Tatonka Stout
BJ's Chicago Pizza & Brewery Inc.

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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #799
Ranked #27,061
3.78 | pDev: 13.49%
BJ's Chicago Pizza & Brewery Inc.
United States
Very Good
Notes: An imperial stout — a classic style so rich and flavorful that it was once the private beverage of Russian Czars. The profile is malty sweet, hop bitter roasted, full-bodied, alcoholic and deliciously complex. Beer doesn’t get much more intense than this!

60 IBU
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Reviews: 67 | Ratings: 230
Reviews by Beerandraiderfan:
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.38/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown pour, lighter brown head to it, looks the part, even if slightly lighter than most. Aroma was kinda muted, not as much sweetness or roastyness as you would hope for.

Taste, decent, hides the alcohol quite well, but a little pase for an RIS. Sturdy, but no one flavor to speak of, which depending on your point a view, could be a grand testament to its balance.

Overall, a decent beer worth having again, especially considering its cheapness and ability to hide alcohol.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
2.33/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Sampled this on nitro-tap at the BJ's Restaurant in Fresno, CA tonight.

Served in a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pitch black body (or so it appeared in the dim lighting) with a quarter inch of dense, light brown, cap. Great head retention and foamy lacing.

Smell: Roasted barley and chocolate came through right away. With time, caramel, coffee, and hints of red currants emerged. Nothing out of the ordinary or special about this one.

Taste: Chocolate and roasted malts make up the bulk of the flavor profile. Little to no hop presence. Roasty finish transitions to an annoyingly alcoholic/fusel aftertaste, which lasts and lasts. Boo.

Mouthfeel: Thinner than it should be and under-carbonated; very dull, nearly flat (the nitro-infusion is waaay off). Finishes very dry, brazenly showing off the ABV. Not creamy in the least. Lousy.

Drinkability: I had to eat food/take big swishes of water between sips. This was one of the worst RIS's I've had. Almost no complexity, certainly no balance, and an extremely alcoholic finish. Just BAD.

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Photo of mickeymac
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's close to black, with just a hint of brown. A good pour from the tap or the growler produces a healthy tan head that fades pretty quickly. The smell is roasted malt with a hint of fruit and a moderate alcohol aroma. Lots of flavors are floating around. In addition to the roasted flavors, a ripe fruit flavor is noticeable. It's lighter in flavor and mouthfeel than most imperials. However, I found the Tatonka to be the best of the beers regularly on tap at BJ's.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
3.96/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap at the Las Vegas (Summerlin) location, but brewed in Chandler, Arizona.

This imperial stout poured a very dark (almost opaque) black color with creamy, brown foam that persisted until the last drop. The smell was malty with a mild roastiness. The smell was very mild, but could be coaxed a little with swirling. The taste was sweet and malty with hints of cocoa and dried fruit, and with an pervasive light roasted malty bitterness. There was a hint of alcohol as well. The mouthfeel was smooth and creamy with medium-full body and moderately low carbonation feel. This stout was warming, and the roasted flavors lingered. This was a good stout, and it grew on me.

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Photo of elmocoso
3.44/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My wife thinks this beer has to much hop presence for a stout. She is a stout/porter lover. Me, being a hop head, think it is a nice touch to a good style of beer.

It came to the table with a good 1/4 inch of beige head. It clung to the glass and supported a decent collar for the life of the pint.

The nose is hops and smoke. A enticing combination. Roasty chocolate hid in the depths of darkness. The taste reflects the smell. It is all the things you look for in a decent stout with a nice hop bite that adds a welcome dimension.

This is an all around good beer. Nice alcohol amount and a good one to drink with dinner or dessert.

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Photo of Dmann
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An all around good Imp. Stout. This one poured a nice dark black with a fluffy brown head that lasted till the last drop and left a whole lotta lace. The smell was a little sweeter than I was expecting, and had a good chocolate scent going for it. The taste was great and a little more hoppy than I was expecting but it was very good. Good dose of chocolate and light coffee flavours as well. This one went down very easy and I could have had many more of these, good job!

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Photo of DrewBeechum
4.42/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on Cask from BJ's Woodland Hills, CA
Cask had been tapped 3 days prior.

Under normal nitro draft service, Tatonka is a reliable Imperial Stout carrying all of the expected coffee roasted notes of the roast barley. However, Tatonka has a harsh acidity from the roast in the palate that is enhanced by the CO2. This acidity is what keeps Tatonka from being my favorite BJ's beer.

Cask service makes this beer shine in a whole other light. The nose is softer with coffee tones subdued and replaced by chocolate and plums. The flavor is richer and rounder with a softer roast profile by far. Thanks to the slightly warmer service and lower CO2 levels, the beer really comes through with a profile less like an Imperial Stout and more like an extra rich Foreign Stout.

Definately a treat if you can find it.

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Photo of Gavage
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: black in color with a 1/2" tan head. Some thick lacing developed through the drink.

Smell: the aroma is of roasted malt, chocolate, and alcohol.

Taste: the flavor consisted of roasted malt, chocolate and licorice. Alcohol level was quite strong and very noticeable.

Mouthfeel: this was a medium-heavy brew with a creamy smooth start. The finish was slighty dry and long on the alcohol and chocolate tones.

Drinkability: one of the better BJ brews and is nicely drinkable even with the noticeable alcohol tones.

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Photo of Rumrunner
4.06/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pint style glass

A real well crafted complex stout.

Almost black with a big tan foamy head with bubble holes in it. Amazing lacing and the retention of the head was better than average. The scents were at first very muted. A cold scent to it. As it warmed a roasted cocoa and floral hops emitted from the glass.

Many flavors here. Roasted cocoa and mocha dominate this stout. Some burnt grains and a slight molasses. Some hops give this stout a bit of bitterness. Not too powerful though. It balances well. At 8.1% ABV it is hardly noticeable.

Medium body. It drinks well. It is not as heavy as other stouts that I have had. Cheers to BJ's on this one.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled (5oz.) on 09-08-03 at BJ's Brewhouse in Arcadia, CA.
Inky black in color with just the faintest suggestion of brown at the edges. Thin but resilient creamy mocha colored head.
Smell is of burnt coffee, dark dried fruits, floral hops and a light alcohol note.
Taste: baker's chocolate, coffee like you'd get from the bottom of a pot left on the burner too long, prunes, and dates all rolling around on the tongue. Finishes with a light hops bittering at the back of the tongue and a bit of a raw alcohol flavor.
Feel was a bit lighter than others I've tried.
A tasty, if a little raw, Imp Stout. Flavors are not as assertive or aggressive as other Imperial Stouts but in a way that's the appeal of this one.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am not a huge fan of BJ's beers, but I like the place - it is nice, convenient, and has good food. So, it's a crowd pleaser although perhaps not a beer destination. That said, I found this beer to be pretty good. It is certainly not an Imperial Stout that is going to challenge the giants of this style (it's not Dark Lord or Darkness of Speedway Stout), but for what it is, I thought it was pretty good.

This beer comes in a pint, and has a rich thick head. Aroma is pretty roasty, but otherwise wasn't really all that notable. Flavor was some sweet roastiness with a really soft and creamy mouthfeel. It seemed more like a higher-ABV breakfast stout to me more than it was an Imperial Stout. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised.

In future visits to BJ's, I'd have this beer again.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Sampled at the Addison, TX location.

Pours a opaque black with a thin creamy tan head. Looks like it comes from a nitro tap but I'm not sure. Smells chocolatey and nutty. Lightly smoky.

Taste is earthy and burnt malt. Chocolate and nutty. Some alcohol burn. Really creamy and smooth. Bitter chocolate aftertaste. Thick and chewy. There is a pronounced alcohol burn that cuts into the drinkability a bit. Other than that a pretty solid imperial stout.

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Photo of beerceller99
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nitro tap at a Dallas area BJ's. Black color with a thick brown head. Has a strong toasted malt smell. Medium to full bodied. Strong taste of chocolate , blackened malts, and toffee.Very smooth as I'd expect from a nitro tap. Finishes with a bitter, almost burnt malt flavor.
A huge brew.

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Photo of donnebaby
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

All-black viscous body with an incredibly thick brown cream top pad, as thick as whipped creamm with small, scraggly bubbles poking out like a poison ivy rash. Nose was a sharp, mint vodka with a background of coffee ice cream and dulce de leche.

Taste held lots of alcohol--the first thing noticed. It was served coolish and was smooth like a Guinness. Watery, light sweet taste hits, followed by the alcohol, followed by a mild roasted toastiness. Despite the alcohol being present, the full brunt of the 8% wasn't felt at all--except for a scratchiness in the throat.

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Dukeofearl
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark black with virtually no highlights- maybe a touch of brown. A creamy tan head sticks around to the bottom of the pint. Very nice.

Aroma is rich malty goodness- chocolate, chicory and some coffee notes. Flavor follows through from the aroma, but add some smokiness and some creaminess too.

This is dangerously drinkable- the ABV sneaks up from behind. Recommended.

One point more on the place than the beer- BJ's serves their beers quite cold, and since it's not a "relax and let a pint warm up" kind of place (it's more a "how quickly can we turn the customers over" place), it makes it hard to really enjoy the quality of their beer. Beerfly adjusted accordingly. I mention it here because it does affect the review of the beer.

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Photo of baiser
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at BJ's brewhouse in Cupertino. A creamy tan coloured nitro head sat atop a reddish black body. Roasty coffee aroma, sweet molasses and some heavy alcohol in the nose. Mouthfeel was very creamy and smooth. The alcohol makes it a bit less drinkable. This is a very full bodied stout. I really enjoyed it.

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Photo of IceAce
3.81/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The pint arrived with the nitrogen cascade in full bloom which subsided after 90 seconds. What remained was an opaque black Imperial with a very thin (>1/8") creamy collar of foam. The stout had a nice nose that was malty, hoppy, and contained more than a subtle hint of the beverage's collasal 8.1 ABV.

The first taste assaulted the senses; nose first followed by the heady mouthfeel of massive roasted malts. The beverage literally coats the palate with full Imperial richness. The finish is dominated by the fulfillment of the high ABV promise made by the nose.

Head retention was good (considering the small size) and tha lacing on the glass was nice, but less than one would expect from this large beer.

I re-ordered a second pint and requested a larger collar of foam from my attentive barkeep and what followed was sheer folly. No matter which way he poured (including a vertical pour straight to the bottom of the glass at a distance of over 16") the head refused to grow past 1/8". After sending over a pint down the drain he served up another thin-crowned offering.

I am happy to report that the creamer plate in the faucet has since been located and installed...and the beer now pours fine.

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Photo of watermelonman
2.51/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This came as a dark brown and black with pretty average head and lace.

The smell is off at best, containing alcohol and some kind of putrid grain. The taste is plain and overly potent. The mouthfeel is somewhat disturbing while the drinkability takes a big hit for an overall lack of refinement.

I think this thing could use a lot of work.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.18/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another one of the BJ's brews that are constantly available. Tatonka's appearance is dark chocolate brown, almost black, with a light head that stays throughout the pint. Smell is light, like most of the brewpub offerings I've had, and mildly of roasted malts. Taste is very complex. Roasted malts are prominent, but a wine-like taste with a hint of vanilla is strong towards a sip's middle. A very light alcohol taste is also noted in the finish. I really enjoyed this beer and must say it was the best of my BJ's visit.

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Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of rowew
3.66/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at BJ's Laguna Beach. Went great with some vanilla ice cream for desert! Nice thick head, and a great black color. Head stayed throughout the pint, and left a thick lace down the glass. Beer had a great roasted coffe flavor, and a nice hop bitterness in the finish. Very nice stout.

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Tarmac
4.31/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorite chain brewhouse beers, and it runs circles around stouts by famous local California brewpubs like Tied House and Gordon Biersch. The Tatonka has a massive coffee/dark chocoloate thing going on, with plenty of ABV but masked very well. It doesn't do the cascading foam like Guinness but the taste and mouthfeel more than make up for it the more sedate appearance. This is the only brew I get at BJs unless they also have Sierra Nevada Torpedo. It may be a nitro-tap, I am not sure of that.

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Photo of plaid75
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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Tatonka Stout from BJ's Chicago Pizza & Brewery Inc.
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 230 ratings