Russian Imperial Stout - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Rock Art Brewery

Russian Imperial Stout - Bourbon Barrel-AgedRussian Imperial Stout - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #501
Ranked #7,162
4.03 | pDev: 10.17%
Rock Art Brewery
Vermont, United States
Russian Imperial Stout - Bourbon Barrel-AgedRussian Imperial Stout - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Reviews: 21 | Ratings: 138 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of jwhancher
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black color with little head that leaves some lacing and soapy looking bubbles on the glass sides. Smells moderate to strong oak & bourbon with plenty of black licorice, star anise, dark chocolate, and booze. Tastes similar as in the nose with an oily, slick, heavy body, almost chewy & viscous. Aftertaste is bourbon & booze - not that i’m complaining one bit. A big bodied beer with plenty of oomph. A great winter warmer. Glad I picked it up. Think I paid $10 for a bottle right at the brewery during a visit in mid-January 2018.

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jwhancher from Pennsylvania, Feb 18, 2018
Photo of Lone_Freighter
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz. bottle to snifter.
The appearance was a pure thick black color with just a slim cap of a little off white foamy head that stifled into a light concave sort of lace touching around the glass.
The aroma had a nice blend of sweet licorice, light char/ash, milk chocolate, vanilla, a little bit of coconut, light earthiness and a touch of bourbon sweetness.
The flavor seemed to lean towards the sweet side initially and then develop some of the char/ashy dry taste that seemed to bring in some bitterness. Light smoke and then dark bread with the dryness of the char/ash in the aftertaste.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a fair sipping quality about it. Definitely not one to gulp, by all means, that ashy/char factor does seem to penetrate a bit more in it's dryness along my tongue - some distractibility. Carbonation did feel good. ABV felt on par. Semi-dry and smooth with the bourbon on the finish.
Overall, this was aged in Maker's Mark casks for 6 months before bottled - me, well, I can tell that it's definitely a well brewed beer and a wonderful one for when it's close to sub zero temps outside. I'd definitely have this again.

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Photo of spacecake9
4.39/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Purchased last summer during my New England beer tour, aged in my cellar for 6 months.
A - Pours a very dark brown with a small tan head that disappears quickly.
S - Sweetness and bourbon on the nose.
T - There's a lot going on here. Some molasses and vanilla on the front end, then you get a bit of chocolate, then dark fruit on the finish.
M - Below average carbonation, thicker mouth feel.
O - I really like this beer. I love the different flavors that come through. Wish I'd purchased a second bottle.

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spacecake9 from Illinois, Jan 18, 2017
Photo of stakem
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber into a snifter apoears black in color with a thin khaki head.

It smells of chocolate upfront than gets oaky with bourbon and caramel sweetness.

It tastes of toasted coconut, caramel and chocolate. Lots of wonderful barrel flavors integrated into a pleasant base beer.

This is medium in body with modest carbonation. A solid brew I would drink again.

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stakem from Pennsylvania, Dec 16, 2016
Photo of toolbrew
3.97/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2015 poured into a snifter between four. Big boozey smell but follows up with a roasty chocolate smell. Great balanced bourbon stout. Wish I could have it again.

Side note - also had wine barrel aged just before this...I preferred this more.

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toolbrew from Indiana, May 28, 2016
Photo of ShanePB
4.16/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle. Deep brown, borderline black body, small tan head. No real lacing, minor retention. Aromas of bourbon, wet oak, smoke and roast. Flavor is semi-sweet bourbon, oak, hint of smoke and finishes with some big malt quality. Certainly the better treatment of this beer over the wine barrel version.

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ShanePB from Pennsylvania, Sep 18, 2015
Photo of Bierman9
4.39/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a 22oz bomber ($10.00) last month while visiting the brewery. Did a side-by-side with their wine barrel version yesterday (12SEP15) with Alewife out in The 'Zebo....

Poured into a small tulip, it was oily black with decent carbo. Had minimal head, though, mostly a gathering of light tan foam at the edge of the glass. Lacing was on the light side also. Smelled of choco and coffee, with an over-riding bourbon presence. Body was more than medium, and it felt rather smooth on the tongue.

Flavor had notes of dark choco, some coffee, mocha and cocoa. I also detected subtle touches of molasses and brown sugar. The bourbon character was present and well-done, not being over-powering as some versions are. A lovely bier, all-in-all! Prosit!!

4.39/5 rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5


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Bierman9 from New Hampshire, Sep 13, 2015
Photo of floridadrift
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pretty cheap and great tasting, bought instead of Grimm Double Negative and I'm glad I did. Very nice flavors. Taste so much like Parabola, its unreal. Didnt both to cellar, seems just right for vanilla flavors, oak, bourbon and sweet chocolate. Highly recommended if you can still find one in VT.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.92/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #85 (Feb 2014):

Boozy, Woody, Brash, Bourbon

We have a bold one here. The darkness is alluring, but it is that nose that sucks us in. Boozy, roasty, espresso aroma. Slickness to start, smoothness with a big body. Very warming with a thick wave of woodiness and bourbon on the palate. Booziness rides on top of the Imperial Stout character. The underlying sweetness brings suggestions of burnt sugar, while fumey alcohol gets rosey on our breaths. A stellar brew.

STYLE: Russian Imperial Stout | ABV: 10.0% | AVAILABILITY: Limited

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BeerAdvocate from Massachusetts, Jun 26, 2015
Photo of jmdrpi
4.21/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle. No date

Black in color, thin tan head. A bit of boozy bourbon aroma. Roasty taste, a bit dry. Whiskey is again dominant. Medium bodied

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jmdrpi from Pennsylvania, Jun 06, 2015
Photo of cpetrone84
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pour is black with a light tan head. Nose is moderate wood and bourbon, light milk chocolate, a hint of sweet fruitiness from bourbon. Flavor is stronger chocolate cake malt, moderate wood, decent bourbon note. Medium body, not overly big, assertive carb.

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cpetrone84 from Pennsylvania, May 22, 2015
Photo of sgulner
4.64/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Aged perfectly in my rock lined basement. Bourbon burn is all but gone and replaced with nice sweet vanilla and subtle caramel sweetness. Both of these hide the usual ashy roasty IRS that Im used to. Aging this is why Im sure my RDev will be high. If youre holding this, drink this now cause its def in its sweet spot!! Good job @rockart

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sgulner from Massachusetts, Apr 27, 2015
Photo of founddrama
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Sooooooo black. Dense tan head. Boozy aroma, but not as "big" as I'd expected. Strong boozy bourbon flavor up front. A chocolaty finish. No hop profile that I can taste. Oily mouthfeel. Overall pretty nice.

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founddrama from Vermont, Mar 22, 2015
Photo of blindhoedeath
4.87/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Probably my favorite beer! I've never had a beer that's got such subtleties to its flavor. Past that chocolaty stout taste are plums and blackberries and coffee. Its got an odd sweetness that's hard to place. But i still remember the first time i tasted it. For me and my pal, this is the king of beers. Its a truly beautiful beer. If you see it, grab it.

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Photo of chinchill
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a shared bomber.
A very solid, middle of the road, bourbon barrel RIS with perhaps a touch more bourbon barrel contribution than average. Also it had a slight smokiness. The bourbon barrel does not overwhelm the dark malts altogether but does contribute vanilla, oak and bourbon flavors and does dominate the aftertaste. Very good bitter-sweet balance.

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chinchill from South Carolina, Dec 08, 2014
Photo of jjboesen
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

Pop the cap and inhale the massive miasma of bourbon. Powerful and aromatic monster fills the room. Pour into glass, where it is half-filled with a pitch black liquid crowned by a dense frothy crown. It takes time to settle, a long time.

The robust bourbon nose is retained along wit the blackness, a foreboding liquid that is unpenetrated by light. The glassrim is encrusted by a gummy resin. There is some splotchy lacing as well. The palate is overwhelmed by a sweet combination of malt, raisin and plum with bits of brown sugar amid the complexity. There is a heavy plastering of malty plum on the palate and the lingering bourbon hint. I found the body to be of moderate proportion and not the least bit heavy - nothing doughy, bready or biscuity at all. At the finish, one can't help but notice a quick rush of boozy bourbon goodness.

This brew is tempertaure sensitive; do not sip it chilled, but wait, let it sit while the temperature comes down a bit. It requires patience and time; but is well worth the effort. Great brew from a great little Vermont brewer.

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jjboesen from Maryland, Dec 01, 2014
Photo of Gavage
3.97/5  rDev -1.5%

Pours a black color with a short head. Aroma is focused on chocolate and some coffee. The flavor profile is roasted malt, dark chocolate, some mild vanilla, coffee, a hint of bourbon, some woodiness, and a moderate bitterness. Smooth throughout, Alcohol is mildly warming. Slow sipping beer but good on a cool fall evening.

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Gavage from New Jersey, Oct 18, 2014
Photo of puboflyons
3.79/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From the 650 ml. bottle. Sampled May 17, 2014.

It pours jet black with a long lasting beige head, It is a soft delicate one.

The aroma has a definite bourbon and hard liquor scent to it along with the dark malts and vanilla scent. Earthy hops.

The mouthfeel is pretty bold and creamy.

It is hard to get beyond the boozy bourbon and hard liquor flavors that dominate this over the dark malts and vanilla. This is something that has to be savored slowly.

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puboflyons from New Hampshire, May 18, 2014
Photo of Jeffo
2.54/5  rDev -37%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Doopie opened this one for a random beer night a couple weeks back. Thanks to youbrewidrink for sending this one over to us. Cheers!

From a bomber into a snifter
IBU: 70

APPEARANCE: Clear brown pour yields a three finger, medium looking, fluffy, creamy, light tan head with very good retention. Clear bistre brown in color with higher levels of carbonation for the style. Very light and carbonated for sure. Head slowly fades to a big foamy cap and coats the sides of the glass. A half wisp remains and leaves some decent lacing down the glass. Good head and lacing for sure, but lousy color and carbo for the style.

SMELL: Lots of caramel, vanilla cream, milk chocolate, oak and bourbon on the nose. Quite bold. Not much in terms of base roasted stout, but the barrel is rather nice here.

TASTE: Mild and rather flavorless up front. Some bourbon and oak perhaps, but I'd expect at least something more to begin with. Much more after the swallow with lots of alcohol, bourbon and caramel. Very boozy finish. Bold and persistent aftertaste of booze, vanilla, oak, and more booze. Very alcoholic and not very complex. Notes of ethanol in the form of hair spray and floor cleaner too.

PALATE: Medium body and higher levels of carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth with a harsh alcohol burn at the swallow and finishes slightly sticky. Creamy and smooth, but too carbonated and harsh. Alcohol lingers.

OVERALL: I love trying unheard of stuff from small, unknown breweries around the United States, but it's always a roll of the dice. This one just wasn't very good. The nose started out promising, but ultimately, it's just too boozy, harsh and uninteresting to be worth while. On the bottle, the brewery says this one was aged and then released once the flavors "reached perfection." That speaks volumes. Pass on this one. Thanks again for sharing Doops!

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Jeffo from Netherlands, Mar 15, 2014
Photo of ppoitras
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle purchased as a single from Beverage Warehouse, Winooski, VT.

Poured into DFH snifter, formed a 3/4" brown head over the opaque dark brown/black brew. Dense head holds nicely, with thick coating lace. Aroma is hearty, rich and boozy.

Taste is starts with dark malts and chocolate, dark fruits in the middle, and closes with tannins and bitterness and plenty of alcohol warmth. Mouthfeel is slickery smooth, and drinkability is dangerously good. Nice one.

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ppoitras from Massachusetts, Jan 22, 2014
Photo of JMScowcroft
4.48/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Rock Art Brewery - Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, poured into a Lawson's tulip.

Look - Pours motor oil high viscosity with a decent sized soapy head that retains a layer. Great lacing.

Smell - Vanilla, oak, bourbon, and chocolate. This improves as it warms, which is typical of the style.

Taste - Creamy and delicious chocolate and coffee with vanilla oak and a warm bourbon finish.

Mouthfeel - Mouth coater, nice and boozy warm. Some woodiness settles. Full bodied with medium carbonation. Good drinkability. Some cola feel but not bad.

Overall - This is a great brew by Rock Art, color me impressed. It is a contender in the BA RIS market but I will admit that it isn't quite as "mature" as some of the others that have been doing this for a while. Would love to try one of these aged another year to see how it transforms.

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Russian Imperial Stout - Bourbon Barrel-Aged from Rock Art Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 138 ratings