Dark Seas
Mission Brewery

Dark SeasDark Seas
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Mission Brewery
California, United States
Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #334
Ranked #6,527
4.09 | pDev: 9.05%
Feb 18, 2022
Dec 08, 2011
Dark SeasDark Seas
Notes: The ancient legends that abound the Russian Imperial Stout of yore are filled with tempestuous romance, sinful thievery, and scurvy, too. So highly regarded was this historic recipe, the Russian Kings tried to keep it all to themselves. They failed. Today we bring you our own dastardly dark version, with a rich and roasty aroma, notes of plum and port and a velvety texture so luscious it just might make a grown man weep

2021 GABF Gold medal winner.
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
3.75 by TMoney2591 from Illinois on Feb 18, 2022
Photo of snaotheus
4.09/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by snaotheus from Washington

12oz bottle served in a footed pilsner glass. If there is a date on it, I don't see it. Received from @Beersnake1.

Pours black with a general, dark tan head, medium carbonation. Nice looking beer. Smell is super roasty, lots of anise and coffee aroma.

Taste is very bitter, more burnt grains than roasted grains, still strong anise character. If I try, I can turn spin some of the flavor toward very dark chocolate or cacao nibs.

Mouthfeel is medium, maybe leaning toward heavy, but surprisingly seems to be somewhat effervescent. Overall, this is a really solid RIS.

Jan 02, 2022
Photo of Viaduck
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by Viaduck from California

Dark as a moonless night with a thick tan head. Sweet aroma: dark chocolate, brown sugar, ripe fruit & roasted malt. The taste is beautifully bitter. Flavors: dark chocolate, coffee, licorice, prunes,pepper, Roasted malt. Medium bodied , no heat. No tears were shed during the consumption of this stout but it was thoroughly enjoyed.

Dec 26, 2021
Photo of Coronaeus
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
by Coronaeus from Canada (ON)

Pours a cola black with a moderate head that dissipates slowly. Baker’s chocolate and mild creamy coffee on the nose. A slight, not quite burnt toast aroma follows. Enticing. Bitter black coffee, cocoa and a moderate bitterness on the tongue. The body is a little thinner than I expect of late from the style but is no way thin. This is a very solid, very enjoyable, straight ahead Russian Imperial stout. I’d certainly drink more if San Diego were a little closer to Toronto!!

Dec 05, 2021
Photo of Harrison8
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by Harrison8 from Missouri

Pours black with a finger and a half of tan foam. Aroma is roasty, toasty, nutty, caramely, and earthy malts. Malts create an expressive aroma without the use of flavor additives. Flavor profile is toasty, nutty, earthy, caramely, bready, and roasty malts. Great expansive of flavor and nuance without diverting from straight malts. Mouth feel is medium-thick with a hearty creamy start that breaks down to a more velvety finish. Overall, a sublime stout that does well to just focus on malts. Easy drinking, dark, and expressive.

Served in a 15.5oz Speigalau tulip from a 12oz bottle.

Nov 28, 2021
Photo of Beersnake1
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Beersnake1 from California

Poured at fridge temp. Pours jet black with a good amount of tan head. Nose is super smooth. Roasted malts, black licorice, dark chocolate, coffee grinds, and some dark fruit.

Taste: Wow. This is such a nice traditional Russian Imperial Stout. Huge notes of roasted malts, burnt toffee, charred wood, licorice, and oak. Prunes, tobacco, and a nice layer of tree sap. Just a really nicely balanced stout. Not overpowering but not underwhelming. A great beer.

Mouthfeel and overall: Mouthfeel is medium to thick-bodied. Not a huge creamy stout like a lot of the modern pastry stouts, but that's perfectly fine with me. Overall, this is fantastic. There is a good reason this won gold at the GABF this year.

Nov 15, 2021
Photo of FBarber
4.46/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by FBarber from Illinois

Pours pitch black, completely opaque and on the shinier side - it ends up looking like motor oil. Thinner one to two finger mocha colored head forms on the beer and then dissipates pretty quickly leaving just a spotty film on top of the beer. The aroma on this is stellar. Robust, roasted malts, dried tobacco, bakers chocolate with just a hint of smokiness. There are some light, dark fruit notes in the aroma as it warms up.

Taste follows the nose with lovely notes of robust roasted malts, with notes of tobacco and piney hops on the back end. There are notes of bakers chocolate, a light smokiness, and some dark fruit notes. It is rich, robust and delicious. Feel is medium bodied and silky, but that robustness of the flavors makes it punch above its weight. A somewhat drier finish. Moderate, smooth carbonation.

Overall this is an outstanding stout in the old school RIS tradition. Straightforward, no bullshit, but still incredibly flavorful.

Nov 09, 2021
Photo of BillAfromSoCal
4.59/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by BillAfromSoCal from California

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a goblet after purchase from a room temp. shelf as a single, then chilled. Could not find a brewed on date. Pours black or extremely dark brown with a fraction of a finger of tan head that lingers and coats the sides of the glass. I Reeaalllly like this one. Taste and smell equivalent with a really nice balance of roasted grains, slight coffee, slight bittersweet chocolate with hints of bitterness coming thru and the weirdest thing is the first impression was one reminiscent of the scent of smoked meat coming right off the fire. I don't know how else to describe it. The mouthfeel was not thin but not too viscous or oily with mild to moderate carbonation that exactly hit my sweet spot for what I look for in an Imperial Stout.

Apr 20, 2021
4.55 by chrisofspades from California on Mar 13, 2021
4.25 by jmbeerdude91 from Arizona on Apr 04, 2020
Photo of BucannonXC5
4.16/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
by BucannonXC5 from California

Type: 22-oz. bottle
Reviewed as: Russian Imperial Stout
Glass: Ball 16-oz. mason jar
Price: $8.88 (w/ Vons card, $9.99 regular)
From: Vons in La Mesa, Calif.
Purchased: Dec. 13, 2019
Consumed: Dec. 13, 2019
Misc.: No bottled on date

Picked this up on a whim. Was in the mood for a stout and saw it at Vons, then realized that, not only had I not reviewed it, but I had not even checked into it on Untappd. I know for sure I’ve had it before, including at a tasting at Mission with Chris, Lesley and Rachel. Anyway, not really a fan of this brewery overall, but I’m definitely a fan of RIS’. This one went down as, “The ancient legends that abound about the Russian Imperial Stouts of yore are filled with tempestuous romance, sinful thievery and scurvy, too. So highly regarded was this historic recipe, the Russian Kings tried to keep it all to themselves. They failed. Today we bring you our own dastardly dark version, with a rich and roasty aroma, notes of plum and port and a velvety texture so luscious it just might make a grown man weep.”

Poured a pitch black color with 2-to-3 fingers of khaki tan frothy head. Could see just a few bubbles creeping up along the sides of the glass. Average lacing. Outstanding retention. (Sight - 4.00)

Smelled rich roasty malts, dark fudge, dark milk chocolate, brownie batter, black coffee, dark fruit (mainly plum), hints of port wine, cocoa and lingering roasted barley. As always, not much of an addition from the bottle. (Smell - 4.25)

Taste followed the nose, but not quite as good. Got roasty malts, dark fudge, brownie batter, chocolate cake, dark milk chocolate, bitter black coffee, dark fruit, plum, hints of woody port wine, roasted barley, Cocoa Puffs and cocoa. (Taste - 4.00)

Full body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish. (Feel - 4.50)

Just an excellent Russian Imperial Stout. Smooth, but full of flavor. So good. (Overall - 4.25)

4.16 | 93 | A-

Mar 09, 2020
3.97 by smithj4 from New York on Oct 17, 2019
4.1 by Nunya from Ohio on Mar 17, 2019
4.54 by evanwoertz from California on Jan 28, 2019
4.85 by AlFergie from Nevada on Jan 17, 2019
3.97 by Eychung from New York on Jan 05, 2019
4.13 by MjBrewhouse from Idaho on Nov 26, 2018
Photo of Beginner2
4.11/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
by Beginner2 from Illinois

There is perfect and, then, there is close.
Dark Seas RIS is close.
The difference has a lot to do with what dessert is... or whether you are drinking your dessert.
Since this stuff is so powerful and the Dark Seas rendition was in bomber, I had it with dessert one night and no dessert the next. Dark Seas RIS is better with a sweet dessert because this RIS is too dry, too bittersweet for me to have it by itself.

My first from Mission, I went on their website and they seem to have a good story within San Diego's accomplished beer world. No distribution in the Midwest, so I am glad to sample their wares here.

Nov 19, 2018
4.1 by Korymiller from Arizona on Oct 02, 2018
4.28 by BerryKumquat from California on Sep 21, 2018
Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by avalon07 from South Carolina

L: Poured from a bottle to a snifter glass. Had a dark, mahogany brown color and a thick, opaque consistency. There was a thin, tan-colored head that quickly dissipated. Not a whole lot of lacing.

S: An interesting aroma of coffee, roasted malt, dark fruit, and chocolate.

T: Tasted of a bit of dark chocolate, a hint of a burnt quality (always present), a good amount of coffee, lots of roasted malt, some dark fruit (plums, in particular), and wood. This is one of those extremely well-balanced flavors. It's not overly aggressive, but rather quite focused. Very tasty stuff.

F: A fair amount of carbonation with a smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This is a well made, easy to drink RIS. Very much worth a try.

Sep 05, 2018
4.05 by samEBC from Belgium on Aug 13, 2018
Photo of russpowell
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
by russpowell from Arkansas

Pours an effervescent ebony with a thumb + of caramel colored head. Meh head retention & lacing

S: Dark chocolate & coffee

T: Follows the nose, some woody dryness, vanilla, & a touch of coconut up front. Plenty of coffee, dryness, a little char as this warms. Finishes dry with charred grain, coffee, a little woody hop & Baker's Chocolate, a little booze creeping at the edges

MF: Medium body, very slight carbonation

A solid RIS that commands respect & sipping

Apr 08, 2018
Photo of YungAnejo
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
by YungAnejo from Nevada

Picked up the 4 pack of 12oz for $2.99 on a blowout at work, bottled 094/ 16, poured into brandy snifter.

Hard pour produces a half inch of light khaki head, medium retention for awhile until turning to a small cm thin collar, solid black body, no lacing

Aroma is oak and lotsss of grape/plum, hints of cherry and pomegranate are in their too, swirling agitation brings out sweet malt milk chocolate, slight booze is noticeable

Taste pretty much follow the nose straight through, not very bitter or roasty, I’d say it falls well inline with its catergory, very reminiscent of a red wine.

Feel is heavy, thick and oily, very smooth with no alcohol burn present, long semi-dry finish

Overall for the couple bucks I spent it’s definitely worth the try, a big smooth flavorful representation of the style, I think those couple years really helped the abv hide

Definitely need to change that labeling tho gotta be honest it looks kinda sketchy, wouldn’t have took it for anymore then I paid

Mar 30, 2018
4.19 by donaldgarner from Arizona on Feb 19, 2018
5 by Nordavinden from Norway on Feb 03, 2018
4.5 by 1971bernat from Virginia on Jan 02, 2018
4.1 by JuiceMan818 from California on Dec 14, 2017
Photo of GreatBeerMakesMeCry
4.41/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by GreatBeerMakesMeCry from Utah

No head to speak of, but doesn't taste under carbonated. Delicious chocolate notes. Great aroma. I can't taste any alcoholic flavor, which is impressive for a 9.8% ABV. Bottle in Del Mar.

Dec 14, 2017
4 by Kurzman from Rhode Island on Dec 12, 2017
Photo of dave_ackbar
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by dave_ackbar from Hawaii

Pours a deep black, with a nice burgundy tan head.
Smells smoky with a hint of dark coffee
Taste, I let it get to a little bit about room temp and it was terrific.
Feel is slightly acidic but smooth
Overall I would purchase it again.

Nov 19, 2017
4.25 by paulish from New York on Oct 22, 2017
Photo of andrewh995
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by andrewh995 from Arizona

Pours a dark black with a light brown head. Smells of roasted malts, coffee, dark chocoalte, and some hops. Tastes of very darkly roasted and slightly burnt (in a good way) malts, dark bitter chocolate, mild hops, and dark coffee. Medium-heavy in body and medium in carbonation. Overall this is an incredible RIS from a brewery I haven't heard much of. Excited to try more of their products.

Jul 31, 2017
3.75 by YeastEnthusiast from New Jersey on Jul 16, 2017
3.93 by drahodo from Missouri on May 09, 2017
Photo of woodychandler
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by woodychandler from Pennsylvania

I am just continuing to wade through the Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody as beers come to the surface for drinking and reviewing. I am back on an Odds & Sods kick, clearing out some loosey goosey bottles before embarking on the next long brewery horizontal. What will it be? That would be telling!

From the bottle: "The ancient legends that abound about the Russian Imperial Stouts of yore are filled with tempestuous romance, sinful thievery and scurvy, too. So highly regarded was this historic recipe, the Russian Kings tried to keep it all to themselves. They failed. Today we bring you our own dastardly dark version, with a rich and roasty aroma, notes of plum and port and a velvety texture so luscious it just might make a grown man weep."

I Pop!ped the cap & began a gentle pour, in keeping with my New Year's Resolution. Aggro pours from bottles are now (mostly) a thing of the past. I am really coming to embrace a vigorous in-glass swirl since it is much less likely to bungle things up. This action raised just under two fingers of foamy, deep-brown head with moderate retention that left some nice lacing in its wake. Color was Black/Opaque (SRM = 44), allowing ZERO light penetration. Nose was bready and chocolaty, like chocolate cake batter or really dark chocolate brownies. Liquefied dessert! Mmm. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, not quite creamy, but on the approach. The taste was as they mentioned, with plum and port, but also with leather, dark chocolate and rich coffee. This was true to my initial thoughts of liquid dessert, although it would work well with cheesecake and coffee. Finish was semi-dry with just enough sweetness to keep it from being outright dry. This would definitely be worth trying if you have not had it before.

Apr 18, 2017
3.5 by nstygles from Pennsylvania on Mar 25, 2017
Photo of Kirock
4.34/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by Kirock from Nevada

Nice black appearance and a somewhat subdued smell of smokiness and perhaps some fruity nuances.

It's a smoky chocolate flavor with a nice smooth mouthfeel. Bold yet smooth. Medium carbonation seems to help this feel balanced. Maybe it isn't for everyone but I rather enjoy it.

Mar 24, 2017
3.77 by kmanjohnson from California on Mar 15, 2017
4.04 by Gagnonsux from Texas on Mar 12, 2017
Dark Seas from Mission Brewery
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 730 ratings