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: 1,225
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 kevinlater
2.91/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

bomber into snifter. 10.0% abv. the code on the bottle has faded but it looks like "10/28/2015". poured on april 9, 2015

a: pitch black with a fat finger of light brown head

s: rich chocolate and roasted malt dancing on top of a herbal-piney-spicy & somewhat grapefruity hop presence

t: follows the nose. the front-end consists of big rich chocolate, burnt malts, black coffee, and noticeable grapefruit. a really strong herbal hoppy flavour emerges afterward -- too strong. ends with charred wood notes, lingering herbs & grapefruit, and a moderate bitterness. slight alcohol taste. the hops dominate as the beer warms, which i don't like

m: thick & full mouthfeel, mild carbonation

o: i prefer my stouts to be nearly hop-less. should've aged this. i think i'm going to stay away from hoppy stouts and black IPAs now

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Photo of dmgeng
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I haven't been all that impressed by Smuttynose overall but I figured I would give their RIS a shot.

A - Dark brown color that settles to black with a plume of extremely coarse brown head that fades quickly with no lacing.

S - Roasty aroma with chocolate and coffee secondary. There is an herbal hop character that is stronger than many RIS's but seems to slightly detract from the base stout. More of the roasted character than anything else but still enough stout and hops to skew the aroma.

T - Very similar to the smell; has the roastiness from the smell first but closely accompanied by the herbal hops, dark chocolate, raisin, malt, and coffee tones. Not too much of any one flavor and is pretty balanced between bitter and sweet but there is an herbal hops character and alcohol that stays on the back of the palate.

M - Moderate to high mouth-feel. Moderate to low carbonation. With the head coming and going there is still plenty of body and the flavors tend to linger but with the hops, alcohol, and dry roasted character it is trying to be balanced and manageable.

Overall, this is a good imperial stout. This is a RIS on the herbal hoppy side with sweet malt on the front, herbal hops in the middle, and roasted bitterness on the back. I did like it but I would never buy it again just because of the focus on the bitter aspects instead of fostering the sweeter and fuller flavors like chocolate, coffee, and malt. I would recommend it if you are just moving up from Guinness to RIS's because this has the hops and body increase without the overpowering richness that is the Ten Fidy.

Glass- Snifter

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Photo of alienlifeforcecube
3.89/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

drank fresh. the hops on it are overwhelming for a stout. it says on the label to drink now for hops and cellar for a refined malty experience. they're not kidding. the hops are big. notes of coffee and chocolate are drowned out by the bitterness. i should buy another one to cellar. will review again if i do.

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Photo of BeerWatcher
3.96/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

An opaque, muddy body is crowned by a beautiful mocha head leaving the mug awash in picturesque lacing. The aromas are of cocoa nibs, dark chocolate, and a definite sting of black coffee. Nice, slightly sticky mouthfeel, with a definite swing towards bitter coffee grounds on the taste, rather than the chocolate of some other stouts I’ve experienced. I give it a slight ding, for a mild, hard to detect metallic finish, but it is there and keeping this one from scoring a 9. Would I drink it again? You know it.

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Photo of Mantooth
3.34/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Draft pour @ Duckworths on Park, Charlotte North Cackalacky.

Pours jet black with an ample head, decent nose and underwhelming taste. It looks like I'm harsh in my numerical review - but I'm still giving the beer more than it deserves. Makes me wonder if I the keg was bad, actually. The worst part is how thin the beer is - a big imperial should have some viscosity.

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Photo of fscottkey
3.54/5  rDev -13%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: [5.00] Looks wonderful in the glass. Perfect stout pour. It has a dark black beer with 2+ fingers of dense khaki colored head. The bubbles are all uniform and have staying power. I think I could set a quarter on top and it would not sink in. The bottle lists the ABV 9.4%) and the born on year (bottle conditioned in 2014).

S: [3.50] The nose is dark fruit and a bourbon scent.

T: [3.50] The taste introduces more pronounced chocolate notes and roasted malts. As it warms I start to get malt sweetness on the finish.

M: [3.25] There is a slight dry feel to the beer that may be due to the higher ABV. This takes away a little from the smooth and creamy feel.

O: [3.50] This is really tasty beer. It looks amazing in the glass. The nose was a bit misleading for me (it had a great scent but it was different than the taste). The taste is roasty malts and chocolate. The alcohol is present and can be tasted - but isn't detracting on the taste. The alcohol gives a bit of a dry finish. Overall this is a good beer. I think I would prefer to go with a Smuttynose Robust porter which has kick butt flavor at a much lower price and ABV.

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Photo of CHickman
4.16/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled Feb. 2015 with 10.5% ABV listed. Pours pitch black color as expected, with a 1 finger tan/khaki head that faded and left minimal spotty lacing.

Smells very sweet like toffee, caramel, brown sugar, coffee with a lot of half and half in it, roasted grains, charred wood like a campfire, piney hops and some citrus fruit. No sign of the alcohol and the hops tend to sneak through often for some fruity sweetness. The coffee and caramel are most dominant, but the citrus and cocoa add fine aspects to this brew.

Tastes of rich burnt coffee, molasses, toffee, coffee grinds, maple syrup, hot fudge, caramel, burnt wood, smoked grains, cocoa powder, fresh piney hops, mild spices like pepper, burnt brownie crust and a hint of vanilla. The coffee and chocolate are espresso-like and the finish turns more hoppy with some grapefruit and citrus hops that bring on mild bitterness and lemon zest. I wanted to drink this fresh and it's damn tasty, very smooth and hides the ABV completely. Reminds me of Black Bear Stout.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, with a thin feel but yet some texture to it so its not too thin and watery; chewy and medium bodied, the bitterness does not outshine the sweetness which is all malt with really nice combo of coffee, chocolate and roasted malt with just enough citrus and piney hops to balance it out and help it flow down smooth.

I imagine this would get better with age, but the hops were such a great part of the complexity that I'm glad I drank this fresh. Overall a solid beer that I will seek out again.

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Photo of peensteen
4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Jet black with a ring of tan head, substantial lace on the glass. Smell is very hoppy, pine and citrus are front and centre before getting into the roasted malt, lightly burnt and anise notes, bits of chocolate and coffee as well. Taste is also fairly hop forward, good dose of chocolate and smoke, coffee and roast toward the finish, medium bitterness throughout, a fairly seemless mix of hops, roast and chocoaltey/coffee/smokey flavours, little to complain about here. Lightly carbonated, medium full creamy body. Really good stuff here, probably best to drink this fresh to get the most out of the hops in this one, very easy to drink imperial stout.

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Photo of Cramshawbar
3/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A robust stout that is worth a try. A bit coffee heavy but some like it that way. I wish I could be one of those people. Those who enjoy this style will like it though!

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

Purchased at the LCBO for around $8.00 for a 650ml bottle. Served at 7deg C in a tulip

A- Opens well and pours a miniscule head that is gone in seconds. Very dark almost black appearance

S- Lots of chocolate and coffee. Lots of heat though. Touch metallic.

T- Very rich chocolate overtones. Touch hot.

M- Very creamy and nice and thick.

O- Not a bad one. Have had better and will enjoy the second one I bought some time down the road

Food Pairing

This pretty good little stout went well with..... Grilled cheese sandwich with onion


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Photo of DenisKolkin
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

650 ml bomber purchased from LCBO for about $9 CDN. Good to see some more American craft beer up here in Canada. Served cool into a pint glass. Advertised as 10.0% ABV with a best before date of October 28, 2015.

Appearance - Pours dark cola brown from the glass. However, once it accumulates gives the appearance of being black. Nice finger or so of brown head rests on top and isn't going anywhere. Dark and ominous, I like my big stouts this way.

Smell - Surprisingly modest nose, there's some roasted coffee and a nice licorice undertone, but it actually smells a bit boozy and dangerous from the first whiff.

Taste - Starts with coffee and a rush of bitterness with a little more than average hop presence making itself apparent. Boozy, but not too much so then finishes with some licorice before moving to a dry roasty coffee finish.

Mouthfeel -Silky smooth, oily and a bit chewy at the same time. One of the thickest tasting beers I've ever had and exactly what I'm looking for in a big stout. Absolutely great feel.

Overall - The huge warmth in the back of my throat makes this a perfect sipping beer while a snowstorm rages on outside. A well crafted and incredibly smooth and full bodied stout, the aromas and flavors are really anything earth shattering, but executed with precision. Would consider picking up a second bottle of this before it leaves local LCBO's for at least another year.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip glass. 4 months in the beer closet.

A: Black with a half-finger mocha head that dissipates to foam. Spotty lacing.

S: Chocolate, anise, leather.

T: Chocolate comes on smooth and sweet. Sultry, decadent, robust. A bit of anise and licorice follow. A terrific finish. The 10% slides in with a mellowing haze. Sip and be awed.

M: Medium to heavy with medium to heavy carbonation. Chewy.

O: A bargain at $6.50 a bomber at Hop City, Atlanta. Goes so well with a slice of Hershey chocolate pie with almonds (a taste bud orgasm).

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Photo of Immortale25
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Haw River Farmhouse Ales teku glass. Notch on bottle says 2014.

A- Pours a fully opaque black color with a 1/2 inch dark tan head that retains well before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and some random patterns of wispy surface foam. Resilient, drippy lacing leaves small clots behind.

S- Sweet, very roasty aroma brings notes of molasses, a bit of char and even a hint of oak. There's an even distribution of alcohol, milk chocolate, hops and vanilla.

T- The roast sets in and the attention soon turns to the hops which are quite prevalent and accentuates the overall heavy characteristic of the malt and booze. Still, it's pretty drinkable due to the chocolate, vanilla and char combining to make a multi-dimensional flavor profile. Becomes even more decadent as it warms.

M- Creamy and slick with medium carbonation and a full body.

O- Never knew about this offering from Smuttynose (I'm guessing because it hasn't been made since 2010). So glad I found it. Delish.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, 2014 release, 9.4%. Nice to see this one come back after a hiatus.
A 4.75 - towering light brown head caps a black colored ale, excellent head retention with thick lacing as it fades
S 3.5 - roasted barley, dark chocolate, fruity esters and booze as it warms, but not too much of a nose
T 4.5 - heavy roasted barley and dark chocolate, dark fruits seep through with the booziness, some burnt caramel and bread crust, piny hops are pungent on the bitter finish
M 4.75 - thick and full bodied, very creamy with hop oils coating the palate
O 4.5 - I love everything this brewery does, and this is no exception - stellar Russian Imperial Stout with a fair price for a bomber.

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Photo of jaasen64
4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Another cellared beer purchased from Nikki's vintage room in Providence. 22oz bottle from 2009 (aged 5 years) poured into Lawson's tulip.

A- Pours an opaque dark black, about a quarter finger of light mocha head that recedes to a thin top leaving light wispy lacing, carbonation seems to be spot on despite the age.

S- Dark fruits, char, roast malts, oxidation that blends, very light dark cherries. Can tell this is picking up a little oxidation but still holding up quite nicely although has transformed from it's original self losing the hops and gaining dark fruit.

T- Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, dark fruits, light cherries, blended oxidation, slightly bitter, finishes very smooth oxidized chocolate. One of the best aged stouts I've had.

M- Nice carbonation, medium bodied, almost no booze, goes down smooth.

O- This is one of the most overlooked stouts out there, in my opinion this easily stands up with the best non-barrel-aged stouts on the market both fresh and aged. With age this has held up surprisingly well still retaining perfect carbonation and plenty of flavor. For picking this up for $8.50 was an absolute steal and I wish I purchased a few more.

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Photo of Ri0
4.39/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle poured into snifter. Bottled early 2014.

A - Obsidian with a thin 1 finger brown head. Minimal retention and a thin ring clings to the glass. Some fat swaths of lacing.

S - I pick up big roasty malts and dark fruit. Bitter chocolate, caramel, toffee provide a nice sweetness. There are also notes of bitter hops.

T - Wow, the taste is fantastic! Bold bitter chocolate, dark fruit, more bitter coffee and some woodiness. The middle finds the sweetness of caramel and toffee, maybe some semi sweet chocolate. The finish is bold and has some bitterness from the hops.

M - Creamy, rich and smooth with thick body. Carbonation is low but very nice for this style.

O - Great RIS and it reminds me of Yeti, FIS, and TenFidy. Maybe a touch more sweetness compared to those.

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Photo of tobelerone
4.06/5  rDev -0.2%

Lovely bargain bomber. Comes in under seven bucks, packs an appropriately weighty body with moderate carbonation, slight stickiness. Looks the part. Decent aromatics, good flavor, has a medium-high level of roast and piney hops that are countered by medium sweetness, nicely balanced.

This isn't a life changing world beating revelation but it's a sturdy and affordable imperial stout and one of the better offerings by this brewery in my opinion. Particularly enjoyed the full bodied aspect of this beer, something that seems to get lost a lot in this style at lower price points.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

2011 vintage from bomber bottle. NICE!

One of my favorite imperial stouts. Pours a thick intense black with sold tan head that dies
down to a thin pooling layer of foam and great clinging lacing. Nose of bakers chocolate, DARK
roasted coffee, and booze. Taste is up front chocolate, slicking the way for waves of coffee and
black licorice and a dash of bittering hops for good measures. Most excellent warming on the
aftertaste with a thick coating like quality to the mouthfeel. Light carbonation and great flavor
makes this a stout drinkers go to for rich indulgence. Earthy and meaty it is a meal in a bottle.


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Photo of AgentMunky
4.07/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a tulip. Vintage 2014.

A: Black. Light dark head. Good lace.

S: Incredibly rich. Enormous licorice. Little hot for the ABV.

T/M: Remarkably tasty, but more much moderated than the intense nose suggested. More than a hint of carbonation with edges of bitterness before the fruity main body. Aftertaste is light and clean.

O: good, but not exceptional. Drinkable and tasty; would have again.

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Photo of Mitchster
3.37/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

2014. 9.4% ABV. Pours out to a clear very dark walnut, almost black, forming a light cocoa powder colored head with good retention and adequate lacing. The nose is of herbal hops, black walnut, soy sauce, distant burnt marshmallow. The mouthfeel is oddly tart with a dense body. The taste is a recap of the aroma. The hops are a little stronger than most imperial stouts, and well, this is a young beer, so that's not coincidental. The taste has a slightly sooty and tarry note to it, which is nice. The hops adds a peculiar tartness and sourness. I sometimes get this sourness wend there is a high percentage of roasted malts. Definitely lots of roasted malt taste, like french press coffee. A touch of molasses towards the finish.

This is a decent RIS, however the sourness, bitterness, green herbal hoppiness just don't sit well. Perhaps with some aging this might mellow out, but I think RIS should be brewed with all these things in mind, in order to be drank now. I'd definitely pass on buying it again. Maybe much better RIS's out there.

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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 dpgoblejr
4.85/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On Tap at the Thirsty Moose Taphouse in Portsmouth NH.

Very dark-brown to mostly black looking stout. Moderate head, decent for a stout, and very slight lacing. Hints of chocolate, smoke, and dark fruits in the aroma. Tastes absolutely amazing with a sort of cherry-chocolate sweetness dominating my taste buds. Smooth, nice bodied beer that is a like a drinkable dessert. Awesome stout and my favorite brew by Smuttynose to date. Highly recommended must try here!

Feb 2015 Update..
220z bomber dated Feb2015 poured into a snifter. Black in color with a oil-slick like viscosity as a small mocha head retreats to a ring around the edge. Lacing is evident as the coffee aroma dominates with each sip. Chocolate, dark fruits, and licorice are there too. Taste is made up of chocolate, licorice, dark fruits, and coffee being the most pronounced. Lighly carbonated, thick and smooth, and extremely drinkable. Earthy hops finish off the palate with a slightly dry bitterness that helps to complete this beauty of an Imperial Stout. The sweetness I remember is not as noticeable to me but there's nothing wrong with that! Love my Smutty!

Jan 2016 Update:
I think I like this almost a year old aged version even better than fresh. The dry bitterness has subsided and the coffee is not as dominate. A more all around complete RIS now.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.16/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Called an Imperial Stout for a reason this poured with a most regal complexion of thick black darkness. The head was a thick crown of Brown dense foam that was thick enough to support the bottle cap.

The nose is full of cocoa powder, light char, marshmallow sweetness, Graham cracker and chocolate malt.

The flavor holds more chocolatey properties with a powder and milk chocolate taste. Light char or roast mixes with a malty Graham cracker before the marshmallow sweetness finishes.

The feel is thick and full but there is significant warmth and alcohol tang.

This is part of the "Big Beer Series" and this is a Big Beer!

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Photo of Treyliff
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage, poured into a snifter

A- pours thick and pitch black with a small and creamy dark tan head, good retention and lacing left behind

S- big roasty malt with some smoky notes, bitter dark chocolate, dark fruit and fig

T- chocolate malt gives flavors of bitter-sweet dark chocolate and fig, smoky campfire and charcoal notes give it a nice roasted flavor, slightly sweet finish with more chocolate and a hint of coffee

M- thick and creamy body with moderate carbonation, smooth and silky mouthfeel with just a bit of warmth on the finish

O- nothing fancy here, just a really good classic Russian Imperial Stout. Definitely worth a try

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Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series) from Smuttynose Brewing Company
4.07 out of 5 based on 1,225 ratings.
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