Propeller Brewery

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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #659
Ranked #10,794
3.98 | pDev: 8.29%
Propeller Brewery
Nova Scotia, Canada
Very Good
Notes: This beer was born for greatness. Sent by English brewers via the Baltic Sea to the court of the Czars, Russian Imperial Stout was brewed to very high gravities and allowed to ferment on the long voyage. The result? A dark, strong and bracing brew.

Propeller's version weighs in at a whopping eight percent alcohol content, with a deep, rich, black colour. The taste of alcohol is well masked by the intense hop bitterness, extreme roasted malt and dark fruit notes.

Propeller Brewing Company has brewed and bottled this unfiltered ale each year since 2006, making Propeller the extreme brewing pioneers of Nova Scotia. This seasonal offering is only available at the Propeller Cold Beer Store on Gottingen Street, and select private retailers in Halifax.

Russian Imperial Stout - imbibed by Peter, adored by Catherine and now reclaimed by you, the People. Za Vas!

60 IBU
Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 107 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of TheBierdimpfe
TheBierdimpfe from Canada

4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

6 months old bottle : Almost opaque very dark brown color with a copper hue. Creamy brown 2 finger head, lasting around 5-10 minutes, with decent legs. Flavors of plums, dark berries, orange peels, coffee beans, toffee, vanilla, liquorice, clove, peppercorn, walnuts, oak and smoke, dark roasted malts with leafy herbal hops. Slick and creamy full body with light crispy carbonation. Very strong finish, dry and slightly vinous, thick resinous feel on the tongue that last for a moment, although very well balanced and still enjoyable. Deeply sweet and earthy, while highly acidic. So it's a pretty good solid interpretation, highly spicy as it should, still with an inch of remaining freshness that makes it more drinkable. Densely malty and fruity similar to a barleywine, while smokey and coarse like a Baltic Porter. Very tasty with a comforting warmth. Lots of character and refinement. Overall excellent quality craft.

Mar 16, 2017
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Grogsky from Canada

4.55/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aged this for 10 months. Was not disappointed. Highly recommend aging this beer. Fantastic chocolate notes, nice head that lasted throughout the beer. I'm not an imperial stout lover, but this beer has changed my attitudes.

Nov 24, 2016
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souvenirs from Canada

4.28/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: As black as black coffee, with just a few millimetres of tan head.
S: Very appealing. Molasses and burnt sugar.
T: Coffee, dark cocoa. Rich.
F: Velvety.

Aug 07, 2015
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PorterPro125 from Canada

4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Serving Type: 500 mL Bottle

A- Black and opaque. Beautiful tan 1 1/2 finger head that has pretty good retention. Lots of lacing

S- Deep roasty malt and dark chocolate. Absolutely perfect in terms of a stout.

T- Roasted malts, chocolate, and a coffee-like aftertaste

M- Heavy yet silky Body (Yup! It's an Imperial Stout LOL) and medium-low carbonation.

O- Easily the best stout I've ever had. Perfect combination of smoky/roasty malts, chocolate, and an incredibly smooth body.

Apr 03, 2015
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byronic from Canada

3.5/5  rDev -12.1%

Thanks to CaptainMurphy for this one!

Pours black and leaves a nice thick collar in a snifter glass. Definite presence of chocolate and roasted malts in the nose. Interesting blend of malts, coffee and chocolate with a hint of smoke. The finish is on the bitter side with a strong presence of coffee and dark chocolate. Very little carbonation with a rich creamy texture. Simple yet quite drinkable.

Dec 03, 2014
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DaveBar from Canada

4.31/5  rDev +8.3%

Got on a trade from Curtis. Thx Curtis! Served at 8deg C in a tulip

A- 4.5- WOW this is dark. BLACK. Pours a nice head that is gone in no time

S- 4.0- Nice roasted malt and chocolate

T- 4.25- Nice RIS. Very roasted and chocolaty. Super rich palate. Coffee. Yum

M- 4.25- Yup it's thick! LOL nice RIS

O- 4.31- This is a winner. Wish I had more.

Food Pairing

This wonderful RIS went well with..... Beef Stew heavy on the root vegetables.


Oct 21, 2014
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johnnnniee from New Hampshire

4.25/5  rDev +6.8%

Bottle from the Liquor Store on PEI
Pours a solid black color with a huge frothy tan head that persists forever. Vinous chocolate fudge and caramel maltiness dominate the aroma. Light earthy floral round out the nose. The flavor is rich thick chocolate caramel and roast with quite a vinous fruity edge to it. Light smoke and earth round us out nicely. Medium body with a light level of carbonation and a rich creamy ashy mouthfeel. Wow thats a pretty nice stout right there! Reminds me a lot of Bell's Expedition, I really enjoyed this.

Aug 16, 2014
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Paul_PABrewNews from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Appearance : Dark and evil, no light peering through this brew. Light kaki colored head...
Aroma : Dark and Bakers Chocolate. Espresso Coffee Tones. Soft Char and Smoky & Toasted Grains, and a smooth floral Booze aroma.
Body: Body was a bit thin overall. Full Medium mouth feel, soft carbonation pushed the flavors around in your mouth, but overall a smooth drinking beer with lingering bitterness and soft floral booze notes.
Flavor: Nice imperial stout, Dark and Bakers Chocolate, Smoky Char and Toasted Grains. Floral Booze and Finishing with a lingering earthy, coffee bitterness. Cheers!

Jun 29, 2014
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TheHammer from Canada

3.39/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: The head is out of control on this one, as after a fairly delicate pour it produced over three fingers of head and overflowed the glass. The body is a dark stout black that shows ample carbonation. Retained it's head like crazy and produced good lacing. Just way too much of it.

Smell: Smoky, dry malt dominates the notes with a slight anise tone to it and notes of plum in the background. Warming really helped out it's case, and all in all it's good but nothing really stands out.

Taste: Starts with a sweet molasses note, that turns quickly as a sudden kick of dry, burnt malt busts onto the scene without much fanfare and then quickly departs with a slight coffee and raw alcohol note. It's a little bit lacklustre for a RIS to be honest. Nothing bad for the style, but nothing memorable.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation helps out the entire beer, and while the transitioning is a little rocky, it does leave a nice smoky malt and molasses aftertaste that doesn't overstay it's welcome or cling needlessly.

Drinkability: Solid, and not quite as heavy as you'd expect an RIS to be. The dryness takes a little bit out of it, but it sits down well and despite ample carbonation, doesn't leave me belching.

Final Thoughts: I'll have to say, of all the RIS's I've tried, this one comes across as the most run of the mill. Nothing bad, but nothing exceptional. I'd give it a try, but I wouldn't set your expectations overtly high.

Nov 07, 2013
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spinrsx from Canada

3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

500ml bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for $5

Appearance - Dark brown colour with an average size frothy light brown head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for 3-4 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, coffee, grains, light vanilla

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and coffee. There is also some grains and a bit of vanilla.

Overall - Seems a little thin to be a RIS to me. The flavours are nice but not bold either. Drinks and tastes more like a regular stout in my books. Still a good beer though

Oct 14, 2013
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mick303 from Canada

4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

500 mL bottle cracked open with a lot of carbonation and a tremendous 4.5 fingers of head on the pour. This was one heady beer and took quite awhile to get into the glass with successive pours. Colour is dark black, great retention and lacing on a soapy tan head. Should mention this beer probably had at least 1.5 yrs on it.

S – dark molasses, licorice root, dark cocoa, really thick but a lot more exotic spice character than you usually find, in lieu of some of the coffee and really dark malts, some roasty chocolate malt character. Like a mélange of earthy asian spices, very interesting. 4.5

T – a creamy start, with a strong molasses back ground also chocolate malts, cocoa, some aged lemon notes, a subtle cognac spiritiness. Dark malts really come through, but a hint of yeasty sharpness adds an interesting dimension, slightly musty, some acidity creeping in, aged cherries and some dry fruitiness, full profile with lots of dryness, and toastiness on the finish. There is a lot going on, maybe it would improve if it tied together a bit more, still quite impressive. 4.

M – overall its fairly light for a big RIS, with ample carbonation, on the high side, lots of creaminess but balanced with a lot of dryness from the beer. Drinks really nicely, good drinkability balanced with a satisfying fullness, especially on the aftertaste. 3.75

Quite a good beer, blending in some really interesting spice notes not typically encountered. A slight underlying dark sugar sweetness throughout which holds together the beer quite nicely, enjoyable and worth trying if you come across this one. 4.25

Sep 16, 2013
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bylerteck from Canada

3.82/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

From notes.

A - Poured black with a solid finger and a half thick, creamy brown mocha head. Pillowy head sat on there really nicely. Good half finger of retention. No real lace and a half finger of retention.

S - Really nice chocolate and roast combo. Really chocolatey, milk chocolate.

T - Really chocolatey again. Roast, dark fruit, milk chocolate. Sweet but not cloying.

M - Good carbonation, full body, sweet finish turned bitter.

O/D - Simple but tasty for an Imperial Stout. Nails the basic requirements. Quite drinkable. A good one.

Jun 17, 2013
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joemcgrath27 from Canada

4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

big ups to andrenaline for including this trade treat from one of my fave east coast Canadian brewers
A - solid black, thumb of brown creamy head retained well with fairly consistent lacing as it receded
S - cocoa and roastiness with a unique spice note that I can't put my finger (allspice or cloves maybe???), touch of cola on the back
T - big roasty malts with a splash of cola, mild dry dusty cocoa, mild grassy hops and leathery flavours round it out
M - near to chewy but lightened slightly by the alcohol, smooth and slightly musty with just a touch of alcohol drying it out, very sneaky drinkable
O - a very nice entry into the style, nice traditional flavours with ease of consumption being a highlight for me

May 09, 2013
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UCLABrewN84 from California

3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jmgrub for sharing this one at GRG1313’s tasting.

Pours a clear super dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and vanilla aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa and char flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that smells slightly better than it tastes in my opinion.

May 08, 2013
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biegaman from Canada

3.76/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Some Russian Imperial Stouts are black as tar, others are not. Revolution's illuminated reddish trim gives away the brownness (as opposed to blackness) of its complexion. Its head also has a distinctly brownish tinge as well as buttery texture; the lacing it etches in the glass appears as some kind of code, the likes of which you'd need to call the Sanskrit experts in to transcribe.

The aroma, oddly enough, has a distinctive pumpkin spice quality as it practically drips with anise, ginger or clove-like spice, traces of vanilla and brown sugar, and a strong earthiness (courtesy of hops). It is also characterized by notes of instant coffee powder and tart choke cherries. Not at all unpleasant though should be richer malt-wise and not what I was expecting.

In the flavour, coffee replays along with smoky malts, black fruits, a sliver of chili and drops of vanilla. More than just fine to drink fresh - it's encouraged. Aside from being unsubstantial for aging, alcohol is a non-factor and significant hopping provides an earthy element for which the beer is better-off having. It definitely has a spiced Christmas cake/pumpkin ale thing going on.

The beer looked a bit gloppy coming out the bottle and, indeed, the mouthfeel is initially quite chewy. Once swallowed, however, prickly bubbles catch you by surprise, clearing the way for a dusty, oxidized, somewhat metallic texture and the heavily vinous qualities that develop in the aftertaste. It is decidedly dry and offers little lingering roast, virtually no depth and zero intensity.

Not to take away from Propeller's pioneering efforts but Revolution is hardly rousing for an imperial stout. Sure, an offering like this goes a long way to rectifying and, ideally, reforming a lacking Atlantic Canadian beer portfolio, but despite the usual excellent quality and artisanal approach of this brewery, it's not an imperial stout I'd confidently recommend.

Apr 12, 2013
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EgadBananas from Louisiana

3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black as night, slight light brown head. Light lace and retention. Molasses, roast, leather, coffee, dark fruits, faint booze. Chocolate, figs, molasses, spicy notes, dark fruits. Creamy medium ful body. Solid, nice RIS. Not the highest I ABV, but feels substantial still.

Thanks Chris!

Mar 21, 2013
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CAMRAhardliner from Canada

3.86/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pure black with a modest tan head that lasts a good while. Roasted malt, cocoa and licorice take the lead in the nose. Chipotle spiciness and some alcohol heat linger in the background. The taste is huge on roasted malt coffee and chocolate. Some herbal, catty hops provide a balance without ever overshadowing the big malt profile. The mouthfeel is sparsely carbonated and just short of fullbodied. Alcohol is present with a warming kick - never distracting, but always there. The finish is roasty and mildly bitter.

This is a decent Imperial Stout from a great brewery. It could have more hop presence and a thicker, chewier body. Still great stuff worth trying.

Feb 13, 2013
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TheSevenDuffs from Canada

3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottled November, week 1.
Poured in to snifter.

A - Poured dark brown, settled black. A thin layer of light brown head formed and receded to a ring around the glass.

S - A fairy sweet nose. Roast, semi-sweet chocolate, dark caramel and molasses.

T - A big bitter roast profile with sweet chocolate, dark caramel and molasses in the background.

M - Medium body, slightly creamy. Light carbonation.

Feb 09, 2013
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Digimaika2 from Canada

4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle dated: 1st week of November, 2012.

(4.0) A: Black as tar with a solid height of mocha brown coloured head. Good retention with some streaky lacing.

(4.25) S: Roasted malt, fair bit of smoke, dark fruits (plums and figs), molasses, and quite a tropical fruit aroma towards the end that might be banana. Quite complex with full and enticing aromas.

(4.0) T: Dark chocolate, anise, rich dark fruits, slight smoke (more pronounced in aroma), and sweet banana. Similar to aroma with good complexity. Very good contrast between bitter herbal qualities and sweet tropical fruit and chocolate notes.

(4.25) M: Full bodied with a moderate carbonation. Smooth and oily. Appropriately bitter which transitions to the sweeter elements that overall end up creating a balanced finish.

(4.0) D: This is a very good imperial stout and something I could see aging well. Would love to see more of Propeller’s stuff at the LCBO.

Jan 17, 2013
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hopsolutely from Canada

4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A solid RIS that I’m glad to see in Ontario. Pours an inky black with impressive coffee-coloured head and offers a creamy mouthfeel, although not as thick bodied as I'd expected. A pleasant aroma of roasted dark malts with underlying barrel tannins. Robust and well balanced flavour includes chocolate, cocoa and coffee tones with a nicely dry finish. Decent blend of sweet and bitter is a real pleasure to sip on a snowy afternoon. Thank-you, Propeller!

Jan 06, 2013
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thehyperduck from Canada

4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle from the LCBO; bottled in week one of Nov 2012. I've been looking forward to popping this one open since I picked it up a few weeks ago – but I was a little saturated on imperial stouts at the time and decided to put this one off until 2013. I've had a sample of this RIS before and really liked it, but this mug contains my first true glass of the stuff. Served slightly chilled.

Pours an opaque, inky black colour, topped at first with two fingers of puffy, foamy, tan-coloured head. The abundance of bubbles within the foam kind of make it look like a spongecake, at least for five minutes or so - after which point the head has seeped away, leaving behind a smooth, dense, creamy cap at the surface. A few modest smears of lacing stick to the sides above the collar. The aroma is malty, sweet, a little roasted and a little fruity, with hints of cocoa, butterscotch, molasses, prunes and milk chocolate. A faint smoky note becomes more noticeable as the drink warms.

Tasty, though perhaps not the most bold-tasting RIS I've had in the last little while. The flavour has more roasted malt than the aroma let on, with a mixture of dark chocolate and brown sugar notes. Not much dark fruit; rather the chocolate is directly overtaken by anise-like herbal notes in the finish and the sweet, malty, somewhat roasty, bitter aftertaste. The alcohol is noticeable, but works well with the bitter finish. Medium-bodied; there's some thickness to it but this one is kind of straddling the line between 'ok' body and 'just plain weak' body. The carbonation is also a bit high for an RIS which doesn't help the situation. One thing I will say is that it's very drinkable for the style, almost dangerously so.

I really enjoy the taste of this stuff, but it's worth pointing out that I wouldn't consider this a particularly complex or rich-tasting RIS. It's flavourful in a relatively straightforward, carefully manicured way, with just enough kick from the booze to remind you to expect a punch once you're finished the glass.

Final Grade: 4.16, an A-. This is my first review of anything in Propeller Brewery's portfolio, but if their other beers are anything like Revolution Imperial Stout, I've been depriving myself for no good reason. This stuff is better than most of the OCB RISs I've tried over the last few months, and pretty good value at its Ontario price point. More body would be appreciated, but this is still one of the better imperial stouts in the country as far as I'm concerned. A brew I hope the LCBO keeps bringing back every winter.

Jan 05, 2013
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liamt07 from Canada

4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from the LCBO, 500ml into a tulip. Bottled November 2012, week one.

Body is fairly black, mocha head with excellent retention and pretty nice lace. Nose has some spiced dark fruits, molasses chocolate and some sweeter malt character. Palate has brown sugar, vanilla, some spice, chocolate and roast comes out heavy in the mid and late-palate. Medium feel, creamy texture and alcohol is disguised. A tasty imperial stout from a brewery that's generally underwhelming.

Dec 30, 2012
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andrenaline from Canada

3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A great brew included in the winter LCBO release.

A - Pours pitch black, finger of head with some retention and sporadic lacing.

S - Nose is sweet with cocoa and espresso, some musty notes and malted milk on the finish.

T - Flavour profile is unique, sweet and musty cocoa, burnt toast, hints of leather and tobacco with a toasted oatmeal flavour that lingers alongside an odd metallic seaweed flavour.

M - Medium bodied, slightly prickly and finishes with a tacky finish.

O - A tasty RIS that offers up some unique flavours and was quite enjoyable. A tasty treat that is well worth seeking out.

Dec 29, 2012
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JohnnyBarman from Canada

3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Single 500mL bottle, courtesy of Santa. The big guy always knows...

Poured into a nonic. Black, good viscosity, nice half inch of light tan head, great deal of lacing. Shows its heft. Very nice-looking brew.

Nose is sweet malt, caramel, nice chocolate, bit of hops and leather. Sweetness is this brew's angle.

Tasty stout, quite sweet, but finishes with a decent hop bitterness. Some leather seeps through in the aftertaste. Chocolate is quite noticeable. Fine stout.

Decent thickness, but carbonation is quite mild.

Propeller has always impressed me, and this stout was certainly up to those high standards. A bit sweet, but still hearty and flavorful, and doesn't show its alcohol.

Dec 28, 2012
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maltyb from Canada

4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pint bottle from the LCBO, produced in the 1st week of November.

Pours an impressive, coffee colored head which diminished during the course of drinking, leaving a ring. The color is pitch black, definition of dark in a beer.

Aroma: Roasted malts, cocoa, faint coffee. I could tell this would be a sweet beer by the aroma, and the smell of dark chocolate really dominates..

Taste: Very sweet, chocolate. No real hint of the 8% ABV, and finished with a nice hop bite. That bitterness on the end really cleans up the sweetness on your palette and invites you to take another sip. Scarily drinkable.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thick, you can tell it still has a decently high gravity. Not detecting a lot of carbonation.

Overall this is a really enjoyable dessert-like beer. I'd be hard-pressed to drink more than one in a row, but that single one is fantastic. The appearance and taste are spot on for what I seek in a RIS. Initially I had trouble getting a good feel for the aroma but it built and really stood out. Try this if you get the chance.

Dec 20, 2012
Revolution from Propeller Brewery
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 107 ratings