Pretty Willie's Imperial Stout
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Pretty Willie's Imperial StoutPretty Willie's Imperial Stout
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Russian Imperial Stout
4.33 | pDev: 5.77%
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Kentucky, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Pretty Willie's Imperial StoutPretty Willie's Imperial Stout
Notes: Rich Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels
Reviews: 17 | Ratings: 55 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of DokiDokiLitFam
4.44/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown like chocolate freaking syrup. No head, slight bubble formation on the edges.

Smell is bourbon, wood, dark fruit, brown sugar, chocolate, malt, booze as it warms. A lot going on here.

Taste is quite different from the smell. Very smoky malt, robust bold flavor. Expected coming from a Russian Imperial. Some nutty bourbon. Sweet, boozy. Mildly bitter on the finish.

Mouthfeel is a little thin. Mild carbonation. Very basic.

This is a nice brew. Very complex, very powerful. A slow sipper and a hearty beast.

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DokiDokiLitFam from New Jersey, Nov 10, 2019
Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Black as pitch with a one finger light tan head and some moderate lacing.

S: I pick up dark roasted malt, coffee bitters, booze, and soy sauce

T: Roasty and oaky. Bakers chocolate and soy sauce.

F: Medium weight (wished it were thicker) but very decent overall.

O: Good but still a touch boozy hot for the 9 months I bottle aged it. It seemed to me an attempt at BCBS but fell short.
It's too bad that such a great beer just left me wanting bourbon county. Worth a try for sure.

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Oh_Dark_Star from Washington, Jul 19, 2019
Photo of WickedBeer
4.31/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On draft, Loosa Brews, Tuscaloosa, AL.

Deep, viscous pour, with a great beige head of foam that rises to the top. Some great layers of lace form as it falls further into the glass.

I’m not sure what it is with these AtG Barrel aged stouts, but they all have this great chocolate lava cake aroma. This one is balanced nicely by a good amount of dark fruit and oaky subtleties.

More of the same in the flavors, although the lava cake is replaced by a stronger dark fruit and bourbon flavor, with a black licorice flavor also making its mark. There’s some good complexity here, with the barrel and the base beer working nicely together. As it warms, the lava cake chocolate essence really makes a comeback.

Soft, medium-bodied, with a medium carbonation. A medium level of stickiness, with good residual mouth-coating.

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WickedBeer from Alabama, Jun 25, 2019
Photo of unlikelyspiderperson
4.32/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark black with a thin mocha head that doesn't last long and has little lacing.
Smell has strong bourbon notes leading along with fig and raisin notes. Lightly chocolate hints in the back.
Taste is smooth chocolate and barrel vanilla up front with a nice black licorice and light whiskey note complimenting it.
Mouthfeel is amazingly smooth, lighter than unbarreled offerings but still pleasantly substantial.
Overall this is a world class barrel stout. Drink all the bottles you can find

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Photo of BenHoppy
4.88/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter this beer is black as night, oily and slick yet sticky and syrupy with flavors of bourbon, caramel, vanilla beans, and chocolate covered dark fruit. Super smooth and super delicious!

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BenHoppy from Michigan, Mar 09, 2019
Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served in a red wine glass from the bottle.

Appearance: coming off a thin dark black to brown body with a tan head rising at best half a finger's length off the body.

Smell: sweet whiskey with hints of warm brown sugar which sticks to the nostrils.

Taste: Complex sweet molasses but subtle with hints of coffee and malt. Smooth but the brew is still a little everywhere.

Mouth: Sticky beer. Whiskey finish is a touch strong but it isn't be at all. It lingers in your cheeks and hard to forget after taking a few sips.

Overall: Good Good brew but better bourbon barrel aged our there. I am being fair considering I have had much better for half the price. will but there is nothing to blow your mind away if you understand. Salud!

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BlurryVisi0n from New York, Feb 18, 2019
Photo of seedyone
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

From bottle at home via Milk & Hops, NYC, Poured into a snifter. Maybe a bit cold as there is little in the way of aroma & what does come through is muddled. A roasty something is there. First sip has slight burn & tries to get up the nose. Gonna let this warm a bit.

So now some flavors show up. There's a slight bitter like molasses/caramel, a fair amount of roast coffee & of course chocolate, but the more ephemeral flavors are still masked at even a slightly cool temp.

This is a BIG stout, to be sipped & savored, but even so the aromatics seem to be blanketed by the grander elements. It's hard to intrude on coffee, chocolate & toasty malt all of which are in my glass in abundance. This is not a complaint, but....

So to the "Commercial Description": RICH-check, IMPERIAL=Imposing-check, STOUT-No doubt. But now I get to the nebulous part. I assume the BARREL lets it all 'marry', if the BOURBON element is a thing here, I'll assume it adds the bigness here, because without a doubt this is a bottle full of bigness.

I've been working on the bottle for a few hours now & it appears to be a draw. We've both met our match brawn-wise.

At 13% this is one hell of a quaff. If you opening a bottle, bring company.

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seedyone from New York, Jan 01, 2019
Photo of bluejacket74
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle, no dating that I was able to find on it. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch tan head that stuck around a while. There's also a good amount of lacing. I like the aroma, the brew smells like vanilla, bourbon, roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, coffee and molasses. For the most part I think the taste is similar to the aroma, but there's the addition of some burnt/charred malt and woody flavors noticeable too. Mouthfeel/body is full, it's rich and coating with a moderate amount of carbonation. Still kinda boozy, some age wouldn't hurt this brew although it is drinking good now. Definitely worth picking up, wish I had some more! $16.99 a bottle.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.44/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours pitch black with a thin tan head.

S - Aroma is vanilla, coconut and light bourbon.

T - The taste is dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, coconut, oak and a nice kick of bourbon in the finish.

M - Full bodied with low carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a soft finish.

O - This is a very well done BBA stout. The flavors are perfectly balanced with the alcohol adding a nice warmth. Definetly worth seeking out.

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TreyIsWilson from Michigan, Feb 18, 2018
Photo of Tilley4
4.59/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75 class sipper here....

Incredibly complex for a big stout.... Coconut.... Vanilla.... Lots of barrel... Surprising punch of evergreen hops... Super dark roasted malts...

13% ABV... Is it hidden? Not really... Is that ok? As far as I'm concerned, yes... Kinda know what to expect with that. Its not "hot" but it is an attention getter...

As it warms, everything branches out even further into this monster of epic proportions...everything is amplified in a magnificent manner..

Wish I had another bottle of this to lay down for a few years to revisit and see how it does...

As is? Buy this SOB if you run across it anywhere...

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Tilley4 from Tennessee, Jan 13, 2018
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.27/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This one pours a very dark black, with a small head and not much lacing.

This smells kind of ashy, and super oaky, with leathery bourbon, heavy roast, light vanilla, and dark chocolate.

This has to be one of the oakiest barrel-aged stouts I've ever had- it's bitter, ashy, and burly, with a big smoke character, burnt spruce, chocolate, tobacco and vanilla. This is decidedly European and Nietzschean in stout execution. There's a little bit of warming booze, but not as much as I would've expected.

This is thick and chewy, with a good level of carbonation for the style.

This is definitely one of the better beers they make.

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GreesyFizeek from New York, Nov 16, 2017
Photo of jvgoor3786
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours motor oil with almost no head or lacing.

The smell is loaded with bourbon, chocolate, and dark malts.

The taste is awesome. There's tons of bourbon, dark chocolate, and coffee without being overly bitter. It's really well balanced.

The mouthfeel is very thick and smooth.

This is an incredible beer. It's well balanced, thick, with no hint of the 13% abv. My only complaint is price. $27 would buy me six KBS.

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jvgoor3786 from Arkansas, Nov 12, 2017
Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice black pour indicated a solid body right outta the gates, and kicked off rich roasty aromas of espresso, molasses, vanilla, and bourbon... Mouthfeel did not disappoint, bringing a full-bodied bittersweet roast of espresso with molasses and bourbon sweetness... The bitter char around the edges produced a slightly drying experience on the finish, with just a trace of stickiness left behind... A very well-executed bourbon barrel stout, albeit a bit pricey, for what thats worth to ya - bottle came in just under $30 out here on Long Island...

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Greywulfken from New York, Nov 04, 2017
Photo of bobhits
4.73/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

I don't normally get "nutty" as many do in these imperial stouts, but this beer is packing roasted walnuts along with chocolate, cookie dough, espresso, vanilla, caramel, and oh so much more. Dark fruits get a small note, likely some hop influence and then just this bready/cookie like dessert/ brownie master piece comes in.

I've been a fan of against the grain's stouts for some time, but this is the first I can recall seeing bottled around here. This is heavenly, even the 17 dollar price point seems well well worth it. I'll be buying more bottles.

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bobhits from Kentucky, Sep 29, 2017
Photo of Brutaltruth
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From the growler via DEPS in NKY in a snifter. This mighty beast pours
a rugged black with dark brown highlights and a nice head of dark brown
foam that settles to a thick ring, thin wispy pool, and features light lacing.
Nose of bourbon, oak, char, vanilla, sweet dark malts, bakers chocolate, and
black strap molasses. Flavors catapult into the beyond with rich layers of
bakers chocolate awash in sweet bourbon and moderately heavy earthy
vanilla and dark coffee notes pulled into a center of char and an overall
richness from black strap notes swimming in boozy oaken complexity that improves
with warmth. Dark fruit notes lightly appear on the background as it breathes
leaving on to think of ripe plums and currants. Rich and velvety mouth feel;
full body, low carbonation, slick, coating, and a wonderful experience to savor.

Perfect for laying down if you find a bottle of this beast.
Worth the cost.



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Photo of darktronica
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I don't frequently make comparisons in my reviews unless it's placing a small microbrewery's release in the context of something much more well-known, in the hopes of attracting someone to try a brewer off the beaten path. In this case, the resemblance of Pretty Willie's to Central Waters' Brewer's Reserve Stout (my go-to BBA stout) is so striking that I can't help but mention it. Against the Grain has nailed the same delicate balance between nougat vanilla sweetness and bitter dark-roasted grains and baker's chocolate. The nose in particular is in agreement; the palate has just a touch more impression of a Russian imperial, with a bit more emphasis on bitter, botanical hop and coffee notes and a drier finish. As the beer warms, it also acquires a nice coconut flavor. It's also slightly less viscous and full-bodied, but it's still moderately full in body and silky smooth. Just different enough on the palate to distinguish itself and keep my interest.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.21/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Assertive but smooth, the Against the Grain team has figures stouts out. In true Russian imperial form, the Stave it for Later series stout retains a malty sweet backbone with fruit nuances and broad coffee bitterness. But in new world fashion, the complex dark ale takes a long slumber in bourbon barrels for added sweetness, spiciness and character.

Pretty Willie's Imperial Stout is ominously dark. Inky, tar-like and black, the beer leads with a robust scent of espresso, cocoa, burnt sugars and a hint of scorched earth. Its taste is lavishly sweet and roasty. Its coffee and campfire taste is balanced early with brown sugar, candied walnut, burnt toast and a dash of sorghum.

As the sweetness settles down, the taste of char is paramount. Dark roast coffee, cocoa, burnt toast and roasted caramel all align with a savory scorched taste that's akin to over baked brownies. Caramel, vanilla and cream pull from the imperial stout and introduce the bourbon character that brings its own sweetness and spice to the middle palate. Charred oak trends nutty and toasty while hints of grilled dark fruit provide a slight brandy-like finish. Broad bitterness is once again coffee-like as the hops hide nicely behind the roast.

Full and decadent on the palate, the beer is an ideal closure to any dinner, tasting or session. Whisky spice and soft nutty tannins balance the residual sweetness late even as the bitterness allows the malt to lead late in the session. Coconut nuances stem from the barrel and trail into a long, savory and malty aftertaste.

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BEERchitect from Kentucky, Aug 07, 2017
Pretty Willie's Imperial Stout from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 55 ratings