Raven's Eye Imperial Stout | Eel River Brewing Co.

very good
191 Reviews
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Raven's Eye Imperial StoutRaven's Eye Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Eel River Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by beerguy101 on 08-12-2003

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Reviews: 191 | Ratings: 326
Photo of 100floods
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours pitch black and coffee stained white head. From a foot away I got a few sweet dark malt aromas. It smells considerably of chocolate. Tasted strongly of burnt/roasted malt and dark chocolate and remains to be very smooth, too. Lots of dark chocolate and hops towards the end to finish each sip. The malt and hops have a nice balance. It's like a bitter malt flavor that gently cuts through. This reminds me of a smooth, mild espresso or coffee. I'm not too particular about the carbonation in my stouts, but I find it in this beer to be fitting. It's noticeable but overstepping. For 9.5%, it does not show, a huge plus in my book. This beer is extremely enjoyable. High marks considering how many harsh, big stouts I've drank recently. Raven's Eye is indeed, not the most outstanding stout I've had (it's up there), but for it's size it's not hard to drink. Very much comparable to Marin's stout, just with more coffee flavor.

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Photo of JLeege
3.23/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into a snifter.

Appearance- pours a very deep brown with a one finger khaki head. Quickly fades to a slight ring around the glass.

Smell- very nutty and toffee. Caramel and sweet. Trying to put my finger on the aroma, after a few minutes I realize it is those "Bullseye" chewy candies that I am smelling.

Taste- Follows the smell, but is very very light for an imperial stout. Some bitter coffee notes on the finish. Not to bad, but this should be stronger. This is more like a strong brown ale than an impy stout.

Mouthfeel- this is one of the lightest feeling imperials I have tasted. Fairly low carbonation, good, but not thick and chewy, not so good.

Overall- nothing about this says imperial stout, including the 9.5%, so that is both good and bad. They did a great job hiding the abv's, but the flavor and body is not quite there. With all that said, I do like the flavor of this a lot, but nothing about this even whispers Imperial Stout.

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Photo of mountdew1
3.6/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass.
Color was a dark brown that was mostly opaque. Head was 1 finger, light brown. It clung to the sides just a bit, but clung together well.
Aroma was strongly of slightly bitter dark chocolate. Was noticeable from feet away.
Flavor was slightly milky, but overwhelmed by a sour flavor.
Felt a little watery in the mouth at times, but finished up filling the mouth.
The sour flavor was not at all what I would expect from a RIS. Outside of that, it was pleasantly drinkable, but the flavor knocked it down a bit.

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Photo of zeff80
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a one-finger, tan head of foam. Okay retention and some sticky lace.

S - It smelled of chocolate and roasted malt. There was a mild floral and grassy aroma.

T - It tasted of chocolate, caramel, toffee and good roasted malt. There was a subtle coffee flavor, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and fairly smooth. A medium bodied ale.

D - This is a solid imperial stout. Another solid brew from Eel River.

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Photo of pixieskid
2.02/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Had this beer been labeled an imperial brown ale or export stout, I would be inclined to give it a fair rating, but for a RIS I found this beer to be particularly awful.

Pours a dark brown color; with no head, even with a fierce pour.

Upfront is a strong note of sugary and brown malt with an overtone of raisins.

Slight milk chocolate note throughout, finishing with a slight bitterness.

Overall it tasted like flat rootbeer, it was overly sweet, lacked the typical notes, body, and richness of an RIS.

Given a large amount of reviews, I suppose this could have been a bad bottle.

Regardless, this was my last attempt to like this brewery and unfortunately I am writing them off after numerous disappointments.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black as night with a moderate head that fades fairly quickly. Not too bad for such a high abv beer. Smells of Swedish licorice- dry, not very sweet, chalky, and earthy as well as molasses and a late hit of chocolate. The taste is richer and dryer than the smell suggests, with the molasses and licorice notes downplayed, but more of a chocolate presence, with a fudge-like finish. There are also some berry notes that add a nice acidity and offer complementary flavors to the chocolate notes. Pretty nice. My only real complaint is that its a tad overcarbonated, but really that's a fairly minor failing.

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Photo of ckeegan04
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Black. Not deep, dark, heart of Satan black, but pretty damn black. Two finger bubbly brown head. Good retention with a head that slowly fades to a 1/2 inch cap. Rings of lace left behind on my tulip glass.

S - Bittersweet chocolate, roasted dark malts and just a hint of pine. This beer is over a year old so the trace of hops that still comes through makes me wonder just how hoppy it was fresh.

T - Bittersweet chocolate initially. Strong tastes of roasted malts come through quickly as well. Hints of pine as well. Just a touch of roasted coffee beans becomes present as the beer warms.

M/D - Medium bodied, maybe even a bit on the thin side. Almost becomes watery as the beer warms. A bit of a let down in the feel given the excellent aroma and taste.

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown color, not much highlighting in the dark bar. Fluffy head is espresso-foam-tinted with good stick in the goblet. Nose is very darkly roasted with notes of dark fruit alongside the molasses.

Herbal and somewhat pungent, there are notes of pine, citric zest, and anise along with the coffee. Dark, ripe fruit notes emanate all over this one, though, stealing the show with rotting apple, plum, and fig.

The body is smooth and creamy, but not great. Very good. With warming, I liked it a little more, but still a little thin for such a bombastic style, and for the amount of flavor packed into it.

Bottom line: worthy RIS and the best Eel River beer I'm aware of.

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Photo of BDTyre
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First beer from Eel River, and its quite nice. Black-ruby with a very thick, foamy tan coloured head. Wine, slight hints of coffee, spice, whisky notes Suggestions of chocolate, fruit cake and even rum.

Black coffee, whisky and raisins and spice. A little bit sour, almost winey. This could stand to be a bit sweeter, but overall not a bad RIS.

Oily, slick mouthfeel just what I'd expect from an RIS. Drinkable, nice dessert beer - at 9.5% this rates somewhat average as an RIS.

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Photo of SilentSabre
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured up thick and inky black with a medium brown one finger head that faded away into an eighth of an inch or so of frost atop the surface. Looks like what I expect a good RIS to look like. Smell is rich and chocolatey with a little bit of booze, but not too bad. Taste was a delicious blend of chocolatey dark malts with raisins and whiskey. There's also a faint taste of burnt molasses. The 9.5% is certainly every bit there, and while it is a bit strong, it's still very manageable and pleasantly whiskey-like. Mouthfeel was solid and heavy, as to be expected in a stout such as this. Delicately, pleasantly carbonated. Very well crafted and in spite of a high abv, very drinkable if you also enjoy fine bourbons. A very solid stout, for sure.
*Note* I also ate a Hershey chocolate bar with this toward the end just to see how well the two pair with one another. This beer goes very well in my opinion with chocolate.

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Photo of ryanonline
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color very cloudy with a thick tan head little lacing.

Sort of a fruity, maybe pineapple, undertones but otherwise typical coffee scent. Maybe some anise. This is somewhere between typical scent and unexpected for the style.

Taste is coffee and dark chocolate but still an odd sort of fruity citrus scent.

Thin mouthfeel with a light but prickly mouthfeel and a sweet finish.

Moderate drinkability but sort of odd.

Weird stout.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.16/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle

A- Pours a dark brownish black color with a nice light tan colored head with good retention and lacing.

S- The aroma is roasted malts and cocoa. I like the aroma, it is just a little tame for the style. Wish it was a little more pronounced.

T- The taste is dark roasted malts, a lot of cocoa and some coffee flavors as well with a noticeable warmth from the alcohol.

M- The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

D- Overall, not a bad Imperial Stout but it just isn't up with the elite beers within the style. Worth a try, but I don't think I would buy again.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.52/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - A much lighter pour that I was thinking. Kind of brownish red, very brown and red on the edges. Small head bubbled up, stayed clean on the sides and no lacing.

S - Smells a lot like a big porter, maybe a quad. Dark fruits and carmel malts mostly, almost quadlike, needs to be a bit more powerful to think of it as an RIS.

T - Dark fruits and carmel malts. Some weak cocoa taste and just a touch of coffee. The dark fruit, I'd say prunes and maybe prunes/figs stand out the strongest, with a big carmel backbone. This is more like a porter/quad hybred to me than a big stout.

M - Medium bodied, very smooth, almost flat though, not a ton of carbonation, although this is a bottle over a year old, so could have dissipated over time.

D - Pretty drinkable, would not have guessed this was 9.5%. Smooth, easy tasting, not a great beer though.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.2/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I drank this from a 22oz bottle into my Orval glass.

The beer pours a super light brown, as it pours doesn't even look black, just brown. Light carbonation, a light tan head that rises about less than a finger and gone right away. No lacing.

The aroma is super light, gives off non ris notes of mostly caramel and dark fruits with the lighest whisp of coffee.

The taste is pretty blah, not a whole lot going on until the fiish where there is a little coffee, but its just really light and boring.

The feel is super light and the drinkability is limited just because so many options.

Overall, this is a ris to avoid. This is an organic of avoid, nothing special at all here.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.67/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle of this at Fairway Market in NYC, since it was within close walking distance of where I'm staying.

A: Not quite opaque, but very close. Head is pretty short, and recedes quickly, though a little trim of lace remains for a while behind.

S + T: Chocolate is first thing noted in the nose, and it's quite intense. Upon sipping, it's only more pronounced. It is almost as if it was brewed with chocolate, having some similar notes as brews including it, such as Choklat or Rogue Chocolate Stout. There's a bit of a malt backbone for it to fall back on, and it's not overwhelmingly sweet... however, it is pretty much dominated by one scent and flavour, I'm finding.

M + D: Body isn't too chewy, but medium and somewhat creamy. There's a nice carbonation to cut through that creaminess, and the two offer a balance to one another quite well. I question how often I'd get this were it available in my home state, but I do plan on getting at least one more in New York.

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Photo of mostpoetsdo
3.62/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Fairly dark brow, not much head, but a thin tan strip. Very little lacing, does not look special.

S: A lot of dark chocolate and booze. Some dark fruit in there as well.

T: Just like the nose, chocolate up front, but too much boozy flavor. A backing of tart dark fruit. Dark malts are very much prevalent.

M: Decent amount of carbonation that makes this smooth.

D: Can finish a bomber, slowly, but watch out for the ABV near 10%.

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Photo of canucklehead
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Took awhile for this beer to come together but once it warmed up and settled down it turned into a pretty nice Impy. Lots of chocolate notes and a decent mouthfeel make this a satisfying stout. Not mindblowing but enough to make you want to pick up another bottle. I have never been a huge fan of Eel River but this is among the best offering I have tried

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Photo of QuentinCompson
2.89/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle into Duvel Green tulip

A - Nice 3.5 finger head, opaque brew, looks thick and chewy, though appearance is a bit deceiving

S - Slightly weird aroma, like Log Cabin poured over a bunch of old crushed up Peppermint Patties, oatmeal; the minty aroma smells slightly medicinal

T-M - Taste is a lot like the aroma, w/ some roasted barley, and the brew itself, mouthfeelwise shows itself to actually be quite thin; pepperminty, slightly aluminum hints at the edges

D - This wasnt terrible, but just wasnt that enjoyable. I love Imperial Stouts, but the weird minty, medicinal flavors just didnt do it for me here; also a bit thin for my taste.

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Photo of jampics2
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Looks nice, black body with tan head. Minimum head but it sticks.

Smell is chocolate malt, roast, molasses, and a slight metallic tinge either from the yeast or the minimally present aroma hops.

Taste is really quite nice. Kinda in the same vein as all the other big American RIS with sweet residual sugars, but this has a wonderful balance between the roasty dark flavors and the sweetness. Some chocolate and coffee, roasted burnt malt, and molasses. Really nice but alcohol becomes more apparent as it warms.

Mouthfeel is good but could be better. Not thick and viscous enough but not horrible, I've had much worse. Carb is spot-on, there to break things up but not distracting at all.

Drinkability is good. Didn't know what to expect from this one, but it's a great RIS. Good balance of flavors without going for the extreme, overshadowing approach. Good beer, glad to try it!

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Photo of ommegangpbr
3.11/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My second chance at trying something from this brewery and now I'm a little bit worried. I tried the Triple Exultation, which I mostly liked given the style. The first whiff of this Raven's Eye stout reminded me entirely too much of that last beer. A scent of port wine that was acceptable coming from an old ale style beer (which the other beer was) isn't quite as acceptable coming from a Russian Imperial stout. Overly fermented sweet scents, gushy ripe fruit. Overtly sugary cola with some brown ale characteristics in there. This drinks more like an imperial brown ale to me than a stout. This lacks a depth and an over all flavor profile that I hope to experience when I read "stout" on a label.
Not quite a drain pour though the port wine character is getting to me after a little bit. Maybe, even, if this was labeled as a smoked old ale I'd score this higher. As it stands, I'd say if you want a Russian imperial stout, look elsewhere.

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Photo of avalon07
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a coal-black color and a thick consistency. There was a quarter inch of creamy, tan-colored, fairly long-lasting head. Very good lacing.

S: Big aroma of coffee, roasted malt, chocolate, alcohol, and fruit.

T: Tasted of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate and some variety of fruit. The alcohol wasn't as present as I thought it might be. A solid flavor.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a dry finish. Full-bodied.

D: This is a drinkable, well-made beer.

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Photo of mithrascruor
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a solid black color with dark tan head that is little more than a dense film.

Smell: I can notice a bit of sugar and cream, some coffee and chocolate, but only a bit of malts.

Taste: A slightly difficult taste to describe, as there's a lot of little things going on, but nothing is easy to pinpoint. There's a nice roasted malt base to the flavor, but it isn't very strong. On top we've got some milk and sugar, a bit of coffee, a hint of chocolate, and even some cranberries. A hint of hops and maybe alcohol in the aftertaste. It is more sweet than I would have expected.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and somewhat viscous; light carbonation that seems to go pretty well here. Pretty smooth too.

Drinkability: Despite the 9.5% ABV, it doesn't seem (or taste) like it.

While I think it is a bit sweet for this style, I did really enjoy it and thought it was quite tasty.

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Photo of Bierman9
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Part of my Half Time bounty picked up on 26JAN10, setting me back $4.99 for a 22oz bottle.

About 18oz of that bomber filled my Rapscallion chalice. This RIS is nearly a black hole for light, as dark as a moonless night in the middle of the ocean. Head is nearly just an afterthought. Some beige bubbles are playing wallflower at the edge of the glass. Nose is quite inviting, with lots of roasty coffee and choco notes. Body borders on medium, and the feel is mostly smooth, with a slight touch of prickliness present.

We have a bit of sweetness present here, akin to the subtle amount in a bar of dark chocolate. There's lots of roasty flavors here, plus coffee notes, burnt brown sugar, and more dark chocolate. Hopping is on the restrained side, with a little flowery action showing up in the dry finish. Lots of bitterness is present in this one, and the 9.50% ABV is very well hidden. I wish there was more sweetness to offset that, but... This bier is a one-shot deal for me. Prosit!

look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | drink: 3.5


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Photo of Boto
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bomber: This one pours an opaque, dark brown color. There was a pretty decent sized dark tan head on it that lingers a bit. Pretty decent nose. Chocolate, coffee, molasses, maybe some dark fruits. The taste is pretty similar. The tastes are pretty balanced. Chocolate, molasses, some fruits, just a hint of coffee. A touch of alcohol comes through also. Some bitterness in the finish. Pretty decent.

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Photo of SykDoc
3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a snifter. It pours a moderately dark brown that looks almost black and is opaque when held to the light. A short-lived 1/8 inch dark tan head forms and reduces to a mild lacing, primarily around the edge.

The aroma is good with components of chocolate, red currants, and roasted malts, as well as some toffee notes.

The taste is good as well, with an initial malty sweetness, followed by a bready component, and then a coffee-like bitterness at the finish. There is definitely dark chocolate and dark fruit flavors. Alcohol is modestly noticeable.

The mouthfeel was a bit off. It is light/medium bodied and is too thin in the intensity. A sugary sweetness is left over with some dryness on the tongue at the end. Carbonation is fairly good.

This beer is easy to drink primarily due to the smell and taste. It has a healthy ABV but doesn't show it too intensely. Drinkable and worth having with some possible sites that might improve the overall style points.

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Raven's Eye Imperial Stout from Eel River Brewing Co.
3.75 out of 5 based on 326 ratings.
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