Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Lagunitas Imperial Stout | Lagunitas Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
679 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,033
Photo of hobbes2112
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Pours a dark brown with small espresso-crema brown head. Help up against a light reveals a deep garnet color.

Smell is fairly tame, some chocolate malt and a little roast. As the head fades so does the nose.

The taste is more pleasing than the smell thankfully. More chocolate malt, roasted coffee but not really at the levels I expect in an Imperial Stout. Alcohol taste is oddly missing in this 8.2% As the beer warmed I started to note a little more of a nutty taste, possibly a hazlenut tinge.

The finish is not as dry as I would like, and the taste doesn't stay with you like in other beers of the style. I respect this beer, but don't know if I will pick it over another Imperial again.

 710 characters

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber bottle into matching shaker glasses. Split with psycohops. The stout appears a dark brown color with about two fingers of fluffy, but quickly fading ecru foam. Smells and tastes of medium roasted grain, milk chocolate, mild coffee notes, a hint of caramel and vanilla, whopper candies. Barely medium in body with a decent amount of carbonation. Not bad, but it's just missing something.

 416 characters

Photo of Bierman9
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bomber, it had an oily-dark color, topped by a tan, creamy head. The topping didn't last long, and left scant lacing in the glass. Smell was mild, for the style, with some cocoa and bitter notes, but lacked oomph. Very disappointed with the mouthfeel. Though it was fairly smooth, it was exceedingly thin for what's called an Imperial Stout. Not a lot of "there" there. Flavor had more of the cocoa/choco aspects hinted at in the aroma, yet little in the way of Imperial complexity. Found little, if any, dark fruit notes, and the hopping was just a touch floral and, basically, pretty straightforward. All in all, a rather simplistic take on the style.


overall: 3.5
appearance: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | mouthfeel: 3 | drinkability: 3


 773 characters

Photo of kirok1999
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours nicely black with a thin ring of foam on the edge of the glass. Hints of garnet around the edges of the snifter.
Smells of milky coffee with a bit of chocolate shavings. A hint of mild sweetness with a bit of hop bite.
Tastes much the same as the smell with a crisp, dry finish. Coffee comes through more in the smell with some mild, bittersweet chocolate.
Feels a bit thin and watery. Smooth, without much carbonation. Easy enough to drink but not my favorite winter evening brew.

 488 characters

Photo of boogles
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bomber into large glass.

A - decent dark tan head, deep brown but not black, dissipates after a while with thin lacing

S - chocolate, coffee, a bit of roasted malt--standard fare.

T - taste is good but way too weak for RIS

M - decent but maybe a bit thin.

D - since it wasn't very special, I was not too excited about it, so I gave it a low drinkability. No problem enjoying it, just not anything to get excited about. Last night I had Stone Ruination IPA, so perhaps I'm a bit spoiled.

 503 characters

Photo of brystmar
3.36/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This bomber was on clearance at the grocery store for $3.99!

Black as night, plenty of tan head. Roasted malts give way to sweet fruit and booze. Really smells like a dark Belgian strong ale towards the end.

Hints of roasted stout-i-ness up front recede quickly in sweet fruits. Again, reminds me of a dark Belgian. Finishes dry with bitter coffee notes. Decent balance, reasonably easy to drink.

Kinda thin and weak for a stout. This brew truly suffers from an identity crisis, as it shares many more qualities with Gulden Draak than other stouts. Not the greatest by any stretch, but a helluva bargain for $4.

 614 characters

Photo of ecoboy
3.35/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Very fine bubbled head sits atop a charcoal brown stout.

Choclatey sweet aroma leads to a rather thin mouthfeel on first sip. None of that delightful (and expected in an Imperial) glycerine-slippery feeling. The high alcohol is noticeable as it is not particularly covered by the malt character. A dryer finish than I would expect as well.

Drinkable, but not up to a Sam Smith's which I had later in the night, just to give myself some comparison.

 455 characters

Photo of beerking1
3.35/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown with red highlights, but not the black one expects from a stout, especially an imperial stout. Small tan head leaves minimal lacing. Aroma is black malt and green apples (acetylaldehyde). Flavor is sweet dark malt, without the warmth one would expect from a beer of 8%. Body is medium but the beer goes down very smooth and creamy. Tail is all black malt and chocolate.

 393 characters

Photo of TheStove
3.35/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a standard pint glass.

Pours nice and dark black with a good few fingers of foam which reduce down to a small foam line across the top. Nose to the glass reveals strong notes of toasted malt.

First few sips reveal that this is a good thick stout. Nice and heavy mouth feel, almost as if my mouth has to get through the texture before it can enjoy the flavor and I like that. Despite this the sips finish with a welcome ease, like the stout has gone from heavy to runny in a matter of a second.

Great toasted malt flavor with a prominent coffee and cocoa midsection. These flavors remain in a good way and despite being an "imperial" stout there is a noted booze character without noticeable bitterness or hop influence. Of course this changes and the hops begin to come out near the end with light fruit flavors almost like that of an IPA. It all melds together into a good beverage.

I don't know if I'd rate this a top tier stout but it is definitely an easy drinker. I almost want to call it stout training wheels as it is smooth and flavorful yet it doesn't favor any one flavor profile to make it more appealing to a certain palate. Lots for everyone in this one.

 1,202 characters

Photo of Truh
3.35/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The throngs bowed in adoration of me with this one on 12/15/2004. 1 pt. 6 fl. oz. bomber poured twice in a shaker glass.

Mocha, corpulent head that dies quickly to a fungal covering. Not black but closed, deep red hue on the claret side. Which surorises for the style – expected inkiness. Malty jam with a sweet port fullness in nose that reminds me of a barleywine. The oak char touches to taste are almost overwhelmed by the sweet vermouth maltiness and raisin puckering on mouth. For an imperial, this one is closer to being a court jester.

 548 characters

Photo of josiahschlender
3.34/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A cheap impy stout. I think it ran $3.29 for a bomber, so I can't say I came in with the highest expectations.

Look really isn't that good. Lots of light gets through, most porters are this dark brown. Brown head fades quick, no lacing.

It smells like an Imperial Stout, just not the most intense. Dark roasted grain, coffee, alcohol, molasses, hops.

Taste is similar. Not offending, just not as rich as I hope for in a beer that calls itself an imperial stout. Charred malts, molasses sweetness, kind of a dark fruity hop profile. Very short finish. As soon as you swallow, they flavors are gone with nary a trace. Body is thin. The only thing that lingers as it warms up is a dry, ashen mouthfeel. Not my favorite.

The price won't set you back much if you give this a try, but I'll be reaching for something different next time.

 834 characters

Photo of msubulldog25
3.34/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

My first try of this "Unlimited Release" from Lagunitas, poured at cellar temperature from a 22 oz. bottle to a pint glass.

A: Notable light in color for the style. Deep mahogany brown that shines ruby in the light. Fizzy cola-bubble tan head, about 1-finger worth, that disappears in seconds. Lace is slippery, sticking for a few brief moments then gliding back down the glass.

S: Good smelling, with malt sweetness of smoke, cocoa, molasses, dark fruit and some vanilla. Not terribly complex, but pleasant and true to the style.

T: Smoky toasted grains and low-grade chocolate-covered raisins. Caramel, cocoa powder, and some earthy hoppy bitterness melds with a generally sweet, malty character.

M: Weak mouthfeel, quite thin. A little sticky on the lips and chalky/bitter in the finish, tasting mildly of stale coffee. Carbonation is light to moderate. Alcohol content is masked, but generally there's not much to like...

D: Compared with the many fine examples of Russian Imperial Stout out there, this lags well behind. Aromas and flavor are decent enough but mouthfeel really fails to match the robustness expected. The look of the beer also belies it's thinness. Despite the fact I've liked other beers from Lagunitas, I probably wouldn't get this again.

 1,278 characters

Photo of tedpeer
3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce into a chalice.

A - Pours a dark brown (ruby highlights) with a sand colored head that quickly became a whispy layer and ring around.

S - Coffee and chocolate.

T - Sweet, a little roasted flavor. No real aftertaste or linger.

M - Thin, fizzy.

D - Weak for the style

Have to say that this is not a RIS, or if it is really considered one, it is a very weak one.

 374 characters

Photo of ccarney2
3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Jet black body, no light gets through at all. It pours a single finger head that vanishes fairly quickly and leaves very little lacing down the glass.

Smell - Rather mild nose, lots of a bready smell and a good bit of sweetness from the grain. There is also a little bit of a vanilla scent too.

Taste - Starts off sweet with lots of roasted malt flavor and a little bit of a smokey finish. The 9.9% ABV is masked rather well by all of the sweetness.

Mouthfeel - Moderate carbonation and viscosity, pretty average for this style in my opinion.

Overall - This was one of the less impressive Lagunitas brews that I've tried recently. I normally am extremely happy to sample one of their brews, but this stout was a little too simple. The sweet/smokey roasted malt was really the driving force behind this Imperial Stout and it completely dominated the beer.

 871 characters

Photo of brewcrew76
3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle

A - Pours a deep brown/light black with slight ruby highlights and a thin brown head.

S - Chocolate and lactose and not a lot else.

T - Sweet chocolate and lactose again. Very one dimensional.

M - On the thin side for the style.

D - Not a bad overall beer, just more of a thin sweet milk stout.

 321 characters

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a very deep brown color that passes a bit of light when held up directly to a light. There is about an inch of tan foam on top of the beer that retains fairly well. Barely any lacing.

Aroma: I just get a whole lot of Chocolate along with a bit of nutty/toasty malt. There is a little hops in here also, but it just coexists with the nutty aromatics rather than playing a major role.

Taste: The flavor is dominated by the malt, but I get a metallic flavor in this particular beer that I don't remember being there when I had this beer last year. Other than this, there is a bit more hops in the flavor than the aroma. There is still a malt balance, but there is a lot more going on in the flavor. I even get a bit of bready yeast in the flavor also. The beer finishes pretty neutral from the hops and chocolate. I don't get much roast in this beer if at all.

Opinion: Well, I remember really liking this beer last year, but now I think that it needs a bit of improvement. I have one of these from last year, so I would like to try them side-by-side. This beer seems to have a lot heavier water in it or something. Still not a bad beer, but it would be hard to put it up beside an Old Rasputin.

 1,219 characters

Photo of TenHornsProud
3.32/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear dark brown with a tan head. Oddly light in color...

Smells of toffee, caramel, toast, roasted character, really bready and toasty.

Taste is up front caramel with some roast that fades into a more roasted/astringent note with toast character that ends on a slightly fruity/alcohol/astringent/roasted flavor. Some lingering alcohol and astringency that is not particularly pleasing.

Medium body with medium to lower carbonation...feels a bit thin and boozy.

This is almost like an imperial brown ale with a more roasted character. Not particularly complex...the lingering astringency really hurts the flavor overall. This just doesn't quite come together to me, and is a rare let down from Lagunitas.

 718 characters

Photo of Freshie
3.32/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I scoring has been so weird lately. So many beers out of the norm.

Anyway, pours a dark color. Head dissipates quickly. Very discouraging for an imperial stout.

Aroma is good. Roasted, and nutty quality.

Tastes sweet. Coffee like. Roasted malt with a earthy and peaty hops. Its alright, but doesn't knock my socks off, like a Russian imperial should.

Mouthfeel is a bit sticky but alright. Like the roasted coffee flavor.

Decently drinkable.

I need more power!

 468 characters

Photo of bort11
3.32/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to JohnGalt1 and the Fight Club BIF for this one.

12 oz bottle poured into a pub glass. Thin dark tan head with no real lacing to speak of. Color is a dark mahogany brown.

Smell is a mix of dark chocolate and dark roast coffee. Taste is equally dark and bittersweet.

Mouthfeel is pretty thin for an RIS. Not light like a dry stout, but not the chewy viscosity that I'm used to. Good tasting, but overall a bit of a weak slap for an RIS

 445 characters

Photo of PlaywrightSam
3.32/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bomber into tulip glass. A: Lighter than I expected, very dark brown, some fluffy head that doesn't stay around very long. Lacing is pretty short lived as well. S: Darker malts, grains, some grassy hops, some cocoa. Smells like a porter to me. Alcohol present. T: Surprisingly light. Pretty bitter up front, the hops are surprisingly present. Some coffee and cocoa flavors, vague citrus flavors toward the finish. D: I'm not well versed in the style, but it seems a tad thin to me. I'm actually having trouble finding things to say about it, the flavor isn't terribly deep. But still, it's very drinkable, and I wouldn't get the abv to be as high as it is. A surprising beer, but good.

 691 characters

Photo of aerozeppl
3.31/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz into a glass

A: Black in color but on the light side for a RIS. 2 fingers of tan head with some lacing.

S: Roasted malt. Not as bold as you would expect for the style.

T: Roasted malt some coffee notes and a slightly bitter finish. Nothing spectacular. Alcohol is very well hidden.

M: Really thin for the style. I mean this is the thinest RIS I have ever tasted.

D: For a RIS this is a very drinkable beer. The alcohol is hardly noticeable. On the other hand when I reach for a RIS I expect something thicker and to be more of s sipper. Don't get me wrong this is not a bad beer but I expect more from Lagunitas. It was on the cheap side so pick it up and give it a try especially if you are new to a Russian Imperial Stout.

 734 characters

Photo of baiser
3.3/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a watery, lifeless dark brown colour, with a small, short lasting head. If you're expecting a full bodied, thick creamy and smooth stout, look elsewhere. What I had after the pour was a light bodied, somewhat watery stout, more reminiscent of a porter. Not much in the nose - some roastedness and coffee. Taste had some roastedness, hop bitterness, chocolate, some tartness, and some dark fruitiness. Overall, not a very good imperial stout.

 447 characters

Photo of euskera
3.3/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle...

Pours out dark brown/black into my snifter. Not too much of a head to it. Smell is the usual for an Imperial Stout, lots of chocolate hints with coffee; not very intense though. Taste is OK, not well defined and a little bitter for the style. The well defined flavors of other Imperial Stouts just wasn't there; what I was left with was a brew that tasted a heck of a lot more like a porter. Too many other unbelievable brews in this category for me to seek this one out again..

 496 characters

Photo of yourunclewalt
3.3/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a watery, Coca-Cola black with a likewise head. Deep red around the edges when light hits it.

S - Obviously a very malty aroma, little to no hop presence. Toffee, caramel, butterscotch.

M - Surprisingly watery initially, medium carbonation in the middle to a sticky finish.

T - Caramel malt with a smooth butterscotch finish. Very faint spiciness.

D - A pretty well balanced, standard stout...but for an Imperial, I was expecting something inkier, heavier, and more complex than just your standard caramel twang.

 537 characters

Photo of Xadoor
3.3/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured the typical black colour with a tan head. Taste is a little too sweet and mouthfeel is a little too thin. Despite having an ABV of just over 8%, the alcohol is not really detectable. Its not necessarily a bad beer, but I've certainly had better tasting stouts.

 267 characters

Lagunitas Imperial Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Company
3.72 out of 5 based on 2,033 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!