Russian Gun Imperial Stout | Grand River Brewing

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Russian Gun Imperial StoutRussian Gun Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Grand River Brewing
Ontario, Canada

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
The Russian gun (or Gun as we call it) is named after the Queens square cannon that sits downtown Galt, Cambridge. The cannon was awarded to the town of Galt for its support of the English troops during the Crimean war which ended in 1856.

That year to celebrate the victory during Victoria day the Cannon was fired at noon. The men firing the cannon successfully fired three shots however during the forth the powder prematurely exploding killing both men charring their upper bodies beyond human recognition and dismembering the arms and hands of both men; two children were lightly scratched.

We have crafted the Russian gun to commemorate this local tragedy taking the recipe from an old English recipe dating back to the early colonial times.

Added by Viggo on 04-03-2009

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Reviews: 95 | Ratings: 158
Photo of Reagan1984
2.14/5  rDev -42%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Thanks to Alex (Masterski) for providing this in a recent trade. Alex’s boxes are always very interesting.

A foamy, frothy tan head builds aggressively on top of this beer. Collapses from within. Looks like a coffee milkshake sitting atop the black beer. Lots of sticky lace. Sadly this is the highlight of this beer.

Soy mixed with dark roasted malt and some black licorice.

Oh MY, why is this so metallic? Burnt roasted malt and ash. Charcoal as a matter of fact. Alex mentioned this was a bot if a joke insert in our trade. I deserved that as I sent him a beer from Maine that fit the same billing. Whew… not a great beer here. A much better looking beer vs. the flavor. Milky dirty at the end. My wife says it tastes like blood and water.

Body is way too thin.

Hmm, won’t be having this one again. Just move on.

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Photo of Jeffo
2.15/5  rDev -41.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Got this one in a trade last summer, though I can't remember for the life of me who it was. Cheers to whoever you are!

From a 500ml bottle into a snifter
Bottled 5 January 2011

Note: Put this one up against Wellington's RIS in an epic Battle of Ontario!

APPEARANCE: Clear, thin brown pour yields a large, three finger, looser looking, foamy, light tan head with good retention. Bistre brown in color with higher levels of carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a thick cap, then a good wisp remains until the end and leaves lots of chunky lacing down the glass. Too thin a body, and the chunky lacing isn't all that appealing.

SMELL: Yeasty notes, dark fruits and a hint of cocoa powder. Spicy more than anything. Starting to oxidize as well.

TASTE: Yeasty and spicy once more, with a hint of caramel malts. Some spicy pepper, herbal notes, and a touch of bitterness at the swallow. Milder and shorter aftertaste is slightly oxidized, but some bitter cocoa powder and spicy yeast notes do show up, while cardboard hangs around the whole time. Not very nice.

PALATE: Medium body and higher levels of carbonation. Light on the palate but still creamy enough, goes down fine and finishes slightly dry on the palate.

OVERALL: This was lousy at best. If it's not already starting to oxidize, which would be amazing after a year and a half, then it was simply a bad beer from the start. Drain didn't even like it all that much. Nothing to see here folks. Massive loser in the Battle of Ontario...

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Photo of pwoods
2.31/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Thanks to beachbum1975 for sharing this brew.

500ml brown bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours deep brown with light throught the edges. A good head forms and holds for a minute or two. Good lacing.

S: Big lactic nose. Actually almost smells a touch sour. Not much roast or char or anything that needs to be there.

T/M: Not big at all. Some lactose up front. Not much roast or depth. No alcohol. A bit of odd coffee thats wierd with the lactose. Body is only about medium and it feels a bit flat.

D: Not very tasty, and not on style. It'd be pretty drinkable is those two where right.

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Photo of eat
2.93/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled at Volo's Ontario Cask Imperial Stout event. Just-off black...very dark brown in colour. Thinnest ring of head around the glass. Bits of visible sediment at the bottom.

Buttery sour dairy in the smell...diacetyl? Some caramel, roasted malt, a little coffee. Can't say I'm into the sour cream aspect.

Luckily the stout is big enough to cover up whatever spoiled milk was in the nose. Strangely, for a stout, there's quite a bit of grapefruit, especially on the finish, which I don't find to be a completely pleasant addition. Astringent and almost a little sour. Dark roasted malt. Not much character beyond the strange grapefruit finish. The alcohol only shows itself a little bit on the finish.

Feel is decent. Viscous medium body and very lightly carbonated.

I don't know about this one. Seems like this wasn't pulled off too well. I'm interested to check this out in the bottle (a new release at the LCBO) to see how it measures up. Can't say I'm too into this cask version. An odd stout.

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Photo of MeisterBurger
3.06/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Yet another horrible, cheap looking, badly designed label from Grand River. Ultimately it's what's inside the bottle that matters of course, but if there was a score for label design this would get an A for awful.

Pours jet black with a frothy tan, almost rusty orange head. Lots of big coarse bubbles. The lacing is beautiful, nice and sticky--a thin film of head retains very nicely throughout.

Surprisingly the first thing I notice isn't roastiness or malt, it's fruity esters. Raisin like. Molasses and some alcohol are present also. It's fairly subdued though. I expected more roast type aromas.

The star of this show is cold black coffee, with prune, cane sugar, caramel, chocolate and some burnt malt flavors in minor supporting roles. There's a slight grassy, spicy hop bitterness in the finish that really lingers. The finish is incredibly long. Overall it's just a tad too sweet and not roasty enough.

The mouthfeel is very much on the thin side for the style. Probably this beer's biggest weakness.

It's drinkable, as are most Russian Imperial Stouts thanks to the depth and richness of flavor, but one is enough.

Final thought: I've only had this once before, only it was on cask, where I found it flat, lifeless, boozy and I got a lot more black licorice than I did this time. Not that enjoyable. The added carbonation in the bottled version makes it much lighter and the alcohol is masked much better for some reason.

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Photo of rhinos00
3.1/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Big thanks to grub for sending another local my way. Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a pint glass. Bottled April 13, 2009.

A- Pours a dark, brownish color with hints of garnet throughout. Possibly one of the lightest colored RIS's I have ever seen. Produced two fingers width of creamy, tan head. Reduced to a thin, filmed layer.

S- Getting some nice chocolate malts in there, along with some sort of sweetness...almost like molasses. There was something off putting in the aroma. The roasted characteristics almost gave it a chalk-like scent. I just couldn't get passed it.

T- Would have been higher, except for the back end of this beer. The first half was pretty standard. As it sat in the palate, definite notes of chocolate and roasted malts came forward. There is also a pleasant sweetness in the background. From here, it definitely took a bad turn. As you swallow, a chalk-like bitterness takes over, erasing all taste prior to it. Even worse, it just seems to linger on the palate. If I could cut the flavor profile in half and keep the first part, this beer wouldn't taste half bad.

M- Major disappointment here. Way too thin to be a RIS. Almost has the consistency of water. The only thing saving it from having a lower score is that while the beer is thin, it did manage to maintain some sort of silkiness.

D- Aside from issues with the second portion of each sip, this beer was pretty drinkable.

Overall, I love sampling locals and am really glad I can cross another Canadian local off my list. That being said, I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to try this again if I didn't have to.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.12/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Black body, with a monster head. Looks like a marshmallow and it won’t go away. Roasted metallic dark fruity aroma. Bittersweet, roast, chocolate. Creamy, not too full, but pleasant. Overall, a decent stout. Glad to have tried it, but nothing I'd seek out regularly.

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Photo of papat444
3.16/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Derek for getting me my third Grand River beer.

Bottled April 24, 2009.

Poured from a 500ml. bottle.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, borderline black body with a decent if not conservative tan head. Looks good.

Smell: Cocoa, coffee without the bitterness and a little sweet but everything is on the down-low though, even at a warmer temp.

Taste: Some bitter coffee, burnt a little with a small sour twinge. Tastes a little like watery coffee with. Not very imperial.

Mouthfeel: A bit thin & watery in the palate with low carbonation. It is smooth in a way but the beer feels unbalanced somehow.

Drinkability: Giving a bit of a boost for points here as the 9% ABV is really not perceptible at all making it very easy to drink. That said, i wouldn't particularly reach out again for it.

Overall: Of the three that i though i would enjoy the most, this is the one that disappointed me. Very average and not typical of an Imperial Stout, IMO.

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Photo of kwjd
3.18/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with hints of red. Light tan head with a little bit of lacing. There isn't much going on in the smell. Very mild amount of roasted malt and I think I can little bit of caramel sweetness. The taste also isn't what I expect for an RIS. I get some bitterness without the taste of hops. I would have guessed this was a brown ale rather than a stout. Very thin body. There is nothing wrong with drinking this as it tastes fine, just a little weak in the flavour and body.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.2/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tried this on-tap at the Hart House 2nd Annual Beer festival. Served in a plastic taster glass.

A - Black, with plenty of lighter browns at the fringes - a dime of foam that dissipates quickly to a ring. Kind of underwhelming.

S - Caramel malts, raisins, dark fruits - really more barleywine-esque here. Not generally what I expect from an RIS, and maybe not even an English Stout. Where is the roastiness?! That being said, the smell was nice - just not appropriate to style.

T- Harsh bitterness in the aftertaste, some brown sugar malts and dark fruits at the onset, and a bit of fusel alcohol for good measure. Meh.

M - Medium body, low carbonation. Again - not very stout-like and more typical of English barleywines or English brown ales. Still, nothing offensive; just could have been a little bit bigger to support the ABV.

D - I struggled through my taster. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't good either. The 9% was not particularly well hidden, and the subverted expectations soured my experience right from the start. Nowhere near as nice as Wellington RIS if you want an Ontario example of the style.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.25/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pitch black with no head.

S - Sweet, fruity and a bit of a grape-y aroma.

T - Again grapes, dark fruit and quite sweet.

M - Light body and slightly astringent.

D - Interesting, but not really what I like in a RIS. Lots of fruit and not so much roast.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.32/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured in to Duvel tulip

A = Poured a dark brown; not as thick and black as many RIS but still a nice deep brown colour with half a finger of light brown head. Some visible carbonation.

S - The nose is dark roasted malts, dark chocolate and a hint of coffee and dark fruit. Some sweetness here too: perhaps some caramel or molasses (only the general sweetness sticks out). Slight alcohol smell is prevalent as well.

T - The taste is odd for a RIS - very prevalent dark fruit up front with a general roasted malt profile - but no discernible chocolate of coffee taste as was present in the nose. With a few more sips, a slight coffee flavour shows up and the dark fruit fades a little bit. There is also some bitterness in the background - definitely some hops in here. The hops become much more noticeable the more I drink and provide a nice backbone to the roasted malts. No real alcohol taste at all here despite the 8.4% ABV (my bottle says 8.4% - not sure why the details above say 9.1%).

M - Not typical for a RIS. Light to medium body, no silky texture and somewhat overly carbonated. If I was tasting this blind, I would likely say that it was a robust porter as opposed to a RIS.

D - A nice beer and very drinkable. Not sure I am all that impressed with this as an RIS, but ignoring the label, this is a nice beer.

Now I have to decide if it is worth picking up another bottle or two to age...

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Photo of oakbluff
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle via MasterSki. Pours out with a cola hue and clarity with lively carbonation. Minimal mocha head with a sparse, but fine bubble lacing. Nose- stewed fruit, vanilla, faint powdered chocolate. Taste- licorice, sweet dark fruits, oak, and roast. Initial sweetness then becomes a dry chalky, grass like bitterness on the finish. Medium bodied with an above average level of carbonation for the style. Drinkability is pretty decent for strength and style. This beer has potential with some fine tuning.

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Photo of ludachris
3.35/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very deep nut brown, bordering black, giving off quick glimpses of ruby red highlights. About a finger of quickly dissipating rich tan head topped this beer, leaving minimal lace and retaining poorly. Coming out of the bottle, this one looked like an English brown ale moreso than a stout.

Roasted dark chocolate, a bit of molasses, and a big dose of dark fruits. Notes of ethanol are also present, but you have to dig a bit for them. Once you find it though, it seems quite pronounced. Served at the proper temperature, this one still struggles to give off a real aromatic and pronounced nose like other RIS's I've had.

Everything seems to pick up a bit more in the flavour. Thick roasted malts, dry dark chocolate that morphs into a more sweet milk chocolate character as it progresses, with a bit of molasses in the back. The dark fruits come in towards the end but battle it out with a pronounced ethanol finish, with the ethanol being the clear winner. It almost seems like it completely overpowers the dark fruits. Amp up the deep fruity finish and lessen the ethanol presence and this would make for a great local stout.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a decent carbonted feel, but the whole thing seems a bit thin throughout. Good balance, but the alcohol could definitely use some toning down.

Overall, this seems like a decent stout, and one for me that is a notch higher than John By's. The biggest surprise was the full roasted chocolatey character in the taste, but the biggest letdown was well pronounced ethanol notes throughout. Maybe this one does well with age? If I had to pick between this and their old style lager, I'd probably choose the latter. I'd say this one is still worth a try, but don't expect this RIS to exceed any expectations.

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Photo of Bestuurder
3.36/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 500mL brown bottle. Labelled 8.5% ABV, not 9.10! Fesh though, bottled today - January 5th, 2011.

Beautiful black colouration with a nice beige head which is both creamy and thick. Nice carbonation (of course it helps with the hard water that they have in Cambridge). Excellent lacing throughout consumption.

Noticeable aroma of black malt, buillion hops, burnt chocolate, coffee and chalk. A little overpowering at first.

Taste is off, probably should have allowed the beer to sit a couple of weeks, and I think I will do that and review again. Very unfinished; including notes of chocolate, earth, walnuts and very bitter (obviously buillion).

Thick feel to the palate, but not smooth, actually a bit harsh, whcih only intensifies as consumption continues.

Can only frink one, and that's it! Only a few sips in could I feel it hit the bloodstream. Enjoy one, and only one!


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Photo of TheHammer
3.4/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Took ya long enough to get here Winter. This has been Souther Ontario's first real snow, so to pay tribute to those who suffer in the cold, a Russian Imperial Stout.

Appearance: Poured with a solid thumb of dark brown head and laced well but didn't stick around very long. The body is as black as night as any good stout should be.

Smell: Dominated by the smell of clearly burnt malt that is redeemed by a backing of dark chocolate, cherry, apricot and dark toffee. Didn't need any warming to come out.

Tastes: Tastes a bit too burnt, it begins with a light toffee malt that is quickly overpowered by that unrelenting charred taste that progresses over a dark chocolate middle that meekly surrenders before the charred advance until finally some bitter earthy hops stand up, and in a quick and bitter struggle quickly take the life of the other life and slowly dwindle away.

Mouthfeel: Sadly, the burn taste haunts us into the afterlife, for it offers what can best be described as the aftertaste of a stale cigar that is acceptable and possibly pleasant at first but builds to an overwhelming level of repugnance as it refuses to die. Carbonation is great at the start, but pans out near the end.

Drinkability: Not as heavy as you'd think it would be but I wouldn't call it medium bodied. Clearly this is a nursing beer designed to let you squeeze a night out of it. I can't see myself wanting more then one.

Final Thoughts: Well, it shares traits with the gun shares it's namesake with. It starts out with a bang, and then you have to reload and by the time you do so, your economy has collapsed. Uhh...I think that analogy got away from me. Anyways, it's drinkable and certainly has an appeal if you are a tobacco lover but sadly, I likely wouldn't pick it up again, save if it was fresh and I was seeking to nurse one beer for the night and they had this instead of Guinness.

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Photo of divineaudio
3.4/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

from notes.

a - pours dark brown with a thin cap of head. no lace.

s - nutty with some roasted malt and herbal hop character.

t - more roast with notes of molasses and dark chocolate. some raisin maybe or other dark fruits. long bitter finish to balance the malt base.

m - medium body with not quite enough carbonation.

o - enjoyable but nothing special. worth a try if you find yourself in ontario looking for beer.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.43/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle with a May 25, 2010 bottling date - Fresh Fresh!

Pours a dark brown with hints of garnet glinting in the light, a finger or two of creamy mocha head builds and manages to leave some rings down the glass.

Nose is chocolaty, hints of coffee, sweet caramel, a hint of butterscotch diacytyl.

Quite chocolaty, lacks the hefty roast I expect with a good RIS, coffee, toast, raisins and dark fruits play a dominant role, caramel, sweet with a light grainy astringency in the finish - with the lack of roast I can see the Baltic Porter comparisons. Light body though it doesn't feel as thin as some of the reviews have spoken of.

Not terrific though not terrible. Hides the ABV relatively well though I am still waiting for an Ontario brewer to make a truly badass RIS - this is not it.

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Photo of ckeegan04
3.49/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Into my Deschutes Brewery Reserve Series tulip.

A - Very dark black, verging on picth black. One finger of tight brown foam head. Very active carbonation bubbles quickly rising to the top. Sheets of lace left behind.

S - Lightly roasted malts with a sweet milk chocolate aroma underneath. Just a hint of dark fruits.

T - Roasted malts and hints of fruit. Semi-sweet chocolate mid drink. The roasted malts are certainly the dominant taste throughout the entire drink.

M/D - Medium bodied with a relatively creamy feel. Carbonation is at a decent level and brings the beer to life just a bit on the tongue. Very sweet in the finish.

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Photo of AddyCanuck
3.49/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Can't say much other than I couldn't see through the bottle.

S - Roasted malts and slight chocolate where all I could pick up.

T - Really bitter dark chocolate taste. Has a slight burnt taste to it. Bitter follow through. The alcohol taste is a bit overpowering.

M - Dry and very easy to drink.

O - It's a good stout. I don't recommend drinking it by itself. Have a heart tomato based meal with it.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark brown with good clarity and little head. Smells quite toasty, like white bread dry toasted, and there is some dry roastiness that is a touch on the light side. Tastes very, very dry, also with toasty notes. Unfortunately it's also a little thin and a little one dimensional. I think this one is a little too attenuated- it cries out for just a bit more sweetness and a bit more depth.

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Photo of drinkininthewood
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the brewery. Bottled on april 14th.

Served into a Guinness glass.

A - Very nice black color with deep red hues. Nice brown head sticks. Some lace.

S - burnt/roasted malt, Coffee, hints of dark fruit.

T- Is as the aroma suggested, fairly roasty, with strong flavors of black coffee and dark chocolate,
nuts, dark fruit ( raisins figs etc ) some sweet candy like flavors. Bittersweet finish.

M - body is on the lighter side of medium, with appropriate carbonation for the style.

D - Tasty beer good for sipping.

Overall a pretty good RIS with room for improvement. Im gonna keep a couple bottles around till the Christmas season.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a light black color stout with a large brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light roasted malt notes with hints of dry raisins. Taste is a balanced mix between some roasted malt with vinous notes and a dry raisin finish. Body is too thin for style with good carbonation and no signs of alcohol. Not bad and interesting side of vinous/dry raisin notes but body is too thin for style.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml Bottle from the LCBO

Appearance - Black/brown colour with an average size fizzy light brown head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, roasted/toasted nuts

Taste & Mouth - There is low amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and grains. There is also some hops mixed with a strong burnt/bitter taste. It ends with a bitter hop and burnt coffee aftertaste.

Overall - At first I wasn't crazy about just how bitter this beer seemed to finish. Towards the end I was enjoying it a little bit more, but it still seemed to be off. It was also a little too thin for a RIS. I wouldn't buy this one again.

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Photo of liamt07
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 500mL bottle into my Duvel tulip. Deep brown/black coming out of the bottle, with some dark ruby red colouration when held to light. Tan/beige head which faded to leave a thin layer and had very slight lacing. Smells of dark fruits, some chocolate and a bit of molasses; quite sweet aroma. Get a touch of alcohol in the smell too. Tastes of the dark fruits too, a bit of coffee, some dark chocolate but little heat. Again, sweet and get some of the roasted malts coming in. Sweet in the mouthfeel, carbonation seems fine and seems to leave a lingering aftertaste quite some time after I've had my sip. Good drinkability, yet I find the 500mL bottle size to kinda put me in no man's land as to whether I share it or keep it to myself for this ABV.

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Russian Gun Imperial Stout from Grand River Brewing
3.69 out of 5 based on 158 ratings.
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