Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout | Otter Creek Brewing

Otter Creek Russian Imperial StoutOtter Creek Russian Imperial Stout
612 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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Ratings: 612 |  Reviews: 299
Photo of Naugros
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was surprised to take the gold foil from the top of the bottle and find a bottle cap hiding beneath. I was expecting a basket and cork, but had fun playing with the foil anyway. It brought to mind a giant cherry cordial or maybe a portion of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl costume. Oh, I'm supposed to be reviewing this beer...and I haven't had a sip of it yet.

Looks like almost every other imperial stout I've ever poured. Dark brown (not black) with a mocha-colored head which took just as long to build as it did to die. It did leave behind a nice crown and bubbly islands and some nice lacing.

It also smells like every other imperial stout I've ever poured. That means roast, toast, chocolate, earth, some whiskey (it's hard to hide 10.6% abv), but no coffee.

It also tastes like most imperial stouts I've ever poured, but this one has more earthiness to it than others and leaves behind some grit. The chocolate is there, but the whiskey is not as prevalent in the taste as in the nose. So they do mask the alcohol pretty well.

Is it me or are we overdoing this style? Yes, my profile says that my favorite style is Russian Imperial Stout, but everyone is making one now. But that's about it for the bad news. The good news is that this must not be a hard style to master since I've had very few bad ones. This is not a bad one, in fact it's pretty darn good.

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Photo of cavedave
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My last oil change had this look, minus the light brown foam which briefly caps this beauty of a big stout.

The smell is deep caramel, roasty malt, some charry notes, hints of yeast and licorice, and a coffee bitter to it that adds a yummy complexity. Mmmmm.

More licorice in the sip for sure, which starts roasty and sweet, goes into the licorice, and hangs on for a ride of charry notes, dark chocolate notes, coffee notes, ending with hints of herbal hop and sweet, but mainly the darker notes gradually depositing clean layers of lasting herbal bitter and char on the palate. Marvelous flavor, clean and balanced.

Mouthfeel is thick, low carb., and a finish that is as good as many stouts with more hype and higher ratings.

This is a sipper that leaves you craving next sip. I am likely to crack the other bomber in the fridge before too long.

Impression: What a surprise, this is the best OCB beer I've tried. If you can get this, get this.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Motor oil black with no appreciable accents, no matter how bright the backlighting. Atop the beer sits a coffee milkshake colored crown that looks as thick and as creamy as... well... a coffee milkshake. The foam hangs around forever and does the glass proud when it finally fades.

It smells like OCRIS is chock full of roasted and chocolate malt. This is one powerful stout and the starting chill hasn't even has a chance to melt away. There's nothing fancy here, just big burly barley of the darkest kind. My expectations just shot through the roof.

Russian Imperial Stout *almost* tastes as good as it smells. It isn't quite the malt monster that it needs to be to compete with the style's best, but it's a damn good first effort at high-gravity beer for a brewery that has only recently ventured into those waters.

Specific flavors include bittersweet chocolate, charred coffee beans, brown sugar (which was added), hints of black licorice, and a bitter tea leafiness that must be due to Magnum and Willamette hops. This is clearly a fresh bottle because the lupulins are still on the aggressive side. The finish is amazingly tight given all those malt sugars.

Alcohol is buried beautifully, something that is hardly a given when the ABV tops double digits. The mouthfeel doesn't miss the next highest score by much. It falls just short of medium for the style, although that matches the surprisingly balanced (read: hoppy) flavor profile very well.

It looks like the brewers at Otter Creek did their homework after deciding to release an RIS. This offering is undoubtedly more hoppy than the originals, but this hophead isn't about to complain. $6.99 was a more than reasonable price and I wouldn't hesitate to spend it again.

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Photo of perrymarcus
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

bomber served in an oversized wineglass.

pours your usual imperial stout dark, dark brown... a finger of a tan/cinnamon toned head demonstrates respectable retention and lots of lacing. a very nice looking RIS. nose: dark chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, booze.
first sip delivers more of the same. less booze than i was anticipating judging from the smell, but also more hoppiness, both surprising. imo they overdid it a bit with the hops. velvety, creamy moutfeel that impresses; moderately carbed. overall a solid representation of the style and one i would welcome again, though i probably wouldn't seek it out.

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Photo of oddfire
4.67/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured into a snifter an wow this beer looks awesome. Pitch black with a chocolate head. Good head retention.
S - Chocolate and licorice with a hint of cloves.
T - Wow this beer is good. You get a taste of it and then you are hooked. This is a well done beer. Chocolate, coffee, toffee, and malt. What more can you ask for.
M - velvet.
D - Very easily put down. But you feel it in the morning. I will continue to drink this as long as they brew it.

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Photo of mjaskula
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a pint glass. Pours black, as expected, with a medium tan head that thins to a film and leaves a bit of thick lacing.

Aroma has dark roasted malts and dark chocolate. Flavor is thick with plenty of roasted malt and chocolate and some malt sweetness. Hop bitterness mixes well with the roasted malt bitterness. Alcohol flavor and strength is well hidden.

Mouthfeel is syrupy. The mild carbonation and crisp bitterness leaves a nice finish. This beer is about as drinkable as you could expect from a RIS.

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Photo of kingcrowing
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz foil topped bomber poured into an 8oz Rock Art tulip.

Pours an oily ink black with a nice bit thick mocha-esque head with lots of really fine bubbles. Nose is coffee, roasted barley, sweet maltiness, and almost a hint of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is a bit light, not super rich, and there's a hint of iron on the finish. Lots of coffee-like bitterness. Very drinkable and sweet, but ti's still got a bit of that milk creaminess. overall decent!

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Photo of jmarvin4189
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Appearance - very dark, basically a black color with a tan head... reminds me of guiness.

smell - a very sweet chocolaty smell.

taste - a coffee and chocolate mixture with a mild alcohol sting to it. Its not a bad taste but the alcohol aftertaste puts a buffer on it.

Mouthfeel - very heavy and creamy. It is quite smooth but not too refreshing definitely a winter beer.

drinkability - don't plan on drinking too much of this one. this is a good beer to just sit down with and take your time with. don't plan on this beer being cold the whole way through. its also very filling and is a good desert beer.

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Photo of darkmartin
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Apperance: Pours to an extremely dark brown, almost black color with a thick, creamy, dark tan head that dissapates quickly leaving a thick, glass coating, lacing.

Aroma: Smells of strong chocolate malts, with hints of coffee.

Taste: The coffee flavor overwhelms the chocolate at first, while the chocolate malts seem to make a comeback in the aftertaste. The high ABV level is quite evident as well, as the alcohol taste is not particularly hidden.

Mouthfeel: Thick, somewhat sticky texture with a moderate amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Despite the moderately high ABV level, after the
first few sips the chocolate and coffee malts overpower the alcohol taste and make the drink really quite enjoyable.

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

In my eyes, Russian Imperial Stouts have got to be one of the sleekest looking of all beer styles. Their resolute opacity, the boldness of their black complexion and the sepia-toned, ochre colouring of their head is not only distinctive and eye-catching, but somehow seems to emphasize the creaminess of its skin. This thing belongs hung on a wall.

My nostrils inflate like a balloon, becoming sublimely sedated by the chalky, rich, almost tangy perfume of fresh cocoa nibs. The scent is balmy and ethereal, like a bouquet of tropical flowers, despite the fact that its character is dark and roasty and full of decadent chocolaty and espresso flavour. Every breath honestly makes me feel lighter.

The appearance may belong in a photography exhibit but the taste is something right out of an authentic, top-notch Italian bakery: rich tiramisu, fresh-pulled shots of espresso, ginger cookies, creme brulee, chocolate mousse and a silky mouthfeel that is equivalent of the most airy whipped cream or delicate mousse.

What impresses me most, however, is how the sweetness - despite all the richness of these flavours and the fact they've directly added brown sugar - is kept in check by an impressively coy 65 IBUs and an easily overlooked hop profile. The alcohol, astonishingly for a beer over 10%, is equally easily overlooked and makes no bid for your attention.

Of the "hearty meal, soft cheeses or decadent desserts", I've opted to pair it with an assortment of the latter and, take my word, it works just as well with sweets as it does tropical fruity treats, mousse cakes or baked berry custards. (Probably because there's a little bit of all those things in the beer itself!?) It is the exclamation point to any dessert.

If I owned a fancy-shmancy restaurant I would be sure to stock cases of Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout and advertise it all over my dessert menu. This brewery has shown through their "World Tour" releases that their brewer is capable of capturing many styles although I must insist, to date, it seems he's captured the RIS best.

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

Pours pretty much as black as you can get with a dense inch and a half cap of dark brown foam. Lacing was a bit clumpy, head retention good. Malty aroma, lots of roast and coffee, toffee, charcoal, milk chocolate, hint of alcohol. Nicely balanced bitterness up front, lots of toffee and dark chocolate, a bit sugary, molasses, raisins and figs as it warmed. Roast and coffee were more prominent towards the end and really lingered in the finish, along with increased bitterness. Light alcohol flavour, moderate warmth. Full bodied with fine, smooth carbonation. A bit of astringency from the dark malts. Really drinkable for a big stout too. Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle tried 14 Feb 2010.

Poured in a 512 One snifter. Medium dark brown tight glossy head. Beer is black, almost opaque. Aroma of Kahlua, some vanilla, cocoa. Quite sweet, vanilla, oakiness. Finish is of cocoa and coffee. Ethanol is fairly potent. Becomes sweeter as it warms. Medium to heavy oily body.

Would get this again.

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Photo of biglite351
3.26/5  rDev -18.9%
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 meatyard
3.13/5  rDev -22.1%
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 mdfb79
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received in a BIF from Ineedabeerhere, thanks man. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark brown, almost black, with 2 inches of brown head. Decent lacing and no carbonation evident.

s - Smells of coffee, roasted malts, chocolate, and a little bit of dark fruit. Pretty nice.

t - Tastes of coffe and roasted malts mostly, but also some bitter chocolate and hops. A little bit of sweet caramel malts later in the taste.

m - High carbonation and medium to full body. Pretty thick.

d - A very solid RIS. Nice roasted coffee smell and taste and the alcohol is very well hidden. I thought the high carbonation hurt it a little bit, but worth checking out none the less. I would try it again.

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Photo of maximum12
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to AdamDC for this bottle, the lone survivor of a fall-time trade. It finally came to the top when I stirred the cellar tonight. Sipping while I watch the fourth Twins game of 2010.

Black, & honestly, I rather expect my RIS to be black. Smell is very promising, sweet chocolate & roast, bordering on coffee, greets the nose hairs.

Otter Creek's RIS is a hop-forward version of the genre. Follows the nose faithfully; the first tastes that come out are roast & chocolate, in nice proportion. Mid-sense there is a shadow of some off fruit, of the dark variety, or perhaps of the fig family. The end is a surprising burst of bitter hops, even after gathering dust in the cellar for several months, giving OCRIS (or is that O.C.R.I.S.) a nice hoppy ending.

Well, a nice sipping RIS. This has the hops going for it, & a fine beer to reach for mindlessly between pitches. Good RIS, solid example of the style.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured very dark, black with good carbonation and tannish head. Nose is chocolate, hops, coffee,booze.Taste follows nose well, dark fruits, cocoa, coffee and roasted malt, booze is well hidden. Mouthfeel is rather thin, overcarbonated a tad, thin. Worth a shit and pretty easy to drink.

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Photo of alpinebryant
3.4/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark black with a tan head. Smell of dark roasted malts, light milk chocolate, plum, dark fruit. No booze presence at all which I had expected at 10.6% abv. English hop presence , molasses.

Taste is very similar to the aroma. Everything seems to be pretty balanced out and tasty, my main improvements for this brew would be giving it a little more body and a little less Black Patent malt to lower the roasty characters. There is a brown sugar presence, dark fruit flavors of plum, cherry, licorice and a good hop finish that I had not expected. More bittering is going on in this than many other RIS that I have had. A little tweaking and this could be a very good RIS.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.05/5  rDev -24.1%
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 Poormon79
4.26/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Right off the bat i loved this beer. Russian Imperial Stouts are my cup of tea.

A: very dark, no light shining through. Black

S: Smells of chocolate malts and caramel

t: can taste a slight coffee taste, along with the malts, very pleasent

m: mouthful is very nice

all together a pretty good RIS. i really enjoyed it. would deff. recomend and buy again!

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Photo of illidurit
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black with a dark brown fading head. Aroma is standard dark chocolate/coffee with some mild unwelcome accents of metal and booze. Roasty dark chocolate flavor with a slightly vegetal finish (greenish coffee beans?). These kinds of flaws are usually hidden in Imperial Stouts. So to even be able to detect them is probably not such a good thing. Everything else is pretty much in place though: good malt character, full body, dark color.

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Photo of degerbah
3.31/5  rDev -17.7%
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 mwa423
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a very dark brown with a finger of dark brown head that disappeared quickly.

S - Lots of coffee, chocolate, and some sweet malt. A slightly sour at the end

T - Mostly coffee and chocolate, some malt. A bit underwhelming in the flavor department.

M/D - Mouthfeel was thin for a stout, but it was extremely drinkable, with little booziness for the high abv.

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Photo of russpowell
3.99/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this from Bitterbill, cheers Bill!

Pours like 15,000 mile motor oil with 1 finger of cocoa colored head. Average head retention & lacing

S: Dark chocolate, raisins, & a touch of leafy hops & then some figs & oak notes as this warms

T: Rich dark chcolate, a touch of roastyness, a bit of leafy hops & charred grains up front. As this warms, I get oakyness, a bit of vanilla, black cherry & powdery dryness from the brown sugar I presume, works pretty well here. Plums & figs soaked in booze also show up as well. Finishes with a hint of boozeyness, leafy hops, & figs

MF: Very chewy, fairly light carbonation, a tad syruppy

A fairly dry & complex offering, which slows me down quite a bit. A touch too fruitty for perfection, but this works overall. This is cutting the chill on a fairly cool (not cold) March evening. Another winner from Otter Creek

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Photo of ommegangpbr
3.76/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'll start with the negative.
If this beer hadn't been recommended to me, and highly at that, I would be pretty nervous right now after the scent of it. I get very little out of it. No sewage aromas but nothing seductive, either.
Definitely looks like it should. Dark, thick and opaque with a deep tan head. Not much lace but we can forgive.
Flavor is almost straight up rachbier. Smoke and malt and almost bacon. Burnt coffee and chocolate. A bit too tilted in that direction for my personal preference. Some deep, dark. bloody fruit flavors underneath. Black raspberry, cherry, some raisin and prune.
Pretty easy drinking for something that's 10.6% alcohol. Not quite exciting to me but not boring. Merits a taste test with other examples of the style.

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Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout from Otter Creek Brewing
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 612 ratings
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