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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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

This stout pours a dark black with a light tan head...not as frothy as most stouts I have had. Has slight lacing as you drink it down. The smells are definitely different as aside from the coffee and chocolate one can sense a bit of vanilla and banana. The taste wasn't what I expecting as the hop bitterness seems to overpower the taste. Also not as creamy as I would like my stout to be. Overall decent but for the money one can do better.

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

Pretty much black, with a medium brown 2 finger head that dies down to a coating and stays.

Sweet cocoa and dark fruit dominate the flavor. There's a bit of a toasty malt in the background and a hint of coffee.

Chocolate, coffee, and dark sour fruit all come in waves topped off by the alcohol flavor in the background.

Creamy smooth with a good, but not overpowering amount of carbonation.

I'm not quite sure how to feel about this one. It feels just a bit away from being fantastic, but something about the sweet and sour aspect puts me off just a tad. Its not a deal breaker, but it just sits a bit uneasy. Sam Smith's always has amazing body and smoothness to their beer though, and this is a fine example of that.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.61/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5


Holiday Wine Cellar
Escondido, CA

Black as can be with a thick, persistent light brown head. Sheets and dots of lacing are left down the glass. Perfection!

An interesting aroma for an imperial stout: roasted malt, milk chocolate, and graham cracker crumbles. It's interesting and quite intoxicating.

The flavor isn't nearly as nice as the aroma, unfortunately. There's simply not a ton here: roasted malt, light chocolate, and a bit of sugary sweetness, but not much else.

Thin to medium bodied with low carbonation.

This was really disappointing (because I had such high expectations). While this is gorgeous and quite aromatic, it just doesn't do it for me in either the taste or mouthfeel departments. While certainly a decent big stout, I won't feel like I'm missing out if I don't ever have this again--which is too bad, because I was hoping I'd love this stuff--it's so inexpensive!

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.61/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The very first RIS I ever drank.

A deep dark black, not the used oil you might see recently, but before those kinds of beers, this was about the darkest.

Smell, too much alcohol in the nose, especially for only 7%. Taste, nice, coffee, choco licorice. Mouthfeel, gets rid of the alcohol smell blast, some toffee or something along for the ride. Drinkable, but a little pricey. Too much dark fruit notes, alcohol for my tastes these days.

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Photo of odeed
3.61/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

all the samuel smiths have a bit of the same taste.not saying its a bad thing,they all taste great!
the imperial poured out with little head and i could almost make out some light looking through i said,has the sammy smith taste only with a bit of imperial thrown in for good measure.
very good stout overall.

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Photo of Benish
3.61/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: poured into snifter glass. Jet black with a little translucence. Foamy head formed with light brown in color.

Smell: interesting. Smells almost like a cinnamon roll that came out of the oven. Except its a little moldy. Weird description but thats what comes to mind.

Taste: sweet chocolate and notes of coffee. Its like drinking a sweetened latte. There's a little bit of tartness at the end. No bitterness throughout. What I taste is different from what I smell.

Mouthfeel: light to medium bodied. Nothing significant about this.

Overall: The smell is what makes it different than the other imperial stouts. It's different but it's hard to get past that moldy smell. **Side note: this was purchased at a Utah State liquor store. They don't follow the best practices in storing beer. Considering this is an import, there could have been some unintentional changes in the flavor profile.

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Photo of BarrelO
3.61/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Stone IRS goblet. Hey, Sam Smith finally got their act together and started putting their beer in brown bottles. Good for them. The label art is also good. Very League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-esque.

A: Pours black as night. No light penetrates even when held up to a lamp. Rather robust head, albeit one that dissipates fairly quickly. Decent amount of lacing.

S: Redolent of dark malts and black licorice.

T: Wow. Huge sucker punch of roasty bitterness right off the bat. I don't remember it being nearly this bitter. As it warms up, the bitterness recedes in favor of the malt and licorice flavors in the nose. Somewhat sour aftertaste.

M: Appropriately syrupy for the style, but less so than other styles. Not surprising, given this beer's relative weakness compared to other imperial stouts.

D: Sam Smith deserves props for helping to revive the style and providing a template for other brewers to build on. But nowadays, it comes across like a retro video game; it's great nostalgic fun for those who were there at the time, but for younger enthusiasts, it's kind of hard to see what the fuss was all about. It's still worth a try, if only as a historical artifact. But I can't recommend it as an exemplar of the style. Honestly, it's not even the best beer in the Sam Smith portfolio.

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Photo of tewaris
3.61/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

550 ml bottle with no freshness date poured into a 25 oz snifter.

Appearance 5/5
It's hard to tell the difference between Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout and Imperial Stout based on visual inspection alone, except that the Imperial Stout, perhaps, is a shade darker. Pours clear and dark brown with a big brown head with decent retention and lacing. Going by the looks, an Imperial Stout alright.

Aroma 4/5
Roast; some tartness, but not funky. Instead, the tartness in smell seems to derive from the astringency of roast or the acidity of coffee. There is a dark fruit character that corresponds to a dried sweetness of raisins and dried plums, but not as aromatic/flavorful like dates and figs. No hops. Some sweet alcohol once in a while, that lends a vinous quality when paired with the acidity.

Taste 3/5
Roast and bitterness and the tartness of aroma. This is not the tartness of an infected beer, it's perhaps that charred character that's not getting masked under residual sugars. Also, this is not the only RIS with the described character, but the described character is strongest in this one among all RIS's I've had. The finish is slightly harsh for the style and medium dry, leaning towards dry. The aftertaste has hints of chocolate milk. The richness is missing from this beer in my opinion; yes it's big-ish, yes it's roasty, but that's about it. This is a mediocre RIS at best.

Mouthfeel 3.5/5
Thin and overly carbonated for the style.

Drinkability 4/5
Drinkable? Very much, but what sense does knocking back a few make when one doesn't get the Russian Imperial Stout experience? Between this and other common examples, I would rather have my senses assaulted than experiencing the English kind that gets exported to the Americas.

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Photo of TheBeer
3.6/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Beautiful color with a head that lasts throughout the beer.
S: Best aspect of the beer in my opinion. A chocolate/ molasses smell to it.
M: Pretty decent body to the beer. Expected from the style.
T: I'm hoping this is just a dud bottle, because this is not very appealing. A very potent taste of wine takes over this beer as it hits the palate. The aftertaste makes up for the former with lasting notes of what you would expect from an RIS.
O: Not very pleased with this beer, granted it was only round 1. I enjoyed the Oatmeal Stout and Taddy Porter much much more than I did this, which isn't what I was expecting. Perhaps I drank the only tainted bottle in the pack, or perhaps I just don't have the taste buds for the product they produced.

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Photo of ssam
3.6/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A- pitch black color and a slightly dark, tan head. the head is very creamy and full.

S- in the scent there is a light coffee nuance along with a chocolaty smell-- it smells dark and deep, like its appearance

T-like in the scent, the coffee and chocolate stand out, they are almost overpowering. the aftertaste is a hoppy dryness.

M- mouthfeel is nice but the initial goodness is followed by flatness

D-the flavors are not countered by anything and make this, in my opinion, an unbalanced beer. if i were talking to sam smith, i would tell him to bump up the ABV to take some focus from the coffee chocolate. im not gonna run to the store for this anytime soon

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Photo of SQNfan
3.6/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Black in color with a medium head. Aromas were of molasses, brown sugar, bitter chocolate and a touch of coffee. In the mouth it was medium-bodied with plenty of carbonation to keep it seeming fresh. Hops are noticable on the finish keeping it bitter.

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Photo of nickd717
3.59/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

ALL RIGHT, TOP 100 TICK! Well, maybe not for long. This beer doesn't quite belong on that list in my opinion. 500ml bottle from Whole Foods Los Altos.

Pours just about black with a thick foamy tan head that lasts. Excellent lacing.

Aroma is fairly standard for the style. Roast, chocolate, caramel, molasses, and booze (even though it's only 7%) on the aroma. Pretty standard.

Flavor is similar, a little earthy with milk chocolate. Average sweetness. Not great intensity.

Amazing mouthfeel - smooth as silk with medium-full body and seamless carbonation.

Good but not a standout in this style.

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Photo of zachary80
3.59/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very nice tan head, almost overly large. Black body. Perfect thick, velvety lacing.

Strong aroma- slight raisin seems out of place for the style.

Flavor isn't as bold as the aroma lead me to believe. Lingering bitterness is slightly fruity.

Mouthfeel is about right for a lighter RIS. Smooth and relatively thin. This isn't supposed to be Dark Lord.

Overall it's a good Imperial Stout, the flavor/aroma isn't really impressive. More like a strong flavorful regular stout. ABV doesn't hit the requirement here or by the BJCP, but I knew that ahead of time

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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 falloutsnow
3.59/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

2012-04-15 Review

Bottle from Whole Foods
No bottled on date
Poured into a tulip glass

I was more impressed with Samuel Smith several years ago, when I first started drinking beer. Sampling a bottle of their imperial stout for the first time in a few years makes me think of three possibilities: my palate cannot detect the goodness that I once thought was evident in this beer after comparing it to fresher domestic varieties, that my inexperienced palate was finding flavors and aromas that didn't exist, or that I've just purchased an old bottle. Since I have no way of knowing about the last item, I have to rely on my senses and claim that I no longer find this beer as enjoyable due to palate development and comparison. While S. Smith's Imperial Stout is still a decent version, in this case I have to say that I enjoy the United States' assertive varieties more.

Pours a 2cm head of dark tan to light brown bubbles, small in size, forming a smooth and cloud-like appearance. Head descends somewhat quickly to a nice-looking cap atop the beer, leaving small spots of lacing in its wake. Body is dark brown to black in color with dark amber brown highlights. Carbonation is barely visible along sides of glass.

Aroma is a bit light, and I have to do some heavy digging to get anything distinct, but mostly of roasted malt, molasses, dried plums, and a bit of chocolate.

Taste opens with some roasted malt sweetness and mild bitterness. The sweetness could be described a bit as dried plums or currants, but I find it has more in common with roastd malt. Mild black licorice and molasses flavors emerge a bit further back, giving way to a bit more roasted malt sweetness, bitterness, and very faint coffee around mid-palate. Fades out with a rush of sweetness, licorice, and slight chocolate. Pleasant aftertaste of roasted malt and a bit of dark chocolate. In general, good tasting, but a bit one-dimensional with heavy emphasis on roasted malt and sweetness, and not particularly "strong" tasting, either.

Mouthfeel is essentially perfect for the style: gently carbonated, creating a smooth foam on the palate that moves across easily and is highly enjoyable. Finish is dry

2005-12-18 Review

A: Thick, dense, two-finger head that is light brown in color. The beer is completely black and impenetrable to light; one knows nothing of what is transpiring within the liquid as all carbonation and sediment would be completely enveloped by this darkness. Spotty streaks of lacing are left on the sides of the glass as the head deflates.

S: Traces of chocolate, prunes, molasses and roasted cereals.

T: Slightly burnt, but dense malt sweetness with hints of raisins and plums. Transitions to the deep flavor found in dark dessert wines and port. Some smokiness and sweetness in the aftertaste, but no noticeable hop presence. Alcohol taste becomes more present as the beer warms.

M: Medium-heavy body, very light carbonation, evincing a rich and smooth beer with a dry finish.

D: Highly flavorful and complex with deep, dark secrets. A beer that I'd only venture once a night, but that is worthy of drinking during many winter nights.

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Photo of angelmonster
3.58/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a giant 2 inch mocha head, pitch black in color with good carbonation and head retention

Smells of faint chocolate malts with a bit of hops and alcohol. Would have liked a more powerful smell.

Tastes of burnt malts with some coffee like taste. Somewhat low hops for an Imperial stout but the hops are still present. Very faint alcohol taste with a weird copper like after taste. Some dried fruit , maybe prunes is also tasted

Carbonation is too much. My mouth is almost numb from it. Slight creamy going down but not too heavy. Too bad the carbonation kind of screws up the mouth feel

Good quality beer. Carbonation held it back from being a great beer. Not too bitter, not too heavy, great price. More drinkable than alot of RIS. Would buy again

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Photo of n2185
3.57/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours black with two fingers of tan head that fades into a thin cap with solid lacing.

S: Roasted malts with sweet cocoa, molasses, and some dark fruits like prunes and raisins dominate. There are also some faint licorice and bubblegum notes underneath.

T: Roasted malts here as well with semi-sweet chocolate, a bit of molasses, and some licorice flavors. The finish is slightly bitter and charred.

M: Medium-thick body with medium carbonation, this beer is pretty drinkable for a stout while avoiding being too watery or sticky.

O: A solid beer, overall, and definitely a unique take on the style.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.56/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I guess I'm going to be the one to go against trend here but I can't help how I feel about this beer. So here it goes....

Appearance: Great appearance. Pours black as black can be. Lovely dark brown head that forms but after one sip, it's gone. Still, it leaves nice lacings around the glass.

Smell: Very complex. I definitely smell dried fruits (raisins or prunes) with some malty undertones. I don't pick up much other than the sweetness.

Taste: This is where I was let down. I really enjoyed the taste however, I just thought it was a very one-dimensional brew. I picked up the taste of licorice, raisins, and a slightly dry and mild alcohol finish. It just didn't taste as big or as complex as I had hoped.

Mouthfeel: Very full and chunky but not very balance. Virtually no carbonation which made this beer feel very heavy.

Drinkability: I can't imagine having more than one of these at a time. Leaves you feeling very full.

Overall: I'd definitely recommend trying it once. Maybe this is closer to the true style of an RIS and maybe the only ones I've tried have deviated from this standard. So maybe I'm the one that's screwed up. Also, with all the review I read, expectations were pretty high. Who knows...

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

From a 16.9oz brown bottle. Pours a deep black in the glass, but small amounts of the liquid show it to be a clear reddish brown. The head is a light tan, frothy, thin, and dissipates pretty quickly. The smell and taste are both heavily roasted and I don't get much out of it other than that. A little too one dimensional for me.

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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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