Lagunitas Imperial Stout | Lagunitas Brewing Company

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Lagunitas Imperial StoutLagunitas Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.90%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
2010 8.2% abv

Added by kbub6f on 08-31-2001

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Reviews: 690 | Ratings: 2,067
Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aged a bit, at Volo. Black with a moderate head and significant lacing. Malty medium roasty,a bit of burnt sugar, nutty. Coffee aftertaste. On the sweeter side with toffee and sugar offset by sure bitterness. Overcarbonated, a sipper. Complex and rewarding.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.73/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

10.14% ABV per label on bottle.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a 2 inch khaki head that fades to a thin cap. Nice distinct rings of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smells of dark roasted malt, dark fruits, and slight coffee beans. Taste is of dark roasted malt and dark fruits. There is a bit of an alcohol taste present too. Mild roast bitterness on the palate after each sip. A lower level of carbonation makes for a smooth and creamy mouthfeel but slightly flat. Overall, this is a pretty good RIS coming from Lagunitas, especially for the price.

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Photo of metter98
3.58/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cask at d.b.a., Brooklyn, NY

A: The beer is near black in color (some traces of amber are visible near the bottom of the glass when it is held up to the light). It poured with a thin beige head.
S: There are moderate aromas of roasted malts and alcohol in the nose.
T: The overall taste has flavors of roasted malts and raisins.
M: It feels full-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a light amount of carbonation.
O: The beer isn’t that difficult to drink because for the most part the alcohol is well hidden from the taste.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.1/5  rDev +9.9%

No frills, no gimmicks, no games; the highly roasted taste of imperial stout stands tall with Lagunitas' massive dark ale.

Opaque and onyx-black, the ale would likely crawl out on its own if not poured so quickly. Inky and like motor oil, the ale settles into the snifter unleashing a plethora of roasted sweetness. Molasses, dark chocolate, espresso and roasted nuttiness envelops the nose while the first taste take the senses to roasted marshmallows with its creamy and roasted sweetness.

Sweetness in tow throughout the center, the deep toffee elements support the dark-roast of coffee and bittersweet chocolate while the ale journeys from lush milkshake, through campfire burnt embers to conclude rummy and warm with peps of licorice peaking through late.

Full from start to finish, its decadent richness is sliced through with alcohol spice and thinning warmth. Its final bitterness is woodsy and as much of burnt coffee and chicory root as it is of hops. Its long coffee-like linger links up with the next sip effortlessly.

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Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650ml bottle. Heavy on the historical Russian references, but funny all the same.

This beer pours a clear deep, dark brown hue, with pervasive cola highlights (it's actually the exact same colour as my girlfriend's glass of Coke, when not in the light), with three fingers of puffy, loosely foamy beige head, which melts away at a fairly loping pace, leaving some decent layered cloud lace around the glass.

It smells of gritty medium dark powdered chocolate, besotted black fruit - prunes and raisins, mostly - molasses, roasted caramel malt, and a bit of day-old coffee. The taste is sweet, lightly toasted caramel malt, chocolate pudding, sour cherry, well sugared coffee, some mildly bitter earthy, leafy hops, and a slight warming alcohol astringency.

The carbonation is moderate, not too big, not too small, the body a decent medium-heavy weight, and generally smooth, but for a wee boozy interloper. It finishes pretty sweet, with the overall toasted, slightly smoky character saving the day.

I do quite enjoy Lagunitas' version of the style, as it is more laid back, and drinkable than many of its colleagues (but still nice and warming). I poured the last third of the bomber into my slowly simmering Irish stew, and expect that it will have a similar positive effect on tomorrow's holiday (in my mind, anyway) dinner party.

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Photo of brentk56
3.52/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a relatively dark brown color with a tan head that doesn't hang around very long nor provide much lacing

Smell: Dark chocolate covered raisins, with a touch of molasses

Taste: Starts out with a fairly distinct chocolate flavor that grows slightly more complex, mid-palate with some prune making an appearance; after the swallow, the fruity flavors stick around and develop a nutty aspect; somewhat vinous on the finish

Mouthfeel: Way too thin for a RIS; medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A reasonably tasty stout that falls short of the RIS category; a bit more like a Baltic Porter than a stout, frankly

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.92/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a medium black color stout with a nice off-white foamy head with good retention. Aroma of coffee is dominating with some roasted malt also noticeable. Taste is a nice mix between some coffee and black chocolate from roasted malt with light vinous notes and dry raisin appearing as the beer warms. Body is a bit thin but has a creamy texture which I appreciate. Not bad overall and akin to a session imperial stout if such a thing can exist.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.45/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1 pint 5 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Guinness goblet in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Served refrigerator cold. This is the 2011 version, which is 10.14% ABV, 72.45 IBU, and with a 1.092 original gravity. No bottling date is listed. Purchased at Wally's Wine in Westwood, California. I'm excited to try this because of the style, and expectations are high.

A: Pours a half finger head of nice mild tan colour, okay cream (it's present at least), and pretty good thickness. Retention is maybe two minutes, about average for 10.14%. Colour is a solid black. Everything here is typical and as it should be for the style. There's nothing special or unique, but it doesn't alert me.

Sm: Leather, chocolate, vanilla, rich caramel, and toffee. Some cream. A mild strength aroma. It's appealing, and suits the style. Nothing stands out.

T: The rich leather/chocolate notes are nicely tamed by the subtly handled caramel on the climax, a pleasant effect. The cream is buried but helpful. I'm quite pleased with how balanced the chocolate is. It never feels too rich or too heavy. It's layered and fairly complex without compromising its balance. That said, there's nothing bold or experimental to separate this from the slew of other imperial stouts. I wish it were unique in some way, but I do find it enjoyable.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with enough coarseness to coax out the flavours initially but not enough to sustain them. Fortunately, it's not too heavy on the palate but it still is able to support the flavours. I'd like more cream and dryness; I'm tired of imperial stouts drinking like they're porters. I don't suspect oats were used for smoothness as it isn't silky. All in all, it gets the job done.

Dr: An enjoyable, drinkable imperial stout that hides its 10.14% ABV very well, this will satisfy fans of the style but won't impress. Worth trying for Lagunitas lovers and those who can't get enough imperial stouts. It's a nice little beer and I'd try it on nitro-draught/draught if I found it, but I'll be passing it over on store shelves for something with a bit more flavour. I look forward to trying more beers from this brewery, and while this is a good beer to try once, I wouldn't go out of my way recommend it to friends - especially with so many superior Imperial Stouts on the market. I will say the availability of this one is a plus, but such factors don't affect my ratings.

Would pair well with chocolate.

I found no issues serving it straight from the refrigerator, and didn't notice that it got better when warming up. It drank just fine from my Guinness goblet.


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Photo of zeff80
4.22/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a jet black color with a small, caramel-colored head that left a little lacing.

S - It smelled of caramel and strong roasted malt. Also, some hops and chocolate aromas.

T - It had a bold roasted malt taste. Slightly bitter. The chocolate flavor increased in intensity as the beer warmed up.

M - It was soft and creamy with a warm alcohol presence.

D -This is a flavorful RIS and very affordable.

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Photo of oberon
3.8/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a near black but with some crimsone hue showing thru near the bottem of my glass with a big fluffy almond colored head,aromas of rum and butter are dominant with some light nuttiness in there as well.Like others who have reviewed this I also think the body is real watery for an imperial stout,it has good flavors for the style lots of rum and butter with a nice big earthy finish but the mouthfeel keeps the flavors from really kickin ass.Iam glad I tried this and its not all bad but man that is a thin beer for an impy stout for sure.

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 9/2/2014. Pours pitch black color with a 2 finger dense and fluffy tan head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice dense soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, toast, toffee, dark bread, molasses, light nuttiness, light dark fruit, light char, herbal, and roast/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted/bready malt, earthy hop, and light dark fruit notes; with good strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, toast, toffee, dark bread, molasses, light nuttiness, light dark fruit, light char, herbal, and roasted/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate herbal/roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, toast, toffee, dark bread, molasses, light nuttiness, light dark fruit, light char, and herbal/roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity and robustness of dark/roasted/bready malt, earthy hop, and light dark fruit flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth, moderately creamy, and lightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice Russian imperial stout style. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted/bready malt, earthy hop, and light dark fruit flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Lagunitas Imperial Stout
22 oz. brown glass bottle,
$5.99 @ Wegmans Market

Lagunitas delivers a fairly typical Imperial Stout but with a touch of "west coast" thrown in. It displays dark bittersweet chocolate, black coffee, milk-chocolate covered espresso beans, almost burnt-sugar, burnt toast, dark caramel, dark skinned fruits, and some minor black currant backed by minty, piney, floral and leafy/grassy hops. It's a touch spicy as well but I'm not sure if that's from hops or alcohol, and there's also a minor suggestion of Bourbon as well. There's almost a smokiness to it just before the swallow, and then it gives off notes of licorice and ash. It lingers, slowly fading, eventually giving up a ghost of ashen-smoke, leaves, and Bourbon. The real flavor, however, is at the front where all of the chocolate is, and it's got great depth of flavor, if not as full in body as some might expect. For the price, this is a steal!

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Photo of chinchill
3.93/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle served in pint glass in Jan., 2011. Apparently, 1-2 year old 2009 bottle; no harmful effects of aging apparent (see ABV note) except perhaps some loss of carbonation. ABV of 10.14% according to label: This beer may have changed since its introduction. The ABV is higher than that now reported on BA. -- Updated in Sept. 2015 with a 9.9% ABV bottle, indicating that the earlier review is based on an older formulation. Description remains nearly identical but ratings head upward.

A - opaque. Black with dark mahogany highlights. Very little head and it is short lived but with a lasting minimal ring.

S - detectable alcohol; surprisingly sweet and floral.

T - Rich and complex. Primary: Roasted malt with some hop presence. IBU = 72.45 (label) but seems a little lower. Some burnt, smokey, caramel, prune and coffee notes. High ABV largely hidden. Quite sweet up front, like a milk stout.

Very full, nearly thick, with light carbonation

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.9/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of roasted dark malts, chocolate, coffee and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste is malty as you would expect but not as heavy as most big stouts with flavors of dark chocolate and roasted coffee. There's a decent hops presence that provides a nice balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, decent representation of style, I wasn't expecting much from this beer but was surprised to find that it was a pretty good stout to drink for a while.

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Photo of mactrail
3.87/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a different take on the RIS style. It seems more of a stew of flavors and less of the velvety bomb of some others. Rather sweet with raisin and fig flavors. Very fruity, like an Old Ale with the sweet vermouth flavors. Touch of licorice and toffee. A fair acidity with medium body rather than syrupy. Dark mahogany brown in the tulip glass. Nice carbonation in the mouth.

I can see people having differences of opinion on this but it's intriguing, it's powerful, and it's $5 for a big bottle.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.15/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear, dark mahogany body with a thin, frothed milk-colored head.

Smell: A hopeful scent of roasted malts, chocolate-covered coffee beans, almonds, glazed prunes and a tiny smidgen of spicy hops and alcohol.

Taste: This is a circus of chocolate flavors! Armed with plenty of lactic smoothness to round out the roasted flavors. Hints of vanilla beans and nuttiness. Finish is a blend of semi-sweet chocolate and herbaceous hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a milky texture and low carbonation.

Drinkability: This is my take: Certainly drinkable and fairly tasty, but this isn't really what I'd consider an "Imperial" Stout. One thing did jump out at me right from the get-go - the well-hidden 8.2%.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.45/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Transparent dark cranberry with slim tangerine edges. A Russian IS that isn't even close to opaque? What the hell are these guys thinking? The appearance score deserves to be marked down for that fact alone. I've seen darker brown ales. The golden beige head is incredibly light in color as well. This could be interesting.

Unfortunately, the aroma is just as lacking. It's way too weak, delivering no more than a passing whiff of dark malt. None of the usual stoutiness is present, because not much of anything is present. Big disappointment so far.

Even though Imperial Stout is no kind of RIS at all, at least it has some amount of flavor. Could the brewers have meant for this beer to look, smell and taste like this? It's hard to imagine, especially since it's obvious that they know their way around a mash tun and are capable of brewing some real humdingers. In fact, I think they do a bang-up job (present company excepted) and are underappreciated on the whole.

My first impression was that LIS is barely average, but it doesn't even reach that low bar. It's horribly thin, with almost no malt sugar sweetness, and tastes like burnt black bread, charred coffee beans and bits of bitter black licorice. Cappuccino Stout is damn good stuff, so this abomination is even harder to figure.

The body/mouthfeel is worse than pathetic (for the style). Thin, thinner, thinnest. The carbonation is okay in terms of quantity, but there's no creaminess whatsoever. With very few ingredients to run interference, it's no wonder the bubbles feel harsh.

Imperial Stout needs a bumper-to-bumper overhaul and needs it right now. It's tempting to assume that this bottle isn't representative, but it looks like this offering is near the bottom for Lagunitas when sorted by overall score. Yikes, this is bad.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

So I had actually had this one sitting around for quite a while but I never got around to trying it for one reason or another, but with the onset of the cold weather upon us, I figured now was the time to give it a shot. Poured a deep dark brown, essentially black with a large tan colored head. Nice slow retention left behind copious amounts of side lace. Smell was full of roasted coffee, chocolate, and an almost Brandy like aroma. Very thick with a bit of a sweet note to it. The taste followed along almost exactly. Very full bodied, rich and creamy feel let you really enjoy the bold dominating flavors of dark chocolate and coffee and the long finish helped you find some of the more subtle hints of a hoppy finish. Just the smallest touch of an alcohol warming, but nothing that really took you over. Overall this was an excellent sipper, really had the dessert, or late night feel to it. An excellent big stout, very complex and nice and full. I liked this one a lot and would say it was definitely worth a shot.

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Photo of billab914
3.42/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Bruery tulip glass. It poured dark brown in color with a frothy tan head filling the top inch of the glass. The head faded to a thin ring and also left some decent lacing as I drank it.

The aroma has a sweeter, milk chocolaty and caramel flavor to it. I get a good dose of citrusy hops coming out as well in it. The roasty, bitter stout characteristics seem a little light though. Decent aroma overall but not one of the better ones of the style.

The taste has a good mix of roatsy, biter-sweet chocolate and citrusy hoppiness to it. I get a good amount of caramel malt and sweet flavors to it throughout the flavor as well. The flavors really come together pretty nicely in it though. It's not in the top of the style class, but I give them credit for managing to integrate the hops pretty nicely in it.

The mouthfeel is medium for the style and carbonation is moderate. Overall it was a very drinkable and flavorful stout. The hops really mixed with the stout flavors better than most versions that try and do that. Overall though it just fell short of the best versions of the style. It felt to thin and light without enough roasty, bitter character to it. Pretty decent beer overall but not an exceptional one.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.82/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The pour is very dark brown with some reddish notes to it and a thin ring of khaki colored foam around the glass.

S: Quite sweet with plenty of caramel and toffee malt notes. There's a fair amount of roasted malt character with a touch of ash and some minimal alcohol. Perhaps a hint of dark fruits are there.

T: This had a nice sweetness to it with brown sugar, caramel, toffee, and molasses. There's some minimal dark fruit notes and chocolate. Not quite the usual level of roast and coffee as other imperial stouts.

M: The body is medium, about average for an imperial stout, with a medium carbonation.

D: This was a bit on the sweet side for an imperial stout, but still pleasant and drinkable. A good effort from Lagunitas.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.98/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From 03/04/13 notes. Had this on tap at Spring Lounge in NYC down on Spring St. 10 oz. pour in a tulip.

a - Pours a dark black color with one finger of medium tan head and high carbonation evident. Looks like a nice big stout.

s - Smells of bitter bakers chocolate, roasted malts, sweet chocolate, toasted malts, and burnt malts. Nice dark chocolate to it, pretty good nose.

t - Tastes of sweet milk chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, dark fruits, bitter chocolate, toasted malts, burnt malts, and some toffee. Really nice taste; sweeter than the nose which I like a lot.

m - Thick, full body and low carbonation. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy; very nice mouthfeel.

o - Overall a nice stout. Not too strong and not as big as I was expecting, but looks nice and has a greta mouthfeel, and a nice sweet vanill and chocolate taste. Worth checking out, would like to have it again.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
3.71/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The color is deep, dark brown, almost black. Head is tall, creamy, and light-brown. Retention is very good, there was still a nice layer of foam left in the bottom of the glass after I had finished my pint. Aroma is mediocre, not-so-rich milk chocolate smell is joined by a very, very mild roastiness. The taste is primarily a moderately rich chocolate flavor with a little coffee thrown in amongst a mild roastiness. Taste is very good, however this isn't as rich and full-bodied as I would expect a double stout to be. This seems more like a more powerful sweet stout or something along those lines. Drinkability is very good, this would probably work as a good introductory beer for stronger stouts.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
2.46/5  rDev -34%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark caramel brown thin tan head leaves specks of lacing. Aroma: Relatively bland lacks much of anything but mild chocolate tones from this one. Taste: Once again where's the imperialness this doesn't like a big stout of Russian decent that I have come to know and love. Dulled down chocolate, wood herbal finish weak flavors watery in a sense what the fuck. Mouthfeel: Medium to thin for an imperial stout pass on this one. Drinkability: I have tasted many Imperial Stouts this one is lacking in every department after falling in love with a couple Lagunitas brews I picked up this one, disappointment.

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Photo of vfgccp
2.83/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Dark black cherry brown with cola and cranberry highlights. Bone white head has nice lace and ok retention.

S - Big sweet nose loaded with malt, dark fruits, molasses, and concentrated balsamic vinegar.

T - Plum, with dark roast notes throughout. Touch of vanilla and cocoa in the center. Bitter roast finish.

M - Full body. Light carbonation. Smooth.

O - Excessively fruity. Almost more of an export stout with dark Belgian fruit notes.

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Photo of tdm168
4.33/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber at World of Beer at North Hills 11/18/11. Split it with jtd1969.

Poured into small snifters. Pours pitch black with a thin, brown lacing of head. The nose has notes of rich chocolate, deep roasted malts, and dark fruit. The taste is rich, deep chocolate and roasted malts with some anise and licorice up front with a nice bitter finish. The balance in the flavors is perfect and the alcohol is noticeable but adds warmth and depth and does nothing to detract from the overall flavor. The mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, and warm.

This is fantastic. It's smooth, full bodied, rich, delicious. I would have another one in a heart beat.

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Lagunitas Imperial Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Company
3.73 out of 5 based on 2,067 ratings.
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