Sly Fox Brewing Company

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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #773
Ranked #23,400
3.82 | pDev: 11.52%
Sly Fox Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States
Very Good
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Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 82
Photo of JJKBeerLvr
3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Sampled February 2019 from 26oz bottle in pint style glass. There is no bottled on date listed on the can. I drank this less than 1 month after purchase.

Appearance: Very dark black, with a very thick dark tan head of many fingers. Huge head like Guiness, but the head is not creamy, instead it has larger bubbles, like most RIS. The head lasted a long length of time, and did not leave much lacing on the side of the glass.

Smell: Strong hops aroma. Also coffee and roasted malt aromas. Maybe a little vanilla in the aroma as well. Nice combination and balance between the various aromas for a complex bouquet.

Taste: Pronounced coffee and hops flavors. Also burnt malt flavors and caramel. Full-bodied with interesting balance of flavors. It is extremely smooth and thick for a stout. There is a hint of chocolate that may be due to the oats and malts, but it has a very good taste. The flavors provide for a unique RIS stout.

Mouthfeel: Strong-bodied, with strong alcohol which matches with the 10% on the label.

Overall: This RIS Stout is a very good stout. It has stronger flavors (especially hops) than most RIS stouts, and the mix of caramel and malts makes for a unique and interesting stout. I liked this, and would buy it again.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.61/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Appearance: dark black color, frothy off white head.

Lost the rest of my notes, but the numbers are accurate.

Vee still vant ze money Lebowski.


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Photo of Gavage
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: deep black in color with a 1" tan head that falls to a thick surface covering that lasts.

Smell: roasted malts and dark chocolate are detectable.

Taste: follows the nose as roasted malt, rich dark chocolate, some coffee tones, a hint of molasses, and a nice bitterness is wrapped in warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel: heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smoother and velvety at the finish, Long lasting aftertaste here along with the alcohol warmth.

Overall: a very good slow sipping big stout. This can replace a meal as it is filling and satisfying.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.16/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A while before winter so I assume this is 2015 vintage.

Even though its a bit old the foam is rocking a bit too much for the style two plus inches of mocha foam that takes a minute to disapate. Color is pretty deep dark blackness one would expect with the style. Dry cocoa nibs meets sugary molasses and its pretty much what I expected. Maybe some licorice or chocolate not sure. Taste is pretty nice walnuts, dark fruits, mild coffee roasts, and a sweet cocoa finish with some dry hop bitterness. My only issue is the carbonation is a bit bubbly so it makes it a but lighter than the style

Overall for 10 bucks a bomber its not bad but I have had pretty similar if not cheaper stouts for way less.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.94/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Sly Fox Brewing Co. "Nihilist"
750 ml. brown glass bottle, corked & caged, no apparent freshness dating
$9 @ Whole Foods, Plymouth Meeting, PA

Seeing as how I am in many ways a nihilist-existentialist, and also a fan of Russian Imperial stouts, this seemed like the perfect beer for me.

Appearance: The bottle opened with little ado, nary a hiss, but the head then rose up out of the glass upon pouring. As you might expect then, the head retention is exceptional as it's constantly bolstered by very fine bubbles rising from below. Typical black-brown body beneath a dark tan head. Solid mountains of lace rise majestically above the surface along the walls of the glass.

Aroma: Fruity like red and black berries over a delicate smoky roastiness and black chocolate.

Flavor: The chocolate comes forth, along with its bitterness, and it's very much like dark, bittersweet chocolate. Roastiness is of course present, ashy and lightly smokey, but dull... I don't find coffee as much as I find cold espresso, but there is some pleasant nuttiness to it, and a good amount of molasses and caramel as well. The fruitiness remains very strong, and is almost the main component of the beer as it starts full in the aroma and then runs straight through, even lingering gently in the finish. Some alcohol is present, but not much more than is really required for the style. If it wasn't there I feel it would seem empty, or at least lacking; the question is to what level is it present, and how does that affect the balance? With that said, I think the balance is fine here, but I'l also note that it's an aggressive, fully bitter, and biting take on the style. While many "malt heads" are drawn to the style, this might not be the one for them.

Mouthfeel: Initially I felt it was a little bubbly, and over-carbed, but as it warmed a bit it softened to become as you'd expect, creamy and smooth; which it needs to be given the dark malt acidity, roastiness, bitterness, and alcohol. Given that it's bottle-conditioned, once that change takes place I'm not sure you can get it any better, and I feel that that's really hard to achieve via forced carbonation. The trade-off is that you have to wait. On the other hand, does the medium body really work so well overall? I'm not sure, I can only look at a beer as it is, not how I feel it might be.

Overall: Once warmed, and softened a bit, it's smooth while at the same time it remains intense. I generally think of stronger, darker ales as sippers to be enjoyed slowly while relaxing, and not beers you'd have out at pub with friends. In that case, this one works because it never lets up. Each sip hits you, and I can appreciate that. If every brewery made each style the same way we wouldn't have much, would we?

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Photo of g00ey
3.59/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Let this one sit in the cellar for a couple of years, which, from other reviews, seems to have been a good idea. Wasn't expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. Lots of carbonation that disappears rather quickly. The color and smell are stout-like, and the taste was smooth and a little chocolaty.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
2.16/5  rDev -43.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 1.75

Poured into a snifter.

3.0 A: Yup, sure is bottled conditioned. I needed several pours to get a full glass given the amount of foam this spewed out. Black color. Bubble-bath type beige foam. Long retention and sparse irregular lacing.

2.5 S: Mega amounts of molasses. Also a strong char and roastiness going on. Secondary, there is caramel, coffee, some dark fruits, woodiness. Bready yeastiness. The nose is intense, but it's not that great. It's overly roasty to the point that it's almost tangy.

2.0 T: The taste is equally unbalanced, but is even harder to handle. Loads of roast and char. Borderline tangy, plenty of yeasty breadiness, and quite woody. Again some of the other flavors in the nose, but the roast and char overwhelm them all.

2.25 M: Medium body. Well overcarbonated. Mildly creamy.

1.75 D: Poorly made beer that wouldn't be good even if the carbonation was appropriate. Why they would cork and cage this, let alone release it to the public, is beyond me.

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Photo of crisis1290
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Spent a few hours down at the brewery. Decided to try this from the brewery tap lines. Needless to say the Sly Fox Brewing Companies Nihilist was amazing. I am a big fan of the Russian Imperial Stouts and this one did not disappoint. Super dark color , almost black with a very large tan head . The taste was outstanding. Roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and caramel and spices. A fantastic mixture for sure.
Nothing too over powering. These guys at Sly Fox are really putting out some fantastic product ? They are winning awards and starting to compete with some larger craft breweries. Great taste for a 10.0 ABV. Well hidden for sure.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this during our recent annual stout gathering poured chilled in a stout glass courtesy of tenderbranson69 from the corked and caged bottle.

The color is very dark almost black with opaque clarity and thick medium tan head. The smell is roasted barley in the aroma with light yeast scent and spice ester from hops with light alcohol and toasted/coffee-like nutty odor. The feel is very good with roasted body and light woody dry texture with slight sweet middle and medium bitterness level with slight alcohol with moderate carbonation and mild spice texture as it finishes.

The taste has a roasted barley quality with mild hop backing with light roasted and creamy fruity yeast mid palate with nutty dry flavor as alcohol cooperates with malt toward the dry finish. This has a good solid malt flavor throughout with some hops in the mix although more of a traditional take - I consider this a solid example of the style

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Photo of tigg924
2.99/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This to me is an average to slightly below average RIS. Taste is dry cocoa, char, baker's chocolate, light coffee and oaking. The oaking adds a bit of dryness. This one tends to be on the bitter side of the style, but is never hop forward. Worth a try, but a pass for me in the future.

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Photo of stonewall2
3.89/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Surprised how much i am liking this style, and this example of it. I like the malty toasty smoothness. I like the almost wine-like alcohol heat in the mouth feel. I like how the carbonation rounds the mouth feel. And i like how the flavor elements last a while.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
3.71/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Getting a fruity sweetness. Decently bitter. On the higher end of carbonation. Drinks lighter than a standard Russian. It's interesting. Almost for Quad than Stout.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.29/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 mL bottle BB 1/20/18 at 50 degrees into tulip
Aroma of roasted malt with a hint of dates and alcohol
Head large (6 cm), light brown, frothy, diminishing to 4 mm ring and convex layer
Lacing fair – partial rings and islands of small bubbles
Body dark brown, opaque – sediment in bottom
Flavor of roasted malt, dates, and raisins; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation

Appearance 4.25, Aroma 4, Flavor 4.5, Palate 4.25, Overall 4.25

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Photo of Jimmys
2.96/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

750ml into tulip. 1/20/2018 on the front label. choosing to drink now.

A: pours super dark. not quite black, but close. head is very frothy. great retention and lacing.

S: roast and char. smells like carb. but really, a lot of gas on this one. never thought I would be able to smell that. there is an obvious roasted malt aroma.

T: tastes metallic or something. nail polish remover on the second sip. a little scared to continue but I have about 730 mL left so the show must go on. vanilla. more booze. the massive carb actually gets in the way of the flavor. hop bitterness is in there but I cant detect any hop flavor. kind of raisin-y.

M: vivacious carb. full bodied. carb is too big for this beer/style/blah blah blah, but seriously turn it down a notch guys.

D: besides all the other negative comments listed above, this just really isn't that good. one note and too fizzy. big time pass from me.

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Photo of Stevedore
1.71/5  rDev -55.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.75

Poured into a brandy snifter today, 5/2/2014. Low expectations for this but then again it was an extra.

A- Dark black body with a massive 3-4 finger white head that stuck around way too long. Bits of lacing. I'm already getting worried about this beer.

S- Almost flavourless but I pick out some dark chocolate, coffee, and oxidized sherry. Very thin nose and really not promising at all.

F- Terrible. Very little actual flavour, very watery and the flavour that does come across is incredibly oxidized.

M- Thin bodied, watery, overcarbonated and just terrible in every way.

O- Not sure what went wrong with this beer. It's certainly overcarbonated, which suggests possible contamination.

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Photo of Sludgeman
3.43/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.75

A bomber corked and caged. Batch #40701. Drink by 1/20/2018. Poured into a chalice.

The thin porter/black ale qualities of this beer throw me and thus the low score even with the good review below. A fine beer but not a RIS. Not luscious like a RIS. Ultimately a drain pour. I could not finish the bomber over almost four hours. 2.75

A – Pours a black with reddish tint with a three-finger head, good head retention and lacing. Good carbonation. 4.75

S – Roasted malts, a bit of chocolate, some tea, spice, good bit of dark fruit/prunes. 3.5

T – Malt! Average roasty bitterness, but still with the big RIS qualities one would expect. A bit of sweetness and alcohol helps create a balanced beer. 3.25

MF – Thin, warming, some alcohol heat in the throat. Medium bodied, semi-dry finish. Velvety. 4.5

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Photo of Badger6
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter. Bottle stamped with #40701 (no idea), 1/20/2018 best by date? Should have saved this one....

A: Dark brown/black body, completely blocks all light passage. HUGE dark tan head, receded a bit, with a heavy layer of foamy head retained on the surface of the beer. Decent lacing on the glass.

S: Charred wood, roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and caramel. Strong and bold.

T: Bitter and sweet in the front. Leather and tobacco, with a distinct caramel note to carry through to the end. Slightly smoky. There is hop character as it finishes, herbal and citrusy, but not pronounced or oddly juxtaposed to the common RIS flavors up front, it is a nice complement to the end.

M: Light-medium body, odd for this much alcohol. The carbonation is prickly and in the initial sips is unexpected. There is a dryness to the beer that keeps is clean and enjoyable.

O: RIS is just my favorite style, not even in the top 5, but this is not bad. All of the things about a RIS I don't like, this beer has cleverly avoided, and in my opinion let the real character of the beer shine- the roasted malts and the flavors of the roasting process. This is easily drinkable. Oh, and unlike a typical RIS...this is not boozy.

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Photo of crag
4.5/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Nice pour, severed in a brandy sifter at the brewery in Phoenixville. Very dark in color with decent head and lasting lace. Smell was not over whelming - roasted was the biggest note that I noticed and that carried through to the aftertaste. Somewhat dry but not overly bitter. Classic Imperial.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
2.91/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.75

A-Nihilist pours with an awkwardly expanding, brown head. Huge, round, individual bubbles keep growing. The body is very dark brown.

S-Aroma is interesting. It's got some dark, dried fruit. Lighter roast. Molasses and darker maltiness but it isn't too aggressive in chocolate or coffee specifics.

T-Nothing really pops out here. Soft roast and chocolate. Dark fruits and maybe some nuttiness. More brown sugar and molasses.

M-Extremely over carbonated. The foam expands in your mouth and stings the palate. It's hard to even decipher the flavors because it all turns into foam and is rather unpleasant to hold on to in my mouth. Also lacks body and texture.

O/D-Didn't love the flavors; and the carbonation is seriously screwy. I was not a fan of this beer by any means.

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Photo of ZBR101
3.64/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A - pours opaque black with substantial tan head

S - heavy roasted malts

T - highly quaffable for a Russian Imperial with bitter dark chocolate throughout tasting

M - creamy goodness, more medium bodied than expected. High carbonation.

O - very solid offering here. I could have had a 2nd bomber but that's probably more of a "me" problem. Pleasantly surprised.

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Photo of pknyc
3.72/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: There was a substantial tan head with an aggressive pour which dissipates to a film or cap while leaving some spotty lacing. This beer is quite carbonated. The body is black.

S: The smell is muddled. Alcohol, esters, roast malts, and little chocolate is there, however the alcohol and esters seem at the forefront. I have a second bottle and I'm curious if some time will help this out.

T: The dark chocolate is more noticeable in the taste than nose. Bitter roast is the primary taste with quite a bit of alcohol and some mild esters evident. The taste is much better than the smell.

M: Nice. Medium with some nice carbonation which works better than I'd have thought.

O: It doesn't light the world on fire, but its an enjoyable beer and I'm happy I tried it. Depending on what else is available, I may purchase again.

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Photo of mwilbur
4.02/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter. Bottle stamped with 701 (bottle #?) 1/20/2015 (I'm assuming best by date...the last digit was blurry could have been an 8 instead of a 5).
A: Pours a dark, dark brown/black (no light comes through with backlighting) with a gorgeous 3-4 inch dark mocha head of small silky bubbles. Excellent retention and decent sticky lacing.
S: Dark roasted caramel malt, medium roast coffee, some charred wood, and dark dry chocolate.
T: Bittersweet chocolate, herbaceous hops (almost minty), leather and light tobacco, and a strong caramel malt backbone. With warming, notes of cherry, wood smoke, ripe berries, and citrus hops (which is interesting since usually these aspects--cherry, berry, and citrus hops--of a beer are most prominent first off and the darker notes become more prominent with warming).
M: Medium body (lighter than one would expect from the ABV). Fruity sweetness followed quickly by a dry bitterness that blossoms in the finish.
D: A very approachable RIS...this one really grew on me. Not as heavy and dark/bitter as most...which I don't mind, but I do like Sly Fox's take here. One of the most drinkable RIS's I've ever had. The alcohol is very well beware!

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Photo of weeare138
3.2/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is an opaque onyx, with a dark tan head that never fades away. Lots of scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of over ripened fruit, roasted grain, toasted graham crackers, and burnt marshmallows.
Taste is of the aromas with standout roastiness, cocoa, fresh tar asphalt, ashtray bitterness, and mild raisins in the finish.
Mouthfeel is overly spritzy, tar like, with a burnt bitterness lingering in the mildly boozy finish.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.01/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with a light brown head. In the aroma, sweet malts and a small roast. In the taste, roasty, a sweet malt, and a dry coffee presence. A smooth and medium to bigger bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry roasty malt in the aftertaste. Hides the alcohol well, and a big roast with notes of coffee, I can dig it!

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Pours jet black, tan head is thin and retains as a lacing.

Smells of cocoa and coffee beans with some nutty bitterness.

Chocolate, burnt toast and coffee bitterness flavors.

Full body with tingles of carbonation on the roof of the mouth.

A solid and decent quality imperial stout that loses a few points for lack of originality. It's good, it's just not any different from many other good imperial stouts I've had. In particular, the flavor could have stood a little more variation. That aside, worth having and I would probably have it again, but not ahead of certain other stouts is all.

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Nihilist from Sly Fox Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 82 ratings