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

698 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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 698 | Ratings: 1,223
Photo of GarthDanielson
4.02/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a snifter, the beer pours an oily, jet black coloring with a thin, low profile, light brown head. Aromas of cocoa nibs, molasses, coffee, roasted notes, wood, and earth. Heavy, but never overpowering, and the nose remains balanced throughout. Flavors are heavily roasted forward, with a blast of bitter, dark roasted coffee, bitter baker's chocolate highlights, and some woody and earthy highlights. Initially robust in mouth, but transitions to a slick, light feel by the end of the palate. Roasted, rich coffee aftertaste, with campfire smoke highlights, and a slick, slightly bitter, lingering finish. Solid, rugged stout.

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Photo of barczar
4.11/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque, motor oil black with a creamy, dense chocolate head that lingers.

Cocoa, roast malt, tar, soy, and coffee form the aroma. Slightly sweet notes emerge. Tar really dominates. There's a slight hint of dark fruit.

Flavor is dominated by chocolate, becoming roasty in the finish, and slightly charred. A bit boozy, with muddled dark fruit underlying the roast malt backbone. The dark fruits linger, countering the bitter finish nicely.

Body is somewhat light, with minimal carbonation and noted alcohol warmth.

Would love to revisit this after aging a while. Fairly complex, but the roast dominates now. Those underlying notes may become more pronounced in a few years.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2014 bottle opened 03/26/14.

Pours an impenetrable black with a fleeting head of dark brown cream and just a hint of lacing; looks thick. The nose runs deep with warm stout character – rich, bittersweet fudge, mocha, cake batter, and a surprising amount of booze – and the palate follows suit. Tastes like gooey brownie batter laced with notes of crispy pie crust, vanilla, and ashy roasts, with a touch of dark fruit. Very satisfying. In contrast, the carbonation is pretty fizzy, and there’s a dry, flowery hop bitterness that ends up pretty significant as it winds down; in the end, it leaves this more crisp than I expected. Definitely one to seek out.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.24/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a borderline pitch black color. The head is a two finger tan shade with excellent retention. Seriously, I've let it sit for about two minutes and it's only gone down half a finger. It also has a thick texture similar to whipped cream, but also has rather large bubbles as well. Splotchy lacing is left down the glass.

S: True to style, there's a lot going on within the nose. There are distant hints of fudgy chocolate, some floral hops, licorice, roasted malts, aniseed, and alcohol. Maybe it's a bit too boozy for 9.4% - then again, I'm so used to many imperial stouts hiding its alcohol well. Of course, letting it warm up will reduce the boozy bite somewhat. I really enjoy the aroma's complexity regardless.

T: Okay, this has a large amount of licorice to start. The finish is well-attenuated, with tart fruits, roast...and booze. A surprising amount for 9.4%. Some chocolaty hints appear in places. Unfortunately, this isn't my favorite profile for an imperial stout - and even worse, it's too lacking in complexity.

M: I enjoy how creamy and full-bodied this is. Despite all of the alcohol, it loafs around on the palate more than it should. The sharp carbonation and alcohol doesn't dry it out enough.

O: This one is too young. Plain and simple. A couple of years will make it great - I have no doubt of that. But right now, it's too simplistic and too boozy. I'll buy this again, but only to age a bottle for a few years. Since I'm a firm believer that a beer should be ready as soon as its released, this scores average to me.

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Photo of bnes09
4.29/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pitch black and completely opaque. Rich cinnamon colored head retains very well. Patchy, cascading lacing.

Roasted espresso and spicy herbal, earthy aroma.

Burnt toffee, espresso, baking chocolate. Highly roasted overall. Well balanced maple and brown sugar sweetness with hints of black licorice. Aggressive earthy hop yet in good proportion. Dry, satisfying finish.

Full bodied. Dry on the palate. Plenty of malty, grainy texture

Everything an imperial stout should be. Great complexity and balanced with all the flavors you crave. Exceptional!

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Photo of CloudStrife
3.96/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2014

A: Pours a very dark brown appearing black in the glass with a large khaki head on top. Nice lacing on the sides of the glass after the head dissipates.

S: Big roasty malts up front let you know this stout is serious. A blend of chocolate and smokiness also come across. Some dark fruits in there too. A bit of alcohol on the backend.

T: As with the aroma a there is a strong roasted malt character right off the bat. A bitter chocolate adds some sweetness. A mix of dark fruit and molasses bring up the rear.

M: Medium to full body with a smooth creamy mouthfeel. Moderate to low carbonation. A tad hot from the alcohol reminding you to sip and enjoy this one.

Overall this beer is very true to the style and a very enjoyable beer to enjoy. Might benefit from some time in a cellar to round out the alcohol bite.

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Photo of joeseppy
4.06/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours extremely dark brown/black. Generous mocha head with the consistency of shaving cream.

Aroma of brownie batter, vanilla, sweet malt and light roast coffee.

Bakers cocoa bitterness. More sweet malt balance and a light roast coffee. Basically taste follows the nose. Noticeable alcohol and char mix on the back end, nothing obtrusive.

Heavier body, smooth and creamy.

Very nice example of an RIS. Again a fairly priced product that makes this an easy choice among many fine comparisons. Speaking of which, this reminds me of SN's Narwhal-one of my favorites. But today I say-Make mine a Smutty!

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.52/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of the best non-BA imperial stouts on the market. Purchased from Nathaniel Square Corner store for 6.99, shared with stillmatic2232.

Pours a very dark black into a tulip. Basically opaque. Smells like roast, cocoa, a tiny bit of alcohol, and some piney hops.

Tastes incredible. Intense roastiness mixes with a surprising amount of hoppiness. One of the hoppier RIS's I've had. Hops run along the citrus zest and pine needle bent. Plays off the roastiness very well. Lots of creamy dark chocolate in there too. Bit of coffee bitterness as well.

Incredible, thick mouthfeel. Coats your mouth nicely. Goes down smoothly.

Loved this one. Great price, too.

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Photo of morebeergood
4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had a 2011 and 2010 vintage last night. Both looked great in the glass. Both smelled fantastic. Mouthfeel was creamy and luscious. The 2010 beat the 2011 in one category - taste. The '11 had a hit of booze still in it, while the '10 was totally smoothed out, and all you could taste was chocolate goodness. Great beer when fresh, but with 3-4 years in the cellar, this Imperial Stout aged quite well.

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Photo of Rhf9120
4.53/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this at a tasting last night. I had the privilege of trying both the 2013 vintage and also as a special treat the 2008 vintage. The difference was absolute. The 2013 vintage was good with everything that you would expect from a great imperial stout. The 2008 vintage was just amazing, the aroma and the taste of the beer completely changed. The 2013 vintage has a much more bitter flavor profile and the alcohol was much more present. The 2008 vintage had very little alcohol flavoring so the true flavors of the beer really opened. The roasted malts dark fruits and hints of vanilla were just perfect. Both vintages were great and I would definitely recommend this beer.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.04/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a New Belgium globe.

A: Opal black with a light brown head. Retention is great. Lacing is comprised of tightly concentrated spots.

S: Heavy roast, ash, and some smoke. Charred coffee beans. Earthy and piney hops. Underlying whiffs of vanilla bean and dark fudge sauce, and bitter dark chocolate. Molasses. Fleeting bruised plum and currant esters.

T: Semi sweet dark chocolate turns into bitter dark chocolate. Quick hint of vanilla bean. Roasted barley. Plenty of woody char. Earthy and piney hops wield an aggressive spicy and oily bitterness. Plum and black currant esters roll through. Black cocoa powder. Drying finish of burnt coffee, bitter dark chocolate, and piney hops.

M: Big and thick in body. Full with a slick but firm smoothness that rolls over the tongue. Low carbonation.

O: An edgy beer all around. There's a lot of bitterness going on between the hops and the roasted malts. A good amount of charred flavor too. This will put some hair on your chest. Like Smutty's robust porter, this could be a good pairing with the right cigar. Unfortunately I don't know enough about cigars to offer a suggestion. I only smoke them a few times a year. I would bet that this has some great extended aging potential too. Probably tastes great around that 3-5 year mark, maybe longer. They sell vintage bottles at the brewery if you aren't the patient sort.

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Photo of BB1313
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage. 22oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours jet black with a small tan head that doesn't leave much lacing or retention, but nice color. The aromas are full of chocolate malts. There's hints of orange peel along with the slightest amount of citrus. Some cherry aromas in the mix as well. The flavors have a solid hop presence to it. Tons of dark chocolate giving it a subtle bitterness. There's hints of vanilla. Some dark fruits in the mix. Some black pepper, giving it a subtle spiciness. I throw the word "subtle" around alot, but this is an extremely rich and robust stout. There's a subtle warming, but it's clearly not hot or boozy, far from it. Mouthfeel is great. It's full-bodied and silky with moderate carbonation. Very smooth and easy drinking.

I always felt this was a very good example of the style. It's well executed and there's not much to complain about. It's a very good example of what Smuttynose is capable of and it's one of my favorites from the brewery. It's a fun beer. Recommended.

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Photo of MarvinSnyder
4.11/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed notes from 10/28/13. A pint bottle poured into a snifter glass. 2009 batch.

Appearance: Pours an opaque dark chocolate with a small tan head. Spotty lacing hangs on the glass.

Smell: Alcohol, anise, chocolate, dark fruit, vanilla, and bready malt on the nose. A complex rummy aroma.

Taste: Same as the nose, with rich chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and dark fruit( think cherry) characteristics. Very sweet in the finish. The alcohol is hidden well in the taste.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Very smooth over the palate.

Overall: A satisfyingly indulgent, desert-like beer. It paired nicely with cheese and a venison burger. Maybe just a little too sweet to be overly quaffable. More akin to a port wine.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.34/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

March 2011 bottling, 22 oz bottle

black as ink. thin dark tan head that fades fast. like motor oil. smells of dark char, a hint of smoke, bitter cocoa. similar tastes, very smooth yet complex flavors. dry, slightly bitter and acidic. long finish. slick, thick body, low carbonation.

overall a quality big and bold imperial stout.

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Photo of Dope
3.96/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2011 batch.

A: Pours a nice jet black. Big and dense medium brown head. Head fades slowly; great retention. Nice solid chunky lacing everywhere.

S: Strong dark fruits in this one. Lots of figs, raisins and plums. A bit of char and maybe a hint of chocolate and anise. Dark fruits even stronger when swirled.

T: Quite charry up front with a smoke presence as well. Dark fruits are still here but very subdued under the char. Kind of a dry, bitter chocolate and char in the finish. Anise and lingering char in the aftertaste.

M: Medium bodied, pretty dry.

O: Not bad. Very much on the fruity/charry side of RISes. Not a whole lot of chocolate or coffee that you usually find (and that I usually prefer). Quite dry too. Very little sweetness in general and very dry in the finish. Definitely a bit different than most. Will have to try this fresh someday to compare. Pretty good but I'm a bit biased towards more sweet, chocolatey and coffee based RISes.

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Photo of BoardwalkBock
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle from 2010 poured into a pint glass. Purchased yesterday at local distributor for $7.00.

A: Black. Hints of dark red towards the top when held to a light. Very nice tan, mocha-colored head that fades into a thin lacing around the edge of the glass.

S: When I first opened the bottle, the first thing I immediately noticed was the intense alcohol presence. That is what I expect when I open an RIS, so right away I knew I was onto something with this beer. As the beer warms it really opens up with some dark fruits, molasses and chocolate. Wonderful.

T: Taste matches the smell, especially as the beer warms. Alcohol is hidden very well. Sort of reminds me of Siberian Night by Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. Nice bitter ending on the palate with hints of some sort of dark tropical fruit? Very complex.

M: Creamy, low carbonation, and smooth.

O: Pretty solid RIS. Not the best I've had, but definitely glad I purchased it. I would have loved to try a new one and compared it to an aged beer like the one I just drank. I may have to purchase one more to save for another year or two to see how it transforms. At $7.00 at 22 oz, it's a steal for an RIS. Once again, another solid offering from Smuttynose.

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

From notes. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip. 2010 bottle.

Smuttynose Imperial Stout pours a molasses, nearly black color, with a generous mocha head that rises up to the top of my glass and leaves a nice web of lace down the glass.

Dark fruits, including dates, plums, and raisins, dark chocolate, sweet molasses, roasted malt, and some smoke all contribute to the nose.

The flavor matches up the the aroma fairly well. There is a molasses and dark fruit sweetness that contrasts with the smoke that comes through right away. After a moment, roasted malt and dark, unsweetened chocolate come through next, with a bit of bitter coffee and some more smoke coming along at the finish.

The body is definitely on the full side, with a creamy carbonation that just stays out of the way. It is definitely sticky on my lips and leaves a little bit of a bitter, acrid feel at the end.

I have been sitting on this bottle for a while, and it was about what I expected: nice, but nothing overly special.

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Photo of kevanb
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, 2011 dated. Poured into a Smuttynose Big Beer Series snifter.

The beer pours a nice jet black color, thick, motor oil texture, touches of dark brown when hit by the light with a nice thick caramel colored head rising up the glass, about a finger and a half high that has decent retention and leaves behind no lacing. The aroma is of nice chocolate malt, mollasses, prune with some slightly roasted coffee with some residual sweetness from the malt a bit of fusel alcohol. The flavors follow nicely, big chocolate malt rush on the tongue with some nice stone fruit flavors, dark cherry and plum, mollasses with a much more prolific roasted coffee presence that lingers nicely on the tongue with a touch of alcohol at the finish. The body is fairly silky, moderately rich with a bit more carbonation than expected, higher on the medium spectrum with an easy smooth finish that has a nice warming sensation as it goes down.

Verdict: A very fine stout from Smuttynose. Their isn't a ton of complexity here, but the beer is very balanced and easy to drink. A worthy take on the Russian Imperial Stout and one I hope that gets brewed again in the future.

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Photo of BlackBelt5112203
4.36/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle (2011 vintage) poured into a snifter at cellar temperature.

L – Black color with a 1.5-finger creamy, rocky, tan-brown head. Decent retention but not much lacing.

S – This is full of lots of RIS aromas. Cocoa, plums, currants, molasses, licorice, and an aroma reminiscent of coffee liqueur come to mind. This smells much more complex and layered than I expected it to be.

T – The taste isn’t quite as complex as the nose suggested but man, is it tasty. It starts off sweet with molasses, cocoa, and some dark fruits. At about mid-taste, spicy licorice comes along for the ride. Towards the finish, big and bitter roasted coffee appears and lingers. As the bitterness mellows, dark fruit and cocoa sweetness comes back into play.

F – Full-bodied with good carbonation, a thick, creamy, and velvety mouthfeel, and a slightly bitter, slightly sweet, and dry finish. Bitter roasted coffee lingers until molasses and cocoa sweetness takes back over. There’s a bit of a throat-warming sensation from the alcohol, as well.

O – This is a really nice RIS. It’s big, bold, and complex enough while remaining very drinkable. It has all the elements that I would look for in a beer of this style. This is an awesome beer from Smuttynose. They really have yet to disappoint me.

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Photo of falloutsnow
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From: Friar Tuck's, Savoy, IL
Date: 2010 bottling
Glass: Tulip

Even with a little over two years of age, Smuttynose's Imperial Stout is a version of the style that hits all the right notes with its heavy, slow-sipping body, chocolate and roasted barley flavors and aromas. The hop usage also adds a slight twist to the typical stout, imbuing this with some characters not too commonly seen. The price ($6 at the time) and quality of the beer make this quite superb indeed. One I would happily try again.

Pours a 1cm tall head, burnt tan in color, made up of small-sized bubbles, creating a very dense-looking mass of foam. The head has average to above average retention for the style, lasting about 1.5 minutes by my watch. Lacing left by the head is noticeable, fairly large masses of burnt tan froth stick to the inner sides of the glass. The body is dark brown to black in color, opaque to the point that observing carbonation is not possible.

The aroma is upfront and noticeable, a mix of bitter roasted malt, dark chocolate, slight caramel and stale coffee beans, and hops presenting very modest pine resin and bitterness.

The flavors are similar to the aroma, and that's a good thing. Front of the palate picks up slightly acrid roasted malt with a dusting of dry cocoa, leading into a mid-palate that features stronger dark chocolate and roasted malt flavors, a more subdued prune essence, and hops with pine resin and bitterness that are noticeable through the heavy chocolate and roasted barley flavors, but just barely able to cut through and not distract from the main elements of the stout. Back of palate increases the hop bitterness and prune-like esters slightly, but still well-balanced by the roasted malt and chocolate nuances. Aftertaste is of lingering roasted barley, dark chocolate, and hop bitterness with a touch of pine.

Medium-heavy to heavy in weight, with carbonation levels of medium to medium-low intensity, leading to a smooth, thick mouthfeel with an appropriately low amount of fizz to induce sipping. Closes dry, with significant stickiness lingering across the palate.

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Photo of mullenite
4.56/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Originally tasted fresh, each section is updated and the score is averaged after ~3.5 years of aging.

2009 bomber poured in to a Corsendonk tulip (I LOVE these glasses for big stouts.)

Pours a straight black body with no highlights and a 3 finger head that fell slowly in to a thin carp mostly covering the top of the beer. Excellent lacing down the side of the glass. / After 3.5 years, the appearance remains true except the head. It dropped a bit faster to a much more dense foam.

Smell is a strong dark chocolate and some roast. Has an overall bitter nose to it with the alcohol adding a touch of aquanet. The aquanet is a good thing though, it's a very clean alcohol smell. / The alcohol and roast are mostly gone leaving a really nice dark chocolate and dark fruit aroma. The "aquanet" is gone, too.

There is a lot going on in this beer, the flavors are all kind of bunched at the start of the sip and separate through the finish. There is a noticeable grassy hop bitterness to start, followed by a slight roast character with some resonant alcohol and finish with an alcoholic dark chocolate. A very hoppy imperial stout. / The hop bitterness is gone, the alcohol is gone. The rest remains. Absolutely amazing and up there with some of the best in the world.

Medium to medium heavy mouthfeel with a fair bit of carbonation to it. / This hasn't changed.

Pretty easy to drink it now but I imagine after a couple years this one will mellow out and balance to become an absolutely amazing beer. / My prediction was correct. This one drinks scary easy and has an absolutely amazing flavor.

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Photo of Morey
4.23/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Bomber into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance: Pours pitch black in color with a light brown head that initially stood just under two fingers high. After about 5 minutes or so, I'm left with just a thin and spotty layer with some lone bubbles here and there. There's a good amount of lacing being left behind though.

Aroma: Very roasty, with hints of semi-sweet chocolate and espresso. The nose was rather mild following the pour, but it started to come alive as the beer warmed up a bit.

Taste: Sweet and creamy up front with some nice roasted and espresso-like bitterness not far behind, providing immediate balance to this big stout. There's a touch of hop bitterness towards the middle with a welcomed chocolate flavor in there as well. The finish is smooth, creamy, sweet, and bitter all at the same time. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, sweet, and creamy...near perfection in this area.

Morey's Bottom Line: I had heard some good things, so I finally decided to bring this one up from the cellar after sitting on it for about a year. Very similar to the Imperial Russian Stout by Stone which I just drank last week. You get superior value at only $6.99 a bottle. You can't afford not to get this. Cheers!

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Photo of Arithmeticus
4.67/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured chilled in tall ale glass; 8 mo-old version

A: solid black; thin head; good carb; great lacing
S: wow--total leather and dark-roasted barley
T: this easily rivals Old Rasputine; the complexity is astounding; much like chewing a leather belt (in a good way); pepper on the finish

This is an amazing porter; my stomach isn't completely happy but my mouth is

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Photo of mooseo
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml into tulip.

A - Midnight black with a thin dark tan head.

S - Sweet aroma of chocolate, molasses, and toffee. Milky.

T - A nice blend of dark roasted malt, milk chocolate, and vanilla cream. Reminds me of a sweet chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, in liquid form. Delicious.

M - Thick and full bodied, extra smooth and creamy. Low carbonation with warming alcohol.

O - A really nice imperial stout. I got this on discount, so it probably has some age on it. The alcohol is hidden well and probably mellowed out a bit. Excellent flavor.

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Photo of hosehead83
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a "bomber" bottle ( vintage 2011), into a wine goblet.
Jet-black in color, with a moderate to short head of tan foam.
Aroma-Dark roasted coffee and chocolate notes
Taste-Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, dark orchard fruits, underlying warming alchohol. A solid, all around RIS.

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Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series) from Smuttynose Brewing Company
4.07 out of 5 based on 1,223 ratings.
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