Imperial Stout | Mendocino Brewing Company

very good
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Imperial StoutImperial Stout

Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company
United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by allboutbierge on 09-04-2010

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Reviews: 80 | Ratings: 182
Photo of Gabriel_Vaughn
4.73/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A black as the night, nice choclatey lace
S sweet, rich aroma, no alcohol detected
T same as smell only this time, the wonders are done on my tongue. This time we detect that alcohol, though it is well integrated into the aftertaste
M full, I am fulfilled, thick lush brew makes itself at home in there
O as close to a 5 as you can get but I cannot legally give it that ranking :)

my favorite imperial stout

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Photo of tiltedglass
4.7/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Blind tasting (no visuals)--a really sharp, full taste, hard on the tongue but with overtones like a heady wine. Goes down too smooth for a high ABV brew. Some of the very best stout I've ever had, and I've had too many to count. But it's an Imperial brew for sure, not a Guinness easy-going breakfast replacement. Youzer! Sense the mixture of immediate taste (full) and the long lag on the followthrough (surprisingly complex and not bitter or out of balance). The other beers from this brewer do no especially inspire, but this is another beast altogether. I dare you to taste it blind, knowing nothing about who made it.

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Photo of Brewmaster_Rick
4.58/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

MASSIVE chocolate and coffee notes, hints of charcoal. Heavy body, almost oily. Dark tan head, creamy. Damn well a beer you can dip a cigar in. Moderate bitterness for balance. Would go great over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Heavy, complex, near-perfection. One of my favorite imperial stouts for sure.

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Photo of LXIXME
4.42/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from about an inch above the glass gives this stout a big light brown head that settles into a pretty nice lacing above a clear dark brown to black colored imperial.

Aroma consists of that dark black licorice, that I used to love as a kid, blended very well with dark hardy fruits such as prunes and/or apricots with some dark roasted malts sneaking there way in there.

Dark roasted malts, light alcohol, dark fruits, Hershey's special dark chocolate combine to make a pretty good imperial stout taste.

A full bodied beer with a dry aftertaste with some of the lingering rich dark malts staying around to entice you to take another drink.

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Photo of BeerDocT
4.42/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

-Appearance 4.0: Poured out jet black. Completely opaque. Nice, half-inch khaki head. Looks like an Imperial Stout should.

-Smell 4.5: Wow, definite "tripel" smell. Lots of barley and malt and...raisins! Absolutely no "adjunct" smells such as coffee or chocolate. Very, very promising.

-Taste 4.5: Initial taste is actually salty on the tongue, but this is followed quickly by a subdued sweetness. Middle is all barley and hops and caramel sweetness, but again, not too sweet at all. Finish is long with roasted grains, hops, dried fruits, a slight dark chocolate taste and a definite (pleasant) bitterness. Wow, this is 10% ABV? No alcohol taste at all. Big, bold and delicious.

-Mouthfeel 4.0: Perfect amount of carbonation, but salty taste and slight burning sensation may turn off some sensitive folks (not me!).

-Overall 4.5: This brew is amazing. Not the best beer I have ever had, but it is still outstanding. If you were somehow able to take everything great about a stout and concentrate it times three, you'd have this beer. If you are a fan of Imperial Stouts and you can find this beer, BUY IT! You will not be disappointed!

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Photo of Hopfenpeter
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured almost black and produced a deep tan, creamy head. After dissipating it leaves pretty good lacing.
A very attractive Stout!!
The smell speaks of roasted coffee, chocolate, some malt and a slight oak wood flavor.
Tasting the beer, you will first notice all the roasted coffee flavors, mixed with chocolate and a hint of caramel. Than there is an unexpected hop selection present, which really lifts up the flavor. The malts are at the finish and build a bittersweet finish.
A very thick viscosity, very smooth beer. I think this will be one of my favorite Imperial Stouts. Very drinkable and the 10.0 ABV are very well hidden. I loved it and recommend it to all Stoutlovers.

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Photo of travolta
4.31/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Coffee whipped head with nice retention and some very good spotted lacing. Needs more retention and some thicker lacing.

Nose: Charred malt, licorice, cacao, and cream.

Taste: Boy is this pleasant. Perfect mouthfeel, with licorice, chocolate, cacao, and a great malty backbone. The ABV is almost imperceptible.

Notes: This is quite a nice beer.

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Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
4.27/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours black and thick with a small amount of toasted sugar tinted head; I haven’t seen a beer this intimidating since Old Rasputin.

S: Smells darkly sweet with heavy malt, dark chocolate, faint licorice and some residual nuttiness, like a potent stout should smell.

T/M: Has a low amount of carbonation which helps it coat the mouth. More roasted barley char lingers throughout, mixed with some grape skin and tannins. Halfway through, a slight alcohol burn tries to push its way through and is then swallowed back by a clean, bitter and nutty finish.

The first sip has a bite, but it’s definitely more friendly the more time you spend with it. A great, “harsh” stout.

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Photo of Chaz
4.27/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A medium-firm pour into a bulb renders a very dark brown elixir, topped with a very dark tan (closer to brown) head. When held up to the light this is almost completely impenetrable, and appears truly black in color. Head is visually compelling, rather impressive, consisting of tight, uniform small bubbles and a whip of froth on top. Excellent lacing all around, and really lasts throughout the drink.

Nose is bitter, acrid, and brim-ful of roasted malt notes. There's almost nothing here with respect to the implementation of American style hopping, emphasis is instead placed on the malts.

A mild-yet-pleasant semi-sour lactic tang is present here both in the nose as well as throughout the drink*. Malts offer notes of light espresso (crema), dark fruits (fig), and cocoa nibs, and these notes are realized in a manner that's well better than average for the style, I'd say.

There's a sharp aniseseed/licorice note on the first sip, followed by a bittersweet/lightly tangy character. Roasty, with notes of chocolate in the aromatics. Bitterness lingers very well throughout. Sweetness is restrained. Notes of dark and roasted malts as well as espresso are heightened as this warms, and complement the lingering bitterness quite well.

Mouthfeel is above average for the style, and this is a very easy drinker for 10%!

A classic rendition, and it's probably worth tracking down more bottles for the cellar.

* Reminds me fondly of 'Le Coq Imperial Extra Double Stout'.

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Photo of deaconoflove
4.24/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ap. Dense black, nearly opaque with almost no head...probably too cold.
Sm. Love it. Dark chocolate and malt. Roasty, toasty.
Ta. Burnt, roasted malt, coffee, nutty, chocolate, with some tart/lemon hidden and a lightly bitter finish. Tasty.
Mf. Medium thick, but not as creamy or full as you would expect.
Dr. Very easy going. I didn't know it was 10% until I got to the BA review.

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Photo of Bung
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. Dark brown/black pour, ample light tan head.

Malty aroma, light roast, good caramel with some chocolates.

Very malty, roast, caramel, molasses, dark chocolate. Finishes with some cocoa and roast coffee, very pleasant.

Nearly full bodied and near creamy. Alcohol well hidden. A great winter warmer and head and heals above the others I've had from them.

Reminded me a bit of Plead the 5th from Dark Horse. Far and away the best I've had from Mendocino.

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Photo of gabedivision
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle to a snifter glass.

A- Typical Imperial Stout look, pitch black with a brown lace of head.

S- Sweet roasted chocolate. Vanilla and nuts, sorta like a dark creamy milk shake with a strong malt finish.

T- Roasted toasted chocolate's and coffee. Strong malt with a bitter sweet after taste. The finish has a delightful sweet fruity taste that is a gem as this puppy warms up.

M- Full bodied and humbling.

D- Very good, this was my first beer from Mendocino and i will seek other beers from this brewery as well as this one again. This is a damn good RIS.

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Photo of MinnesotaRIS
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a bottle. Pours with substantial body into a glass. Medium to low high carbonation. Thick head that stands up. Rich brown/tan head that falls at a slow pace leaving some lace. Opaque, high SRM - not black but very dark brown. Some scarlet color on the extreme edges.

Initial smells of raisin/prune and toffee. Some hops but they are drowned out by the body of the stout. The raisin prune is prominent. Low malt character on smell. Solid but low sweetness aroma.

Bitter taste related to the roasted grains. Alcohol is not perceptible as is covered by bitters and toffee/raisin taste. Very slight astringency. Licorice. Specialty grains seem well balanced.
Aftertaste is very similar to taste.

This is a RIS and to be drunk like an RIS, not budweiser. Rich character, stout body and worthy of you trying it. Closer to the English style.

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown almost black, with a dense and tan head.

Aroma is roasted dark malt, and an underlying dark fruit sweetness. Subdued coffee, anise, and chocolate.

Taste is big and smokey with charred dark grain quality. Sweetness from the nose is still present, but the burnt malt bitterness dominates. Toffee, chocolate, and plum remain however, and bring some balance. Finishes with a lingering bitterness and alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel is medium-full and a touch slick.

A rich and flavorful RIS. Flavor is very intense, as it should be.

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Photo of silver0rlead
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an impenetrable black with a thick and frothy tan head. Aromas of coffee, chocolate, molasses, burnt bread, dark fruits, alcohol and floral hops. The flavors are similar with arabica coffee and dark chocolate upfront, along with dark fruits and burnt bread, molasses, floral hops and some alcohol. The mouthfeel is smooth and rich and drinkability is excellent for the style. Very good attempt at the style, complex and drinkable.

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Photo of allboutbierge
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very black deep and dark. Off-white caramel colored head with ample lacing. Head dissipates rapidly. Mild roasty aroma, some tannin sourness. Full of oakiness roast, rich dark chocolate. Mild and smooth aftertaste. Just as good as any big name imp stout on the market and a much better deal that most. Finishes with a strong roastiness, but that's it. Very well done.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Mendocino Imperial Stout, bottled, served in a Sierra snifter.

Appearance: Very black, immensely black. Black like the epic sanitation workers striking in Memphis, February 1968. Odd looks- no carbonation, no head, no lacing. This pours and looks like a barrel-aged stout, or else. Whether this unexpected look is good or bad, I'll leave it to beaver.

Smell: The greatest strength of this beer. What a complex, riveting nose! Smoke, wood, age. Cherry, some sweet-and-cured fruits. Booze, good booze. Chocolate.

Taste: Intense smokiness upfront, with a dry finish. A bunch of hops and a dairy, milky feel. Roastiness abounds. However, a little thin.

Mouthfeel: Low, almost non-existent carbonation. A certain bitterness on the lips as it finishes. Medium-to-low body but almost full flavor. Pretty chewy. It is a strange play on opposites- thick but thin, full-flavored but non-carbonated. Satisfying at any rate, but not the greatest mouth for an Imperial Stout.

Drinkability: Damn good for a 10% imperial stout. Still a sipper, but quaffable if you wish. A well done brew, particularly for the price. Mendocino's Imperials are a great bargain.

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Photo of Sorvahr
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I purchased this beer as a four-pack from Natalie's Liquor Warehouse in a four-pack. Poured from the bottle into a hefe-weizen glass as no pint glasses were clean at the time.

A: A pool of inky blackness with a thin tan/brown head on top. The head quickly recedes into a ring that leaves lacing all the way down the glass.

S - Extremely rich roasted malt smell with espresso undertones. One sniff and you know this is going to be an extremely bold beer.

T - Considering the relatively low price point, the taste is huge. The first impression is an overwhelming wall of dark chocolate-like bittersweet malts. A mild hop finish brings up the rear. It almost has a burnt smokiness to it, but not excessively so. The 10% ABV is hidden well. The aftertaste is bitter and coffeelike and lasts for a long time.

M: Thick, syrupy, with little carbonation, but not as massive as say, Old Rasputin. Very smooth on the palate.

D: This is a big and filling beer, one to be appreciated slowly and deliberately. Chugging it down quickly would be rather difficult and a waste anyway, as this beer requires some time to let the aftertaste run its course and for the brew itself to warm up.

Overall a good brew and for $2.50 a bottle it undercuts the price of many of the better-known imperial stouts. Has a huge, stately character you don't normally get at this price point. Highly recommended.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
4.14/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A-Pours nearly pitch black with a thin mocha colored head that dissipates quickly. No lacing.

S-dark fruits, chocolate, roasted malt, booze, and brown sugar

T-heavily roasted at first, then as it warms it opens up with flavors of dark chocolate, dark fruits, and alcohol.

M-A little thin for the style

D-very drinkable given its somewhat complex flavor

Overall, I was really impressed by this beer as I was not expecting much, but I must say I enjoyed it and would drink it again.

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Photo of troysoy2
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass. A small-bubbled brown head gives way to decent lacing and a nearly pitch black body. Retention is okay.

The smell is of dark stone fruits and smoky, roasted malt. A slight sweetness comes through.

A nice, full bodied taste. Progresses from stone fruit and bitter chocolate on the front to mild smokiness, then dry roasted malt on the finish. The roast almost has a tanginess to it. This might go well with some barbecue. Hmm. The mouthfeel is a little on the light, effervescent side as far as stouts go, but it works for this beer.

Very nice job by Mendocino, and something I might look into getting again.

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Photo of Suds
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice imperial. Thick, dense, black color. Dark brown head with decent lacing. The beer smells rich and grainy...alcohol is present in the aroma, along with a touch of hops. Moderate fruit, and a bit port-like (given the heft, maybe I should say portly?). More bitter than expected. Some malt, but also a notable burnt flavor in the taste. Dark, bitter chocolate. The beer is full, and very, very heavy. This is surely an imperial stout. Long, lingering bitter hop aftertaste. Not at all oily. All in all, quite drinkable.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thick opaque black with a 1 inch puffy dark khaki head that fades to a film on the top of the beer. Thin foamy rings of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, dark fruits, cocoa powder, and some slight coffee bean aromas. The smell becomes much more cocoa and cinnamon-like as the beer warms. Taste is of dark roasted malt, bitter cocoa, and coffee beans. A nice roasty bitterness sticks around after each sip. This beer has a nice level of carbonation with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good RIS that is somewhat surprising. I haven't really been impressed with other Mendocino offerings in the past but this is a solid effort for the style at a pretty good price.

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Photo of avalon07
4.11/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick, impenetrable texture. There was an inch and a half of tan-colored, foamy, long-lasting head. Excellent lacing. A beautiful-looking stout.

S: A nice aroma of malt, coffee, and chocolate. Smells like a stout should.

T: Tasted of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, and some alcohol, though this last component isn't as prevalent as in other RIS's. A tasty beer.

M: A well carbonated beer with a surprisingly smooth and dry finish. Full-bodied.

D: A well made, drinkable beer.

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Photo of bobhits
4.11/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one dark looking beer. Nearly black liquid pours out of the glass, just light hints of browns. Surprisingly, it isn't motor oil thick on the glass, but a bit more tame in nature. A half inch of thick mocha colored head with some nice lacing finishes things off nicely.

There's a certain aroma I pick up on with aged imperial stouts. it comes from faded hops and molasses starting to shift the balance that direction. As for this beer there's a hint of coffee to start off, followed by some roasted chocolate malts, molasses, dark fruits, caramel malts,

Sweet malt profile not really descriptive, perhaps a bit like sweet lactose. Chocolate and somewhat off fruits come next and give this one a bit more of that aged stout feel (I need a better word for this). Finally, there is an intense bitter black coffee the starts almost the second the beer leaves the tongue and lingers minutes after the last sip. This is easily one of the most bitter stouts I've had.

I really almost did mouth feel before taste. This is very creamy with a lot of body and just enough carbonation to carry it through. My preference would be more body or more carbonation, but I think this hits a great balance overall.

I paid a premium to get this one as a single (don't you hate when a bottle shop marks up singles?) but even at about 3 bucks a bottle it is pretty solid. The bitterness is great. I really would like to see this one with added coffee to enhance the already fairly intense roasted coffee flavors here.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got a bottle somewhere between 3-4 dollars at D's

A - Not really as dark or thick as I was expecting for a massive stout but the lacing and half inch of tan head was inviting.

S - Smells more hop forward than I was expecting but I did get some cocoa nibs and a nice roast throughout.

T - Angry and abrasive this hits you with dry cocoa nibs, roasted coffee grains, and to top it off a bit of dry hopping which I didn't expect. The whole thing was done in a rather "creamy" way which made me think this isn't the "best" imperial but a rather good one.

M - The ABV made me do a double take. Was like "wha? 10%?" I expected somewhere in between 9 and 10 but never such a high ABV for something very drinkable.

Overall I am now thinking of getting a case of this since age would reduce the hop bitterness and maybe improve on the chocolate and roast notes. At 52 bucks (a case) it might be the single cheapest imperial I can get my hands on (with the highest gravity). Glad I tried this since I couldn't pronounce the name but I am a sucker for a good imperial!

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Imperial Stout from Mendocino Brewing Company
3.89 out of 5 based on 182 ratings.
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