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 olegv40
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep black with a dark brown head with fine lacing.

Smells of malts, yeast and is vaguely citrusy.

Medium bodied and actually rather light for an Imperial Stout. The malts overwhelm, and the lack of hops creates a sour rather than bitter taste. The yeast and malts make this taste of sourdough bread. There is a slight taste of chocolate on the back end that helps clear out the taste of dough. A change of pace as far as stouts go, and not altogether bad. However, I felt like it was missing something, whether its that extra kick of alcohol, or some hops, but I was left with a feeling like this was a very good beer that was missing something that would make it great.

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Photo of AleDrinkToThat
4.66/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: I'm fairly sure you could hold a glass of this stout up to the sun and not see through it. The one finger medium brown head stays right there, slowly working its way down as you sip on the blissful concoction for a minimum of an hour.

Smell: Roasted coffee and cocoa notes hit strongly, with slightly more faint notes of raisin and other dark fruit. And yeah boy, the alcohol's there.

Taste: The roasted coffee/cocoa notes hit immediately, along with the warm presence of the alcohol. The hops really doesn't survive the onslaught of rich malt that drowns everything, even light itself, in its path. The sweeter, raisin-like notes finish it all up, and the warmth of the alcohol stays right there with you.

Mouthfeel: Rich, smooth, and warm from the lips all the way down the throat. And when I say rich, I'm not talking "kinda rich". I mean RICH. Break out the steak knives. The alcohol mainly provides a welcome warmth, but no burn. Just warm smooth goodness.

Drinkability: I mean, I was clean shaven when I cracked open the bottle, and now I have a five inch beard. A wonderful beer that should, as many others have noted, be sipped slowly, so that every drop can be savored, and it's probably best to not have more than one or, at most, two in a single sitting. That's like 3 or 4 regular beers, plus a porterhouse. Take 'er easy.

It's not for the faint of heart, but it's a beer geek's ascension into manhood.

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Photo of yankiac
4.18/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Black with a brown head.

S - mild aroma with hints of coffee and roasted malts

T - Well blended with coffee and vanilla, and a roasted touch.

M - Full bodied but not overly thick. You are aware that you are drinking a stout but not offended by it.

D - Good. Usually can't drink multiple imperial stouts but this one is an exception.

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Photo of mrcarterxxl
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

pours a beautiful dark hue with red around the edges
with a 2 1/2 inch tan head with a slight orange hue to it.

the first thought of the smell was fresh bakes devils food cake or brownies/english toffee

tastes of toffee, bitter sweet chocolate, fresh oats, bitter sweet taste.

this stout left lacing well after pour and first few sips

i will have this stout again its a new found favorite!

ABV: 7.0%


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Photo of Hachiman
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ebony black with a mocha-colored head that persists well. Some good lacing too.

Smell is of spicy hops, cocoa, coffee, dark-roasted malt.

Tasty but almost too balanced. Expected a deeper roasted flavor. A volatile alcohol note was actually the strongest element.

Nice full mouth feel due to adequate carbonation and hi specific gravity. A little sticky on the lips.

Not a session beer but one could enjoy two before acclimation.

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Photo of machalel
3.38/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Note that after I did the review, I noticed that the bottle was *just* sitting on its used-by date. I am not sure how that would affect a beer such as this one, but it could be why I found it a little bit disappointing considering its overall rating here.

Appearance: Very dark and opaque brown-black. Smooth coffee coloured head with lots of sticky lacing down the glass.

Aroma: Strong aromas of chocolate, liquorice, and black strap molasses. Hints of caramel, toffee, biscuit, and roast barley. A bit of mustyness / damp.

Taste: The first impression is of espresso and roasted grains. After this is more treacle and burnt toffee with some roasted chocolate and dark fruit. Well balanced malt and bitterness to begin with, but feels a little bit 'hollow' by the end.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation, medium-full body, has a thick creaminess that turns a little slick after about half a glass.

Overall: Not having had an Imperial Stout for a long time, I was pleasantly surprised by this 'blind' choice. It wasn't as heavy as I expected, but was quite drinkable. It did taste a little bit 'hollow', as after the first few mouthfuls it was definitely not as complex as I had hoped. By the end of the bottle, my overall rating had gone from a 4 down to a 3, as the bitterness seemed to overtake any other flavours. Slightly disappointing considering its overall rating here.

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Photo of PaleZombie
4.24/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a wine glass.

A - Dark brown color with some ruby tinges coming through all around the glass. About a finger of nice creamy tan head.

S - Bittersweet chocolate malt, lots of dark fruit (rains and figs) mild hints of coffee. Mild hint of alcohol as it warmed.

T - Big on the dark fruit followed by pleasant sweet chocolate malts, a tad bit of coffee bitterness in the finish.

M - On the light side of medium, not as thick as I expected from an Imperial Stout. Good amount of carbonation.

O - Great representation of an Russian Imperial Stout on this one with the dark fruits shining through. This will be a go to for a lighter RIS and is not too pricey.

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Photo of dfitch81
4.56/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Entertaining Victorian-style label proclaims Samuel Smith's to be "Contractors to Her Majesty's Forcces" - very appropriate for an IMPERIAL stout! Pours a deep, dark brown - bordering on black - with two fingers of chocolately brown head. Scent of sweet coffee and roasted barley greets the nose as you lift the glass for the first sip. Taste is first of coffee and dark chocolate, with hops in the background. Hop flavor becomes somewhat more pronounced later in the taste before giving over to a finish of sweet cream. Alcohol is rather light for an imperial stout, and flavors are perhaps less pronounced than in other examples of the style. However, the end result is a serious stout with interesting and enjoyable complexities that complement one another instead of battling to dominate your palate. Definitely recommended.

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

Thick khaki colored head, and nearly opaque/black in color. Head is robust and the lacing looks nice. Very appealing

Smells like dark fruits and roastyness up front, followed by chocolate and coffee. Complex and well balanced.

Rich malty flavors that I did not expect from the nose. Good balance of sweetness versus bitterness. Coffee, chocolate, and plum notes are in the background.

Creamy, but not overly. Alcohol is present as it warms but is not overpowering, and it is full bodied with medium carbonation.

This is a stupendous beer, one of my favorites by Samuel Smith's. Definitely recommend it

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Photo of Voss
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

While pouring this Imperial stout, I was very surprised that the bottle was of clear glass! Very black color with reddish-brown shades and quick wanishing beige foam. I'm new of this style, and the smell is another surprise. For sure someting very dense, thick, caramel, molasses, toasted coffee. Low carbonation, the beer warms and the taste comes out. Dry up front, I can imagine of smoke, bitter chocolate, coffe again, all rounding in the end leaving a bitter-sweet end. I repeat, I'm new to Imperials, I'm trying Samuel with bitter and milk chocolate (bitter is better, milk leaves your mouth too mixed up), and walnuts (as suggested on the bottle), but for the next I will stick with stilton and walnuts "gnocchi", ending with a good italian espresso.

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Photo of ellisdee97
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Motor oil black with a dark coffee colored one finger thick head which quickly dissipates leaving a nice ring and some decent lacing.

S: Dark chocolate and nice deep alcohol with a sharp hop note. Toffee and caramel, with toasted malt and vanilla. Hidden within is a nice nutty hint.

T: Warming alcohol up front with some chocolate. Again toffee and nice deep coffee then bitter hops. Some toasted and slightly smokey flavors in the malt.

M: Nice carbonation. Smooth with a dry, smokey finish.

D: Excellent drinking stout, the alcohol is covered nicely. Wonderful combonation of sweet, smokey and bitter.

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Photo of Pehlman
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A solid black beer you can not see through held up to the light. Poured a nice 1-2 finger dark tan head that disappeared quickly leaving very little lacing. The slightest hint of alcohol at first but then a wave of smokey goodness with a slight dark-fruit malt backing. Mouthfeel comes on a bit creamy but just like the head, thins out leaving little behind. Left the roof of my mouth a bit dry but I didn't mind. Definitely a beer I could drink again and again with no end in sight.

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Photo of J30wang
4.69/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Tastes phenomenal. Brings you through a spectrum from smokey to creamy with a nice hint of chocolate in the background. This is a very well developed stout--it doesn't push too hard. Cradles you right into it's comforting flares, no gimmicks; just down to earth stuff.

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

I think this beer goes very well with a spicy beef curry. I think it would also go well with chocolate. This is quite sophisticated, yet smooth. I can see why it gets all the hype and kudos.

I wish I were one of "Her Majesty's Forces" just to drink this for free on a daily basis. In 1896 this was awarded a gold medal (according to the label). Yep, this is good stuff.

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

Jet black color comes cascading out of the bottle into my pint glass. After settling down for awhlie a nice half finger head resides on the top with a creamy coffee color.

Aroma is roasted coffee beans, dark rich malts, brown bananas, and vanilla.

The first sip is strong and smoothe. Slightly bitter chocolate taste on the back end. Leaves a nice feeling in the mouth and does not become to strong.

Let this one warm up a bit once you pull it from the fridge. Drinking it too cold will not allow you to fully appreciate the flavors.

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Photo of mbrown26
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pub glass. As I'm trying more beers, I'm learning stouts may not be my personal preference, but I imagine this would be very good for the style, which is I why I gave it higher marks than I normally would.

A: Had a nice dark, oil like color with a one finger head that didn't want to stay around too long.

S: Smelled great with chocolate and some mocha.

T: If you like stouts, this is probably a fine example. Not hoppy and plenty of flavor. Alcohol is well hidden, but has a nice balance.

M: Creamy and thick.

D: Fairly easy to take down.

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

Poured from a bottle to a snifter.

A: Pours thick and black with a rich tan head.

S: Espresso and dark fruits. No noticeable hop presence. Hint of soy sauce.

T: Again, espresso, dark fruits, and a hint of soy sauce at the back of the tongue. Floral and grassy hops are present, along with dark chocolate. Light roasty/toasty notes.

M: Full bodied with plentiful, but not excessive carbonation. A tad thinner than most RISs, but with the low abv, this is not a surprise.

D: I love ISs, but hate feeling wasted after half a bomber. I could probably knock back a couple of these in a night and not regret it. Yet another wonderful brew from what may be my favorite brewery.

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Photo of bisonkron
4.41/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance -Very dark black color. The head is a great brown color, thick, stuck around for a long time. really great looking.

Smell - Great smell. roasty, chocolaty, coffee, and fruity.

Taste - Chocolate taste, fruity aftertaste, thick, creamy, roasty, licorice, and molasses. very smooth.

Mouthfeel - Creamy, thick, smooth. Well carbonated.

Drinkability - Very drinkable. Will be buying more soon.

Glass: Snifter

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Photo of mclanem
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: this is a very dark beer, of course imperial stout, but looked great nice brown head.

Smell: Smells great coffe, malt ect great balanced smell.

Taste: Coffee great taste not at all metallic, not bitter at all very smooth. flavor

Mouthfeel: Great carbonation good thick feel.

Drinkabilty: I could down a ton of this stuff and I would like to have this in my fridge always..

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Photo of sasky7777
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one of my go to RIS. It is quite drinkable and is beer that emphasizes malt characteristics. It pours a dark brown much like coffee, and has a foamy tan head. Dark fruit flavours are at the for front, with just enough hop bitterness to balance it out. This beer is also excellent to use in cooking desserts like chocolate cake, I tried it also in a pot roast, but found the fruity, molasses, and well "Christmas" flavours did not work as well. A fine example of the style.

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Photo of dmbfrat420beers
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation - Attractive clear (why do so many British breweries use clear bottles?) bottle with white label declaring Sam Smith's as the "contractors to Her Majesty's foces" haha.

Appearance - Dark with red tint around the edges. Big, tightly packed tan head. Lacing clings nice and thick to the side of the mug - very nice touch.

Aroma - hmm...very different from the other Imperial Stouts I have tried (Stone '04 and Old Rasputin). I would describe it as sort of a musty smell with grassy hop hints and some alcohol. Very strong, especially as you get ready to drink.

Mouthfeel - full bodied, decent carbonation

Taste - Like Sam Smith's India Ale, this beer is a far cry from its American style cousins. Strong grassy hop flavor up front that gives way to an ample roasted malty sweetness. Hints of bitterness left on the lips and in the back of the mouth, but otherwise turns into an almost candy like sweetness on the sides of the cheeks and tounge. Also leaves a nice fruity tartness. Lots of flavors going on here and it changes quite a bit from sip to swallow. Finishes very clean, no alcohol flavor to speak of, except a warm feeling as it goes down. Quite tasty and complex, though I wish there were little more of a bitter kick, but that is just my predilection.

Drinkability - Thought by the size and pungent aroma this beer would not go down easily, but was suprised about how easy it was to drink.

Final Words: Bought a 4-pack of this for $10, can't wait to finish the rest. The best of their beers I have had so far. It is hard to say how this compares to the American Double Stouts, they seem so very much different.

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Photo of indy169
3.48/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A nice looking heady black beer. The smell is rich and heavy as to be expected.
Mouthfeel is a little squirrely for my tastes but in line with other imperial stouts I've tried. Not my favorite variety. I find it strong, thick and unrefined. Flavors of dark chocolate, nutmeg, and coffee dominate.
Don't get me wrong, I love strong beer however this one does not entice me.
One is plenty for a sitting.

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Photo of nase
3.28/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle

Appearance - 3.5 - Opaque black that turns into more of an opaque brown in light; some head on the pour but not much leaving an incomplete layer of an antique white foam atop the beer

Smell - 3.0 - Malt

Mouthfeel - 3.0 - Seems pretty thin for an imp stout

Taste - 3.5 - Coffee notes on the sip; fairly malty and can taste a decent amount of alcohol and lots of bitterness on the swish; is that molasses on the finish?

Drinkability - 3.5 - I'd have this again but I wouldn't go looking for it..seems like an ordinary stout with a little more alcohol; nothing "imperial" about this

Final - 3.35

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Photo of Mayhem976
3.94/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Very dark, you can pass light through the glass but not much, has a brown tint to it. Small Head that fades quickly and zero lacing.

S- Lots of grains is the only thing I can smell, sorta reminds me of moist bread, tiny bit of malt as well. Not winning any awards in the aroma department.

T- The smell hardly translates to the flavor (thank the beer Gods). I taste light bodied coffee, malt, and small trace of chocolate. Based off the smell I would have never guessed it could taste so wonderful.

M- Medium body and slightly creamy, not too shabby.

D- Tasty, economical, and a good ABV will keep me coming back for seconds... or 55ths.

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Photo of StoryOfTheGhost
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a pint class

A- Very dark, black, copper head

S- Coffee is at the forefront. Some dark chocolate. Can smell the roasted malts

T- Roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate. Some fruity taste, like cherry or raison, sweet but not really sweet- more of a tart flavor. It has a metallic taste like most Sammy Smith beers. I am sure that it must have something to do with their yeast or something. As weird as this sounds, the metallic taste does not take away from the beer at all

M- A bit thin for a Imperial Stout

O- you have to take value and how easily available into account here- and it deserves a high overall rating. For 3.50 for a 22, it is an excellent deal, when many lesser imperial stouts go for 2 to 3x as much

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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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