Ninkasi Brewing Company

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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #1,999
Ranked #27,799
3.77 | pDev: 13%
Ninkasi Brewing Company
Oregon, United States
Very Good
Notes: Formerly Imperiale High Gravity Stout

Rich, full bodied and surprisingly smooth, Imperiale Stout has a big roast hit up front, and rich, dark malt flavors balanced with ample hop bitterness to finish.
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Reviews: 83 | Ratings: 242
Photo of GarrettB
3.02/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

April 8th, 2015 - Ninkasi's Imperiale is a special release, but I find it hard to enjoy at first. With a diluted aroma and a sort of "gymnasium" scent, it's a little funky in an odd and unappealing fashion. But as it warms the smell becomes much sweeter, with fructose and candy, like Dumdum lollipops. And in the same way that the aroma was unexciting at first, the flavor seems too sweet, but as it warms, the malt bill becomes easier to sense. And as it's easier to savor, there's much more chocolate, which does much to improve the flavor.

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Photo of stevoj
3.48/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bomber from Albertsons. Pours out black with a creamy dark beige head. Body seems a little watery, aroma a nice mixture of roast grains and chocolate, taste echoes the aroma with accents of wood, nutmeg and vanilla. Abrupt finish, little alcohol warmth.

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Photo of kevanb
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

650ml bottle, undated, poured into a Ninkasi snifter.

The beer pours a nice deep jet black color, thick bone colored head, about a finger or so, nice retention and great swatches of lace. The aroma is pleasant, simple, roasted grain, light char and bittersweet chocolate lingers. Not a whole lot going on, but there is decent balance and hardly a trace of the 9.1%. The flavors are right in line, bittersweet chocolate, a bit of stone fruit, roasted grain, light char though a bit ashy. The mouthfeel is a bit weak, it coats well, but the body is a bit lacking, thin with higher carbonation and a dry finish.

Verdict: A nice Imperial Stout from Ninkasi, not the most complex or intense, but certainly enjoyable and one that goes down surprisingly easily for the higher ABV. A bit more body would serve this beer well, but it's still a worthwhile purchase, especially at Ninkasi's typically lower price point.

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Photo of Brolo75
3.99/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours black with some coming through around the edges, tan colored head, lots of lacing, looks a little thin, some carbonation streaming up from the bottom.

A: Dark chocolate, coffee, hint of dark fruits, roasted malts, slight alcohol aroma coming through at the end, smells pretty solid.

T: A good balance of roasted and dark fruit flavors, up front, get a hit of dark fruits, followed by some dark chocolate and coffee flavors, hit of bitterness, finishes dry with a big, lingering coffee aftertaste, solid.

M: Smooth, creamy mouthfeel, big dry finish.

O: I think this is a solid beer, nice balance of dark fruits and roasted flavors, smooth creamy mouthfeel, alcohol is well hidden, a little on the light side for a double stout, drinkable but nonetheless, a solid offering.

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Photo of ZakFaruki
4.27/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Poured from a bomber into a tulip, pours an opaque black, with a tan head, a decent amount of lace comes as well

S: Dark Chocolate on the nose, with roasted malts, a bit of hops, and some ash smell as well

T: The taste follows the nose, Cocoa and roasted malt on the nose, then a slight bit of hops on the way down, a slight ting of booze on the finish as well

F: Smooth as silk, carbonation is light, as expected with the style

O: An exceptionally delicious stout, it definitely competes with the legends. A must-try for a craft enthusiast.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.06/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Beer Revolution 5/7/15 (from notes)

A top filled glass has a deep cola edge in black liquid, not much room for foam but the thin mocha film still manages to leave a few rings

S chocolate of all sorts, lots of dark fruit with a little char ash included, smells pretty roasty

T not far from the nose with some herbal notes, plenty of char and chocolate, not as much dark fruit but still has some citric hops shining through all this darkness

M lighter side of full, creamy from the bubbles, chalky after it settles, bitter sweet, heaps of hoppy chocolate linger

O poured a little cold but still rich and flavorful, no booze at any point, a little sneaky for the size

I though I was ordering the Imperial IPA so this one was a bit of a surprise and a pleasant one at that, I'm surprised it doesn't have a higher average on BA

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Photo of CHickman
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black color with a foamy 2 finger creamy/foamy light tan head that was full of bubbles of all sizes and faded slowly, leaving very good foamy lacing and rings as it went down.

Smells of chocolate, smoked malt, coffee grinds, cocoa powder, brownie batter, dark chocolate (like Hershey's Dark), light vanilla, floral hops, pine cone/piney hops and charred wood. It's very chocolatey with a lot of char, ash and smoke notes that combine with the burnt malts, coffee grinds and light hop sweetness to make for a nice smelling stout.

Tastes just like it smells with strong chocolate notes as the most dominant flavor, followed by cocoa powder, smoked malt, coffee grinds, burnt brownie or burnt chocolate chip cookie, dark chocolate, vanilla, floral hops, pine cone/piney hops, vanilla bean, chocolate syrup,charred wood, some dark fruit like plum or a chocolate covered cherry, ash and burnt pumpernickel bread. Very rich and malty with most of the flavor coming on in waves of chocolate malts and all aspects of roasted, charred and smoked malts/grains. The hops peek through, but the main sweetness is like a burnt coffee with some cream and a s'mores. The ashy and smoky notes leave a bitterness that is chalky and close to dry but still sweet like eating a Whopper candy ball.

Mouthfeel is slick and buttery smooth, with a medium chewy body that has very little to no carbonation and a thin overall feel, but it slides down easy with no signs of the alcohol and a bitter finish that is similar to a Starbucks Frappuccino with a shot of espresso and chocolate syrup in it that trails off with a lot of charred wood, ash and smoked grains. A big bold imperial ("imperiale") stout. Well balanced with the hops adding a sharp leafy bite and complimenting the malty roast, making it easy to drink.

Overall a tasty beer that had well above average flavor, hid the 9% ABV quite well and happened to be a bargain for NYC at $4.99 for a bomber at Whole Foods. At this price point I plan to buy as many as possible since I really enjoyed this brew.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.26/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from 03/2014 served in a tulip glass

Nice pour. Thick and black with a massive brown head that had real staying power. Even when this beer warmed up t was still like motor oil. Immediately the massive hops pounced in the nose and was a dominant force. There is some ripe fruit in there as well, raisin. The bittersweet chocolate and coffee flavored are intense and the roasted character in all over. The mouthfeel is creamy and thick like a fine hot cocoa. All of the components that were in the nose easily carried over in to the taste. Raisin was the dominant fruit character but I found the hop bitterness and malty astringency a bit too high. This is still an excellent beer and a perfect example of a Russin Imperial Stout.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.89/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This was a terrific stout. Smooth, roasty chocolatey and had a hints of caramel udnerneath that really added to the richness. The body was as supple and smooth and perfectly full.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.79/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Served in chalice from a 22oz. bomber.

Appearance: thin dark brown body, medium bubbles with a average tab head rising maybe half an inch.

Smell: Light mocha scent with subtle coffee bean. Probably strongest property of the beer.

Taste: Has a bitter coffee feel with light honey notes to it. Not as bitter as I would want it to be but not bad.

Mouth: a little too smooth for its own good. Has room for improvement. Toasty with roasted chocolate feel.

Overall: good brew but there's much better options. Drink with love and a glass...salud!

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.12/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Undated bottle at 45 degrees into tulip
Aroma weak, roasted malt and coffee
Head large (5 cm, aggressive pour), light brown, creamy, diminishing to 1.2 cm ring and 1 -3 mm frothy layer
Lacing excellent – nearly complete curtains of tiny to small bubbles
Body dark brown/black, opaque
Flavor begins bitter, mostly roasted malt, with some coffee at the end; bitterness seems to come from hops rather than roasted malt; no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation

Appearance 4.75, Aroma 4, Flavor 4, Palate 4.25, Overall 4.25

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Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.29/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black with brown highlights. Little head that dissipates quickly. Caramel malt smells.
Taste is rich and roasty bitter. Tastes like hops and amazing coffee.
No taste of the 9% alcohol. Delicious

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Photo of ryannosaurus
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is a black lump of coal

Aroma is lightly malty with a hint of coffee

Taste is this brews long suit: bitter and twisted with lurking deep molasses sweetness. Coffee, chocolate, malt, and charcoal in abundance. Hints of vanilla, anise and dark fruits in the background

Mouthfeel is sprightly for such a big beer with limited carbonation.

Overall I am amazed I rarely see reviews or mentions of this beer, and doubly amazed I got it on the cheap ($5.50/22oz). Crazy drinkable for a big beer, so save this for the weekends.

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Photo of demon
3.65/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Strong alcohol taste. Not very bitter, though very sweet. Nicely roasty, though missing some of the complexity I was looking for. Nice and sticky-sweet mouthfeel. Leaves a kind of lingering, lightly stinging malty characteristic in a way that I didn't particularly desire.

Good, worth a try if you are into imperial stouts, but I'd personally pass on this a second time around.

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Photo of metter98
3.71/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a quarter finger high tan head that died down leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface, a thin collar around the edge, and some lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of black licorice are present in the nose along with hints of dark fruits.
T: The taste has flavors of dark malts with a bit of roast and strong notes of dark fruits and black licorice. A light to moderate amount of bitterness is present. The roasted malts are a little stronger in the finish. The roast becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation, but seems to be lighter in body considering you would expect from the alcohol content.
O: This beer seems to be oddly fruity for a stout, but is interesting and hides its alcohol very well.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of OrestesMethuon
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A boozy nose, minimal froth, a deep, essentially-opaque brown-black body, and a beautiful label featuring prismatic Byzantine cathedral-domes all conspire to announce this special release as a decidedly imperious stout. Yet it's also not especially thick, possessing a smooth, medium-heft consistency, and that's twinned with a bilious, biting hopping that refuses to let the sweetness or burned-sugar smokiness overwhelm or achieve full assertiveness. Instead, Ninkasi has crafted a big stout that's as balanced as it is bold, boasting bumped-up IBU (reported at 70) and a clean mix of roasted flavors—mostly smoked ash and nearly-blackened caramel—as well as variegated hop notes, which are both decidedly bitter and tart in that grassy, hop-acerbic sense. All in all, a nice, slightly unique, mostly pleasing stout.

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Photo of Harvest06
3.63/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Fresh this is not a stout I care for. Too hot and hoppy.

I tried one cellar-ed 1 year and it has improved but now had a sweet finish that the hops had hidden when fresh.

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Photo of Jermaine44
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Overall a well made stout. Smells sweet like Carmel, vanilla.. Taste is roast up front followed by sweetness from the malt finished with a bitterness to balance the beer. Medium mouthfeel just the way I like my beers

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Photo of StoneTSR
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: Impressive head. It lingers for a good 3-4 minutes after the beer is poured as a half-inch, light brown, foamy top. Underneath is a pretty much, pitch black beer. Shining an iPhone light through it produces nothing more than a faint, red spot, shining through from the other side of the glass. The lacing is pretty strong for a big beer like this, covering a good 70% of the back side of the glass.

SMELL: Aroma is lighter than I would expect from a beer like this, but roasted malts lead the way. Dark chocolate with a touch of caramel and a little oak lie behind the roast.

TASTE: That roasted malt flavor leads the way, but it is mild and pleasant. Vanilla and dark chocolate help to round it out along with hints of dark fruit.

MOUTHFEEL: Very smooth and velvety, silky smooth. This beer should be very full-bodied, instead its medium to full…much lighter than expected and very easy to drink.

OVERALL: Excellent Imperial Stout. Just a well done beer that I’ll drink any time its available.

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Photo of prock180
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Average take on the style. I kept wanting a little more to come out in this but it didn't. Good imp stout with nice chocolate flavor. I want more body and coffee with an imperial stout.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle. I love how this is called "High Gravity" here, like anyone would look at a north of a 9% ABV brew any other way.

This beer pours a solid, light diffusing black, with the barest of basal cola edges, and three fingers of puffy, frothy, and rocky Dockers tan head, which leaves some decent pockmarked inner city wall lace around the glass as it gently subsides.

It smells of roasted, kind of meaty caramel malt, bittersweet chocolate, a touch of funky yeast, vanilla-tinged brown sugar, very meek and muddled dark fruit notes, and earthy, leafy, and fairly herbal hops. The taste is more of the same - bready, lightly toasted caramel malt, meaty wet ash, dark cocoa beans, still apparent phenolic yeast, somewhat acrid black orchard fruit, some real (read: boozy) vanilla, bitter coffee grounds, and more leafy, weedy, and earthy hops.

The carbonation is fairly low, but supportive enough in its plain fizziness, the body a strong medium-full weight, and generally smooth, the alcohol slowly chipping away, Chinese water torture style. It finishes on the sweet side, the caramel malt, chocolate, and booze lording it over the still relevant hops.

Not a bad version of the style, but that yeast weirdness has got to go, man. Other than that, the hops do well to more or less balance out the typical big stout flavours, and once the alcohol comes along, everything just sort of works itself out, y'know? Yeah, the rest of this is gonna go great with some spicy Hunan chicken - order up!

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Photo of ocelot2500
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

Pours a deep black with a pillowy tan head that leaves chunks of lacing.

Smells of deep roasted notes with some hops to it.

Tastes like a nicely hopped stout. Deep roasted notes lead off with dark chocolate, espresso, burnt sugar, and some slight char. This gives way to some syrupy sweetness. Hops add in with pine notes. Touches of dark fruit come next as well as some alcohol. Finishes with a slightly acrid burnt note.

Mouthfeel is full with a creamy amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is tasty, but be prepared for a hoppy, bitter stout.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.04/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber into a snifter

Appearance – The beer pours a pitch black color with a one finger head of tan colored foam. The head has a good level of retention, fading to leave a decent level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is heaviest of a roasted malt smell with some notes of dark chocolate mixed within. Some nice sweeter smells of vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar as well as a little bit of dark fruits of cherry, plum, and raisin are there as well. A bit of coffee as well as a hint of a smoky smell round out the aroma, creating a rather dark and roasty, warming smell overall.

Taste – The taste begins with a roasted malt taste with a rather sweeter chocolate flavor consisting of a semi-sweet chocolate mixed with vanilla and caramel. More roasted malt enters the taste as it advances further from the start with some of the sweet fading just a tad. All while the sweet fades a bit, a decent showing of a coffee flavor as well as some toast and smoke flavors come to the tongue. In the end, with a bit of graininess as well as the onset of more roast and dark chocolate and coffee flavors, one is left with a moderately, but not too sweet mocha flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the slightly thicker and chewier side with a carbonation level that is quite low. For the style the carbonation and slightly thicker body are nice (although a little more thickness would have likely been even better) making for a good and intense stout flavor to soak into the tongue.

Overall – A rather nice stout overall that is very approachable and that at only ~ $5 for a bottle is a great value. This is a great imperial overall when considering price/characteristics.

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Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.28/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I really like this especially for the price- pours a charcoal color with light colored head and good retention and lacing.

Smells like a very rich stout- nothing particularly sticks out but there's definitely a good roasted character and maybe a bit of raisin.

Tastes great- big roasted malt character, definitely caramel, some chocolate, and a bit of that raisin/dried fig character. Delish.

Feels pretty good- medium full bodied, modest carbonation, not so smooth. This tastes good; not incredible but definitely very good.

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Photo of elNopalero
3.82/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This pours a coffee colored with cocoa foam. I get a mix of dark cocoa, French press coffee, and some green/marmalade notes on the aroma. There’s a piney bitterness with some marmalade and coffee roasiness, and a somewhat medicinal feel. Honestly, I felt like the beer had too much going on, in too many different directions. Glad I tried it, but one was enough.

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Imperiale from Ninkasi Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 242 ratings