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

Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout
Liked This Beer
4.17 w/ 3,762 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,762 |  Reviews: 1,770
Photo of birchstick
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It pours black as night with a small, tan head. Smells of sweet chocolate and a touch of toffee. The taste is very good. Semi-sweet chocolate up front, followed by a burnt toffee taste with coffee tones at the very end. It is very creamy and goes down nicely. This was not as over-the-top and a bit more balanced compared to some other Imperials I have tried.

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

Appearance - 4.5
Poured two fingers of frothy beige head that steadily reduced over a mahogany-black body.

Smell - 4.0
Rich, slightly sweet roasted malt with a strong yeasty kick. Somewhat burnt from the roasted malt.

Taste - 4.5
A whole lotta flavour in this one! Gets better as it warms with flavours of burnt coffee, dark chocolate and rye bread with a warming yet subtle alcohol. There is also a bit of lemon zest hiding in there somewhere.

Mouthfeel - 4.5
A lovely fine and persistent carbonation and thick, heavyish weight in the mouth.

Drinkability - 4.5
Worth going back to, not overly challenging, especially after warming. 7% is low for an Imperial Stout, making it all the more drinkable.

This is certainly a rich, impressive brew, and stouts aren't usually my thing. I would try this again, as I see the $6 price as being good value.

Edit: This beer hardly qualifies as a RIS at just 7% abv - but in the English tradition it delivers more flavour than would seem possible for the strength. Brilliant stuff!

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Photo of markaberrant
3.71/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Incredibly dense and creamy dark tan head. Otherwise completely black. Leaves some big puffs of lace behind.

S - dark fruits, mix of cherry and raisin. There are whisps of something darker lurking, like dense chocolate, but for me it is fruit forward.

T - fruitiness carries all the way through in the taste, nicely blended with some smooth roastiness, long lingering roasted finish.

M - big thick mouthfeel, chewy. Low carbonation. Alcohol feels a tad too warm, but is still enjoyable.

D - While certainly not a bold impy stout, it is refined, and goes down easy.

I can't say I dislike the fruitiness, but it is a little much for my taste. While this is a certainly a fine English example of the style, my personal preference is more towards a cleaner, roastier, and more agressive beer.

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Photo of joezak5
4.06/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured into a Duvel sniffter; black as night with an overflowing dense mocha head. Excellent retention with a ridiculous smooth layer of lacing as it's being enjoyed.

Smell: Sweet, spicy raisin, milky and cidery, smooth caramel malt. Very different.

Mouthfeel: Full chewy body with subdued carbonation.

Taste: Anise cidery malt. Excellent hoppy bite at the end.

Drinkability: This is unlike any RIS you've ever had and well worth trying. It's subtle and enjoyable.

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Photo of hustlesworth
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- complete black except for a tiny shred of burgundy at the very bottom. thick dense dark-khaki colored head is firm and wiggly as jello and as it slowly settles down it leaves gobs of lace behind.

S- alot of roasted malt sweetness and a little bit of smoke. well water, plum, currant, some anise, cocoa powder, and earthy hops with mild citrus aroma. toffee, marshmallow, and caramel stand apart from the roasted notes with a very appealing dessert-like sweetness. raisin, fig, date, cedar. chocolate instead of coffee. doughnut, funnel cake, creamstick, etc. this baby smells like a pastry.

T- huge amount of malt flavor with a touch of smokiness, over-ripe sour dark fruit, cocoa, coffee, and earthy hops makes for a nice bitter burnt biscuit aftertaste and moderate hop bitterness. the malt profile here is sublime, and any more hops would be a hindrance. sweet and roasted, everything burnt, with the perfect balance of burnt and sweet. tastes exactly like bittersweet chocolates. with a coffee-ish edge. and a shiver of alcohol as i swallow. citrus and blackberry syrup notes on the backside, long burnt finish.

MF- thick and rich with its melted chocolatey self, has a slight grainy cocoa powder feel and i'm not surprised because this right here is a lunch in itself. somewhat of a light minty colling effect as well, probably from drying and evaporation of alcohol on the inhale/exhale. carbonation is low low and almost nitro tiny and hell, even if there were no bubbles at all, this would still feel like heaven.

D- a benchmark indeed, that goes without saying, and though our american brewers make some great RIS, this one takes the cake for me. Old Rasputin might give it a run for its money, but sammy wins in the long run cuz of the mysterious D factor. in this case it's not so mysterious- the 7% abv. yeah and the incredible flavors and smells and everything else, but with that 2-4% lower alcohol come less knock you out of your chair intensity, allowing this one to drink as good as their oatmeal stout. this is unquestionable perfection. i could easily (if i wanted to wind up with my face on the concrete) sit and enjoy pint after imperial pint of this magical elixir.

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Photo of blackjack000
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours out as a a thick, dark brown and is pitch black in the glass. A frothy, caramel-colored head appears in good amounts and slowly deflates. The creamy caramel and coffee-with-cream color of the head really complements the color of the beer and is appetizing and inviting.

Smell: Roasted coffee is the first smell to come forward. I smell anise seed, small amount of raisin, black liquorice, and warm brown sugar.

Taste: A good amount of roasted coffee, with a well-balanced amount of hops. An aftertaste of baker's chocolate, coffee, and black liquorice.

Mouthfeel: An above-medium, light-heavy feel in the mouth. Hearty, without being overbearing.

Drinkability: Well balanced and delicious. It isn't as full-bodied as some of the imperial stouts I've had, but it comes off as a very nice package. Everything is toned down to just the right frequency to experience all the complex flavors, in just the right amount. Don't get me wrong, a lot of flavor and feel in this beer, but it's not pumped up to the level where I have to be 100% focused on the beer in order to fully experience it.

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Photo of cjohnson
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful black body with about a two-inch head of lovely dark tan foam. The majority the head sticks around for a little bit then dies off, leaving about a quarter inch.

Fairly strong smells of chocolate, roasted coffee and malts.

Tastes very strongly of a bitter dark chocolate, with some slight caramel tastes. Don't taste as much coffee as I was expecting to. The alcohol is hidden pretty well.

Very drinkable with a medium-light mouthfeel.

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Photo of Lukie
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Black as night with a brown head that dissipitates to mild lacing around the top of the liquid. Not much else really.

Coffee and sweet sugars with hints of alcohol. Kind of candyish in the nose.

Roasted coffee, hop presence in the finish. Lemon citrus notes (cheesecake?), yep, cheesecake. I can taste that in the finish. Delightful.

For a stout, this is the easiest one to drink yet. I don't drink a lot of stout, but this one is amazingly smooth and not as heavy as others I have taken in.

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Photo of erosier
4.57/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a jet black color with a tall and medium bodied tan head that fades to just a rim around the glass. It laces the glass pretty well on the way down. It has a very deep roasted malt smell with a chocolatey aroma and a hint of hoppy bitterness at the end of the nose. The taste is excellent for an RIS. It has a very deep roasted malt base followed by nice chocolatey and caramel flavors and then a bit of rasiny taste and then a short but perfect hoppy bitterness that rounds out the ber very well. It has a very creamy, velvety, and warming mouthfeel that doesn't really hit you in the face with alcohol, but it is strong enough to warm. The drinkability is very good and I would definately have more than one of these. Definatly worth a try.

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Photo of Mdog
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Opaque, black, with a big tan head.

Smell: Rummy at first, then more beer-like with dark fruit and chocolate.

Taste: Bitter dark chocolate is the main thrust of this beer, a little hint of raisin in there also.

Mouthfeel: I thought this was a little light for an imperial stout, however--

Drinkability: The lightness along with the lower alcohol makes this one of the few almost sessionable imperial stouts.

Decided to pick up a 4 pack of Sam Smith's Imperial stout on a recent beer run. I haven't had this in a while, but it was as good as I remember it. Doesn't smack you around like some other imp. stouts but still plenty of flavor.

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

This poured an opaque black with a little dark tan head. It smelled like roast malt with prunes and alcohol. It tasted like licorice and bitter coffee with some roast malt for balance. It was watery and smooth with just a little carbonation and a strong malt aftertaste. Overall this was not quite what I expected - good but not super. In fact, I think I've been disappointed with just about all the Sam Smiths.

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Photo of OlieIPA
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer had a very dark and clean appearance, while supporting a decent one-finger head. The smell and taste supplied my mouth with hints of coffee and roasted like flavors. The mouthfeel was above average and left my a bit dry after. This Imperial Stout was exceptionally easy to drink and I would recommend it to any beer lover.

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

A solid black beer you can not see through held up to the light. Poured a nice 1-2 finger dark tan head that disappeared quickly leaving very little lacing. The slightest hint of alcohol at first but then a wave of smokey goodness with a slight dark-fruit malt backing. Mouthfeel comes on a bit creamy but just like the head, thins out leaving little behind. Left the roof of my mouth a bit dry but I didn't mind. Definitely a beer I could drink again and again with no end in sight.

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

Poured from a brown bottle into a standard pub glass.

A: Opaque mahogany brown with a robust 2 finger tan head that resulted from a hard pour. Head slowly recedes to a nice sticky rings of lacing after each sip.

S: Licorice. Spice. Everything nice. Coffee aromas are present. Overall it has a spicy sweet aroma.

T: Smooth. Spicy with mild mocha coffee and dark chocolate notes. Not much of an alcohol aftertaste.

M: Substantial. RIS is a heavy style and this offering is no different. Carbonation is good and adds to the spiciness.

D: This is a pretty heavy beer, but I can see myself finishing the four pack in one session because it's so damn good. Just like all of the other Sam Smith brands, an excellent representation of the style.

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Photo of trpng0bily
4.92/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This brew is black as can be, with a moderate, creamy tan head that dissipates. The smell is robust, with chocolate, coffee, anise, spiciness, malts, and a hint of alcohol. The taste does not dissapoint - it more than follows though on the promise of its nose, adding a brilliant bitterness to the chocolate, as well as the dry finish that nobody delivers quite like Sammy, though it is, appropriately, not as prominent as in other of their offerings. A perfect harmony is achieved between the bitter chocolate, sweet malts, and spicy hops. This beer is rich, though it could stand to be just a bit fuller in body, with carbonation that has some pop, and a nice warming effect (though the alcohol is not noticable in taste) that lingers comfortingly. Finally, this stout is as drinkable as any I've tried.

This has long been my favorite stout, and for nostalgia's sake I somewhat regret not making it my first review on BA. Better late than never, I suppose.

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

550mL bottle poured into a Sam Adams fancy schmancy pint glass, not freshness date.

A: Pours a smooth jet black, not as thick as the KBS I tried recently, but no light is coming though this one. A vigorous pour yields a two and a half inch semi-creamy, semi-rocky light nougat colored head that bubbles down to a half inch cap in about two minutes leaving some lacing down the glass on the bubble down.

S: Roasted chocolate and caramel malt, bit of a boozy kick in there even for a 7% ABV beer, maybe some light oxidation as there is a bit of a raisiny sweetness detectable but not overpowering and not really that bad. I detect a slight bit of vanilla in here as well which rounds out this very rich aroma on this beer.

T/MF: Quite fruity, raisins and plums and I'm beginning to wonder how long this has been sitting on the shelf, but this is balanced out a bit by a rather crunchy dextrose maltiness as wells as detectable amounts of chocolatyness in here as well. Mouthfeel is rather slick and watery maybe because of the lower abv but the carbonation is lively enough to keep this one from becoming too cloying on the palate. The finish is long and dry and really lets the malts show what they got, pretty tongue drying for such a malty beer not at all like other RISs I've tasted that leave your mouth feeling greasy, pretty decently balanced if a bit too raisiny for my tastes.

D: Nice easy drinker for a RIS, well balanced enough and nice active mouthfeel, but may have been sitting on the shelf for just a bit too long.

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

appearance - Nice black colore with a tan head and some lace here.

smell - Roasted malt and chocolate.

taste - Coffee and chocolate upfront and then some hops at the end. finishing with roasted flavors and alcoholic ting.

mouthfeel - Medium body.

drinkability - Very good stout that has been on for many years. A must try for any stout lover.

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.44/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This Sam Smith pours an oil slick black with a thick tan head which quickly subsides to a thin lacing lasting throughout the beer.

Very aromatic, the first thing I picked up was a dark fruit scent, perhaps raisins, prunes, or some similar variety. Also apparent is the coffee and roasted alcohol scents. Perhaps I am way off base here, but it kind of smells like an Irish coffee.

Again, there are some great dark fruit flavors, roasted coffee, and something resembling a bourbon or similar dark alcohol. Excellent.

This beer is complex and smooth. Extremely satisfying and delightful.

This Imperial Stout leaves me craving another sample. It continues to encourage you to keep drinking it and searching for new flavors. Excellent beer! I could imbibe quite a few of these on an empty stomach.

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

A: Dark, dark brown, almost black with a phenomenal fluffy, tan 2" head, which stayed around for a few minutes then receeded to about 1/8" and stayed for the remainder.

S: Nice aroma of strong roasted coffee, chocolate and a hint of caramel. A light hint of a mild spice of either nutmeg or allspice...hard to tell but a pleasant smell nonetheless.

T: The taste mirrors the smell with a robust roasted coffee malt flavor, preceeded by hints of chocolate malts, then followed with what seemed to be light caramel and spice hops...very light yet lingering on the tongue. Wonderful on the palate.

MF: Carbonated a little more, as if it were a original stout as opposed to a Russian Imperial. Great with the brew though, as it is slighty lighter in body than the RIS. First taste of carbonation briskly followed by a creamy, heavy, yet unbelievably smooth feeling left on the palate.

D: Drinkability is outstanding, especially considering its style as a RIS. I could definitely do a few of these at a time, proposing they not be $8 a beer. I would definitely recommend a Samuel Smith Imperial Stout. One of the finer brews I've had.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the cellar.. been down there since August.. Shared with Brenda.. mine from my New Belgium snifter... I am pretty sure they are going for about $2.50 at the Coop.

2" head .. rings of tan lace .. deep black brew.

Nose is more dark fruits than anything else.. prunes and dark brown sugar essence. Some chocolate and dark malts .. but not nearly as "black" smelling as most of the RIS's I've had in recent years.

Sweet and dark fruits with quick transition to coffee in the front of the palate .. Again more fruity than dark malt presence.. prunes with subtle side of the tongue chocolate with a molasses finish. No real "char" to speak of, and I'm okay with that on the Sammy. The roasty is present .. but seems to play second fiddle.. gives way even more as it warms.

I haven't had one of these in probably a year... instead been sampling and enjoying the bigger badder cousins in the style. The Samuel Smith RIS should be considered more as a founder or the father of the style in my opinion. Nothing is over the top and that adds immensely to the overall experience.

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Photo of enfield249
4.39/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a dark, dark brown that is clear ruby in the corners of the glass.

S - Lots of raisin, dark fruit and bourbon. Oh so good smelling.

T - The taste does not disappoint. First of all a lot of malty sweetness, then some really nice roast, dark fruit.

M - Full, but really about medium for a Imperial stout. Leaves my mouth wet and sweet.

D - Really one of the best Imperial stouts. If the price as a little lower, I could drink this every day.

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Photo of Matty1918
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark/ light peeking through this one.

A nice creamy head with lots of lacing.

A nice aroma of coffee,chocolate and sweet malt...a hint of burntness

A slight sweetness with a creamy aftertaste. A mild burnt coffee/chocolate taste. Top Notch.

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Photo of jeonseh
3.15/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

From a bottle poured into my Snifter Glass.

A - poured into the snifter and left a small, off white head that didn't last long and then just sat on the top. when poured it was a black color but it actually looked a bit thin for an RIS

S - smelled a bit of milk, figs and dates, and also a hint of pepper and smokiness that reminded me a bit of beef jerky. Also smells a bit like a manhattan cocktail in that it smells like vermouth and alcoholic cherries.

T - the taste on the whole is at first rather smoky and roasty to me. I noticed that there is is very peppery and even a bit like a hickory taste to it. A light chocolate flavor also seems to pop. Even reminds me a bit of a beef broth or something. There is also a slight hint of the date flavor that I picked up in the nose that is mixed in with a bit of a tart orange flavor that also seems to pop out in the end of the taste; however the full meaty flavors are what I noticed that most.

MF - Very thick and full feeling brew. I think the body of this adds to the fact that it reminds me of eating beef jerky. it is a mouth full of thick breadiness that just sits there in the mouth and even makes me feel full in the stomach. This almost makes this beer feel like a meal in itself.

D - overall an average RIS that doesn't really seems to have the complexities of some of the other RISs that I have had. It is huge on the smoky characters and does not taste bad but has nothing beyond that that makes this beer stick out. Plus as noted in the MF section it is so thick in the mouth and the body and maybe even mixed in with the smoky taste that makes this hard to have more than one in my opinion.

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Photo of orangemoustache
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-pours very black with zero transparency thick creamy tan head is very nice to look at.this pillow of foam hangs around for a pretty long time before dissapating into a thin shell capping the blackness beneath,beautiful lacing as well

S-hints of rich dark chocolates,creamy milky caramels,roasted nuts

T-this is an extrodinary masterpiece chocholates,carmels,dark coffees,dark fruits blueberries,plums the tastes go so well together its hard to believe how complex it really is

M-creamy full body,perfect carbonation,slight bitterness at times but never the burnt bitterness that I often experience with other stouts

D-this is a very special beer(period)

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

Poured into a pint glass. Mainly black in color with some reddish highlights. Mocha colored head leaves moderate lacing. Aroma is distinctly English, with less chocolate/coffee and more fruit/molasses. Taste echos the nose, with supple dark fruits, berry, sharp molasses, wood, coffee beans. Great complexity and yet so smooth. Easy to drink and well-balanced.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
Beer rating: 87.9% out of 100 with 3,762 ratings
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