Grandfather Raven
Black Raven Brewing Co.

Grandfather RavenGrandfather Raven
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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #104
Ranked #1,704
4.27 | pDev: 8.2%
Black Raven Brewing Co.
Washington, United States
Grandfather RavenGrandfather Raven
Notes: 2016 NABA - Silver Medal (Category: Imperial Stout)
2016 WABA - Bronze Medal (Category: Imperial Stout)
2013 WABA - Gold Medal (Category: Imperial Stout)

In the creator role, and in the Raven's role as the totem and ancestor, the Raven is often addressed as Grandfather Raven. With this stately sense of pomp and tradition we bring you our Imperial Stout. This robust black ale is full with rich dark caramel, unsweetened chocolate, and hints of coffee aromas and flavors. Stately indeed, but at 9.5% ABV, perhaps it is just a vain attempt to encourage the trickster spirit to act respectably. Released annually in the winter.

9.5% ABV

75 IBU

2-Row Barley, Crystal, Chocolate, Carafa, Roast

Magnum, Mt Hood, CZ Saaz
Reviews: 37 | Ratings: 168 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of backblast
backblast from Alaska

4.08/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a nice tan head.

Tastes of heavy dark roasted malt and bitter espresso with bakers chocolate. Has a lingering bitterness in the finish and aftertaste.

Thursday at 05:21 AM
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Pivopijak from Washington

4.4/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Head looks like cappuccino froth and is light brown with a bit of rockiness. There is no light getting through the blackness of this brew. Heavily roasted barley & a note of French roast coffee in the aroma. Flavors of the dark roasted barley with a hint of French/Italian roast coffee with a firm but not sharp bite that trails off with the heavily roasted barley flavor with a bit of charred wood at the very end. Medium heavy sharp mouthfeel.

Apr 02, 2021
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Cashbail from New Hampshire

4.51/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2019 Vintage. Poured a few ounces into a snifter. Inky black body. Boozy nose. First sip is very smooth chocolate with roast in the background. A slight bitterness/alcohol bite at the end. Delicious smooth sipper.

Mar 25, 2021
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Roguer from Georgia

4.23/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Thick black body, topped by a sizeable dark brown head. Excellent production, retention, and lacing.

Big, smooth, roasty nose. Not overly bitter or roasty for an RIS, more featuring tones of chocolate, molasses, licorice, and char.

More bitter roast on the palate, especially on the finish, but it's overall fairly balanced and smooth, with a mild, dark fruit sweetness. Plenty of toast and caramel; bitter chocolate; espresso tones.

Smooth and thick; nearly chewy; a nice boozy heat, but not challenging to the palate. It's a beer that embraces the high ABV.

Apr 04, 2020
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jrc1093 from Connecticut

3.97/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 11/19/19

Pours an inky brownish black body capped with 1.5 fingers of nearly creamy dark hazelnut froth; good head retention fades slowly to a thin but creamy cap, hefty collar, and a comprehensive walling of moderate lacing.

Aromas of earthy caramel and milky dark chocolate open subtly and with quiet contrast as fluffy raw vanilla bean melds with charred barley further along the bouquet; wisps of underlying smoke, coffee grounds, and dark berries course delicately in the background and deepen into the close.

Taste shows a balance of milky chocolate and slight caramel transitioning tones of dark berries navigating through a bitter coffee char accented with a familiar, almost nondescript smoke.

Mouthfeel brings a silky medium body enhanced with a moderate, soft carbonation; a hyper-slick mid-palate guides easily into a building yet minor alcohol presence steadfastly integrated into a roasty malt bitterness which highlights a manageable edge on the swallow.

This is an incredibly steady Russian imperial stout, remaining balanced in its pronounced bitterness and soft sweetness throughout. A remarkable consistency in every facet across the palate, this one is, while hearty, an easy pleasure to drink.

Mar 16, 2020
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Cylinsier from Pennsylvania

4.23/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle

Pours opaque black, tan lacing for a head.

Aroma of toast, cocoa, coffee, vanilla and hazelnut.

Flavor is of smoke, toast, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, coffee bean, and walnut.

Full body, stinging carbonation. Warms a bit going down.

Pretty great stout. The flavor is very roasty and ends with some nutty bitterness. Slow drinking, very enjoyable.

Dec 01, 2019
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MikeWard from Pennsylvania

4.24/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a pint glass. No freshness dating that I could find. Tavour shipment.

Pours like motor oil, black as black, with a nice persistent tan head lasting throughout leaving layers rather than lacing. Excellent look.

Roasty aroma with some sweet molasses mixed in.

Upon tasting, the roasty element dominates, but it's just strong, not harsh or burnt. Coffee notes, but no chocolate. Molasses flavor mingles, cutting the roast just a little.

Mouth medium, a little thinner than I hoped, finish roasty.

Overall, a big bold imperial stout, nice drink to go with a pile of ham and eggs.

Nov 15, 2019
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

3.38/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

$ 11.56 (Including shipping)/capped bomber ($ 0.526/oz) from Tavour, Seattle, WA.
Bottled 10/6/17 marked on the label, stored at 42 degrees and served at 57 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter.
Appearance – 4.25.
Body – Dark brown, opaque.
Head – Large (Maximum 5.3 cm, aggressive pour), tan, dense with surface rocks, average retention, diminishing to a three mm ring fed by slight effervescence and a thick, complete layer with rocks. Head retraction leaves columns of lacing.
Lacing – Excellent! Overlapping wide complete bands of tiny to small bubbles – thick enough to have a true three-dimensional appearance.
Pour – Dark brown, clear.
Aroma – 3 - Chocolate and some coffee.
Flavor – 3.5 - Roasted, slightly burnt coffee predominates with some roasted malt in the background. Ends moderately bitter with an annoyingly long hang time. No hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl.
Palate – 3 – Medium, almost creamy, soft carbonation.
Impression and summation – 3.5 - The aroma and the palate are the minimum that would be expected from any non-BA Russian Imperial stout. The flavor is definitely at the bitter end, so much so that the bitter burnt coffee is what I’ll remember about this brew, long after the excellent appearance is long forgotten.

Jan 22, 2018
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JamieCoxx from Washington

4.3/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

You can definitely taste the chocolate. It is the most dominant taste. A nice smooth taste. Be careful with this one. That 9.5 abv might bite you in the ass.

Dec 12, 2017
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Sabtos from Ohio

3.8/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Matte black with a thick tan fuzz fading to a thick collar.

Smell is salty, charred umami roast with chocolate and hints of banana.

Taste is heavy roast, a little hot, with cocoa, and woody, piney hops.

Very dry, but full bodied.

Jun 25, 2017
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Rogerlb from California

3.96/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

Apr 12, 2017
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gandres from Philippines

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

Feb 11, 2017
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thebeers from Pennsylvania

4.05/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

Nov 06, 2016
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Slack from Virginia

4.29/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Sep 11, 2016
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brewskifan55 from Mississippi

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.

Apr 19, 2016
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zonker17 from Texas

4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

Apr 19, 2016
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DavoleBomb from Pennsylvania

4.09/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

Mar 29, 2016
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Mehinaman from Washington

4.4/5  rDev +3%
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.

Jan 28, 2016
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snaotheus from Washington

3.96/5  rDev -7.3%
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

Jan 02, 2016
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LouZ from Washington

4.33/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Dec 25, 2015
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kemoarps from Washington

4.36/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Dec 20, 2015
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draheim from Washington

4.5/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

Jun 12, 2015
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Davepoolesque from Massachusetts

4.09/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

Jan 05, 2015
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LiquidAmber from Washington

4.39/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

Dec 29, 2014
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mabermud from Washington

4.29/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Nov 12, 2014
Grandfather Raven from Black Raven Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 168 ratings