Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout | Otter Creek Brewing

very good
608 Ratings
Otter Creek Russian Imperial StoutOtter Creek Russian Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Otter Creek Brewing
Vermont, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Every so often we brew this tasty treat that clocks in at 10% ABV. A silky smooth, motor-oil black pour reveals rich, roasty notes of caramel, chocolate and coffee. Like the first stouts brewed for Russian Czars, this offering is big, bold and built to last. Grab a few for the cellar, a couple for your comrades and enjoy because—like those Czars of yesteryear—this beer may be gone soon.

Added by Brad007 on 01-09-2009

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Reviews: 298 | Ratings: 608
Photo of macktbone
1.82/5  rDev -54.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks to ThirdLap for this offering. One of the many gifts as we travel across the country.

A- Has a shiny black color with a woody brown head of foam. Head dissapates after a few minutes but it continues to belch goodness from it's depths.

S- Figs, brown sugar, wood, cherries, alcohol (tequila). and a strange aspect of stale mold that it is little disconcerning.

T- I am almost afraid after the mold statement...
Hot...Hot...Hot... that strange flavor of old tequila is too much. Two sips is about all I can get. I do get a little chocolate and really old coffee.

M- Moderate to good for an imperial stout.

D- Can't do it...taste like ^@#$*!

I tried to be objective when looking at a pretty bottle and getting this from a friend I figured it would be half way decent. Did vermont try to make a maple syrup beer and decide it should be an Imperial stout? I think they scraped the moss of the tree and made this beer out of that instead.

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Photo of stckhndlr
2.17/5  rDev -45.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

First try at this beer. Pours pitch black with not alot of head. First impression of the nose was not too appealing. Strong resemblence to soy sauce smell. Very hoppy and malt flavor. Murky flavor with hints of caramel and not as much chocolate as toted by other reviews. Unfortunately could not finish this one as hard as I tried.

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Photo of jjayjaye
2.41/5  rDev -39.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours an opaque darkness with a HUGE stiff light brown head that fades slowly leaving a reasonable amount of lacing behind. The smell is somewhat rough IMO...highly roasted malt and bitter dark chocolate. The taste is right there...burnt. A bitter strong black coffee ground flavor is overwhelming and lingers significantly. The mouth feel is sharp and on the lighter side. I'm having a problem relaxing with this one. Pour.

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Photo of DmanGTR
2.48/5  rDev -38%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Review from notes on Jan 30, 2010

A - poured very dark brown, almost impenetrable to light save for some cherry hues. Short lived off-white head, no lace. 4.0

S - lots of roastiness, touch of coffee, and bit of chocolate. Something is wrong here, I'm getting a bit of burntness and ash/charcoal too. And it's not making this too pleasant. 3.5

T - Similar to the nose but the ashy and charcoally flavors are too much. And there's a strange mineral flavor in the finish as well. I wish the chocolate and roasted barley flavors could cover this up but it didn't happen. 2.0

M - medium bodied and well carbonated. There's a touch of astringency here that doesn't mix well with the beer. 3.0

D - Sorry, Otter Creek. Not impressed with this one. That ashy/charcoal flavor needs to go. Stat. If I had a whole bottle of this to finish, well hopefully I'll be really thirsty or the sink might get a bit of it... 1.5

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Photo of BarrytheBear
2.5/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

22 oz bottle from one of my first trades. My apologies as I cannot remember exactly who supplied this, but thank you.

Black with little head and hardly any lacing.

My initial feeling, based on the smell, is that this is infected. A lactic sourness, along with almond and Bing cherry, rise above the base of dark chocolate and coffee. Is this how this should smell?

Taste is similar, with a twangy tartness atop the coffee. I'm having trouble believing this beer should present itself predominantly as sour cherry and tart. The underlying beer is bitter and dry dark chocolate and coffee. Uncertain as to infection, but there doesn't seem to be other reviews to support my theory.

Infection seems less with the near flat body. I'm not really enjoying this and will not be finishing the bottle.

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Photo of sliverX
2.77/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

poured a used motor oil like color and just thin of said substance in consistency lets some brown shine through the edges ring and bubble around edge of glass is about it for head
smell a huge roasted malty, very heavy on the dark chocolate
taste was odd expected a lot different no real chocolate taste just badly burnt malt
mouthfeel was thin as hell very deceptive from color and clinging properties displayed from pour
drinkability suffers on the last 2 points not something I"d look for again...

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Photo of jujubeast6000
2.86/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 4/16/2009 (Bottle):

Pours a pitch black color body, big foamy tan brown colored head lasting. Good lacing. Strong coffee chocolate aroma. Some alcohol. Some sweet chocolate too. Something else like ash. Watery palate, smokey and slightly ashy taste. Sweet chocolate and some dark chocolate in the taste too. Something is off.

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Photo of pants678
3.03/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Black body, receding brown head.

Booze first and foremost on the nose, roasted malts are well behind that.

Dark chocolate's sorta sharp, teetering into dark fruit--licorice might be the best descriptor. Alcohol's part of that, at 10%. Robust without being rich, doesn't have that desert sweetness. Needs an additive, perhaps.


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Photo of GregSVT
3.03/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours a dark black with a huge dark tan head that has excellent retention and decent lacing.

S: The nose is chocolate/cocoa, coffee, and roasted malts. A slight metallic aroma is evident.

T: Taste is chocolate/roasted malts with a sweet vanilla flavor. There's a big metallic taste on the finish that was there in the nose.

M: Feel is great. Thick and creamy with a good amount of carbonation.

D: I'd drink this again if it wasn't for the metallic taste. Really hinders the drinkability...the ABV does as well.

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Photo of Buebie
3.05/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Picked up this brew at the Bowery WF back in September.

Poured rigorously from a 22 ounce brown bomber into an oversized snifter. Forming up a brown 1'' head and receding somewhat quickly to leave a thin cap and thicker collar of retention.
Lace is spotty at best. The beer is black with no light penetration.

Aroma of chocolate grain, buckwheat pancakes, malted milk balls, a touch of molasses and kinda sweet with just a touch of charred wood.

Mouthfeel is slick and creamy with an over abundance of carbonation.
Taste is milky and smooth upfront with some sweetness and plenty of semi sweet chocolate. Becoming increasingly dark through the process. Dark bitter chocolate, more charred wood and bitter chocolate grain flavors. Plenty of malt packing a punch. Finishing quite bitter with unsweetened baking chocolate and wood.

This is an interesting take on the style. I didn't particularly care for the high amount of bitters. It started out well and resembled a typical RIS. Although the mouthfeel was more Imperial stout then RIS, the carbonation should really be cut down. Carbonation bite was a bit too high for me. Flavors finishing were more dry Irish stout too. I cant say I've ever had a RIS that bittered out as much as this did.
Alcohol was not picked up in either flavor or aroma, it was very well hidden.
I wouldn't seek this out again.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.05/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Chilled bottle into a glass. Received in a long-ago trade (early 2009); I can't remember the source, but I am grateful. Please BM me and I'll put your name here.

A: Pours a pitch black body with just under a finger of light tan head. It retains poorly, leaving behind a thin collar on the brew with a trail or two of lacing during sips.

S: Black cherry. It's so strong that I find myself wondering if the bottle is infected, but it's not super-carbonated, so I'm guessing that's just how it is. Dark chocolate, a hint of raisins, and roasted coffee. Still a little boozy in the nose for a year-old beer.

T: Black cherry, so strong it's almost tart. Raisins, maybe a hint of figs. It's quite the darkly fruity beer. Dark chocolate lends a bittersweet character that segues nicely into roasted coffee bitterness and more dark fruit. It's smoky, even slightly ashy, in the finish. I seem to remember this beer being semi-dry the first time I had it, but here it's syrupy and definitely sweet in the finish.

M: It's a full-bodied, mouth-coating beer. The alcohol is well hidden in the taste.

D: It's a pretty decent beer, but I wouldn't put it in the world-class category (A) or significantly above average (B). It's just too much on the sweet side for me to regard it as anything but a simply competent representation of the style.

EDIT: It got to the point where I had been working on this bottle for a few hours and I decided to throw the remaining 1/3 out rather than finish it. I wouldn't call it a drainpour exactly; I could have finished it, but I just didn't feel like it was worth the time or calories. I was pretty ambivalent throughout.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.05/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The first treasure to be opened from my birthday spoils. Sent to me by JamnesCameron. In all fairness I can buy this locally but Ive never reviewed it so I was glad to pull it from the box.

A- This one isnt ashamed to throw up a big dark tan head. Lacing is at a minimum however. Typical black body.

S- The smell is strong. Its one of those beers that can be smelled half way across the room. There will be no fooling the officers at the check point on your way home from having a glass of this. It has a milky, chocolatey smell with a touch of roast and grain. Its appealing and quintessentially stout.

T- The flavor is lacking some things here and there and in a world dominated by imperial stouts that body slam the taste buds there really isnt any forgiveness. The creamy milk chocolate carries over from the smell but thats really about the whole story. The 10.6% is well hidden but I wouldnt mind a warming glass of beer right about now.

M- Medium body with very low carbonation.

D- This beer will easily get lost in the sea of imperial stouts that can be found.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.09/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bomber brewed in 2009. Pours a very opaque black color with an extremely dark brown foam. Might be the darkest head I have ever seen and it is tight and creamy. Leaves plenty of thin lace on the glass. Great looking beer.

Nose is full of black licorice, alcohol and some plum-like fruitiness. Plenty of hops on the nose, herbal and slightly minty. Not a whole lot of chocolate malty notes, and in fact does not seem to have much maltiness to it overall.

Taste is on the fruity side of the RIS spectrum with alot of floral and minty hop flavors. There is a bit of roasty malts, but there seems to be a serious lack of malt backbone and body. No sweetness, thin mouthfeel and even a bit astringent. Not a big fan of this one.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.09/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

An aside: I don't see why Otter Creek can't have that travellin' otter pose for all their beer labels. That lil' feller always puts a smile on my face. How does he hold a pint glass without opposable thumbs?--I don't know, but I'm pickin' up what that otter is layin' down.

Black with a muddy brown head--looks like a RIS. Head dissipates way to fast and is gone by the end of the glass.

Aroma is heavily toward the vinous, dark fruit side with some chocolate, burnt caramel, and brown sugar.

Taste is also dominated by vinous dark fruits; plums, black cherries, and blackberries particularly. Medicinal hop and chocolate support. Warm but not hot. A dessert beer--almost like drinking chocolate covered dark cherries.

Otter Creek lists the ingredients on the bottle (I like that) and from the poor retention, to the thin body, I think the brown sugar addition really killed this beer. Finally, though I prefer a more roasted RIS I appreciate OC doing something different and focusing on the fruit aspect of the style.

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Photo of meatyard
3.13/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks again to AltBock for this bottle.

Pours an opaque black, it seems, with a shortish coffee/cream head that falls quickly but leaves a bit of lacing.
The smell is cocoa, coffee and roasted malt with a hint of alcohol.
The taste is burnt, bitter coffee, chocolate and dark roasted malt plus there is a tangy/lactic? taste that lingers and leaves an ashy taste.
Mouthfeel is on the thin side but decently carbonated.
Drinkability: Maybe this one shouldn't be aged at all, at least for about the 16 months it's been saved. As it is, it's a slow drinker and hard to get past the overly burnt malt, bitter coffee and the lactic taste.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.18/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 5/13/09. Bottle. Pours black with a small tan head. Aroma of rich roasted malt, light coffee notes, and bitter chocolate. Flavor is roasted and sweet malt. Palate is thinner than I'd prefer for an RIS. And it's too sweet. Meh, just another mediocre RIS.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.21/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter on 12/17/10

MbpBugeye shared this one

Very dark brown; near black in the glass. 1/4th inch of toasted brown foam that leaves the middle, opting for a collar of retention. A few drips of lace remain.

Aromas of roasted malts, bittersweet cocoa, coffee beans, earthy with hints of dirt & a dull sweetness. Some hops peak through. Burnt flavors comprise most of the flavor upfront with some muddled chocolate sweetness on the back half. Said sweetness becomes more prominent as it warms. It's fairly one dimensional; simplistic at best. Mild hop bitterness lingers throughout. Quite viscous & full bodied with appropriately low carbonation. Has a coating feel on the finish.

Drinkability is fine; however, this is pretty safe play in the imperial stout world. It's serviceable - nothing to complain about, really - but there isn't really much to keep one captivated.

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Photo of mpedara429
3.24/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

A: Poured out black with one finger of light brown head. Low retention with spotty lacing.

S: Booze, coffee, and dark roasted malts.

T: Same as the nose with some harsh bitterness.

M: Thick, oily body with a medium carbonation.

O: Boring. This beer has a better mouthfeel than many of it's competitors, but the smell and taste is just average.

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Photo of paco1029384756
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a small dark tan head that dissipates fairly quickly.

Scent of chocolate, roasted malts, milk, burnt coffee beans, and molasses. Good, but the burnt coffee bean aroma is a bit distracting.

Taste of roasted malts, chocolate, burnt coffee beans, milk, and a strange plastic flavor in the finish. It has a good flavor, but the finish is what is holding back.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and thin with too much carbonation.

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Photo of biglite351
3.26/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - pure darkness. Dark head that drops a bit too quickly.

S - roasted malts and hops.

T - roasted malts, chocolate and alcohol. Almost more paled than a RIS.

M - good coating bit no tongue feel. Alcohol burn in the top of the throat.

D - one bomber only.

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Photo of degerbah
3.31/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a very thick syrupy black with a thick brown tinged head. The aroma is slightly choclatey, but the main flavor is similar to soy sauce. The taste is thick, boozy, and almost hard to drink. The alcohol is a huge part of the flavor, in my opinion a little too much.

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Photo of Aphelion
3.32/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Squid ink on the pour. The very darkest of browns when held under scrutiny of a bright light.

S: Faintest aroma of stale coffee, raw cocoa, and every so slightly molasses.

T: First impression; a concetrated Anchor Porter. A slight coffee-ish flavor that is more raw cocoa and akalized cocoa powder. Leaves a hint of sour coffee and roast bitterness on the tongue.

M: Initialy bone dry; after opened for two days body seems fuller and now semi-dry. Could be fault of my own palate, or oxidation/flatness.

D: 10.6%?? No way! Well hidden. Aside from its covert potency, its initial dryness (for +10% RIS) allows some degree of quaffability, which is sabotaged by its cloying stale coffee/raw cocoa palate.

Bottle is now two days old, this is worth mentioning as now that it is flatter, I'm picking up more on the chocolate even cokey flavors. Body seems much fuller and sweeter to me now. All in all the flavor has seemed to improve for me and ratings have been adjusted to reflect this.

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Photo of rallison
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wow, beautiful pour. Viscous black liquid with the creamiest, most luxurious tan head. After a couple of minutes the head dies down, leaving no lacing.

Smells nice with lots of espresso, chocolate and roast character. Can't wait to dive in.

The first sip hits me with a lot of astringency and dryness. Acrid bitterness. Some burnt notes. After a few more sips, my palate gets a bit more used to it. At this point, some of the dark chocolate and hints of dark berries come out.

The body was a letdown after the beautiful pour. I was hoping for something rich. This a bit too dry and a bit too light - there's just something in there that is reminiscent soaking some instant espresso in water and dumping a bit of that mixture into the beer.

Maybe a bit harsh, but the taste and body just were off for me and were not enjoyable.

Given the generally solid reviews this gets, I'll try to give this a try again in the future; maybe it will excel next time.

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Photo of sonicdescent
3.34/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Received as an extra in my second trade with Beerloco. Thanks Alan, and cheers!

Look is a healthy black liquid with some great head.

Scent is too sweet smelling off of the bat..this is how I imagined the 08 darkness would smell after reading the descriptions (It didn't)

Taste unfortunately follows the smell, just too sweet. This is a stout for fans of Old Rasputin and Fresh Yeti, not so much those on the Blackout/Speedway end.

Mouth is nearly perfect, thick bodied and light carbonated.

This is a decent beer and clearly has a place, but it is not for me.

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Photo of vurt
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle purchased at Vendome Liquors in Toluca Lake, CA. Poured into a nonic pint glass.

Very dark cola brown, pretty much opaque. A somewhat energetic pour raises two-fingers of graham cracker colored foam composed of small to medium-sized bubbles. No lacing. The appearance is to style, but not as delectable or sinister as some other Russian imperial stouts.

A prominent alcohol cloud wafts up out of the glass and hits my nose from a couple feet away. Aside from that, the nose is heavy with dark roasted malts and coffee with a little too much cream. Very milky, like an imperialized version of a lacto stout. There's an edge to the milk which makes it smell like a carton 1 day past the expiration date-- not turned yet, but clearly past its best. Also has some caramel, roasted peanuts, figs, and a lingering ashy note.

Starts off sweet with bitter chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, soft brown sugar, and non-dairy creamer. Slight acidity from the dark malt. More bitter chocolate with a short-lived berry-like fruitiness in the middle. Ends with flavors of coffee spiked with hazelnut syrup and a hint of licorice, along with a faint but unpleasant plastic note at the finish. Cold coffee and a dusting of ashes in the aftertaste.

Smooth, with low levels of coarse carbonation in a light and rather milky body. Slick and mouth-coating but not sticky.

On the plus side, this is a big, burly stout with lots of roastiness and strong coffee flavors at a reasonable price. The coffee flavors are so significant that I'm surprised there's no coffee in the brew. On the other hand, the body is light for the style, the carbonation is on the harsh side, and the ashy/milky flavors put me off a bit. (Just my opinion. Your Mileage May Vary.) The alcohol is also pretty hot. I'm glad I got to try this one, but I wouldn't buy it again.

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Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout from Otter Creek Brewing
4 out of 5 based on 608 ratings.
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