Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series) | Smuttynose Brewing Company

699 Reviews
Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series)Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series)

Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company
New Hampshire, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
2007 - 10.0%
2009 - 8.9%
2010 - 9.8%
2014 - 9.4%
2015 - 10.5%

Added by Bierman9 on 05-05-1998

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Reviews: 699 | Ratings: 1,227
Photo of Sammy
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An excellent RIS, with a good thickness in mouthfeel, black body and substantial head. Aroma coffee-chocolate, with C-hop. Aged about a year so mellowness therefore the hops make their presence but do not detract from the drinking experience. Nicely malted chocolate, with roast also in the secondary. Maybe not the best RIS ever, but damn good and will have again.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mjtiernan for sending me this one!

2011 vintage.

Pours an opaque black with a 1 inch dark khaki head that settles to an oily film on the top of the beer. A nice latticework of lace forms on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa powder, and citrus zest/herbal hops. I am also getting some cinnamon aromas as the beer warms. Taste is of dark roasted malt, dark cocoa powder, roasted coffee beans, and a citrus zest hop kick on the finish. A mild roast/hop bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp and smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good RIS with a nice hop presence that I wasn't expecting.

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Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I would classify this more as a regular stout or maybe a double stout before I would call it a Russian Imperial Stout. It was very dry and roasty and usually the RIS beers have some sweet complexities to them. Anyway,

The beer pours very black with no light shining through. The head is dark brown and lingers for a bit. Moderate lacing.

The aroma is heavy on the roasted flavors and the coffee. Some hop bitterness is noticeable in the nose which I found odd considering the style.

The taste is highly roasted with some coffee. Plenty of hop bitterness, probably 85-90 IBUS. Not much complexity here but a good enjoyable stout regardless. Alcohol is well hidden.

Body is medium/heavy. It may be thinned out a bit by the high ABV.

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Photo of metter98
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a thin tan head that quickly died down, leaving lacing on the surface and a thick ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass. The head never completely faded away.
S: There are moderate aromas of roasted malts in the nose. The smell becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and has some notes of coffee beans. A mild amount of bitterness is present; this is particularly evident in the finish, which also has some hints of alcohol.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and very dry on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. The dryness is especially strong in the finish, which also has a bit of warming from the alcohol.
O: The alcohol is relatively well masked from the taste, but the strong amount of dryness makes this a beer that needs to be slowly sipped.

Note: 2011 vintage

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.23/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

With its roasted viscosity, Smuttynose's Big Beer Series introduces an epic stout that harks back to the days of export of this fine elixir from Britain to Russia, except with a few American microbrewery twists.

Its dark austere foreshadows its impact on the palate as the upfront taste is heartily robust but supportively sweet as toffee sweetened espresso lays on the tongue while dark chocolate and burnt citrus fill the nose.

As its taste fattens on the tongue, its weight of molasses is both felt and tasted; dragging with it the strong chocolate-covered espresso bean flavor and with a spicy alcohol tone of brandy, cinnamon, aniseed and citrusy hop bitterness. Its high roast teases the palate with campfire notes and grilled fruits of cherry and berry.

Its long and somber finish is slowly fading as those lush malt flavors and velvety textures prefer to reward the palate deep into the next sip. Its exiting bitterness is partly of hops but partly of coffee, chicory and soil. Spicy with alcohol, its warm and almost-prickling once again harks to brandy.

Its a brilliant balance in a stout that ties together the extreme sensations of alcohol, fruit, spice and sweetness- built upon roasty stilts and relying on its own bigness to make it work. These brewers know how to build a big beer!

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Photo of brentk56
3.6/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a pitch black color with a tan head that drops to a ringlet but fails to leave much lace

Smell: Rich dark fruit, bittersweet chocolate and coffee dregs

Taste: Starts with a chocolate blast with a hint of black raspberry that grows increasingly mushroomy by mid-palate; after the swallow, the coffee flavors build and join the mushroom and chocolate flavors into the finish

Mouthfeel: Thick body with modest carbonation

Overall: I have had this a couple of times and find it very difficult to drink; by the end of the bottle, the mushroom flavors just get in the way of the enjoyment of this beer

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Photo of largadeer
2.86/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2008 bottle.

Appearance: Pitch black with a thin cap of tan foam and a few wisps of lace. Pretty typical for the style, which isn't a bad thing at all.

Smell: Sweet and roasty, with an emphasis on the sweet. Reminds me of a chocolate milkshake. Lemon-lime hops are present as well with a touch of alcohol, bringing to mind citrus infused vodka. A chocolate milkshake with citrus vodka isn't something I'd normally consider pleasant, but it's tolerable.

Taste: Dark chocolate, lemon marmalade, slightly burnt toast. A citrus hop smack appears in the finish, blending somewhat crudely with the alcohol. The combination of citrus and chocolate really doesn't work here. It's not awful, but it's not great.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Hogtownharry: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a medium foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of bitter roasted malt with some coffee notes is interesting. Taste is dominated by some roasted malt, which are quite bitter with some dry coffee notes. I thought the taste was a bit too dry generally and some sweetness to balance the dryness would have been good. Body is quite full with some good carbonation and no alcohol was discernable.

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Photo of zeff80
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a thick, jet black color with a small, foamy, light brown head. It left minimal traces of lace.

S - It smelled very sweet with notes of citrus and estery dried fruits. Some subtle floral notes, too.

T - It tasted of sweet roasted barley, caramel and some bitter, sharp grassy hops. It had hints of boozy alcohol flavors, too.

M - It was smooth, soft and a little creamy. A medium to full-bodied stout.

D - This is a great tasting imperial stout. Another outstanding offering from Smutty.

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Photo of mothman
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Rare Vos glass

Pours a finger of mocha brown head. Color is a deep black. Really nice retention with some good lace.

Aroma: Huge floral hop profile, chocolate, caramel, dark fruits. Pretty good.

Taste: Huge floral hop taste again. I have never tasted more hops in a beer of this style than this one. Chocolate, booze, a little hot, a lot of dark fruits, toffee.

Mouthfeel: bitter, creamy, rich. Full bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends with a rich malty aftertaste.

Overall, a pretty good beer. I am glad I a splitting this because it is pretty big. I'd have it again easily.

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Photo of superspak
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter; bottled in 2/2015, 10.5%. Pours pitch black color with a 2 finger fairly dense dark brown head with solid retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, toast, dark bread, molasses, raisin, cherry, licorice, grapefruit, citrus rind, pine, light smoke/char, and herbal/roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted/bready malt and moderate citrus/piney hop notes; with great strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, toast, dark bread, molasses, raisin, cherry, licorice, grapefruit, citrus rind, pine, light smoke/char, and herbal/roasted earthiness. Good amount of roast/char and piney bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, toast, dark bread, molasses, raisin, cherry, licorice, grapefruit, citrus rind, pine, light smoke/char, and herbal/roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity and robustness of big dark/roasted/bready malt and citrus/piney hop flavors; with a good roasted bitterness/sweetness and hop balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice fresh Russian imperial stout style. All around great robustness, complexity, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and citrus/piney hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of nickfl
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Big, light brown head of foam two fingers high. The body is opaque black with no light showing through. Good retention and excellent lace.

S - Distinct mix of hops and chocolate upfront. Coffee and caramel in the background with lots of rich toffee.

T - Very strong toffee and coffee up front. Lots of caramel in the middle, rich with a distinct espresso note and some fruity yeast that comes across as currants. The finish is dark with carbonized notes and a strong pine hop flavor, balanced by equal parts malt and hop bitterness.

M - Thick, oily body, medium carbonation, and a balanced finish.

D - Reasonably drinkable for a big stout. The intense hop character is an interesting twist on the style, but the darkness of the malt profile leaves no doubt that it is a stout rather than a barleywine.

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Photo of oberon
4.29/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a ink black with a thin mocha colored head that vanished pretty quickly,aromas of dark fruit like raisin dipped in rum and dark roast coffee with bittersweet chocolate as well I noticed some leafy hop wich was very nice.Alot of things going on other than the standard impy stout flavors sure the deeply roasted malt and rummy flavors are there but what a nice drier earthy finish with notes of mint,I really like the hop profile to this beer it gives it more noticable flavor and depth.I liked this offering alot I applaud Smuttynose for their use of hops in this impy stout.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black body with barely a ruby-mahogany highlight to be found. Tall, creamy, dark tan head. Retention is quite good. Moderate lacing.

Smell: A gust of yeasty fruit and citrusy/piney hops (Centennial?) greets you upfront, followed by some bittersweet chocolate and a very faint whiff of alcohol.

Taste: Although this may not be a complex beer, it IS rich! The citrusy/piney hop presence is there from the start, and then all the way through the very long finish. Alongside it, dark chocolate, caramel, softer cocoa, coffee, and a burnt (almost smoky) edge round it out. Yeasty fruitiness backs it up with a touch of summer berries; and a solid bitterness combines with a bit of dark-malt acidity to balance it remarkably well. It's hops and then dark sweet malt, before a quick teeter leaves it berry-like, citrusy and piney, and decidedly bitter in the woody/piney/earthy finish.

Mouthfeel: As might be expected, it's full bodied with a moderate carbonation that lends a gentle zest to the tongue before fading smoothly away.

Drinkability: Very, very nice! It reminds me of my recent trip to New Hampshire. (Oddly enough, I didn't get to try the beer there). I'd stumble out of the hunting lodge each morning with the scent of the oiled logs and damp pines beside me, and sit beside the remains of the previous night's fire enjoying a piece of burnt toast and a cup of dark coffee. The cool shade of the pine trees, and the dampness of the grass would sooth me, and I'd enjoy my breakfast while listening to the call of the loons on the lake - A bit verbose, but true! It's an excellent American take on an originally British style. Seek this one out! It may just be Smuttynose's best beer to date!

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Photo of Kegatron
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From an 06 bottle, poured into a snifter.

Pours a nice pitch black with a smallish tan colored head & some minimal lacing. Aroma is of malt & chocolate with just a tinge hops & alcohol.

Taste of sweetness up front. Chocolate, coffee, some dark fruits. The finish is where it's at though. Nice dry hoppiness with a little bit of heat on it. Mouthfull seems a little light but not too bad.

A very good Imperial Stout and another nice big beer offering from Smuttynose.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer pours a deep, dark, blackish brown color with a short brown head that fades slowly and leave a little bit of lace on the glass.

S: The smell is robust with chocolate and roasted malt, with a significantly stronger hops presence than other beers that I’ve had in this style. There’s also a hint of berry & raisin in the background.

T: Very strong flavor of dark chocolate dominates the taste and blends very nicely into the hops flavor, while a smokiness remains in the background, then it leaves you with the alcohol warmth.

M: Very smooth, with a crispness that you wouldn’t expect, full-bodied, light carbonation, a little bit of stickiness in the finish.

D: This one is definitely a sipper and not a pounder, but it goes down very easy. I could go with it for a whole night but I would stretch out a bomber or two to last the whole night. This is a very, very good beer. What struck me most about it is that it has more of a hops character than other RIS’s that I’ve had, which was a pleasant surprise.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bomber purchased at Bullock's in Marietta, Georgia. Bottled In: 2009. So fresh!

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, near black body with a head the color of café au lait.

Smell: Roasty, coffee-toned nose with bittersweet chocolate and particularly fragrant hop scents of bitterish pith and pine.

Taste: Roasty coffee flavor at the beginning with a touch of bittersweet chocolate and a bit of dark caramel. At this stage, the hops are rather assertive and deliver a heavy citrus taste and lesser hints of pine needles. Moderate bitterness. Both the roasty coffee flavor and citrusy pine resin vie for attention, but neither side really wins out. Finishes drying, roasty, and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Relatively smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Good fresh, though I'd personally prefer to see it with a bit of age on it to temper those biting hops. Paired well with the CD "Some Are Lakes" by Land of Talk.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Darkest mahogany with meager reddish bronze accents at the edges. The cinnamon colored cap is exceptionally large, thanks to an aggressive pour, and isn't turning into beer all that quickly. I love the color contrast between beer and head. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as if much lace will be laid down... and it isn't.

Although Smuttynose Imperial Stout has a wonderful stout nose, it doesn't strike me as a Russian Imperial. Bittersweet chocolate dominates, with a helping hand from (subtle) fruity hops. It's a simple nose and a good one, but it lacks depth; especially for the style. I don't appreciate much coffee and no molasses or anise.

The beer is much more aggressive on the palate. The flavor profile follows the template laid down by the nose in that it lacks a certain degree of complexity. It's so bold, so flavorful and so delicious, however, that I don't mind a bit. All big beer doesn't need to be as complex as a Swiss watch.

There's a large, although not a massive, roasted maltiness that results in a flood of liquid fudge flowing over my taste buds. Chicory coffee and black licorice have now appeared and citrusy hops play a bigger role as well. The long finish is where the bitter grapefruit pith hoppiness truly shines. Amazing, since this bottle is more than one year old (2004 version).

The brewer's notes on the Smuttynose website doubted whether this beer needed much aging. I take that to mean they thought it wouldn't improve all that much. In any case, the hops are still going strong and the malt-hop balance is just about where I like it right now.

The mouthfeel is exceptional, even if it isn't as big or as viscous as some RISs (but then I've stopped thinking of this beer as a member of that style anyway). It has a wonderfully smooth, lightly chewy feel. I wouldn't change a thing even if given the chance. The ABV of the 2004 version is 8.0%, but I didn't notice the alcohol until it occurred to me to look for it.

Smuttynose Imperial Stout doesn't cleave that closely to the RIS style guidelines, but it is unquestionably excellent beer, style Nazis be damned. If you like your stouts chocolate dominant, citrus hoppy and bursting with flavor, look no further. Make mine a Smutty!

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Photo of billab914
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Bruery tulip glass. It poured black in color with a pretty nice looking dense head covering the top of the beer. The head faded to the edges of the glass where it left some nice lacing on the sides as I drank it.

The aroma shows a moderate amount of chocolate to it with some roasted malt, coffee like flavors present as well. The hops are pretty noticeable with an earthy, citrusy flavor trying to come through.

The taste has a lot of bitterness to it throughout the flavor. Roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and some hops all add to the bitterness throughout the beer. In the finish I get more of a smooth chocolate flavor along with some of the earthy, slightly citrusy hop flavor coming through. It has a moderately dry finish to it as well.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with modest carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good, it was a pretty good beer for the style overall. It seemed on the hoppy side for the style but things came together pretty well overall. Pretty nice beer overall. It's not outstanding in the style, but a very solid beer overall.

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Photo of russpowell
4.37/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this from either beeronthebrain or unholy2, cheers to both & boo to my cellar organization skills. Review based on notes from the other night

Pours mahogany black with 3+ fingers of brown/mocha head. Very good lacing & average head retention

S: Oaky notes, big boozeyness, vanilla that fades after a while. Dark fruittyness persists throughout

T: Chocolate, vanilla, oaky dryness, & roasty malt up front. Rich chocolate, dark fruit & some licorice as this warms. Finishes dry with chocolate & raisins, almost pulled a 5.0

MF: Oily, medium bodied, a little chalky & low carbonation

Drink great for the ABV & style, but a touch too dry to attempt to session on

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Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Much thanks goes out to Bill for sedning me down this one that I had been seeking out forever. Served at cellar temperture and poured into an oversized wine glass. This one was consumed 08/12/2008.

Poured a very nice, and almost complete pitch black. Thick looking with a nice opaque texture. Rich tan colored head of about two fingers in height then rose up and settled quickly, leaving only some token lace and a good bit of a broken crown around the top.

The aroma struck me immediatly as being a bit hot, so I was a bit on alert at this point on. Lots of roasted malts in the the profile, hints of dark bakers chocolate, bitter coffee grinds and a touch of vanilla. Carried over well into the flavor profile, with the dominant dark chocolate theme controlling the profile here. Rich with hints of vinous hops and a touch of coffee. Some light smoked taste in the back end, with a long lasting bitterness and a touch of alcohol in the finish. A little less then a full bodied stout, but with very good carbonation and a nice, well rounded profile. THis was a really sipper though as I took my time and it seemed to get much better as it warmed.

Overall not bad at all, though I have to admit, it needs a bit of time to come to its full protential. Really a bit too young to really appreciate fully. This was still a very solid effort, though not my favorite from them.

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Photo of smcolw
3.87/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Generous lace after each sip. Tan head that settles a little flat. Near black color where no line shines through.

Chocolate malt aromas with a generous level of hop for the style. Vanilla and cream notes.

Notable high-alcohol feel to this in the initial sip. This is quickly overwhelmed by a bitterness from burnt malt and a strong hop finish. Thin body for the style and the carbonation is slightly high.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.7/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cellared for approx six months. purchased at Shawan liqours in Md. Decanted cool at approx. 50 degrees from a brown 22oz into a snifter.

A - A creamy smooth mocha hued head w/ a fine, tight bead. The supporting ale is the shade of a baby grand - black and brilliant.

S - Sweet dried fruits w/ roasty pleasant booziness in the aroma and a alluring citrus hop scent. The sweet rich malt has candy in the intense odors. Plum and pine join in the entrancing aroma.

M - Rich, warming, dense, chewy yet sweet w/ a hefty dose of bitter hops in the feel. A pleasant complimentary amount of effervessence adds to the overall luxurious texture.

T - The flavor jumps out w/ a dried fruit taste complete w/ a papaya-like tropical essence tha has a supporting decadent bean essence roastiness. Chocolate and coffee w/ a citrus acidity. Notes of coffee and vanilla becomes more pronounced as it warms. Gentle roasted malt notes w/ toffee like sweetness combine w/ a now mellowed hoppiness. The booze and toasty flavors continue on w/ deep touches of warm full alcoholic malt flavors. Touches of sharp bitterness are noted surrounded by sweet and solid satiny malts in the finish.

D - Rich, robust and everything a RIS should be. Plenty of malt w/ out an overabundance of bitterness, just enough to balance out theis malty behemoth. Very fine, well made, One of the best I have ever had. Complex and flavorful - almost too good to share.

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Photo of Jason
4.29/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber with a "Bottle Conditioned In 2006" freshness date on the label.

A- Light brown lace, opaque black ... yes this is one of those really really dark beers.

S- Coco powder, ripe blackberries, South American medium roasted coffee, faint vanilla and slight charred wood all in the nose.

T&M- More creamy than smooth, lush full body. The undertow from the roasted malts pull the taste buds in a bit, just the perfect amount of charred flavor. Some malt sweetness lays underneath with a balancing hop bitterness. Molasses and dark raw honey come to mind. Warmth from the alcohol comes middle to end with ripe dark berries. Finishes semi-dry with a mild roasted grain character.

D- A sipper for sure, an awesome beer for a cooler fall night ... going to finish this one off with a sweet Dominican cigar.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.6/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Black color with brown head. Aroma and taste are quite subdued. Some roasted malt and dark fruits, quite classic. Heavy body, light carbonation. To simple for my taste.

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Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series) from Smuttynose Brewing Company
4.07 out of 5 based on 1,227 ratings.
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