Imperial Stout | Mendocino Brewing Company

very good
80 Reviews
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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 Heavenisbeer
4.01/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


A: Perfect. The deepest opaque hues of brown, with a toffee tinged pillow of a head. Three solid fingers, laying down to a dense 3 cms of gorgeous foam. The lacing stays put to the last drop.

S: Dark fruit forward; more so than any stout I've tried. Dark prunes, raisins, and plums plunge quickly into dark chocolate, toffee, and Breyer's Vanilla. The nose mellows, as sweet milk chocolate and fermented sugars take a bow.

T: Bold sweet chocolate takes the lead, as roasted malts, boozy bursts, and a slight char populate the middle. The finish is dry and hopped up.

M: Medium-bodied Imperial Stout, with a dry boozy undertone, and a grassy hop finish.

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Photo of jdense
3.5/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12. oz. bottle purchased in Boise, shared with beer buddy in The Big Feb 2012.

One finger rolling Guinness like head medium brown, fast dissipation with uneven layer of head retained. Some chocolate in the nose, more nibs than dark, roast becomes more assertive once it warms, light citrus hops. The roast is more prevalent than chocolate and hops are muted at best. Mouthfeel medium, decent effervescence, ABV well hidden. A decent non-barrel aged RIS though lacks depth of flavor, drinkability helps overall score.

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Photo of IKR
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very dark brown with a modest-sized medium beige head that faded fairly quickly.

Smell: Predominately coffee/roast malt notes. maybe a touch of brown sugar notes.

Taste: Primarily roasted malt notes for the most part, with maybe a hint of brown sugar from the nose. The beer finishes dry with some slight astringency. The alcohol presence is subtle for the ABV.

Mouth-feel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation for the style.

Overall: Not bad, especially considering the price but not a mind blower.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a black with subtle brown hue. The mocha colored head thickens to a finger or two, and hangs around for a bit. The lacing is impressively thick and sticky.

Smell - Classic Imperial stout smells here. Alcohol and chocolate, overpowering a faint coffee aroma. Sweet caramel cuts through. Nice smelling beer.

Taste - Aggressive flavor, as is common with an imperial. A lot of chocolate and coffee dark roasted malt, brought in balance by sweet caramel notes.

Moutfeel - Thick, almost syrup-like body, with a good amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel is certainly on point for an imperial.

Overall - This is a solid Imperial Stout. Thick and aggressive. Mendocino should be proud.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.79/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, pours jet black with a thin brown head that dissipates quickly and leaves no lacing on the glass. Aromas are bold with dark cocoa, coffee, and anise. Tastes are bold also: espresso, dark chocolate, roasted barley, and anise with a pungent hop finish leaving the palate rather dry and acidic, reminiscent of reduced balsamic vinegar. Alcohol is non-existent. Mouth-feel is full bodied, but the dry acidity takes away from the overall feel. Overall, this seems to be all over the place as far as qualities go. Has some strong points, but has some weaknesses also. Recommendable for a try, but there are better, more balanced RIS's out there.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.54/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Jet black and a thick, cough syrup-cherry cola head on it 1.5" in depth, dense bubble structure, was so close to getting a perfect 5, it only needed a kickass lace job, instead, it was merely good. Aroma was roasty, a tad astringent. Was kinda expecting some dark fruit, chocolate or sweet aromas, but they weren't really there.

Taste, a substantial beer, the alcohol is there but isn't confrontational or oppressive, you can get through it pretty well. Really would think this could have a little more sugar or something sweet to help it along. I guess if you're looking for a 10% imperial stout for less than 10$ a 4pack, this is a good choice, and isn't going to have all kinds of confusing nuances for people. I mean, this is a way better deal than Darkness, it just doesn't have all the bells and whistles.

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Photo of righthereisay
3.51/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tervis tumbler mug.

Smell: Wow, very intense. Most intense smell of any "beer" I've ever had. Dark fruits, kind of like a dark belgium. Not like other imperial stouts.

Pours black, with little a dark brown head that stays for about 1 minute. Rather thick in my opinion.

Taste: Hmm. Dark chocolate, dark fruits, nice roasted malts, with a mild bitter finish.

This beer actually hurt my throat a little. Maybe that is the alcohol (which you cannot taste). This could give you heart burn.

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Photo of nickapalooza86
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes some time in December 11

Poured into snifter from an undated bottel. It pours a jet black very thick looking with no head in sight.

Smell is typical stout, chocolate, malt and a small burnt coffee.

The taste is where this one gets tricky it starts out with chocolate roasted malts but at the back end you get a strange smoky or acid taste.

Very thick feel in the mouth

This is an ok imp stout just there are better options. Do not get me wrong I have 3 left and will enjoy them but maybe with a little age the strange but not bad aftertaste will mellow out a little.

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

dark brown, essentially black with a big full three finger high head of tan colored foamy lace on top.

chocolate, deep dark chocolate with lots of hints of sweetness, lactose sugar perhaps, maybe a touch of vanilla.
nice deep chocolate notes with hints of vanilla and coffee beans laced in throughout. Most of the alcohol has long mellowed out by now and really all that remains of it was some tiny traces down through the middle. Very nice earthy roasted malts swirling around in the back giving it much depth and a great profile.

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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 oberon
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured jet black,even when held to the light nothing came thru,a thinner tannish colored head atop that held pretty well.Deep char and coffee roast in the nose,a mix of dark fruit and a tinge of vanilla provided sweetness along with light sweet alcohol as it warmed.A tad thin but quite smooth in the feel,heavy roast flavors with dark fruit flavors,the roasted coffee flavors are the dominant flavor trait.A solid RIS,not as sweet as many,but not as complex as many either.

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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 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 beagle75
2.88/5  rDev -26%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Opaque black color with less than one finger of diminishing beige foam head. Light lacing remains and bubbles are seen to rise through the column right against the glass.

S: Roast is intense in the nose, with dark fruit and lesser charcoal also detectable. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins dry, with urgent carbonic acidity followed by thin dark fruit. Roasted malt emerges into the middle, very husky and dry. The finish is moderately bitter, not really standing out among others of the style, with dark chocolate adding interest. No alcohol is detected.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, acidic on the palate to the point of discomfort, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: This beer is mostly unremarkable for the style, harboring an unappealing level of acidity that ought to be avoided at all costs in the crafting of one of such a dark and decadent style. Its lack of alcohol qualities is a high point, making it more drinkable. If it wasn't for the acidity, it could have been a genuinely good imperial stout.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz.

Pours jet black like oil with a "coffee with a dash of milk" head, quarter inch dissipates to a lacing.

Smells of chocolate, caramel, coffee and anise.

Taste is coffee first, bitter but not terribly acidic. Some dark chocolate sweetness follows. Some bready notes follow.

Body on the fuller side, low carbonation.

Pretty delicious RIS, a sipper that hides its strength. Wish there was a bit more in the taste; I've had other stouts that were more flavorful that I liked better. Still, solid stout worth trying.

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Photo of chinchill
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours brown tinged black; opaque with a thin tan head (despite a rather vigorous pour) that has moderate retention but leaves little lacing.

S - Dark roasted malts, of course; hints of coffee and chocolate, not unexpected; but a surprise: dark fruits, mainly figs, are quite pronounced. High ABV rather hidden, at least before warming.

T (3.8) - Strong dark roasted malt flavor, with some burnt tinge and a touch of smokiness; spicy hops are also obvious here; more than expected. Hints of dark fruits (although less obvious than in the nose), dark chocolate and coffee, with the coffee coming clearly in the finish and aftertaste. A trace of dryness and hops in the finish. High ABV is well hidden.

M - Full bodied; with suitable carbonation.

O - Almost too rich, but a good sipper with well-hidden alcohol.

(light revision with new bottle in July 2013).

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.14/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

My first Mendocino Imperial anything. Probably the first of a few... It pours a straight obsidian topped by a finger of light-ish brown foam. The nose comprises buttery biscuits, light char, rubber, black coffee, roasted malts, and I think there's some molasses way in the back there. Things are dominated by the biscuits, though, which comes off as rather strange to me. The taste holds notes of roasted malts, light coffee, charcoal, light bitter dark chocolate, and a touch of buttery toffee. The body is a soft medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a fairly smooth feel. Overall, an okay impy stout at best, one that smells off, tastes decent, and feels too light and fluffy. I'd pass on this one, given a second chance.

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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 bramsdell
3.34/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle to imp pint glass.

A: ~1 inch, dark tan head. Foamy and rich, looks like expresso. Body is pretty much black and doesn't really change color when held up to light. Not much in the way of lacing.

S: Two flavors immediately spring out: burnt expresso and sweet grape-like aromas. Suffers from some of the problems of many imperial stouts in that the alcohol starts to come out at the same time as a sweetness that has clearly been placed there to hide the booze.

T: Burnt and sweet. The immediate flavor, just like the smell, is a charred coffee taste. Very much like a cafe Americano in its burnt, almost over powering flavor. Just as the burnt flavor begins to recede, there comes a malty sweetness that I simply can't get behind. I love a rich malt flavor, but this is not a rich flavor; it is simply a super sweetness to counteract the booze and charred flavors. The two flavors seem to stand quite separate from one another and never really mesh the way that they should.

M: Feels fine. It's as thick as it is dark with very low carbonation. There isn't much to complain or rave about here.

O: It's an average imperial stout. If every company didn't make an imperial stout, it might be something to talk about, but I've had a dozen stouts of this abv and darkness that I have preferred. Not a bad beer, just not a great beer of a style that demands greatness.

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Photo of mdvatab
3.3/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter.

Aroma: Dark espresso, red grape juice, and powdered cocoa. Very fruity with a slight mineral note.

Appearance: Pitch black. Pours like motor oil. Thick 1 finger tan head collapses to creamy layer.

Flavor: Mineral, slight metallic note, red grape juice, and a hint of phenolic band-aid. Espresso bitterness quickly appears, and lingers long through the finish.

Mouthfeel: Med-full mouthfeel and medium-low carbonation.

Overall: Definitely not my favorite Imperial stout... Mouthfeel was there, but the aroma was intriguing at best. Meanwhile, the flavor was a bit harsh, and the brew had some flaws. I'd give it another chance down the road, but for now, this is not something that I'm going to seek out.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
3.91/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is fairly strong and smoky, and has good tones of roast coffee, molasses and semi-sweet chocolate. It pours a deep sable with a fairly thick dark tan head that leaves some respectable lacing. Rich flavor is smoky and surprisingly hoppy, fairly bitter, subtly sweet, tones of oak, quality coffee and chocolate with a hint of brown sugar. Texture is almost as smooth as soymilk and fairly tingly, leaving a nice fizzy and slightly bitter finish. I recommend this one to stout fans.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle - $2.49 at Hop City in Atlanta, Georgia.

Appearance: Displays a black body with an official inch of dark khaki-colored head with some slight creaminess evident.

Smell: Charred, roasted malts tossed with moist citrus peels, pine chips, licorice twists, and baker's chocolate chunks. Ashen coffee and dark fruits come secondary, and a bit of sweetish caramel falls last in terms of effusiveness.

Taste: Roasty-toned and bittersweet chocolate tasting malts at the opening with a bit of caramel perking up as the roastiness levels out. Medium sweetness. A cup of cafe americano spiked with a sneaky little pinch of licorice. Lightly underlying woodsy character precludes hop tastes of citrus and modest pine with a moderate bitterness cutting through the malts and sweetness, though it is ultimately aided by the charry roastiness. Sip of red currant juice somebody flicked a cigarette butt into. Roasty finish with some alcohol warmth that grows fruitier as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Overall: It's decent, it's drinkable, but with more and more breweries pumping out more and more beers, does that really even cut it anymore? Maybe, maybe not.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance: Black. Shows a little crimson with a direct light behind. Reasonable tan head for an Imp Stout.
smell: Floral and cola with some spice. Interesting.
taste: a little bittersweet chocolate. A slightly hoppy bitter finish to a fairly mellow entrance. A little cola in the background.
overall: not a real stand out IMO but an interesting try.

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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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