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

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Empire Strikes Black Imperial Stout - Beer Camp #6Empire Strikes Black Imperial Stout - Beer Camp #6

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.80%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kleffman on 06-11-2009

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Reviews: 29 | Ratings: 53
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

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Photo of mothman
3.6/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

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Photo of jlindros
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Delaneys in New Haven, served in tall flute glass.

A: Super pitch black color with dark brown rich 1 finger head.

N: Lots of alcohol, some dark roasted malts and slight dark fruits, touch of chocolate

T: Dark malts, some alcohol, lots of coffee, some dark rich fruits, bourbon and oak come through to round it off a bit, a creamy stout center and rich milk chocolate somewhat, sweet dark molasses, more bourbon, and do I detect a touch of salt???

M: Creamy and frothy, thick almost like molasses

F: Coffee and sweet chocolate but kinda sweet, lots of bittersweet malt and an earthy bitterness like charred malts, and some earthy hops, it gets some hop bitterness on the finish, more woody taste and slight alcohol slowly dissipate off the tongue

Final thoughts: This is very rich and complex beer, very delicious, very stout and dark bitter sweet chocolate, it has some oak and bourbon, its 10% alcohol and you can taste some but it hides it well, and finishes with a slight hop bitterness, maybe a little too sweet on the finish, I wish this was more readily available

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Photo of Slatetank
4.15/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.36/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Photo of stakem
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

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Photo of plaid75
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours black with a firm literal brown head leaving nice lacing, imposing.

S: Coffee, dark chocolate, some pine, hops are evident. The nose is tight.

T: Roasted malt and thick dark chocolate start the show which is balanced by a clear pine/cedar hop attack. The beer sweetens up by the mid-palate and finishes even sweeter with a lot of chocolate syrup.

M: Thick, full-bodied, strong carbonation, solid mouthfeel, though I would have liked it a little more if the beer was silkier and smoother, a boisterous beer if you get my drift.

D: A very nice Imperial Stout, I heard Gabe from Beachwood was involved in the brewing process. On the hoppier side, what else would you expect from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of HopHead84
4/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev -3.6%
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

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.19/5  rDev +1%
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.

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Photo of glid02
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of flexabull
4.15/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of beerguy101
4/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

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Photo of Phelps
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of thain709
4/5  rDev -3.6%
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

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Photo of Gajo74
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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Photo of kaseydad
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

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Photo of litheum94
4/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

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Photo of scottoale
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this at O'Brien's on tap, served in a pint glass. The pour was viscous brown-black liquid with a 1/2" of orange-brown foam with decent retention.

The nose is roasty dark malt with hints of chocolate, dark fruits and a bit of coffee. The smell reminds me of Port truck stout.

The taste is rich roasty malts that are more bitter than sweet, aided by a generous hop backing. The alcohol was really subdued throughout, was expecting this stuff to be a bit hot, not so. It is big and burly in flavor with a chocolatey base and just a bit of coffee bitter like bite. Lingering bitterness in the finish.

Big body with plenty of lively carbonation. A very filling beer but not quite as strong (alcohol wise) as I was expecting. High drinkability if you like big, bold stouts. I'm not sure how much was made but I will definitely seek some more of this elixer of collaboration.

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Photo of seaoflament
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got the chance to try this limited brew on cask at the Pizza Port Real Ale Festival on June 12th. I didn't know this one was going to be available and as soon as I saw it on the list I went for a taster.

Pours the color of any other well crafted imperial stout, pitch black but with an impressive mocha colored inch of foam on top. The head displayed some excellent retention and a creamy layer of bubbles from the cask treatment.

The nose was of toast, chocolate, hints of citrus hops, and a bit of smoke and fruity alcohol in the background. A bit of vanilla and more smoke as the beer warmed up. Low level of esters, mostly dark roasted malts, chocolate and a touch of smoke with a background of citrus hops.

Bitter chocolate upfront with the first sip which followed with some toast and vanilla in the finish. Fruitiness from the yeast was a little more evident than the aroma, some chocolate covered raisins and ripe dates in the finish. The beer seemed to get more bitter and smoky as it warmed up.

Low carbonation level but thick and almost viscous mouthfeel. Fairly easy to drink and well done all around. Would love to have a full pint of this.

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Photo of neorunner
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of OlieIPA
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
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!

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Empire Strikes Black Imperial Stout - Beer Camp #6 from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 53 ratings.
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