Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

310 Reviews
Berkshire Russian Imperial StoutBerkshire Russian Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-30-2001

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Reviews: 310 | Ratings: 538
Photo of donkeyrunner
2.09/5  rDev -48%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

This one has the Berkshire boys at a renaissance fair. Those guys are everywhere!

Black from afar but if you hold it up to the light it's clear, dark purple. Hooray for purple. Cocoa powder colored head fades to a thick collar that throws up a few lacey gasps.

Vinous dark fruit...actually it smells like grape hard candy. Remember those candies called Eric the Grape (I think it was made by the same people that did Lemonheads)? That's exactly what it smells like.

Tastes like grape soda with a chalky roast character. From reading other reiviews it's like I'm not even drinking the same beer. This lil' feller is meek and artificially grapey with not a robust roast character to be found. Though it's not dated, at 8.5% my bottle has to be good.

Never thought I'd see the day I'd meet a Berkshire I didn't like.

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Photo of Jeffo
2.68/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got a bomber of this from totoropanda in a recent box. Cheers!

From a bomber into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: A clear brown pour yields a 2+ finger, medium looking, fluffy, light brown head with very good retention. Transparent dark brown body with no real carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a creamy cap and sticks to the sides of the glass. A ring and splotchy wisp remain leaving some good lacing the whole way down. Body is a little light, but the head is good.

SMELL: Mild nose of roasted malts, some cocoa powder and light coffee notes. A good dose of dark fruits with licorice as well. Okay.

TASTE: Lightly roasted up front with some dark fruit sweetness through the middle into the swallow, much like the nose. Milder but lingering finish of dark fruit sweetness, grapes, dates, some lightly roasted flavors, licorice and some light bitter coffee notes. Too mild up front, but much more flavorful after the swallow.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Slightly creamy on the palate, goes down okay and finishes somewhat sticky on the palate. Okay here.

OVERALL: This is an okay beer, but it's a bit mild overall and slightly underwhelming in the imperial stout category. Lighter color and too much dark fruit character for the style perhaps. A bit lighter on the palate as well. Decent beer, but not an imperial stout worth seeking out. Thanks again panda!

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Photo of cpetrone84
2.7/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

pour is dark brown with a light tan head. Nose is sweet, magic marker, chocolate, uneaten sugar, stale grain. Taste is overly sweet and lacks malt complexity. Some chocolate, lots of sugar, brown sugar, caramel, thinner body and moderate carbonation.

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Photo of shippos
2.81/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

courtesy of ppoitras

poured black with thin tan head. molasses burnt sugar and treacle in the aroma with some alcohol amongst some sweet creamy milk sugar. fairly thick heavy molasses taste with brown sugar and treacle, smooth body and a fairly thin mouthfeel for an IS. finishing off the rest of the bottle becomes a chore as the taste just becomes one dimensional and very repititous which hurts the drinkability of this.

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Photo of Urbancaver
2.91/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance- looks a bit thin for an imperial stout... Minimal white head

Smell- smells a bit fruity and roasty... Not really much smell to it

Taste- Fruity with hints of chocolate and roasted grains.

Mouthfeel- thin and not really imperially

Drinkability- not really that great for an imperial... It ok i guess :/

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Photo of JebBeerFish
3.12/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Molasses and light teriyaki sauce, some unpeasant bitterness at the back end. Not a bad beer and probably better fresh on draught, but very unremarkable. Not likely to purchase again.

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Photo of orcasteve
3.13/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

strong black coffiee and roast malt flavor hits your toung firstand gives way to alcolhal and carmal flavors, a bit to much carbonation for me in this one, i like flat stouts, all and all this is a ok beer that with some age might become world class, but at this stage this one just gets lost in the pack.

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Photo of bamadog
3.14/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've been sitting on this one for about 2 and 1/2 years -- let's see how it's done. Review is from notes taken on 5/12/2012 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour isn't as thick as I'd like to see on something that's being billed as a Russian Imperial, but I guess we'll see if it comes through any thicker in the mouth; color is, of course, darkest brown, like coffee; starts with a short 1/2 finger dark tan head that fades to a nice ring and island skim; opaque, tiny lines of thin carbonation near the surface and sides of the glass are all that are visible;

Smell: Smells off... not quite right and I'm thinking there's an infection; seems to be a bit of a saccharine and imitation grape; lots of dark roastiness and a little bit of chocolate, but again, something just isn't quite right...

Taste: Shit. Infected. Not what I was hoping for. It's not bad, in an Abyssident kind of way, but I was hoping for a straight up imperial stout kind of thing. Tart, sour cherry flavor is right up front, followed by a dark, burnt and earthy espresso grind; mild bittersweet chocolate in the back. The more I sip on it, the more I like it, but again, not what I was hoping for.

Mouthfeel: Thinner than what I would hope for, but the time in the bottle hasn't dampened the carbonation, but then again, that could be from the infection as well; a thin, sticky coating is left on the palate and the tummy is left a little warm from the acidity and infection.

Overall: Meh. I guess if I want a funky stout, I'm going to go with Obscura Madrugada, but this isn't too bad.

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Photo of JDV
3.18/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottles courtesy of jjpm74 and rbuckstar. Thanks guys! Pours black with a medium sized, short lived head. Smell is very roasty at first, but it seemed to fade on me as it sat out for a few minutes. Flavor was bittersweet milk, roastiness, with a touch of stale cardboardiness to the malt flavor. Medium bodied. Not bad, but not my favorite, either.

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Photo of BeerAndBourbon
3.2/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes.

A. Pours a black with brown edges with a small bubbly head.

S. Slightly fruit with caramel and a bit of chocolate.

T. A fair amount of roasted flavor, but less than the Drayman's Porter. Some of the coffee flavors are shared with the porter.

M. Thin to medium body with medium carbonation and some oil.

D. Thin and fairly light on the tongue which makes it an easy drinker, but not a terribly interesting one. I'd certainly pick up the Drayman's Porter over this.

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Photo of sendsilk
3.23/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Received as an extra in a recent trade. 22 oz. bottle poured into my 'Crab House' pint glass.

A- Dark, not much lacing. Doesn't look like a very thick RIS. Quite a few bubbles.

S- Not too much here. Pretty weak. Subtle maltiness??

T- Not bad. More of a milk stout style to me. WHen I read RIS, I expect less carbonation, heavier mouthfeel, more chocolate, molasses flavor. GOOD taste, just not the right taste IMO.

M- pretty thin for the style.

O- If I was at the brewery I would have it again but I won;t be searching it out.

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Photo of harrymel
3.26/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled: unk

Black beer with a latte surface of foam and no lace. Nose brings through licorice, malts, licorice, molasses, some sweetness. Not really impressed, but not surprised - this seems to be the standard differentiation from Impy Stouts with the licorice. The flavor has plenty of dark malts, hints of leather and dark stone fruit and a little bit of molasses - the licorice doesn't dominate the flavor as much as the nose. Medium bodied and moderate carb with a dry finish. This is a decent beer, above average, but nothing worth seeking too hard.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.29/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A 22oz bottle with no date stamped on the label. It was a dark brown with a medium head and a bit of lacing. It had a chocolate aroma, as well as a fruity (cherry) aroma. The taste was quite fruity and sweet, with some chocolate. Quite pleasant, but more reminiscent of a Belgian than a Russian Imperial Stout.

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Photo of moodenba
3.3/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Berkshire "The Imperial Russian Stout" 22 oz. bomber bottle purchased for me in October, 2016. Strong dark brew with medium body. Alcohol is a primary flavor component, competing with malt and hops for my attention. It is good enough, but I am cutting it with Founder's PC Pils to reduce the alcohol bite (and the subsequent wooziness).

The Brothers and other most advocates loved it, but I'm less of a fan.

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Photo of akorsak
3.3/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to ralflord for this 650 mL bottle.

A: The stout is dark as midnight, even when held up to light nothing gets in or out. A half a finger of head quickly reduced to a thin band.

S: The nose is swirling with chocolate, burnt grains, coffee, licorice and hops. Quite a bit for one small glass.

T: The nose is exciting but the taste failrs to deliver. Dark grains up front never really seque into anything of substance. Darker nutty flavors appear near the end of each sip, showing off some stout qualities but it is too little too late.

M: The mouthfeel is weak, stout at times but not with enough consistency.

D: The abv is a little too high and the beer a little too weak to really dig into.

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Photo of StrangeBrewer76
3.31/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

poured into a mini sam smith's glass, center poured, I increased the height half way through because I doubted the head creation potential. I was right to do so. This glass is fresh from the sterilizer and I suffer for it. A wall of bubbles on the side of the glass is a clear indication to me that this glass has been corrupted.

I will finish this beer but not from the glass. The tip of my tongue burns a little from the cleanser they use so after a pause I will do my best to finish the review once I've cleared this glass of contaminants (regretably by drinking it)

OK Second pour. Still a little side bubbles but the head retention is much better; a nice crown of tan head. Very dark brown if not opaque in color.

In a crowded bar I smell mostly milk chocolate, burnt and toasted malts, nuttyness and a touch of oak.

Tastes of bitter coffee and patent malt. Subtle sweetness at best. There is a citric acidity that I can't quite identify but it's kind of a turn off. This could be just in my imagination though; that's entirely possible.

Mouthfeel with a slight swish is delightfully creamy and light. The finish is neutral; kind of medium dry that requests, not begs, for another sip.

Overall a winner for the local team. I will amend this if I get a chance to sample this limited brew again under different circumstances.

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Photo of tigg924
3.35/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: one inch head, dark brown in color, clear

Smell: burnt malt, cocoa, and cream

Taste: burnt malt, some cream, slight touch of syrup and nut

Mouthfeel: medium/heavy body, light carbonation, semi-sweet

Drinkability: The price is right, but this one strikes me as being average to just above average in the style. The combination of flavors almost tastes like medicine at times. This beer does get better as it warms. Not a bad beer just does not jump the way others in the style do.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
3.36/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a reluctant 1" head which quickly dissipated to nothing. Pitch black as dark coffee. Very little aroma. Flavors of nice chocolate and a little coffee. Body was much lighter than I'd expect for an Imperial Stout, and I wouldn't say the richness is there either. The bottle doesn't say how much alcohol content but it just doesn't strike me as imperial. Nice beer though.

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Photo of LittleDon
3.38/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An 8 oz. pour at the Publick House in Brookline.

Black, good head but little lace. Aroma was very muted with some coffee notes. Nice medium body but a bit of carbonation on the finish. Lots of residual sugar. A sweet middle and finish without the complexity of better RIS. Yes, there was a bit of smokiness and burnt sugar, but not what I would have liked for the style. Reminded me more of a sweet stout.

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Photo of smcolw
3.41/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.25

Near black in color; no light shines through. Beige head (small). No lace.

Smells of chocolate and plastic--a little bit like Creepy Crawlers, if you're old enough to remember that smell.

Served warm, I'm guessing 55 degrees. That plastic presence remains...distracting. Creamy chocolate flavor. Semisweet. Rich, rich, rich body. Chewy. Low carbonation (naturally). There's a strong element of vanilla. Very mellow for the style, no extreme flavors at all.

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Photo of schlimenhaumer
3.42/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a Southampton snifter at low altitude. Thanks to ballmouse for bringing this one in from Connecticut.

A: Pours a deep, deep opaque brown color with a creamy light-tan head of little retention. Leaves some spotty lacing on the glass.

S: Roasty malts with some caramel. Smells relatively hoppy. Overall, smells very light for an imperial stout.

T: Some sweet caramel malts carry through from start to finish. The hops keep the sweetness in check to some extent. There's a bit of cream and a slight bit of alcohol on the finish. It's balanced, but not very complex at all for the style. Not sure why the reviews for this are so high.

M: Medium-bodied and very smooth, with some alcohol on the finish. It's much too light for the style in my opinion.

D: This is perhaps the most drinkable imperial stout I've had to date; it goes down extremely easy. At the same time, it doesn't have any of the complexity that makes imperial stouts great. Even though the price is relatively low, I'm not sure I would pick this one up again given the chance.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
3.43/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Not what I was expecting from an Impy Stout. Poured an incredibly dark brown with a slightly off-white head that was about an inch thick. It receded to quickly that the popping of the bubbles sounded like televsion static. Still had a considerable layer of foam on top. Nose was full of toasted malts.

Flavor was honestly a bit stale and very uninteresting for the style. Made me think of an export stout actually. Lots of burnt and toasted malts with just slight hints of balck cherries and vanilla. But I really had to search for those additional flavors. This beer was really kind of lifeless in flavor (it was "in-date" too) and I will have to try it again. Mouthfeel was very full but unfortunately just a tad watery. The ABV was very well hidden and that leads to the drinkability. While not a very interesting and unique beer it is still pretty easy to drink and not really bad in any way. Just lifeless.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a medium black color stout with a medium light brown color head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light roasted malt with some black chocolate notes. Taste is also dominated by some slightly bitter roasted malt with some notes of black chocolate. Body is definitely too thin for the style with some good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Not bad overall even though body is watery and too thin for the style.

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Photo of rpstevens
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a dogfish head signature glass. The beer is on the light side for a RIS, as it's not quite black. It has foggy brown edges and a thin airy off-white head, there is some light retention and lacing if you give the beer a swirl in the glass.

The smell is faint, but if you really get your nose in the glass there is some chocolate to compliment the coffee that dominates. Aside from the coffee, chocolate and roasted malt, there isn't a lot there, very straight forward.

The taste is a bit more complex than the nose. The dark chocolate, roasted coffee and milk chocolate are still present, but there are also some hints of caramel, toffee and dark fruits (very faint).

The beer is well carbonated, but a bit thin for the style. The flavors are balanced, and the beer has a nice dry finish that hides the alcohol well.

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Photo of nhindian
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a large snifter. Bottle generously provided by apollokim in the 'You Ain't From Around Here?' BIF, thanks a lot Kim!

Two things strike me as odd right away after looking at this bottle... the first is the writing directly below the banner that says 'Russian Imperial Stout'. The writing says 'Keep Refrigerated'. Secondly, the Best By date is 04/26/11. Does Berkshire really not recommend aging this beer?

A - Although described as 'dark-as-night' per the label, it actually is a very dark brown, and when held up to the light, you get a very cool, dark red hue to it. About 2-fingers of tan lace adorn the crown of the beer, with good retention. The lacing breaks apart quickly, leaving very little behind but producing a nice cascading effect.

S - An interesting nose to say the least in that it isn't full of the typical RIS notes. Not much roast or chocolate, but rather a strong focus on the dark fruits here. Getting lots of raisin and residual sweetness. Also getting a metallic characteristic that could be a combination of the roast and some oxidation?

T - The flavors for the most part revolve around the fruits here. Just the slightest bit of roast to begin with, before riding a wave of grape and sugar to the Promised Land. A little more chocolate pokes through compared to the nose, just enough to give the fruits a chocolate-covered note. Some alcohol heat lingers in the finish. The metallic note continues here as well..

M - Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with good carbonation. Smooth and creamy. After the initial malts phase out, it does have a tendency to be thin at times.

D/O - This is definitely one of the more fruity / sugary RIS's I've had (stop looking at me, Dark Lord, of course nothing can top you in that department. You also take the cake for most syrupy.) Because of the sugar, I can also draw some characteristics to roasty Belgian or something like a Belgian take on a stout. Enjoyable, but would be that much more with less oxidation.

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Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
4.02 out of 5 based on 538 ratings.
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