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

1,751 Reviews
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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Reviews: 1,751 | Ratings: 3,708
Photo of JayQue
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not my favorite RIS or Samuel Smith's beer. Looks great. Pours a dense dark brown/black with absolutely no light coming through. Medium size tan head and good thick lacing.

Smell was pretty good as well. Malty, semi sweet chocolate, dark fruit and vanilla.

Taste and mouthfeel combination was disappointing. The malt, chocolate and dark fruit were there, but the taste was swallowed up by a thin wine-like alcohol taste and bitter finish. I was expecting a rich taste to coat the tongue and taste buds, like Victory Storm King, Expedition Stout or Ten Fidy. Not here.

Mouthfeel was a bit thin and too much alcohol. Drinkability was not bad, but not a memorable experience either.

There are better RIS out there.

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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.

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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.

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

The beer poured into the glass black with an amber highlight. The head was tan and frothy, but fell like a rock. The head did lace the glass.

The aroma was chocolate and coffee and molasses melded with caramel. The chocolate and coffee were slightly vinous and coupled with dark fruits, mainly plums and prunes with raisins.

The flavor was much less exciting than the aroma. The flavor was chocolate, but mainly coffee and more precisely black patent malt flavoring leading to a slight burnt and dark caramel flavor. The fruit complexity of the aroma was missing in the flavor, however raisins and slight plums were still slightly present.

The finish was dry with lasting black patent, chocolate and coffee flavors that lasted almost too long into the aftertaste. The body was medium to almost medium full. Dunno why this one doesn't take the cake, but it doesn't. A good brew, but not world class for me.

12 ounce bottle. I purchased this one at George & Sid's in Bristol, VA.

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Photo of Quaffer
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: The room dimmed noticeably when I poured this light-absorbing beer into my glass. It was jet black. A dark tan head rose up huge thanks to an aggressive pour (Grrrrrr!). I sat back and waited for the head to subside. And waited . . . and waited some more. I went downstairs and refinished my kitchen floor. Came back up to a heady beer. I went outside and gapped the spark plugs in the car. Came back in to a heady beer. This thing just wouldn't go away! Finally, after I had reorganized my bedroom closet by color, the head dwindled into a manageable, dense layer over the top of the beer. At this point, it started to leave a hint of lace on the glass.

Smell: This was definitly a unique smelling brew. It had a semi-sweet smell of raisins, plums, and light smoke.

Mouthfeel: A very smooth, medium- to full-bodied beer. It had an oily, viscous feeling to it.

Taste: The aroma transferred right over into the flavor of this beer. There were hints of raisins and plums combined with fruitcake. There was also a big maltiness, but I felt its chewiness more than I really tasted it. Towards the finish there was a light smokiness and a bitterness that I could only taste way back in my mouth, almost in my throat.

This was my first time with this beer. It was okay and had some very nice qualities, but the flavor just wasn't my thing.

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

Poured into a goblet, Sam Smith's Imperial looks rather nice, with a deep near black color and a nicely tanned head. Retention isn't bad, but not great either.

The aroma is a little odd for the style. There's some sharp roasted malts, but also a spicy/yeasty smell that is quite strong compared to most stouts that I've had. I like it, but it's definitely not the norm. It could be more intense, as well.

The flavor opens up with a little sharp roastiness followed by a dried fruit character in the middle. The finish is odd, almost slightly metallic in addition to the requisite roast character. Spicy and yeasty as well. Oddly enough, this tastes slightly Belgian. Seriously! I kid you not! If not for the metallic overtones, I would have given it a four.

In the mouth, it's solid. The head lends a nice creaminess, though it dissipates too quickly. I could definitely have gone for a bigger body here, but for 7%, this is quite big.

Overall, this is a drinkable ale, but it's biggest defect is it's odd flavor combination. Don't get me wrong, its good, but at the same time, I feel it could be a lot better. To be honest, it tastes like it was fermented too hot and a few off flavors developed.

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

12oz (from the UK?) bottle poured into a Snake River pint glass.

A: Good dark black body with brown & ruby highlight...2 fingers of dark khaki colored head; rocky and foamy, it leaves behind some lace.

S: Dark fruit and astringent (soy?) sweetness...maybe some woody notes, and coffee underneath that with an herbal character.

T: Dark fruit tang upfront with a flash of toffee...roast after that, and it finishes with some coffee bitterness but I feel like this is a pretty lightly hopped RIS.

MF: Moderate body, creamy mouthfeel, decent carbonation.

O: Not my favorite flavor profile...decent, but I prefer more roast, coffee, hop/earthiness, etc.

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

color is just making the black verdict, and has a finger of head fading to a collar around the edge.

Nose and flavor both hint toward milky and chocolaty flavors, there is just something dairy-esqe poking out from under the sweet malts and roasts, but only lightly. There is also some sweetness in the vein of Vanilla bean. this is a lighter imperial, at least in this day and age of monster beers.

Really creamy mouthfeel, medium body but silky smooth.

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

Pours a very dark brown with ruby edges, half inch tan head. Considering this one started foaming before the pour, surprised at the staid head. Smell: You can smell this one from a few feet away, but it's not really what I want in an RIS. Buttery, earthy, burnt sugar, sweet. Taste: lightly roasted, hops are mostly earthy and a tad leafy, diacetyl, toffee. A mineral-ly, hard water thing going on, but fairly smooth and active carbonation. There's a chance that this is closer to the original intent of the style than the US craft interpretation, but I prefer the latter by a wide margin. This was pretty disappointing.

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Photo of ShowMeYourHops
3.67/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served from a bottle into a pint glass

Appearance: Very dark brown/black, almost the color of coffee. Head is a nice creamy brown color.

Smell: Roasted barleys with a slight fragrance of wood

Taste: Roasted barley, not too hoppy, caramel flavor with a little bit of a metallic aftertaste, but overall not bad.

Mouthfeel: Bubbly which for a stout was surprising, smooth going down, very airy.

Drinkability: I could see people getting full off of a stout beer but as for this one, it seems a little on the light side of stouts. Definitely a good beer for being outdoors, camping, or fishing with the guys.

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Photo of doughanson78
3.67/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Fairly thin on the pour. Black in color. No light coming through. Two finger, fluffy tan head, with great retention. Nice lacing.

S: Smelled as soon as I opened the bottle. Smells of alcohol, but good alcohol. Like a good wine or a sweet liqueur. Chocolate, roasted malts, some English Coffee. Toffee and light caramel. Some dark fruits, maybe raisins or cherries.

T: The slightest sting of alcohol for the tiniest moment. Almost don't notice it. Some malt sweetness, along with some dark fruits. Toffee, chocolate, and some faint caramel. A decent roastiness. Some coffee and a little more chocolate. Finishing up with a mild bitterness.

M: A little light for a Russian Imperial Stout. Still has a nice creaminess to it. Enjoyable.

O: A decent RIS. I would probably classify it as an entry level RIS. Not gonna smack you down your first drink. Definitely not what I think of or want in a RIS.

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Photo of Aml42000
3.66/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark black core with a thick tan head. No transparency against a light. Lacing all around the glass.

S- Disappointing. Shy nose with some hints of cocoa, but not as fragrant as many Imperial Stouts.

T- Subtle, elegant flavors. Dark, semi- bitter chocolate. Hints of spices persist.

O- A very approachable and easy drinking Imperial stout. Classy and elegant. I would have liked a touch more complexity on the nose, but overall very nice.

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Photo of vkv822
3.66/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

550ml bottle into tulip snifter.

Pours black with a thick, frothy tan head. Very nice looking.

The aroma has some dark fruits blended with molasses, chocolate and roasty notes.

The taste is briefly of roasty cocoa upfront and finishes with some dark fruit notes.

Has a medium body with prickly carbonation.

A pleasant RIS, a bit different than the American versions I have tried in that there is a bit less of an emphasis on the bold, roast, coffee and chocolate flavors.

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Photo of superspak
3.66/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

550 ml bottle into snifter, bottled on 5/10/2012. Pours fairly pitch black color with a nice 1-2 finger dense tan head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big apple, raisin, dark chocolate, brown sugar, roasted malt, toast, dark bread, light coffee, light char, and herbal earthiness. Decent aromas with some good complexity; but the fruity aromas are a bit too overpowering, something went wrong with this bottle. Taste of dark chocolate, roasted malt, toast, toffee, brown sugar, dark bread, coffee, light char, raisin, and earthiness. Lingering notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt, toast, brown sugar, dark bread, coffee, toffee, light char, raisin, and earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance, robustness, and complexity of roasted malt flavors; with a good amount of balanced fruity complexity; and hardly any cloying flavors present after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very creamy, lightly slick, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a nice imperial stout style. Good balance and robustness of roasted flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A nicely enjoyable offering; despite the obvious flaws with this particular bottle.

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Photo of WAP
3.66/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a nice-looking three-finger head that leaves significant lacing. The smell is sweet and malty with chocolate and coffee undertones. The taste is quite sweet with chocolate and a little dark fruit dominating the palate with a bitter roasted flavor on the back end. Not an unpleasant taste, just not my favorite. Good mouthfeel and drinkability as well. This is a solid brew but not my style.

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Photo of snaotheus
3.66/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass

Pours opaque reddish black with a huge light beige head that dropped to less than a finger within a minute or two. Smell is fruity and dark and sweet.

Taste is bitter with a sweet cherry aftertaste. A little chocolate, maybe a little apple in the taste. Not as thick and bitter as I would expect for a RIS.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin and light, but fairly smooth. Drinkable, especially for a RIS.

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Photo of tkelley
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

550 mL bottle poured into a dimpled mug.

Dark body, pillowy brown head that dissipated quickly. A thin layer of foam stayed around for quite a while.

Smelled liked dark sugar (think brown sugar, rum, or molasses). Taste was very similar, but also had noticeable fruit tones and tasted a lot like the burnt/almost burnt underside of homemade bread -- the part that was touching a pan and got a little too brown. That was mostly in the back of the tongue. The front was roasted malts and english hops (not spicy or bitter, but... just there).

It gave me a nice warm feeling. I didnt keep this in the fridge when I bought it today, but rather stuck it in my cabinet under the counter. It looked really thick and viscous when it poured into the glass, but it didnt feel too thick when drunk. There was noticeable carbonation, but not too much. You could leave it in your mouth for a while without getting that bubbly feeling on your tongue.


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Photo of BurghBrewPSU
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice black. Rather clear, not too thick. Smells of chocolate and coffee. Tastes sweet, not too sweet, but just right. Chocolate, coffee, molasses, and some hints of fig make for a delightful beer. Overall this is a tasty brew. I have had some imperial stouts where I couldnt finish the last couple sips. I enjoyed this beer to the last sip.

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Photo of marksto
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with tall, brown slightly rocky head. Aroma has hints of chocolate, alcohol, roasted malt, raisins, and licorice. Flavor is dominated by the licorice, with some roast and a touch of malt sweetness. I do also pick up the metallic hints that some other reviewers have noted. The overall strength seems a bit light, and mouthfeel a bit thin.

Sam Smiths makes some wonderful beers, and this is certainly a respectable RIS, but I think there are a good number of other superior examples of this style out there.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sam Smith Imperial Stout has a black, thick-looking body with a solid head about as tall as a finger. Retention is good, and the lacing is OK.

The aroma is a little bit boozy, with a lot of chocolate and a little bit of roasted malt.

The flavor is both large and rich. Black malt and loads of chocolate and coffe are the strongest flavors, followed by dark fruit and a little bit of anise. There is some sweet, molasses like malt flavors in there also. The slight taste of alcohol sneaks into the finish, with a moderate amount of bitterness.

Big, smooth mouthfeel, pretty good.

I got this bottle at a bar, and I would guess that it spent 8-12 months in the fridge. Just like everything from Samuel Smith, this is a solid beer.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clean, pitch black with giant, brown creamy head.

Smell: Smells very meaty. Also getting whiffs of milk chocolate. Definitely an original smell. Kind of reminds us of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock. Meaty and sweet, with a spicy kick. Really tough to describe...

Taste: Smokey and meaty (we argued about which of these two flavors is more predominant), milk chocolate, mocha, burnt malts. Dry, mocha-flavored aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Thick body, though not really syrupy. Almost no carbonation and a very dry finish.

Drinkability: Kind of a weird flavor, but not necessarily bad. Not hard to drink at all, but this one had kind of a novelty feel to it. Will probably try again in the future.

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Photo of TheBeerMaster1
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A very nice stout. Very chocolatey and had a very smooth, chocolate milk like after taste. Had some caramel and molasses to it as well. I feel like they are a few ingredients away from making it awesome, as I wasn't impressed with its overall depth in flavor, but it is still something I'd consider buying again.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

550 ml bottle poured into my Rochefort glass that probably wouldn't have been drank if not for this new top 100 list...Dark brown with a very light tan head that fades way to fast. Nice lacing though...Light aroma of sweet chocolate, light bread, just a malty one noter...The taste is distinctly English, light in feel and taste. Chocolate on the front light bitter finish, just not a lot going on. Too sweet for a stout for my taste.

Nothing special here.

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Photo of greenmonstah
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

550 mL bottle into HF tulip glass

A - Black in color with a 1.5 finger light brown head. Great retention, the head lasts a long time.

S - Roasted malts, sweet dark raisin and fig, bit of anise.

T - Lots more of the licorice. Plus fig and dark chocolate and toffee. Not exactly my style.

M - Medium body, kinda chewy. Sticky and a bit dry.

O - Overall an OK imperial stout, but not one I will be looking for in the future. Pretty disappointed by this average beer.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

this single bottle was purchased on the first day of legal high grav beer sales in North Carolina from Brawley's in Charlotte. I had seen this thing around in the midwest but I am guilty of not buying it because of its rather low abv.

appearance: very dark as expected, foamy light brown head, not incredible lacing. as it poured i noted it looked a little thin for the style

smell: roasty, light caramel, slight earthiness. nothing too special in the nose, just standard imperial

taste: reminded me of their oatmeal a little bit, Samuel Smith beers have this common "trait" that I cant really put my finger on. slight dark coffee, mild cocoa, pretty sweet, raisin, plum. Not terribly exciting in general

mouthfeel: rich and smooth, too thin for my taste though

drinkability: goes down easy

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,708 ratings.
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