Sumi Ink
Grimm Artisanal Ales

Sumi InkSumi Ink
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Stout - American Imperial
4.35 | pDev: 5.75%
Grimm Artisanal Ales
New York, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Sumi InkSumi Ink
Notes: Imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with vanilla.
Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 167 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by floyd_pugman:
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floyd_pugman from California

3.99/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Surprisingly subtle nose of caramel, chocolate, and vanilla. Palate starts with caramel, with chocolate fudge stomping in, and then vanilla on the finish, with dark fruits lingering on the aftertaste. For me, the fudge flavors make the beer, and distinguish it from more run-of-the-mill BA stout offerings. Nothing to go to great lengths to acquire, however.

Feb 04, 2017
More User Reviews:
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.31/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sweet, savory and surprisingly delicate yet not giving an inch of ground on the roasty, toasty and robust world of stout. Grimm Ales have found the ideal balance of barrel, spice, stout and gumption in an imperial stout with vanilla aged in bourbon barrels.

Sumi Ink pours much like its namesake- ink. With a light and delicate creme of foam, its gentle swirl releases a host of savory aromatics. Chocolate, espresso, black walnut, caramel, coconut and vanilla roll onto the nose while its taste is sultry with burnt sugars, molasses, dark chocolate and sweet cream.

While the flavor continue to trend sweet and roasty across the middle palate, its sweetness seeps deep into the tastebuds. The beer's dainty creaminess allows the dark ale to rest weightily on the tastebuds, saturating them fully with lavish toffee and molasses, coffee and chocolate, wood spices and vanilla. Sweet whisky seems nearly honey infused as the trailing taste is of walnut brownie, cookies & cream and sweetened espresso.

Full, decadent and rolling into the finish like chocolate syrup, the beer's long linger of malt sweetness, roasted grains and the simmering warmth of whisky are given a milkshake taste and texture as the vanilla heightens the flavor of cream. Spicy with oak, the beer's balance is faint and soft, allowing the full attention to focus on what's going on with the roast, vanilla and whisky caramels.

Jan 30, 2017
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cosmicevan from New York

4.57/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

was pretty excited about this one as soon as the label dropped. Bourbon stout w vanilla from grimm? umm....YES! double negative is very good as is the BA and maple and as far as I know that's the grim stout, so excited fr a new stout from a brewery that has so far been worth checking out most things they drop.

the beer...look is a bit softer and watery but the rest is thick and lush. great smell of vanilla over chocolate giving a light marshmallow vibe. body is full and drinks like a BA stout should. this one really delivers imo. BA stout w vanilla always catches my eye, very few capture my taste buds. this is a winner.

Dec 05, 2016
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kojevergas from Colorado

3.44/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

BOTTLE: Cost was $14.99 plus pfand at a Whole Paycheck in Manhattan. November 2016 vintage. Classy white and black label design. Unbranded black pry-off crown cap. 1 pint 6 fl oz format. Brown glass.

"Imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with vanilla." 13.50% ABV. "Brewed by Grimm at Beltway Brewing Co, Sterling, VA." The label makes no mention of how long it spent in barrels, or which bourbon was used (nor does the website).

Served at 50-55 F into a wine glass per the label's instructions.

HEAD: ~1cm in height. Khaki-tan colour. Somewhat creamy and soft. Retention is pretty bad - maybe 1 minute at best
(and that in a narrow mouthed wine glass, no less). Leaves no lacing as it quickly dissipates. Not a great head for an imperial stout, all things considered, lacking softness, richness, and a dark colour with a shining gilded complexion.

BODY: It's a dark brown-black, not a jet or ink black as seen in the very best expressions of the style. Opaque, without visible yeast/lees or hop sediment.

Appears aptly carbonated. Its poor head retention is excusable given its high ABV to an extent, but then a world class expression of the style wouldn't have trouble with that to be fair. It isn't unique or special, but it's certainly appealing in a general sense.

AROMA: Chewy dark fruits, caramel(ization), and dark malts seem to comprise the base stout, with leathery notes and barrel sugars hinting towards the bourbon barrel. The bourbon character aroma isn't reticent, but it does lack the toasted coconut and rich white oak found in the best bourbon aromas. I'm not getting any chocolate, roast(ed barley), or coffee from the base. No burnt notes or charred sugars either.

Aroma suggests a sweet imperial stout but not necessarily a dessert sipper with a gooey mouthfeel and an adequately but not impressively intricate flavour profile. Lacks any vanilla whatsoever.

To style, there are no overt hoppy or yeasty notes, nor are there off-notes. Not a boozy aroma by any means.

Aromatic intensity is moderately high. It isn't shaping up to be great, but it's shaping up to be good.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Gooey and chewy but not syrupy, Sumi Ink nails just the right amount of thickness and weight on the palate without ever being a chore to drink or feeling overbearing. It's a filling robust texture, but its full body is justified by its depth and complexity of flavour.

The vanilla was nonexistent aromatically, but luckily it does come through in the taste - albeit subtly. I find it late second act, but lack the ability to tell whether it's from actual vanilla, bourbon/oak vanillin, or both - and I'm happy to be confused given how well it plays with the subtle but accentuating bourbon barrel undertones. Barrelwise, it's leathery both in taste and texture, which emphasizes notes of caramelized vague dark fruit, faint molasses, and dark malts. Combined with the barrel sugar presence, the dark malts and dark fruit notes definitely make this a sweet brew, but it's never cloying and I'd say it stops short of being a true dessert imperial stout. Lacks any chocolate presence at all, which reigns in the sweetness a bit at the expense of further intricacy of flavour.

And intricate an imperial stout it isn't - at least not compared to the paragons of the style. No roast, no coffee, no burnt/charred notes, no smoke, et al. Complexity is adequate, but it makes up for it with a largely well-balanced build. There's a nice interplay between barrel and base, even if the bourbon barrel tones are a bit understated (if not reticent), lacking any toasty coconut or rich white oak.

The barrel character isn't in ideal harmony with the base beer, and doesn't push complexity or depth of flavour to the limit, but both elements are well-executed in their own right and I suppose the whole is equal to but doesn't exceed the sum of its parts.

Flavour duration is good. Flavour intensity is moderately high.

OVERALL: A nice imperial stout with a well hidden ABV. I find it rather drinkable. Unlike many imperial stouts out there, the bomber won't be a chore to get through, but I would like to see Grimm abandon the cash-grab 22oz format in favour of more reasonably priced-per-ounce 12 oz bottles (even in 4 or 6 packs). Then again, I guess with all the present demand for their beers they don't have to.

Nice work, but it can't hold a candle to the best Scandinavian, English, or North American expressions of the style, and Grimm's high reputation may cause discerning drinkers who don't happen to be limited release chasers to scratch their heads whilst drinking it. $15 a bottle is too steep for me to justify a second purchase, nice work though it is. I'd probably sooner reach for a Victory Storm King or North Coast Ole Raspy (both of which are substantially cheaper), but I'm glad I tried this once and the mouthfeel is a stand-out characteristic for me. Based on the strength of this beer, I'd happily try any future stout from Grimm.

High B- (3.44) / WORTHY

Dec 01, 2016
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Greywulfken from New York

4.4/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Black with a finger of relatively brief dark foam. Good beer - not too heavy on the bourbon, medium-full-bodied, smooth, with lotsa of the appropriate chocolate and vanilla notes you might expect; leans sweet as opposed to bittersweet or dry, but nothing too much - a very classy entry into the style. Having enjoyed this, Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break and Barrel Aged Heavy Boots of Lead all for the first time this past holiday, I'd say the BA Heavy Boots took the prize, with this coming in a close second.

Nov 26, 2016
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Immortale25 from North Carolina

4.56/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Wicked Weed snifter. Label says November 2016.

A- Pours a 99% opaque black color with a 1/4 inch dark tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and some faint wisps of surface foam. Resilient lacing leaves small clots behind.

S- Great bourbon-y vanilla aroma with plenty of dark roasted malt. Big oak presence.

T- Lovely intertwining of barrel and vanilla. Notes of milk chocolate, caramel and pecans. The ABV is insanely well-hidden as I would never guess this was anywhere over 10%. The roastiness provides a great counterbalance to the big sweetness that's present. Nice oak aftertaste.

M- The only part that's not stellar as this only has a bit of creaminess and isn't as viscous as I would like. Medium-low carbonation and a full body.

O- I cannot get over how damn smooth this is. So drinkable and luscious. Sure, it could be thicker, but don't pass up the opportunity to grab this if you see it.

Jan 06, 2017
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.36/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

others are right to be raving about this one, thanks to my homie back east for sharing it with me last week. this was an impressive beer in a lineup of impressive beers. a monstrous brew, gains little from being quite as strong as it is, except the intimidation factor i suppose. i found myself proceeding with caution, and while the alcohol might be a little hot and is probably not mellowed much by time in the cellar, i love the beer as a whole, and dont mind the bit of exposed booze here as much as i do in many other contexts. the base stout is amazing in its own right, a real masterwork of sorts, intensely roasted, bitter, and black, with a lot of viscosity and a full encapsulation of the essence of dark grain, beautifully done here. notes of black walnut and maple are present, brown sugar, this is quite sweet too. the vanilla adds a lot, unfortunately it also makes this sweeter than it already is, but the flavor of it is amazing, the whole bean, intense and natural, dosed robustly, and without any issues coming through the dense dark stout. slightly floral in the flavor from it, desserty for sure, and with a ton of whiskey, almost like bourbon was blended right into the beer. at the very least the barrels may have still had some juice in them. some oak tannins here, a ton of smooth wet woodiness here, hearty and wintery to say the least, the barrels have left quite the indelible mark on this. heavy heavy beer by weight, it sticks to the teeth, numbs the tongue, and sits thick in the belly. the sweetness and the booze almost make it like a black barleywine, but i love the depth here, and think sharing it with a couple friends is about the right amount. thanks again for sharing this beauty! quite a memorable brew.

Dec 11, 2016
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FriedSlug from North Carolina

4.49/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Super dark beer with a tan head. The head recedes but leaves a few specks of lacing behind. The aroma is roasty with a lot of cocoa and vanilla. There is only a wee bit of bourbon in the nose. Delightfully sweet with a nice roasted malt flavor and tons of chocolate and vanilla. The Bourbon is more noticable in the taste but is the perfect accent. Really nice beer.

Feb 13, 2017
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.61/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a pretty dark black, doesn't exactly pour like motor oil, but looks thick enough. There's a small head, and no lacing.

Smells like rich and creamy vanilla, huge chocolate fudginess, silky bourbon, slight dark fruitiness, and slight oak.

This really reminded me kind of like Vanilla Rye lite. There really is a good amount of vanilla here- it's hard to tell what's from the vanilla beans and what's from the barrels, but whatever it is, it's delicious, creamy, and very, very rich- like drinking silk. I'd wish for a bit of roasted malt character, because the beer is quite sweet, but it accomplishes being a vanilla and chocolate bomb exceptionally well. It's pretty fudgy, with a nice dark fruit sweetness.

This is medium bodied, not incredibly thick, for sure. It trades thickness for exceptional drinkability, though- as it's very creamy, very smooth, and very silky. There is absolutely no hint here that it's 13.5%- that's pretty impressive.

This is one of the best BA Vanilla stouts you can get on the market today- Grimm really smashed this one out of the park.

Dec 10, 2016
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SFC21 from Florida

4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2016 vintage

May 12, 2019
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GRG1313 from California

4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Jun 30, 2019
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ColForbinBC from New Jersey

4.46/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dec 19, 2016
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The_Beer_Guru from New York

4.65/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

May 07, 2019
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bcrossan from North Carolina

4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

May 13, 2017
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mnj21655 from Massachusetts

4.35/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an inky black with a quarter to a half inch of light brown head. Aroma is vanilla, dark fruits, and bourbon. Taste is heavy on the dark fruits, I get figs and plums. After that I get vanilla and a touch of lightly boozy bourbon. As the beer warms A bit I get some milk chocolate notes. Medium body and low-moderate carbonation but there is a certain oily viscosity here. Im impressed by how well the alcohol is kept in check here, I'd expect a 13.5% BBA stout to have a little more heat/booziness but the alcohol isn't distracting. Overall this is a very good BBA stout. I've never been a huge fan of anything BBA but this has well integrated flavors that I'm enjoying.

Apr 02, 2017
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Damian from Massachusetts

4.27/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Drank from a 1pt. 6 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Craft Beer Cellar, Belmont, MA
November 2016
Served in a snifter

Very dark brown in appearance. Somewhat thin looking on the pour. The body was topped by a super tight and frothy, inch-tall cap of mocha colored foam. Outstanding retention. The head slowly dropped to a thick bubbly film. A patchy latticework of lacing coated the glass.

The aroma was quite subtle initially. There was a crisp, dry yeastiness. Some powdered cocoa was noticeable. Subtle bourbon notes appeared as the beer sat. The bourbon really intensified with time. Roasted malts were apparent. Some dark chocolate and espresso came through as well. Fragrant vanilla notes appeared later in the session. Solid overall.

The flavor profile at first seemed far more interesting than the nose. Good amounted of roasted malts on the front end. Big dark chocolate notes in the center. Some chocolate fudge perhaps. Intense vanilla notes appeared as well. Bit of brown sugar. Moderately sweet. Bourbon came through big time in the finish. Fairly boozy but pleasant. Some alcohol heat lingered after the swallow. For a 13-plus percent ABV beer, however, this drank remarkably well.

Medium-full mouthfeel. Creamy and smooth on the palate. The liquid contained a very fine, subtle effervescence.

Sumi Ink stared out somewhat disappointing but really gained a lot of character as it warmed. If you own a bottle, definitely serve it at cellar temperature and give it plenty of time to open up. While this is no Vanilla Rye, it is a tasty and interesting beer that is definitely worth a try.

Jan 28, 2017
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dar482 from New York

4.8/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

The beer comes in black color, hints of dark brown on the edges.

The aroma hits of bourbon soaked sweet cherry, sweet bourbon, not overly roasted, bright barrel character.

The flavor offers a theme of vanilla, without being overly intense. Dark fruit, plum, cherries, medium to full bourbon alcohol, base beer stands a bit back on the roasted malts and sweetness, despite its ABV. Some milk chocolate, chocolate chip blondie dessert onto a drying oak finish.

Jan 12, 2017
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mothman from Minnesota

4.35/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dec 09, 2016
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dbrauneis from North Carolina

4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Apr 02, 2017
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fehrminator from North Carolina

4.31/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Feb 26, 2017
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FeloniousDrunk from New York

4.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jan 27, 2017
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JMScowcroft from Vermont

4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dec 22, 2016
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oriolesfan4 from Maryland

4.36/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Jan 16, 2017
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ClavisAurea from New York

4.4/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Fresh bottle served cold in a teku

Appearance: deep and dark brown with hints of gold showing through. Barely any head generated and it all sank to nothing over time.

Nose: bourbon, alcohol, dark cocoa, coffee, coconut and walnuts, nondescript nutty flavor, tons of barrel character.

Taste: follows the nose well, strong brownie batter flavor, medium to medium plus mouthfeel, good amount of sweetness but nothing too crazy, bourbon barrel filled with chocolate candies

Overall: this is my first stout from Grimm and I'm impressed. $15 a bomber isn't too much for this beer considering the quality and hype for their beers. I ended up getting 2 bottles. I'll revisit this one in a year or so and see if things have mellowed a bit. The beer is a bit hot right now. Very good though.

Dec 25, 2016
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liquorpig from Massachusetts

4.23/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Aug 27, 2017
Sumi Ink from Grimm Artisanal Ales
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 167 ratings