Cambridge Brewing Company

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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #151
Ranked #2,674
4.17 | pDev: 10.07%
Cambridge Brewing Company
Massachusetts, United States
Notes: THE CROWD GOES WILD! A smooth bass line of roasted notes establishes the deep end beneath arpeggios of complex chocolate malt, while power chords of caramelized grain open up to an extended malty jam. Black barley teases treacle character and wades into a velvety sea of oak-derived vanilla and toasted coconut tones. Sustained improvisation of fruitiness modulates to an intense finale, and encores with a rich, espresso-roasted reprise, a capella.
Reviews: 83 | Ratings: 287 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of hreb
hreb from Washington

4.49/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle bottled on 11/18/14. Yes, I've cellared this beer (cellar temps, horizontally) for over 4 years. There are definitely some signs of sedimentation on the down side; hopefully that doesn't do too much harm. Served in a curved stout glass. Black and oily, with a very little amount of brown head. Aroma is big and boozy, with bourbon, or maybe rum soaked raisins. The first sip is incredible: milky in texture, but molasses and treacle in flavor, with a huge vanilla oak character. In the finish, the sour side of the bourbon comes out and the corners of my cheeks pucker a little bit. The boozy raisin and fig flavor is what dominates here, besides the bourbon of course. This is not a chocolatey or coffee-ish imperial stout. This a bourbon barrel aged stout to end all bourbon barrel aged stouts. I'm not sure what kind of bourbon barrels they were using in 2014, but that sour note has been prevalent in YEM, at least since they brought it back (many years ago now).

I'm having it just slightly cooled, and it this temperature it is incredibly smooth and flavorful. Carbonation is all but negligible, perhaps it's lost some of what it once had over the years.

CBC executes my favorite style and produces one of my favorite CBC beers.

Feb 07, 2019
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jcoleMA66 from Massachusetts

2.83/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

The cork came out with a big pop and, like others, this poured with big frothy head. Much more carb than expected. Overall, though, the pour is black and looks appealing once carb settles. The nose has some roast but is dominated by a sweet cherry aroma with some wet wood and doesn't quite smell right. Taste starts with a bit of roast and sweetness that gives impression of vanilla, but it goes downhill quickly from there as it turns into a tart fruit. Not quite sour but after taste isn't pleasant. I've never had an infected bottle before and can't be sure that's what I have here, but that's my guess.

Oct 29, 2017
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ManapuaMan from Massachusetts

4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aged ~18 months. Pours like a beer-lion out of the bottle: huge head erupts from the bottom of the glass and lifts straight up. Bubbly, puffy and foamy before it sags and craters above the viscous black body. Gorgeous. The aroma is dark chocolate, oak, bourbon, figs, char, vanilla. The barrel characteristics shine. Although there's a fig-like fruitiness it's less pronounced than when fresh. Seems to be the oak and bourbon have filled the gap, which is right up my alley. Velvety smooth and marshmallow soft - the liquid allocates tastes of chocolate, roasted grains, char, oak, vanilla and toasted coconut. Nice alcohol warmth but a far cry from what the ~11% ABV is capable of. Outstanding brew.

Jun 04, 2017
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VetsPackage from Massachusetts

2.87/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Maybe there's a decent beer underneath it all but couldn't get over the obvious qualities of a lactic infection. Overcarbed, glaringly sweet and pretty tart. Worse than bcbs' issues

Aug 17, 2016
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Hyptochrons from Massachusetts

3.8/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from bottle, couldnt find a date.

black with a kahki head that recedes quickly, leaves a few spots of lacing.

burbon, roasty malt, chocolate, licorice, light vanilla and toasted wood on the nose.

sweet molasses and caramel up front. also getting chocolate and a slightly bitter coffee/espresso flavor. nice touch of the bourbon barrel on the finish. mouthfeel leaves something to be desired, but its not bad. a little much on the carbonation in my opinion, makes it feel kind of watery and light.

overall definitely a nice stout but maybe a little much on the caramel sweetness for me. kind of found the overwhelming caramel flavor to be a bit much by the end of the bottle, and i thought the taste became a bit too sour or funky as it warmed, maybe i was just getting sick of it. I dont necessarily think I had a bad bottle, but especially as the beer warmed, the flavor profile I was getting was not nearly as enjoyable as other examples of BA stouts. however it did have some appealing aspects and ill probably try to get another bottle and hang onto it for a while.

Apr 12, 2016
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lordofthewiens from New Mexico

4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A dark black beer with a thick light brown head.
Lots of chocolate in the aroma. Vanilla and booze. Something roasted.
Big chocolate taste. Leather. Vanilla and booze.
Big beer, better as it warms.

Feb 22, 2016
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BergBeer from Virginia

4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 cork and cage BA version

Look: Opaque black with a thick mocha head. Moderate carbonation.

Smell: Dark chocolate, vanilla, licorice, brown sugar, more chocolate, and a big boozy bite.

Taste: Rich vanilla and dark chocolate notes greet the tongue. Followed by a strong leathery date, pipe tobacco, raisin, and more rich vanilla. The finish is all bourbon and oak.

Feel: Thick and lush. Coats the palate with an iron grip. Finish is spicy bourbon that dances on the tongue with a deep alcohol warmth on the throat.

Overall: I really enjoy the luscious waves of flavor that coat the palate. The brew is thick and deep. What really stands out for me is right after the attack when the vanilla and chocolate notes intertwine with the deep dates notes. It's delicious. Then to finish it all off with nice bourbon. Excellent. It's a big, deep, and thick beer that's not afraid to show it.

Feb 04, 2016
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BlurryVisi0n from New York

4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter glass from a 750ml bottle.

Appearance: Pitch black, almost like motor oil with a superior dark tan head. Medium to heavy bubbles on the body creates a head rising to roughly almost two finger's length.

Smell: Deep chocolate scent with a major overdose of whiskey. Little light in potency but strong in likability.

Taste: Chocolately espresso with medium bitterness. Sweet with huge touch of a molasses. The bourbon and wood notes definitely offset it. Absolutely delish.

Mouth: Sweet finish but comes off dry and a little more bitter than other Imperial Stouts.

Overall: Very very good brew, worth hunting for and worth grabbing again just in time for the NFL playoffs. Granted there are and were better beers for the money but this one gives you a unique characteristics that indeed make it a classic. Drink with love my friends...Salud!

Jan 21, 2016
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JratBones from Massachusetts

3.21/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was really let down by this beer. I think I may have had an infected bottle. Ridiculously over carbonated,watery,and funked. I've read some reviews that say it has a funkyness to it,but what I tasted was just bad. So many things going on that I just couldn't put together and enjoy. I would love to try it again though.

Jan 18, 2016
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Marcsarm from Colorado

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

Youenjoymystout was so much better in like the late 90s... 1998 in particular was a great year. It was funkier then, which is weird for a stout (I know). I will say that the past year or so has really seen a nice turn. It's getting its body back! From the way things are starting to taste, I'd say that we're in for some good years ahead. I hope these four amazing brewers continue to send their beers to Colorado, too. Taboot!

Jan 15, 2016
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StoutElk_92 from Massachusetts

4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750mL cork bottle - 2015

Pours pitch black with a fluffy tan brown head. Smells like dark fruits, molasses, dark chocolate, light coffee, bourbon, vanilla, oak, and caramel. Taste is sweet and bourbony, with big notes of smoky oak, vanilla, caramel, dark fruits, molasses, dark chocolate, and a dark coffee aftertaste. Feels light bodied and slightly creamy, with moderate carbonation. Overall a good bourbon barrel aged imperial stout.

Jan 04, 2016
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Greywulfken from New York

4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure if there was supposed to be something special about this stout - a fairly straightforward albeit solid entry into the style. Black body and dark head, aromas of rich roasted malt with chocolaty undertones. Molasses sweetness, coffee elements, and chocolate on the palate. Full-bodied and smooth, with a bittersweet taste that lingers after the finish.

Jan 04, 2016
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SebastianOwl from Massachusetts

4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Did a vertical tasting on 12/30/15; drank the 2015 version first in a Speigelau stout glass; this rating was based on this version; not as good as I remember this beer being in the past; perhaps it is too attenuated?

Drank the 2014 version in the same type of stout glass; alcoholic aroma of bourbon has greatly dissipated, almost smells like a toasted marshmallow now; much more mellow and noticeably sweeter

Dec 31, 2015
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dbrauneis from North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours an opaque yet still clear jet black in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and some faint dark cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall foamy dark tan head that slowly reduces to a large patch of mottled thin film covering the entire surface of the beer and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of roasted malts, dark fruits (plum), chocolate, and vanilla with a light aroma of bourbon + oak.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of roasted + dark malts with a moderate to strong flavor of dark fruits (plum). That is followed by moderate flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and oak with a hint of bourbon.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Light to moderate amounts of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: The bourbon from the barrel aging is a little more subdued than in other beers but really adds to the complexity of the flavors and aromas. A very nice sipping beer that hides the alcohol fairly well.

Dec 13, 2015
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metter98 from New York

3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a short, dense dark beige head that has very good retention properties and hardly died down.
S: Light aromas of bourbon are present in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of dark malts and bourbon from the barrel aging along with some hints of licorice.
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation along with some notes of warming from the alcohol.
O: The bourbon in the smell and taste isn't that strong, but helps to add to the complexity of the aromas and flavors in this beer.

Serving type: bottle

Dec 13, 2015
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Damian from Massachusetts

3.35/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Drank from a 1 pint 6 fluid ounce bottle purchased at Cambridge Wine & Spirits, Cambridge, MA
Served in a snifter

The liquid poured a dark, inky brown/black and was topped by a tight, creamy, finger tall crop of cappuccino colored froth that quickly fell to a clingy ring. Drippy streaks of lacing coated the glass.

The aroma was rich, dark and surprisingly sour. Caramel and dark candy sugar notes came through strong. Slightly roasty. There was a noticeable tart, berry-like quality as well. Very jammy. This almost smelled like a raspberry infused stout. Some floral, yeasty notes were also present. Slightly boozy. Really odd but rather intriguing and very unique. As the beer sat, the sourness intensified. I later came to the conclusion that this beer was infected.

The flavor profile was strange but, for being an infected beer, not terrible. Dark, roasty notes dominated on the front end before an intense tartness washed over my palate. Like in the nose, sour, berry-like notes were quite apparent. Definitely a sign of infection. The beer finished roasty with a hint of oxidation. Woody, oaky notes appeared as well. Touch of bourbon. As the beer sat, the oxidative notes dissipated but the sourness intensified. A bit of char was noticeable as well.

On the palate, the beer was fairly thin for the style. A bit watery. The liquid tuned somewhat creamy and slick.

For an infected beer, this still drank pretty well. I would love to grab another bottle sometime to see how it compares.

Dec 12, 2015
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Czarkazm from New York

4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From a 750ml cork and caged bottle. Pour is a medium brown, collecting nearly opaque in the glass with a thick tan head. Aroma has some heat but it's a fresh bottle. I get hit with milk chocolate fudge, caramelized brown sugar, dark fruits, whiskey booze, molasses, red wine, dark roasted coffee, smoked malts, vanilla, oak, and leather. Mouth feel is thinner than I was expecting, medium body and still a bit hot from the alcohol. The taste is bitter espresso, dark chocolate, vinous notes, oak barrel, roasted malt, caramel and rum. I am sensing the tartness that some others on here have mentioned but its faint, not too distracting and certainly not unpleasant. I wouldn't mind getting another bottle to see how it would respond to a couple months of age.

Dec 10, 2015
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WanderingFool from Massachusetts

4.41/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A black beer with a small tan head and minimal lacing. An aroma of oak, dark fruit, and chocolate. Big creamy body. Flavors of oak, vanilla, Chocolate, roast malt, dark fruit. Delicious complex beer.

Dec 03, 2015
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FFreak from Vermont

3.89/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased at Healthy Living in Burlington, VT - can't remember the price. 22 oz poured into a tulip. Pours typically stout-black, viscous, with a thick and foamy finger of dark tan head that slowly dissipates and leaves huge lace. Aroma is straight up bourbon, not much else. Taste is interesting. It has a sweet tanginess I've not tasted in stout before, almost a sourness, but on the sweet side. Combine that with bourbon, molasses and syrup. Mouth is good, medium-full, not cloying or too thick. Overall, an interesting and delicious stout, although the tanginess is not my cup of tea.

Oct 17, 2015
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Roguer from Georgia

3.81/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This is a beautiful beer; dark body with good head retention.

Very tart and slightly sour from the nose to the palate; clearly a barrel aged offering from the aroma alone, without know that ahead of time.

This is a very solid brew overall, but a little tart, and even sour. That seems mostly from the oak, vice any true infection, but it does detract slightly from an otherwise pretty darn good beer.

May 21, 2015
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Immortale25 from North Carolina

3.48/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Haw River Farmhouse Ales teku glass. Bottleneck says Bottled On 11/18/14.

A- Pours a 99% opaque black color with a 1/2 inch light brown head that retains a bit before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and tiny clots of surface foam. Non-resilient specs of lacing.

S- Big barrel presence displays aromas of oak and not much else. Semi-medicinal.

T- Taste brings much of the same with the barrel standing out beyond the other flavors. Basically a medicinal woodiness with some hints of stout beneath. There is a vanilla/brown sugar sweetness but it's not cohesively incorporated with the flavor profile. Once the palate acclimates, things smooth out but still there's that harsh woody flavor. It's not even like it's too hot because the booze is actually kind of toned down. I wish I could actually taste bourbon when all I can taste is...wood. Paper aftertaste.

M- Silky smooth with medium-low carbonation and a full body. At least it gets that part right.

O- Pretty disappointing as it has the elements of a decent BBA stout but they're fighting each other rather than coexisting in harmony. Apparently this was aged for 8 months on the barrel. A little less time would've yielded better results in my opinion since you can barely taste the stout underneath.

Apr 10, 2015
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jmdrpi from Pennsylvania

4.06/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served from the tap. Black in color, tan head. Aroma is boozy, vanilla and caramel. A bit of roast in the taste. Thicker body, very smooth, so it goes down easy

Apr 03, 2015
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Rifugium from North Dakota

3.09/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I did not enjoy this stout very much. Thin for the style, and not much to it. Didn't really seem like 10+%, I suppose, so in that regards it was drinkable.

Apr 01, 2015
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

3.81/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Beautifully woven with tethers of espresso, dark chocolate and bourbon-soaked woods, the brewers of Cambridge offers up a decadent taste that's embedded in char and succulence to seduce the palate at every turn.

The near-black beer pours with a patient and swirling mocha-like froth. Its espresso demeanor pronounces in scent as fresh-ground coffee bean captivate the nose, along with heavy toast, walnuts, earthy chocolate and caramel round out the nose.

Its taste is sweet, chocolaty, and caramelly- laden with seared toffee, robust coffee, and booze soaked fruit shining through. Creamy with milkshake creaminess and sweetness, the middle ibecomes roasty, toasty and remiss with heavy whipping cream before a boozy and spicy finish looms.

Its full but simple-sweet finish aligns with a malty sweet backbone that extends in finish, but yet waivers to give a short rebuttal of malt for final impressions of dark chocolate and bourbon.

Mar 22, 2015
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oberon from North Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours jet black with a thinner deep beige head atop,no light getting thru this this even when held up to a light.Dark fruit,chocolate,vanilla,and roast in the nose,a whole lot of good stuff here.Brown sugar and dark fruit hit upfront on the palate with some chocolate and bourbon/vanilla in the lingering finish,not overly roasted.Above average for many of the style right now,the bourbon barrel isn't overpowering leaving the other flavors to come into play nicely.

Mar 09, 2015
YouEnjoyMyStout from Cambridge Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 287 ratings