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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,745 Reviews
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

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

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,745 | Ratings: 3,658
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.

 653 characters

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.

 455 characters

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.

 620 characters

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.

 609 characters

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.

 937 characters

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.

 446 characters

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.

 476 characters

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.

 1,359 characters

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.

 407 characters

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.

 426 characters

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.


 948 characters

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.

 348 characters

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.

 525 characters

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.

 732 characters

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.

 717 characters

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.

 312 characters

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.

 457 characters

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.

 468 characters

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

 806 characters

Photo of Gmann
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours as near black as possible, a nice mocha head that left some lacing as it dissipated. The aroma is of semi-sweet chocolate. The taste is of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and prunes. The stout is lightly carbonated, smooth, and creamy. A nice sample of the style, enjoyable.

 281 characters

Photo of rfgetz
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep dark black with great cap of brown dense bubbles, good retention. Strong scent of roasted grain with molasses, dark fruit, licorice, bitter chocolate and hints of char, soy sauce. Bitter burnt grain taste, strong char with the bite of molasses, chicory and licorice on top of bitter chocolate, dark fruit faint hints of soy, very little sweetness. Medium bodied, suprisingly and disapointingly light for the style, very dry finnish. Slightly disapointed in the lack of complexity or firm body.

 506 characters

Photo of Jeffo
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this at De Bierkoning in Amsterdam.

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours a relatively small but thick tan head that slowly dissipates into a healthy film. Head is pretty persistent and leaves a little lacing. Pitch black, pretty opaque, and very little carbonation is evident.

SMELL: Nose of burnt roasted malt, dark fruit, such as prunes, and a strong scent of black licorice. A bit of toffee and a hint of smokiness is also evident. Not bad.

TASTE: The initial taste is somewhat lacking, but some burnt and roasted malt flavor. Some black licorice, toffee, and dark fruit come out as it goes down. A roasted and bitter aftertaste, with a hint of chocolate, lingers nicely. A very complex taste for sure. On the downside, the alcohol is a bit too present for 7% and it flirts with that dried apple taste as it warms, which both held it back a little bit.

PALATE: Really shines here. A thicker body and medium carbonation. It goes down relatively creamy smooth and finishes very dry. Nice job here.

OVERALL: A good RIS for sure, but nothing spectacular and a little too boozy for 7%. I've had others in the style that I've enjoyed more, and I find this to be a slight disappointment considering how good their Oatmeal Stout and Porter are.

 1,265 characters

Photo of bagpiper2005
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour: Pitch black with a finger and a half of brown head that dissipated quickly and left some lacing on the glass.

Smell: Very dark, fruity aroma, primarily raisin and plum. Some roasted malt and chocolate, as well as a bit of alcohol.

Taste: Raisin and chocolate are the frontrunners in this beer. A hint of coffee in the finish. Pretty one-dimensional, and not very bold, however.

Mouthfeel: Medium with high carbonation. OK, but the excess carbonation doesn't belong with the style.

Drinkability: It's actually quite a sessionable beer.

Final notes: Not bad, not great. I would consider drinking this again if it weren't for the price. However, there are better Imperial Stouts to be had.

 702 characters

Photo of Hunter
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Black as pitch brew pours with a thick, substantial head of dark brown foam. Head hangs around long enough to avoid negative marks.

Notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and smoked barley in the nose. Smells smooth and complex without being abrasive. Solid.

Velvet smooth mouthfeel quickly gives way to a slightly metallic, certainly bracing hit of alcohol, followed by notes of coffee, smoke, and cocoa. Bitter in the aftertaste that is neither pleasant nor terribly distracting, given the nature of the style. funny, the alcohol taste present in other imperial stouts I've tried isn't as harsh on the flavor profile, despite being higher than the 7% here.

Certainly a worthy representation of the style, but my money's on Stone's version, thank you.

 755 characters

Photo of philbe311
3.62/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Opaque glossy black color... Caramel colored head quickly dissappears... Little or no lacing...

S - Coffee, Licoroise, Roasted Malt, Toffee, Buttery, and Chocolate... All scents that I associate with a solid stout... Incredibly well balanced...

T - Sugary coffee... Artificial sweetner... Darkly roasted malts... Dark raspberries... Not what I expected...

M - Smokey burnt feel... Slightly bitter...

D - Looks and smells like a great stout, but tast and feel are average... A nice brew, but I expect more from Samuel Smith brews... I'll take a Taddy Porter over this in a heartbeat...

 592 characters

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
93 out of 100 based on 1,745 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.