Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

The Czar | Avery Brewing Company

very good
932 Reviews
The CzarThe Czar

Brewed by:
Avery Brewing Company
Colorado, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.10%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Wildman on 01-05-2003

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 932 | Ratings: 2,039
Photo of EStreet20
4.28/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bomber bottle poured into a Brooklyn snifter.

A - A nice black color with a bit of visible carbonation in the form of bubbles on the side of the glass. A hard pour'll score you close to an inch of off white head that has nice staying power. A few thin rings of lacing hang onto the sides of the glass between sips.

S - A bit of a chalky lead to some nice chocolate aroma along with some fruits. The malts definitely lead the way on the aroma here.

T - A nice sweet malt lead followed by a bit of an alcohol flavor. The chocolate/coffee flavors present in many imperial stouts are there but subdues a bit. However the taste of black coffee definitely hangs around nicely throughtout the drink. After that a roasty flavor with a bit of hop bitterness follows. A nice balance it struck between all the flavors making for a very nice tasting RIS.

M - Nice and thick, heavy mouthfeel, perfect for a high alcohol, high flavor stout.

D - Definitely one you can't stop sipping on nice and slowly after a long day. Very nice.

 1,041 characters

Photo of Zorro
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle says, "Bottled 2004 13% By Volume Alcohol."

Pours a headless inky black colored beer that I can just barely pass a little light through on the edges.

Smell is very light and fruity for what it is. Lots of prune and plum aromas here. Lots of spicy aromas on the alcohol vapors pepper, licorice, brown sugar and dark rum. Very tasty scent.

Taste is dark licorice and anise at the beginning. Fair amount of chocolate flavor but the coffee taste is completely gone. Spicy flavors of cinnamon and rum are also in this. There is a very pleasant cookie dough malt after taste to this beer.

Mouthfeel is a little light due to the alcohol content.

Tasty and very drinkable for what this is, a rocket fuel strong RIS! I wonder if they used something like this to orbit Sputnik? Very recommended by me.

 813 characters

Photo of ThreeDollarDewey
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An exemplary Imperial Stout. Nicholas would be proud?
Obsidian black, pouring thick like Valvoline and roling into a tan and spotty head. Thick and oily, smacking of espresso and anise, black cherries and a little tobacco. Potent, too, but well-hidden.

 253 characters

Photo of beerogre
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There really are some fantastic imperial stouts out there, and for me, this one definitely has to be included in that group. It's not the very best one I've had, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy this again or recommend it to those who would appreciate this beer style.

Apparently, there are some crimson hues to be spotted in this beer when held up to the light. Well I certainly didn't spot any. With barely any head at all, after the initial pour, my pint glass looked as black as tar.

In terms of taste, I picked up very prominent licorice flavours, which is always going to be worth a lot of points in my model of the Universe, and with the strong ABV and sweetness, this is pretty much a bespoke beer for me.

All in all, Avery good beer!

 749 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.31/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

05 Vintage

Pours Mahogany to black, letting a few tiny shafts of sun light to penetrate the glass as the sun goes down over the Rockies. Impressive 3 finger plus deep fluffy tan head. Great lacing and good head retention

Smell: Maltiness and a hint of alcohol

Taste: Malty chewiness, choclate, hints of licorice. Faint taste of leather, warming spicy alcohol rum-like taste on the finish

MF:Rich and smooth, belies its massive ABV

Very drinkable. I even enjoyed this on a mild Winter's day. Worth seeking out if you like Imperial Stouts/porters

 549 characters

Photo of nickss
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Opaque.... deep deep dark brown.... almost black....however maybe a bit lighter than I expected from a beer of this style with this abv. However, that being said, the head is a perfect 1" of rocky khaki beauty. Huge amounts of lacing... tis a thing of beauty.

Fragrant sweet notes... not as strong in the nose as I would have expected... barely perceptable alcohol odor.... a bit of coffee.... some hops... not much else.

Extremely bitter.... chocolate really comes out in this one, but along with it, the mocha bitterness. Some burnt malt is perceptable as it warms up. You can definitely taste the alcohol.... this one is not for the faint of heart... not well balanced in my opinion.

The mouthfeel is huge and thing... hardly any carbonation is noticeable.... how a impy stout should be.

The drinkability is impaired by the monster abv and the in-your-face taste. This one will knock you on your ass.... beware =)

 928 characters

Photo of DogFood11
3.32/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured into a chalice with an aggressive pour it forms a decent khacki loose head that fades quickly. Not to worry this is over 12% and holding a head for this style, all questions point towards stone. Shhhh. . Lighter in color than your typical oil slick black imperial.

Hops are up front and center in the nose along with a huge alcohol stinger. Oh boy did I make a mistake choosing this as the nightcapper, Lots of beer to hoe and not much life to go. Plumbs get through halfway in and it finishes with a drying chocolate powder.

Big alcohol smacks ya down in this bad boy. Nosehairs are laying down like wilted lettuce. There is a fruity presence almost like a belgian strong dark ale that comes through the ruckus to make this pleasant. Candied at times as well.

Notes: not for me. great style to achieve high marks but this is just OK. Price is right though. try it.

 883 characters

Photo of silver0rlead
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a syrupy, opaque black with a thick cocoa head that retains exceptionally well for a 12% brew. The aroma has big chocolate notes, some floral and grassy hops, dark alcohol soaked fruits and some coffee character. The flavor is again big on chocolate, as well as some floral and grassy hops, dark fruits (fig, plum, grape), alcohol and a mildly astringent coffee flavor. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, with minimal carbonation and drinkability is good for a beer of this magnitude. This was definately not was i was expecting from avery, it seemed lightly hopped and the alcohol wasnt at all overwhelming, also the chocolate character greatly overwhelmed the roasted astringentness. An interesting and tasty stout from avery, well done.

 746 characters

Photo of Maestro
3.66/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer poured a dark brown to black with a bubbly, tan head. The smell was very sweet, with some chocolate notes. Hops were barely noticeable in the nose. The beer had a smooth malty taste that consisted of chocolate, a bit of coffee, some caramel and molasses, and an all-around sweet taste. That rich, robust roastiness was absent, as well as a real hop presence. The sweetness masked the high abv. Mouthfeel was fine, but there seemed to be a bit thin somehow. Drinkability is good, but watch because it goes down smooth.

This is an interesting take on an imperial stout. I was not prepared for the sweetness and was looking for a few more hops. It isn't bad, just a bit different.

 689 characters

Photo of numenor1
4.34/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2002 bottling. Via my SS Skyhand...

My christmas nightcap.

Pours like black water. Some light comes through the edges, no head at all. This really must be age induced. Smells of soft roast, molasses, chocolate, a mild low lying fruitiness. Wow, very impressive. Very mellow. Upfront loads of utterly smooth chocolate malts, absolutely no abrasivenes, then a nice soft berry twang slowly drying into smooth roast coffee. Everything's interlaced with molasses sweetness and spicy alcohol keeping things in check. Alcohol actually dominates the flavor profile, yet only flavor, outside of that it's nonexistent. A touch of diacetyl Amazingly integrated in it's 3/4th year. The flavors have really gelled and it's quite silky. Low carbonation and full bodied, slinks its way down the gullet. Mellow. There's no alcohol in this. Really...there's not.

 851 characters

Photo of nlmartin
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bomber into a wide mouthed goblet.

Appearance: This beer pours a nearly perfect black. There is a slight ruby opaqueness to light. The head was white and thick; however, the head did not last for very long. There is thick lacing left behind on the glass.

Smell: This beer leads with the smell of licorice and little bits of chocolate. There is some coffee present in the smell; however, the beer lacks some of the roastyness that would make it supreme. There is the smell of berries, currant, and raisons dipped in bourbon. Very nice spice complement makes itself known.

Taste: This beer is multifaceted in taste. There is the taste of licorice, currants, berries, spicy hoppy goodness, bourbon, chocolate, coffee. The taste very much lives up to the smell. I just wish there was more roasty to char sorts of flavors here. Perhaps more cellaring would help?

Mouthfeel: This beer is very creamy and full bodied. It is the kind of beer you could almost chew on. Dam near everything I want in a Imperial Stout.

Drinkability: With a bit more roastyness this beer would be supreme. It is a very drinkable and enjoyable beer drinking experience. The alcohol content is high at 11.9% but I think it adds to the beer taste and experience.

 1,262 characters

Photo of rajendra82
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This 22 oz. bomber, bottled in 2005 by Avery, was picked up at Bullock’s in Marietta, and the beer poured into an oversized wine glass. While pouring the stream looked a little thin and brown, but in the glass it was pure blackness. There seemed to be more of a robust head on this beer than other Imperial Stouts I have sampled. The aroma was a little soft for the style, with chocolate dominating all other smells. It was a rich smell, but lacked the typical roasty punch. Taste was sweet cocoa with hot alcohol flashing across the palette. The hops were very apparent, with a spicy brashness typical of Hallertau. As is typical of young Imperial Stouts, the dark fruits and vinousness were yet to present themselves. All of these complexities are sure to develop with age, and I will have to bury the bomber back in the cellar so that I don’t get tempted and crack it open too soon. Good right now with some dark chocolates. Spectacular results anticipated in a couple of years.

 983 characters

Photo of carln26
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep black in color, this beer is topped with a thick, fluffy tan colored head. There is a lot of citrus hop in the nose, more tangerine than grapefruit. It has some espresso, and a little chocolate on the finish. The taste is very sweet immediately. Chocolate covered cherries explode in your mouth. The espresso I found in the nose is not present in the flavor. Nice bitterness on the finish, the tangerine is there, and really accents the sweetness. Very rich, full mouth feel, with some alcohol warming on the finish. Nice drinkability.

 540 characters

Photo of Oxymoron
4.63/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The color is a midnight black that keeps its color well. A small amount of dark brown is noticeable around the edges when held to the light. The head retraced to the edge of the glass but remained throughout the sampling. Decent lacing as well.

The smell is not really dominate but still noticeable. A strong aroma of roasted malts are blended well with coffee and chocolate. Some touches of maple and a light tart fruitness. Also some phenol is noticeable as well.

The taste is rich and strongly malty. The malt is complex with good roasted characteristics. Some lighter touches of chocolate and coffee are mixed as well. As the beer warms the smokey flavors becomes more noticeable. The hops are limited but a good earthy quality is noticed as well. The alcohol is hard not to notice but it isn't really phenol or hot. Very good taste.

The body is fantastic and rich. The texture is thick and what I can only describe as chewy. I'm suprised at how easy it is to drink with the high alcohol. This is a super malty beer.

 1,030 characters

Photo of AlexJ
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark red brown pour, not quite black, but looks black once poured into my Rapscalion goblet. Thick, dense khaki head lasts longer than the other reviews led me to expect. Thin whisps of lace.

Aroma is pure RIS. Chocolate, anise, charred coffee, marshmellows, candied citrus, and dark, ripe fruit. Very inviting and true to style.

Flavor really hits home with big, chunky chocolate cookies, subtle anise, smooth coffee, dark sticky fruit-especially cherry and berries, fire toasted marshmellows, and candied grapefruit and oozing pine sap hops in the finish. This is 11.03%? No trace of trademark boozey heat. Damn this is smooth! Not at all overdone, or overhopped like some of the big Avery brews. This instantly became my favorite (along w/ Hog Heaven) memeber of Avery's strong beers. Why only a score of 88?

Body hovers betweem medium and large. A smooth, creamy, liquified silk texture makes each sip more anticipated than the next.

 951 characters

Photo of benito
3.21/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Avery's end-of-year seasonal came in that impressive looking bomber and poured a deep mahogany with hints of auburn and rootbeer around the edges, left lots of off-tan foam that laced the side of my snifter and
dissipated slowly.

Alcohol, unfortunately, dominates the bouquet which also has hints of tropical fruit and cream--an unlikely set of bedfellows. Fortunately, the taste itself presents something more heavy-handed and complex: a sweet, full-bodied swirl of coconut, currant, java, and carmel with a distinctly bitter aftertaste that lingers well after each sip. I occasionally noticed a strange metallic taste as well as pronounced lines of alcohol that made inconsistent an otherwise exceptional flavor set.

Given its high IBUs and ABV, this is not meant for easy drinking. I'm happy to nurse 22 oz. all night long and be done with it. A worthwhile and challenging heavyweight from Avery.

 907 characters

Photo of SwillinBrew
3.41/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I finally got to have some of this.

A -poured a black-coffee brown with basically no head. Very deep rich color.
S -Scents of bitter uncooked nuts, slight maple roastiness, alcohol finished by the sweaty pennies in the hand smell.
T- Chewy thick plums on a roasted malt backbone. Coats the tongue and rather heavy. You can taste the alcohol as it warms you throat.
M&Dr - Heavy on the tongue and definitely a sipping beer. Overall i prefer a bit more roastiness to my stouts.

 481 characters

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.07/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This a surprisingly clear imperial stout that’s a dark brown with some subtle reds. Slight carbonation leaves a little lacing. Smells of sweet hops, alcohol, molasses, powdered sugar and liquorish. The hops and roast malt are paired well. Tastes of molasses and grapefruit. Nice warming in the chocolate and soap finish but the alcohol flavor lingers a little long. The mouth feel is entirely too thin. A quick swish thickens it up a little, but that should be a required step. Not a bad beer. Lots of good flavors here but a bit confusing at times with a disappointing thin mouth feel.

 587 characters

Photo of shbobdb
2.96/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ya know, I gave this beer good marks in the past, but . . .

It's just too vinous. This "beer" tastes more like a wine, it acts more like a wine coming in a heuty-teuty big bottle at ohhh-la-la large prices. What is this beer thinking? Should I respect it because of the price?

I'd like to point out that Czar Nick II's wife was definately 'bone-ing' Rasputin. If I were to compare The Czar to Old Rasputin. Comparing the two, I don't blame Alex at all. Not one bit.

You go girl!

 487 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in 2003. Simple black with surprisingly generous ruby-gold highlights along the bottom edge of the glass. The beer isn't quite the all-encompassing, glass-crowding black hole that I was anticipating. The golden brown sugar colored cap is more bubbly than thick and rich, but still manages to deflate slowly and to leave a thick collar of crust.

While the nose is dark and rich, it lacks the nasal mucosa ripping pungency that the best of this style possess. The aroma consists of uber-roasted black malt, darkest fruit (raisin paste, prunes) and molasses. It isn't all that deep or broad. The flavor better be more forthcoming or I won't be so kind.

Thankfully, it is. The Czar is tremendously well-mannered, while still delivering potent, taste bud saturating dark malty goodness. Although the mouthfeel could be thicker and richer, the flavor is out of this world. Bittersweet chocolate, blackstrap molasses and anise are the principal elements. Hints of sooty smoke are present as well, while coffee is a no-show.

I didn't mean to overlook the dark fruit and still kickin' hops. One need only look beneath the massive maltiness and those flavors are there for the appreciating. The fact that spicy Hallertau still make an impact speaks to the quantity that must have been present at the time of bottling. The ABV is listed as 12.2% above and 11.9% on this bottle of '03. Either way, it doesn't taste like it. Age, no doubt, has helped.

I could tell by the black cherry color of the beer as it was poured and by the considerable highlights in the glass that The Czar wouldn't feel like heavy cream in the mouth. I think it would be a better beer with more heft, but it's so silky smooth that I don't mind all that much. Actually, the mouthfeel tempts one to gulp rather than sip. Given the stealth ABV, that's a recipe for total body numbing (I speak from firsthand experience, time to slow down).

The Czar is one of Avery's finest big beer creations and is a more than respectable Russian Imperial Stout. A bigger, more luxurious mouthfeel would have increased my enjoyment since it would have allowed the tremendously deep flavor profile to linger all the longer. I didn't taste it fresh, but I can't help but believe that the two years of rest were two years well spent. Thanks to prAna for the penultimate beer from the first trade that I ever made.

 2,378 characters

Photo of neonbrown82
4.22/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

This is one bigass stout. This is the 2003 vintage, obtained from Liquid Solutions. The viscous black liquid pours like sludge from the bottle with absolutely no head. The beer is completely opaque, so no carbonation can be seen, though it doesn't seem to be present. Coats the glass with an oil-like film when swirled.

Smells very vinuous with a generous roast quality. Has a bit of a grassy bouqet that blends well with the astringent ethanol aroma. Quite earthy with some nutty and fruity smells. Also seems to be a lot of molasses.

The taste has a good range of flavors. Starts off with a sweet chocolate flavor until the smokey roasted malt character begins to overtake, followed soon by all of the earthy flavors and fruits and hops. The finish has a strong alcohol flavor along with a hell of a bitterness and roasted chocolate flavor.

The mouthfeel is VERY thick and chewy. Quite possibly one of the biggest mouthfeels I've ever experienced. The finish is quite astringent, but it doesn't detract much from the awesome body of this beer.

Drinkability is not great. I couldn't drink much more than a single bomber of this. On top of that, it is very unbalanced despite its other great qualities. I am also keeping in mind that this beer has likely mellowed out over the years since its 2003 bottling, so I could only imagine how overwhelming this must be fresh. I will probably try this again in the future, but only if I find it at a store and can't find anything else I'd rather take home with me.

 1,518 characters

Photo of Sephiroth
4.97/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled in 2003: The label claims an ABV of 11.9%. The beer is not quite black, and has an almost white head. The aroma has a nice chocolate profile, with dark fruits, and a roastiness that comes with room temperature. Anise, and molasses too.

This is phenomenal. Raisins, figs, sweet molasses, anise, and chocolate, all blended beyond belief. Roasted malt backs it all up. Mouthfeel is smooth, and still carbonated. This has aged well, and just adds to the case for ageing big stouts.

 489 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black color with a very small head that falls to a patchy coat and light ring around the top. Nose is bog chocolate and dark fruits. No alcohol puffs. Flavor is strong, domnated with a figgy sweetness with chocolate notes hiding behind it in the background. Very well blended and very little hop to be found. Feel is thick with a small carbonation. Absolutely no hint of the 12%. I'd like to see a touch more roasted character in there, but otherwise this is a solid beer.

 484 characters

Photo of PSUDREW
3.38/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

hmmm... I dunno about this brew. I like it, but I don't. hard to make up my mind...

Pours a nice pitch color, little bit of a tan head, but, overall, rather oily. Head dissapates quickly, and little to no frothing. Extremely fruity nose. the ABV is present

Over all, it is an OK brew. Has some nice roasted qualities, but a bit too malted. And the aclhol is very present in the taste. Yet it is still enjoyable, and still drinkable, this brew is very much a toss up. Enjoy it if you can find it, and let me know what you think

 532 characters

Photo of phishgator
4.65/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Let me preface this review with the fact that I love Imperial Stouts. The pour was into a snifter and the head was minimal, as expected. The taste was a wash over of dark bitter choclate and roasted expresso beans. The smell was much of the same. Now the mouthfeel was what I found to be the most impressive part. It wasn't thin, but it wasn't complete mealful with every sip. The alcohol was hidden very well. I had been aging this one for over a year and it showed some true life in doing so. Highly recommended!

 514 characters

The Czar from Avery Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 932 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.