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

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
3,729 Ratings
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
England, United Kingdom
samuelsmithsbrewery.co.uk

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
3,729
Reviews:
1,761
Avg:
4.17
pDev:
11.27%
 
 
Wants:
236
Gots:
521
For Trade:
3
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,729 |  Reviews: 1,761
Photo of magictrokini
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I have always been disappointed with beer from Samuel Smith, so I was reluctant to try this one. However, when I realized the bottle was clear, and the dark brown was the beer, I was intrigued. Aroma is tobacco and roasted chocolate malts. The taste is very, very good. Understated for an Imperial, this is dominated by roasted malts, with a solid backing of bittersweet chocolate and light coffee. Ended sweet. If only the rest of Samuel Smith's beers could be this good.

 472 characters

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

The pitch black liquid contrasts boldly with a rather big brown head that develops into an attractive creamy layer.

The nose unites a pudding-like fruity sweetness with a thorough malt profile that resembles both dark chocolate and roasted coffee beans. A little bit of hops and alcohol add depth. A smell that at times seems just a bit too much on the sugary side, but simply great nonetheless.

The taste is just as rich as the nose but offers a bit more since it has a greater movement to it. A fruity and chocolatey start develops a salty characteristic, after which a beautiful finish creeps up that is very dry and bitter and has a stunning roasted quality and a little bit of hoppiness shining through. The alcohol makes itself felt shortly after. A big taste with a true beginning and ending.

A body of about medium; mouthfeel is creamy and a little bit sticky.

A very impressive brew, great to sip from in the evening.

 932 characters

Photo of EatsTacos
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This stout is black, and is darker and closer to a true black color than many stouts. The head is chunky and creamy and brown. The lacing is great.

The smell is burnt and roasted malt firstly. There is a hop character present. Black licorice, raisins, prunes, figs are part of the fruityness of the nose.

The taste is as complex as much as it is balanced. The maltiness is sweet and chocolately with caramel malt present. The taste is a lot of black licorice and burnt flavours. The finish is very dry with coffee and expresso aftertastes. There's a very burnt malt grainy flavour all the way through. Really, really good.

The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, a pretty thick body and a low to medium carbonation is perfect for the style.

The bottom line is this beer is damn good.

 784 characters

Photo of eporter66
2.76/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

550ml Bottle into a pint glass. This is my first time drinking a higher ABV, so maybe this is another thing where taste develops over time. To me this was too boozy

A - Pours a dark black with a brownish tinged foam. 1 1/2 fingered head which dissapates to a covered top and some mild lacing around the glass

S - Wow - I was immediately hit by the alcohol smell. I let the beer warm, and it certainly took on a rich chocolate scent, but the alcohol is right up front.

T - A rich chocolate/cocoa flavor is right upfront and the boozy taste is never too far behind. The roasted malt sits in the back and the alcohol certainly warms the throat and chest as it goes down. Again - the alcohol was too dominant for my taste, but the beer is a higher ABV, so it should be expected

M - Rich medium bodied beer.

D - I honestly cant say I would have more than one, and I would not buy this again. The alcohol flavor was just to upfront, and as strong as the chocolate was, it was not enough. I guess I must like the 5-6 ABV range, this just took something away from the beer for me. I did let it warm for a time before opening.

 1,123 characters

Photo of Vendetta
4.14/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Original Review Date:
September 4, 2008

Smells of sweet alcoholic coffee. Pours deep black with a huge, thick, foamy brown head. WOW, lots of dark fruitiness for a stout, not just a toasted pitch black beer. Along with a sweet caramel and a bit of chocolate, each sip is a blast of prune, dark grape, plum. All malt. Thick, creamy mouthfeel. Superb, I'll be drinking this again- love the fruity notes in here. The only thing bad I have to say is that it could have used a higher ABV.

 484 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

$2.29 12 oz. (355 ml) single at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a decidedly black body with an expansive, light khaki-colored head.

Smell: Lightly chocolaty, roasted malt nose with notes of soy sauce, aged, though basic port wine, apples, and black licorice.

Taste: Roasted barley grains with touches of unsweetened chocolate and caramel with an earthy, soy sauce-esque taste running through the flavor. Hint of licorice and ripe red apples. Bits of sweetness pick up here and there. Splash of spiced prune juice. Very, very distant buttery hint. Small hints of yeast and alcohol. Finishes fruity, with a very slight metallic hint creeping into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Slight, oat-esque creaminess to the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Still a fine, decent RIS, even with those dirty nickels. But, if I had my druthers, I'd reach for a Taddy Porter instead.

 920 characters

Photo of KI9A
2.67/5  rDev -36%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I know I am all over on the ratings, but, I was not impressed with this on a few levels.

A: Dark body, wonderful puffy head.

S: Like sour candy. Yech..

T: Sweet and sour sauce from a Chinese resturant was my 1st impresssion. Followed up with toasted malts.

M: Decent, bitterness. Not too bad once it hit the back of the mouth.

D: Ehh.

 341 characters

Photo of froghop
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours black with a medium size khaki head, some lacing.

smell of sour malt, cocoa, strong coffee, some vanilla, and a hint of caramel.

taste is thick and creamy, dark and milk chocolate, espresso, touch of vanilla, touch of licorice, and some roasted nuts, a bit tangy in the end, with an aftertaste that is dry, slightly bitter, and chocolaty.

 346 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a glass mug. Dark as night with a mocha head.

Smells of roasted malt and peat, pretty interesting.

Tastes like a decent stout, with a slight off taste. Some roasted malt and boozy clean alcohal. Hints of cocoa. Moderately hopped.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, creamy and slick.

Drinkability is pretty good for the style, but the Oatmeal Stout is Sam Smith's greatest accomplishment. There are fresher American brewed Russian Imperials that I would take over this one.

 499 characters

Photo of olegv40
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep black with a dark brown head with fine lacing.

Smells of malts, yeast and is vaguely citrusy.

Medium bodied and actually rather light for an Imperial Stout. The malts overwhelm, and the lack of hops creates a sour rather than bitter taste. The yeast and malts make this taste of sourdough bread. There is a slight taste of chocolate on the back end that helps clear out the taste of dough. A change of pace as far as stouts go, and not altogether bad. However, I felt like it was missing something, whether its that extra kick of alcohol, or some hops, but I was left with a feeling like this was a very good beer that was missing something that would make it great.

 682 characters

Photo of TMB0424
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

550 ML bottle

Brew pours a DEEP black body, with a good sized tan/light brown head. The head slowly recedes to a nice creamy layer.

Smells of chocolate, roasted malts, coffee beans. Strong scent of molasses in there as well, delicious.

Very nice. Somewhat light on the carbonation. No alcohol kick at all, as expected. Tastes almost exactly like it smells - dark chocolates, strong molasses, roasted coffee. Delicious.

It has a very interesting and pleasant mouthfeel, somewhat.... oily. Very creamy, medium bodied. I'm actually beginning to taste a slight citrus flavor towards the finish, maybe lemon.

A delicious, very creamy stout. Provides a great finish and a great aftertaste. Very, very drinkable. Has a great balance between bitter and sweet.

 759 characters

Photo of colts9016
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour produces a very dark coffee black color with a small tan head.
The aroma of barley roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and toffee licorice, and hints of ester.
The taste is caramelized malt, chocolate, smokey burnt sugar, toffee chocolate, dusty dry hops.
The finish is slightly astringent.
Overall the beer has a smooth mouth feel and very drinkable. one of my favorite Imperial Stouts.

 395 characters

Photo of echdk3
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 1Pt, 2,7oz bottle into a snifter

A_Darkest of dark brown, opaque, almost black. Two fingered dark tan head that dissipates to a thin crown. Little bit of lacing

S_Roasted dark coffee, charcoal, very strong aroma

T_Balanced, hardly any alcohol. Very mellow, full of bitter molasses

M_Heavy body, chewy, higher carbonation than expected

D_Low ABV contributes to good drinkability, however this beer is very filling, not that you can blame it. The bitter taste is very enjoyable but prohibitive

 510 characters

Photo of Bibliophilist
3.76/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark -- but not too dark -- brown into my glass; opaque, though, like one expects a good imperial stout to be.

Smell is indicative of its somewhat light (for the type) alcohol content. A certain sweetness.

Possesses some of the good standard imperial stout flavors (chocolate and coffee inevitably come to mind), but has an unusual though not displeasing sweetness underneath it. Almost floral, but crisp.

Mouthfeel is relative: heavy for beer in general, perhaps light for this type. Not as overwhelming as some imperial stouts. The lighter alcohol content shows itself here; depends on one's preferences in that regard.

Very drinkable. It would be quite easy to down one of these in no time; much harder to sip slowly than some imperials. On the other hand, it is this latter quality that I enjoy about imperial stout, so I'm a little torn.

On a critical note, I was less than impressed with the aftertaste. Inorganic, for lack of a better word.

 964 characters

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

This pours into the pint glass a pretty black brown color with a fuzzy medium light brown head and solid lacing throughout. The aroma is a mild charcoal coffee blend, fairly bitter on the coffee side. The first taste brings out a sweet orange overtone on the charcoal base. Very nice on the taste buds. I pick up some gin-like qualities in the mild alcohol presence. As it warms I pick up more of a chocolate malt in the sweetness. It's quite drinkable for this style, midland body feel. Boy this goes good with cheese and hot pepper rings. I don't know that much more description is necessary, it's very solid, and not exactly like every other stout out there. This is consistent with the other Sam Smith mainstays I have enjoyed, a pleasure to drink on most any occasion.

 773 characters

Photo of paco1029384756
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with 2 fingers of off white head.

Scent of dark fruits, roasted malts, and sugars. Good, but a little sweeter than what I prefer for the style.

Taste of sugars, roasted malts, and raisins. A little too sweet again, but still good; worth the price.

Mouthfeel is full, but a little light.

 314 characters

Photo of cvfish
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured black color with a tan colored head that laced around the glass as it disappeared

S - Great burnt coffee aromas, with caramel and chocolate mixed in

T - The taste complemented the smell exactly, but with a strong bitter and malty taste to accompany

M - Thick, creamy, and smooth

D - Heavy beer, but a strong Stout that can be enjoyed many again and again

 369 characters

Photo of JamesS
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a great dark color with nice tan head (that rapidly diminishes) and almost no lacing. Excellent scent, very deep and dark with a great burnt grain and coffee aroma. Wonderful flavor, exceedingly dark and deep, wonderful coffee and chocolate flavors with a great coffee burst finish, and it as a nice slight bourbon barrel/alcohol tinge that is slightly warming. It goes down very smoothly for such a slightly higher gravity beer. This is one of my new favorite stouts.

 474 characters

Photo of albern
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sam Smith is an amazing brewhouse. I didn't realize I was buying an Imperial Stout when I scooped this off the shelf. RIS is a style I'm not at all fond of, that was until I had Sam Smith's version of it and ... wow! This is an amazing beer. If they can sell me on a style that I had heretofore not liked, they are clearly doing something right.

The beer pours a thick ruby black color almost impenetrable to light. The beer has a luscious creamy brown head that laces and retains. The nose on this beer is just maximally complex. Chocolates, coffee, mocha, caramel, molasses, sweet malts, and brown sugar. The taste is even more complicated. There are waves of flavor coming over the palate. There is a strong mocha, cocoa chocolatey flavor first. There are liqueur flavors popping through, lots of warming alchol, raisin and raspberry in the deep recesses. There are sweet malts, caramels, molasses flavors, and some spices. The mouthfeel is very creamy but subtantial. The aftertaste has warming alcohol notes, and leaves a dark cherry chocolate residue. There is just a touch more ABV in the finish than I would have perferred. But, this beer is truly amazing. Its complexity is a pleasure to experience, and I may never speak ill of a RIS again. L'Chaim.

 1,261 characters

Photo of schellsbeer
2.32/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I keep saying, nobody has anything over the American Micro Breweries and how they brew Stouts and Porters.

Who cares if this is one of the oldest recipes? Who cares if it is made by Samuel Smith?

Who cares...Who cares...Who Cares...???

Once again, I am greeted by a European Stout Beer that has some hidden FUNK taste that doesn't belong in a good beer. I really don't know how all of the positive reviewers can't taste this one ingredient in many of the European Stouts and Porters and like it. To me, this tastes too much like a Baltic Porter or Stout just because of that funky taste I get.

I know that is one of the RIS's that everyone is suppose to love, but I don't. First bottle and the last.

Give me a Surly, Bells, Schells, Summit, Left Hand, or Sierra Nevada any day.

 783 characters

Photo of katan
3.44/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle - no date

A - Another dark as night RIS. I wish I could come up with more adjectives for this, but I can't. Motor oil, dark, thick etc. Head quick light and left only a small film.

S - Not a strong nose - just a light amount of chocolate and malts. I'm guessing there is a light yeast note in there as well - odd for the style.

T - Starts off smooth and sweet. Nice combination of chocolate and other roasted malts. Perhaps some coffee like acidity in there. Finishes with some bitterness and some odd almost oxidation bite. Almost salty bite at the end, like a coffee sitting in the pot for far too long - not sure I like it.

M - Moderate body for the style - not overly thick but not watery either. Perhaps hard to judge this against its extremely loaded American RIS cousins, but it seems lighter than my expecations.

D - Moderate abv and easy drinking makes this one of the few more drinkable RIS beers I know.

I can tell where the style came from, but I also now know that I prefer our over the top American RIS offerings.

 1,048 characters

Photo of corby112
3.28/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Serving type: bottle.

Pours a dark black color with a thick coffee-colored head. Aroma of malty chocolate, roasted coffee and toast. Flavor is similar to aroma with lots of roasted chocolate maltiness, caramel, coffe, toffe and oatmeal. A bit watered down though with a dry finish.

 282 characters

Photo of mesperon
4.73/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a beautiful deep dark brown with a think, dense tan head that leaves a little bubbly lace. The aroma is full of roasted malt, with just a hint of burnt carbon. Has an edge of caramel, toffee, and a mellow sweet fruit, like red apple or pear.

The mouthfeel is very full, but not syrupy. Carbonation is moderate.

The initial taste is of deep roasted malt, that develops into a coffee and dark bitter chocolate. There's an edge of sweet caramel, and again the mellow, sweet fruit. Not at all overpowering. The finish leaves the bitter, woodsy coffee and chocolate on the palate forever.

This has to be the most balanced stout that I've ever tasted. The bitterness is bold, and enjoyable, and lasts long on the finish, but it does not overpower the palate. It is very easy drinking, almost sessionable. The alcohol is evident and warming, but not prominent. This beer could really sneak up on you and lay you out.

 923 characters

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

opaque without much head. becomes just ring of lighter chocolate around glass. smell is grape sour, american porter like, earth apple malt. taste is smoked. grape, apple, leather, light sour, tobacco. a light hop with clay like quality. onion and chalk. some say its soy sauce. not metallic whatsoever. wonderful and quite easy to find. a must have for to get a "truer" english take.

 383 characters

Photo of TLove
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer was surprisingly dry and devoid of spiciness, though the depth and smoothness of finish really brought a lot of flavor unto itself. This is not by any means the typical imperial stout.

The appearance is a dark brown with a bit of an amber hue. The smell is reminiscent of a mixture between a bitter and a irish dry stout, but the taste and mouthfeel point to the dryness of the stout as the dominant characteristic of the beer. The dryness also keys into the light chocolate overtones, with a light nuttyness and an even less noticeable 7% ABV. The subtlety of the characteristics of this beer prompts the question - must a beer with a stronger ABV render the alcohol a prominent taste component of the beer? I would argue that this is not necessarily so. If you agree, feel free to give sam smith's imperial stout a try.

 831 characters

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,729 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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

    Subscribe