Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout | Otter Creek Brewing

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Otter Creek Russian Imperial StoutOtter Creek Russian Imperial Stout
615 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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 615 |  Reviews: 299
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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Photo of DmanGTR
2.48/5  rDev -38.3%
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 ProudBeerSnob
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from 22 oz bottle. Inky black, with tan colored head that dissipates rather quickly.

Very dry in the nose. Boozy chocolate aromas... Very promising.

Failry mild in flavor. no heavy roasted notes, not overly bitter. Not necessarily a bad thing.

I'm fairly impressed with Otter Creek...a brewery I had nearly forgotten about. I'll try more of their brew in the future.

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Photo of plaid75
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at the Blind Tiger, NYC.

Poured a deep black hue with a one finger foamy tan head. There was very good retention and lacing.

The smell and taste featured elements of coffee, caramel dark chocolate and charcoal. The finish was remarkably and pleasantly dry.

The mouthfeel was full with a dry finish.

Overall a very good RIS. The dryness added significantly to the drinkability.

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Photo of DawnL
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black as night with a perfect head of foam that dissipated into lace over time.

Sweet malt, chocolate, coffee - like a mocha cappucino with an added espresso shot. Rich, thick luxurious - and that's just the aroma.

The palate didn't compromise here, either. More chocolate, more coffee, more malt. On the palate the malt gains more complexity and the flavors come at you in waves - chocolate first, then coffee, then bitter hops, then malt aftertaste that verges on toffee, but without the cloying sweetness that that might imply. There is nothing cloying about this beer.

The mouthfeel has that incredible way of making you think you're drinking something very substantial - almost like a milkshake, but also like a porridge.

Absolutely phenomenal beer.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - pours a dark, rich and silky black. Coffee-colored foam of four finger thickness springs up quickly and threatens to make a mess! It peaks out just above the top of the glass and slowly settles back in a mostly even fashion. Any side lacing is pulled back into the head's mass as if by magnetism.

Aroma - heady roasted malts and dark chocolate syrup. I couldn't ask for much more.

Taste - charred, burnt malts to start, some initial sweetness but much more roast than the nose lets on. An ashy, sour bite on the swallow, a bit off-putting. And a bit too big to allow much other flavor development. Some shades of bittersweet chocolate on the aftertaste and a smooth warming into the finish. I think it could use a definite show of sweetness somewhere to counter the burnt, bitter side. Decent but needs balance. Maybe some cellar time would smooth things out. Tastes a little better with warming and some palate adjustment.

Mouthfeel - velvety, creamy, right on.

Drinkability - looks, feels and smells great, but the taste wasn't there for me until I got into it a bit. A big beer for sure. Thanks to BGThang for this one, the first beer after my ten day fast. Appropriate, as this beer has enough flavor for ten beers! Prost!!

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Photo of sholland119
4.42/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from scottg in the Review This! BIF. So here I go:

A-Pours a lovely, opaque dark brown with just a hint of light at the top. Foamy mocha head with great retention and good lacing.

S-Roasty and sweet. Good fresh coffee notes with some mild chocolate and a hint of caramel.

T-Delicious. Very roasty up front with the taste of freshly ground and brewed coffee. Ahint of mocha sweetness and then a bit of rich chocolate syrup at the very end of the finish.

M-Medium bodied with a bit of sliky richness. Pleasantly light bodied for the style.

D-Yes, please. I will admit that this is not a favorite brewery of mine as I find a lot of buttery diacetyl in many of their offerings. But this one is damn fine.


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Photo of cpetrone84
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-almost jet black in color with a deep dark brown head that looks thick and creamy with some retention, but not a lot. some decent lacing is left on the glass.

S-the nose is big and brings tons of roasted malts, notes of dark chocolate and coffee as well.

T-the flavor is also huge with a ton of roasted espresso flavor. there is some dark chocolate in there and notes of sweetness towards the back.

M-this is relatively full bodied and very smooth. a lot of carbonation in there, slightly too much for my liking.

D-this is quite a solid stout and huge flavors. big on the roasted side. lots of carbonation actually make it only possible to take small sips.

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Photo of JayNH
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours black with a generous tan frothy head.

S- Roasty, bitter dark chocolate and a hint of coffee.

T- A dark, slightly sweet roasted malt. Notes of bitter dark chocolate and burnt coffee. A bit woody in the finish.

M- Body is on the lighter end for the style but enhances the "drinkability" of the brew. Carbonation is light and the finish is dry for the style.

D- Superb! 10.6% ABV??? This brew drinks like a 5.6% ABV.... The dry finish really throws you off, you could get good and snookered drinking this one. At 10.6 the alcohol is amazingly well hidden. Well balanced, not the typical hop bomb American RIS. Definitely worth checking out...

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Photo of Kendo
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured from the bomber into a Spirit Haus pint glass. Body is black. No light penetrates at all; not even lighter hues on the edges. This puppy is BLACK. Head is 1-finger, light brown. Leaves behind thick splotches of foam up top. [4.5]

S: Roasted malt. Definitely dark chocolate and definitely coffee. Both are strongly noted at first, with the chocolate becoming stronger as it warms. Also some charcoal is evident. [4.5]

T: First impression: roasted barley malt and coffee beans. A bit of charcoal is sensed, as well as some basic fruitiness. No signs of the 10.6% ABV at all. The finish is a bit chalky, maybe even a bit minerally. "Odd," I wrote, further indicating that the "finish is off." But I also added "overall impression is positive, though." I went back and forth between a 3.5 and a 4 on this category, finally settled on the 4 due to that overall positive impression. [4]

M: A tad bit thinner than expected for the style. Still medium, maybe even slightly heavier, it just seemed thin. And again I noted that it was chalky. [3.5]

D: Very good for a beer of this strength. Buzz duly noted. [4]

Notes: Drinking this on 3/17/13 from a 12 oz bottle and I'm inclined to modify the score - something I don't usually do, but at 10% ABV (versus 10.6 originally), I'm thinking this recipe has been tweaked in the last 3 yrs anyway. . . . Original scores are above, in [brackets]. Now, drinking if from a Piraat tulip/snifter, I'd give the appearance a 4.25 based on the small head and sparse lace over a nice dark black body. Smell similarly gets a 4.25 - it's pleasant, just not really powerful in the nose. Taste, however, gets a big boost - up to 4.5. I'm not getting anything chalky or minerally like I got 3 years ago. Instead, I get lots of chocolate, some dark fruits and roasted coffee beans. Mouthfeel is medium-to-full (closer to medium) and smooth from a modest carbonation. Bumped this one up too. Overall, I'm more impressed with this beer today. Real solid stuff.

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Photo of RedHaze
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to thirdeye11 for the bottles.

Pours very dark, but not pitch black as there or some deep ruby highlights around the edges. The peaks at just over one finger and then fades to a few thin wisps after a couple minutes. Very minimal lacing.

Smell; light roasted coffee beans dominate, with some very faint hints of chocolate and black licorice. Bitter hops top off the aroma.

Taste; as with the smell coffee beans seem to be the main component, with it being a touch on the oily side. I like coffee, I'll even eat a couple of beans from time to time, so this doesn't bother me. A hint of chocolate and mildly citric hops are present, but they are definitely in the background. This is one of the most coffe forward beers that I've had that was not actually brewed with coffee. I like it.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, with a bit of an oily quality to it, and it goes down almost to easily for me. Glad I have another bottle to try in another couple of months.

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Photo of hreb
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Liberated this bottle from my collection today, after several months of waiting. Cold 22oz bomber poured into tapered pint glass. Beer pours black, like motor oil, with a thick, ice-cream-float-like mahogany head, which grows as it rests. Rich hazelnut-coffee aroma. Toasty.

Initial sip has a creamy mouthfeel with a mouth-coating roasted coffee flavor. The beer would do well to warm up a bit. Carbonation and hops are appropriately distant. Doesn't betray even a hint of alcohol. Lots of thick brown lacing already coat the glass.

As the beer warms it gets even more mellow. It also becomes even more apparent that the aroma, initial flavor, and aftertaste are pure roasted barley, while the middle of the palate uses hops to subtly take the edge of the sweetness of the brown sugar. Fantastic. And in no way does it reveal the over 10% ABV.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.09/5  rDev -23.1%
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 ritzkiss
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber courtesy of sstackho - thanks Sean!

Pour a jet black with a thinner than I would like mocha head, thin glints of brown and ruby play along the edge of the glass when held to the light.

Sharp coffee and roasting malts in the nose, just a hint of brown sugar and sweetness - smells big!

Quite a roasty stout and it belies its bigness, something I've found with the DIPA from Otter Creek as well - beware of the ABV that will sneak up on you! Lots of coffee roast (my cup of joe this morning instantly reminded me of last night), oats, bitter roast malt, dark chocolate, nice sweetness throughout balanced by a slightly drying finish. Complaint with this one is the mouthfeel which feels a little thin for what I want a RIS to be, I want a bit more chewy - though I suppose this lighter feel aids the drinkability which is high for such a monster, just a hint of booze.

Tasty beer, what I've had from OC so far has impressed me in their straightforward drinkability. Nothing too complex here, just tasty, big beer.

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

During a recent trip to Vermont, I took the opportunity to purchase a bomber of this fine brew, an entry in Otter Creeks' new series of "Imperial" beers.

Poured into a stem glass, it begins has a gusher of chocolate mousse that slowly subsides into pitch black darkness. It looks like a glass of oil. There is some splotchy lacing coating the sides of the glass along with a few sparse bubbles of carbonation.

The nose his hit with intense notes of cocoa powder and molasses while the palate is greeted with an overwhelming bite of dark chocolate and brown sugar. To appreciate the full complexity, I would let it sit for about five minutes. Despite the above, it is not as sweet as one would think. The mouthfeel is a heavy one, consisting of a heavy malt blanket wrapping around the tongue while resinous chocolate coats the inside of the mouth. It is very heavy and very rich; I recommend a glass of water on the side. (Single malt? You say!)

This is the proverbial "sipping beer." Drink it slow and steady. This is surely one for a leisurely after dinner quaff.

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Photo of mountdew1
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a dark opaque brown tieh a thick 3 finger head. Head was a thick bubbly foam that clung to itself and the sides nicely. Looked a little thick when pouring from the bottle. Aroma was very strongly coffee, and well brewed coffee at that. Seemed to have hints of either lactose or milk chocolate, perhaps both. Slightly sweet smelling, but not overly so. It started off tasting a bit bitter up front, but mellowed out well, to a coffee mocha finish. Felt solid in the mouth, coated nicely, perhaps a smidgen over acidic, but body and texture were dead on. Smooth to drink, but the ABV seemed to hit quickly, but wasn't noticeable while drinking.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.11/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received via trade with Portia99, thanks! Cracked this one as part of my New Year's Eve celebration.

A: Thick, black, viscous pour. Opaque. Two finger dark brown colored head with great retention. This is a perfect looking RIS.

S: lots of molasses malts and notes of licorice, some dark fruits- mainly cherries. Smells complex.

T: lots of sweet malts up front with some of the cherry and molasses coming through, there is a flavor similar to licorice in the mid palate and it finishes with some bitter hops and booziness.

MF: thick body, higher carbonation than I'm used to for the style

D: this beer is incredibly rich and sweet, tastes great, but definitely a sipper

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Photo of augustgarage
3.84/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained in trade from ShogoKawada (thanks!). Bottled in 2008? Poured from a 22oz bomber into my Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Rich dark brown liquid is topped by a churning creamy sandy brown head of foam. Thick pasty lacing, and superior retention (a swirl brings the head right back up).

Chocolate covered malt balls, roasted barley, brown bread, molasses, shoyu, and a touch of oxidation (sweat, cardboard) in the nose. Letting it "breath" for a while seems to help dispense with some of the undesirable aromatics...

Old coffee grounds, and an almost sour hop flavor greet the palate. The astringency blossoms into an array of roast levels from pleasantly toasty to nearly acrid as it builds into the finish. A touch of hazlenut, faint cherry, heaps of brown sugar and a bit of milk chocolate tames the bitterness, though the aftertaste is still fairly dry and roasty.

Full-bodied, dense, velvety mouthfeel - filling with fairly high carbonation. Warming but not at all hot. Pleasing spice-like astringency. Reminds me of nitro-tap but in a good way...

A well balanced and enjoyable example of the style, though it doesn't seem as robust as the label claims - I'd be nervous to age this except at a very cool temperature - as it tastes just a hair past its peak already.

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Photo of ffejherb
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Drafting Room, Exton, PA on 12/11/09.

A - Pitch black body with a frothy burnt mocha-colored head and nice cascade a la nitro pour, which transformed into thick, creamy foam down the sides of the glass.

S - Initial aroma blends roasted malt, toasted nuts, a hint of coffee, bitter chocolate and earthy hop notes. A slight waft of alcohol also emerged as the liquid warmed up.

T - Flavor is quite roasty up front but not charred or too woody or bitter. This RIS artfully balances coffee and chocolate notes with a nutty malt character, concealing any trace of alcohol, which for a 10% plus RIS is no easy feat. Finishes with earthy bitter notes and another potent surge of coffee.

M - Medium to full bodied with an exceptionally creamy, almost chewy texture and very minimal carbonation. Finish is quite bitter, which is a quality I always desire with a RIS.

D - Fantastic RIS that stands up proudly with the best of them. This was a great introduction to this brewery, and otters are really cool, so that's a plus, right?

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

Poured from 22 oz bomber into a Sam Adams Imperial Series Tulip while kegging the American Strong Ale I made in honor of my mothers 80th birthday.

Let me just say I have always liked the Otter Creek beers that I have gotten fresh, was never a huge customer, though I really enjoy the Stovepipe Porter.

This new series of beers has taken the brewery into a new realm and I am excited to try the other two releases to date.

This beer pours like black gold, thick and almost syrupy with as dark a brown head as I have ever seen. If I had to venture a guess this beers terminal gravity is somewhere around 1.030 or almost the starting gravity of a breakfast stout.

Aromas are earthy leather, dark bitter sweet chocolates and roasted malt. Subtle notes of caramelized sugar, vanilla, licorice, freshly roasted/ground coffee.

Flavor is roasty and bittersweet chocolate, with espresso notes and some maple/molasses character.

The alcohol in this beer is masked but warming, the mouthfeel is full bodied and the finish is sweet and creamy but with enough bitterness and alcohol to stop it from being cloying.

A fine Imperial Stout, worth cellaring.

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Photo of Aphelion
3.32/5  rDev -17.4%
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 popery
4.07/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

~6 months since purchase. Solid RIS, much better than expected offering from Otter Creek. This is a very dark beer. The liquid is black and opaque. The head is a creamy light brown. The aroma is a mixture of sweet fruity malt, roasted grain and a light madeira note. I have a feeling this beer could have lasted significantly longer in the cellar. The flavor is relatively dry from the roast. There's some vanilla and alcohol burn on the tongue, as well. The mouthfeel is a tad thin but not too bad. It's a very solid example of the style.

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Photo of wyattshotmaker
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a snifter,black with a nice resilient tan head.nice lacing.smooth roasted coffee nose,not overly acrid.dark chocolate in the backround,bit of tobacco and alcohol in the backround.

nice dark chocolate,roasted barley,coffee,slight acridity,bit of dark fruit,ever so slight alcohol in the backround,bit of tobacco.very smooth bitterness throughout. nice residual chocolate flavor in the aftertaste.

smooth mouthfeel,seems a touch light in mouthfeel.maybe i'm just being picky.but still very smooth.

i'd probably pick this up's solid.

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Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout from Otter Creek Brewing
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 615 ratings