Catherine The Great
Brouwerij Smisje

Catherine The GreatCatherine The Great
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #818
Ranked #44,385
3.48 | pDev: 18.97%
Brouwerij Smisje
Catherine The GreatCatherine The Great
View: Beers | Events
Reviews: 108 | Ratings: 172 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of chinchill
3.95/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

330 ml bottle served in a Belgian snifter. $5.50 at Total Wine.
Bottle released considerable pressure when the cap was unsealed, suggesting it might gush, but it was well behaved. It did raise a very tall head in the pour. This reduced to a complete top coat fairly quickly.
A cross between a Belgian strong, a Belgian stout and a RIS, the Belgian character is particularly evident in the aroma. No points deducted for style: this is delicious and, besides, the "Imperial Stout" on the English label may be due to the US distributor. Very good balance and complexity.

Overall: recommended.

 596 characters

Photo of papposilenus
2.99/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

From an 11.2oz bottle, undated - actually, there's an 11:15 code stamped on the cap which might be the date, the time of day, or something else altogether, so let's just ignore that. Served in a tulip.

Pours a... what the hell? Is this a stout? It looks like a brown ale or black IPA or something. A really pretty brownish-red colour which, while it looks very nice, looks not at all like a stout, let alone an impy stout. Big, beautiful off-white soft creamy head with excellent retention and gobs of lacing. I have no clue how to rate the appearance.

Smells of sweet caramel malt and milk chocolate.

Tastes like a Three Musketeers bar and... that's pretty much it, right there: tastes like a Three Musketeers.

Feel is creamy, light-to-medium-bodied and well carbonated.

What the hell did I just drink?!?! Looks like a black IPA, tastes like a candy bar.

 860 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.52/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a huge fizzy bubbly 3 finger head that fades at a med pace, light spotty lacing, dark murky mahogany maroon brown color.

Nose fluffy dark malts, nougaty like, some caramel brown sugar molasses notes, hint of toasty cocoa, but lots of fruity esters, big Belgian yeast characters, some apple and pear, caramel apples.

Taste brings more malts, dark malts, lots of nougaty caramel with caramel fudgey notes, brown sugar, candi sugar, a big ester profile again, Belgian yeast really goes to town, more apple pear esters, caramel candy apples, mild phenols and a hint of booze. Then oxidation, a little wet paper, into biscuity coca notes too. Finish is sticky, no real booze, candy caramel chewy nougat thing, with more candy apples and oxidation lingering.

Mouth is med to fuller bod, sticky candy feel, decent carb.

Overall not bad, it had promise, a little too much yeast ester profile, not much for dark malts, but still pretty good, aside from the oxidation.

 968 characters

Photo of pat61
3.33/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nose coffee, light roast. Pours dark brown with a slight haze under a 3” foam cap that slowly dissipates while producing good lace. The palate has chocolate with some light coffee notes with some caramel and a little sherry. The beer is highly carbonated with a medium body. The carbonation is a little harsh and the beer is a little solventy and the alcohol is a little hot.

 378 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
4.27/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I popped the cap and there's a slow oozing of the beer.

For an imperial Stout, it has more of a colour of a barley wine. A murky rust. The foam does a good job of shrinking from the initial pour leaving lots of lacing in its wake.

It smells like an aged barley wine. Caramel malt with a very noticeable Port like aroma. Marvelous.

The taste holds no surprises. Rich malty goodness with the Port flavourful I mentioned in the smell. I notice some oxidation which probably explains the Port.

Very nice and smooth mouth feel.

I guess I am digging this more than most, judging from the reviews. Oh well.

 614 characters

Photo of cbutova
3.44/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

A- Poured into a tulip from the stubby 12oz with a dark brown body, some red can even be seen around the edges. The head is extremely foamy and bubbly and off-white. Foam builds to about two fingers high and has decent retention. Nice droopy streaks of lacing all around the glass.

S- Sweet syrupy, very spicy raisins come to mind with a backdrop of nutty, somewhat roast malts. A pretty big cherry-dark fruit note and some dusty caramel as well.

T- Quite similar to the nose overall. Spicy raisins and dark fruits up front with a pretty heavy Belgian yeast spice which comes with the high ABV. Malt is big as well with toasted nuts, cracked grain dust, old aged caramel, rum, molasses, cocoa and slight roast coming to mind.

MF- For an RIS this is super light bodied but a champagne like carbonation and creamy, foamy texture is enough to not allow it to be watery. Semi-bitter spicy finish and some alcohol warmth.

This might be the hardest beer I have had to score. In one hand it is a nice Belgian strong ale that reminds me of Old Ales.... On the other hand it is called an RIS on the label and must be scored that way at least somewhat. I guess I'll take that away in the overall or something...

 1,205 characters

Photo of clayrock81
3.6/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Perhaps I'm being too judgemental, but this beer arrived with a brownish body and light white head that died quick and I wasn't thinking I had the right beer at first since it's labeled as a RIS. I did pick up a little bit of stoutish aroma but it is mostly covered up by the funky cherries and other sour ale charateristics. Good beer, great idea, just didn't come across as anything more than a one off for me. Has some sour fruit/cherry notes in a medium body and passes easy, and there's touches of sweet malts and a little dryness in the finish from roasted malts and/or the sourness of the beer itself. Even my notes are a little boggled with this beer; all I can say is it is worth a shot and the ABV isn't noticeable but you'll feel it after a draft.

 758 characters

Photo of t8s8l8
3.74/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Difficult beer to judge. Draft at monks reddish brown color off white head. Aroma a soft chocolate some sour notes as well. Def. Funky unless this is what it suppose to smell and taste like. Not bad but not an imperial stout. Girl told me it was pouring wrong all day. Would try again just not for 8 dollars a pour

 314 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
3.55/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Apparently everyone says this is an Imperial brown ale so I shall review it as so. Picked up an old bottle for 4 bucks at the House of 1,000 beers.

T - Well right off the bat I could tell it's not a RIS. The head is all wrong just mildly opaque and it's barley even black. Color is good for a brown ale giving a hazy shade of chestnut brown with mild sediment bits.

S - Lightly soured mash with cherries upfront. In the glass I get more brown ale notes of hazelnut and caramel malts. Yeast still smells rather fruity and vibrant.

T - Really dig the chocolate malt in this one. Like a dry cocoa that never gets too sweet. Soured doughs and mashed pecans take mid palate and the finish is dry and kind of chalky. Mid glass the chalky yeast and what can only be a bitter hoppy/chemical taste is kind of off-putting.

M - Well it says it's 10% but it hides it well. Kind of underwhelming fizzy flavor.

Overall not worth picking up again and not even close to either a Imperial brown or RIS. More of a Belgium ale with brown malts added.

 1,037 characters

Photo of FlyAwayPhil
3.83/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Cloudy and dark brown with some light carbonation. The head lingered longer when it came from the tap. Nice lacing on the glass

S - Roast dark malts and some vinegar tartness. Hints of fruity spices

T - Tastes of roasted malts and a slight hoppiness on the finished with some yeast. The alcohol is rather well hidden.

M - A bit heavy at first but finished with a rather light dry finish.

O - I quite enjoy this beer, but I would argue that it's more of an imperial brown ale than a Russian imperial stout. I've had it before and it was described as an imperial brown ale, so I wasn't disappointed like some other people that the style differs from the one on the label. Enjoyed in my Westmalle chalice for this review. Growler from the Birch bar in Norfolk, VA.

 769 characters

Photo of metter98
3.45/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is very dark brown in color but appears black when viewed from afar. A very careful pour resulted in a two finger high beige head that has good retention properties and took a long time to die down but never completely faded away.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of chocolate malts along with some notes of roasted malts.
T: The taste has flavors of dark malts with notes of roasted malts and hints of chocolate.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and a little smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. There are some hints of dryness in the finish.
O: This beer is rather over carbonated and seems a little light in body for the style. It goes down rather easily because of its lighter-bodied nature and a lack of alcohol in the taste. I wished this could have had a fuller body and some more roasted malt flavors.

 851 characters

Photo of facundoCNB
3.83/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle

tons of floaters, reddish brown pour, tons of creme colored head. awesome amounts of thick sticky lacing.
smells of cherries, roasted grains, burnt caramel, vanilla.
the taste is slightly smoky up front.. a lot like tobacco.. very earthy/dirt-like, hints of sour fruit notes (cherries, grapes), dates, nuts.

medium body, nicely carbonated, creamy mouthfeel.

i was honestly expecting a completely different mouthfeel/appearance. seeing head on a 2 year old stout is strange. still feeling the carbonation is even stranger.. the alcohol was unrecognizable. a GREAT beer for aging.

 594 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.11/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from 5/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Dark brown pour with a huge off-white head. Tons of carbonation, half a glass, spooned out quite a bit just to get the the beer. Sour, sulfur aroma. Alcohol, smoky malts, light sour with roasty malt middle. Mouth explodes with carbonation. A bit of wood, smoke at the end. Not well balanced. Underlying flavor kind of nice, but blown out of the water by odd flavors and explosive carbonation. Whoops. There's a interesting beer in here trying to get out.

 514 characters

Photo of oline73
3.02/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at Max's on Belgian Independence day. Poured into a tasting glass.

Appearance: This beer pours a very dark amber, but you can see through it, which is weird. There is a layer of fluffy off white head that fades to a ring around the glass.

Smell: Rather tart, berries and vinegar. Some malt sweetness as well.

Taste: Some roast here. I'm getting dark chocolate and tart berries. The finish is roasty with the sourness fading. I'm also getting some Belgian spice here.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with tingly carbonation and a finish that is dry and a bit gritty.

Overall: This one threw me off from the start and I can't say I was a huge fan. A sample pour was ok, but that's about it for me.

 709 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
2.15/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Looked interesting in a bottle store over the weekend, but after pouring this I'm a little skeptical. Served in a tulip, the beer pours an auburn-brown coloring, thin and hazy to the point of opaque, with a heavy, tall, foamy head that settles in at about an inch of beige colored foam. Aromas of bread, tangy fruit sweetness, and pungent floral overtones. Flavors are all over the place, with a roasted and slightly smokey molasses backbone that leans more towards an off-balanced barleywine. This does not remotely resemble an RIS, in my opinion. Heavily spiced throughout, with some nutmeg and coriander coming through. This has a very watery, foamy feel as you drink. Tangy sweet, almost sugary aftertaste. Limp, watery finish with a slight linger to the spicing.

 767 characters

Photo of OneDropSoup
3.88/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a stemmed tulip: Deep plum-brown with crimson highlights under 3 fingers of fluffy, souffle-like cappuccino head. Tiny, fast nucleation around the sides & some sediment.

Very fruity nose up front, with plum, a little tart pomegranate, grape jam, a little cocoa underpinning with just a little peppery quality.

Sharp wine-like grape quality, some other dark fruits (plum, raisin), rum-like sugary booze, moving into a thin dark chocolate taste, & right around the finish a kind of savory, meaty, smoky character emerges that gives it a nice twist. Can't say I love it from beginning to end, but that robust character really redeems it, lasting well into the aftertaste. Low roast.

Full-bodied but effervescent & with some bite, a little hot but not what I'd expect 10% to be.

Not what I was expecting & probably one of the better Belgian RISs I've had, perhaps in spite of the stylistic divergences. Complex taste makes it worthwhile.

 950 characters

Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.41/5  rDev +26.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 11.2 oz bottle into a tulip- pours a very dark brown with a hint of ruby (so moderately clear), but still some solid sediment floating around. HUGE 3+ finger head with exceptional retention and beautiful lacing. For that, have to give it a 5 on appearance.

Smells like a Belgian strong dark ale for sure- lots of yeast up front, some candi sugar, and a little roasted malt. Maybe a tiny bit of hop bitterness in that mix of strong smells.

Taste is consistent with nose- a good balance of candi sugar, Belgian yeast, and roasted malt. Alcohol is very well concealed. Finishes pretty sweet.

Mouthfeel is great- medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation of the live variety. Great beer- get it if you see it. First time I had it on tap and if I remember correctly the bottle is just as good.

 811 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
3.42/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours a semi-opaque and hazy dark garnet red to brown in color which is a little unexpected considering this a Russian Imperial Stout. There is a small amount of yeast particles in suspension, the particles are fairly large and concentrated in the bottom of the glass. The beer has a two finger tall tan head that reduces to a thick (about half finger) even layer across the entire surface of the beer. Moderate lacing is observed. This looks more like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale than a Russian Imperial Stout.

S: There is a light aroma of dark roasted malts but that is dominated by the smell of dark fruits (figs and raisins). There are also hints of light molasses and some spices.

T: The flavor is not as sweet as I would have expected based on the smell of the beer. There is a light flavor of dark roasted malts with some nuttiness and spices upfront. I also detect some of the dark fruits (figs and raisins) but they are not as sweet as usual. I also get a bit of the yeast and some light lingering bitterness. Moderate amounts of alcohol present.

M: Medium bodied with heavy amounts of carbonation. Velvety smooth, dry in the finish with a little bit of alcohol warmth.

O: This beer was not what I expected for the style when I purchased it, so I have to say I was a little disappointed in this one. The appearance and mouthfeel are much more of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale than a Russian Imperial Stout. There is a nice amount of complexity to the smell. I get a fair amount of alcohol in the taste. Not the easiest beer to drink.

 1,543 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.05/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Without much Stout-like character to celebrate, I celebrate instead the dry, charred fruit character with black peppercorn balance atop a champagne-like arid bubbly texture.

Pouring a deep and rusty ruby color and with the typical yeasty haze that's expected of Belgian Strong Dark Ales, but allowing some dim light to penetrate. A creamy ivory head caps the beer with a dense foam, reducing to a variant sheet while lacing with irratic patterns- appreciated in an artistic view.

Aromas of dried pitted fruit, candied apples, and rum-like spicy/sweet interplay all play on the nose, but with a slight toast and peppery scent and sensation that tickles the nose and promises bold dryness.

Flavors follow with dry-fruity character with extremely low-lying sweetness. The candied effect that captures in smell doesn't resolve in taste. Instead, the dry fruit flavor resembled charred currants, berries, and grapes. Vinous like very dry Merlots, and with the heat and taste of freshly cracked black peppercorns- these are the flavors that capture the flavor profile best. Background bitterness of hops and robustly kilned grain gives a slight nutty and coffeeish note. Woody notes of oak and cooked spice reveals an earthy and spicy blend from hops and yeasty spices that balance the beer in a very earthy and complex manner.

As with all authentic Belgian Ales, Catherine hits the tongue with explosive intent. Very expansive and full as the carbonation comes out of suspension, causing the beer to boost off the surfaces of the mouth and giving more of an impression of body and taste instead of direct resonaiton of taste buds. This ushers in a quick finish of dryness, peppery prickle, and warmth (almost hot). Instead, the flavors are more appreciated in aftertaste than at any point leading up to there. There's a whimsical memory of the beer's flavor that lasts in finish and aftertaste that wasn't actualized before the finish.

On par with Unibroue Trois Pistoles, the beer has a unique toasty and peppery-dry taste that sets it apart from the sweeter and more succulent varieties. This makes this beer very drinkable, digestable, and enjoyable!

 2,158 characters

Photo of SLeffler27
3.63/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A big, beige, creamy head quickly turns rocky but then lasts a long while. Catherine the Great is dark ruby and clear with proficient carbonation. Sticky patches of lace and some yeast sediment are left behind on the Dogfish Head snifter.

Sweet and malty with molasses and fresh fruits.

The light flavors defy style. This is less sweet than suggested by the aroma. Spicing and other flavors are similar to a Belgian dark ale, though less complex. A modest finish has light bitterness.

A medium body and well carbonated with no alcohol.

Easy and enjoyable, but clearly not to style. One wonders if this has been mislabeled. Catherine the Great is better with food given the lack of character and complexity.

 710 characters

Photo of silentjay
3.37/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this is a case where "grading to style" will hurt this beer a lot.

It pours like a murky American amber. a huge, huge khaki head sticks around forever, making me pour this in a few stages.

smell is a bit more stout-like with some roasted malts, but seems more in the Belgian Strong Dark Ale category with some porter characteristics. lots of caramel, light molasses, a bit of hazelnut liqueur, a touch of chocolate and plenty of fruity yeasty esters. some figs, raisins and spice.

flavor starts with spice and roasted nuts. tons of dark fruits with a bit of lighter sweeter fruitiness as well. a bit of chocolate creeps in and a slight ashy finish hints at a stout. alcohol warmth is slightly there, but it doesn't seem at the 10% level.

medium bodied brew (definitely light for an "Imperial Stout") but with a nice velvety carbonation and a slightly syrupy finish that helps some sweetness and a touch of fruit stick on the palate for a long while.

It's odd. It's good, but I was in the mood for something dark and thick and roasty. I would recommend this to people with the caveat that it's not like the Imperial Stouts you are used to, or any stout for that matter. decent beer in the long run, but why did they call it a stout and name it after Catherine the Great?

 1,275 characters

Photo of vande
2.75/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

althought this is a belgian russian imperial, ill be honest...blind pour would of pegged it for closer to abarleywine I think...
A: drker red heavier brown with real thic head...sandy colored, but ver carbonated...

S: rusty malt, crisp caramel...bready...

T: nothin stout like...more barlywine...strange caramel malty brew...

M: somewhat abrasive, bit rough....

O: a one time buy n try

 389 characters

Photo of dbossman
3.75/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Really nice looking beer but it looks more like a dark Belgian; deep mahogany hue; hazy, thick gorgeous cream-colored hue with decent lacing

S: A lot going on: tart fruits--grapes, cherries, plums, apples--also some roasty, burnt malts and leather and rubber? Man, this smells like a Belgian sour stout--I'm intrigued

T: I'm not sure if this beer is supposed to be like this but I think I like it; sour, sweet, malty, weird; sweet fruits up front that turn slightly sour--cherries, apples, and then a burnt coffee, burnt tire, burnt leather flavor takes over; almost like someone mixed a sour and a stout in an ash tray but oddly enough I really like this though sweetness does become a bit cloying in the back end

F: A tad over carbonated and thin

O: I don't quite know how to rate this beer--it's on one of the weirdest beers (and not really a stout) I've had and yet I find myself really enjoying it

 909 characters

Photo of AleWatcher
1.78/5  rDev -48.9%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Blind beer #4 from Shogo...
11.2 oz stubby bottle that calls for tulip... My Portsmouth tulip gets the greenlight!

I'm already expecting this to be some odd-ass Belgian ale that I've never heard of... And it pours out...

Here we go;
This looks like the end result of leaving a root-beer float on the kitchen counter overnight. Really murky brownish red-- like sweet potatoes and figs were put in a blender together.
Small tan head quickly evaporated into a smal ring around the edge. Little wispy cloud of bubbles actually looks like it forms the logo of the Patriots! Odd, eh?

Smells... Ok. This must be an Oude Bruin. There's a big chocolate malt base, but a slightly tart eucalyptus minty note that comes across too. Dark and tart cherries... Hmmm. Wait wait. Not getting the tart notes as much as this warms. WTF?

Any tartness I had in the nose is completely non-existent on the flavor. The first thing that needs to be said after my first sip-- this is way too carbonated. And thin feeling.
Ok, on tithe flavor-- lots of chocolate. Some caramel too. Sweet, really sweet. Some dark fruit, and a touch of vegetal minty-ness. The chocolate is really sweet-- like a tootsie roll.

Ok. I have no clue what the hell this is--
Too dark and murky for it to be a Belgian pale, tripel, or golden.
Not sour.
Too thin to be a stout.

Is this some sort of weird-ass Belgian porter or brown ale?

--REVEAL-- this beer is... Catherine The Great from 't Smisje

This is an RIS?
Oh Belgium, I am disappoint. Way too thin.... And strange.

Now that I know what this is, here are my review numbers;

 1,619 characters

Photo of pixieskid
2.69/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

DISCLAIMER: this beer is solid but is in no way an imperial stout. There are great examples of rich, chocolaty, and complex Belgian brewed imperial stouts (Hercules) for example.

Anyway, pours a murky brown color with a two finger off-white head.

Aroma; is slightly tart with strong notes of caramel and spice.

Taste; pretty much matches the nose with notes of caramel, brown sugar, spices, a bit of coffee acidity and a lingering ripe fruit presence.

Finishes with an earthy bitterness and lingering cane sugar note.

All in all, a good beer but just inappropriately labeled...

 582 characters

Catherine The Great from Brouwerij Smisje
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 172 ratings