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

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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

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Reviews: 1,745 | Ratings: 3,665
Photo of byrd
4.57/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout pours a very dark brown (almost black) with a few garnet highlights around the edges of the glass. A thick tan head (slightly sticky) of small frothy bubbles with long staying power lies on top of this great brew. An amazing aroma is immediately noticeable from a good distance away. Chocolates, spices, dark fruits, and coffee are all evident... rich and somewhat sweet... begging to be partaken of. This brew is smooth at the start and somewhat sweet. Notes of chocolate and coffee are evident. Some spice notes are also apparent (coriander or anise – tough for me to tell – still a beginner at identifying specific spices). Towards the middle, roasted notes pick up, and there’s a roasted bitterness in the finish that stays around until the next sip. Fairly full mouthfeel. Carbonation is pretty low and there’s a somewhat draughty smoothness to this brew.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve had an Imperial Stout. I’ll be sure not to let this happen again. This is a great brew that is SO easy to drink. Not really a session beer simply by its nature, however, I don’t think it would be too difficult to finish off a few of these.

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

Appearance: Great same massive sized head as most Samuel Smith's brews out there, but this one has a deep brown amber black dark chocolate hue to it allows minimal light to pass through with a streak of prune hue purple deepness, lacing nice thickets of tan lacing clinging to my imperial pint. Aroma: Once again deep chocolate and coffee tones are present with fruit edges there fermented prunes or figs with chocolate sauce englazoned uone them how wonderful every dark roasted stout should smell this magnifcant. Minimal hopping in the aroma for the fruit and deep flavoful roasts mean to steal the show. Tase: Alcohol infused deep roasted malts with fruit remaninsce leaving their mark upon this heavenly dark ale, I really think this is one of the best imperial stouts on the market maybe not extreme or over the top but most flavorful and consistent the Sam Smith's reportoire get's the gold. Mouhfeel: A bit fuller than most Sammy Smith's this one packs quite the body keeping each sip not only flavorful but chewy. Drinkability: Is incredible for the amount of alcohol and flavor coming through I can't believe they allow this type of beer out there in this semi prohibitional state this country sometimes seems to be stuck in.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
3.25/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Much anticipated as this beer currently sits in the Top 10 of the BA best beers. Was getting even more excited as I watched this beer pour from the clear (uh, oh) bottle. A wonderful obsidian colored beer without any brown or ruby highlights flowed forth into my glass. A two-finger rich, creamy cappuccino colored head formed and grudgingly faded to a thin skim and left bands of lace.
Okay, we had a problem with the smell. I could smell a moderate skunkiness coming off this beer from nearly a foot away. Damn clear bottle! I'm guessing it was light-struck somewhere along the way from the UK to SoCal. I could also detect some espresso coffee notes but the skunk really interfered with picking up anything else.
Taste was better. Still, I wonder what went wrong as it seemed rather one-dimensional. Lots of chocolate malt, a lingering burnt coffee taste and a mildly bitter finish but missing the dark fruit flavors and caramel and toffee sweetness I've noted in other imperial stouts. Alcohol was very well camouflaged; virtually undetectable.
Feel was medium-bodied and dry.
Overall, I'm going to give Samuel Smith's the benefit of the doubt and chock this one up to a storage problem affecting this particular bottle, not a problem with the beer itself. I intend on getting this again (soon), hopefully on tap, and re-reviewing. But for now, I've had better imperial stouts.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Eclipse Black color. Nice big frothing foamy head. Its alive..Its alive..Its alive... Aroma is chocolate and plums. A full-bodied stout. Deeply roasted chocolate malts. Deep and rich chocolate flavor. Very flavorful and complex. Chocolate, coffee, caramel and fruit. Some hop bite. Nice beer. Worth trying. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and dry. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

There's a little deception with the bottle with the gold foil over the top so you're tricked into thinking you have a dark brown bottle, but as you pour it the bottle empties and it becomes a clear bottle. It pours out blubbing from its longer, thinner neck to a super thick dark brown used motor oil color, much like that of what it looks like in the bottle, a finger high head of cocoa brown, very dense whipped cream froth appears with a momentary rocky top then settles slowly down to a thin haze and the lace is in thick sticky sheets with some moth holes in it. Smell has a bunch of licorice and a touch of cherry with notes of sweet chocolate, dark toffee, and french silk pie, sweet tangy roastyness is there but modestly soft. Taste is a mild mellow mix of sweet chocolate, soft tangy roasted malts, and some fruit cake or breads, cherry mostly with some raisin and fig notions. Smooth and lasting medium body feel with some light coffeeish like drying and muffled, dulled fruity roasted tangyness in the finish which lingers for a shortened minute. Goes down easy with some carbonation that lends a somewhat flat soda pop. I just wonder if the light getting through the clear bottle is doing something to it? A solid well balanced Imperial Stout but not all that intriguing or complex really. The nose got a bit more lively as it warmed which was nice, as for the taste the warmth only brought out a flatter roastyness and lost the fruity notions that I did like at first. A great start for any would-be beer lover that wishes to aspire to better beer.

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

Black as night, and with a deep brown head. Fairly good looking little brew. Takes a couple hits for some odd brown crud under the foil wrapper, around the edge of the cap.

Smells deep and malty, with a nice toasty backing. Tastes the same way. Definately one of the better stouts I've had. Wonderful almost creamy smoothness going down. Perhaps one of the weightier stouts I've had lately.

A superb stout. Also one of the most expensive in the store I bought it at. It proves that sometimes, you really do get what you pay for. Pay top dollar, get a top stout. Good job, Smith!

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Photo of ellman
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mmm Stout.
Apperance: BLACK, when I bought it i did not realize that the bottle was clear. It has a this tan head
Smell: Roasted malty sweetness.
Taste: Like no stout i have ever tasted, a little bit of a burnt flavor (not in a bad way). and some bitter ends
Mouthfeel: a bit thinner the i expected but overall quite good.
Drinkabliity: quite drink abt but if a drank to many i would surely fall down.

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

Thick looking black, with a thick burnt beige head floating atop. Completely opaque. Very nice. Great retention, maintaining a collar of head all the way through.
Aroma is very big and roasty, heady, with a subtle hopping. Tons of roasted black malts, subtle and refined. Light alcohol. Some estery black cherry and currant, with a hint of chocolate and black coffee. Very much in the english style, mellow and subdued.
Flavor is very bold, yet subtle, with huge sweetness and a big roasted flavor. Fairly easy drinking for an imperial stout. Hints of black cherry, coffee, chocolate, plum, and currant. Wonderfully rich, yet not overwhelming. Mild alcohol towards the ned, mingling with a soft hoppy bitterness. Slightly dry in the finish, with a lingering roasty bittersweetness. Body is a touch thinner than its american counterparts, but the subtleties more than make up for it. Smooth carbonation. Black liquid satin. Hearty and warming. I don't think my palate can handle too many of these, but it's very drinkable for an imperial stout.
A great dessert beer. Easily one of my favorite imperial stouts. Incredibly easy drinking for it's power of flavor. Top shelf.

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Photo of RenoZymurgist
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thick almost creamy head sits with no sign of dissipating and leaving slight amount of belgian lace. Aroma is very nice as it is sweet yet dark with a hint of roastiness. The taste of this beer is so good i could drink it for the rest of my life and still find new flavors. Rich in malt sweetness and a creamy roast character with a phenomenal balance of hop bitterness and flavor. It is so refreshing and clean that i can easily drink large gulps of this and never have to worry about a bitter aftertaste. Medium bodied yet filling and definetly a bit alcoholic. Very drinkable by itself, as a session beer (if you want to get toasted), or paired with foods that would not be so bold as to overpower the depth of this brew.

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Photo of DarrellK
4.31/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance wis is is a fairly typical black brew with a very nice brown head leaving a good lace. The high gravity of the stout adds to the aroma with a whiff of alcohol. The only real downside to the brew was a fairly light to medium body which seemed out of character for the style out of a bottle. Still it has a great finish which is good because you probably wouldn't too many of these in a session. In my database I rate this in my top five stout with a rating of 8.9 out of 10.

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

Comes in a tall, clear bottle with gold foil covering the cap and bottle neck. Pours a wonderful BLACK with a tan, frothy, one finger thick and very long lasting head which sticks to the glass wherever it touches. Smells of chocolate and roasted malt. Scents of plumes are also present. Wonderful rich deep and complex flavor. The taste of chocolate and fruit (plumes) really comes forth. Very smooth and sweet, this full-bodied beer is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

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

A very nice, very roasted imperial stout. Almost no carbonation. A beautiful roasted malt flavor with a slight hop balance. Roasted malt flavor persists throughout the finish. slightly heavy but the flavor picks up the alcholol warmth leaves off. a top notch imperial stout

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Photo of beergeek279
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is dark amber, with excellent head. The smell is very malty, with hints of anise sweetness. The taste is malty, with the slight hints of licorice sweetness...much more subdued than the American Imperial Stouts for sure. Mouthfeel is fairly heavy. As for drinkability, at only 7% I could have many of these.

As a top 10 beer, I've been wanting to try this one for a long time, and it was surely worth the wait. Though it's a lower ABV than the monster American Imperial stouts, it still stands up with them, and at 7% ABV, I can drink a lot more of em!

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

Appearance – Absolutely gorgeous! The body is black as night. The volcanic head rises slowly, collapses slowly, and laces extensively.

Smell – Highly refined coffee aroma. There’s a special, highly-prized shaded Columbian bean that a coffee bar by my house serves occasionally, and this has the same scent. There’s also huge toffee (which I love), again, highly refined. We also have hints of chocolate, dark fruit (prunes, I think), sticky molasses, brown sugar, (slightly) burnt malt, and even some hops for balance.

Taste – There’s a lot going on in there. It has a bitter English balance that I can’t quite finger, but basically you’ve got a wonderful mix of fine coffee, select toffee truffles, quality raw, and brown sugar. There’s also a whole array of fruits, mostly dark, let by prunes and maybe dates.

Mouthfeel – Little carbonation in accordance with the style. This one is a bit bigger than medium-bodied and very smooth.

Drinkability – This one is very well done. My preferences tend to be off the balance that they did here, but this is a good RIP nevertheless.

Update – This was one of the first reviews that I did after joining the site in the fall of 2003 but decided to re-rate this with an ’04 vintage after it bombed in a blind RIP tasting that I did with some friends. It stood out as one of the worst examples of the style and most of us actually dumped it in the sink.

This RIP does well as a stand-alone, but other prominent examples were so much bigger and more flavorful that this seemed like a lightweight. Sam Smith’s strong point is its smoothness and creamy mouthfeel, but a lot of the big boys were able to attain the same or even better feel with superior flavors.

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Photo of grynder33
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark cola like color,a head that looked and smelled like a chocolate soda, aroma seemed soft and disappeared quickly. Initial taste was cocoa and sweet port, with a roasted malt aftertaste. Mouthfeel started off crisp with tingly bubbles, and then melted into a creamy smoothness.A little bitterness showed up at the end. Will try to always keep one in stock.

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Photo of Darkale
4.72/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Before I get into the bits and pieces, let me just say, Wow.


Black-brown body, thick tan head that is slow to fade. Aroma is sweet, sort of like deep cocoa from a distance.

Mouthfeel is wonderful, fabulous, and noteworthy. Creamy! Foamy!

The taste starts off like chocolate and ends with hops, with a sour and sweet mix lingering in the aftertaste.

I had been told that this was the grandfather of all imperial stouts, and I concur. A must-try.

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

Pours a pitch black with a real nice creamy head,aroma is of dried fruit and some nuttiness.The taste is a little spicey and nutty with some chocolate undertones a real nice warming beer to drink before bed.This and the Taddy are my favorite Samual Smith ales.

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Photo of beernuts4u
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Every sip I take makes me like this beer more and more. I had 4.0's across the board until I began to realize how good this beer really is. The nose on this beer has a rare and enticing blend of smoky caramel and robust alcohol, it makes me want to dive right in. The expected taste, however, does not fully portray it's smell. It is a surprisingly easy beer to drink, with complexities of mild yet rich maltiness with a perfect mix of subtle carbonation. The mouthfeel is like silk on the tongue, and it lingers there for a great duration before exiting with a desirable sweetness. It is simply outstanding. I have to sample other quality Imperial's before I move this one into the 5.0 range, but right now, I am feeling a bit guilty that I haven't already done so.

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Photo of kevinl6
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Whoa!...This is one delicious brew. The bottle had the typical gold wrapping around the top like the other Sam Smith's I've had, and a hypnotizing white label. Poured nice and smooth and appeared jet black in the glass like most good imperials. Very little head on this one. Smelled of coffee and perhaps a hint of chocolate, though neither was overwhelming. Perfect milky smooth mouthfeel, I wanted to 'swish' it around in my mouth before drinking! A lot of flavor and very, very smooth. That Samuel Smith smoothness that I love only complimented the imperial style 'bite' that comes with some of the stronger imperials. I had to go with a 5 on the drinkability on this one, and I rarely give 5s. I did not want to put this one down. Did I mention that it was smooth??!! Alcohol not noticeable until the finish when an ever so slight alcohol warmth caps off a fine, no, very fine brew from Samuel Smith.

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

This beer looked amazing. It was pitch black. I poured it into a tall pilsener glass, which was good because it had a huge head that took forever to discipate before I could take a sip. The head simmered down but stayed with a nice layer over the top of the beer.

It had a very roasty sweet smell to it. It was quite pleasant.

The taste was very unique, very roasty and coffy like.It had a sweet taste too. The alcohol was perfect, it was not overwhelming but you could tell it is there.

The mouthfeel was excellent, a nice thick and smooth beer.

This was a very good beer however the ability to have more than one in a sitting would almost be impossible. I guess that is the only problem with Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of avylover
4.61/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, dark mahogany red, almost black with a nice tan head. This is one good looking brew. Smell is of a strong english bitter, with tons of british style hopping, and coffee, chocolate smell that is more in the background. taset is good & delicate, with a very buttery mild coffee taste. Creamy butter dominates this brew. It's got a fairly light mouthfeel for a stout that lets the taste linger forever, and believe me this is a good thing. Very drinkable, I could quaff this all night.

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Photo of Rifrafboy
3.79/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours black with little head, but good lacing. Smells wonderful. Taste is of strong roasted malt, with chocolate and coffee present. This is very full bodied, a good "sipping beer". Distinct in the aftertaste is alcohol mixed with sweet burnt coffee. This is an excellent stout, although not in my price range. One word sums it up; WOW.

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Photo of granger10
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This has a good overall taste to it and many flavors. But it doesn't knock my socks off like some other imperial's have. Lots of very sweet flavors. Chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, plums and a little bit of malt bitterness (but not enough). Great array of flavors that mix well. Finishes dry and roasted. The body is too thin for this to be an imperial. Don't get me wrong this is a great tasting beer, but it just seems a little weak to be an imperial stout.

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Photo of daledeee
4.67/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I admit I was skeptical. A clear bottle is usually trouble. But this time-no skunk. I trusted everybody else's ratings. This is one fine stout.

I did not chill this much. Probably 55F. Pours absolutely dark with a nice thin head. Pretty tan head about a quarter of an inch thick. More carbonated bite than I expected. Not very dry. Very intense roasted malt flavor. Chocolate and coffee also. Some hops make it through all that in the finish. Believe me there is a lot to taste here, but smooth is the word. Don't pass this up

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Photo of jcalabre
3.2/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Originally sampled on 24 June 2002. I am writing this review from my notes. Opaque black w/ a frothy head that settles down quickly, this Imperial Stout has more of the 'coffee' taste than other I.S.'s I've tried. I didn't think that the overall taste was that strong. Also, the alcohol wasn't well hidden. A decent imperial stout, but I prefer others.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,665 ratings.
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