Ralphius | Free Will Brewing Co.

130 Ratings

Brewed by:
Free Will Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 15.10%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This ale is one of the biggest imperial stouts you will find. Intense roast character is complimented by a chocolate aroma and notes of molasses, burnt sugar, and dried cherry on the palate. Vanilla, nutty, and tanic overtones from the top shelf bourbon barrels round out the complex flavor profile of this full bodied beer. The warming alcohol and intensity of this beer makes it a perfect pairing with beef stews, dry aged steak, and dark chocolate.

Added by jp312 on 10-05-2013

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Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 130
Photo of Jason
4.2/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz brown bottle, sample from the brewery.

A ridiculously huge beer. Sweet sugars, roasted stout character, and fine Bourbon notes abound. Hitting just above 15% abv even a 12oz bottle you'll want to share with more than none friend unless you are looking for a serious nightcap. Free Will Brewing Co. goes all out with this one but still makes it approachable to a spirits drinker ... the beer geek will be easily pleased here. Oozes of Imperial Stout talk, booze and wood barrel overtones, and ends a bit sweet ... a real treat.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.74/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Thanks goes out to thebeers for this brew, via NBS BIF#5

12 oz. Bottle
Bottle On: 11/09/16
2016 Vintage

Poured into a tulip a black color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice thick/creamy small tan head, which leaves minimal sticky lacing behind. The nose is really nice, malty, some roast, bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark fruits (cherries, figs, raisins), chocolate/toffee, licorice. The taste is really nice as well, malty, lots of chocolate/toffee, vanilla, dark fruits, bourbon/oak, licorice. Full Body, ABV hidden pretty well, what a complex brew, definitely a sipper. Overall, this is a BIG BREW! Awesome! Glad to have had a chance to try it. Thanks Arthur!

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Photo of jwilcox767
4.7/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Another fantastic BBS here. Like everyone said, pours like motor oil with a little carbonation. I really liked the vanilla, it's hard to high test find brews where this flavor comes out in any meaningful fashion. Definitely get it again.

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Photo of sjones5045
4.45/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

1/27/17 home

Pours thick black like oil. Thin tan head but expected from such a big stout.

The smell is boubon with vanilla and a bit sweet malt with a bit tart cherry.

The taste is really impressive. All the flavor comes out at different stages. Chocolate, vanilla, hints of cherry. Not too sweet and very well balanced.

Very smooth and extremely easy to drink for a huge 15.1%. Not a huge burn but it there. Again a very impressive to be this smooth for a 15.1

Overall very impressed. Loved this stout. Great winter sipper after dinner.

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Photo of citizencane
4.69/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Looks solid dark with decent head for being poured in 1oz glass.

Smells ok though a bit rough and woody and boozy on the end.

Taste is where this thing gets going. Creamy sweet bourbon and oak notes along with dark chocolate and coffe cream stout notes.

Mouthfeel: exceptional here as well. No more of excessive booziness or dryness. Well-balanced.

Overall: I'm picky about barrel-aged beers. This is the second exceptional offering in this realm by Free Will, among other very good beers of theirs. Whatever they're doing, they need to keep doing it.

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

L. Black, opaque, small tan head falls to a ring in a minute
S. Smells of dried cherries, sherry, Hershey bar, candied orange, molasses, a little rum and bourbon, plenty of booze. Crazy.
T. Big chocolate, sweet dried fruit, toasted vanilla, whiskey, wood, cigar. Boozy aftertaste with semi-sweet chocolate chips and booze soaked cherries.
F. Medium to full body, smooth, sticks to the entire inside of my mouth.
O. The fruitiness caught me off guard but works very well. These unique flavors were a pleasant surprise to me. Wow. I'll love to see how Ralphius does with a little time in the bottle. Cheers!

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.34/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks like thick black motor oil on the pour, kicking off aromas of rich dark roasted chocolaty malts and bourbon barrels. Taste has an appropriate chocolate malt and bourbon character - some vanilla, some molasses, hints of oak, and suggestions of sweet black coffee. Doesn't go too far with the sweetness, which I appreciate. Feel is real nice - the body is not compromised by the barrel-aging, and has a smooth, full feel. A real nice bourbon barrel Russian imperial with a big 15.1% abv...

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

on draft at the brewery

black in color, tan colored head. aroma of bourbon and bitter cocoa. taste is a bit boozy, but not too much so. thicker bodied, coats the tongue.

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Photo of dbl_delta
4.53/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Undated 2016 bottle into pint glass. Pours an absolutely opaque oily black with a thin tan head. Initial impression is your standard chocolate and coffee, complemented by oak, vanilla, and caramel and heavily reinforced by bourbon and booze. Not sweet, but certainly not bitter - hits a really nice midrange. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy. Surprisingly smooth for 15.4%. Light carbonation is just about perfect for this style. Finish is quite smooth and warming. Realy good winter sipper.

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Photo of thebeers
4.23/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a viscous-looking plum-tinted black color with a half finger of mocha head that quickly dissipates into a thick crown.

Big cherry bourbon aroma with dark fruit, vanilla and vodka-like alcohol in the mix.

I was expecting something on the sweet side, but this is actually fairly bitter tasting at a month old, with a mix of light earthy hops, tobacco, baking chocolate, as well as more bourbon, cherry, dark fruit and vanilla, and some strong alcohol in the aftertaste.

Medium bodied and slightly sticky, slightly slick mouthfeel, with solid carbonation.

This is a nice, big, boozy RIS. The bitterness is a pleasant change of pace. I'm sure this would age beautifully, but why not drink it fresh?

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Black and dark with a moderately thick, creamy, toffee colored lacing ring and no carbonation. Lots of legs when the glass is swirled.

S - Roasted chocolate, cherry, vanilla, bourbon, alcohol, and slightly syrupy.

T - Some delicate char, vanilla, oak, roasted chocolate, cherry, bourbon, slightly medicinal, boozy, and lingering sweet chocolate bourbon char.

M - Very thick, full bodied, viscous, and syrupy.

O - A big syrupy booze bomb that still retains flavor and character. Not cheap by any means at $10/bottle but well worth it.
O -

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Photo of stakem
3.6/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

2015 12oz bottle stored in fridge since purchase. Poured into a cervoise appears black in color with a brown head that fades to a thin film.

Aroma of roasted grain, earth, coffee and anise. Raison-like fruitiness and minimal bourbon/oak but as it breathes the woodiness emerges nicely.

Taste is bitter with roasted earthen grain, some char, anise and molasses-like flavoring but without residual sweetness. The oak has a mild astringency and drying tannic feel with a raw woodiness moreso than bourbon feel. The aftertaste is a little green around the edges.

Medium in body with modest carbonation. A decent sipper but im gonna venture a guess here that the barrels they aged this in were either not fresh/wet or they did not age the beer in the barrels that long. The barrel contribution is harsh and disjointed rather than integrated with nuance. It also has a greenness about it that im just not a fan of. I paid entirely too much $ for this bottle because I heard nothing but great things and I was curious. I wouldnt buy it again.

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Photo of kalosjakar
4.44/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: dark dark black with a dark mocha head.

Aroma: whisky, oak, vanilla, roasted, chocolate

Taste: whisky/bourbon kicking your ass, alcohol warmth/slight burn, oak, the barrel notes are more pronounced than any BA Stout Ive ever had. The roasted notes are deep underneath.

Feel: thick, chewy, slightly oily

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.74/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Inky black with a small khaki head. Smells of chocolate, oak, and booze. Whiskey isn't that pronounced. The bourbon that was faint in the aroma is intense in the taste. Chocolate. Oak. Vanilla and a lot of sweetness. Heavy with low carbonation. It's just the right side of too boozy.

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Photo of EMV
4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Had on-tap at the Pour House in Exton, PA. Poured into a goblet.

L: Pours a dark black color. Thin tannish head.

S: Dark chocolate and espresso... booze/bourbon and roasted malts.

T/F: Big and boozy... warming alcohol. Extremely smooth and creamy on the mouth. Lots of roasted sugars and espresso... cocoa nibs and bourbon. Hints of vanilla from the barrel.

O: A big, big, big beer... boozy and delicious... drinks slightly lighter than its massive ABV. A dessert sipper and a credit to the style.

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Photo of SawDog505
4.91/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured at room temperature into a 16 oz snifter bottled on 12 / 10 / 15. Pours as black as midnight on a cloudy winter evening with a 1 plus finger light brown head that leaves behind some wisps of lace.

Smell is roasty expresso, vanilla, with hints of leather, tobacco, smoke, and big oaky bourbon .

Taste follows nicely if possible even better than the nose, huge roasty expresso, vanilla, leather, tobacco, smoke, oak all lend a tiny little hand, and a nice fairly dry balanced bourbon finish.

Mouthfeel is a little bigger than medium, creamy, moderate carbonation as you would expect, and incredible drinkability for its girth.

Overall thanks @Mcballz13 for this treasure one of the best I have had and I have many BA Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.39/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Free Will Brewing Co. "Ralphius"
on tap at the brewery, 9 April 2016

Notes: Typical Imperial stout appearance. Very good head retention, limited spotty lacing. Aroma of soft chocolate, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, soft roastiness, char, almost burnt sugar, oak. The flavor follows with more cocoa, nuttiness, hints of vanilla, passing notes of coconut, sweet roast, and more woody oak. It's a pretty solid beer, full bodied but with enough carbonation to liven it and keep it from becoming syrupy. It's sweetish, but also dry in the finish with alcohol, minor roastiness, and bitterness. Pretty impressive, it's so big that it holds me back, yet I want more - normally I might suggest this as a quite sipper before bed while reading but I honestly think it might be too distracting. Bombastic yet refined in some way, is that possible? Worth seeking out.

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Photo of smcolw
4.17/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dark, dark brown where light shines through the edges of the glass. Good initial head but it leaves very little lace.

Strong brandy-like aroma with lots of berry and alcohol, semisweet.

This is a high alcohol beer. It's evident in the richness of the body and warmth from the finish. The aftertaste is warm and lasting in a semisweet, berry like way. This less a stout than an after-dinner drink reminiscent of a dark cherry brandy. Great body with a low level of effervescence. Still, it is deceptively easy to drink.

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Photo of 57md
4.52/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a super dark brown, almost black, color with a half finger of head. The nose has solid bourbon notes. The mouthfeel is rich and sticky, The roasted bitterness is solid as is the bourbon notes in the flavor profile. There is a perfect touch of sweetness on the finish that rounds everything out.

One of the biggest and best BA Stouts that I have had the pleasure to sample.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.03/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap 2/28/2016 at Pour Farm Tavern in New Bedford, MA, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a large brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains chocolate, licorice, dark fruit and roasted malts.

T: The taste starts out with flavors of chocolate, licorice and dark fruit. Then a hearty roasted malt character comes in. There is some barrel-aging essence and some alcohol in the background. The hops presence is very mild but complementary and brings a decent balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: A little crisp and a little smooth, heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easy, slightly filling, very strong kick, good representation of style, this is a solid big stout to drink for a while.

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Photo of BigMike
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This beer surprised the hell out of me. I've had several free will brews and haven't been blow away by any until this one. A huge ass stout. Tons of barrel. Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, oak. Surprisingly the 14% is very subdued. It's an easier drinker than you'd expect. Great stuff!

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Photo of scottbrew4u
4.53/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer served from tap a jet black color, opaque and thick looking with a beautiful frothy tan head piled on top. Smell of vanilla, bourbon, light wood, dark cherries, burnt and complex barley malt profile. Taste was outstanding layers of lush malted barley, dark cherries and light not too boozy bourbon flavors and splashes of vanilla and wood with a full almost chewy body. A big beer indeed and it actually does not come off as a 14%+ alcohol beer but be warned it catches up with you. An awesome sipper!!

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Photo of Dolphinsmarlins1
4.19/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tasted this at Extreme Beer Fest. Honestly this brewery was the biggest surprise of the day for me. Liked this one so much I tried three others from them.

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Photo of Rizzy17
4.18/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at The Fridge served in a tasting glass.

A: Super dark with a nice dark brown head.
S: Molasses and licorice on the nose.
T: Molasses and licorice comes through on the taste as well. Slightly roasty.
F: Smooth and creamy. Has some slight boozy heat that's not overbearing. Super drinkable for such high ABV!
O: Really impressed with this. I was not expecting such an enjoyable imperial stout out of this, but Free Will continually impresses me.

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Photo of DIM
4.47/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled Dec. 10th 2015.

Black, viscous body and small cap of dark tan foam. Smells of deeply roasted malt, chocolate cake batter, faint, vinous fruit, plus mild barrel notes of quality bourbon and oak. Very appealing overall.

The flavor lives up to the aroma thankfully. The barrel does not dominate, plenty of hugely decadent stout shines through. Up front bourbon notes meld nicely with roasted, borderline charred malts, dark chocolate, and tangy, vinous fruit. The finish was lingering cocoa bitterness and light, oaky heat.

This is full bodied and robust, very satisfying.

Overall this was quite a treat. Maybe just a half a degree shy of being world class...make that a quarter degree. Free Will continues to impress and intrigue.

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Ralphius from Free Will Brewing Co.
4.37 out of 5 based on 130 ratings.
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