Ninkasi Brewing Company

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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #2,027
Ranked #28,220
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.
Reviews: 83 | Ratings: 242
Photo of AgentMunky
3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a Koningshoeven chalice.

A: Beautiful off-white head tops a dark, translucent, mahogany ale.

S: Sweet-smooth chocolate malt.

T: Bitter-sweet chocolate. Fruity malts. A lingering alcohol. This is an odd imperial stout, tasting more of peach juice than bitter, roasted malt. Aftertaste is full of sugars and light tartness.

M: Smooth, but not very impressive.

O: Solid beer, queer imperial stout. I would try another to see how interesting it is, or different. As it is, MIGHT recommend.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22-oz.bomber into a pint glass at my house on Nov. 30, 2012 (purchased the variety 4-pack for $15.99 at BevMo (with card) in La Mesa, Calif. (San Diego) on Nov. 27, 2012. Black with hints of red and 1-2 fingers of tan head. Not as good retention as I would have thought. Above average on the sides, but average on the top.

Smelled coffee, dark chocolate, toffee, roasted nuts and a bit of smoky wood fire. A little bit darker than I expected.

Tasted coffee, dark chocolate, dark caramel, dark toffee, roasted nuts and still that smoky wood fire. Pretty bitter.

Full body. Creamy slick texture. Average carbonation. Long bitter finish.

Not a bad stout. Thick, creamy and does the job. A little bit better than expected.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.03/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured a very deep brownish color with a moderately sized deep tan head that fades slowly leaving some bubbles and light lacing

S: Smells of chocolate and roastiness, a little booze sting and pretty simple.

T: Taste is an initial chocolate, roast, which carries on start to finish and seems to be th ceterpiece of another boring Ninkasi beer. The finish is rather mundayne with some bitterness, roast and guess what? Cocoa. A little booziness stings on the end.

M: Moderate to full bodied, well carbonated, nothing impressive, not really decadent or appealing.

O: Average at best. I consumed Abyss prior to this and it really showed just how mediocre this beer is.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark brown-black with a finger of frothy chocolate colored head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted chocolate malts with some coffee, dark fruit, molasses, anise, vanilla, and a touch of earthy hops.

T - Starts off with a mix of roasted chocolate malts, dark fruits, molasses, anise, and some vanilla. Through the middle, some coffee comes through with some more dark fruits and some earthy hops. The finish is a mix of roasted chocolate malts, coffee, molasses, dark fruits, and some earthy hops.

M - Medium-full bodied with mild carbonation. Feels smooth and a bit thick with a sweet, roasted, and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice overall balance, could have maybe used a touch more body.

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Photo of N3rdM3t4l
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A little off for a review because this bottle has been aging since february and it is september. Bomber iu nto standard pint.

A: not much head and a pretty sparse cap although there is an average sized ring around the glass. Completley opaque but the thinnest layer on the top where I can just barley see through is deep amber like the bottle it came in. the head when there was some was mocha brown and looked good but there just wasn't much of it.

S: roasty and sweet smelling. Hints of dark fruit and caramelized goodness. No hop on the nose nor any alcohol. It smells divine.

T: sweet, those hints of dark fruit still present in the taste. Big rosty flavor and notes of vanilla. Sweet and rich. Finishes just a tad bitter, I can't tell if that is hop or burnt malt though. the bitter fades away to a slight chocolate flavor and a bit nore of that vanilla. I like this a lot, I don't remember the young bottle I had in december very much but this is good stuff.

M: full bodied, I really could eat it with a spoon ita like maple syrup almost. With such a high abv I am surprised it is so thick. Right on for the style.

O: not as amazing as the bourbon barrel aged version I had at the taproom but still quite good. I reccomend it to big beer lovers.

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Photo of SpdKilz
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A big thanks to James (cavemanlawyer) for this great extra. Cheers!

Appearance – Pours a dark black into a tulip with less than a finger of tan head.

Smell – Heavy caramel, malt, coffee, slight hops, and molasses.

Taste – Slight char up front, chocolate, roasted malts, dark fruits such as prunes, and a bit of vanilla.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, lower carbonation.

Overall – Not a bad stout…I feel it should be rated a bit higher than it is.

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Photo of MaltsOfGlory
3.8/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours about a one finger head into my standard pint glass. The head is very dark, I might go as far as to say that it's not even light brown, just strait brown. One of the darkest heads I've seen in a while. The head isn't really creamy looking at all, it is slightly pillow looking. Maybe a tiny bit soapy looking, but overall it just looks like your standard head, that has no real distinguishing characteristics about it. Mostly small bubbles, a few medium ones scattered here and there though. Head retention isn't bad, I still have a half of the original head left. The lacing looks like it will be very nice, but we will have to see for sure as I get down the glass. The body is just pitch black, damn this is a dark beer. Even when held up to the light, all I get is the slightest brown around some of the edges. I cannot see the carbonation due to the color. Visibility through the beer is zero. Overall it's a pretty nice looking beer so far, it looks very hefty. It for sure looks like a 9.1% beer. We will see how the lacing goes, but I like the appearance so far. The smell is chocolaty, malty, rich. I get a little alcohol on the nose, but for sure not as much as a rough high gravity beer would be, so that's good. Very light sweet smell, as well as a very light sour smell, probably from the hops. I'm surprised the sweetness isn't a bigger smell, considering the high gravity and heavy malts. It's not a bad thing necessarily, but it could prove to be rough around the edges without enough sweetness. Perhaps a little coffee in here too. Maybe even some dark fruit, like black cherries? Overall this is a good smelling beer, but my main problem is that the smell just isn't that huge. It's a 9.1% STOUT, I mean, I feel like the smell should just punch me in the nose, and it's not. It's not a bad smell by any means, it's a good smell with nice flavors coming through, but it's not anything special because I can't smell that much. I think I'll give it a 4, I was contemplating 3.5, but it's for sure better than that. Well that flavor is a little disappointing. I take my first sip, and....I really don't know what's going on here, it's very abnormal. The first thing I get is kind of a sweet and salty sourness. Like it taste remotely what a high gravity stout might taste like, but way too far with the saltiness, and not enough sweetness and other flavors. I mean I suppose those are the salty-like hops I'm tasting? I don't know. Malts really take a back seat in this beer, which is never good in a stout. It almost has a tangy taste to it to, like there is something weird about this beer. I mean with all that being said, it's still obviously a quality micro brew. It's not a bad beer, it's just really weird, not really my cup of tea, or beer. One thing that is nice is that you barely taste that 9.1%, it's hardly there at all. Those weird flavors are kind of starting to settle down now, the sour/salty flavor is more of a hop flavor now, with a little bitterness. I guess the malts have come out a little more, but not much. There is still that overall weird feeling here. I really don't know how to grade this because it's not terrible, it's a good beer, but there are a lot of weird things going on. It's between a 3.5 and a 4, and I really have no idea which one to go with, I'll wait until the beer warms I suppose. The mouthfeel isn't bad. The carbonation is pretty damn low, which is typical for the style, but this may be a little bit too low. The body on the other hand is way to thin for the style, not liking the body at all, it's thin and in no way thick. A 3.5 is actually a little generous for the mouthfeel, even though it's not bad, it's really a 3. The drinkability is extremely good considering the beer is 9.1% ABV. I mean it really tastes and drinks like a 6% or 7% beer, nothing more than that for sure. Great drinkability for the style. Overall this is a very confusing beer, it's a quality brew, but a lot of flavors are very odd. Overall a good beer, but not one I will be dying to have again.

The appearance is a little hard because the body was great, the head was good, and the lacing was good, but not great. The lacing turned out to be average, it was pretty patchy. I mean I guess it followed me all the way down the glass, but by the time we got there it was barely lacing anymore. I think a 4 is fair considering the good head and great body, mediocre lacing equals a 4 total.

As far as taste, damn...I was really expecting myself to give this beer a 3.5 for taste cause of all the weird crap. However, that stuff dumbed down a bit. Also, it is a quality brew, any way you slice it. I'm going to give it a 4 and balance things out by giving it a 3.5 overall. Let it be know that it BARELY got a 4.

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Photo of Hophead101
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle labeled #7 courtesy of flexabull

A: 3.5 pours a dark brown nearly black color with an off white head. not much of a head and what was there didn't really last all that long, but was quite bubbly. left a nice collar around the glass and the eventual lacing was not much.
S: 3.5 strong malt smell, caramel, nuts, faint cherry, smoke, molasses and faint chocolate. lots of little things going on but nothing overwhelming. no hops to pick up on.
T: 3.5 much more hops in the taste that the smell. strong malt taste similar to what was found in the aroma. no one taste dominating over the other. a little spice showed up in the taste as well. all in all a very sweet tasting beer.
M: 3.5 a bit on the thinner side. mild carbonation. slight bitterness.
D: 3.5 ok overall. nothing to write home about.

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

22oz bomber. No date, but I believe this was new as of Winter 2011. Served in a snifter.

Pours almost solid black with a 2 finger dark beige head. Settles to a thin covering. Bits of lacing.

Aroma of chocolate and roasty malt. Some dark fruits. Floral hops pop through as well. A little soy sauce. Some booze.

Flavor is mildly sweet, mixed with a roasted coffee bitterness. Dark fruit flavors from the nose emerge in the middle with a little saltiness. A hoppy, bitter, almost IPA-style finish leads to a roasty bitter aftertaste. Hints of alcohol in the finish, but mostly buried through the flavor.

Medium bodied with medium-low, soft carbonation. A creamy, velvety feel.

I agree with the bottle that this is surprisingly smooth for an Imperial Stout.

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Photo of velosuds
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a Deschutes snifter. Paid $5.49 at LifeSource Natural Foods - decent price compared to other brewery's imperial stouts.

A-Pours a deep, dark brown almost black hue with a one + finger, creamy tan head with good retention that recedes into an uneven lace. Second pour after it warmed produced a three finger head.

S-Dark roasted malts, alcohol, and caramel sweetness approaching brown sugar. Faint vanilla as it warms. Not much from the Nugget hops in the nose.

T-Rich malt and dark chocolate with a slight vanilla coffee latte taste. Slight alcohol present in the taste too, but not overwhelming, but not especially warming either. Sufficiently hoppy, clean, and well balanced. A straight forward "imperiale" stout.

M-Very smooth, medium bodied, and nicely carbonated. Not quite as luxuriant as I prefer.

O-This is a very drinkable stout. I think it is one of Ninkasi's better offerings and I will buy again.

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Photo of climax
3.38/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Imperiale pours black as night with a mocha head. The retention is more of a film that stays atop, not too far out of the ordinary for a beer of this potency.

It's not as bold in the nostrils as I was expecting. Coffee grounds, smoke, and a dash of roasted nuts is about all I can decipher. Despite the mild nose, the alcohol is hidden extremely well.

Sweet flavors of hit the palette up front brown sugar and , but the hops finally show themselves in the finish which is complete bitterness. Loads of dry roasty flavors entertain the taste buds everywhere in between.

The body doesn't seem overly heavy, and it's pretty easy to drink. Alcohol is a hermit the whole time, so it's definitely sneaky. Overall, there's not loads of complexity to ponder, but it's easy to drink and solid.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours an opaque very dark brown with red tints. Thin tan head dissipates to a film and ring around the glass and a hint of lacing. Light aroma of toasted malt and a hint of chocolate. Starts off with a light flavor of toasted malt and slight light fruit. Finish is more intense with toasted malt, some char and a hint of coffee and chocolate. Flavors are somewhat subdued for an Imperial stout. What flavor is present is pleasant and appropriate. Medium bodied. A satisfactory stout that was pleasant to drink, but I'm not sure what the "High Gravity" means in the name, this is a somewhat light to normal stout in all characteristics.

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Photo of MADhombrewer
2.54/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance- Black with a small tan head. Decent lacing. 3.5/5

Smell- Not much going on here. Hints of chocolate and coffee, but both are very minimal. 2/5

Taste- Not much going on here as well. Bummer. Bits of chocolate and coffee. Little bit of vanilla? Earthy hop bitterness at the end. 2.5/5

Mouthfeel- Medium feel that favors the heavier side. Little creaminess to it as well. 3.5/5

Overall- Kind of all over the map as far as scoring. Not much going on as far as flavor. Some of the usual suspects (chocolate, coffee, etc.), but a little watered down. It tastes as if this is made for the people who want to think they are drinking a beer geek beer but don't want the actual flavor that goes with it. 2.5/5

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Photo of Rutager
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours pretty close to black with a nice 2 fingers of thick and creamy looking tan head.

Smell. Sweet chocolate and dark roasty malts with a little espresso.

Taste. Lots of roasty dark malts and again, sweet chocolate. A little bitterness and citrus hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel. Pretty full bodied with medium-low carbonation. A little warm.

Overall. Nice big stout here. Pretty easy drinking considering and tastes good.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.86/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: utterly, completely black with no light allowed through at all. Head poured two thick fingers of frothy dark-tan foam. Head retention is good and a nice chunky lace is left on the glass as I drink. It's hard to improve on this.

Smell: nice aroma of coffee with a hint of chocolate. There is also a hint of vegetal hops here. The overall effect is somewhat mild, however; greater depth and complexity would be appreciated here.

Taste: rich, smooth malt with plenty of chocolatey character, with a little bit of roastiness and coffee thrown in to boot. Alcohol fruitiness adds a touch of complexity to the satisfying base ... I like it.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick body with a decent level of carbonation. Creaminess is surprisingly low; this mouthfeel seems a bit chunky for the style. I would like to have more silky smoothness.

Overall: this beer has plenty of ups and downs, but overall I think it's a pretty tasty imperial style stout.

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Photo of vkv822
2.88/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle into tulip snifter.

Pours black with foamy, bubbly khaki head.

Roasty malts, some light hop, piney/citric notes. A bit rough around the edges, but pretty subdued overall.

In the taste I am getting some roasty, almost charred malts, a light hop profile, perhaps some dark chocolate as well.

A thin to medium body, with subtle carbonation.

A decent beer, though the flavor profile seemed a bit rough, a bit of a faint charred character at times.

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

Nice retro label on the 22oz bottle. The "High Gravity" makes me think of Steel Reserve though..ghettooo!

THE APPEARANCE of the Imperiale Stout is of a very standard-looking stout, not a big, bad imperial. Everything does look in order in that regard though: thin, goopy mocha foam and lacing and a just-about-opaque black body.

THE SMELL is rather faint but still nice. Sweet cocoa, dark chocolate, marshmallows were all things I picked up. The faintness is surprisingly though, even when the beer has warmed.

THE TASTE is generally sweet with a dry, bitter finish. There's a slight wineyness to it and even a bit of bourbon, but for the most part this is just a micro stout with lots of alcohol (Alcohol is well-hidden and balanced, however). The main characteristics are a very sweet, chocolate start with a dry, hoppy, and roasty finish and a fairly strong coffee and bitter chocolate aftertaste.

THE FEEL for Ninkasi's imperial stout is smooth and surprisingly thin. The label says it is "surprisingly smooth", but I would say "disappointingly smooth" considering it's described as an "imperial" and Ninkasi has a reputation for kicking your taste buds in the face. Really, this feels like a very normal, straightforward micro stout--a good one, but not an imperial. There's just nothing overly big about this.

CONCLUSION: This is the least insane Ninkasi offering I've tried. It's a solid stout and should be appreciated as such--in the same way one would approach, say, a Lion Stout. It's big, but not thaaat big. A definite score for stout fans (of which I am one), but a disappointment if the "imperial" is what drew you to this.

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Photo of Bookseeb
3.6/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is a thick dark amber with very minimal head and no lace. Smell of dark roasted malt, coffee with a light chocolate note. Taste has a sweetness along with the roasted malt having low hops and very little alchohol coming through. Mouthfeel is less than full that goes down smooth with little carbonation. Nothing complex hear, just a good example of the style.

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Photo of jdense
3.38/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared with beer homey 1.10.11.

Half finger brown head, quick dissipation with some lacing retained around edge of glass and a wee bit of broken foam in the middle. Dark brown opaque body, no visible carbonation. Nose is pretty nondescript, a bit of light citrus hop notes but not picking up much roasted malt. Taste is more interesting than the nose, good dose of chocolate, no coffee, very faint roast harshness, with minimal hops and little bitterness, wondering if this might have tasted better a bit fresher. Mouthfeel is medium, decent effervescence, pretty dry finish. A decent first attempt, but need to ramp up the hop and roasted malt presence.

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Photo of Reidrover
4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle from "Lifesource" Salem. $4.59 Black as can be with a larget frothy,thick creamy tan head. Aroma is toasted malts, some coffee and nuts...alcohol Very rich indeed, as the blurb says, getting roasty oats in the back ground but the foreground is oddly mellow..drinking chocolate( milk) and hazelnuts..some alcohol evident but not over the top. The palate/mouthfeel is very nice and luxurious. Overall and odd one..kinda tamer than i expected for the strength.

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Photo of mithrascruor
3.73/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a slick black color. Creamy tan head is minimal, but leaves lacing.

Smell: Roasted malts, some sweetness, but not a lot here.

Taste: Sweetness, cream, and roasted malts, in that order. Not too sweet, but the bitterness from the roasted malts is really kept under wraps until the finish. Aftertaste follows along those same lines. Pretty tasty, even if not so complex.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and fairly smooth. Light carbonation.

Drinkability: Strong ABV, but not present in the taste. Nice drinkability.

After a few duds from Ninkasi, I'm rather pleased with this one! Not fantastic, but a really pleasant Imperial Stout - a good mix of flavor and strength.

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Photo of timtwoface
2.91/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Meh...this is the first Ninkasi brew I tried that I didn't really appreciate. I anticipated it to blow me away, but nope - it just turned out being strong. Yes, it's meant to be, but the wonderful thing I felt about Tricerahops (for example) is that it has such a high ABV but you can't really TASTE it - here, it's far too noticeable. The stout taste doesn't really mask it at all.

I love Oatis, also by Ninkasi - but in the future I think I'll give this one a pass.

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Photo of djbreezy
3.2/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance - dark brown, minor retention on the ring but not much else going on with the head

Smell - chocolate notes

Taste - chocolate with a semi sweet bittnerness, lingering

Mouthfeel - full bodied, creamy, could use more chewiness, slightly sticky

Overall - has some nice chocolate notes but the flavor profile is a bit weak for an imperial stout

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Photo of jbakajust1
3.36/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured as Beer of the Day @ Bier Stein, 12oz pour into Tear Drop

A - Pours a pitch black, opaque, with 1/2 finger deep tan head that fades slow to ring, leaves a little lace and nice legs.

S - Smells of chocolate & cherries, dark fruits, light roast, and some citrusy hops

T - Taste mirrors the nose, chocolate, roast, cherries, prunes, rich maltiness, citrus hops

M - Big and chewy, mid level carb, semi sweet, w/ medium bitter finish, light carbonic tang, warming, and a little tingly

O - Good stout, dark fruits, chocolate, sweet malts, light roast, no off flavors, warming alcohol. Probably could use a little more dark grain character.

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Photo of nsabo
3.12/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Another hoppy northwest RIS. Roasted grains (more like a porter than a burnt stout), chocolate, some booze heat, bitter hops, little carbonation, medium-thin mouthfeel. Not a "big" RIS, but for $5 it tastes like it costs. It's not disappointing, but I won't be buying it twice.

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