Imperial Stout | Mendocino Brewing Company

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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 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 skandha
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is inky dark with a small amount of orange-tan lace.

Smell has some pleasant raisin notes with sweet hickory smoke pervading.

Taste: Cocoa sweetness with a through-and-through bitterness that, after some settling, I really came to enjoy. It's a little surprising at first, but I've been plagued recently with stouts and trippels that come up cloying for all their syrupy fruits and spice. There is a slightly acrid tang on the finish that I didn't like, but overall the bitter-effect was welcome.

Mouthfeel: smooth with moderate carbonation.

Overall: a tasty, affordable stout. The pervasive bitterness is a structural element that I appreciated, but it strays a little too far in the end.

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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 bucklemyshoe
3.26/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle at 48 degrees into a Stone IRS tulip.

A: It pours pitch black with an inch of khaki head that has average retention but excellent lacing.

S: Burnt malts, smoke, and charred oak all over with a little nuttiness mixed in.

T: Charcoal pit, some dark chocolate, strong coffee, and roasted nuts.

M: The body is medium-thick with below average carbonation.

D: It is like an Imperial Stout mixed with a Rauchbier.

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Photo of swierczt
3.39/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured into goblet, jet black, outside light does not permeate this offering. A little head, one finger thick, coffee colored. Short retention and only a light lacing left behind on the glass.

S - Roasted malts, a hint coffee, dark fruits are most apparent.

T - A ton of roasted, almost burnt, bitter malts. A touch of smokiness, dark chocolate and coffee. I do not get as much of the dark sweet fruits as detected in the nose. A bit of hops comes through at the end, which was a bit of a surprise.

M - Relatively full bodied, a bit more carbonation than I personally like in the style.

D - Did not notice the 10% ABV in the taste. Was drinkable in the sense that you do not get the warm boozy burn that you would find in other imperial stouts. Overall, a nice imperial stout with a slight hops twist.

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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 jera1350
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Solid black color with a thinner body and a nice cap of brown foam that looks quite rich and has lasting ability.

Not the strongest nose, but it does present some chocolatey malt with a cream sweetness and a touch of hops. A little bit of a Cocoa Puffs and milk smell.

Toasty malt presence dominates with a little bit of a chocolate presence. Some alcohol peeks in as well. Really lacks depth and complexity. Tasty, but one dimensional really.

The feel is extremely creamy and foamy from the head. Frothy and fuller feeling, but the body does not feel like a ten percent beer.

A nice attempt at an RIS and a good beer, but really not all that interesting for the style. As mentioned earlier, lacks complexity. Worth a shot though.

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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 boudreaux
3.4/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: pours a dark mahogany/black ink; 1.5 finger rocky dark brown/mocha head; reduced to little/no lacing

S: slightly hoppy with salt, plum, toffee, coffee, chocolate, licorice and anise, anise strong ashy roast.

T: strongly bitter and dry, tar and ash and tobacco; nice roast from the slight/weak malt.

M: Medium body a little thin. dry, dusty, roasty, lightly ashen aftertaste is excellent and long; inky with noticeable rounding from the Goldings. Alcohol well hidden, silky slick and oily mouthfeel

D: on the whole, a very enjoyable stout, but lacks that transcendent oomph to set it apart from hundreds of others.

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

12oz bottle pulled from my cellar poured into a bulb style glass.

pours out opaque black with a one finger of super creamy mocha colored head with big bubbles in the middle. very nice retention. bits of sticky lace, but leaves some nice lace when you swirl the glass.

foremost in the aroma is a lot of heavily roasted/ burnt malts. also lots of dark dried fruits, a touch of smoke, dark chocolate and just a small hint of citris.

again lots of heavily roasted/ burnt malts that provide for a lot of bitterness in the finish. also dark dried fruits, bakers chocolate, dark chocolate, hints of coffee, subtle hints of smoke, and a bit of a citric acidic twang. not a stitch of alcohol noticable.

heavy bodied, carb is pretty good feeling for the style. a bit chalky. lots of lingering bitterness most likely from a combination of the roasted malt and hops. the overall feel of this beer is very similar to the mendocino oatmeal stout.

drinks about as good as any 10% RIS, one bottle is enough in a session. weighs a bit heavy on the stomach after awhile.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.16/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appears pitch black large tan head fine even lacing. Aroma has some dark hoppy contents pine citrus dark chocolate moccha notes. Flavor is a bit harsh dark acrid black roasted malts. Harsh bitterness dark fruits hints of butterscotch that don't meld very well. Finish is rediculous with a harsh unbalanced bitterness, some hops come through pine/citrus/herbal that don't work well with the whole experience. Mouthfeel is cloying from front to back, I'm not really feelin this dark beer. Carbonation is unrelenting, on the high end fo the style becomes a bit cloying especially as this warms up a bit. Drinkability, after a second bottle I had on hand I revisited not as horrible as my first gut reaction was, a decent impy stout that just wasn't meshing for me on mouthfeel and flavor the clashing of the sweet sided traditional dark fruits more of a west coast hop profile coming through for me.

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Photo of JackieTH
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Opaque black/brown with a thick cap of mocha foam.

Smell: Chocolate, dried dark fruits, coffee, and strong roasted malt. Smells a bit alcoholic, too, but it works in this regard.

Taste: Heavily roasted malt with figs, dark plums, toffee, black strap molasses, bitter baker's chocolate, subtle anise.

Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy body, hefty and smooth.

Drinkability: This is a straight forward RIS. Tasty and packing a wallop, to be enjoyed one at a time.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sometimes its cool to pick up something you had no idea even existed until you walked into the store. I am familiar with all the Mendo bird beers but this is a completely unknown quantity to me. Plus it's an Impy stout on a cold winter's night. Back to the salt mines...

Strong pour with two fingers of dark cocoa head on top of an almost jet black body that has a tiny sliver of rusty brown at the base. Nose is heavy on the chocolate and coffee but it's the dark fruit thats most pungent, particularly raisins and figs. A little boozy, but it's well blended.

Taste is real heavy on the roasted (almost burnt, really) flavors and baker's chocolate. Quite bitter overall, but I'm not sure if it's hops or just the malt and alcohol. Coffee is obviously in the house as well. At 10%, you can't argue that the booze is overdone but it does make its presence felt. Mouthfeel is thick but not bulletproof. Definitely worth a try, this one has octane to spare.

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Photo of zeff80
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a small, one-finger head of light brown foam. It had thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled roasty with notes of chocolate, toffee and caramel.

T - It tasted of chocolate, toffee and some sweet caramel notes. It had a good roasted character with some bitterness.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

D - This is an okay RIS. Not the best that I've ever had but it was worth a try.

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Photo of herman77
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Jet black with a decent sized brown head. Pretty good lacing. A really good looking stout.

S: Dark roasted malt. A bit of dark bitter chocolate and roasted coffee. Really deep roasted notes on this one.

T:Very roasty. Tons of dark, rich malts. Some coffee and dark bittersweet chocolate. A hint of toffee, molasses sweetness and some hops lurking around. Finishes pretty dry with a long bitter roasted malt and a bit of hops aftertaste.

M: Full bodied. Pretty thick and smooth. Nice carbonation.

D: Good drinkability for being 10%. Not boozy. Rich, thick, contemplating. An all around no thrills, but excellent imperial stout.

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

Pours black with a pale beige head that's tightly beaded and even a little creamy. A little bit of sloppy lacing. Lots of dry licorice up front in the nose, followed by some mellow roastiness and a bit of a vinous note. The taste is quite dry as well, and it's a harmonious blend of licorice, smooth roastiness, a bit of bitter chocolate and citrus peel. Very smooth, even a bit light, but a nice bitterness throughout. Dry, but with just a touch of chalkiness. Solid, and an excellent value as usual from this brewery.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.81/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by matt9875. Thanks Matt!

A: This beer has a really top notch appearance. It's jet black, with a dense, half inch of beige head that leaves plenty of lacing in its wake.

S: The aroma is primarily of roasted malt, with hints of coffee and chocolate.

T: The beer tastes of heavy roasted malt, with some bitter coffee flavor near the back end. Subtle chocolate sneaks in just a tad, but the roasted malt is very forward in this brew.

M: Medium in body, with 10% alcohol content hidden very well.

D: A good stout that I would drink 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 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 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 PicoPapa
3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle. Pours a deep, dark color. Practically black.Virtually no head. Very minimal lacing. Aromas of dark chocolate, roasted malts, some coffee and alcohol. Taste is dark chocolate and coffee. Mild alcohol burn but not a lot considering the ABV. Chocolate aftertaste. Overall s pretty solid Imperial Stout.

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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 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 biglite351
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - dark as night with a tall brown tight head that leaves a good bit of lacing.

S - rich malts and chocolate with a little fruit in the end. Every beer should smell like this.

T - a lot of fruit, high % chocolates, malts with just a tiny bitter turn at the end.

M - you can feel it on your teeth and a solid tingle on the front of the tongue. Slight alcohol burn in the throat.

D - a bit heavy, but you can have a few.

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Photo of jsprain1
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- pours a black with a thin cocoa head with decent retention and great lacing,
S- Smell is coffee, chocoate, and mild dark friut.
T- Roasted coffee and chocolate, with some fruit flavors and alcohol warmth.
M- A little light weight, bit plenty slick throughout.
D- Not a tough drinker for a 10 percenter. overall a good beer but nothing extraordinary.

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