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

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Brewed by:
Sprecher Brewing Company
Wisconsin, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by rallison on 08-05-2007

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Reviews: 57 | Ratings: 151
Photo of JakeMorgan13
4.7/5  rDev +26%
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 JosephBieske
4.62/5  rDev +23.9%
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 jrallen34
4.57/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I drank this on tap into a snifter.

The beer is black with a light tan head that is gone quickly.

The aroma is very strong with bourbon that really just knocks you on yoru ass. There is also some light oak.

The taste is awesome. It is really sweet with tons of vanilla, makes you question where'd the bourbon though but I guess it shows itself as the vanilla. There is very light bourbon and oak at the end.

The feel is a little too light for a stout but this is incredibly drinkable.

Overall this is a great beer that really shows of its barrel aging unlike so many other BA beers.

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Photo of drseamus
4.53/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The bottle is too tall to fit in my fridge.

A: Jet black with a nice dark mocha head. Just like it should be.

S: Vanilla, oak, and alcohol fill the aroma.

T: Damn tasty. It gets better the longer it sits in my mouth too. It has a slight bourbon taste but not overwhelming which is perfect. There is a very nice chocolate flavor also. Everything is nice and balanced.

M: A bit thinner than I expect in a RIS but barrel aging tends to thin the beers out. Not too shabby at all.

D: Very nice beer. The flavor gives no hint as to the 11% ABV. I wish there were more than 1200 of these.

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Photo of augustgarage
4.42/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Reading over the reviews, it seems this is an entirely different beast on-tap than it is in the bottle. The pour I'm reviewing was served in a snifter at Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood.

Opaque seal brown body with a dense finger of tan cream. Good retention (especially for the ABV), almost like a layer of chocolate milkshake floating atop a massive espresso shot. Full sheets of lacing and rivulets of legs.

Clearly there is no attempt to disguise the full barrel aged notes. Heavy and complex mix of vanilla, coconut, and tobacco immediately suggestive of bourbon or even rye whiskey. Molasses, prunes, dark chocolate, and burnt sugar join the barrel notes to form an intoxicating whole. There is a touch of pepper from the alcohol when you bring the glass closer to the nose. Impeccable really...

The flavor profile carries over everything from the aroma and adds a low roast malt element; this is joined by faint hop notes to balance the ensuing sweetness which lingers into the finish along with rich licorice, molasses, and chocolate. Another subtle wave of wood smoke, pepper, toast, and maybe coffee appears long after the rest of the flavor has dissipated. Very well done - while lacking the singular alchemy of Firestone 13, it is otherwise more akin to that superlative blend than it is to most examples of RIS (even those that are likewise barrel aged).

Full bodied and chewy, but well carbonated. Mild astringency and notable warming.

A little sweet overall, and some might find the barrel notes to be obstructive rather than a key feature...very good as a dessert beer.

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Photo of vacax
4.42/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One liter flip top bottle poured into a tulip. Spring 2007 batch.

Color is black, touch of light visible along edge of glass, small but tight beading and good retention on the light brown head. Nose has black treacle, bourbon, vanilla, light oxidation, and maple.

Flavor is rich with caramel, roasted malt, coffee beans, oxidation, leather, and the finish hits with brownies and bourbon. Deep flavors complemented by a bit of oxidation and quite drinkable for something so strong and robust. Body is full, but perhaps not as much as the flavor hints at. Carbonation is clearly forced but sticks to an appropriate lowish to moderate level. This drink is a nice treat, hope this one comes out again.

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Photo of hustadaj
4.42/5  rDev +18.5%
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 BeerFMAndy
4.4/5  rDev +18%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 Liter bottle (awesome label!) poured into an Imperial Pint. 11.0% ABV, 9126 hand-written in silver marker on the back.

Review number 500. Been saving this one for a good occasion!

A - It pours out like filthy motor oil, thick and black. No light shines through this behemoth! It cascades momentarily leaving a huge three-finger, dense, cream-like, dark tan head. Absolutely amazing retention with legs on the glass as well as a thick collar of lacing that resembles a mountain silhouette scene. Towards the bottom of the first glass lacing covered 90% of the glass.

S - The oaky nose is strong with a good bourbon punch to it and a rich vanilla and molasses syrupyness. Lots of warm alcohol but not solventy at all. The hops are totally absent as the malts take front and center. Dark roasted barley with chocolate too. Notes of dark fruits like raisin and plum are faintly present too. The aroma is incredibly rich and foreboding.

T - The taste falls short of the nose a bit providing a large helping of roasted malts, so roasted in fact, it gives it a cocoa-like feel with a giant bitterness that's largely overshadowed by strong oaky bourbon. Thankfully it's such a complex beer other flavors swirl around constantly in the background giving me other avenues to explore. A light touch of room-temperature black coffee lingers by a vanilla bean and molasses flavor while the dark fruit notes poke through with mild sweetness. The large oaky bourbon barrel flavor finishes out with a warm alcohol kick. Again, hops are absent giving the malts and their compatriots free roam. The flavor is huge and good, just not as well-blended as the aroma is.

M - It's immediately evident, based on the pour, it'll be as thick as syrup. And it is. Creamy and smooth as velvet, the texture is something to behold. That is, until that large chalky-bitter punch comes in. It doesn't ruin it but it does put it off a bit. The alcohol gives it a subtle warmth to the finish without a harsh, sharp flavor. Absolutely full-bodied and rich as can be.

D - It's one hellofa Russian Imperial Stout. Something I wouldn't mind constantly having on hand. It's drinkability is only lowered by the pesky cocoa-dry bitter thing going on an a bit overly bourbon flavor. I don't mind it for a glass, but for a while liter, which at this point is more than half-gone, it's getting a bit old. A great winter warming beer to sip your way through on a freezing January day or to share with a full-on beer lover. Make sure they like 'em strong and rich.

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Photo of weeare138
4.32/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Capone's...
Appears a dark brown, nearing black with a dark amber & ruby hue when held to the light. A small, light tan head slowly fades into a mild cap. Scattered streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of oak, roasted nuts, vanilla, cocoa, bourbon, and ripe fruit.
Taste is of the aromas with the bourbon being somewhat subdued in the flavors with the dark fruit, brown sugar, and vanilla dominating.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, mild abv heat, and a bit chewy. Perhaps a tad thin in the finish but not bad, overall.
This faired much better than the bottle sample I had last year and opted not to rate.

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Photo of rallison
4.3/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thick black with a 1 finger light brown head that recedes to a nice lacing that cotes the glass.

Smell is of rich roasted malts, bourbon and other tasty smells.

Taste grows on me. Lots of rich, roasted caramel, espresso and dark chocolate. Very dark fruits are also present. As it warms, the complexity definitely increases. Nice. Ultimately, this is a sweet RIS. Bourbon and oak flavors are pretty mellow. Also, it sort of tastes like some of it comes from a malt extract, but it works out well enough here.

Mouthfeel is rich but keeps a distinct lightness. Carbonation is good.

Drinkability is actually pretty good for an 11% beer.

Recommended. Too expensive, but a good RIS. I've had better ones, but this is a fully enjoyable one.

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Photo of botham
4.3/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

liter growler poured into a snifter. pours pitch black with a single figer of rich tan head that lasts a minute or so and leaves a tan rim for the duration.

aroma is of roasted black malts and ok, with notes of chocolate, vanilla, a touch of coffee and a base of warming bourbon.

taste is more of the same with an ultra smooth profile and a touch of residual roasted malt. the roasted malts an oak aging are well done, with an ultra concentrated presence on the palate. the alcohol is well hidden, though it does show up a bit after some warming.

mouthfeel is wonderful. silky smooth and super mellow on the way down. the brew is mildly warming on the palate.

drinkability is decent. so rich, thick and flavorful with a smooth and warming presence on the palate. just what a good oak aged RIS should be. cheers!

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.28/5  rDev +14.7%
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 Vdubb86
4.22/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Sam Adam's Perfect Pint Glass

Thanks to TMoney 2591 for allowing me to have some of this gigantic bottle.

This beer looks a nice black stout color, with a beige foam on the surface. The smell is pretty damn good. There is a strong caramel and malt aroma with this beer. There is a nice oak flavor with this beer that I truly enjoy. The light chocolate flavor mixed in with all of that is pretty damn good. The mouthfeel is decently smooth, the time that this has had on it has worked well for it. The drinkability for this beer is fairly high. I really truly enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of Lemke10
4.15/5  rDev +11.3%
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 Pauly2X
4.15/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- One finger tan head, black.

S- Dried fruits, rich deep caramel with notes of roasted malts.

T- Deep, rich caramel deepened further by a subtle roast character that blends nicely with the bourbon oak character. Very malty with just enough hop pressence to keep it from being out of hand.

M- Smooth and rich just a little too fizzy.

D- For 11% this is good.

If you almost liked triple bock but thought it would be better if it was just toned down, try this.

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Photo of sweetbrew82
4.15/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1 liter into a snifter/ "bottled on date" Spring 2007

P: Deep leather brown from the bottle, completely opaque aside from the deep garnet highlights on the edges. 3 fingered walnut brown head is thick and creamy, kind of pillowy with decent retention.

A: Whew! Aroma exploded out of the bottle as soon as the swing top popped open. Bourbon-like alcohol, dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and some dark fruits.

T: Sweet start with a big, but not overpowering presence of Bourbon-flavored alcohol, deeply roasted - almost burnt - malts, molasses, and chocolate. Then, the Bourbon seems to fall back in the pecking order to allow lots of vanilla, smokey oak, and maple sap to make their presence felt. Bitter coffee & dark fruits stay subtle, but lend some complexity and depth to the profile. Pretty sweet throughout, and finishes with maple, chocolate, and vanilla for a long aftertaste.

M & D: Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I expected, almost a tad watery. Still, it's medium-full, rich, and smooth. But I really wish it was more full, creamy, chewy, and syrupy for a stout this big. Drinkability is pretty good in my book. But then again, this is my favorite style.

Notes: While I didn't get the chance to try this fresh, I have to think that the 2 years of age on it has done this one some good. A very good Barrel-Aged Stout that features some good complexities, subtle nuances, and a nice alcohol punch to the brain. Very good!

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Photo of QueerBeer
4.14/5  rDev +11%
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 zeff80
4.12/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a brown, foamy and bubbly head. It left trails of soapy lace.

S - It smelled of bourbon, vanilla, oak and roasted malt. There was a slight floral aroma.

T - It tasted very sweet and even a little citrusy. The bourbon flavor was mild but present.

M - It was smooth and soft. A medium to full-bodied beer.

D - This is a very nice RIS. It has unique flavors.

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Photo of ncketchum
4.12/5  rDev +10.5%
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 superspak
4.1/5  rDev +9.9%
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 rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a snifter)
A- This beer has a jet black body with a dark molasses tan head that fades to a thin ring pretty quickly.
S- There is a graham aroma with a softer dark roasted note and a softer oaky hint in the finish. As the beer warms the oaky note takes on hints of vanilla and leather.
T- This beer has a big black inky flavor that turns a bit vinous when warm. A soft oaky note in the finish turns more cola like as it warms with a chocolate note and a light boozy note.
M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a slight astringent hint from the dark roasted grains and a fizz the covers up most of the flavor that might linger.
D- Pretty average when cold but opens up a bit when it warms up. Still bigger flavors would have been nice but the alcohol content was very hidden.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4/5  rDev +7.2%
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 mcallister
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark bordering on black but more of a charred wood color. Loose fluffy mocha head fades quickly into a light lace and resilient topping to the liquid.

Burnt woody aromas with hints of bourbon, coconut, dark chocolate, mollasses, blackberry, alcohol, vanilla, and currant. A lactose type aroma at the end of it all, almost a heavy cream type aroma.

Very creamy mouthfeel yet too thin. Great flavors of dark semi sweetened chocolate layered with rich vanilla. The oak and bourbon show through nicely but don't overpower. The "stout" seems like it could have held up a little better to the barrel aging or it may have been aged slightly too long. Very feminine and lacking depth. Black berry, currant, smokey meats, and an earthy feel. Yet just lacking depth. A very good beer but way overpriced.

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Photo of stewart124
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dense pour that is very black with some reddish hues around the edges of the imperial pint glass.

Nose is of dark caramel malts, prunes and molasses.

Big mouthfeel with a silkiness. Nice overall malty character with loads of dark roasted malts and nice dark caramel malts. Plenty of malt backbone and a nice earthy bitterness blend well together. Some soy sauce notes but an good overall spice that works with the raisin and prune coming through.

Very little bourbon character. Unless the spice and peppery notes are from the bourbon barrel than I missed it.

Tasty RIS but not much to set it apart.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4/5  rDev +7.2%
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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Czar Brew - Russian Imperial Stout Aged In Oak Bourbon Barrels from Sprecher Brewing Company
3.73 out of 5 based on 151 ratings.
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