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

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout
3,792 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,792 |  Reviews: 1,779
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.

 763 characters

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.

 1,013 characters

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.

 912 characters

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.

 508 characters

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

 681 characters

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.

 408 characters

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.

 866 characters

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.

 309 characters

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.

 1,119 characters

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.

 584 characters

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).

 767 characters

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!

 662 characters

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.

 3,134 characters

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.

 784 characters

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.

 1,084 characters

Photo of CrazyDavros
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

 317 characters

Photo of Buschyfor3
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

 1,904 characters

Photo of willyumlong
3.3/5  rDev -20.7%
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.

 515 characters

Photo of hardy008
4.39/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

 330 characters

Photo of oakbluff
3.08/5  rDev -26%
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.

 382 characters

Photo of endincolorado
3.95/5  rDev -5%
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.

 422 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.04/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

 496 characters

Photo of tigg924
3.91/5  rDev -6%
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.

 445 characters

Photo of mwagner1018
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

 629 characters

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.48/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

 860 characters

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 3,792 ratings
  • About Us

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

    Learn More
  • Our Community

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

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

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