Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout | Otter Creek Brewing

very good
609 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: 609 |  Reviews: 299
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 Cylinsier
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured from a 1 pint 6 oz bottle.

The pour is oil black, allowing no light through, with a dark brown sugar head. It dissipates after a bit to nothing.

Smells smokey and toasty with a bit of brown sugar sweet malts.

The taste is similar, a nice mix of malty sweetness and smokey bitterness. A bit nutty. The alcohol is ever so slightly detectable.

Feels thick and smooth with a tingle of bubbles on the tongue and very late in the throat.

An excellent imperial stout, one of the better ones I've had. Handles the abv well. A must try for all RIS fans.

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Photo of outdoorbrewer
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled from bomber bought at the brewery this past summer and chilled till now.
Roasted sweet dark chocolate/coffee over light hop aroma
with a dark bread dough issuing the alcohol presence.
Poured a light brown head with frothy greatness mostly lasting then settling to 1/8" covering a murky black/brown hue.
Dense creamy texture initially gives rise to the moderately sweet then flowing bitterness with a long duration. I taste roasted grains, differing crystals and chocolate malts that form a complex character with some hop flavor blending.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours black as night with a solid 1/8" head of tan bubbles that is thick and looks like it is going to be there a while. There is a decent amount of lace left on the glass from just the beer falling, so it looks like a thick one. After drinking there is a decent amount af lacing left on the glass, and the head never completely falls. It is a nice looking beer, no doubt.

Aroma: Even from the neck of the bottle after popping the top, I could pick up coffee notes. I pick up a bit of the alcohol, but unfortunately for this beer (and me) that my allergies are not in the best shape right now. Maybe I will come back to this beer afterward if my sniffer improves before I am done. Otherwise, I would be able to pick up any obvious flaws, and there is none. I am numb to the subtlties, and this beer is pretty subtle for its stats.

Taste: Unfortunately, I am not in the best shape to review this beer apparently as my sense of taste is also quite off from where it should be to give this beer a fair shake. I get some obvious roasty notes and coffee with some alcohol and some sweetness, but my senses are dulled right now. The bitter balance is reserved and leaves the malt to take care of everything in the finish.

Opinion: Obviously I am judging in a compromised state, so I will go with what I know. There are no flaws in this beer and I am splitting hairs to give or take points. This beer is clean and definitely deserving of a "good" rating regardless. It is good enough that I would like to try it again to update my review at a later time. I would give it a shot regardless of my review, and later I will make a better one

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Photo of DNICE555
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at plan b. Served in a pint glass... I wasn't going to be the one to point out to the bartender it's 10.6% ABV.

A - Black body with a generous frothy medium brown head.

S - Roasted coffee and chocolate. Slightly burnt.

T - Roasted coffee and chocolate. Some fruitiness comes along with the alcohol. An earthy bitterness in the end.

M - Full body, high carbonation for the style,abv.

D - No burning alcohol sensations. Not the best stout I've had but pretty decent.

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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 WeedKing4
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber pours a jet black colour, with a decent amount of carbination. Smells like a imperial stout should, all those espresso and coffee dark malt smells. But the taste is disappointing as a follow up. Its very watery and thin. This didn't wow me like I was expecting it too. It has a watery coffeeish taste, but not like in other imperial stouts I have had where it was kick ass. Its quite easy to drink for the abv%, but this has no personality. Average stout.

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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 mbudner
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber into a snifter

A- Pours deep black with a dark tan or mocha colored one-finger head. Recedes relatively quickly leaving a fair lacing. A little thin/transparent when the glass is tipped, but this is the only discernible flaw.

S- Smells of toasted marshmallows and chocolate. Some coffee and bitterness comes through with the sweeter aromas mentioned. A hint of booze if you really breathe in, but not uncharacteristic of a 10+%abv RIS.

T- Starts off sweet on the front of the palate with a bitter kick that lingers towards the middle and back of my palate. The toasted marshmallows I got in the nose taste more burnt or charred due to the heavy roasted malts. Not much sweet chocolate in the taste, but definitely some bitter cocoa or baking chocolate. I also taste a slight hint of tobacco (akin to that of an unlit cigar or untreated pipe tobacco) right before the booze hits (I get these last two flavors only as it warms considerably.) Sweeter chocolate flavors begin to emerge as it warms up as well, followed by a huge bitterness. I let it warm up out of the fridge for about 45 minutes, but another 45 minutes or so in the glass did wonders...had to bump my score for taste from a 4 to a 4.5. Really comes together nicely as the chocolate flavors become more pronounces and merge with the bitter roasted malts. After some warming, the booze came out, after further warming it receded making for a great finish.

M- Nice a creamy, but slightly over-carbonated for my liking. This does not take away much from the mouthfeel, however, because the carbonation disappears from the tongue so quickly.

D- All in all, quite an enjoyable RIS. I had had it once before and remembered finding it sweeter, but I am happy with the flavors I am getting out of this bottle as well. For a 10.6% brew, it is deceptively smooth and drinkable. The price is also extremely good (I've seen it in stores for $6-7/bomber) for the quality, especially considering that RISs tend to be slightly more to begin with.

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Photo of mirish72
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I first tried this at the ACBF in June and picked up a bomber at my last serious run at Julio's earlier this fall.

Poured into a Duvel snifter. Pours jet black with an incredible chocolately head that towered above the beer. Looks amazing.

Has a massive chocolate/vanilla aroma. Malts permeate the aroma.

Tastes of roasted malts, has a slightly bitter aftertaste that smooths out as you make it through the beer.

Overall, I really like this beer and will pick up more. It is a solid RIS and a real good value. Happy to see Otter Creek doing good things with this Imperial Series, looking forward to other offerings.

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Photo of natelocc787
3.54/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Tiny head after vigorous pour. Absolutely no lacing, the head is not sticky at all. The nose offered something different. It had a lot of vanilla, honey and graham with a surprisingly large amount of fruit esters. Those smells go along with the normal chocolate and light roasted coffee associated with the style. Taste was roasted barley, milk chocolate covered graham crackers, bourbon, licorice (unwelcome character) and sugar-coated raspberries. Mouthfeel was oily and moderately chewy while being thin and thick at the same time. Took me awhile to finish 22oz.

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Photo of bcm119
3.87/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opaque black with some fine brown lacing that sticks around a while.

Interesting aroma: chocolate liqueur, mocha, coffee beans, and some fruity esters.

Soft coffee bean/mocha roasted malt. Alcohol comes through with sort of a sweetish chocolate liqueur quality. Very round and smooth; perhaps a bit too much so. Hops barely balance the roasty sweetness. As it warms a vaguely fruity, vinous character appears toward the back.

This is pretty good; it smells fantastic, but I could go for more hop presence, especially in the finish. The finish is fairly tame and short for such a big beer.

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Photo of scottg
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a snifter glass.

Pours a dark jet black color, no light gets through this one, with a one finger tan fluffy head with good retention settling into a light lace down the glass. Intense coffee and chocolate aromas with vanilla, smoke, and some stone fruit mixed in. Espresso like coffee flavor takes the lead with roasted malt, chocolate and a balanced hop bitterness in the middle. An alcohol warmth is apparant with some smoky malt in the finish. Medium high carbonation with a dry chalky finish. This is a sipper at 10.6%, the slight bitterness really balances all of the sweet malt flavors.

A solid RIS from Otter Creek and another successful beer from their Imperial Series. Great bang for your buck with this one, I'm putting a few of these in the basement to age.

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Photo of atsprings
4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a Duvel snifter pours a deep opaque black with a decent light-tan head that diminishes to a ring and leaves very spotty lacing on the glass. Aroma is a decent amount of roasted malts with a hint of bitter cocoa. The taste is a nice blend of roasted malts with mild cocoa and espresso. The beer is somewhat heavy bodied with warming alcohol and mild carbonation, a smooth sipper for a cold night. This is a very respectable Imperial Stout, one I can easily see myself picking up again.

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Photo of vacax
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black in color with a one-finger brown head. Decent retention with a bit of lace. Smells of caramel, graham crackers, coconut, cocoa, and almond. Real doozy of a scent. Tastes of roasted malts, alcohol, and black coffee. Midpalate has some floral character and raisin, then there is a cookielike finish. Medium to full bodied with medium level of carbonation, maybe could use less. Pretty nice RIS overall, glad I tried it.

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Photo of Lunch
4.7/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia, Maryland as part of Baltimore Beer Week (10/13/2009). Served rather cold in a snifter, but I allowed it to warm up quite a bit to around cellar temperature.

Appearance: Very typical for a RIS as it was virtually black likened to that of motor oil with one finger of espresso brown head. Decent, but unremarkable lacing that left a slight oiliness on the inside of the glass.

Smell: Fairly complex nose that was dominated by chocolate and coffee giving off a roasted bouquet of toffee, vanilla, raisins, and just the faintest soupçon of graham cracker along with a flutter of alcohol ("Sideways", it was true and I just couldn't resist).

Taste: Oh my. This is a wonderful treat that crushes the smell in terms of complexity. Chocolate and roasted coffee comes through first quickly followed by oat, molasses, maple syrup, and rich malt. A slight hop bitterness is also present, but is far less dominant than many of its other American RIS brethren. As the beer warms, a minor alcohol tinge becomes subtlety apparent, but never comes through anywhere close to that of its lofty 10.6%.

Mouthfeel: A thick feel that is quite pleasing and oily. If I had one minor critique, it would be that I wish that it was just slightly thicker, but that is truly splitting hairs.

Drinkability: Truly excellent for its style as alcohol never really gets in the way and each sip seems to bring across new characteristics. I had no problem putting away two of these on tap, but as with any higher alcohol beer, the alcohol, even though it is hidden quite well, will catch up to you.

Overall this is an excellent and unique offering from a brewery that is seemingly headed in the right direction concerning its Imperial Series. I look forward to not only revisiting this beer again and again (as well as its Imperial IPA brother), but also to the hopes that they expand their Imperial Series lineup. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Earlier this year, we had this beer as part of a blind taste test... The beer did not fair too well vs. the big famous Russian Imperial Stouts.. (Kate, Dark Lord, Darkness, Abyss, Sexual Chocolate) Again, this was a double blind taste test... This review is NOT based upon that tasting earlier this year. This is the 2nd bottle and is being consumed on it's own.. Months later.

I love pouring R.I.S and watching the head rise from within the beer. A big creamy tan head rises even above the glass. Settles to about 3 fingers thick. The darkest brown and almost black the beer is totally opaque. No shimmers of light even at the edges. Just a touch of lacing.

Aroma is a wonderful mix of chocolate (cocoa powder) and coffee with a twinge of alcohol. Almost espresso like.

Like a sweet coffee shake with a dose of charcoal or ash.. (Dark Roasted malts) There is a fairly strong hop bitterness mixed with the burnt/dark roasted malts. The hop bitterness fades a bit and you are left with the ash flavors in your mouth... A bit like smoking a cigar. In the end it's like drinking a dark espresso with a bit of cream and quite a bit of sugar.

Mouth feel is just shy of creamy carbonation is very slight. Sweetness slows you a bit here. Slightly chalky at times.

Nicely drinkable. Not epic, but very good.

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Photo of Gosox8787
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Poured from a bomber bottle into a pint glass in two parts.

Appearance is dark, opaque black with a two finger dark mocha head. Nose hits first with sweet, dark fruits. Coffee and espresso malts are also there with some noticable booze. Taste is sweet upfront from the dark fruits followed by espresso and smoke notes from the malt. The smoke not is a bit overpowering for my tastes. The booze is well hidden here. Complex but lacking some balance. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with slight carbonation. Drinkability is decent. High ABV is well hidden in the taste, but not the smell. The overpowering smoke flavors can wear thin.

Overall, a nice RIS big on the smoke flavor. Enjoyable, but not great. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of kirok1999
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep black, legs on the glass and almost no head or fizz.
Smells sweet and chocolatey. Some dark fruit and citrus hops. Mild coffee.
Taste has much more coffee than the smell. Almost dominates the chocolate notes. Dark fruit in the finish leaves the mouth sticky and a bit dry.
Rich and creamy and it's a really nice sipper.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.91/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this in a trade a while back - can't remember from whom though (think it was Reagan1984). Served in the same weird conic pint glass.

A - Poured with two fingers of mocha foam that dissipates slowly to a thick cap and leaves big bubbly lacing. Pitch black body with only the faintest bit of brown at the bottom. Looks like an RIS should!

S - Cocoa, roasted malts, some tobacco, some sweet and fruity malts, marshmallow.

T - There's a lot of bitterness that makes this seem a little dirtier than the other stouts we've had. Roastiness, dark chocolate, earthiness. Not my favorite collection of tastes and mono-dimensional in the wrong direction. Bitterness persists well into the aftertaste.

M - This is thicker than the bottle d0b had - medium, with light carbonation tingle, and a smooth creamy texture. Maybe that was a bad bottle, because this was pretty good.

D - The bitterness gets a little out of control, but otherwise this is a pretty easy drinking RIS that hides the 10.6% quite well.

I'm thinking d0b got a bad bottle, because this wasn't awful. Still it was probably my least favorite stout today.

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Photo of rudylaw
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to MasterSki for bringing this to the CE release. Served in my GTOM taster glass.

A natural black pour with minimal caramel-colored head.

The aroma was hard to lock down. Fudgy, tobacco, chocolately. It has a burnt smell as well.

I get a ton of chocolate up front. There's some coffee notes here, but mostly dark chocolate. Some smoke as well. This is actually very appealing to me. Smooth mouthfeel and decent drinkability for an RIS. I could easily drink a whole bomber of this.

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Photo of farrago
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One to two finger head of dark brown hue, mostly tiny foam bubbles, the lacing forms complete sheets but they slide down the sides with ease. Jet black in color, no sign of any brown or orange. Malty nose of caramel, milk chocolate, creamed coffee, surprising burst of grapefruit citrus which registers way before the raisin, plum, cherry scents, in turn unprocessed grain and grass notes also take on a prominent role, overall hovers more than it lifts. Medium-bodied, creamy, full mouth entry which turns semi-bitter featuring coffee rinds, burnt dark chocolate powder alongside wheat and straw, not quite herbaceous given the latter. The citrus is lower here, more mixed in flavor, however, clearly present. Also more floral as it warms. Does sweeten some by the end but not much. As it finishes a metallic and minerally element comes out. Has a "mature" feel to it, avoids taking a more ungroomed "power" route to impress.

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Photo of edmedina
3.78/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ok first, let me say this. One of the best Russian Imperial Stouts I have had is the Duck Rabbit Rabbid Duck. To me that is the bench mark of the style. Otter Creek almost gets there. The head of the beer is about one fingers worth. It has a dark creamy look to it. The aroma has a strong coffee aroma with a hint of hot liquor. The appearance is black, solid black. There is no light coming through this beer. The first taste has a roasted coffee character. The beer is big and the hot liquor shows up at the back of the tongue. I am also getting some smokey character and sweet malty character.

This big beer is a great example of the style. Is it as good as Duck Rabbits? It's close. I think the smokey/coffee character is just a little higher than I would have liked. However, it is definitely a great sipper.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.57/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Nose is nicely dark and rich with chocolate, espresso, and hints of vanilla. Soft grape-like fruit, but mainly malt. Smells excellent.

Pours black with mild head. Looks good.

Follows nose with substantial bitterness - both roasted and hop feeling. Lots of roasted dryness, dark malt, toast, and bread crust. Soft fruit - dark and grape-like. Some hoppy tannins/phenols add sharp rawness; seems like age would mellow it out. Mild sugary sweetness. Notions of alcohol. Finishes fairly dry with tannins/phenols. Tastes pretty good. Feels good. Pretty good drinkability.

Otter Creek's RIS is raw and young and will probably get better with subsequent batches and recipe evolutions. It's too rough and tannic, with an unsteady balance of sweet to dry, and the roasted malt character is either not strong enough to dominate or too sharp/acrid to be in harmony. It's like they loaded a shotgun with all the ingredients for a RIS, closed their eyes, and discharged into their brew kettle. It's close, and if they work at it they can make it better. Worth another try in 3-5 years.

After reading their description online I like it even less. Either they're shamelessly self-promoting or they just don't know what a real stout should taste like.

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

A: A solid two inches of dark espresso-like head off a medium pour, head settles into a rocky mass of meringue leaving lots of lacing, absolutely no light passes through this black hole of a beer, pitch black - 4.50, S: Burnt molasses and candied cherries, lots of dark chocolate and coffee, thickly sweet with a heap of ash - 4.25, T: Bitter espresso, quite dry and void of much sweetness which is surprising given the smells I was picking up, some mild dark fruit flavors, toasty and charred, ever so slightly on the side of grassy - 4.25, M: Very silky with a touch of grittiness from grains - 4.50, D: A solid interpretation of the style, I appreciate the dry roastiness of this particular brew - 4.00

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Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout from Otter Creek Brewing
4 out of 5 based on 609 ratings.
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