Grandfather Raven | Black Raven Brewing Co.

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Grandfather RavenGrandfather Raven

Brewed by:
Black Raven Brewing Co.
Washington, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by barleywinefiend on 12-11-2010

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Reviews: 27 | Ratings: 131
Photo of Rogerlb
3.96/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

For the record, I have the 11/08/16 brewed version and it's got a beautiful label, better than the one pictured. It has an engraving-style font and raven on the front, very "old school" and ornate. Great first impression.

Pours nearly black. Head is small and goes away quite nigh. Lacing is to be expected, with alcohol laces for a listed 9.5%.

Aroma is malt, chocolate, coffee. A hint of hops. Not very overpowering, aroma-wise. Taste is malts, chocolate, and caramel creamy toffee. Peanut brittle? Bitter comes in, like coffee-shop coffee and fake creamer.

Chewy and fudgey, a bit of burnt walnut shell and cherries dropped in the tobacco in there. Definitely Russian.

A sickly sweetness lingers in the aftertaste giving me the only false note. Otherwise a bit heavy, sturdy, fine balanced RIS.

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Photo of gandres
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle - 22 ounce to snifter
black, dark brown foam that slowly dissipates
fragrant, nice aroma, roasted nuts
low bitterness, some sweetness
very good-excellent, one of the better stouts
drank: February 9, 2017 10:42 PM

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Photo of thebeers
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

11/20/15 bottle date. Pours a dark chocolate color with two fingers of mocha head that leaves solid lacing.

Rich, chocolatey aroma with almost bourbon-like caramel, some light coffee and a slight whiff of alcohol.

Way more coffee than I expected in the taste, especially since I opened this one almost a year after bottling. It's very heavy, with almost an espresso quality to it, with some ashy tobacco and slight cherry notes. There's some rich brownie chocolate in there, too, but much less caramel than the nose, and a pretty bitter aftertaste.

Full mouthfeel that's cut by heavy carbonation. Very solid beer. Can't imagine how strong it would be fresh.

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Photo of Slack
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Deep brown in color with minimal brown tinted head and nice lacing as it drinks down.

Nose is chocolate, roasted coffee, and minor smoke and sweetness.

Taste is sweet chocolate, coffee, smoke, bitters, minor booze and roasted malt.

Mouthful medium to heavy and smooth. Carbonation is medium. Finish is semi dry.

This is a spot on RIS. A lot of roasted notes, chocolate, bitters, smooth, drinkable, and drinkable. If you like RIS' give this one a try.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Black Raven Brewing. Taster glass.

A: A deep dark brown with a half finger tan head that dissipated quickly.

S: Roasted chocolate, caramel, coffee and molasses. Dark and rich.

T: A lovely sipper. Roasty, smokey dark chocolate and coffee with molasses, anise and a bit of vanilla thrown in on the finish. Even better as it warms.

M: Medium to heavy with medium, chewy carbonation. Awesome on the tongue.

O: One of the top notch beers from the Black Raven arsenal. These folks make some mean brews.

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Photo of zonker17
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 release from 12oz. bottle poured to snifter. Consumed 4/18/16. Extremely dark brown in color with a thin beige film and ring around the edges. A small amount of lacing. Nose muted, not picking up much there. Taste of burnt malt, chocolate, coffee, vanilla. Not getting the caramel others mention. Heavy-medium body and adequate carbonation.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

4.5 A: Black color. Two and a half fingers of frothy light brown head. Retention is very good given the ABV and a lattice of lacing is left behind.

4.25 S: Bold, yet delicate. Supple roastiness which is balanced by layers of caramel, milk chocolate, molasses, and coffee notes. Licorice and a touch of smoke underneath.

4.0 T: Very tasty as well. Plenty of roast, which leaves a soft bitter aftertaste. Caramel, chocolate, molasses, and coffee all with some potency. Vanilla, licorice, and smokiness underneath.

4.0 M: Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Pleasantly creamy with a mild burnt finish.

4.0 D: Very good RIS. Lots of flavor and subtlety without anything offputting.

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Photo of Mehinaman
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Really good imperial stout. Reminds me a lot of Founders Breakfast Stout. The chocolate, caramel and coffee make for a really good, well balanced stout.

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Photo of snaotheus
3.96/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a tulip. Date on the neck says 11/20/15.

Pours black with a little flare up of brown head that fades moderately quickly into a ring. Little carbonation. Aroma is shockingly mild. If I work at it, I can detect a little roasty/smoke, and a little coffee.

Taste is strong coffee and black licorice bitterness. It has an interesting fruity characteristic that I can't pinpoint, but isn't typical to dark beers like this. Super hoppy.

Mouthfeel is smooth, slightly sticky, and a little too still. Overall, nice beer.

Date on the bottle is 10/20/16.

More head than I described last year. Strong aroma of roast and coffee and chocolate, and not much smoke. So, smells quite different than last year.

Taste is similar to last, less fruity than previously described.

Mouthfeel is better than last year -- just the right carbonation level. Basically, I think they fixed every significant weak point I perceived last year. I'm updating the review based on this (I don't usually update the actual numbers).

Old: 4 / 3.25 / 4 / 3.5 / 3.75

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Photo of LouZ
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber - pitch black with two fingers of fluffy brown head that lingers with some lacing. Looks great. Aroma of roasted malt, light chocolate, light coffee, and burnt sugar. Flavor profile matches nicely; definitely getting the roasty notes with a slight bitter coffee finish. Feel is medium bodied and smooth. ABV is 9.5, but no noticeable burn. Very well done. Another delicious new favorite from Black Raven.

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Photo of kemoarps
4.36/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 version
Holy hell this is gorgeous. Jet black body, massive dark brown head. Satin soft topper, some soapy bubbles in the corner. This is one of the most beautiful brews I've seen in a while.

Nose is rich and creamy. Dusted cocoa and maybe even some spices. Fudge and brownies. Soft coffee... mocha?

Dusty fudge again. Chocolate and coffee. Big RIS flavours that we all love, but woven together and mellowed, perhaps by the year of sitting in my apartment, into a lushly drinkable beverage.

Really really dig this one.

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Photo of draheim
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz (2014) into a tulip. Pours a thick oily black w/ a big thicky reddish mocha head, big sticky clumps of chocolate lace. This is how I like my imperial stouts to look.

Aroma is bitter dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, dark fruit, deep roasted malt. Again, everything you want an imperial stout to smell like. Enticing.

Taste follows nose. Chocolate and coffee, cocoa powder, vanilla, caramel. Big and bold, but balanced. Earthy and nutty. Comparable (and possibly superior) to beers like Expedition, Founders imperial, Stone IRS, Yeti, etc.

Mouthfeel is well-balanced, medium bodied with a surprisingly dry finish that makes me want another sip.

Overall, this is way better than I expected. Will definitely be looking to grab more of this in the future.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out pitch black with a small fluffy head. Nice roasted and charred malt, bitter dark chocolate stout. Medium mouth feel. This is pretty darn good.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.39/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours pitch black, appearing opaque in the glass with a half finger light brown head with good retention and lots of lacing. Nice aroma of chocolate, dark toasted malt, licorice, a little vanilla. Flavor is dark toasted malt with a bit of char, dark chocolate, coffee, slight dark dried fruit and vanilla, finishing with toasty charred malt, coffee and a light hop bitterness. Medium to full bodied with light creaminess. A very nicely balanced and full flavored RIS, covering all the flavors I hope for in this style. I had a bit of a flashback to my first taste of The Abyss, when I discovered how awesome an imperial stout could be. A Russian imperial stout to stand with the best. Finally available with light distribution in bottles. Only on the market for a nanosecond, but worth the wait.

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Photo of mabermud
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I brought home a half growler of this.

A nice easy pour yielded an opaque, pitch black, very still liquid, with little to no head, and a thin, non-active film for lacing. The body is robust and the smell is amazing. There is a distinct sweet chocolate and coffee smell, with wafts of booze. The smell of alcohol and booze definitely stand out. For me, the taste is phenomenal. Phenomenal = A very balanced blend of sweet milk chocolate (almost lactose like), mild coffee, some molasses, and easy going roasted malts. These are all rolled into one magical alcoholic potion. Carbonation is low, it sparkles in my mouth, and the mouthfeel fits right in with the rest of what this has to offer, which is quite a bit.

Overall, for me, this is 2014's best beer of the year. Many may feel this is too sweet, but this is my cup of tea. If you can find it, drink it. I had been waiting around for this to show up on tap for a few years. I am impressed.

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Photo of BillRoth
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Paul 510a for getting me a bottle of this. I have become a huge fan of Black Raven, and really looked forward to this brew.
Poured a nice rich glass with a full rich tan/off white head with nice hold and whipped cream like appearance. Retention didn't last that long but at 9.5% I thought it was remarkably good. Top notch. Aroma was good with strong bold roasted coffee and hints of black licorice and dark molasses. Pleasant.Taste was very good, but a bit bitter from the same coffee, molasses and licorice. Awesome flavors but not much sweetness to balance of offset. Very good RIS, but a bit more roasted than I had expected.. Having said that it is characteristic of RIS which I love. Just seemed a bit over roasty. Feel is excellent. Silky smooth. Rolls over the tongue, and is a real palate pleaser. Overall, just an excellent beer. I loved it.

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Photo of JohnParadee
4.39/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into chilled pint glass. Deep, dark, opaque black color. Nice (albeit thin) tan/beige head, which dissipated quickly. Very even and persistently sticky lacing throughout the experience. Nose reveals chocolate and dark coffee roast, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. On the palate, the flavor profile replicates the nose, although spicy roasted coffee is more pronounced and dominates over the chocolate and other flavors, which are more subdued, while a bourbon barrel aged character emerges. Interestingly, however, there is little evidence of heavy alcohol here, which helps the flavor profile sustain throughout the finish. I tend to like my stouts a little less roasty and a little more chocolate/bourbon like in flavor, but this is one roasted coffee bomb that I really enjoyed. Definitely worth your time and attention.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
3.42/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from FalconA. Thanks! Reviewed from notes.

A: Thick, oily black with a foaming mocha head. Suprising lack of legs.

N: Roasted coffee, licorice, cocoa, and hints of molasses. Fudge, some moss, caramel, vanilla, and some cinnamon.

T: Very roasty with a heart of bitterness and a roundness of malt sweetness. Very similar to a mocha with licorice flavors. However, the bitterness has bite, and this can get somewhat harsh.

M: Thick and robust. Alcohol is very pronounced.

O: Nice beer, but the overwhelming bitterness is a big detractor for me. A little bit of aeration seems to help, but I'd place this in the middle tier of RISes.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.86/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Courtesy of Kevin - thanks for splitting this one with us. It pours an extremely deep brown color, might as well call it black. The light tan cap is somewhat slow to build up and only sits at a quarter inch for about thirty seconds before mellowing out into a trace of the beer's circumference against the glass. No lacing and minimal legging when the glass is tilted or swirled.

Pretty hearty is the aroma on this one, chock-full of mild cocoa and a decent amount of roasted malt. It doesn't smell like any external coffee was added, but the malts are roasted and dark enough to give off a slight "coffee bean"-esque aroma at times. Roasted malts, cocoa, and coffee are pretty standard aromas in imperial stouts, so I'm not surprised to see them here. But there's nothing about this aroma that's jumping out at me or discerning itself amongst other RIS's, so I'm a bit disappointed to say the least.

After the first sip, it becomes evident that the roasted malts will pretty much lead the way through the flavor profile. Soft bouts of roast, light char, and some dark chocolate rummage through and hit all corners of the palate. There's a very faint, yet still very apparent dark fruit sweetness in the background, hinting at figs or dates that have been soaked in a reasonable amount of booze. This beer isn't what I'd call extremely boozy, but it's warming, and simply calling it a "slow-sipper" might even be a slight understatement.

Unfortunately there seems to be a slight oxidation that has taken over some of the beer. I'm not exactly sure how old this bottle is/was, but a small, wet cardboard flavor haunts the final moments of the sip and sits on my tongue a bit after the beer is gone. Aside from that, the finish includes a bit of cocoa dust and some dying char and roast. Bitterness is medium for the style, and ever bit of it seems to come from the roast rather than any hops. Medium-thick bodied and mildly creamy with pretty low carbonation.

Pretty good RIS, but based on the reviews/scores that were currently listed for this brew, I was expecting utter greatness. Goes to show you that you can't always trust everyone else's palate to speak for yours. Still a nice beer to sit back and sip, but I think it's just a bit overrated, mainly because it doesn't really stand out over other RIS's for me.

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Photo of jvillefan
3.32/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A: A very dark brown almost black body with a chocolate brown head with disappears very quickly.

S: Not good. It smells of stale malts and sweaty leather. There is some chocolate but that is about it.

T: There is a rich chocolate flavor with some bitterness.

M: Great body that is silky smooth. There is great carbonation present.

O: Good not great stout. If you see it laying around it might be worth picking up.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes. Had on tap at Black Raven.

A: Pours a dark black with a one finger tan head on top. Great head retention, slowly reducing to a cap on top. Some sticky laving down the sides.

T: Lots of deep roasted malt mixed with chocolate, both milk and some dark. There is a bit of a mocha aroma/coffee, but subtle. Really inviting.

T: Very similar to the aroma, lots of chocolate and roast with some faint coffee/espresso. Really nice, one of the better imperial stouts I have had, without any barrel aging.

M: Medium to full bodied with low carbonation. Very smooth and easy drinking.

O: Really nice RIS, easy drinking for a big beer that has a great flavor profile.

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Photo of Treebs
4.59/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Review #700

12 oz. bottle served in a Black Raven curved pint. Thanks to OakedCanuck for the brew.

A: Pours an opaque jet black color with a dark khaki head forming on the pour. It recedes very slowly to a thick film that leaves some splotchy, soapy lace down the glass.

S: This smells amazing. Dark cocoa, tootsie roll and milk chocolate come across in wafts. Sweet malts with a little roast. Espresso sweetness with a hint of vanilla and some ground coffee beans. Smells absolutely delicious.

T: Smooth milk chocolate. Mild roasted malts, slightly drying in nature, with a rolled oat sweetness as well. Slightly bitter coffee grounds with some light dark fruit flavors in the background.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with a medium low carbonation. Silky smooth across the palate, a little oily as well. Sweet and roasted finish.

O: One of the best Russian Imperial stouts I've ever had. Perfectly balanced across the board with well hidden booze. I wish this wasn't so limited and rare because I could drink this stuff every single day.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle

Served in oversized snifter - really decadent looking beer - a beautiful contrast of a rich ebony body and a huge creamy mocha head with sticky webbed lacing. Dry roasty nice - lots of rich chocolate, dry cocoa in the finish, licorice, espresso. One of the better non-barrel aged stouts i've had in a while. Gorgeous with a wonderful creamy feel.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle opened on 2.26.13

A - Pours a dark brown with a one inch active dark tan head that fades pretty fast leaving rings of lacing.

S - Coffee, mild chocolate, a little nutty.

T - Malty, bitter chocolate, dry nuttiness, slight coffee in the finish.

D - Decent carbonation with a heavier body.

O - Pretty solid stout, but nothing really stands out to me.

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Photo of TheEarl
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this in a snifter at Brouwer’s “Back in Black” Stout Festival on May 11, 2012. I believe it was poured from a keg of the 2011 vintage Brouwer’s had been saving for the event.

Appearance: Very dark brown or black with a dark tan head and lots of lacing.

Smell: The initial aroma is of roasted malts, dark chocolate, and grain but, as the beer opens up, I get a bit more complexity and earthiness. There is not as much booziness as I’d expected.

Taste: The taste is less saccharine than the style tends to be. There is certainly a ton of dark chocolate and coffee in the taste and the roasted malt flavors manage to be very rich without the burnt taste.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is as thick as you’d expect but it is so smooth that it doesn’t feel like you’re drinking mud and the stickiness adds a pleasant complexity.

Overall: Grandfather Raven is great. It is a nearly perfect example of the style at its best and, of the group I was with at Brouwer’s, many of whom were sampling Parabola, Abyss, Yeti, and other more famous stouts, it was easily the crowd favorite.

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Grandfather Raven from Black Raven Brewing Co.
4.23 out of 5 based on 131 ratings.
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