Tsar | Buxton Brewery

very good
26 Reviews
no score
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Brewed by:
Buxton Brewery
England, United Kingdom

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by maxk on 12-14-2011

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Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 70
Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.9/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very dark ruby color. The head is a bazillion fingers high and tan in shade. It has the structure, texture, and retention of a Belgian-style beer (a good one at least), and huge foamy patches of lacing stick to the glass. An extremely good-looking stout...but with characteristics that are mostly style inappropriate.

I am immediately intrigued. There's a surprisingly assertive presence of Cascade hops coming through (at times invoking a character similar to Victory's Storm King), which is surprising given it's about 20 months old. There are gentle hints of chocolate, espresso, and roasted malt. And the Belgian influence, can't forget the Belgian influence - dark fruit shows itself, alongside black pepper and bread. A bit strange with this aspect, but it reminds me a lot of a well-aged Storm King, which is a very good thing.

It opens up with a nice hoppiness, and a firm bitterness as well. The middle is loaded with dark chocolate and espresso, before finishing with some Belgian yeast, licorice, and dark fruits. I'm not sure if it's the age (bottled 9/1/2014), but it also features an unfortunately metallic back end. The more I sip it, the more this aspect goes away thankfully. Still, I can't help but feel this bottle isn't what it should be at all.

The mouthfeel is wrong for a "standard" imperial stout - it's airy, light, and very well carbonated. I can't be too hard on the texture, as it does showcase a little creaminess. And it goes down quite easily for 9.5%, without a single hint of the alcohol appearing anywhere.

This deserves a second chance. It has aspects of a bad bottle, tasting like it didn't age properly. Both the licorice and the metallic aspects are utterly overbearing and ruinous. There are good elements that display themselves, but it isn't enough to salvage it. Despite my low score, I'll look for this on tap in the future - I can really taste a good stout underneath.

2.9/5: The tsar was once great, now he's a drunken mess

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Photo of alarmclock314
3.96/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

11.2oz bottle, dated 9/1/14. Pours with a gigantic, overflowing khaki head which lasts a bit before forming into black liquid. Smells of Belgian yeast, roasted malt, bright hops, cocoa, and some dark fruit. The taste follows exactly with roasted malt, bright hops, cocoa, and dark fruit. Moderately bitter and pleasant sweetness. Thinner body and high, prickly carbonation. Overall, its has a pretty desirable smell/taste and has more hops than a typical RIS, but the carbonation and body is way off. Pour this in a glass very gently and near a sink.

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Photo of drpimento
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I think I drank this bottle at too cold a temperature. There was a huge foamy frothy tan head. Aroma is nice, complex with black malt, pumpernickel bread, blood, anise, leather, lumber. Flavor's like nose plus fairly dry, mint, some carbonic tang. strong bitter. Body is decent. Good beer. Be interested in trying it again at proper temp, but that's all --- so far.

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Photo of Chico1985
2.93/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

My first from Buxton, English brewery of fair intrigue. 330ml with a bottled on date of 9-1-14.

A - Initial pour is 95% brown foam. Eventually it falls and black beer forms. But the head retains that weird-small-bubble-probably infected thing throughout.

S - Some metallic notes plus the appearance hint towards an infection of sorts, but still mostly stout - decent char roast, dark chocolate, licorice, dark fruit, actually quite a bit of piny and resiny hoppiness here as well.

T - Light metal here as well, though not a huge deterrent on its own, when teamed with the super-intense ashy roast it is a bit unpalatable overall. Lots of licorice, sharp piny and citrusy hops, and dark fruit with no sweetness, only tiny bits of cocoa coming through.

M - Too carbonated and foamy but not bad, lots of bitter roast and hops, just not very enjoyable to consume.

O - There's a dense and hopped up (and seemingly good) stout under all that acrid roast overload. The uber-foam and slight metal take away from it as well but honestly aren't too annoying, but the roast level is way too high. Has potential but this bottle had issues.

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Photo of Boldenglishale
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled September 1st 2014. Lots of carbonation on this one, don't pour too aggressive. Taste: Lots of dark chocolate, mocha coffee, mild dark fruit notes ending with more dark chocolate bitterness on the tongue. A very nice English RIS. Yum! I wish i had several bottles. :(

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Photo of smakawhat
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Big thick rocky, and foamy tan head. Thick creamy top of three fingers even on a slow pour coming out, voluminous and ballon forming. Classic opaque and dark walnut brown out of the bottle.

Classic aromas of bitter fruit peel. Hints of lime zest and dark roasted malted coffee. Fruited coffee bean flavors and hints of cherry and red wine grape. Husky and big thick sensation with light fruited brandy notes minus the sweetness and boozy quality. Mild sense of dark bakers chocolate to match. Excellent bouquet.

Palate performs nice and simply. Roasted grains and chocolate angle does bring the bitter bakers quality. Fruit component follows on the swallow, in a carbon coffee sensing way. Real unexpected tight carbonation that hits an impressive and very unexpected fresh cracked black peppery quality in the mid palate, nice and explosive. Almost a creamy mouthfeel but not quite, giving to basic but malt backbone that doesn't get in the way of the palates flavors. Controlled roast and hop bitterness, going to lime, astringency, and woody grain.

A real neat and solid Russian Imperial.

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Photo of Jeffo
1.3/5  rDev -66.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Got this one at The Bierkoning in Amsterdam

From a bottle into a snifter
Bottled 8 April 2014
Best Before 8 April 2019

APPEARANCE: Clear black pour yields a large, four finger, looser, dark tan head with decent retention. Black body with no carbonation evident. Huge head. Looks infected perhaps. Feades to a full foam cap leaving some chunky lacing one the glass. Very foamy. Splotchy foam and wisp remain leaving chunky lacing on the glass.

SMELL: Smells off. Some roasted notes and chocolate on the nose. Metallic aromas with hints of black coffee as well. Unfortunately this is quite metallic and acidic.

TASTE: Way worse than the nose had indicated. Lots of metal and acid. A bit of roasted malt and bitter coffee lingers after the swallow, but it’s no match for the metallic and acidic nastiness. Very offensive.

PALATE: Medium body and higher levels of carbonation. Abrasive on the palate, goes down rough with a burn at the swallow and finishes dry. Lots of acidity and burn.

OVERALL: This is definitely off. Given how much it cost and the praise that Buxton receives, I’ll admit I’m rather disappointed. An awful drain pour. Would like to try a good bottle of this at some point but I won’t be paying top price for it again.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.21/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pitch black with a huge fluffy dark mocha head.
The smell surprises with a lot of leafy hop, bringing some citrus peel too. The usual chocolate, mild roast and coffee notes are still there, but not the first to pop up.
Wow, same goes with the taste. Really bitter from the start, with those hops really dominating. Really prickly too. Citrus peel shines, somewhat sugared, but there's also some faint raisin and forest berry. Strong dark chocolate, smokey burnt malts and really strong espresso straight up, leading to a really dry bitter finish. Citrus crispness adds to that dryness.
Aftertaste feels like espresso with orange juice. Some dregs, some raw cocoa powder, burnt bread too. Medium body, really prickly carbonation.
A really pumped up RIS, without any excess alcohol, strictly flavor-wise. Solid.

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Photo of Hoppsbabo
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Black and very gloopy with a collosal crema of a head. The head starts off tightly packed but gets gradually bigger farther down.
S: Huge coffee and chocolate.
T: Repeats the nose with the huge coffee and chocolate. It's sweet enough but slightly overpowerd by a not too unpleasant bitterness. More than I'm used to in this sort of beer though. There's a lovely elderflower like hoppiness. Almost at room temperature and orange marmalade rears its handsome head. The finish is a strong roastiness with floral oranges.
M: While it poured out gloopy there's a very lively, albeit fine, effervescence which lightens it up and there's a nice snap as I swallow.
O: An excellent example of an excellent style of beer. After that 9.5% fizz bomb I'm struggling to hit the right keys.

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Photo of avalon07
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick consistency. There was a half inch of foamy, tan-colored, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A big aroma of dark fruit, chocolate, malt, and something sweet.

T: Tasted of dark chocolate, malt, a vinous quality, toffee, and dark fruit (plums?). A good, solid flavor, but it doesn't quite live up to the promise of the aroma. Nonetheless, a complex taste.

M: An average amount of carbonation with a smooth finish. Surprisingly medium-bodied.

O: Very much a likeable beer. Not as powerful or robust as other Russian Imperial Stouts, but worthwhile.

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Photo of Samp01
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thick black with no head. Aroma is of dark fruit, plums, black figs, with liquorice notes, some dark cacao notes as well. Taste same as aroma with mild bitterness. A full bodied, rich and thick mouth feel, smooth and mildly sticky on the palate with good carbonation. Finishes with a full flavored dark fruit, dries plums and figs, raisins, a bit of sweet bitter chocolate and a mild bitter liquorice flavor on the end for balance. Overall a very good full flavored and tasty brew.

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Photo of ludachris
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%

Its body is as black as the label on its bottle. The head that forms on top is massive. It's meringue-like and frothy and looks like a dessert inits rich shade of khaki. Its level of retention is something worth noting. Thick and chunky patches of lace glue themselves to the sides of the glass. Very few beers look better to me than bottle conditioned RISs. What a beauty.

Hefty loaves of pumpernickel and rye have gooey notes of raisins and dates smothered over them. A rich roastiness and stripe of alcohol buttress this hefty stout. Dark chocolate brownies come as an afterthought. Lively and juicy blackberries are tossed in all of the above and make for an intriguing center.

The alcohol comes in quick and zippy. There's much more of a hop presence, coming in green and leafy. The melange of berries and dark fruit settle on the middle of the tongue. Spiked roasty coffee coats the sides of the palate.

The body is full and rich with a soft creaminess. Not at all slick or oily. The finish is dry with still enough body to chew on.

Overall, a fantastic rendition of the style. It's a bubba in every aspect but never comes across as overwhelming. Its high ABV doesn't weigh it down and the flavor and all its complexities make it a treat to drink. Well worth a try.

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Photo of mdagnew
4.41/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

330ml bottle bought from Chatsworth House farm shop...

Poured pretty much pitch black. Dirty mocha head poured small but thick and foamy then faded quite quickly to the faintest covering with a thick ring around the edge... light patches of lacing...

Aroma - Deep roasted chocolate maltinesss, nice toffee and treacle sweetness, nice light peaty smokiness, muscovado sugar, charred wood, quite earthy, dark fruits (raisins, dates and figs), fruit loaf, light vanilla traces, peppery, no real hint of the alcohol, slightest hint of cardboard... wonderful stuff...

Taste doesn't quite live up to the stunning aroma... Quite a lot of roasted chocolate malt backed with light vanilla, some peat and charred wood smokiness, coffee, some molasses sweetness, spicy nutmeg, sooty and earthy, booze is just noticeable, light sourness, dried dark fruits (prunes to the fore), faint anise..

Feel - Pretty rich and smooth... full bodied... pretty drinkable for an 9.5% brew..

Overall - An excellent example of a RIS... highly recommended

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Photo of beholder_pl
4.73/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: pitch black with a thick tan, long-lasting head. Awesome lacing.

Aroma: dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee and roastiness. Not very intense, but really good, just the way it should smell.

Taste: first comes the intense roastiness, followed by dark chocolate and coffee. Some delicate notes of cocoa in the back. Bitterness is medium. Alcohol is hidden very well, almost untraceable. Some small hints in the aftertaste, but that's because I drank this beer in room temperature. Pretty warming.

Mouthfeel: thick, oily, full bodied, soft carbonation. Superb.

Overall: maybe not mindblowing, but almost perfect russian imperial stout. Plus the name Tsar makes this beer even better. Really, this is probably the best way to name a beer in this style.

Enjoyed in a teku glass.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a one finger light brown head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Black color, no highlights. Light carbonation and heavy bodied. Chocolate nose and flavor is sweet chocolate with a bitter chocolate finish. Higher ABV is hidden. $4.99 for a 330ml bottle from Julio's Liquors Marlboro, MA.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
4.21/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A 330ml bottle with a BB of March 2014. Acquired ages ago from Trembling Madness in York and stored in my garage. I keep hearing that Tsar is amazing stuff - time to put that claim to the test!

Poured into a Delirium chalice. Bottle conditioned. A very dark brown hue that appears ultra-black in the glass. Produces a decent head of creamy brown foam with a fine texture; this subsides after a few minutes to leave a patchy surface layer. The aroma is a heady experience - rich roasted malt with notes of burnt grain, coffee, cocoa, molasses/brown sugar, faint vanilla, pine, stewed hops and earthy yeast. A warming whiff of booze in the background. Superb!

Tastes of exceptional roasted malt with a deep, hoppy character and a huge bitter finish. Notes of burnt grain, roasted malt, coffee, cocoa, molasses, brown sugar, a hint of vanilla, faint smoke, pine resin, stewed hops and earthy yeast. Well-attenuated, accompanied by a warming hint of alcohol in the background. An ardent bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth, tingly and dry, with light carbonation and a touch of spiciness. Good body, though could be a shade thicker. Highly astringent, followed by an aftertaste of bitter roasted malt, piny hops and earthy yeast.

Amazing - an amplified taste sensation. It looks the part, while the aroma and flavour are towering tributes to dark malt and aromatic hops. The body is good, though enhanced thickness might have done the strength more justice. The powerful malt/hop combo reminds me of Flying Dog's Gonzo. Fantastic - a future classic. Add this to your must-try list.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.56/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, char, and herbal hop aromas. There are also some cocoa and vanilla aromas that come out as the beer warms up. Taste is much the same with cocoa nib and citrus zest flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty and hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that reminds me much more of a black IPA than a RIS in terms of the aromas and flavors I am getting.

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Photo of jmaharaj
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours thick and black with a tan head that streaks the glass. Smells big, but a little muddled. Molasses seems to dominate, above layers of spent coffee grinds a some spicy hops. Taste is similar. big and bold, but not distinctive. All the elements are there but they haven't come together perfectly. They hit the tongue at once and almost instantly a sharp hop bitterness cleans it all out. There is a little warmth from the alcohol. There may be something about this beer that feels a little artificial. Mouthfeel is good. Not as thick as expected but it rolls over the tongue with some weight. Overall pretty good, and not ridiculously priced, but not a standout Russian imperial stout.

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Photo of John_Henry
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Wow. This is a truly great beer. A wonderful depiction of the style. Full body, full flavour and fabulous complex nose. Looks good, as one would expect, black. Not too carbonated. I imagine it would age well if you could resist it.

Overall, I can't wait to have this again, truly great beer.

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Photo of metter98
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured like motor oil with a thin dark tan head that quickly died down, leaving a collar of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of dark malts and licorice are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has flavors of licorice along with notes of dark and roasted malts.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The aging of the beer might have lended it a little flat but it is not too difficult to drink considering the strength.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.94/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours an opaque extremely dark jet black in color with minimal amounts of visible carbonation and just a hint of very dark cola brown highlights. The beer has a quarter finger tall dark mocha head that reduces to a medium large medium thick patch of larger bubbles and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of dark and roasted malts with lighter notes licorice/anise and some stronger notes of booze.

T: Upfront there are light to moderate flavors of dark and roasted malts with just a touch of dark fruit sweetness (raisin and plum stand out). There are lighter notes of chocolate, licorice/anise, and just a touch of burnt malts. Light amounts of lingering bitterness.

M: Medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly thin with a light amount of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: Moderate amounts of complexity which make this brew pretty enjoyable though it is a big beer - made for slowly sipping to enjoy.

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Photo of mmapes
3.36/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Possibly traded from Ben (or did we buy this at the bottle shop in York?). Bottle said do not refrigerate, but we did, as the preferable alternative to a too-warm cellar. Poured into two North Coast snifters. (Proably should have let it warm a bit.)

Color is velvety black. Maybe a hint of dark red/brown on the edges. No head, but we poured carefully because there is a layer of yeast.

Smell: "stout," black licorice/anise, toasted malt.

First impression: grainy, dry -- a little from hops and a little from toasted malt/smoke. Hot with alcohol.

Later impressions: the alcohol/grain/toast finish is almost a little sour. The russian imperial stouts I'm used to a re sweeter, this one is dry and grainy. It's a nice change. Might be a little too dry/smoky to make my "buy again" list.

Pairs really well with a smoked gouda.

The dregs are more bland, more one-note. Interesting -- I would have thought the yeasty layer at the bottom would be more complex.

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Photo of CwrwAmByth
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Fullers snifter glass.

Pours a black colour with a luscious brown head.

Smells faintly of coffee and dark malts.

Tastes of dark, burnt malts, with a liquorice like tang, and a rich coffee like taste. Good smooth and thick mouthfeel.

Overall a pretty great beer.

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Photo of russpowell
3.91/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours mahogany with a pinky of tan head. Great lacing & good head retention

S: Smokeyness, bubblegum

T: Dark fruit, hints of bubble gum, a touch of booze & oaky dryness up front & leafy hops up front. Carob, oaky dryness & vinous flavors as this warms, a bit of leather & dates too, some chicory as well, some dark chocolate & charred grain breaks through, along with booze bite. Finishes dry, fruitty, with some strong smokey notes

MF: Chewy, fairly lively carbonation, warming

A decent RIS, glad I got to try it

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Photo of Bung
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz. picked from the Greenville Beer Exchange. A fairly viscous looking black pour, just a few dark tan bubbles.

Aroma, roast malt, anise and some resiny hops. Dark chocolate as well.

Taste, heavy roast, malt and a little coffee. Anise and pine kick bitter through. Coffee, cocoa some more herbal bitter. Pretty nice.

To the right of mid bodied. More carbonation than would appear. Coats well, drinks well, no abv. presence.
Quite solid.

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Tsar from Buxton Brewery
3.88 out of 5 based on 70 ratings.
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