Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout | SweetWater Brewing Company

very good
424 Reviews
Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial StoutSweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
SweetWater Brewing Company
Georgia, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by rajendra82 on 08-26-2004

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 424 | Ratings: 1,119
Photo of ktrillionaire
1.92/5  rDev -50.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This was poured from a 1-liter swingtop, thanks to an unknown generous (or sadistic) BA.

A - Looks like stout. Not exceptional in any way, however.

S - Eeewww. Burnt plastic. This is terrible.

T - Yuck yuck yuck. Burnt plastic, again.

M - Okay, I guess. It felt real good when I spit out a mouthfull, to rid myself of this inexplicably bad brew.

D - Two whiffs, and two sips is all I would ever want of this awful brew.

 426 characters

Photo of PDXHops
2.19/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

2010 vintage bomber poured into an oversized snifter on 3/2/11. Appropriately dark with a finger of frothy tan head. OK retention- mainly bubbly islands- and some scattered speckly lace.

Smells like a load of piney hops remain. Roasted and burnt malts and chocolate, but also a touch of something odd, almost like burnt plastic. It's not overwhelming, but certainly distracting. Tastes almost exactly like it smells, right down to that weird hint of burnt plastic. There's a lot of positive things going on here- a nice balance of sweet and burnt malts, substantial bitterness, a surprisingly nimble feel- but that odd plastic quality can't be ignored. In fact, it becomes rather pronounced as the brew warms.

Overall impression: A rare dud from the best GA brewery. Where the heck did that plastic come from?

 811 characters

Photo of stakem
2.26/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

12oz brown bottle care of Cashew70. Poured into a snifter it appears a dark brown almost black color with a finger of tanned head that receeds leaving a curtain of lace all about the glass.

The aroma of this brew includes citrus hops, dark fruitiness like plum and alcohol. Also included is a peculiar note reminescent of plastic. Taste is bitter upfront from a combination of burnt grains and hops with an alcohol aspect that is both astringent and warming. However, through the body of this brew is a taste of plastic as indicated by the aroma. The plastic taste lingers in the mouth along with a flavor similar to stale coffee blended with hops. The flavor of alcohol is evident from upfront straight through till the finish and really is not enjoyable as it just exaggerates the plastic taste.

This is a lighter bodied brew than I was expecting with a moderately high level of carbonation. I am struggling to try and get through this brew, it really started off enjoyable but as it got warmer each sip exaggerated both the plastic smell and taste. As the alcohol gets increasingly warmer it gets more fusel-like to the point of just outright being bad.

I am not certain this is the flavor the brewer was shooting for with this stout or if something is wrong with it. Unfortunately I do not readily have access to try this one again anytime soon.

 1,354 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.36/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a dark, pitch black body with a medium-sized tan head.

Smell: Well, there's some dark chocolate, cold coffee, and a little bit of soy if you can manage to sniff around the overwhelming aroma of pine.

Taste: The fact that the overpowering pine flavor squashes any chance of savoring the malty flavors is both distressing and exasperating. Is this some kind of prank? The finish is full of a black malt burnt ashiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium carbonation. Its actually bordering on watery, what gives?!

Drinkability: Normally, I have no quarrel with the hops, and have often said, "Come on hop, come all!" but it just seems a bit inappropriate in an Imperial Stout. Who knows, maybe that's how the kids like their stouts these days. If that is the case, how about a little "heads-up" next time?

 834 characters

Photo of montageman
2.39/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Dark brown to black in color with a decent tan head that leaves a little bit of lacing once it dissipates. Pours thick, but not as thick as some imperial stouts I've seen.

S: Medicinal like band-aids. There is a slight roasted coffee aroma as well, but this is one strange smelling stout.

T: Very bitter & not in a good way. We have really cheap coffee at work and this reminds me of that. A little dark chocolate is there, too, but not enough to balance the cheap coffee taste.

M: Totally fine. Nothing special, not horrible - just fine. Mildly carbonated, somewhat creamy, and not nearly rich enough.

D: This is not easy to drink. It is different than any other imperial stout I've had and not in a good way. Let it warm a bit, it's better that way. Not recommended.

 813 characters

Photo of JDW4195
2.76/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This isn't a stout by any stretch of the imagination. Black IPA, possibly. There's absolutely no trace of coffee, chocolate, barley or any of the other ingredients you would expect in a stout. If there were any of the above, the hops would easily overpower any other flavor. Hop-heads...you'll love it. Stout Drinkers....don't waste your money.

 345 characters

Photo of Big78CJ
2.82/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From notes on March 12, 2007:

A: This is a very black beer with a 2” tan head which dissipated to a foamy surface by the time I started writing. There is no light at all passing through this abyss.

S: Something bitter and reminiscent of dark chocolate (baker’s chocolate?) is the first to hit my nostrils. A slight citrus hop is carrying the chocolate in but I detect little else.

T: The hops are very present in this brew, even for an Imperial Stout. Unfortunately, other than a slight taste of baker’s chocolate, hops are the only flavor I taste. Perhaps they are masking a complex beer with extra hops but I think they may just be compensating for a more simple one.

M: The hops are really giving this beer a different feel than most Imperial Stouts. It does remain creamy and chewy though, I will give it that.

D: Although I was not impressed by the beer, it did not put me off buying another sixer for a second go at it. I like Imperial Stouts and I like to support local breweries, hence the repurchase. I applaud the brewery for experimentation but suggest they tone back the hops or increase the complexity for the next vintage.

Serving Type: 12oz bottle poured into Hoegaarden Grand Cru Tulip glass.

 1,229 characters

Photo of CoolJosh
2.82/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

1L Swing cap bottle, courtesy of Gford270. Poured into a pint glass. The appearance is awesome, this looks like a great RIS. Pitch black body with no visibility through and a nice lighter khaki with some spotty lacing.

The smell is very disappointing in and that it is very light. Very smokey and roasted malt scents. Some toasted chocolate and a semi salty scent. It just doesn't pop you in the nose like a good RIS normally does.

The taste is on par with the scent. Sort of bland, very light and very roasted. Actually very very roasted. A slight bitter chocolate taste develops from the roasts. Unfortunately there is no malt sweetness to this beer, which causes a lack of flavor and creates a one dimensional take on the style. Not impressed.

 749 characters

Photo of axeman9182
2.86/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

1 liter bottle, courtesy of I believe of gford217, split with my cousin after a successfull brew day and poured into my Duvel tulip.

The beer pours an all encompassing black, with a massive, gorgeous light chocolate head rising up and displaying some staying power. Gobs of lacing cling to the glass and leave Happy Ending as one of the best looking stouts I've ever seen. The nose is fairly good, dark chocolate and coffee, and more of the former than the latter (which is to my liking). Things take a turn for the worse as I sip though, as the luxuriant chocolaty malty opening is rudely interrupted by an entirely unwelcome flash of hop bitterness. And then... there's just nothing, no segue into citrus or any other hop flavors. It's almost like the beer stops halfway through what should be the flavor progression. The body is a little bit thin for the style, but the carbonation is spot on. Drinkability is hurt by the harsh bitter end note of each sip, but any alcohol is nicely masked. I think that Happy Ending might well be a great stout, but I just caught it at an awkward time in it's life. It's old enough that the hop flavor I imagine was quite present when it was fresh has faded, but the hop bitterness still lingers and the result is a beer that was just consumed at the wrong time. I'd very much like to try this beer again under different circumstances

 1,372 characters

Photo of BeerDocT
2.88/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

-Appearance 4.0: Another stout that gets it right. Jet black with a half-inch, khaki head. Head dissipated and left some interesting looking foamy residue.

-Smell 3.5: Very subdued bouquet, but I pick out lots of hops and a slight toasted/smokiness. Promising.

-Taste 2.5: Slight hoppiness up-front that fades to a deeper hoppiness in the middle. Finish is even more hops and a very, very slight smokiness. Dry finish, too. This is an Imperial Stout? I taste no chocolate, dried fruit, coffee...you know, those things that Imperial Stouts taste like. Very strange.

-Mouthfeel 3.0: Good mouthfeel. Standard amount of carbonation and body.

-Overall 2.5: I don't know what to say, except that this tastes more like an IPA than a stout. The dry finish and the overall lack of the hallmarks of an Imperial Stout force me to give this brew a low grade. If you like this beer, good for you. Sorry, but I didn't and I have tried to be fair.

 938 characters

Photo of Bendurgin
2.91/5  rDev -25%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Cool extra from Grant. Twelve ounce bottle says it's best before 12/31/11. Poured into a tulip. This one pours very dark brown; almost black with about an inch of tan head that settles to sticky lacing.

Dry dark fruit in the aroma. Lots of pine aroma to this one. Sappy aroma with a lot of hot alcohol. Char, leather, tobacco and a bit of a smokey aroma round this out. Not bad, but if I don't reach for other aromas it's tough to smell much past pine. Really hoppy stout here. Lots of piney hops with a little bit of coffee. This really has an earthy flavor profile to this one. Must, char and leather flavors. A lot of pine in the aroma. A lot of alcohol on this one. Almost like grain alcohol was dropped into this.

Heavy dry body on this with decent carbonation. Nothing special or offensive. Overall, I wonder what a bit of age would do for this one. I'd love to see the alcohol mellowed out on this. I've had a lot of beers around this abv that didn't seem this harsh.

 976 characters

Photo of biglite351
2.92/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - a bit of red around the edges. Tall creamy dark tan head that leaves a little lacing.

S - heavy malts and hops. I do not think I have smelt such hops in a RIS before, nearly IPA like. Under toe of dark chocolate.

T - chocolate coffee IPA... heavy hop bitterness mixed with malts, chocolate and a hint of coffee.

M - good coating, tingle on sides of tongue. Alcohol burn in the top back of throat.

D - too much true hop flavor for me to want too many.

 458 characters

Photo of BB1313
2.98/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Best if enjoyed before 1/9/14. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours black with a khaki head and it leaves nice lacing and retention. The aromas are full of orange peel and citrus. I'm confused because it smells like an old IPA. Caramel malts in the mix. It doesn't seem to have any stout qualities. If I was blindfolded, I wouldn't have guessed it was an Imperial Stout at all. The confusion carries on to the flavors. Tons of orange. There's some roasty malts in the mix. Not much chocolate or cocoa. Subtle bitterness. Finishes dry. Very weird for the style. Mouthfeel is nice. It's on the lighter side of full-bodied; moderate carbonation. Alcohol goes unnoticed.

This isn't a bad beer at all, but it just doesn't remind me of a stout at all. It's a really weird interpretation of the style.

 799 characters

Photo of DrewOSU
2.98/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

08 Vintage. Consumed at BA Cincinnati RIS tasting on 3/5/2009, hosted by Yetiman420

A: Pours a pitch-dark color, 1/8 inch dark head. Light viscous lacing.

S: I get cherry and sweet malts with a bitter hop backing.

M/T: Slightly watery to medium body. I get a slight bitterness on tongue, followed by coffee, then toasted malts. Malty finish.

D: A lighter body then expected, but a big smoky and bitter hop aftertaste that can backup in the mouth. Not the best RIS I have ever tasted.

 490 characters

Photo of donkeyrunner
2.99/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A giant 1 liter bottle of RIS = fun for the whole family. Opaque black with a large cocoa colored head. Good retention that leaves multiple lace rings.

Suprise!, this stout smells like a citrusy IPA. Chocolaty roast malt background.

Upon contact with my palette a super-thin mouthfeel bursts my curiosity bubble. Really, this mouthfeel chaps my hide. Assertive citrus hop oil over a struggling chocolate malt base. I'd like more stout with my stout please.

Overall, a brave but lacking mix of an English, Sam Smith's type English RIS and a California citrus hop bomb.

Great website BTW with a catchy little ditty.

 618 characters

Photo of mweso2000
3.01/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

I am not sure what happened to this beer. I used to love this beer. Unfortunately it turned into one of the most disappointed stouts around. The taste is of burnt charged malts and it has an extremely thin mouth feel for a stout. Hopefully Sweetwater will update the recipe.

 278 characters

Photo of pschul4
3.08/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3

A- Pours a very deep brown with a 1" khaki head that leaves bunches of lacing

S- Oh god I'm getting lots of black licorice... Do not like black licorice...

T- There are 2 flavors going on here. 1) roasted malts, very good. 2) Black licorice, gag me. Hopefully some other flavors will prevail as it warms

M- Nice and smooth, so nice

O- If this didn't have the black licorice I'd love it. Don't like black licorice though so blech

 432 characters

Photo of beachbum1975
3.08/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

08 Vintage - Poured from hand numbered 1 liter.

Looks like a RIS should... Dark brown to black with a medium tan and nice creamy head.

Smells of cherry, vanilla, smoke and some saltiness. Maybe some light cocoa in the mix, as well.

Unusually light bodied, lots of smoke, lots of coffee, slight saltiness. Tastes aged, kinda musty, almost like an earthy, peat style. Very little hops presence in my opinion.

Nice, but too earthy for me.

 440 characters

Photo of flexabull
3.09/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Well... a happy ending to the evening? Let's see...

Pours a nice flat black color, with a decent sized tan head.

Beer smells vegetal, and bitter. Aromas seem off for a Russian Imperial Stout...

Taste is vegetal, tart and bitter. The characteristic flavors of this style just aren't quite there... no chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, etc... There is a crispness on the finish, a bit of bite from the hops. While this doesn't taste bad, this doesn't really taste right either.

Mouthfeel is too thin. Especially for the style. The big finish saves it a bit.

Drinkability is ok. I can finish the bottle no problem. It's a flawed beer, but not that bad.

Thanks for the chance blitz182 and unclejedi.

 714 characters

Photo of rodrot
3.1/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours jet black with a nearly non-existent head that disappears quickly. The beer seems flat with almost no carbonation present. Aroma was very hoppy and spicy with some roasted malt aromas in the nose. Taste was quite hoppy and dry, but not much else. I picked up on some flavors of coffee and licorice but they were overwhelmed by hops. Mouthfeel was quite thin for an Imperial stout and had a light bodied character. This Impy is quite disappointing and really lacks the balls and complexity that the style is known for. The hops were way overboard and made the beer very unbalanced. It almost became a drain pour if it weren't for the 11 bucks I spent on the sixer.

 669 characters

Photo of KeefD
3.11/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Ah, Sweetwater, how you make me laugh at your funny names and labels! Thanks to gford217 for this bottle. Pours a dark brown color, completely black in the glass, 1/2 inch dark tan head that fell quickly leaving little lacing. First whiff of this thing brings nothing but citrusy/piney hops. This is like a vamped up black IPA in the nose, with only hints of roast in the background that come out more as it warms. Interesting aroma, but I'm not a huge fan of this much hoppiness in an RIS. Taste is much the same. Just overpowered with hops with the roast/chocolate/earthiness playing second fiddle to the citrus and resiny hops. There's a minty/herbal quality on the dry finish. The stouty parts of this beer are nice, good amount of roast, but all the complexities are probably overshadowed by the bitterness. This one could use about a year to fade all of it away. Mouthfeel is solid, average carbonation, but not thick and chewy the way I really like this style. Overall, not bad, but not what I personally look for in an imperial stout. Again, probably needs about a year on it to get the bitterness/hops to mellow out a bit and it might be pretty tasty.

 1,160 characters

Photo of aerozeppl
3.13/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to goryshkewych for this beer.

When I was down in Georgia a few years back I drank a ton of sweetwater but never had this.

A: Mostly black with some brown around the edges. Minimal spoty lacing.

S: Tons of roast but none of the other things I love about the style.

T: Roast. No real complexity to it. Finishes with a slight hint of sweetness. I expect much more complexity for the style as well as ABV.

M: Thin for the style. Doesn't feel like a stout.

D: Very drinkable but I am glad I split the 12oz bottle. Geting through this solo would have been a chore.

 572 characters

Photo of Onenote81
3.14/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Super pumped to see this beer at my local store. I hadn't seen it the last few times it was released. Poured into a goblet. Pours a very thick deep black. There is no light coming through this beer at all. A nice frothy tan head caps this one off. Retains well; leaves some nice sticky lace. Let's take a whiff...Hops!! Whoah! That's weird. This smells just like an IPA. All citrus and pine. I'm not getting any roasted scents; nothing in the nose would tell me this is a Imp Stout.

Great smooth creamy body on this beer. Some light subtle carbonation kicks on the tongue. With the flavor, again, this is all hops. This is really strange. This tastes just like an IPA. Citrus flavors with a bitter kick from a fresh squeeze of hops. I gave it an 'average' rating because on the finish, just ever-so-faintly, I'm getting some light roasted flavors, like toasted malts. This beer is a conundrum. Not sure this is what it claims to be. A good beer, but horribly off style.

 970 characters

Photo of shrek806
3.15/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a DFH snifter

Pours a oil dark black with a thin head and a slightly tan lacing. Once it settled, there was almost no head and not alot going on

Smells of hops right away, not what I expected to smell from the color of the pour.Some Chocolate, maybe coffee bean as well

Tastes like a light stout. Not overly creamy or smooth. Almost zero hoppy bitterness. Some mild malt flavor with an alcohol finish

The mouthfeel is thin. it feels more like a soda in my mouth and finishes with a minor alcohol burn

This one is not my cup of tea, lacks depth in just about every direction.


 612 characters

Photo of scottfrie
3.18/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2010 bottle thanks to Exiled. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours near black with raisin highlights. Head is very thin, spotty lace.
S: Light vanilla, fudge brownies, touch of caramel.
T: Chocolate, rich fudge, peat, hint of smoke, vanilla in the finish. Rich flavors, very potent and strong. Smokey, roasted and peat filled aftertaste with an underlying sweetness that lingers forever. Not my favorite.
M: Bold flavors, medium-thick body, thinnish mouth, low carbonation, alcohol is slightly astringent.
O: An average stout. Definitely rich and bold, but not that complex. A bit rough at times.

 591 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout from SweetWater Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 1,119 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.