Imperial Stout | Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

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Imperial StoutImperial Stout
3,802 Ratings
Imperial StoutImperial 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: 3,802 |  Reviews: 1,781
Photo of biboergosum
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

550ml bottle, at the Metro Pool Hall, working my way through their commendable fridge(s).

This beer pours a nice inky black, with very slight red edges, and three fingers of puffy, foamy, and extravagantly bubbly chocolate milk brown head, which damned-near coats the glass as it genially recedes.

It smells strongly and evenly of dark chocolate, caramel malt, toffee candy, edgy black fruit, oxidized red wine, a touch of black licorice, and faint earthy, weedy hops. The taste is semi-sweet milk chocolate, gritty caramel/toffee malt, subtle and indistinct sour black fruit, surprisingly prominent cola and anise notes, a wisp of woodsmoke, and mild earthy hops.

The carbonation is generally quite understated, the body a stocky, solid medium weight, and silky smooth, with suggestions of creaminess. It finishes on the sweet side, with more chocolate, roast, and touched fruit.

As it warms, I get a strong semblance of boozy hot chocolate, which would make it, I imagine, a lovely après-whatever sipper, be it with dessert, or more robust cold weather activity. I'm sure the tsarina had experience with both, in spades.

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Photo of wl0307
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Revisiting this lovely ale 3 years since my last encounter; BB 05/2009, served cool in a tulip-shaped sniffer (Gulden Draak's branded glass). NOTE: the packaging has changed from the clear bottle to the dark brown one now - good to see some improvement with presentation!

A: pours a jet black hue, coming with a well-lasting tan frothy head and very light carbonation.
S: oily and thick, full of dark malts' aroma but shy of more pronounced coffee-ish aroma - jammy plums (but not sweet), fat black prunes, a faint touch of licorice, focused edge of oily black syrup, gristy malts, a fine touch of lightly toasted nuts and Fuggles hops. Deep, semi-complex, oily and malty.
T: not as thick as the nose suggests, the foretaste is soothingly carbonated, packed of toasted walnuts, fat black prunes, burned malts, grassiness, then a wave of delicious prune-ish and winey fruitiness expands along with earthy hop bitterness that intensifies to render a semi-dry palate, while black malts and a rather light roasty hint lend a bit more complexities in the end.
M&D: soft on the carbonation and pretty fresh for the full flavour. The consistent, mildly winey-sour hint becomes almost the most important key to connect different flavour elements. Comparing this bottle with my previous notes, I can say that the performance this time is equally good overall. Delicious, lighter than the abv. suggests, even quaffable!

* Tasting Date: 19/05/06
Got this bottle at just 1.79 pounds at the Nelson Wines, South Wimbledon, London. Bargain! Served cool in a large Burgundy bulb wine glass.
4.5 A: jet black hue; the effervescent tan beer head comes creamy and tightly frothy, only slowly settling while tight and even sheets of lacing emerge on the tracks... Elegant!
4.5 S: sour-sweet and "jammy" dark fruits (raisins+prunes+dried longan-fruits) prevail upfront... leather-ish, chewy and slightly roasty dark maltiness gradually join force, resulting in a "sticky plum pudding"-ish aroma with coconut-shavings on the top; an impossible-to-miss and profound treacle-ish note stays deep and low, which, not as thick and sweet as in other samples, rather gets a refreshing sour edge attached to it at every step. Overall, aromatic, fruity and sweet--complex and inviting~~
4.5 T: aromatic, black-sugary maltiness hits the palate upfront, backed by an intensifyingly black-prune-ish, slightly winey, and smoked fruity+malty mid-flavour; the initially creamy palate gradually turns drier and drier, where the sour-sweet, juicy, chewy and slightly woody-tannic vinous dark fruits provide a solid backbone and attach to the deep end of the palate, joined force by bits of roasted grainy elements with a tinge of licorice lingering towards the very end.
4.5 M&4.5 D: velvety smooth yet full-bodied for a 7%abv. Imperial Stout, without falling thick or hard on alc.; the softly carbonated body is ideal, which, along with a constant sour-fruitiness, keeps the thicker malty elements in check, so as to ensure a balanced palate. Slightly on the weak side for a preferably heavier roasted-malt input and also aromatic hoppy presence. But if one places this beer alongside Harvey's Imperial Russian Stout, there's an idea how a genuine English "RIS" might have tasted some hundred years ago... For me this Imperial Stout is utterly easy-drinking in this category--really worth seeking out this one! (Yet I still don't get why SS can't make it bottle-conditioned?)

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Photo of drumrboy22
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a Corsendonk chalice. Beer was black with a two finger, thick creamy, brown head. Heavy lacing.

Aroma was licorice, coffee, chocolate and roasted grains.

Taste was prunes, dark fruit, chocolate and roasted grains.

Very smooth mouthfeel. Good beer, that goes down easy.

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Photo of racer2k
3.95/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Black color with a light brown two finger head that dissipates very quickly leaving some light lacing on the glass

S - Malty coffee aroma with a hint of toffee and chocolate

T - Rich malt with a strong coffee and bitter chocolate tone with a hint of warm alcohol on the finish

M - Full body that is very creamy but smooth. Moderate carbonation in my glass

D - Very nice high test stout. Definitely would drink again.

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Photo of SpecsBEERMAN
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Like the Bros say, "All hail to the King". Pours an opaque black color with thin, light brown head that remains through the tasting and leaves nice lacing. The aroma is of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee and alcohol. The taste profile contains much of the same. Less body and a less noticeable alcohol presence than other most RIS. Very approachable, should be the benchmark to which all others are compared.

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

Cellar temp bottle (brown) poured into a snifter.

The beer pours a deep cocoa brown with not light passing through when held to a light. A creamy tan head foams up 2.5 cm with a gentle pour. Aroma is rich with molasses, brown sugar and some ripe dark fruit, plums and maybe fig in there too? Smells like a Fig Newton a little. Overall the nose is appealing.
The first sip reveals a silky smooth beer with minimal carbonation. The flavor is all malt with brown sugar, molasses and some dark fruit again mixing nicely. There is no real hop presence and the booze is also well hidden.
The beer is very drinkable and of course I would buy it again.

A well made imp stout that is easy to drink, complex yet not overpowering. Nice tasty beer!

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up recently just because it's one of the classics and a style that I love. This beer is a lot more subtle than I thought it would be, but that's probably because I'm used to the American versions of this that are a lot more potent and complex. This is, without a doubt, the most subtle Russian Imperial Stout that I've had, but that doesn't necessarily make it bad. It's well up into the 80's here in New Jersey today, and it doesn't feel too out of place with the lighter foods that I've been eating.

Decent pour to this - dark, light on the carbonation, and a decent amount of tan head. The taste was mellow - some current, bitter chocolate, and plum notes to this, and it goes down easier than just about any other RIS I've ever had. This almost reminded me of a strong bock beer because of it's medium body and mouthfeel and near-absence of carbonation. The lack of alcohol can be felt here too, as I've downed nearly all of the bottle and can hardly feel it. For me, that's good thing, as I prefer the taste to dominate over the alcohol!

I thought this was a solid beer that seems almost categorically mismatched in this day and age of microbrews by the shelfload. Nevertheless, I've never had a bad beer from Samuel Smith and it's nice to enjoy something as timless as this. Those looking for an RIS that will knock them into next week will be disappointed but for true beer connoisseurs, this is a pleasant surprise and a joy to drink. It's easy to see why this has been brewed for as long as it has.

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Photo of tubeboy
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A. A very dark brown beer with a thick mocha head.

S. A strong smell of prunes and chocolate.

T. A very nice combination of roasted grains, chocolate and prunes.

M. A good mouthfeel, could be a little more thick.

D. Overall a very enjoyable stout. I would rate this second only to Stone Russian Imperial. This is a very available stout year round.

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

A: Opaque almost entire black, but dark brown upon extreme inspection. Big old dark tan head. Very good rentention and lace. When I take a drink the glass is coated where the beer used to be.

S: Fruity ala raisins and apples, chocolate, and brown. Some brown sugar with bready and cookielike components. No alcohol and not pungent.

T: Dark fruits with a mild chocolate malt backbone. Not extremely complex, but tasty and well done. Dry coffee finish helps balance this malty gem.

M: Not thick enough to choke on, but silky smooth and medium-low carbonation. For a 7% beer, it is luxurious.

D: Close to a regular stout at this ABV, but the flavor and mouthfeel are essentially style-defining. A classic beer, and one of the better stouts available nationwide. Craft brewers have made imperial stouts that are incredibly complex now, but this one is still a pillar of the style. A great starter imperial stout and a widely available and relatively inexpensive beer to revisit whenever the mood strikes.

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Photo of Bartrob6
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

looks like a stout to me! black with a very small head and tiny bits of lacing.

smells good with roasted malts, chocolate, and i'm getting some dark fruits also.

taste is strong chocolate. extremely well done.

incredible mouthfeel for an imp stout. very drinkable for its style. probably the most drinkable one i've had.

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Photo of sethmeister
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle (code SB22D1 on the neck) poured into a snifter.

Opaque dark brown to black, topped with a cake-like khaki head which slowly drops to a ring and a film. Little to no lace.

Coffee, bitter chocolate and sweet molasses in the nose along with a hint of vanilla and roasted grain.

Taste is coffee, chocolate and molasses with a slight rumlike note in the background. A subtle sugary sweetness lingers. Roasted grains and dark fruit (prunes, figs?). More coffee and chocolate and a faint spicy hop flavor and bitterness at the tail.

Mouth is a silky medium.

Drinkability is very high indeed.

At 7% this is a milder RIS than I've become accustomed to but it really doesn't give anything up other than mouthfeel. Rich, delicious and very easy to drink.

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Photo of Offa
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This outstanding stout is very rich, complex, and full-bodied yet smooth, not harsh, and has everything well-balanced, elements just restrained before the point of being over the top.

Black - thoroughly - it has a short but dense light brown head that shrinks very, very, very slowly to a smaller but still dense, creamy, lasting top. It leaves some lace as well.

The aroma is strong and rich with prunes, chocolate, hints of wine, burnt sugar, blackstrap molasses, and steak sauce.

The taste is similarly strong and rich, yet smooth. The alcohol is clearly present, but not harsh, simply giving a noticeabler alcoholic warmth and bite which somewhat balances the sweetness, along with a light bitterness. The taste has chocolate, earth, leaves, stewed caramellised prunes and other fruit, along with spices and a faint coffee element in the finish. It has a light smokiness without actually tasting burnt. Though very strong and rich, its elements are smooth, restrained and balanced for an imperial stout.

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Photo of Gosox8787
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought a bomber of this stout to enjoy at the beginning of my drinking session. Poured from the bottle into a glass in two parts. The appearance was opaque black with a creamy, beige, two finger head. The smell is heavy on roasted malt, with coffee notes dominating, There are dark fruit flavors that offer a nice sweet balance. I offered a sip of thsi to a couple of my friends and they equated the smell to soy sauce. The taste is strong and relatively complex. The dark roasted malts lead hte way again, with a nice sweetness from the dark fruit flavor. There also is a little boozy, bourbon note that follows so after. The mothufeel is heavy with very little carbonation. Drinkability is only decent because the ABV is above average and the flavor is strong.

Overall, a good Imperial Stout with some complexity to the brew. the flavor is not overpowering and makes it ideal for starting a night of drinking.

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Photo of MaxBrews
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Large beer mug

Pours an opaque black with a mocha head that dissolves into a a nice mocha lacing that stays with the glass.

Smells of chocolate hops and alcohol.

Tastes of alcohol, chocolate and toffee.

Mouthfeel: highly carbonated but smooth and cream.

Drinkability: its smooth and a great treat but probably a bit too intense to drink quickly. Not something that I could personally drink all day, but would make after meal treat. Overall a wonderful experience and great imperial stout.

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

A - opaque almost black color with light brown two finger head that left some nice lacing on the glass

S - rich malty aroma with notes of coffee and chocolate and toffee

T - a solid malty flavor with a secondary coffee presence along with notes of toffee and caramel; some alcohol presence without it being overwhelming; a very rich offering

M - a wonderfully full body that is creamy and silky smooth; just the right amount of carbonation to hold it up

D - this was the first imperial stout I tried and still has a special place in my heart; while I personally don't prefer this beer to SS Oatmeal Stout, it is a wonderful offering in the style and definitely worth your time

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Photo of Kromes
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a thick, dense beige head. Sweet coffee, roasted chocolate aromas. There were hop aromas way in the background. Molasses and sweet coffee flavors up front with a dark chocolate flavor and bitterness in the finish. The finish also reveals a slight tangy flavor. Great creamy smooth mouthfeel, perfect carbonation. As it warmed up a little, the alcohol flavors and aromas became more apparent.

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Photo of dgilks
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

355ml bottle poured into snifter.

A - pours a very dark black with a large 3 finger tan head. Very fine bubbles. This is great.

S - A lot of roasted malt comes through. Not much of anything else is present.

T - Bitter roasted malts come through straight up and in the finish. There is some butter caramel in there as well. The alcohol in this is well hidden. Very good.

M - This is a mixed bag. It is rich and luscious as it should be but at the same time there is a very disconcerting and quite unpleasant burn on my tongue almost as if there is exceptionally high carbonation. It could be better.

D - For the ABV and style this is quite drinkable. It is a very good beer and it would be more drinkable if it went down slightly more smoothly but the mouthfeel issue is making it hard to see lots of this going down. Otherwise and impressive and drinkable brew.

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Photo of Naugled
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

served in flute

a: opaque very dark brown thick rocky head with silky surface

s: roasted malt, pure, simple and clean

t: roasted malt, some caramel, butter and toffee, bitterness and sweetness balanced nicely

m: heavy and sticky but not cloying

d: very good, you could drink more than one for a big beer.

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Photo of ommegoose
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

550 ml brown bottle. I would guess it might be a bit old, judging the source.

Very deep black color. Dark tan head, starts out at a few inches, then drops and stays at a half inch. Odd lacing pattern (probably my glass).

Great classic stout aroma. Mellow milk chocolate and roasty notes. Really inviting and balanced.

Roasted malt flavor is bold, with strong coffee and milk and bittersweet chocolate tones. Never comes across as burnt. Some milky sweetness. Dry bitter finish, with little hop character. Raisin and pruney fruitiness. Strong roasty aftertaste that lingers long. One of the rare bigger beers that I liked a bit less when it warmed up. I started to notice some more acidity, but the body got smoother at that point.

I thought it was a bit too fizzy at first, but it settles down and feels pretty rich and full-bodied. Coats the tongue.

Very drinkable. Really sneaky when at colder temperatures, making it dangerously quaffable. Somewhat expensive, but not too bad compared to many imperial stouts. This is a classic beer worthy of it's reputation. Would love to try a really fresh one another time.

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Photo of Dodo2step
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

P- Market Cross Pub in Carlisle

A- a motor oil like color. Jet black. A gorgeous fluffy light chestnut brown head as well. Only about a half finger though.

S- a burst of cocoa powder hits me first followed by coffee and sweet roasted malts.

T- a strong dark bitterness chocolate taste with hints of dark roast coffee. Cocoa powder as well.

M- Smooth and creamy. Quite viscous as well. Goes down without a hassle and goes down easy.

D- I could really pound this beer back because you cant feel the abv. Its smooth and silky creamy as well which makes it go down the throat easily.

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Photo of bsend
3.95/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 550ml bottle into a large mug.

Appearance: Beer pours a dark black color. This beer is completely opaque in the glass. No light shines through. A standard pour in the mug produces a 1 1/2 finger dark mocha head.

Smell: Mixes of roasted malt, yeast, cocoa powder and heavy dark (almost kenyan roast)coffee.

Taste: Good taste from this one. Strong bitterness that leads to heavy dark coffee flavors and faint hints of chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Thick velvet texture that heavily coats the mouth. An excellent representation of the style.

Drinkability: This really filled me up. I understand that this is not a session type of brew but after just one I didn't want anymore (different compared to Brooklyn's Chocolate Stout, and Stone's Imperial Russian Stout).

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Photo of Nick3
4.62/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer poured into a Guinness imperial pint glass and forms a 3 cm beige head with some spotty lacing. Smell is quite intoxicating with strong scents of caramel, cocoa, molasses, and biscuits. Taste is so smooth with a perfect amount of carbonation. Caramel flavors and malts dominate the sweet tasting brew but enough hops are present to balance the beer in a sublime way. The finish has a touch of alcohol accompanied by a bit a of malts and hops fracas. Dark chocolate notes in the background as well. I could barely put this beer down and forced myself to do so only in order to examine the lingering finish. I can't wait to stock up on this one. Well done SS!

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Photo of johnmichael712
3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
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 -55.5%
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 +6%
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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Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 3,802 ratings