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

1,755 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: 1,755 | Ratings: 3,713
Photo of ccrida
4.74/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

550ml that's pushing 2 years old, maybe more. I've had this 'fresh', but it's been a while. I've heard this cellars poorly, and thought I'd find out for myself.
Poured into my Delirium snifter, Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is a dark inky syrupy color with a large dark tan head that leaves sheets of foamy lace.

Smell is super rich and sweet, boat loads of caramel, and I don't mean caramel malt, I mean caramel syrup, like you'd put on a sundae! Coupled with some coffee, it smells like the sugary starbucks drinks I'm a bit embarrassed to admit my wife enjoys! I'm not embarrassed to say it's fantastic and pretty much blowing my mind, before I took even I sip I knew this experiment was a raging success!

Taste is also very rich, but with quite a bit more depth and complexity then the nose, and not as sweet - but damn good! Wow, there's still lots of caramel, with coffee and chocolate and pleasant roasty char that I normally don't love, but tempers the sweetness perfectly here. Just phenomenal. Thank god I have another one of these on deck! There's still a bit of sharpness from the esters that isn't my favorite of the English Ales but is uniform to Samuel Smith's, and while it's tempered here more then any other one of their beers, it kept me from giving this a 5.

Mouthfeel is syrupy but not to sticky or thick, with a creeamy carbonation. Really quite smooth and luscious, wow!

Drinkability is ridiculous, I just can't believe how good this beer is right now. This is truly one of the best out there, so much flavor for being only 7%, it's really all you need. I should say I don't like RIS's overly roasty, bitter or hoppy, so if you do, this may not work for you. But if you're a fan of the sweeter strong ales on the other side of the pond, quit tripping over yourselves for the next big thing and go back to the roots, Samuel Smith's knows what it's all about.

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Photo of budsboy
4.74/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours nearly black with only hints of mahogany around the bottom of the glass. Finger-thick rich tan head that shrinks back to a thin coating.

Aroma is a mix of dark fruit and coffee. A musty quality is in there with that dark, roasted malt.

Sweet and fruity balanced with dark malt bitterness. Very much wine-like. Lasting tannin bitterness. Alcohol blends perfectly with the sweeter qualities.

Not as full as you might expect. Very low cabonation. Close to chalky.

Always a good choice. One I have had many times. Worth it, in case you were wondering about the price. It was my introduction to imperial stouts and is a high benchmark. I think of it as a sophisticate in the company of its brash American counterparts (Thirsty Dog, Stone, Bells ... brash is good). Quality, quality, quality. Try some.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.74/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Almost pitch black, long lasting one finger beige head, extremely sticky.
Rich smell of roasted malts, caramel, coffee, dark fruit (plus faint red wine), really good.
Initial taste is of rich dark chocolate, caramel, rich roasted malts. Big espresso notes, with lots of cocoa powder. Big hints of vanilla and licorice. Mild dark fruit (obvious raisin, fig, plum), with berries, cherries and dark grapes (bringing a mustiness). Low citrus also, with a nice crispness adding freshness to the heavy roast. Nice woody notes, with a low smokiness and light burnt wood/charcoal. Mild hoppy presence.
Creamy, with a warm booze that gives the beer almost a cognac feel.
A beautiful complex imperial stout, really good.

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Photo of fank2788
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a clear 355ml bottle, served warm
A - Opaque black with a thick dark khaki head that will last

S - chocolate, sweet almost fruity, caramel, coffee this has it all

T - much like the smell perfectly blended flavors with no unwanted aftertaste. The alcohol is almost impossible to notice and the slightly sweet taste really balances this beer.

M - perfect, great level of carbonation, this beer is really warm, smooth and full tasting in the mouth

D - what can I say when every sip makes you want to take another it makes it hard drink only one. This is a real treat.

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Photo of edskirk3
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A big 550mL clear glass bottle with a cool old-timey label.

Really dark stuff, I'm surprised light can escape from it. Pours with a great-looking mocha-tan head which is thick and creamy.

It smells sweet. Prunes (?), chocolate, rum, and some smoke.

Palate is excellent. There's raisins and prunes, bitter chocolate, a slight tang of hop bitterness, and a not of smoke at the end. The whole thing is absolutely delicious.

Imperial Stout is viscous, sticky, and ever more oily as the bottle is imbibed, as is expected. More of a cigar by the fireplace beer instead of a summer ballgame beer, obviously. Maybe you could get away with that in October, though. One bottle should suffice as a nightcap, Christmas Eve beverage, or a reward to yourself after shoveling the driveway.

Yes, I love this stuff.

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

Pours a dark black brew, this is in fact clear, IF! You have a 500-watt bulb to hold it up too.

Smell is sweet and malty, reminds me of a doppel bock. Solid fruitiness to this beer, and a touch of sourness. Toffee and brown sugar smells are here too. There is a solid chocolate smell to this.

Taste is very rich, to many flavors to catch on the first taste, strong chocolate flavor. Complex toffee, and then smoke and then, milk, and then coffee and then chocolate. Caramel is in here, Vanilla, Nuts, and many more. A VERY big brew.

Mouthfeel is thick like I like it.

Very drinkable to me, but will probably kill a Budweiser fan. A Master brew unlike the "Hop Monsters" that just overplay a single aspect. GREAT brews have 10-20-30+ Different dimensions of excellence, not just one. I like this company’s Oatmeal stout a bit better than this one, but this is a world class brew none the less.

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

Poured a deep, dark brown, nearly black into a tulip glass. Nice lacing and head retention. Aroma was sweeet, fruity with notes of chocolate, smoke, and plums.

I can hardly contain myself for this one. It's the apex of British beer, and dare I say most beer around the world. The velvety chocolate and espresso flavors work the palate over while the dark and rich earthiness nestle in the taste buds. There's no explosion of flavor here; everything is in proportion and classy. Mouthfel is rich, smooth, and creamy. I could drink this all day. Stout heaven, folks.

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

Yummy!! Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout reminds me of two great brews put together. Apperance reminds me of Victory's Storm King Imperial Stout. Looks jet black with excellent amount of carbonation. Smell consists of chocolate and prunes mostly. Taste is what it's all about. It reminds me of Victory's Storm King and Sam Adam's Cream Stout put together. It's got that creamy aftertaste which makes it complex. And at 7.0%ABV, you wouldn't even know it's that much (the taste that is), although it does warm your throat and stomach which is a nice feel. Truly one of the best beers money can buy. I would recommend this beer just about to anyone.

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Photo of JeffreyG
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is what one expects in an exceptional beer. This beer has a beautiful deep black color and a rich foamy head. It has a wonderful molasses cookies character to the aroma. It's the complex tastes that make me want to keep coming back to this beer. It has a coffee-like robustness and just a hint of sweet. Even the finish is complex and develops into roasty sweetness. While this beer leaves you wanting more, with it's strength and fullness you probably won't drink these all night. This is truly a great beer.

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

This rich, powerful, and flavorful stout has a deep chocolate color with a roasted barley nose and a noticeable burnt currant character. Serve with rich cheeses, caviar, oysters, or double-dark chocolate cookies in a brandy sniffer at 60°.

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Photo of Tballz420
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Re-review on the basis that my original analysis was horseshit.

This brew is completely black with some slight brown hues coming through when held to the light. Large, creamy brown head maintains its shape for quite some time. Thick sheets of lace line the glass. Roasted and sweet chocolate malt nose. Sweet chocolate malts dominate, some roasted characteristics, alcohol well hidden, virtually unnoticeable. Chewy soft mouth. Excellent stout.

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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 196osh
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is my first review on BA. Lets hope all the beers I will review in future will be as nice as this Samuel Smiths RIS.

One of the only Imperial stouts I can find regularly. Pours dark black, not total blackness but close enough. Smells of dark fruits, chocolate and coffee. Execptional flavours which mimic the smell but improve upon it.

Mouthfeel is on the slightly light side for a RIS. But that vastly improves its drinkablity for a RIS.

Brilliant beer.

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

Had this beer in my favorite beer pub in Wageningen, de Vlaamse reus. Poured into a sniffer. The beer pours a very deep black color with a fantastic full creamy, brown head that lasted very long.

Smell: fully of flavor, wow. Coffee, roasted malts, dark fruits (plums, figs), sweet caramel, chocolate brownies and a nice warming alcolhol.

Taste: as impressive and full as the smell. Roasted malts, hops, plums, figs, coffee, chocolate and a clear hint of salty liquorish. Aftertaste is a bit smoky with some nice bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Thick, creamy smooth, medium carbonation. This is a feel good beer

Overall: This is surely one of the best imperial stouts out there. If only this one would be a "limited production" or "very rare", it would likely be voted in the top three at BA. This because many people seem to be biased by the hype of limited productions....Hail the czar of Russian imperial stouts! Highly recommendable!!

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

This is an extremely well-made Imperial Stout. This beer pours a super-dark, black with a nice off-white/tan, frothy head. The aromas are of chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, and some hops in the background. The taste is all about the malts, chocolatty, caramelly, coffee-like, lucious! The mouthfeel is very thick, smooth and creamy and the drinkability is near-perfect. One of the greats!>Cheers to DrewS for the samples!,

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

Appearance is absolute black, with a massive head of coffee colored foam that clings to the glass forever. Aroma has a smorgasbord of fruits, lactose, molasses, chocolate, black coffee and ethanol. Initial taste is incredibly complex! There is so much going on! It tastes like the best Starbucks macchiato with caramel; plus citrus/floral hops, smoke, chocolate, dried fruit, and Lord knows what else! I think I will just savor the experience.

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Photo of sinistermadman
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This stout pours a deep dark brown. Light transmittance is next to nothing...Emanates a pancake looking burly head which sticks around with a vengeance. This is a good looking stout.

Smell consists of burnt toffee, roasted barley, coffee, some residual sweetness in what I describe as a subtle raisin aroma. Smell is very crisp and sweet, very earthy.

Taste is damn good. This stout has a medium body which is delightfully smooth. Righteous roasted barley at the forefront which tapers into a slightly astringent sensation on the palate. I get a sense of toffee, some caramel flavors; alcohol sugars are a perfect finish to this very well crafted stout.

Mouthfeel is lighter than a lot of stouts, but the flavor is not subdued in the least. Very tasty. Drinkability is a 5 in my book. This would go great with an espresso or a nice cigar.

All in all a delicious stout that is worth the price of admission. Cheers.

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Photo of JohnWaynes44
4.76/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big frothy pour, almost black. Huge thick head dark tan in the middle fading to darker brown on the edge. Nose is faint. I pick up alcohol, coffee. On to the taste. Can't get here quick enough. This is so good, every time. Coffee and dark, charred mocha and sweet toffee are blended perfectly. Finishes with bitter smoke. Mouth is very creamy and dense with just the right amount of carbonation. This is such a classic. It is different than any imperial by U.S. Just... done right and consistently great. The standard in my opinion, as is many from this brewer. Long live the Tadcaster!

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Photo of MONKandTUCK
4.76/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

"Small" by style standards, but otherwise dead-on for the style. Not overwhelming in any aspect. The lower than Avg ABV even makes this one you want to drink more than one in a sitting.

Appearance: poured freely into a La Trappe chalice and swirled, this beer first appears deep opaque, but towards the bottom black gives way to mahogany and brass tones. The soupy body is capped with high, frothy brown head. It's like a whipped chocolate nought over a chilled chocolates liquor. Very enticing.

Aroma: consummate Sam Smith, I'll chalk that up to their exceptional yeast strain and premium base malt. Roasted notes and port wine accents peak through and then dominate when drinking. More muted than other Stouts, certainly very mild astringency.

Flavor: immense! No, its not the most complex RIS, thank God. It holds itself together quite well.
This beer has clearly matured and I'm glad for it. No doubt, even "green" offerings are worthy of Sammy Smith fame. It's the matured version, though, that really provides what this style is all about.
Yeast comes thru in a big way. Not like a Belgian, but as a sure supporting role.

The roasted profile hasn't really mellowed, it has settled. Dark crystal malts shine through, backed by a hefty alcohol warmth that settles in the belly. Prune, candied cherries, rum-raisin syrup, fine bitter chocolate, spice cake, Port and currant liquor all share in making the pleasure the coats over the mouth on way to the gut.
Roasted qualities never match the level Guinness or your preferred RIS, but provide enough bite to hold this beer together and provide another dimension of flavor.

Hops are mild.... wow! Responsible brewing! It hasn't been lost!

Mouthfeel: I was surprised at the density. At 7% a leaner need might be expected, nut this one was respectable crafted more maturation. That said, it wasn't syrupy... like Dogfish Head beers or certain Winter offerings often are. It was just a beer substantial enough to fit the style, while managing to conclude dry.

One of my all time favorites. Moat will want bigger and wilder and,more eccentric. I prefer this beer for being on Que with style guidelines, but acting in moderation. Make sure your bottle has some age to it, that is the secret ingredient. ;-)

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Photo of bruachan
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

$3.50 at gambier's village market. i may stock up if this turns out to be a winner (i have a premonition...)

tall head back up by some relentless carbonation. it's stuck all over the glass

ooh that smells good. rich, winey, soy saucey, oaky. and there's even a suggestion of sourness (just a slight yogurty something). did i say oaky? apple juice? i think the aroma might remind me of powdered hot chocolate

that tastes fuckin good. rich but not heavy (i would go velvety). hops are for balance only. a hint of coffee, but otherwise...wait, was that apple juice? a touch of hazelnut or something sneaks in, as well. there is a touch of bitterness, but it really is a simple rearjaw sensation...minor

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Photo of craigmorris74
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A truly wonderful brew. Possibly the finest mouthfeel I've had. The malts are powerful and delicious, while lacking the bitterness or excessive roasted malt and black malt. A substantial beer that wouldn't offend a novice to the style.

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Photo of JamesS
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a great dark color with nice tan head (that rapidly diminishes) and almost no lacing. Excellent scent, very deep and dark with a great burnt grain and coffee aroma. Wonderful flavor, exceedingly dark and deep, wonderful coffee and chocolate flavors with a great coffee burst finish, and it as a nice slight bourbon barrel/alcohol tinge that is slightly warming. It goes down very smoothly for such a slightly higher gravity beer. This is one of my new favorite stouts.

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Photo of mschofield
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pure opaque black, topped with a two finger small bubbled chocolate head, leaves bits of webbed lace.
Chocolate, raisin and alcohol aroma.
Coffee, dark chocolate, raisin and other dark fruits, anise and grape in the taste, roasted malt with burnt edges, toasted biscuit.
A complicated classic beer
Full feel, acrid, with a bit of an alcohol bite, but still smooth.

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Photo of luciusgilmer
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had read some good recommendations of this beer here and had reason to think I'd like the imperial style as well, though I've not had many. I had this beer from a 12 oz bottle poured into a mug (at a bar), then the same but poured into a tulip glass.
A: Excellent dark color, nice foam but not a long lasting head.

S: Just magical, even a bit wine like (though here maybe I'm just reacting to the alcohol content?), with a fruity aroma (not wine cooler fruity, just not a bitter coffee like aroma).

T: Rich grains and some subtle cocoa and chocolate flavors.

M: Rich to the tongue and full in the mouth. It's very smooth. I savored several mouthfuls; the carbonation is a bit on the low side.

D: This is a costlier beer, but I'd drink several if I could, and I hope to get some more on occasion. Its ABV is not overwhelming, and it's definitely flavorful.

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Photo of cokes
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This lives up to all expectations. I shied away from this for a while due to the foolish I was.
Pours absolutely pitch black with a clinging tan head..lasts all the way down.
Bombards the nose with a plethora of aromas....dark fruit (plums, raisins), dark chocolate, brandy..God only know what else. Huge.
Taste follows suit. So many levels to this that I have to consciously focus on each one to make sure I get the most out of it. The dark fruit and dark chocolate show up right away with some roasted barley as well. The hopping of this Imperial really sets apart it my book. Puckering and fruity at the same time. Almost astringant at times. But not overpowering either. Try it and see.
Finish is more roastedness with some pronounced nutty flavors as well....yum.
Maybe just a little thinner than some others...something about the mouthfeel just wasn't perfect...the rest of the beer was. Very drinkable for the style.
Believe the hype. This is it.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,713 ratings.
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