Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House

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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #2,098
Ranked #35,930
3.7 | pDev: 14.32%
Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House
Ohio, United States
Very Good
Notes: A high-gravity Russian Imperial Stout brewed from a blend of dark malts and Jolokai peppers (Ghost Chili Peppers).
Reviews: 24 | Ratings: 135 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Buck89
3.77/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured an opaque dark brown with a modest tan head. Aroma was mainly chocolate and roasted grain, along with faint vegetal pepper notes and spice. The peppers hit on the palate, with a bright spice throughout but certainly not overwhelming, allowing the chocolate and RIS notes to shine through. Some chocolate and roasted char, but overall not out of the ordinary. The spice was the main feature but not anything remarkable.

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Photo of mntlover
3.15/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours black looks light in the pour not thick strange. But it is dark no light getting through it, head is non existent maybe dark tan ring around the top.

Aroma is strange also some very light roasted malt, some light chocolate but dominate by what I assume is the pepper. The pepper smell is kind of a mix between vinous like notes, licorice and pepper.

Taste is light roasted notes with chocolate, then bam the pepper burn kicks in lighter side of medium heat at least for me. Finish feels light and is linger roast pepper bite. Haven't had too many beers with pepper in them but would assume this is how not to do it.

Mouthfeel is wtf how is something that is almost 12% so damn light I don't understand. Carbonation level is fine though.

Overall would pass on this one unless you just dig watered down stouts with a big pepper bite.

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Photo of Djusse
4.47/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This beer is awesome. There is a wonderful chocolate taste but the star of the show is the pepper. This pepper hits your tongue but isn't over powering. It isn't as viscous as other stouts and doesn't have much of a head but is still a wonderful beer!

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Photo of yuenglingfan101
5/5  rDev +35.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is right my alley. I love Ghost peppers and i love chocolate. Strong smell of chocolate. Dark in color with little head. A little hot and spicy just how i like my women too. Tastes of chocolate and malts and mild on the ghost pepper, but none the less a spicy addition to an excellent beer!

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Photo of cbutova
2.98/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Thanks for sharing this bottle Emma and Dan.

A- Oily black deathly pour into a few pint glasses. A small head forms but dies out fairly quickly to nothing. Lacing is rare.

S- Something strange here as banana esters come to mind with some higher order phenolic spiciness. Raisin, toasty nuts, cocoa and burnt espresso.

T- Starts off like the aroma but as the beer is swallowed the burn comes on hard. The banana and spicy raisin seem to somehow out do the roast grains but the toastiness is supreme. Becomes a bit caramel and cardboard filled with time. Peppers burn the throat immediately.

MF- Oily and thick but lacks carbonation and most major supportive texture coming off as slightly slick. Aforementioned very low end carbonation and a fiery ending.

Full of strange flavors like banana, hot pepper, phenolic spice and cocoa. Burns quite good in the finish and the stout base seems lost.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.66/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.75

The flavor is full of peppers which tends to take over. Capsaicin, chile peppers, and actually habenero flavor is at the front. There is some chocolate malt and a wee bit of caramel sweetness. Obviously this is hot, really hot! The feel is unpleasant at times but it masks any booziness you may get from the 11.5%.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
2.23/5  rDev -39.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

Bottle. Pours dark but it doesn't seem to be viscous. No head. Aroma is spicy and heated but there are other aspects here. An earthy scent. Dark malt. Herbal. Roast. Flavor is far too spicy. It takes away from all other aspects of the beer. If am 100% convinced that if I drank this whole bomber I would shit my bed while experiencing a sweaty, hellish nightmare tonight. Far too hot. Nothing else to note. Who actually drinks this and feels satisfied afterward? Get this away from me. Would vote this "Beer most likely to make you shit a hole through your britches".

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.01/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

You're average RIS pour. Somewhat flat. Not quite the pitch black I would expect. Roasted, spicy and peppery notes aroma wise. Solid roasted and dark chocolate flavors. Mild pepper to it. Somewhat "inky" taste. Grain flavor. Very solid mouthfeel with a great burn to the back of the tongue....This has to be a serious acquired taste/feel but I really like it. I really enjoyed this overall. A very nice twist on a US Double or RIS. Amazed this was less then $4 a bottle from what the cashier told me.....I would buy again in a heart beat.

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Photo of SomethingClever
2.67/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Death 22 oz bottle poured into ice cold shaker

A: coal black with almost no head looks like a good bit of carbonation

S: lots of anise and licorice light peppers

T: very mild chocolate light anise and some chili pepper heat on the end

M: dead feel no carbonation and oddly thin and watery

O: This is just a flat out bad stout the taste is muddled and the beer is completely lifeless the chili peppers can't even save this beer as they don't impart a nice pepper flavor as much as just some heat on the backend.

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Photo of rudzud
3.43/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to JLindros for sharing. This was bought at Park and Shop of all places.....

A -Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a lighter dark brown hue, almost porter like instead of a dark imperial stout hue, thin one finger mocha head that fades to leave light wisps.

S - Aromas of light chocolate, loads of vegetative notes, green pepper and such. Light caramel and vanilla.

T - Taste is similar to the nose, light chocolate, vanilla, caramel, green bell peppers. There is a decent capsaicin heat. Fair amount of coffee syrup as well. The heat somewhat sudden and quick to dissipate.

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, smooth, creamy.

O - Overall this beer was nice and creamy, however, the pepper notes aside from the heat were simply vegative and watery. Not a huge fan.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of jlindros
3.36/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Shared with rudzud.

Forced pour gives it a decent fizzy foamy almost 1 finger off white head, fades quickly though, no lacing, darker but thin cola brown color.

Nose is weird, a mixture of sweet cola syrup, toasty brown nutty malts, little candy, mixed with vegetal green pepper, chocolate caramel syrup a little fake syrup like.

Taste brings sticky syrupy mess, candy syrup, fake chocolate coffee syrup. Plenty of hot pepper heat but not a ton, little green pepper vegetal thing, decent dark malt, little cookie note, faint baking spices. Finish lingering pepper heat, little more cookie and choc syrup, little booze.

Mouth is heavier bod, little syrupy, decent carb, decent pepper heat and little booze.

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Photo of KSOZE
3.98/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is a beer that really benefits from some time in the cellar. The peppers are still very much there, but it's a much more subtle and enjoyable experience. Mouthfeel a little thin, but it's a very good peppered stout. And the price point is out of this world amazing.

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Photo of BuckeyeSlim
2.17/5  rDev -41.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.75

32 oz. growler filled last week at the brewery poured into a NB snifter.

A - Pours a dark brown in the glass. A very loose, bubbly head of dark khaki foam disappears quickly, leaving a small sheen on the surface in the middle. Held to a full-spectrum light, the beer is almost jet black and solidly opaque.

S - Distinctive notes of cherry/almond right in the front of the nose just after the initial pour along with a fair amount of ABV. Very dark baker's chocolate in the background. Hints of burnt, charred wood and heavy-roast coffee grounds. As it warms up, hints of dark caramel emerge.

T - Whoa - that's a black and chili pepper blast to the olfactory senses that's going to take some adjusting to. The freshly ground black pepper is especially prominent and lasting on the tongue. Letting the beer warm in the glass lets anise emerge just behind rich, dark caramel malt and black, almost bitter, molasses. Dry, dark chocolate appears in the finish. As it reaches room temperature, it settles into something resembling cough syrup with a pepper chaser.

M - A bit smooth, but pretty neutral with soft carbonation. Body is not only thin, on the verge of being watery, but noticeably undersized. Structure of components seems to be missing, but it's hard to find them behind the pepper - there's just not enough substance to support the pepper bomb. Because of the pepper, the finish echoes a long, long time.

O - Do you like pepper? I mean, there's no such thing as too-much-pepper-in-the-dish like pepper? If so, you'll probably enjoy this beer. There's really nothing subtle about it. I could see pairing this beer with a thick, juicy grilled steak or a big bowl of meaty chili that, on it's own, is on the mild side. It would be interesting to see what would happen to the pepper if this beer was aged, especially in barrels matched to the spicing profile. Pepper is a spice, meant to be an accent. In this beer, it's pretty much the whole show, not only because of how dominant it is, but also because the rest of the recipe simply isn't big enough to support it and so gets overwhelmed.

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Photo of CincyBrewTull
3.42/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured and felt very thin. There was brown sugar and coffee notes up front followed by roasted grains and ghost pepper heat from the middle to the end of the short lingering flavor. It was generally underwhelming

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Photo of TequilaTom
3.58/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Vintage Estate in Boardman Ohio.
Pleasant roasty aroma, no hint of the peppers here.
Taste is rich but somewhat thin for an Imperial Stout.
A little heat towards the back of the throat, but very
mild. A well done balance and worth trying!

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Photo of Mikus
3.48/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice base beer was a benefit. Just a bit of heat and warmth from the chilis. No need to run away from the 'ghost chili' reputation. Surprisingly well-balanced. Bit of a thin texture for an IS. We enjoyed this offering. Worth a try.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.71/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

If you're going to balance a strong beer, you've got to use strong flavor. The Rivertown brewers reach into the spice rack for those impressively hot ghost chilies. Shying away from their traditional beer making, this experimental stout isn't for the timid.

Its inky-black pour offers nothing of the peppers within, at least to the eye. Resorting to stillness quickly, initial aromas are roasted with french-press coffee, dark chocolate, toffee and cola nut. With a faint herbal undertow, piney hops and mild vegetative fruit stem from its pepper additions.

Across the middle, the body waivers slightly, revealing the taste of coffee grounds, bittersweet chocolate and simple caramelized syrups which take on proportions of pecan and cola. Its savory fade reveals mild fudge and savory toasted tastes before the heat arrives.

Remaining full, the weight of alcohol warms the palate thoroughly with rummy spice, but all that is expounded upon as something sinister smolders underneath. With each sip, the capsaicin head builds upon the last and intensifies with the irresistible allure of the ghost chili.

Death is a massive stout that's more than able to stand on its own, but the use of peppers give the taste a complex kick that's more than just a subtle nuance. You've really gotta like spicy foods in order to take on this beast!

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Photo of buschbeer
3.96/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 FL OZ bottle
Served in a snifter

A - I'll just call this beer black. I held it up to the light and none came through. It has a half inch of mocha head.

S - The smell is sweet. I get some chocolate and roasted malt. There is no noticeable pepper.

T - It leans more towards the chocolate side on the taste. It almost tastes like a milk stout. The ghost pepper is barely perceptible. The heat does grow a little as I drink it. It is either well hidden or faded after almost a year.

M - It is very smooth with low carbonation. It does not quite have a full mouthfeel.

O - I think it tastes pretty good. I like the subtle pepper flavor. I thought the pepper would be more significant, but it is about perfect at this point in its maturity.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle. Served in a DFH snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a quarter inch tan head that went away quickly. There's a small amount of lacing. Aroma is nice but light, it smells like roasted malt, dark fruit, chili peppers and some molasses. Luckily the taste is stronger than the aroma, it tastes like chili peppers, roasted malt, chocolate and a bit of dark fruit. There's definitely spice noticeable, but I was expecting this one to be hotter. But the spice is lingering, it is a tasty brew. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's slick and syrupy with moderate carbonation. I think this brew is certainly worth a try, $2.99 a bottle. I wouldn't mind seeing Rivertown making this one again.

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Photo of ColdPoncho
2.34/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

What is a Jolokia Pepper?

A - A light body for an "imperial stout." Very brown.

S - Loads of diacetyl. I guess it's spicy diacetyl. Caramelly diacetyl. Roasted diacetyl. It's fuckin buttery.

T - Tastes like hot pepper-laced butter with hints of dark fruit and caramel. Thinking of it as a beer that represents "death," I can dig it. But it's not something that is good, much like death.

O - Don't care about mouthfeel, this beer is weird. Buttery as fuck, spicy. And maybe there's an imperial brown ale behind it. This is a deathly beer for sure.

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Photo of metter98
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a thin beige head that died down a little, leaving a bit of lacing on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of black licorice in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste has flavors of black licorice but this transitions to spicy flavors from the peppers in the finish and linger through the aftertaste.
M: It feels rather full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. The Jolokai peppers leave a bit of heat and dryness in the finish. The heat intensifies as the beer warms up.
O: I thought this beer was quite drinkable considering its strength and the use of Jolokai peppers, which are spicer than Habanero chili peppers. There are no traces of alcohol in the taste and there aren't too much peppers, just enough to leave a sharp pop of heat in the finish.

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Photo of barczar
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Been in the growler sealed for a week, so...

Pours an opaque deep brown with garnet highlights and a fleeting cola-like mocha head that disappears.

Chocolate malt and fruity pepper are dominant, with an undeniable hot pepper finish in the aroma.

Flavor reveals roast malt, chocolate, coffee, a bit of fruity pepper, then a back of the mouth spicy kick that accents the roasted, dry finish pretty well.

Fairly syrupy body, with minimal carbonation and substantial alcohol warmth.

For what it is, it is balanced well. Not kick you in the teeth spicy, but the sensation lingers. Good roast malt character, as well. If you're in the mood for some heat, worth a try.

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Photo of Ryan011235
2.57/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a Parkbrau Pils glass on 12/22/12

Dark brown, but not as dark as a RIS perhaps should be. This is merely a shade or two darker than Famine. 1/3rd of an inch head drops and scatters to ring retention. Very few specks of lace.

Burnt sugars and some chocolate, toffee molasses, raisins and dark fruit. Notions of peanut butter. Grainy smoothness; oatmeal? Faint soap and some off notes. Peppers are marginal at best.

Ah, the Jolokia peppers do come through for the palate with building spiciness. Roasted chocolate lies underneath; thankfully not as sugary as the aroma let on. The base beer isn't outlandishly heavy or boozy, especially if this thing is really 11%. Death has some of the usual Rivertown funny business but, coincidence or otherwise, the peppers detract from it.

The body is medium-full with fairly average carbonation. Smooth, modest viscosity. Any alcohol is masked by the peppers or well hidden. Feel-wise, this is pretty easy to drink for a RIS.

Leave it to Rivertown to make somewhat enjoyable a rather timid version of a style such as this. This may be the best of the four horsemen.

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Photo of Ohiovania
4.48/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had again recently on draft and I think they have tweaked the recipe for the better. It was fantastic. Reminded me of Mexican Cake but personally I found it to be more enjoyable.

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Death from Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 135 ratings