Czar Brew - Russian Imperial Stout Aged In Oak Bourbon Barrels
Sprecher Brewing Company

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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #790
Ranked #28,327
3.78 | pDev: 14.02%
Sprecher Brewing Company
Wisconsin, United States
Very Good
View: Beers
Reviews: 59 | Ratings: 157 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Czequershuus
3.31/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

This beer pours a dark opaque black with a small but long lasting head. The aroma is rather boozy, with vanilla. oak. chery. a hint of smoke, and caramel. the flavor is ery sweet, with vanilla. butterscotch, candy, bubblegum, and a slightly sour mash note. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with light, tingly carbonation and a thin but sweet finish. Overall this beer is okay - it suffers from being rather sweet but not rich - but it is still enjoyable.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
3.18/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Unknown vintage; drank 2/27/15 @ the Yarchives.

Black appearance; a few stray champagne bubbles.

Small dark khaki head; nice lace.

Oak & cloying caramel in the nose.

Medium thick mouthfeel.

Oak & set chocolate syrup flavors up front; cloying bourbon & caramel notes on the finish. A too-sweet booze bomb...not a good combination.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 11/15/2012. Pours pitch black color with a 1-2 finger dense dark tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, caramel, vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, coconut, toasted oak, and bourbon; with lighter notes of leather, tobacco, raisin, plum, coffee, smoke, and roast/oak earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, caramel, vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, coconut, toasted oak, and bourbon; with lighter notes of leather, tobacco, raisin, plum, coffee, smoke, and roast/oak earthiness. Light-moderate roasted bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, caramel, vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, coconut, toasted oak, bourbon, and roast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great roasted bitter/sweet balance, and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Slightly drying from bitter/spiciness as well. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full body; with a very smooth, creamy/silky, and lightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent barrel aged Russian imperial stout! All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; very smooth and easy to drink for the big ABV. This aged extremely well. Tons of barrel presence with no booziness; and well rounded stout complexity in balance with the barrel notes. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of ZebulonXZogg
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This pours a thick, oily black and not a bubble in the glass.
Aroma has just enough bourbon to let you know it spent time in a barrel. Plums, raisin and smoke make their presence known. Flavor is dark fruit with just a hint of booze. The label says 11.9% ABV, they sure fooled me.
Updated 3/19/17
Bottle found in the crawl space at least
two years old. It aged quite well. I updated the scores. Better than I remember.

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Photo of JakeMorgan13
4.7/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I found this barrel aged stout very under rated. It was very well mingled together. Bourbon perfect to me. I see alot of this on the shelf rite now and I'm very happy no one knows how good this is. Try it you will be pleased!

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.28/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Taste of bourbon and chocolate and roast are very well mended together. Not very heavy bourbon flavor. I actually can't believe it's 11% since it drinks like it's around 9%. Found the single for around $5 which is pretty good if not great for a bourbon barrel Imperial Stout.

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Photo of JosephBieske
4.62/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours as thick as oil. Nice Carmel head. Drinks easy for a 10%-ish beer. Heavy chocolate on the front, blast of oak and bourbon in the back. Best Sprecher beer I have had.

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Photo of NavyGoat
3.96/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoy a lot of products from Sprecher Brewing Company; especially their Root Beer! That being said, first time trying the Czar Brew from Sprecher. They have something cooking here; not yet, up to some of the better Oak Bourban Barrel brews. In due time, I think they will have the right mix that everyone will chase after. The look and taste of the beer is good but not great. I would buy it again!

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Photo of hustadaj
4.42/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is a very good barrel aged RIS, even if you throw out the great price. I'm not sure why the ratings are so low, maybe because it doesn't have a high price tag and people are basing it on that, or people who don't normally drink barrel aged beers are buying it and downgrading it. I would highly recommend a 4 pack.

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Photo of schoolboy
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This was a huge brew that got better with every degree of warmth and every sip. Consider drinking it at 60 degrees F. I also was thinking the whole time that maybe it should age for six months, but I'm not sure it would get a lot better.

It looks black like it should, with a weak brown fuzz head of fine bubbles. The aroma is a boozy and sweet.

The taste is syrupy and slightly hoppy. It gets much better warm. The aftertaste is quite boozy.

This made for a nice strong New Years Eve drink that was followed by stronger and hoppier stuff. Nice pairing with other large beers.

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Photo of jwc215
3.79/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours very dark brown with a thin tan head. Some trailing sticks.

The smell is of chocolate, coffee, oak/bourbon, anise.

The taste of sweet oak/bourbon mixes with chocolate, anise, and mild roasted coffee. Warming dryness in the warming finish.

It hits full-bodied, though carbonation is a bit sharp for the style. Alcohol lingers.

Overall, it's qa rich, enjoyable strong stout with a bourbon/oak character that is blended well. A nice "sipper"!

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed from a 22 oz bottle in a snifter, this most excellent RIP pours black as midnight with a thick tight bubbled head that slowly dies down to a firm thin layer with excellent webbed lacing. Nose of dark chocolate, black licorice, dark molasses, and rich bourbon. Flavors are chocolate all around with the licorice coming through on the back with the bourbon. The bourbon lends itself to adding to the sweetness which to many may be overpowering towards a milk stout. Still very nice, with a smooth coating mouth feel and light carbonation. Very slick.

An excellent Russian Imperial for those who like theirs on the sweeter side.

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.79/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle

Pours jet black with a tan ring of carbonation for a head.

Smells of licorice, dark chocolate, figs, and oak.

Molasses and licorice up front followed by oak and a hint of cinnamon.

Full body with stinging carbonation on the roof of the mouth.

Beautiful presentation, nice aroma and body. Flavor is nuanced and threatens to be a bit too cloying. Overall a very good rich stout that may turn off some people due to the overripe sweetness in the flavor.

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Photo of Tlocaciato
4/5  rDev +5.8%

Pours heavy, like motor oil heavy, great nose of vanilla and charred barrels. Overall my favorite part is that the barrel aging isn't the only flavor in this beer it tastes like a great Russian Imperial that was enhanced by the barrel rather than a hot boozy mess. The alcohol is subtle for an 11%+ beer. I am a big fan

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Photo of don1481
2.25/5  rDev -40.5%

Appearance: Pours a jet black with a cocoa colored head that retains for a bit. Leaves a small amount of lacing on the side.

Smell: big nose with a variety of vanilla, bourbon, coffee smells.

Taste: ...and here is where this falls apart. Such a thin, watered down taste. Where are all the delicious bits from the nose?? Beyond disappointed.

Mouthfeel: for something that tastes this thin it leaves a surprisingly thick feeling.

Overall: so tempted to drain pour this. Something does not add up here.

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Photo of QueerBeer
4.14/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pour is a dark hue yet translucent, appearing thin (and invoking worry about the mouthfeel). Dark, medium head. Aroma of tobacco, vanilla, and oak. Very rich, very sweet. Flavor dominated by vanilla, much like a vanilla bean ice cream. Finishes with a sweet caramel note. Very light, refreshing mouthfeel for such a full-bodied beer, but as a contrast rather than detriment.

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Photo of watermelon
3.59/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased at Peabodys in Boone NC poured into a pint glass.

A: Inky black with no transparency dark khaki head with medium lacing.

S: Bourbon and chocolate dominate the nose.

T: Bourbon, chocolate and licorice

M: I can feel the malts on my tongue, fair amount of carbonation, very little burn from the booze.

O: This was the first BA imperial stout that Ive had. Its my third bomber of this and probably the last one I'll buy. I used this as "practice beer" before venturing onto more coveted examples of the style. I was able to pick this bomber up for 5 bucks which makes it an outstanding deal I would be disappointed however if I payed $15 for this bottle. I would say that if you're well versed in the style then you wont be blown away by this, however if your new to the bigger beers then this would be a great one to start off on, as its tasty yet not overly complex. I have a feeling that this is quite old(probably a year or maybe more) so I wouldn't mind trying this fresh.

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Photo of Stoutfan23DJ
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a small Sprecher snifter and served at 60 degrees.

Appearance: Charcoal black color body with a ½ finger head, medium carbonation nice retention. After each swirl I received a temporary cover of head, sticky lacing and alcohol legs that did stick around.

Aroma: Immediately you receive the big bourbon barrel characteristics and then the bittersweet/roasted malt and dark fruit aromas that follow. Bold bourbon, charred oak, coconut, sweet caramel, robust cocoa, grainy toasted malts and roasted coffee and big dark fruits. The aroma is very nice and all the characteristics are evenly represented here.

Taste: This is slightly different from what I expected in the taste versus the aroma. This is much lighter bodied, pretty sweet and somewhat dry. Spicy yet smooth bold bourbon, toasted wood, slight vanilla, prominent coconut, deep tart cherry, big raisin, pear, red grapes, apple, and some fig. Bittersweet dry cocoa, caramel, sweet maple syrup/honey, mild roasted barley and coffee beans, smoky charred notes, and a slight hazelnut nuttiness near the end. The sweet malts and dark fruits were most prominent, the bourbon barrel characteristics stood tall and the roasted type notes were lightly represented. Alcohol wasn’t too present but it did help move some flavors along here.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium thickness, and still very nice to sip on. I wish that this was just a bit fuller bodied, bit it is what it is. This bourbon barrel aged variation has the same exact body as their original Reserve Series RIS.

Overall: This is definitely a step up from their original RIS and I am interested in how the other bottle that I have will age with a year or two on it. I enjoyed this for what it was and I liked how all of the characteristics were decently represented. This was crafted as an English-style Russian Imperial Stout and they should really label this as exactly that. This was pretty tasty the only drawback is that I did wish that the body was a bit fuller and I wish that the roasted qualities were more prominent with the rest of the stout, but this is what it is. Every time I take a sip, this gives me a good idea about what a bourbon barrel-aged RIS would have tasted like over 200 years ago in England

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Photo of KFBR392
3.15/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pour with a light to medium bodied thickness. Could see the dark brown color on the pour but was black once accumulated in the glass. Light brown head formed on the pour which subsided and was non existent while drinking.

Smell: A lot of bright coffee aromas and some chalky malt. Hops burst through and seem to throw off many of the darker accents. The sweetness just blankets over many of the more interesting accents here.

Taste: I kind of expected the flavor to be erratic but this had many more traditional BA stout accents then I expected. Bubbly hop front with a good bitter bite. The front and beginning of the body are the best parts of this brew. Coffee, milk chocolate, light vanilla and caramel, and some average bourbon accents. There seems to be some disconnect between the flavors here. The finish is confused, some chalky bourbon and malt which gets lost. There are some accents here which want to finish strong, but bizarrely just fade away into a watery finish.

Mouthfeel: For an RIS, probably on the light side for mouth feel. The palette seems to beg for more. Does not drench the palette like the elite RIS's do.

Overall: Comes off overall pretty average, slightly forgettable. Not something I would get again, but not something that should be avoided.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had been aging Czar Brew since the summer for a cold winter night. Amidst the other Russian Imperial Stout sampled, this was a stand-out.

Poured into a sniffer, it produced a modest white head. Aroma of whiskey and bitter fruits tempted the tongue. Intial flavors included a mild whiskey flavor, maltiness, and hints of raisins. The aftertaste was the higlight as butterscotch and carmel made an appearance before disappearing into a warming whiskey flavor.

I was not overly impressed with the regular version of Sprecher's Russian Imperial Stout, but Czar Brew is an much more impressive effort. It balances sweet and tartness, though it is not overpowering.

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Photo of camil1mj
2.88/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bought this past Spring while I was in Madison, WI. Poured at cellar temp into my Founders snifter.

A: Deep, dark, brown. Foamy, 1 finger thin head. Minimal lacing.

S: Sweet and roasty with a faint alcoholic finish.

T: Immediate sugary sweetness nose followed by some roasted malt that leads to some bourbon undertones. The sweetness dominates the overall taste of this one.

M: Very thin for the style. Medium carbonation.

O: One of the weaker BA stouts I have had. Too thin and too sweet.

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Photo of Lemke10
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a single 22oz. bottle from Woodman's in Janesville, WI for $11.89 in Summer 2011.

Pours a pitch black color with a thick foamy head that last a long time. Scents of coffee, carmel, cocoa, and bourbon fume from my glass. The taste is hard to describe as it is thick, creamy, and smooth. Quite robust and yet the flavors go quite well together. Some spices and burnt sugar are also obvious. Certainly a well made, tasty beer but the value is really lacking. for half the price you can get a beer that taste just as good as this one. So while this beer is good, it's not of the best value for your dollar.

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Photo of womencantsail
2.07/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Thanks? to Greg for sharing this...

A: The beer pours almost black in color with a finger of tan head.

S: When the first thing you smell is butter, you're rarely in for anything good. Lots of butter, a bit of roast and bourbon, a touch of vanilla, and some sourness. Not sure whether that's vinegar or just too much booze.

T: The flavor is much the same. Heavy on the butter with a more pronounced sourness and even more booze. Light bourbon and vanilla flavors with lots of roast and oak, some coffee is also there.

M: Medium bodied with very low carbonation.

O: This was a nice contribution to the dump bucket.

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Photo of ncketchum
4.12/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Chimay chalice at room temperature

A = stuff pours very dark brown, almost black, with a finger of chocolate head

S = chocolate, heavy malt, alcohol

T = tastes of chocolate, coffee, malt, and a hint of whiskey at the end

M = good, not too much alcohol or carbonation

D = drinkability is good, probably my favorite offering from Sprecher that I've tried. Definitely not an everyday beer, but I will definitely pick this one up again

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Photo of mjpolzin
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I had this beer deep into a long night of drinking with some good friends so I should probably go back and drink this again when I am a little more coherent but I was really impressed with this Russian Imperial! My favorite thing was the taste; it had all of the great characteristics that I expect in an IS. It had the chocolate/fruity/caramel/liquorice/malty taste that I love in this type of beer plus a little extra kick which I suppose was from the bourbon barrels. Additionally, I have had some bourbon barrel stouts that I don't care for as the bourbon is too strong but this seemed to be just the right amount.

EDIT-Once I had this beer this past summer, I bought another bottle and put it away for Christmas Eve 2011. That night finally came and I just got done polishing off the entire 22 oz bottle while watching "Its A Wonderful Life". Most of things I said about this beer last summer are still true but here are a few new observations-
1. The smell/taste of bourbon were very strong at first but mellowed as I drank the beer. I probably got used to it after it was overwhelming at first.
2. I had a few drinks every once in awhile that were a little watery but overall, I thought the beer was pretty thick and syrupy.
3. At first the high abv hit me hard but I must have paced myself pretty good because by the time I was done, I wasn't wasted or anything.

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Czar Brew - Russian Imperial Stout Aged In Oak Bourbon Barrels from Sprecher Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 157 ratings