellent retention and lacing.

S: Typical dry stout aromas of roasted dark malts, licorice, and cocoa with a touch of leafy hops

T: Good but not even close to the level of the best imperial stouts (see Expedition Stout, Storm King, Old Rasputin, BR Black Bear, Stone RIS amongst others). Solid roasted and slightly burnt dark and black malt, quite dry, with licorice and cocoa flavors. Leafy hops are in the finish. Not particularly rich or deep flavor but enjoyable.

M: Where it falls the shortest with a light-for-style body and overcarbonated.

D: Flavorful but second tier due to the lack of depth of flavor and thinner than expected body and feel.

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Photo of 2KHokie
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle. Pours a dark black with a hint of red. Nice, tall, dark tan head. Big caramel and coffee aromas. Smells sweet. Mild, fine carbonation. Some fig, roasted malt, caramel, a touch of alcohol, and a hint of chocolate on the palate. Nice bitterness and a rich mouthfeel. Finishes very clean. This is a really good stout but not as big as some you might see these days. That being said, I would actually have more than one of these!

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

the appearence is great. It poured with a big, sustained head. The bubbles were very fine and it is an attractive looking beer in my lion chalice. It smells very good too, smells like a ton of sweet, rich flavors. It smells very sweet, like caramel or toffee, or even a sweet chocolate. The taste is very clean and smooth. It tastes like it smells: very sweet. Again, a little bit of chocolate, and some sweet, caramel like malts. Not very dry or hoppy like some of the bigger imperials I have had recently, but more juicy and sweet. Definately a good offering from samuel smiths, which I never try, even though I see it all the time. (I might start after this one.)the mouthfeel and drinkability are both excellent, I'm not used to such a smooth and drinkable imperial stout. I would reccommend this stout to those that have a problem with this type of beer. It is sweet, malty, and very drinkable for a stout, let alone an imperial.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep brown/black with some ruby highlights when held to the light. Nice brown foamy head that dissipated to an uneven skim as I went through the pint. This skim left no lace, but clung to the sides of the glass. Nice.

Big dark dried fruit and blackstrap molasses aromas upfront, and a tart scent somewhere in the bake.

Nice complex flavors here. Molasses, deep roasted malt, coffee, dark fruit, some dark chocolate (not much, or just my imagination), and a slight tart acidic twang built into this one.

Medium bodied and silky smooth.

A 7% Imperial Stout. Alcohol was so far in the background that I did not even consider it until I got to this point in the review. Nothing hard about drinking this one. It has probably been 15+ years since I've had this, and wow have I been missing out on this year-round treat. Bought the 12 oz and it was just right. If you haven't had this one, and are a stout lover (all types), you need to give this one a try. Great balance, structure, and complexity.

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

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is a damn good beer.
Beautiful head, 7.0% ABV, a sweet aroma...
light on the tongue, crisp stout flavor like coffee or chicory.
The first time i tasted this beer i immediately transgressed to a state of bliss
If you have not tried this beer You must.


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

I love stouts, and imperial stouts are one of my favorite types of stouts. I've been meaning to pick this beer up for quite some time now and was excited to try it. Poured into a pint glass it pours a black opaque color with a tanish colored head, looks great! The aroma is roasted malts, chocolate, a little bit of coffee? Either way the smell is wonderful, though the taste is quite better. With a somewhat thick and creamy mouthfeel with a taste of coffee and chocolate that is pretty sweet it's a great tasting beer. Easily drinkable. There are some imperial stouts I could only drink a few of in one night but this one I could easily do more of no problem. Not a high alcohol content and a great taste this is one I will be picking up again for sure.

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

A: Two fingers of a firm, whipped head over a pitch black beer with the slightest hint of light brown at the bottom of the glass. A small head sticks around.
S: Sweet roasted aromas, milk chocolate; heavy and sweet "cream"/dairy smell, like smelling the top of a cupcake (for lack of better analogy); dark fruit aromas.
T: Surprisingly fruity character; dark, ripe berries and other fruits and a creamy malty flavor topped with bitter chocolate.
M: Incredibly thick and creamy; smooth, but leaves a good amount of residue on the palate.
D: One of the best stouts I've had. A pretty toned-down version of an RIS, but still an absolutely brilliant take. I can't wait to grab another of these!

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

This beer is a nice surprise. In these days of over the top, extreme RIS's, a "sessionable" one is a nice change.

Black, nearly opaque beer with minimal head. Nice, balanced aroma. Chocolate dominates but does not overwhelm. Taste is similar. You can really taste chocolate, but it fits nicely with the rest of the beer. It is not too bitter, not too thick, and the alcohol is subtly in the background. There is a touch of malty sweetness with no over-roasted flavors.

Overall, this might be the most drinkable RIS I've tated.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,730 ratings.
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