Unorthodox Russian Imperial Stout | Two Roads Brewing Company

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Unorthodox Russian Imperial StoutUnorthodox Russian Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Two Roads Brewing Company
Connecticut, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
This most unorthodox Russian Imperial Stout is brewed with malted rye and aggressively hopped with four different Pacific Northwest varieties to create a depth of character that's unmistakable. Full-bodied with notes of rye, treacle, chocolate and espresso that join together to create a crescendo of flavor. You’ll want to do an unabashed Kalinka after just one taste!

Added by jhartley on 08-04-2014

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Reviews: 41 | Ratings: 200
Photo of q33jeff
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75


Bottle to Tulip Glass.

LOOK: dark black color, medium cream colored head.
AROMA: roasted malt, touch of smoke.
TASTE: malt, malt, malt. hay and grass type flavors seem to dry out the finish.
FEEL: medium to full body. good carbonation for a stout, but this is a little on the thin side for stout, so that seems about normal.

Pretty simple Russian.


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Photo of woodychandler
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A local beer pal & I were recently in PHL to meet a couple of AUS fellows & I managed to talk them into ... (ahem) convince them to visit The Foodery (Rittenhouse Square). As soon as I spied this on the shelf, I was sold! It is a young bottle, dtd "BTLD 01/04/17", but it was the last on the shelf & I am anxious to drink it. If I find another, it will be on a straight shot into the cellar.

From the bottle: "From Stratford, With Love"; "An Unorthodox Russian"; "The Road Less Traveled"; "Aggressively Hopped Imperial Stout"; "This most unorthodox Imperial Stout is brewed with malted rye and aggressively hopped with four different U.S. varieties to create a depth of character that's UNmistakable. Notes of rye, treacle, chocolate and espresso all come together to create a crescendo of flavor that's Unbelievably full-bodied. One taste and you’ll want to do an UNabashed Kalinka!"; "Here's to taking the road less traveled, in life and in beer!"

I always like to cue up Matt Munro's "From Russia With Love" every time I open a beer in this style! I have met Mlle. Rasputin, a Russian expat cutie who works as a bartender at our local Iron Hill & she promises to teach me to (at least) read Cyrillic, if not speak it. Historically, men have learned a foreign language to woo a foreign woman, but not in this case. I simply want to read some of the classic texts in their original language. I also want to hit on Keri Russell, but that is secondary to my stated goal.

Having Pop!ped the cap, I was faced with a choice - an aggro pour & a potential mess or a gentle pour & a post-pour swirl. It was late & I have been catching up on big beers, so the latter was the key. Once decanted, the aforementioned swirl raised just over a finger of foamy, soapy, light-tan head that quickly dissipated into wisps. Color was solidly Black/Opaque (SRM = 44), allowing ZERO light penetration. Nose smelled strongly of dark chocolate, black coffee, caramel & light smoke. Mmmm. Mouthfeel was not thin, per se, but it was very light for the style. The chocolaty, smoky taste was accompanied by a light, but unidentifiable spiciness. I am sure that it was borne of the rye malt, but I would not have been able to identify it on my own. I feel like a calibration of Rye Whisky is in order! Fortunately, I have a large supply of just that distilled drink on-hand. I'm back! The whisky seemed to enhance the rye flavor of the beer, but I would not recommend this combination outside of the home. I am in no shape to operate heavy equipment as a result of that wee experiment! The beer remained on the light end of the spectrum for its style & I cannot help but wonder if aging might help it along. Mine was a VERY young bottle, but it was the only one on the shelf & I do not relish adding to the Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody. Finish was dry, but it reminded me more of an Irish Dry Stout than its assigned style. I really think that if you can score a bottle (or two), you are better served by cellaring it (one).

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Photo of MacMalt
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 1/4/2017. Poured into stout glass. It pours ink black with a slight ruby-cola color evident when held to the light. It has a huge, fluffy khaki-colored head and extensive lacing that lasted through the pour. The smell was dubdued: roasted malt and a faint whiff of coffee. The taste equally underwhelmed with some dark roasted coffee, chocolate, and the advertised rye. None of the flavors really popped and I it lacked the dark fruit that really makes a good RIS. It is medium in body, lightly carbonated, and the 9.2% ABV is evident. I don't think I would have noticed it as much with a more full-bodied taste. Overall, it simply doesn't compare well to the leaders of the style.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark brown. Light tan head.
Roasted malt, rye, chocolate aroma.
Taste of dark chocolate, espresso, and rye.
The rye adds a little bit of spice to the beer. I'm not sure I like it.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.94/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Two Roads Brewing Co. "Unorthodox Russian Imperial Stout"
12 fl. oz. brown glass bottle, "BTLD 01/04/17" and sampled on 02/17/17
$3.99 @ Total Wine & More, Cherry Hill, NJ

Notes via stream of conscious: I had the chance to buy this beer while I was in Vermont a while back but I chose to pass it by as I wasn't sure how old it was, but this I know is fresh. Typical appearance, black/tan. Good head retention and very good lacing. The aroma is lighter than I expected. It's got dark malt, bakers chocolate, soft roast, and an almost licorice like note that I'm sure is coming from a combination of piney hops and the malt - it's not particularly hoppy though. The label does read "AGGRESSIVELY HOPPED IMPERIAL STOUT". Hmmm? That's OK, it might be more hoppy in the flavor. A little thin I think, in body at least, but flavor as well. Perhaps as it warms a bit. There's a distinct bittersweet chocolate to it, some black coffee, molasses, and what I'm perceiving as tropical fruitiness but there's nothing that particularly stands out about it. What I thought were piney hops in the aroma don't seem to be very present, and I'm only really finding them in the lingering finish. Oh, wait, is that rye? It must be. That makes more sense, and gives me a little more respect for the beer as the use of rye in unusual (haha, hence the name), and it works. It gives the beer an overall spiciness (I thought it was alcohol), but especially in the finish. There is some alcohol there, I can feel it, but like a lot of other great beers it's there more as a presence than something that directly pops out at you. There's no real dark malt acidity, and it doesn't really seem that bitter - it's solidly bitter, but not boldly or brashly bitter - although the spiciness of the rye gives it more of an aggressive edge. I'd say it's warmed now. It's better. I get some orange out of it, and the caramel has widened. Do I like it compared to other Russian Imperial stouts? I don't know, it's a different beast. I do like the tropical fruitiness once it's opened up. And I like the rye, but overall I'd say it's probably a bit too aggressive. That doesn't mean it's bad, that's just my personal preference. I'm glad I didn't buy that bottle in Vermont, that was a large bottle. Or would that have been a good thing? Maybe a little bit of age would smooth it out a bit.

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Photo of fank2788
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz served in a couple of pint glasses
Pours a deep dark near black in color with a frothy fine bubbled dark khaki head that is all classic RIS. The smell is sweet coffee, a touch of rye spice, some piney hops and chocolate. The taste is a touch sweet overall but there is a great dark coffee character and a solid bitterness that comes without much in the way of hop flavor. The rye is mildly apparent if you look for it but it is really just a minor addition to what is a solid stout. The finish is quite dry and puckeringly bitter both from roasted malts and the assertive hops. The alcohol builds with time but is surprisingly hidden despite its strength. Good overall but the taste may lack just a bit of the complexity that you'll find in other world class examples of the style, but still worth a try if you get the opportunity. Another good one from Two Roads!

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Photo of keithmurray
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle dates 10/15/15

Appearance - dark brown mahogany color with beige head

Smell - chocolate, espresso, soy sauce, roasted malts , pine

Taste - rye, citrus, hops, roasted malts, some chocolate

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, high carbonation, very hoppy upfront and in the finish

Overall - this beer misses the usual marks for a RIS, not a whole lot of chocolate or roasted malted notes. Drinks more like a black IPA. Disappointing

Price Point - $7.99/22 oz bottle

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
4.24/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From the bottle, it pours a very dark (seems black, but may be a super dark brown) with a very nice head, lasting a while. Chocolate and coffee in the nose. The same with a bit of bitterness in the mouth. Great variation on a Russian Imperial Stout. Yum!

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.26/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

bottled 12/14/15

pours jet black with a thick head. nice looking RIS.

smell is nice and sweet. notes of coffee, cream, chocolate, and vanilla.

taste is strong. not strong as in alcohol but strong as in bitter and sharp. finishes bitter and dry, a coffee finish. a spice to it as well. (which is due to the rye in this beer, interesting rye imperial stout)

overall this is not bad but is far from great. nice coffee taste and aroma but not as good of a taste as many other RIS'. the rye malt in this changes the taste.

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Photo of Jhfinn
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Teku from bomber. Black in color but fades to dark brown/root beer just below the head. For a RIS this is hoppy. Light bodied with a nice mouthfeel. A fun beer to drink but not something I would seek out again.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled 8/20/15 @ 09:14

Pours a dark brown/black color with a decent sized tan head, the pour is lacking that thick syrupy look like some RIS's, not much for lacing.

Smell is pretty much all roasted malt with only the slightest hint of chocolate

Taste starts out with a strong roasted malt backing, , there is quite a piney hop presence that's quite surprising not only because it's a RIS but based on the bottled date, I'd almost say the hops are too aggressive for the style and that it drowns out any of the chocolate and coffee that might have been but at the same time it's refreshing different, carbonation is medium-high and the body is a touch thinner than I would like, the alcohol is fairly well hidden so it's not difficult to consume.

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Photo of illpass78
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bomber poured into a stemmed glass.

Appearance: Pours black with a two-finger tan head. Not too much lacing.

Aroma: Espresso, rye, some hoppy stickiness, chocolate, more coffee.

Taste: Delicious, fairly hoppy RIS. Taste follows the nose, with espresso and rye spiciness up front. Some alcohol burn, but not over powering even at 9+.

Mouthfeel: Sturdy, but medium depth for a stout.

Overall: Excellent stout from Two Roads. A deftly executed big beer that puts its own stamp on the style. Damn near triumphant.

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Photo of jimboothdesigns
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark chocolatey brown with a generous head that dissipates slowly to a lace on top. Nice hoppy and grain smell. Hints of bitter coffee and chocolate. Taste is nice and smooth with a mild bitterness. Feel is thin and light but not watery. Bravo Two Roads!

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a snifter, the beer is jet black, with solid legs of carbonation bubbling throughout the body, and a creamy, dense, low profile, dark tan head. Aromas of licorice, bitter rye, bittersweet chocolate, heavily roasted coffee, rich molasses, and subtle campfire smoke. Flavors are heavily roasted forward, with a solid dose of campfire smoke on top of the bitter coffee, rich molasses, and licorice blend. Highlights of cocoa nib, earthy tones, and toasted bitter grains. The body is smooth, dry, and roasted, but lighter than most RIS. Heavily roasted and bitter aftertaste, with subtle rich highlights of chocolate and molasses. Very rich, dynamic flavors lingering on into the smooth, heavy, slightly dry finish. Big beer, with big flavors. I like it.

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Photo of rolltide8425
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Definitely on the hoppy end for an RIS. Rye is definitely present as well and a little bit of chocolate shows up on the back in. I like my stouts thicker but this isn't bad.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From the 654 m. bottle dated 10/31/14. Sampled on July 1, 2015.

5 stars for the way it looks with its black, opaque pour, modest but lingering tan head, and excellent lacing.

The aroma is of dark malts, chocolate, coffee, a touch of dark fruit and a touch of resin hops. The last two are lower profile.

Medium body.

The taste leans to the sweet side with the baking chocolate malts and coffee notes but there is a kind of boozy bitterness to tie it all together at the finish. But for under $8 for the big bottle I would easily have it again.

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Photo of BranfordBound
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Had on tap at the brewery after a tour. Flavorful, big, roasty, and all around tasty. Body felt a bit heavier than 9.2% but it still isn't a big concern. Would have had two if I didn't have to drive afterwards. So far this one goes to the top 5 beers from Two Roads that I've had. BA says it is a one-off but I get the feeling it will come back around.

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Photo of CHickman
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 10/31/14: Pours so dark it’s like a black hole color with a 1-2 finger creamy dark tan head that was full of tiny bubbles and faded slowly, leaving decent spotty foamy that mostly slid back down into the brew.

Smells of burnt chocolate malt, coffee grinds, herbs, rye, fresh piney hops, cocoa powder, charred wood, light anise, dry grass, syrup and grapefruit pith; unorthodox indeed, this nose is a lot more hoppy than expected and also has a sweetness like a s’mores that was burnt too much over a campfire. All in all it smells really good and very different.

Tastes right where the nose left off, with a pungent burst of piney hops mixes with roasted malt, charred wood, dark chocolate, burnt coffee grinds, grapefruit, tropical fruit, espresso, brown sugar and earthy notes. The burnt s’mores sweetness is replaced by ash, caramel and a very burnt biscotti cookie. The citrus and hop spices still come through, but the malty char suppresses the hop sweetness, allowing dry leafy flavors to come through like dried floral hops and mild spices like pepper. Aftertaste is a mix of orange peel, coriander, licorice, rye and chocolate milk which seems like a milk stout consistency. Complex with a nice mix of hops and malts, this may be too hoppy for people who love a traditional RIS but I thought that this brew was very tasty.

Mouthfeel is creamy and buttery smooth, with very light carbonation, a slick, thin body that is a little too light for a stout, although it does slide down quite nicely. Bitterness and cocoa linger as the char leaves your mouth almost dry and fades with a subtle sweetness.

Overall a very good RIS which I thought was flavorful and allowed the strong hop additions to change the dynamic of the beer in a very positive way. I’m a hophead so this interpretation of the style worked well for me and hid the high ABV masterfully.

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Photo of Roguer
3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Extremely dark brew that pours a prodigious dark tan head. Excellent retention, and lacing is thick.

Aggressively roasty nose, with hints of overripe red grapes, tons of roasted barley, a hint of burnt coffee, and oak (I don't think it's oak aged; it's just an aroma I'm getting from something). Just a bare hint of banana esters can be drawn out.

Flavor follows: this is a bitter, roasty stout. There's a touch of coffee and dark chocolate up front, swirling around with hints of barely sour fruit and cream. Finish is all roast: tons of dark coffee, laced with extremely bitter chocolate.

Plenty of bitterness; there's an earthy hoppiness, and even a bit of citrus peel on the finish, to complement the dark roast.

Very thin for the style; with this kind of flavor, I'd expect a much thicker stout. Relatively hot; shows the 9.2%. Nice long, bitter, oily finish.

This is a very aggressive, roasty stout, a la Stone IRS; don't go looking for much sweetness (a la FIS or Ten-FIDY). This means it really appeals to a particular kind of stout fan. A thicker, fuller mouthfeel would easily put this RIS into the "outstanding" overall category, a full tier higher than I currently have it.

I'd gladly take one Unorthodox over two Guinnesses.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a large snifter.

A: Jet black. Bubbly khaki-colored head retains well. Lacing is wispy and spotty.

S: Chocolate sauce, good dose of rye, mocha, whiff of sooty roast, some alcohol, green and oily hops.

T: Sooty and slightly acrid roast mingles with bold and spicy rye up front. Blackstrap molasses and fudge sauce. Mocha. Slightly smokey. Plum and fig. Alcohol is present but not hot. Oily and green hop flavors. Flash of orange too. Long smokey and spicy rye finish.

M: Full and thick in the mouth. Coating and viscous, but not too sludgey. Acute, tingling carbonation.

O: Very solid. The rye shines. Great buy at about $8 a bomber.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.01/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

4/15....pours dark black with tan foam that sits like a lid. Clingy. Milky creamy nose, subtle coffee. Roasted coffee taste, very strong bitter. Gritty, boozy. Smooth taste but hammers you at the end.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful black pour, with a nice finger and a half creamy light mocha head that's slowly receding.
Rich roasted malts and burnt sugar on the nose, some nice dark chocolate, some clear dark licorice, faint anise and dried dark fruit, molasses and some subtle fresh hop hidden underneath, hinting some citrus peel and what might be quite a big bitterness.
The roasted malts are really rich up front, bringing some black coffee this early on, plus some dark chocolate, all perfectly countered with some fresh zesty hops, close to a Black IPA profile. Burnt spruce, lots of licorice and dried grapefruit peel. There's some burnt Russian bread towards the finish, with some clear spicy rye, some extra pine, touch of peppercorn, faitn anise, faint pistachio, herb liqueur.
Aftertaste is packed with bitter, leafy American hop, ash-burnt cereal and some coffee dregs. The spicy feel is still around. Medium body, medium, kinda prickly carbonation.
A solid RIS with some really nice elements. Rough, almost aggressive actually, but that keeps the alcohol hidden. Awesome.

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Photo of ZebraCakez
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review written from notes taken on 2/6/15. 22oz bomber poured into two snifters.

A: Pours deep black, one finger of caramel colored head that dissipates slowly.

S: Roasted malt and almonds with some chocolate. A little weak, but appetizing.

T: Chocolate, coffee, and a toffee sweetness all play well together here. Alcohol is basically nonexistent. A nice nutty, roasty finish.

F: Thick and creamy, full body, pleasant carbonation. All good here.

O: Nothing crazy special, just a well-rounded, well crafted stout. I enjoyed it, but probably would not buy again given some of the other options currently available.

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Photo of Kendo
3.99/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled on 10/31/14, consumed on 1/24/15, making this one about 11 weeks old.

A: Poured from the bomber into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body is black with a 1-finger chocolatey-brown foamy head. Some bits of lace.

S: Modest chocolate malt and cocoa powder along with noticeable earthy hops.

T: First impression is more about the feel than the taste - it seems a little thin and watery for the style. As for the flavor profile, I get roasted barley malt, a touch of charcoal and coffee and some cocoa powder. Finishes with a good amount of piney, earthy, hop bitterness. In fact, the hops are so prevalent that in many ways this reminds me of an Imperial Black IPA. I'm certainly OK with that.

M: As noted above, it's a bit thin for a Russian Imperial Stout; it feels more like a Porter than an RIS.

O: I like this beer. It just doesn't live up to the RIS moniker. Had they labeled this an Imperial Black IPA (a la Uinta Dubhe, which is the same strength, ABV-wise), I would've thought, "yeah - this is a nice Imperial Black." Needs more heft and a more malt-centric presentation to be considered a good RIS. Still, I'm not at all unhappy with this beer.

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Photo of Gmann
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a black color with a pillowy toasted beige head. Tight creamy head that settles into a light cap with a wall of lacing on the glass.

The aroma has some subtle milk chocolate notes as well as light caramel. Perhaps a hint of sour rye. Not picking up much else. Not a very robust aroma for a RIS.

The taste starts off with an espresso hit, roasty and bitter. Notes of bakers chocolate add to the earthy bitterness of the beer. A hint of caramel sweetness. The rye and the hops come pretty strong towards the end. The rye provides a slight sour and spice note and the hops add the complexity of the hop bitterness. Interesting. There are bold flavors but this beer doesn't quite have the same bold flavors that you would expect in a RIS. It is not as sweet.

The feel is of a full chewy body and soft carbonation. There is sweetness but the bitterness shines through. A bit chalky and sticky in the finish. Feels like a RIS.

A good RIS and a bit different. The rye and the hops shine through. Not nearly as sweet as most RIS.

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Unorthodox Russian Imperial Stout from Two Roads Brewing Company
3.84 out of 5 based on 200 ratings.
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