Empire Strikes Black Imperial Stout - Beer Camp #6
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Empire Strikes Black Imperial Stout - Beer Camp #6Empire Strikes Black Imperial Stout - Beer Camp #6
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Stout - Russian Imperial
4.13 | pDev: 7.26%
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Empire Strikes Black Imperial Stout - Beer Camp #6Empire Strikes Black Imperial Stout - Beer Camp #6
Reviews: 29 | Ratings: 55 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of rodbeermunch
rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Very black pour, has a cherry cola head to it, tiny dense bubbles. Good retention. Aroma of roast, booziness, black/chocolate malt tag team.

Taste hits both heavy roast and bitter dark fruit impressions. Alcohol not too pronounced. Is there wood in this? On one hand, its just a big roasty RIS. Cool name. Substantial hops to it, got that bitterness. The dark fruit and licorice thing isn't my jive, but overall, I'm sure they hit what they were going for.

Apr 04, 2016
Photo of Gajo74
Gajo74 from New York

4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one poured a dark brown/black with a hint of ruby. A nice tan blackish creamy head dissipated into a thin ring like tan lace. An attractive looking brew!
Aroma consists of roasted malts and coffee. There is also a nice sweet, creamy and vanilla like smell.
Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Medium bodied to full but very drinkable, not too viscous, it is just about right! The taste is sweet on the tongue. However, there is a bit of roasted malts and coffee as well as some buttering hops in the finish that balances it out. Also, I'd like to add that despite the high ABV, I did not detect any alcohol, which makes it even better.
This beer is close to heavenly. I can't ask for much more out of an imperial stout.

Dec 17, 2015
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ngeunit1 from Massachusetts

4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Served a dark black-brown color with a thin frothy layer of tan-chocolate head. The head fades down slowly leaving behind some good lace.

S - Aroma is full of sweet roasted chocolate malts with some coffee. There is a touch of earthiness and dark fruit as well.

T - Starts off with some sweet roasted chocolate malts with a touch of dark fruit. through the middle some more bakers chocolate comes through with some coffee and a touch of burnt malts. The finish is a mix of chocolate, roasted coffee, and a touch of earthiness.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a dry finish.

D - Very drinkable. Overall nicely balanced. Could have used just a touch more body, but it is still a really nice Imperial Stout.

Apr 03, 2012
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thain709 from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to StormKing47 for sharing this bottle at Stout Day 2011. A flock of people merged after the cork was sent towards the chandelier.

A - Poured a pitch black body with a creamy, tan head...the head became rocky and fell to full cap...some lacing was left behind

S - Roasted and charred malts jump out...there is an earthiness brought to the forefront as well as some fruity characteristics

T - The roasted malt flavor is present throughout the whole beer...at some points it presents itself with the charred flavor...now, it never becomes burnt, but the flavors do stand out well...the fruity aroma picked up in the nose is also on the palate...it's actually coming across as a bit of citrus and is pairing well the roast and hints of chocolate

M - Medium bodied...wanted just a little more...roasty, a touch of citrus, bitter

O - I'm not sure how old this one was, but I was very surprised with the amount of hops that were left...the malts were nicely roasted and gave that charred flavor...maybe a little more malt bill for some more body...overall, not bad

Nov 17, 2011
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stakem from Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Stormking47 for the sharing of this brew. Corked and caged 750ml into a tasting glass. The brew pours black with a tan head that has a nice creamy character about it. It displays pretty good retaining powers and leaves patches of lacing on the glass.

The aroma of this brew is roasty coming across like dark grainy character imparting a scent of coffee. There is a citrus element that seems somewhat fruity as well from a combined mixture of the hops and alcohol. The back of the nose shines forth with a sweet chocolate scent.

The taste is roasty from the level of char to the grain. There is a bright citrus hop flavoring present which adds to the bitterness already present from the char of the grain. The alcohol is evident with a fruity ester aspect. As the brew warms a bit of depth comes out tasting minorly of licorice and molasses.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest level of carbonation. Fairly easy drinking and surprisingly still fresh tasting. This was one of those stouts that was on the verge of being overly hoppy and going into black ipa territory but it carries enough roasty character to keep it in check. Other than the fruity indication of alcohol, it was fairly well integrated and not all that noticeable for an offering creeping up on double-digit strength. I have a bottle of this I've been meaning to open, with this experience I feel there is no rush, it is holding up quite nice.

Nov 09, 2011
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Slatetank from Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to stormking47 for sharing this at International stout day. I enjoyed this from a goblet.

The color is like very dark chocolate, deep brown verging on black with a light tan collar. The lace sticks in spots. The smell is very nice with a sweet and slightly fruity nose with some roasted malt odors and slight hoppy floral fragrance. The feel is surprisingly vibrant for the style, standing out among the other stouts I had with a pretty high hop bitterness in the feel with moderately high roastiness and semi-dry finish with a light alcohol influence overall.

The taste has a strong chocolate element from the malt with mellow spice taste which I believe is hop derived. The taste is full with slight fruit note which comes off as lightly citrusy with a taste that seems like bitter chocolate and dried candied grapefruit with light alcohol as it finishes with mild toasted flavor and gentle coffee-like quality which is more in the realm of citrusy beans with slight hints of pine in the back end. The overall drinkability is really good, but comes off almost like a Black IPA as the hopping is very high and if not for the sweetness. I consider this to be a pretty tasty if not unique take on the style.

Nov 06, 2011
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Phelps from Arizona

4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A big thank-you to flexabull for sending this bottle my way. Poured into a Russian River glass.

Darkness! Burnt black in color, completely opaque. One finger of dense foam colored like coffee with cream sits atop the brew, and some thin lines of delicate-looking lace decorate the glass as I drink.

The nose is packed with dark fruit, like prunes that have been sitting under a smoking campfire. Some burnt toast, oak and dashes of espresso are also noticeable.

The flavor exhibits the same prunes-and-grapes-in-a-smoker quality. I get tons of charred toast, molasses and seared steak, with oats at the finish.

Gloriously creamy body. Medium in fullness, it has weak carbonation but continues to break into fizz as it moves. Alcohol is impressively hidden, and only noticeable as heat in the chest.

Pretty damn good, lads. It’s nice to see a big, traditional RIS, with all the dark fruits I know and love. Big, creamy, rich and delightful. Impressive that this came from one of Sierra Nevada’s first Beer Camps.

Oct 12, 2011
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ottovon from Arizona

4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

shared by fowlelanguage

A: dark brown almost black with a brown, creamy head.

S: lots of roasted malt, coffee, burnt sugar. Nice aroma of dark fruit with hints of sweetness.

T: a lot like the aroma. roasted malt, dark chocolate, dark fruits, molasses. finishes bitter like dark chocolate or roasted malt. hints of coffee.

M: smooth and creamy. low carbed and thick.

O: a really good beer.

Oct 09, 2011
Photo of litheum94
litheum94 from California

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml cork and cage. Reviewed 8/28/11, cellared since it's release (can't remember exactly when).

Pours an inky black, letting no light through. Thick, mocha head forms and then wanes, leaving spider webs on the glass.

Loads of dark chocolate and fresh roasted coffee. Very smoky, like BBQ meat. There's a fruit sweetness there as well, plums and some raspberries. Light hopping.

Tons of bitter chocolate right off the bat. Underlying milk chocolate sweetness as well. Fresh brewed coffee and figs. Smoked meats towards the end. Decent hopping on the finish, with a touch of alcohol. Bitterness subsides as it warms, revealing a more creamy, milk chocolate flavor.

A very good RIS. Wish I had bought more bottles of this.

Sep 30, 2011
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UCLABrewN84 from California

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to PaulStoneAnchor for sending me this one!

Bottle reads Beer Camp # 6: Russian Imperial Stout. I checked on the Beer Camp website and # 6 is called Empire Strikes Black so I am reviewing this beer under this listing.

Pours an opaque black with a huge 3 inch beige head that lasts as a foamy 1 inch cap. Nice thick rings of foamy lace line the glass on the drink down. Smells of dark roasted malts, coffee beans, and cocoa powder. There is a spicy hops smell as the beer warms. Taste is mainly dark roasted malts and cocoa powder covered coffee beans. Distinct herbal/pine hop flavors emerge as the beer warms. There is a mild bitterness that lingers on the palate after each sip. A good level of carbonation makes for a smooth and bubbly mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good RIS and my first experience with a Beer Camp Beer. A good hoppy stout when it gets warm.

Jun 03, 2011
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barleywinefiend from Washington

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a jet black color with good carbonation and a nice tan cap

S: Bitter cocoa, roasted malt, some remnants of milk chocolate

T: First off I noticed a great amount of bitter cocoa, perhaps charred black malt, cocoa, booze tinge, some Earthiness, smooth mid body but comes back with a light bite on finish

M: Big body, tasty and a nice feel. Tasted somewhat similat to last years SN Pioneer Series Imp Stout.

O: Good

May 22, 2011
Photo of Radiodred
Radiodred from California

4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this some time ago when it first came out, over at the real ale festival. What a great name the descibes the color. BLACK, with some tan head. SO drinkable, but what cask isn't. I went back for more, cause its tasted so good, kinda like smoked black licorice. Robust in smell and mouthfeel. Anytime I can find my hands on one i will be drinking it stat!

Mar 08, 2011
Photo of kaseydad
kaseydad from California

4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pint glass pour with an oli black ale with a mocha colored foamy head with tons of lacing. The aroma consists of dark fruits, tobacco , leather and some mild coffee whiffs. Nice bitter taste with smokiness on the swallow. A big lingering bitterness on the swallow and salivates the tongue. Chewy, full bodied mouthfeel and very creamy too! Nicely done. Very easy drink for 9.2%. No clue it was that high. Overall this is a great beer from the the beer camp. Well made and one worthy of bottling for the masses.

Feb 20, 2011
Photo of glid02
glid02 from Georgia

4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Lance. I had the original on-tap at Beachwood BBQ a while back and was interested to compare the two.

Pours black with a half-finger light brown head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of heavy roasted malts with large amounts of citrus hops and hints of anise. Also present are mild amounts of dark chocolate.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Roasted malt and dark chocolate flavors kick things off and dominate through the mid-point of the sip. A solid amount of deep citrus hop flavors come into play midway through the sip and contribute a good amount of bitterness. The bitterness intensifies through to the solidly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is great. It's got a very smooth thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass without any problems and could have a few more without any problems.

Overall the aroma and flavor of the beer wasn't as complex as well-nuanced as I remembered but the thickness was just as great. A big beer that goes away from SN's roots that's well worth a shot.

Feb 14, 2011
Photo of mothman
mothman from Minnesota

3.6/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Beachwood

Served with 1/2 finger of tan head. Fades to a collar. Leaves light lace. Color is black.

Aroma: Roasted malts, silky chocolate, caramel, some hops shine through. Nice.

Taste: here I get some licorice and molasses. A touch of dark fruits. Roasted malts, chocolate, and caramel. Some coffee. Earthy hops.

Mouthfeel: Roasted and dry. Full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry, fairly clean.

Overall, decent but nothing overly complex for an RIS. However, it did have some nice qualities. Somewhat drinkable.

Jan 18, 2011
Photo of neorunner
neorunner from Virginia

4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Blind Beer #5 - http://flic.kr/p/92sG7z
Thanks to Flexabull for sending me this in Round 3 of the Blind Beer BIF.

Ok, this review is from notes taken last Saturday. Bottle said snifter and share with a friend. So I decided to take this with me as I went over to my homebrewer friend Mitch's for some Christmas cheer and beer. While the SWMBOs were drinking margaritas we left to troubleshoot the broken Christmas lights and enjoy this beer.

Opening the 750ml corked and caged bottle, the cork pops quite loudly. Aroma his bitter chocolate and plum with a strong boozy background. Dark black in the glass with a dense brown head. Swirling the glass leaves a good coating and legs up on the edges. Definitely a big stout.

Flavor opens up with bittersweet chocolate chip flavor that is rounded and mellow but there is a sharp fresh tang to the finish, some form of bittering hop perhaps. Mouthfeel is creamy and leaves your tongue dry but not cottony. This stuff is very drinkable and we both demolished the beer in no time.

The reveal gave us: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp #6 Russian Imperial Stout. Amazing bottle to try, after we found out what it was we immediately tried to figure out how to make it down for the next one. We opened a bottle of the 4th anni beer after this one and found that tang in the finish again, must be a common ingrediant between the two. Thanks for sharing this one Paul, very cool.

Dec 17, 2010
Photo of plaid75
plaid75 from New York

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On draft at Rattle n Hum, NYC.

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

The smell featured dark chocolate and roasted malts.

The flavor was upfront roasted malts with elements of dark chocolate and charcoal.

The mouthfeel was dry and clean.

Overall a very good dry RIS.

Dec 04, 2010
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
Beerandraiderfan from Nevada

4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with what seems to be a very dark cherry red undercurrent to it, great carbonation and head that doesn't puff up and show off. Aroma was sweet, alcohol, roast.

Taste, nothing super dominant, definitely get the dark fruit thing going on, true to style. Plums, prunes, dark sugar. Easy drinking for the alcohol, but it is a sipper. Much sweeter than their IS, less roasty. No one aspect of this beer dominates over another really. Good meld going on, prolly due to the wood/oak feel you get.

I can't wait to see how these taste through the years, I was so impressed with it, I went and bought some bottles to use as Christmas presents.

Nov 17, 2010
Photo of flexabull
flexabull from California

4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the brewery, from notes.

Pours a flat black color with a decent dark tan head.

Aromas are of toasted nuts, dark roasted malts, bitter dark chocolate and espresso beans.

Taste is much like the nose, but it's not the beast I was expected. A little on the subtle side of the Imperial Stout spectrum. (I think part of this might have been because I drank Hell Raiser prior to this one.) Dark rich caramel, dark cocoa, deep ripe fruits notes, and a finish that is warm with light oak and some earthy bitterness.

Mouthfeel is nice. Quite smooth and full in the mouth.

Drinkability is very good, and might be this beers strong suit. Not as complex or as flavorful as Hell Raiser. But this is a great drinking Imperial Stout. Goes down way easier than I expected. Good stuff.

Nov 17, 2010
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LtCracker20 from Connecticut

4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at Delaney's Tap Room last night. Served in a Sierra Nevada tulip.

A- Served a deep black with a 2-finger chocolate head that stuck around for a long time. Great lace also. Was actually suprised at how great this beer looked.

S- Smell was of boubon (not sure if we actually got the Oak-aged version by accident, our waitress did mess up quite a few of our orders), vanilla, bitter chocolate, roasted malts, espresso, and dark fruits. The alchohol is there, but subdued.

T- Wow, just like the smell, but the alchohol is hidden very well. This taste awesome. The vanilla, chocolate, espresso, and dark fruits are all there, but very balanced and mellow. They all meld very well.

MF/D- This is one smooth and creamy beer. Absolutely amazing body. Full and rich. If it wasn't for the 9.8%, could've drank it all night. Would be a very good dessert beer.

Nov 16, 2010
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Ghenna from California

4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Corked and caged 1pt 9.4fl oz bottle. Pours a thick motor oil black into a goblet. Foam is solid fat finger thick, sticks around forever (both on top of the beer and the glass) and is the color of milk chocolate.

Smell is heavily of roast/burned malt, with a mild alcohol in the background. I can get almost a nutty or wood smell in there as well. MF is generally creamy with very fine carbonation.

Flavor is a perfect example of what I would expect from a RIS- subdued malt sweetness up front, heavy chocolate/coffee bitter on the back end.

I literally know nothing about this beer, other than it was the 2010 beer camp beer and is a RIS. It is a thoroughly classic example of what I would expect in the style, big flavor, fairly high and well hidden ABV. I'm definitely going to be picking up at least a few more bottles to see how they age over the years. Once the bitterness mellows a bit, I think this will be a top class beer. Congrats to this year's participants and I'm definitely looking forward to making a strong effort to get in to next year's beer camp!

Oct 30, 2010
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HopHead84 from California

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed on tap at O'Brien's some time long ago. My review was inexplicably deleted from BA a while back and I thought it lost forever, but I found it just now on the back page of a notebook as I was cleaning out my desk.

The beer is black with light brown highlights near the edge of the glass and a frothy one finger light brown head.

The malt in the nose is highly roasted, with notes of dark chocolate, astringent coffee, and blackstrap molasses. The flavor is of roasted malt with a strong chocolate presence. The dark chocolate is bitter and the light coffee adds astringency. Alcohol is apparent in the form of subtle heat, but it can't be tasted. The finish is acrid coffee, roasted malt, and lingering astringency. The beer is full bodied with a creamy, chewy mouthfeel.

A good RIS. Definitely worth a try.

Jan 28, 2010
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beerguy101 from California

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted at the 13th Annual Strong Ale Fest on 12/5/2009. This Imperial Stout pours a dark black color from the tap. Small to medium sized tan foamy head. The aroma is chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and some vanilla. A medium to full bodied Russian Imperial Stout. The malts are chocolate, coffee, with hints of vanilla. The hops are earthy and herbal. Nice carbonation. Nice stout. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

Jan 01, 2010
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brokensail from California

4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ last week.

A: This is a great looking imperial stout: black in color with a nice mocha colored foam.

S: The smell has the usual cast of characters: roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee. There is also a nice hoppiness that I find enjoyable in the porter and stout that Sierra Nevada makes.

T: Like the nose, but more intense. Absolutely wonderful roasted malt character, which helps to bring out the chocolate and coffee flavors a bit more. The hops are still there, but a bit more subdued.

M: A bit disappointing in terms of the mouthfeel. The beer was a bit thin, but still overall quite good. I enjoyed the bitter finish this one left.

D: I was amazed at how quickly I flew through my glass of this. Absolutely amazingly drinkable for the alcohol level and the style. I wish this one was more common, I'd order it all the time.

Dec 23, 2009
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OlieIPA from California

4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoyed roughly a 12 oz. pour at Beachwood during their 3rd Anniversary party this past night.

A: A black and viscous looking stout that supported a light mocha colored head. The lacing was mildly intense as well, leaving some "gulp" traces along the way.

S: A good amount of dark fruit character up front that was suddenly backed up with tons of chocolate and roasted malt aroma.

T: A more roasty and dark chocolate flavor than the nose indicated, along with a nice touch of vanilla and perhaps some raisin-like quality. What I loved most was the extremely well balanced sweet chocolate and roasted malt character.

M: The feel off this beer is quite interesting. At first, I thought the beer was quite creamy and thick, but as it warmed up...this brew became more and more dry on the finish.

D: Once I done with my first glass...I needed another; very flavorful and the alcohol is well hidden.

Overall: One of the better "non-barrel" aged Imperial Stouts I've tried. A must try. Cheers!

Dec 16, 2009
Empire Strikes Black Imperial Stout - Beer Camp #6 from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 55 ratings