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

3,730 Ratings
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
England, United Kingdom

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 02-27-2001

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Ratings: 3,730 |  Reviews: 1,761
Photo of Drewcifer
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out an almost pitch black color, with a big, fluffy, dark tan head.

The smell is a bit fruity, roasted malt, coffee.

Taste is dark fruit, alcohol, a little bit of chocolate and malts. Very little hops. Too much of a fruity taste, though.

Mouthfeel is nice, creamy, thick. Coats the mouth with little alcohol burn

Overall, a pretty decent brew. Aside from having a little too much fruit in the taste, a pretty good example of the style.

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Photo of deanhead
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep dark almost black with a toffee colored head, which reduced to a lace of bubbles clinging to the glass. Strong scent of alcohol mixed liberally with toffee and roasted accents. Tastes of chocolate and alcohol, but not astringent. Very pleasant tasting Russian Imperial Stout. The body seemed a little thin as compared to others I have sampled recently. Overall good beer very true to style.

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Photo of Ringo9er
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first experience with an RIS. Enjoyed it very much and thought it was a good one to sart with. I won't pretend to know what I'm talking about as far as picking out tastes, smells, etc... Though, in my first sip I thought I tasted a bit of light smoke on the front end. Maybe the roasted malt many others say they taste in this beer. I'm looking forward to tasting more strong beers like this and will have to taste this one again in the future so I can actually give it some scores...

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Photo of ewright
4.34/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours pitch black into a Chimay chalice, with a nice layer of fluffy white bubbles.

S: Dried tropical fruits (papaya? apricot?) up front, raisin and dark rum underneath... possibly a hint of vanilla. One of the most complex aromas of any stout I've had.

T: A bit more subdued than other RIS. Smooth notes of cocoa up front, mild dark rum flavors on the back of the tongue. Just enough hops in the background to balance the malt.

M: Silky smooth. The alcohol is noticable, but not overpowering. Much less astringent than some bigger stouts.

D: Dangerously drinkable. The 550 mL bottle may be a bit big for some RIS, but I'd prefer a full 650mL/22 oz of this brew!

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

Let me preface this review by saying that I currently live in Alabama, and I previously lived in Mississippi. That's right...two of three states in the US with a 6.00% ABV limit on beer. Russian Imperial Stouts are consequently unavailable in either state. A couple days ago I made a trip to Georgia to pick up some decent beer, all of which turned out to be RIS. This review of Sam Smith Imperial Stout must be viewed in the context of my recent exposure to Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Old Rasputin, both of which I consider the best examples of the style.

That said, I must say that Sam Smith's offering is very good. It has a lower (7%) alcohol content than the most famous imperial stouts, enhancing its repeat drinkability. It doesn't kick you in the nuts quite as hard as some others, but its appearance, smell, taste, and mouthfeel are premium.

I prefer a RIS with a little more alcohol, but this is a great example of the style. I would definitely buy again.

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

Pitch black body, no light comming through, Huge tan head that is a fluffy as a cloud. Head stays until the very end.

Smells like dark fruit, roasted malt, coffee, and some boozy dark rum tones. Taste is amazingly complex and good. Hints of dark fruit, bittersweet chocolate, toasted malts, hop bitterness, and warm alcohol all in an extrodinary balance that glides over the palate. Mouthfeel is where this bad boy dominates. Thick and chewy, coating this tounge perfectly. This has the feel of a good, real chocolate milk from my childhood, just served warmer.

There are many reasons why this one has become a benchmark of the style and stuck around for so long, because it is very good. Look for this on a winter day, or anytime you want a meal in a bottle.

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Photo of gkatsoris
3.59/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark and rich. Thick, thick head. It already looks chewy. The head is beautiful, light coffee in color.

S: Alcohol. Raisins. Coffee. Hops. And a little tinny. And dark unsweetened chocolate.

T: Chocolate. Coffee. Dried fruits, maybe figs or raisins or cherries. Malts. Unfortunately a little light on the hops.

M: Thick and chewy. Very nice carbonation. Stays on the tongue for a while too.

D: Honestly I'm a little disappointed. But, I think I may have a bad bottle (or at least I hope so), and I only have this one. I think I will get another bottle, and revamp this if necessary.

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Photo of AleDrinkToThat
4.66/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: I'm fairly sure you could hold a glass of this stout up to the sun and not see through it. The one finger medium brown head stays right there, slowly working its way down as you sip on the blissful concoction for a minimum of an hour.

Smell: Roasted coffee and cocoa notes hit strongly, with slightly more faint notes of raisin and other dark fruit. And yeah boy, the alcohol's there.

Taste: The roasted coffee/cocoa notes hit immediately, along with the warm presence of the alcohol. The hops really doesn't survive the onslaught of rich malt that drowns everything, even light itself, in its path. The sweeter, raisin-like notes finish it all up, and the warmth of the alcohol stays right there with you.

Mouthfeel: Rich, smooth, and warm from the lips all the way down the throat. And when I say rich, I'm not talking "kinda rich". I mean RICH. Break out the steak knives. The alcohol mainly provides a welcome warmth, but no burn. Just warm smooth goodness.

Drinkability: I mean, I was clean shaven when I cracked open the bottle, and now I have a five inch beard. A wonderful beer that should, as many others have noted, be sipped slowly, so that every drop can be savored, and it's probably best to not have more than one or, at most, two in a single sitting. That's like 3 or 4 regular beers, plus a porterhouse. Take 'er easy.

It's not for the faint of heart, but it's a beer geek's ascension into manhood.

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

Looks like an imperial stout should, smells like an imperial stout should. Taste is a bit less bold than my style reference, Old Rasputin, and the 7% ABV puts it on the wimpy end of 'Imperial'. Does 7% even qualify? Mouthfeel the weakest area, but otherwise, a fine stout. Just not up to the Rasputin.

2013 Update: Old Rasputin still superior.

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Photo of ajr24
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of a mix six from the Foodery Center City

Pours jet black, taking all light that tries to pass through it prisoner. Creamy off white head that retains nicely and leaves decent lacing.

Smells like coffee, chocolate malts, roasted malts, and a little bit nutty.

Tastes of coffee, toffee, and roasted malt.

Very smooth mouthfeel, the high ABV is hidden very nicely, the drinkability is also very good. I will be seeing this beer again very soon.

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Photo of Bowdoinbeerboy
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Pours with a medium sized off white head that quickly dissipates, its beautiful while it lasts thought. Beer itself is completely opaque, no light gets through this one at all!

Smell- Very hefty smells here, alcohol is very apparent and gives entire nose a fairly strong bit to it, malty with some underlying alcoholic sweetness.

Taste- Alcohol is much more masked here than in the nose, initial taste is alcohol-sweet, followed by a more subdued molasses flavor, and finally a pleasant warm, lingering chocolate on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Good palate coverage, flavor lingers for quite some time and is reasonably light, not too heavy.

Drinkability- A solid, solid IMPY stout. Not the heaviest out there, a great beer to sit back and relax with.

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

12 oz bottle into bicentennial Mason jar.

A: Very nice looking dark dark brown with a tan 3 finger head that laces nicely and forms a thin sheen when it settles down.

S: Raisins and dried apricots. Caramel-coffee-chocolate.

T: Orangey hops and caramelly malts up front then coffee-chocolate into butterscotch dry ending. Very nice Mr. Sammy

M: Pretty nice seems to gain some fullness on warming but that might just be me. A bit more body and this beer would be perfect.

D: A very balanced beer. I imagine several over a game of gin rummy would be quite on par there, Jeeves, yes indeed!

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Photo of BMan1113VR
3.81/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Let me preface by saying that I am not a big Stout drinker. That said, I think this stuff is pretty good, much better than the common Guiness. It is extremely dark and poors with an extremely small brown head that soon disappears. There is a bit of dried fruit in the aroma and taste. The aroma almost has a Apple/cider hint to it on top of the dark chocolate. The taste is good and full with a slightly sweet finish.

 417 characters

Photo of hdofu
4.36/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An amazingly black beer with thick froth head, Smell is that of expresso. The taste is that of strong bitter coffee and maybe the tinniest hint of cocoa and orange. Has a syrupy feel on the tongue initially followed by a crisp taste like that of a grapefruit. Goes down the throat quite easily. A pretty heavy beer, not one I'd want to drink more then one of at a time

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Photo of Kallessin
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a creamy tan head that sticks to the glass nicely. Calling it dark would be an understatement. This beer is pure black.

A very sweet roasted malt smell with a little hint of alcohol.

I taste sweet roasted dark chocolate with a little hint of fruitiness in the background. The alcohol comes through quite a bit, but with the sweetness I don't mind it very much.

A surprising crisp mouthfeel from the carbonation at first but syrupy and smooth after that.

I like this beer a lot and will definitely buy it again.

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

I've had this one before and wasn't too impressed but I recently saw it at a local Bevmo for about $2.60 and since I have not rated it yet I though "why not?"

Pours like an imperial stout should, dark and with about 2 fingers of foam.

Notes of dark fruits, nuts, spices, toasted malts, and a vinous aroma. Huge aroma of stale bread and raisins. There's also some notes of roasted barley, figs, dried prunes, and maybe some brown sugar. The only thing that bothers me a bit is the slightly vinous aroma, or maybe it's just an intense dark fruit combination with a touch of alcohol.

Tastes mostly of dark fruits and roasted barley. A bit vinous on the taste as well with some plums and raisins soaked in alcohol. Not bad but not really complex or "big."

Mouthfeel is a tad thin and watery on the finish.

Not really my favorite stout or a stout I would buy again. I think I'll stick with their Oatmeal Stout.

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Photo of JDV
1.72/5  rDev -58.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Pours black with a nice rich light toffee colored head. Smells of sweet caramel and soy sauce. Taste is rich, creamy, definite smokiness, and a roasty and caramel and soy sauce flavor with a hint of dry sourness. Fairly light carbonation gives it a decent oily thick mouthfeel. Definitely a different stout than those I've had before. Tastes almost like what I would imagine a very subtle rauchbier might be like, even though I've never had one. Unique lingering smoky tart soy flavor. Not a stout I'd ever drink again

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

This beer is black with a beautiful brownish head. Chocolate and dark fruits dominate the inviting aroma of this beer. Very smooth, almost creamy on the palate. The flavor is a mix of chocolate and espresso nicely balanced with bitterness. The beer ends appropriately with a lasting bitterness. This is a nicely balanced and drinkable beer, great with chocolate. This is a standard of the style.

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Photo of dciBA
3.21/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

550ml bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Pours nice a black like an imperial stout should. Finger of brown creamy fades quickly into a thin head that last forever. Smells of chocolate, dried fruit, and a touch alcohol.

Taste is OK at best IMO. Getting some raisin, chocolate and little coffee. The overwhelming flavor though is a green/earthiness, however that is just not pleasant to my tastebuds. As it warms the coffee makes a return but can't battle the green flavor.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are the high lights of this brew. Creamy, but yet still fairly thin. Definitely the thinnest RIS I've had. At only 7.0% this is probably one of the more drinkable imperial stouts out there. Overall, not too impressed with this one, probabaly won't buy it again.

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

Poured from a 550ml bottle into an imperial pint glass at about 50F.

Like Fish113d, I find that I've moved on from SS Oatmeal Stout to the Imperial, having discovered it on the beer shelf. It's fuller, more powerful and yet still well rounded. Strong roasted malt flavours with hints of coffee in the finish - a finish which lasts a very long time. The nose could be a little stronger but I'm not going to mark it down too much for that. I'd prefer more in the way of hops too, but that's just personal preference - this is still a world-class stout which leaves very little to be desired.

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Photo of ElGrecoVerde
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown coming out of the bottle, but black in the glass. Had a frothy, coffee color head sitting on top of it.

Smell was mostly dark fruits, a little smoky as well.

I must be in the minority here, because the taste didn't do much for me. It had some sweet, dark fruit flavors, mainly raisins. As it warmed, some dark chocolate flavors joined the party as well. It seemed well balanced, and I can see why most people love this, but it just wasn't my cup o' beer.

The feel was a bit oily. Carbonation, however, seemed perfect. Just enough to give your mouth that feeling that it's ready for the next sip without going over the top.

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

Poured a deep, dark brown, nearly black into a tulip glass. Nice lacing and head retention. Aroma was sweeet, fruity with notes of chocolate, smoke, and plums.

I can hardly contain myself for this one. It's the apex of British beer, and dare I say most beer around the world. The velvety chocolate and espresso flavors work the palate over while the dark and rich earthiness nestle in the taste buds. There's no explosion of flavor here; everything is in proportion and classy. Mouthfel is rich, smooth, and creamy. I could drink this all day. Stout heaven, folks.

 566 characters

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

550 ml bottle purchased from BevMo, on to the beer:

Poured inot a Guinness pint glass, the appearance is black with brownish hues on the edges and a thick tan head on top the body. The aroma has a pinch of alcohol, then followed by smoked chocolate and coffee. The taste begins sweet and smokey like tobacco and cocoa. There's some roasted characeter as well in the form of sweet malt. Alcohol is a little heavier than expectations, which makes things a little fruity. There's some chocolate fudge cake that appears briefly before being knocked down. The ABV is on the low-end for RIS's, but this beer has a full bodied taste that should be respected with slow sips.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16.9 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown, with a full and thick tan head, which leaves some thick lacing in spots.

S: Milk chocolate predominately, with licorice, molasses, and a bit of tropical fruit.

T: Heavy creamy chocolate coats the tongue on the first sip followed by a burst of quenching acidity, though nowhere near as high as a sour or Le. Coq. There is also a serious dark fruit component to this beer which I don't often find in American versions of this style - prune syrup and raisins. The flavours are mellower and subtler than its American cousins, but the flavours are still as tasty.

M: Velvety and smooth, with a hint of alcoholic strength, calming.

D: A very drinkable Imperial Stout, on the light side of this category, but is probably more reminiscent of the actual historical style of this beer, very good.

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Photo of Fish113d
4.09/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Suprised to find Sammy Smith in brown bottles! Anyways, I pour it into my large tulip at about 48 degrees (F). It pours a chocolate brown color with a milky, tan, finger-thick head atop that sustains itself nicely.

At first sniff, the alcohol hits my nose pretty hard; suprising for a 7%-er. Caramel and chocolate are well-apparent here. A bit of bourbon also to note. Interesting but a bit tingly on the nose.

Flavors are full and rich. Chocolate hits my palate up front along with a bit of toffee and toasted nuts. Smooth and creamy body leads to a bit of tingly alcohol finish that leaves my palage a bit numb. A mild mochachino and coffee flavor is a nice afterflavor. Very tasty and nice on the palate.

Very drinkable tasty brew. I really enjoy their oatmeal stout, but this has taken over as my favorite of their offerings. I'm sure a few would warm me up on such a cold night in PA.

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