Southampton Imperial Russian Stout | Southampton Publick House

161 Reviews
Read the review
Southampton Imperial Russian StoutSouthampton Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Southampton Publick House
New York, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-08-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 161 | Ratings: 362
Photo of thagr81us
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Shared during a small Charlotte BA tasting with marine1975, caSSino, CarolinaKevin, and GehenHerzog. Massive thanks goes out to CarolinaKevin for sharing this tick with the group! Bottle 610 of 650! Served from bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Poured pitch black with a three finger brown head that subsided to one finger massively slow. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of roasted malt, sweet malt, dark fruit, sweet alcohol, and dark chocolate. The flavor was of roasted malt, smoke, dark fruit, dark chocolate, and alcohol on the followthrough. It had a heavy feel on the palate with mild carbonation that was almost felt creamy on the palate. Overall this brew was quite excellent. The flavor was both very smooth and nicely complex. Also it had a nice toasty aspect going on too. The aroma was very inviting and pleasant was well. Really glad I got a chance to try this one and I suggest you seek it out as well.

 956 characters

Photo of seeswo
3.33/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours black with an exploding cocoa head. Seems over-carbonated, but the head actually looks really good, so I split the difference. The smell is pretty mild - charred, smoky malts, maybe some molasses. Nothing altogether that exciting, but not deficient. The taste is a charred, almost tobacco malt. Very rich, but dry and a bit bitter. Not boozy at all, but really dry, molasses, little sweetness. I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with the taste other than the malts seeming almost over-charred, but I don't really like it. The mouthfeel was creamy in a nice way, but way over-carbonated. Again, I split the difference. Overall, I really didn't like this beer very much, but I think that may be more personal taste than anything wrong with the beer. As such, I'll downgrade it overall to balance my opinion.

 828 characters

Photo of Verecund
3.44/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage, bottle #459/650. Thanks to Carl (wchollif) for bringing this.

Very attractive IRS: ink black with a nice two-finger mocha head. Thick, frothy lacing.

Not a lot going on here at first, but it opens up after ten minutes or so. It's drier than I expected, featuring (almost caustic) smoke and tobacco. Dark chocolate, coffee, and molasses thankfully join the fray.

Bitter chocolate, some dry, leathery notes, and a smoky finish. Some dark fruit character, though it's harsh in nature, combating the roasted malt and smoky underbelly. A little anise peeks through right before the dry punch of a finish.

Medium-bodied and creamy, with higher than normal carbonation for the style.

This one grew on me the further into my glass I got. I think splitting this, say, three ways would have improved my regard for it, but, as it stands, SH IRS was a slight let down from my expectations.

 896 characters

Photo of wchollif
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Bottle 459 of 650

Pours a pretty standard RIS, pitch black with a two finger head that lingers throughout.

The nose was not exciting, malty, coffee, tobacco and smoke coming through.

Flavor is smokey with coffee undertones. This was a good beer overall, but I wouldn't say well balanced. The smoke seemed a bit to pronounced.

Mouthfeel is a great, not too heavy, keeps the drink ability factor high.

 408 characters

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared by Adam at Churchill's yesterday. Thanks. Bottle No. 156 of 650.

Pours a solid black with a fine cocoa colored head which fades to the edges of the glass slowly. Smells of roasted grains, earthy malts, alcohol heat, and some cherry/sherry notes. Tastes similar to the nose with a somewhat chalky and chocolate quality. Quite a pronounced boozyness with a lingering roasted grain finish. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy and dry. Overall, enjoyable and glad to have tried this one.

 486 characters

Photo of CrellMoset
4.31/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle 260/650, 2011 vintage. Cracked at a friend's house and paired with some delicious vanilla bean ice cream.

Appearance: Pours a thick inky black, heavy, opulent, and decadent, capped by two fingers of dark, cocoa-hued head. This is a fierce looking brew, right up there with the fiercest, thickest, most badass RISs. This one has even more going for it than most, though - the retention is absolutely phenomenal, with the crown lasting for most of the session, leaving huge swaths of frothy, chunky lace dripping and drizzled up and down the sides of the tulip.

Aroma: Dry, toasty, and astringent, this one's all about the malt, and is definitely dryer in the nose than last year's version. Hints of dark fruits and macerated blueberries and raspberries mingle with a slight chalky twang, likely set free by the high attenuation. It's solid, if not groundbreaking.

Taste: When I first had the 2011 on draft, I was distinctly less impressed than I remember being when I first had the 2010. I'm a little more receptive to it now, though, but I'm unsure if that's the result of time to reflect or instead the serving type. Caramel, fudge, and toffee mingle with toast and bitter fudge for a huge and fat but also elegant dryness. Those same berries and dark fruits mingle expertly with the malt astringencies and a hint of booze, but those notes elevate this one rather than take away from it. A flavorful and complex tasting brew.

Mouthfeel: Even and silky, with a good amount of lift at first and for a while. Milkshake like creaminess at the end. On both ends its good, though the mouth amplifies different flavor components at different points.

Drinkability: As I said above, I was less of a fan of this year's batch the first time I had it, but enjoyed it much more out of the bottle than I did on tap. Maybe it's the carbonation level or some such, but this beer was exceptional as always. Not to be taken lightly at 10.2%, this one is to be sipped and savored. Glad I have seven more bottles I'm sitting on - I imagine this one is only going to improve with age, though there's only so much opportunity for this one to improve.

 2,142 characters

Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a tasting glass.

Appearance: This is nearly black all the way through. A big bubbly brown head relaxes on top for the duration.

Smell: The aromas blend together very nicely. Roasted malt turns into coffee then dark chocolate, with a little bit of dark fruit and molasses.

Taste: Dark roasted grains, smooth roast coffee, a fair amount of molasses, some dark chocolate, and a bit of anise. The finish is sweet, with a hint of coffee in the background.

Mouthfeel: This is creamy, viscous, very full-bodied, and quite smooth.

Drinkability: If not for the other amazing beers I tried along with this, it might have done much better. Without being too angry or brash, this IRS just goes about its business, getting its tasty job done.

 767 characters

Photo of mgbickel
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery. Served in a standard pint glass. The giant beer arrived at my table with a solid two fingers of mocha colored head. The thick foam slowly receded, leaving behind large tufts of itself on the glass walls. The body is dark, deep and light can be forced through this one.

The nose has lots of coffee and roasted malts up front. Molasses, beef and chocolate dance around in the background.

The first flavor is a massive molasses punch. This turns sweet toward the center where cocoa takes over. The finish finds a roasted and malt.

Thick and chewy mouthfeel...this one will coat your throat.

Once you get started on this one, it is hard to stop. Very glad to have tried of my new favorite non BA stouts!

 765 characters

Photo of xnicknj
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

on tap at the release party

Pours a viscous black color with a bubbled toffee brown head which slowly dissolves into some wisps of film and sprinklings of lacing on the glass.

Strong scents of heavily roasted malt, subdued by softer chocolate and sweetness with touches of coffee and molasses.

A mix of roasty malt and caramel with some sweeter flavors. Dark chocolate and molasses balanced with hoppy bitterness. Lighter coffee flairs alongside alcohol warmth. All of the flavors are well balanced and in relative harmony, allowing each one to shine equally. Finishes with a spike of booziness and toasty malt.

Heavier body, mild carbonation, chewy yet smooth and soft on the palate. Pleasant drinking, excellent balance, and one of the better non-bal aged beers I've had in a while. The alcohol is just right, and there's enough hop bitterness to counter the sweetness and roasty malt. Great beer.

 906 characters

Photo of rowingbrewer
4.78/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the release.

this beer pours an absolute pitch black with a nice thick brown head. no light makes it through this beer

the smell is wonderful roasted malt smell with hints of chocolate

the taste is roasty malt, a little hint of chocolate, nice balance between the roasted bitterness and the malt sweetness. the abv is not even noticeable

the mouthfeel is very full feeling and the drinkablitiy is very high, its a smooth easy drinking ber

 462 characters

Photo of maximum12
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to gn0sis for stuffing this into a small box, slapping my address on it, & tossing it into a Minnesota-bound truck. This is one of those rare beers I hate to open, because I'm expecting great things. Oops! Well, too late now. Split with my wife (OK, I might have taken just an extra ounce. Maybe two. Hope she reads this while she's at work & I'm far away. Love you sweetie!)

Bottle 270 of 500, 2010 vintage. Nice clean, attractive label. Pours a rough, heavy black with little to no head or carbonation - fine by me. Even when stone-cold, this smells like the asphalt outside the gates of heaven. Billionaire roasted malts. Deepens & really opens up as it warms.

Southampton IRS was crafted by a master. Roasted malts & chocolate blitz the tongue, along with a graininess more common in a hefe; weird, & weirdly appealing. Feels rough around the edges, like it grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in a John Hughes film. Cocoa powder dry, tiny current of dark fruits, with a bitter finish that might be sharp chocolate or hops still fighting for their lives. Horrifically drinkable for a big stout.

Excellent beer. Southampton has succeeded in making a beer that's not terribly complex, but with great depth. This is the hewn-wood equivalent of a cabin in the forest that you want to go back to. Frequently. Yummy.

 1,335 characters

Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Mac (nimbleprop) for this gem.

A: Heavy pour with huge tan head. Viscous black!

Smells like tons of molasses malt and chocolate. I like what I smell, but it's good not great.

Taste is awesome though. Huge RIS character with smoky charred malt, fudgy molasses and dark fruit. Cinnamon in there with other sugary spices as well. This is a GREAT example of the RIS style.

Mouth is smooth and silky, and viscous. Excellent drinker, especially for the ABV. Went down quick for me! Awesome

 498 characters

Photo of mentor
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a thin layer of brown head over a pitch liquid. Smells molasses, chocolate, salt, fig, clean alcohol, mild smoke, coffee astringency, scorched marshmallow.

Tastes wonderful. Overall, it comes across as a very potent brown ale, with much more complexity added on. Cocoa powder, bitter baker's chocolate, molasses, fig, blackberry (from hops), roast acidity, and some vanilla. Dry in the finish is a bit astringent and there is an herbal retronasal.

 454 characters

Photo of mdfb79
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From 01/21/11 notes. Shared by nimbleprop at a small tasting; thanks Mac! Huge want. Bottle 57 of 500, 2010 vintage.

a - Pours a jet black color with one inch of tan head and light carbonation evident. Not a lot of lacing or retention.

s - Smells of chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, dark fruit, and light toasted malts. Pretty nice.

t - Tastes of chocolate, dark fruits, coffee, cocoa, roasted malts, and vanilla. I thought the taste was very balanced; I loved it.

m - Medium to full body and moderate carbonation, smooth and creamy body. Perfect mouthfeel for a RIS in my opinion.

d - I thought this was a great RIS. The smell was enjoyable but the taste and mouthfeel were outstanding. I was also surprised how easy it was to drink considering it was over 10% ABV; didn't feel that strong at all. Glad this one lived up to my expectations, would love to have again.

 874 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep pitch-black color stout with a huge medium brown foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma consists of roasted malt with clear notes of green hops with light floral and bitter notes. Taste was a very nice mix between some roasted malt with dry coffee notes, some rich black chocolate and some green bitter and floral hops. All the ingredient and flavour were well integrated and balanced. Body was full with a smooth creamy texture and good carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Not the most complex imperial stout that I have tasted but I must admit that everything was well balanced while still having some complexity.

 659 characters

Photo of jrallen34
4.74/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 bottle poured in my Darkness glass. Bottle 99 of 500. A birthday present from my girlfriend, what better night to open up then to hopefully celebrate OSU's Sugar Bowl win...Midnight black pour, looks good. No head at all though, looks like a barrel aged beer with only the slightest dark tan head. No lacing. Disappointing look...The aroma is full of fresh cocoa, brownies and dark fruits. At first its sweet, but then its real backbone is lightly bitter with cocoa being the major player...The taste is awesome with extreme balance. Sweet and bitter at the same time, main player again is the cocoa. However, the sweet chocolate brownie note is huge, its almost like drinking a liquified brownie. This is what a RIS should be, best one I've had in a long time that WAS NOT barrel aged...The feel is a little lacking, on the lighter side for a stout, but a nice tannic and warming sensation...Incredibly drinkable, because it taste great and you can't detect the alcohol on the nose or taste at all.

This is a must try. For a pure stout (not barrel aged) this is probably the best I've had besides stormaktsporter. Get this!!!!

 1,133 characters

Photo of JAXSON
4.21/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Pours a thick, rich deep espresso with a frothy caramel head. Very pretty! Nose is roasty, rich with dark fruits, earth, a little booze. Somewhat bitter flavor with subtle expressions of licorice, anise, a bit of coffee dust, some cocoa. Impressive layering of flavor. Rich and creamy but not all all burdensome and heavy. Finish is a bit long on the roasted bitter element. Very nice brew here.

 403 characters

Photo of Deuane
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to slander for sharing this hard to find bottle of joyous liquid. From the 2009 release - bottle #339 of 450.

A - Deep, dark, black with a thin dark tan head that retained as a thin cap and left minimal spots of lace.

S-Deep, rich, roasted malt, fresh tanned leather, 90% cocoa chocolate, espresso with hints of anise and prunes. Quite complex and very nice. Light alcohol burn emerges with warming.

T-Arguably one of the most interesting and complex beers I have ever had the honor of drinking. Deep, dark leather, licorice, oak, black velvet, cocoa, espresso, prune and deliciousness all wrapped up in a refined smoothness with a touch of alcohol burn. Simply memorizing!

M-Medium-heavy bodied, rich and roasty, slick, oily and oh so smooth! LONG lasting flavours and a demand respecting alcohol burn in the drying finish.

D-Bold, complex and refined this is a HELL YEA! brew. Certainly not poundable by any means. This one demands respect and enjoyed slowly in a snifter, embedded in a cushy overstuffed chair, alongside a roaring fireplace, donned in your favorite crushed velvet robe!

 1,106 characters

Photo of Jeffo
2.34/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Was very grateful to get this bottle as part of a larger trade with Craytonic. This is pretty well respected around BA, so I was pretty excited when we opened it. Cheers!

From a 750 into a snifter
Vintage: 2009
Bottle 403 of 500

APPEARANCE: A pitch black pour makes a thinner looking, super fizzy and noisy, one finger, brown head that quickly vanishes almost completely, leaving only a slight ring behind. Black, opaque body with next to zero carbonation. A slight, very faint ring remains but leaves no lacing. Despite the very thick looking pour, it looked a little flat and the head was very disappointing. Not up to par here.

SMELL: Medium strength nose of roasted malts, molasses for sure, some figs and touches of oak. Some cream coffee and charcoaled malts as well, with a good base of booze under the entire thing. Almost smells barrel aged it's so boozy, which is a little alarming.

TASTE: Like the nose, with some nice flavors, but a very strong booze presence. Too strong really. Some roasted malts and lots of sweet molasses. Some sweet caramel malt joins the party through the middle, and some bitter chocolate, charcoal, and burnt espresso on the finish. Some oak and lots of booze after the swallow as well. Lots of booze. Again, this tastes barrel aged, but not in a good way; overly boozy and hot. A roasted, charred, bitter-sweet and boozy aftertaste is bold and long lasting. Very boozy and hot still. Lots of flavor, but too boozy to be enjoyable really.

PALATE: Thinner body, light, with higher levels of carbonation. Goes down rough with an alcohol burn at the swallow and finishes slightly mouth-coating with lots of heat. Too rough, thin, light, and not creamy enough either. Way too much heat too.

OVERALL: An overly boozy, burnt, thin, mess of an RIS. Granted, there was lots of flavor and plenty to consider, but not everything worth considering was enjoyable. Decently complex and overly boozy means the scores balanced out some. Perhaps another couple years will mellow it out a bit, but that still won't improve the look or thicken up the feel at all. Overrated and far more valuable than the beer in the container. Was grateful to finally get to try this highly acclaimed bad boy, but don't think I'd even buy it if it was readily available at the corner store for $5. Regardless, thanks again for the awesome trade Craytonic!

 2,369 characters

Photo of Jwale73
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Thirstybird for braving the cold and sharing this one at our last tasting. Bottle 401/500. Pours black with a thin, quarter inch, khaki-colored head that quickly dispersed into a swirl. Nose reveals dark malts, roast, brown sugar and molasses. Taste is roasty and chocolatey with some brewer's licorice and some light bittering hops at the finish. Sweet, but not cloying so. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with a pleasant, even carbonation and a slight viscosity. An excellent example of the style. No bells and whistles, but a fair amount of complexity and drinks extremely easy. Hard to believe it has a 10.2% abv. A really top notch RIS.

 646 characters

Photo of mothman
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage

Pours a light brown head. Color is fairly black.

Aroma: Rich Belgian chocolate. Roasted malts, dark fruits, and cherries.

Taste: Rich and sweet. Dark chocolate, roasted malts, caramel, dried fruits. It reminds me a bit of Expedition stout with a few years on it. Pretty solid flavors.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, and syrupy. Full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends roasted and sweet with some coffee in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel reminds me a lot like 08 darkness.

Overall, it reminds me of aged expo meets 08 darkness. Very sweet and syrupy. It is great, but slow drinking. Pretty thick.

 622 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle. The label says bottle 459 of 500. 2010 vintage.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with red highlights and a tan head. The aroma is pretty basic Russian Imperial Stout with notes of roasted malt, chocolate and some dark fruit. The flavor is heavy on the chocolate malt with some burnt/heavily roasted malt and smoke mixed in. Medium to thick mouthfeel and low to medium carbonation. A very good imperial stout but a tad bit of a let down overall.

 507 characters

Photo of Damian
3.97/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank from a 750 mL/1 pint, 9.4 oz. bottle
2010 vintage
Bottle Number 18 of 500
Served in a stemmed glass

The beer poured a thick, oily, near pitch black with a small, coffee-colored head that quickly faded to a stiff ring of froth.

The aroma was rich and complex. Lots of smooth, dark roast coffee, vanilla and bakers chocolate notes. Brown sugar and molasses came through as well. Slightly oaky.

As with the aroma, the taste was an interesting blend of sweet and roasty. Brown sugar and French roast coffee were immediately noticeable. Dark chocolate notes were also apparent. Sweet and raisiny in the center. The finish was bitter and intense. Super roasty with lots of piney hops and a touch of bourbon-like booziness.

The mouthfeel was creamy and smooth yet rather overcarbonated initially. Even though the body was quite viscous, the carbonation made it feel light and frothy (almost a touch airy) on the palate. As the beer sat, the liquid lost a bit of fizz and became much more palatable.

Drinkability was decent. This is an interesting beer but it could benefit from more ageing. Give this another year or two in the cellar and it should turn into a real gem.

 1,174 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 vintage, shared by Brad at the tasting on Saturday.

This beer appears a jet black with a gargantuan, beautiful, tan head. The aroma gives away the age of the beer to some extent, as there is a very slight mustiness in the nose. Scents of chocolates and roasted malt. There is a slight musty, been in the cellar a while taste (in the best way), along with robust roasted malt flavors. Alcohol is still slightly detectable in the finish, even after five years. This is a great beer that I'd really enjoy having again.

 521 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.44/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage, again from Brad.

Beer is served in a tulip. Beer is black and forms a dark brown head that leaves some lacing on the glass but the overall carbonation is low.

Aroma is great, lots of chocolate, some alcohol, sweetness from the malt and roast from the roasted malt. Almost a liquor like quality to the whole thing.

Beer is smooth and medium bodied. There is some alcohol and sweetness up front and a lot of roast in the back. The flavors rest on the palate as I wait between sips. There isn't much of an aftertaste, just flavors that linger. It kind of coats the back of my mouth and the bitterness from the roasted malts rests there. Its a good beer, much anticipated by myself, very excited to get to try some. Thanks again.

 743 characters

Southampton Imperial Russian Stout from Southampton Publick House
4.21 out of 5 based on 362 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.