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

3,755 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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,755 |  Reviews: 1,769
Photo of MVotter
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the classic-decorated bottled, a 550 ml.

Cola-colored ... has a sweet whiskey aroma ... mmm.

The first pour was down the side of the glass to preserve some carbonation.

The taste is a balanced blend of coffee, molasses, and sweet malts. This is a delicious brew.

As compared to others I've tasted, the Smith's Imperial Stout is a lighter body, less bitter beer. For me the taste tended more toward the malts and less toward the bitter coffee flavors.

The mouthfeel with the pour down the side of the glass did retain an effervescence. A later pour down the middle of the goblet produced a thick, tan head which settled back to a creamy, thin froth ... and much less tingly mouthfeel.

Very drinkable, pleasant, tasty experience for sure.

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Photo of PintOHops
4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance/Smell - Appears a dark oil like black with hardly any transparency, and has a quarter inch frothy brown, bubble like head. Head reduces semi quick and leaves no lacing. Smells of sharp citrus notes coupled with rich chocolaty, almost cake like malts. Very robust! Sweet overall with fruity cherry and raisin notes, although I did detect some minor earthy notes.

Taste/Mouthfeel - Tastes of rich chocolaty flavors and sweet malts, very delicious! Nice citrus and coffee like flavors on the finish, with some coffee like bitterness lingering on the palate just a tad. Hints of earthy notes, pretty hearty with coffee flavors overall, and hints of alcohol as it warms. Mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat creamy, with some evident carbonation on the palate even. I would say lightly carbonated and full bodied.

Drinkability/Final thoughts - I could definitely find myself enjoying more that a few of these. Probably 3-4 even, I love how robust and full flavored this beer is, although I admit that I do enjoy other stouts more. This is a great example of a stout, I think I would have appreciated more of a creamy, thick body. Still very good, I recommend you give this a try. Cheers!

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Photo of ccrida
4.74/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

550ml that's pushing 2 years old, maybe more. I've had this 'fresh', but it's been a while. I've heard this cellars poorly, and thought I'd find out for myself.
Poured into my Delirium snifter, Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is a dark inky syrupy color with a large dark tan head that leaves sheets of foamy lace.

Smell is super rich and sweet, boat loads of caramel, and I don't mean caramel malt, I mean caramel syrup, like you'd put on a sundae! Coupled with some coffee, it smells like the sugary starbucks drinks I'm a bit embarrassed to admit my wife enjoys! I'm not embarrassed to say it's fantastic and pretty much blowing my mind, before I took even I sip I knew this experiment was a raging success!

Taste is also very rich, but with quite a bit more depth and complexity then the nose, and not as sweet - but damn good! Wow, there's still lots of caramel, with coffee and chocolate and pleasant roasty char that I normally don't love, but tempers the sweetness perfectly here. Just phenomenal. Thank god I have another one of these on deck! There's still a bit of sharpness from the esters that isn't my favorite of the English Ales but is uniform to Samuel Smith's, and while it's tempered here more then any other one of their beers, it kept me from giving this a 5.

Mouthfeel is syrupy but not to sticky or thick, with a creeamy carbonation. Really quite smooth and luscious, wow!

Drinkability is ridiculous, I just can't believe how good this beer is right now. This is truly one of the best out there, so much flavor for being only 7%, it's really all you need. I should say I don't like RIS's overly roasty, bitter or hoppy, so if you do, this may not work for you. But if you're a fan of the sweeter strong ales on the other side of the pond, quit tripping over yourselves for the next big thing and go back to the roots, Samuel Smith's knows what it's all about.

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Photo of BarrelO
3.61/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Stone IRS goblet. Hey, Sam Smith finally got their act together and started putting their beer in brown bottles. Good for them. The label art is also good. Very League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-esque.

A: Pours black as night. No light penetrates even when held up to a lamp. Rather robust head, albeit one that dissipates fairly quickly. Decent amount of lacing.

S: Redolent of dark malts and black licorice.

T: Wow. Huge sucker punch of roasty bitterness right off the bat. I don't remember it being nearly this bitter. As it warms up, the bitterness recedes in favor of the malt and licorice flavors in the nose. Somewhat sour aftertaste.

M: Appropriately syrupy for the style, but less so than other styles. Not surprising, given this beer's relative weakness compared to other imperial stouts.

D: Sam Smith deserves props for helping to revive the style and providing a template for other brewers to build on. But nowadays, it comes across like a retro video game; it's great nostalgic fun for those who were there at the time, but for younger enthusiasts, it's kind of hard to see what the fuss was all about. It's still worth a try, if only as a historical artifact. But I can't recommend it as an exemplar of the style. Honestly, it's not even the best beer in the Sam Smith portfolio.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

G: Imperial pint glass.

A: Pours a "not very dark for this style" cola color out of the bottle, but appears a bit darker in the glass to the point where it is nearly opaque. My pour might have been a little hard, but I got a good two-and-a-half or three fingers worth of head. The head is also a creamy color; again, reminiscent of the foam associated with colas. The head recedes fairly quickly with the slightest bit of lacing.

S: Slightly sweet on a malt base. Hints of toffee and perhaps a little bit of caramel. Faint smell of dark fruits.

T: Sweet in the mouth. Much more sweet on the palate than I would have expected from the nose. Slightly sour with little heat from the alcohol. Biscuity malt with a little bit of chocolate--another thing I didn't detect with the first whiff. Slight fruity undertones in the background--maybe dark cherries, which could contribute the bit of sourness I've detected.

M: Not overly carbonated, and slightly sweet on the tip of the tongue. As it sits, it becomes more and more creamy. The mouthfeel is somewhere between a typical milk stout and the other RIS's that I have come across.

D: Given the low ABV for the style, this is quite a bit more drinkable than is typical. The is one of the first imperial stouts I've had where I could imagine having a couple throughout an evening.

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

Poured into a pint glass. I hadn't seen this beer on the shelves before, and picked it up to be adventurous; from glancing at the reviews it appears it's a pretty solid RIS.

A: Black as night and completely opaque; with an aggressive pour, a medium sized head resulted and minimal lacing.

S: A minty dark chocolate aroma is strongest in this beer, but an espresso aroma is not to be outdone by much. I can also pick up hints of dark fruits in the smell.

T: The taste no letdown from my original impression. Great mix of chocolate and fruits in this beer with a damped effect from the coffee. The only think missing is shot of hops somewhere to make this beer complete. Still, it's choice.

M: Good carbonation, nice thickness.

D: Very drinkable, it seems to be at a lower ABV than many RIS's that I see. Great beer, and I will purchase again.

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

550ml bottle into a Flying Fish pint glass and then some. 1st time having this.

A- A shade darker than their oatmeal stout, this imperial version is black nuff said. It looked a tad brown coming from the bottle though. A nice dark tan head graced the top forever leaving lace patterns.

S- Quite different for an RIS as this is more on the fruity kick. I really can't get any distinct flavors, more like a fruit basket with different ripe varieties. This is backed by some roast plus coffee/chocolate aromas.

T- Dark fruits and chocolate with some coffee as well. The usual blast of roasted malts so common with this style. sweet sugars and some alcohol seeps through. Not getting much hops but they could of faded(not sure the date of this bottle)

M- A nice mouth on this one but a tad lighter than expeced for the style. I would say this is medium bodied. This is lacking a bit of carbonation but oh well. Alcohol comes through just slightly with some dryness.

D- Complex enough for an RIS but the low abv makes it a bit more drinkable than other high abv offerings in the style. Good enough for future visits on cold winter nights as this warms well.

Another winner by sam smith.

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Photo of McStagger
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


A: Poured into an o-fficial Samuel Smith pint glass...Pours black. Well, not quite black. Just a really dark and really opaque brown. Like Diet Coke syrup. Not much light getting through there. Head is nice, about two fingers worth. Retention is medium-high. Nice.

S: Nose has dark chocolate, espresso, evergreen and lemon rind notes all throughout.

T: Dark roasted sugars intermingled with small nuances of citric/hop bitterness invade the palate from the onset. These notes are followed by a very dark fruit in the middle palate. Almost reminds me of extremely old port. This transitions well into the familiar coffee and smoke at the finish. Smoke definitely finishes this one off. The alcohol is nowhere near as noticeable in this as it is in many imperial stouts. Seems to balance it out a bit more.

M: For me, this is where Samuel Smith really shines. I have yet to consume a Sam Smith beer that has either been too heavy or too light for its respective style. This beer is no exception. Silky and smooth without being heavy or ponderous, this beer has an excellent body and structure.

D: This is probably the easiest drinking Imperial Stout I've ever had. While still not a session brew, this beer's comparatively low alcohol makes it a possibility to have more than one or two.

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Photo of Gyle41386
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a rich opaque black. Nice big brown head. Lots of bubbles, nice lacing. This is an excellent looking beer. Not much head retention, or this would have been a 5.

Smells of dried dark fruits and chocolate. Not nearly as much coffee and roast in the nose as many imperial stouts, and that's not a bad thing.

Taste follows the nose, except the roast becomes more prominent in the finish. Dark fruits (raisins, plums), chocolate, coffee. Very rich and smooth.

One thing I love about this stout is that the alcohol isn't so assertive. Some Russian Imperial Stouts, Stone's in particular, scared me off by being overly boozy. All in all, this a phenomenal stout.

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

Pours big and black with a nice brown head that leaves some pretty significant lacing in the glass.

Smell is nice, with some overripe fruit and just a little yeast...

Taste is really really interesting and nice - has some real british ale characteristics, though it maintains the sweetness, malts and coffee characteristics of a Russian imperial.

Pretty good beer! I'm impressed.

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Photo of CHSLBrew
3.41/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500mL bottle poured into a snifter.

A-Black beer, opaque. Brown head, large bubbles, big off the pour and sustaining. Continued to linger with an attractive 1cm heady layer.

S-Much of chocolate mixed with some dried fruits (raisins).

T-Chocolate, dark fruits and candy/molasses. Roasted barley character is present but doesn't overwhelm the other flavors. A little bit of alcohol in the tail end. Finishes roasty, bitter, a bit washed out/blah.

M-Medium-low small-bubbled carbonation. Medium to medium-full bodied beer.

D-Fine enough, but not really a great brew. I think the flavor profile was relatively thin, with a body that left me wanting.

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Photo of drummerben
3.88/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First review from a longtime lurker. Picked up a 12oz single to give it a try. Poured into standard pint.

Appearance: pours black with dark brown highlights. Frothy two-finger head with nice retention and lacing.

Smell: smells of dark fruits, brown sugar sweetness,raisins, toffee, caramel, and rum. Surprisingly little coffee or roastedness.

Taste: strong sweetness and fruit - toffee, plums, and raisins. Much fruitier than i prefer in a RIS. Too much fruit and not enough roast for my palatte. Alcohol well-hidden.

Mouthfeel: excellent. Perfect carbonation, medium/heavy body, and smooth creamy finish.

Drinkability: very smooth going down. This is an easy drinker, especially at 7%.

Overall a slight disappointment, considering I love Sam Smith and Imperial Stouts. I was hoping for a bigger Taddy Porter, but I miss the roasted malts that make it so delicious. Overall good, but not my go-to RIS.

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

A: Poured a rich black with a decent tan head.

S: There was some hint of sweetness, sugar and toffee maybe combining with a bitterness of dark chocolate and coffee. Also picked up a slight roasted smell in the background.

T: Again, the sweetness of toffee/sugar was present but nicely offset by the bitterness of chocolate and coffee.

M: Awesome! Full bodied, creamy and smooth.

D: Very drinkable and no hint of the alcohol content!

Notes: 355 ml bottle poured into a Imperial Pint Glass. BBE DEC 09.

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Photo of bmwats
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint.

A: Very dark brown in color. Low carbonation pours into a 1 finger, foamy, tan head. Settles fairly quickly, but leaves a little security blanket on the surface. Beer ring lacing remains.

S: Dark roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, pecan shells, scotch whiskey.

T: Roasted coffee beans, unsweetened chocolate, a little scotch or bourbon whiskey.

M: Thick and robust. Flavor fills the mouth and coats the palette. Malty start, strong alcohol taste in the finish.

D: Great drinkability. This is best savored though.

Solid appearance, nice complexity in the nose. Flavor is a bit more simple than the nose lets on, but very well balanced and full. Nice, albeit heavy, feel. This is a high quality quaff.

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Photo of grub
4.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle. sampled feb 20/09.

pours deep dark brown, not quite black but still pretty much opaque. a very dense brown head forms, dropping very slowly and leaving a ton of lace behind.

aroma is great. rich dark chocolate. dark roast coffee. multi-grain bread. bit of biscuit. light alcohol. rich caramel. a bit of fruity character too that i'm enjoying. there's a bit of a yeast there too, which i also don't mind.

taste is great. solid malty base of mutl-grain bread, biscuit, and oatmeal. rich dark chocolate, caramel, and coffee. medium-low bitterness level. light alcohol. there's that nice fruity and yeasty component adding a nice depth to it.

mouthfeel is great. just under medium carbonation. medium-large body. smooth.

drinkability is great, and to add to that it's a RIS that won't knock you on your ass at 7%. this seems like the "big brother" to their oatmeal stout. a little bigger, a little richer, and a little darker. it's really that beer turned up a notch, and i think it benefits from it - more depth, a little more intensity. just better all around. while i'm just as gaga over the latest big american stout, i'd be very happy to have a steady supply of this excellent english offering. a great stout that i will certainly not be waiting long to pick up more of.

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Photo of RodBurg
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours black with brown highlights. A huge, fluffy brown head forms with excellent retention and lacing.

Smells heavily of sweet molasses, brown sugar, coffee, dark chocolate, raisins, toffee and caramel with a nice hint of roastiness.

Smooth and creamy on the palate, like a thick oatmeal stout. Sweet toffee and brown sugar combine with a delicious roasted malt flavor and the expected chocolate and coffee notes. Raisin and fig notes linger in the background with a slight spiciness. Alcohol is undetectable.

Delicious. Perfect dessert beer.

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Photo of 196osh
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is my first review on BA. Lets hope all the beers I will review in future will be as nice as this Samuel Smiths RIS.

One of the only Imperial stouts I can find regularly. Pours dark black, not total blackness but close enough. Smells of dark fruits, chocolate and coffee. Execptional flavours which mimic the smell but improve upon it.

Mouthfeel is on the slightly light side for a RIS. But that vastly improves its drinkablity for a RIS.

Brilliant beer.

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Photo of Stockfan42
3.99/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked this bottle up at random trying to find any kind of Imperial Stout (after having ktg I want to try other RIS beers). So this beer was around 5 bucks for a pint at kappys and is at 7.0%.

So I popped the cap off which is topped in a foil wrapper. Poured this beer into my Winter Bourbon Cask Ale glass and looked for anykind of tint of color but could only find black. Very black beer with a great mocha coffee colored head.

Taking a wiff of this beer i'm pretty sure its going to be some treat. A malty chocolate aroma with a fruity plum and light hop presense makes a great smelling beer.

This beer has a great offering of flavor. Very malty chocolate tone with hints of coffee. I taste some plums and raisens, maybe a bitter hop added to the mix? None the less this beer is bad ass and wish I had another bottle.

This beer goes down pretty quick (atleast in my case) for an RIS, but isn't to strong and is pretty smooth so its really no wonder why. Grab a few bottles if you see some.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
3.52/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 5/8/2007 (550mL bottle):

Pours an inky black color, big foamy tan head. Dry chocolately aroma, some sugars and malty aromas. Not much coffee aroma. Not heavy body, watery almost mouthfeel. Some coffee aftertaste, not much chocolate taste. Almost skunky taste. A good stout.

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Photo of brewintheLou
4.04/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a tan head that sticks around and leaves lacing down the glass.

Smell is not very strong, but I get some sweet fruitiness.

Taste is very smooth with a little bit of roasted malt. There a hint of the same sweet fruit in the taste. Mouthfeel is very creamy and wonders through the mouth nicely. Highly drinkable beer going down as smooth as it does.

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Photo of nrpellegrini
3.7/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick black color with a thin tan head that fades. Smells of roasted malts, some chocolate. Tastes decent, a typical stout. Roasted malts with a faint chocolate background. Not the best mouthfeel but nothing to complain about, smooth. Drinkability is ok, as it got warmer it became harder to put down.

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Photo of bowersdm
3.18/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Normal sized bottle poured into a mug

A - nearly black. 2cm of brown-ish head

S - roasted barley, coffee, chocolate, fruit, hops (kind of citrusy, but there's also a spiciness), alcohol

T - fruit, coffee, chocolate, barley, and hops at the very end. everything is very subdued and subtle.

M - thin and watery. too thin for an RIS

D - this wasn't a bad RIS, but it lacked the beefiness that I'm used to with an RIS.

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

English take on the RIS. Black pour, nice light brown head. More chocolately than coffee, nice amount of carbonation. Flavor similar, quite sweet with molasses, malt and chocolate. Not as astringent as some imperial stouts. Balanced, full bodied yet very drinkable. An excellent stout that is not too tough to find.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
3.8/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a couple 550s of this quite a while ago at Northridge in Laramie. About $3.50 each if I remember correctly.

A: Pours a deep brown, edging on the brink of black with a medium tan colored head about an inch and a half thick, quite tight. Huge chunks of lacing all around. Recedes to a film.

S: Some definite chocolate and a very distinguishable Samuel Smith scent, it must be their yeast that produces the same characteristic in almost every beer I've had from their, and the only thing I can liken it to is "pub", somewhat musty, a few earthy English hops are lingering in the back somewhere.

T: Smoky roasted malts, chocolate, the same "pub" taste as from the nose, a bit of chocolate, surprisingly bitter, although its a "dirty" bitter, more so from the burnt malt. A definite coffee presence. Nice citrus there too, but not really a hop citrus. Hop character is piney, and subdued. Blended nicely into the background. Almost a red apple flavor, Belgian dark ale character. And even a few hints of lighter Irish whiskey. A lot going on here, and a good example of the beginnings of the style, but really nothing too fantastic.

M: A little thin, quite highly carbonated, a little warm on the alcohol end as well.

D: If persuaded to, I could drink another pint of this. It isn't bad by any means, but its more of a one and done type of beer. An excellent glimpse into the past of the Imperial Stout. Not a bad beer, and I'd recommend it to anyone that was curious.

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Photo of Jmoore50
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was a good drink, but a lot of things are missing. The bar is consistently being raised with Russian Imperial Stouts. There are brewery's that focus a lot of time and energy aging and putting in the finest ingredients. I am starting to think that year around Imperial Stouts should be given a seasonal treatment, because that is the way it is meant to be.

The appearance is really dark, but held up to the light has dark amber edges. The head comes up nice, but leaves just as fast. The thickness or consistency of the brew is like darkened water. I am used to brews that pour like motor oil, not like water out of a faucet.

The taste was good but kind of bland. There are no overwhelming flavors, just subtle little ones. This is the second one that I have had and overall just really okay. The drinkability of it is good, which I can give a high score because more RIS are not drinkable at all. The mouthfeel is okay, but both times I got a small hint of something sour. Overall just another average RIS that will not bring back any fond memories. Doesn't warm me up like Bourbon County, doesn't perplex my taste buds like the Abyss, or even get me buzzed with goodness like Old Rasputin. Overall average.


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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,755 ratings.
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