Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

540 Ratings
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: 540
Photo of Sammy
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a foamy head, particularly how I tend to pour. Mild aroma of licorice and coffee and malt. Very smooth drinking and fresh, demonstrating that we just took it recently from the shelf. All Berkshires I have had bottled have gone done easily. Mildly roasted, not acidic or bold coffee at all.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.47/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to queens1130 for sharing this one at AndrewK’s tasting.

Pours an opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and dark fruits. Taste is much the same with a slight tartness on the finish. There is a mild roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the fruity aromas and flavors I am getting aren’t my favorite.

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Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a short light tan head that died down, leaving a thin head covering the surface and a collar of large bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of dark malts and licorice are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and also has notes of roasted malts along with a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels a bit more than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is a fairly solid Russian Imperial Stout but isn't as full-bodied compared to other beers in the style and also lacks a lot of roastiness.

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Photo of brentk56
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark chocolate brown color with ruby highlights; the tan head fizzes away just a bit too quickly but leaves behind a few shards of lace

Smell: Chocolate, roasted malt and hints of both coffee and dark berry fruit

Taste: Plenty of dark chocolate up front, with the dark berry fruit appearing just behind; roasty bitterness arrives at mid-palate, but the flavor tends to fade after the swallow, although it is well-balanced throughout

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied, somewhat creamy; moderate carbonation, but a bit thin after the swallow

Drinkability: All in all, a respectable stout; very drinkable but not in the top tier of the Impy class

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Photo of largadeer
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark brown, slight opacity around the edges, with a light tan head that recedes a bit quicker than I'd like.

Smell: Chocolate chip cookie dough, earthy hops, vanilla, molasses. Subdued but pleasant; on the sweeter side.

Taste & mouthfeel: Flavors of chocolate cake, vanilla and dark fruits. Creamy and rich without an extreme ABV; I like it. The sweetness subsides a bit in the finish, revealing a slightly drying coffee and cream aftertaste.

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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 Thorpe429
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a very dark brown color with a small mocha head that quickly fades into a collar without really leaving anything behind. The nose carries a good amount of coffee, chocolate, and roast. Pretty good balance between each component. The flavor has a roast backbone which is then built upon by some dark chocolate and espresso. Fairly full body with a bit of booze. Slightly creamy. A nice brew.

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Photo of nickfl
3.62/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours with a small head of medium tan foam on top of a very dark brown body with just a touch of amber showing through. The foam settles quickly and leaves only light lace.

S - Dark caramel, molasses, and a hint of smoky licorice.

T - Sweet, dark malt up front with lots of molasses and licorice character. Some dark bread character in the middle with a hint of herbal hops. Finishes with more dark sugar and a lingering note of smoky licorice.

M - A medium-thick, oily body, moderate carbonation, and a fairly sweet finish.

D - Not bad, but a bit too sweet for my taste. The licorice blends well with the dark, sugary notes but things get kind of cloying in the finish and it could really use some more bitterness to balance out the malt.

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Photo of jlindros
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been a big fan of BBC for a while, and each new beer I try I like even more. I think they're a very underrated brewery and don't get enough respect. I have to start reviewing more of them. Anyways, here's the Imp Stout.

A: Nice creamy 2 finger head with a slight chocolate dark tinge to it. It seems to stick around for a while to enjoy the party with me, and leaves a slight lacing on the glass as it slowly fades. Very dark color with slight hints of light escaping through in the thin parts.

N: Mmmm, a nice nose, lots of roasted malts, some light black patent and touches of chocolate. It has a slight luscious milk chocolate creamy aroma. Some very light dark fruits touch teh nose and other nice malty aromas. The slightly spicy roasted aromas add nicely, but all of it is rounded off to a nice blend and nothing is too heavy.

T: Mmmm, creamy and delicious. It's very creamy with lots of milk chocolate, and I mean real milk chocolate, the kind you would get at a farm with rich heavy milk fresh from a Belgian chocolate fed cow, not the kind you got in grade school from those small cartons that were impossible to open. Also a nice almost spicy roasted flavor adds a really nice addition, but not the coffee roasted flavors, just the spicy roasted barley flavors. Very slight rich fruit touches the tongue on the sides. A very slight warming alcohol comes through. It also adds a slight bitter sweet chocolate flavor nicely and some light black patent malt and other malts. Slightly chewy as well. All the flavors mingle well.

M: Very creamy, pretty rich and thick, lower carbonation for how much head it had but that is perfect for a rich creamy thick stout. Some warming alcohol feel but pretty light in that department.

F: Finishes semi sweet, bitter sweet that is, like good 50% dark chocolate. A slight milky flavor also seem to stay after the swallow, with slightly spicy roasted flavor also lingering. A slight bitter flavor also comes through lately on the finish, a combination of some light spicy hops and some earthy char from roasted and scorched malts. Very drinkable and thirst quenching, a nice beverage.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This delightfully drinkable Imperial Stout delivers a very dark mahogany body beneath a short but creamy head of dark tan foam that holds quite well and leaves some nice lace at the outset of the glass.

The nose expresses a combination of berry-like yeasty fruitiness and dark chocolate with an underlying note of creamy mocha java.

In the mouth it's slick and smooth with an oily, medium body and restrained, fine-bubbled carbonation.

The flavor expresses the berry-like fruitiness found in the nose, infused with some sprinkled brown sugar, rich caramel, and soft milk chocolate notes. It's more sweetish and fruity than coffee-like or roasty, although a touch of sweet, creamy coffee does appear in the finish. The bitterness is kept well in-check; and the alcohol barely shows itself.

It's superbly balanced and well-rounded with a charming fruitiness, mild roastiness, and low-key chocolate/fudge character that lingers on the palate. It's not quite what I expect of an Imperial Stout, but it's very well done and quite enjoyable!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a good-sized foamy tan head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is fruitier than most beers in this style. The typical RIS chocolate and roasted malt smells are there, but it’s the dark fruit that dominates.

T: The taste is creamy with flavors of dark chocolate, roasted malt and dark fruits, which stick around for the after-taste. There’s some alcohol burn, but not much. It’s well-balanced and consistent.

M: Very smooth, medium-to-heavy body, light carbonation, has a bit of a slick finish but not sticky.

D: Tasty, easy-to-drink, a little filling, good representation of style with a slight twist (the twist being the higher fruitiness), this beer is an excellent sipper.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, near black body with a thinning, off-white head.

Smell: Aroma smelling of roasted barley and semi-sweet chocolate morsels with notes of coffee beans and aged nuts.

Taste: Roasty blend of creamy barley and chocolate with an overall medium sweetness and, lookee here, a garnish of mini-marshmallows. Hints of licorice and coarse ground walnuts. Earthy, roasty bitterness. Drying, bittersweet finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Could benefit from a slight heft in body. Though it may not be a legendary member of the noble Imperial Stout style, it's still a quality brew and certainly worth seeking out a bottle.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.72/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Darkest mahogany with generous dark cherry highlights. I almost said opaque, but I get the sense that bright sunlight just does reach my eyes from the opposite side of the glass. That's rarely a good thing in an Imperial stout. The head is chocolate milk brown and looks a mite too soft to deposit much lace (and doesn't). Easily above average, but it leaves me wanting.

The aroma is roasted malty and bittersweet chocolatey. A very good stout nose and a merely good RIS nose. I like my Russian Imperials to be bigger and badder and bolder than this. I guess I'll just have to resign myself to the fact that this isn't one of the monsterous versions of the style.

The flavor follows the footprints in the snow laid down by the appearance and the nose. Berkshire Imperial Stout drinks like RIS-lite, although it's still tasty beer and is nicely drinkable. Roasted barley is the dominant member of the flavor profile with black coffee following closely behind. Dark chocolate and sour dark fruit play supporting roles.

The more I drink, the more I feel that the flavor doesn't quite measure up. If the brewery insists on calling this an Imperial stout, then I'm forced to review it as such. The simple truth is that there isn't enough malt on hand to provide a seriousness of purpose, to provide a sturdy enough body to allow the flavor to sink in and be appreciated.

As noted, a relative lack of malt is the weak link in the chain. RISs, no matter what else they bring to the table, need to have huge, meaty malt backbones in order to be taken seriously. Smoothness isn't an issue. A complete lack of viscosity (chewiness if you prefer) is. A few too many bubbles don't detract too awful much because they're so fine that they're easily ignored.

I expected big things from Berkshire Imperial Stout after having enjoyed the hell out of Coffeehouse Porter and Lost Sailor IPA. I hate to classify it as a letdown since it's clearly well-crafted beer, but when judged against even second tier RISs, it falls short. I don't mind 'lighter than average' with most styles, but I can't abide it when it comes to this one.

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Photo of billab914
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Stone RIS glass. Pours black with a thin tan covering. The head stuck mostly to the sides of the glass where it left moderate lacing on the sides.

The aroma is a little more subdued then a lot of the big RIS's. It doesn't have a lot of the big bold roasted coffee and chocolate flavors, but what it does have a good cocoa and toffee, smooth smell to it. It has a little bit of a tootsie roll aroma going for it which sounds strange, but it's good.

The taste is also pretty smooth for a RIS, but it has more of the roasted, coffee, and chocolate flavors then the nose did. It has a sort of smooth milk chocolate flavor that is very easy to drink.

Mouthfeel is sort of thin and the carbonation is moderate. Drinkability is good, this was one of the easier drinking RIS's that I have had. I wouldn't say it had all the big flavors of some of the bigger RIS's but it did have some good flavors and went down easy.

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Photo of russpowell
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from ppotrias, cheers!

Pours jet black with 2 fingers of mocha head. Above average lacing & head retention

S: Muted cocoa & boozeyness, nose improved as the beer warmed up to room temperature

T: Chocolate & iron, plus a bit of alcohol up front. Dryness, coffee, raisins, rich chocolate, vanilla, herbal hops & booze as this warms. Finishes with toasted grain, nice coffee notes & more chocolate; almost pulled a 5.0!

MF: Medium bodied, warming sticky, with some creamyness as well

Drinks very nice for the complexity, a well finessed IMP 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 mikesgroove
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ahh now this was definatly a treat. Poured a thick, black as night, opaque, oil looking liquid with a big brownish, billowing two inch thick head, that had huge staying power. The very slow fade left behind a significant amount of lace down the glass, alomst obscuring the contents for a while. Very nice looking! Smell was very intresting, strong smell, you could easily pick this up across the room! Very sweet, candy like tones were the first to hit, this warmed to reveal a nice acohol warming, tingling smell. Once you get past that, you are left with a nice roasted, dark chocolate flavor coming out. This carried over very nicely into the overall taste flavor. Deep chocolate flavors were the first to hit, followed by nice tomes of roasted coffee. Alcohol made its presence known from the start, but did not overpower at all, just wanted to let you know it was there. As it warmed the flavors got even stronger and even more complex, adding hints of caramel and hazelnut making it very robust. Very rich and creamy and a great bittering, dry hop aftertaste lingered long after your sip. My only complaint, and not really a complaint, but it could have been a little thicker, but this did not distract from the overall enjoyment at all. Great smooth dessert quality brew here. Very drinkable, and extremely enjoyable. Easily one of the better Imperial Stouts I have had lately and a very nice nightcap to the weekend. Would love to have it again someday!

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Photo of Jason
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 22 oz brown bomber style bottle with “purchase before month notched” marked properly. The two brewers are on the label as renascence king and jest with frothy mugs in hand.

Appearance: Opaque black with a thin yet unwavering light brown lace, very tiny bubbled even with a sturdy pouring.

Smell: Dark chocolate and light dark roasted coffee overtones and an underlying mixed berry fruitiness are the forefront with a trace estery alcohol in the end.

Taste: Smooth and a little slick, light carbonation with a creamy mouth feel. Big broad malty body, Black Forest German Cake comes to mind, deep berry fruitiness is found by the tongue. Heavy malt flavour takes the show over for a while with sweet dark chocolate, brownie like to a point. Alcohol is mellow though still makes a point of warming the mouth and body right away to show that it still holds its strength. Bitterness from the hops is muted a bit from age but that does not take away from the balance it give along with the bitterness from the roasted malts. In the finish the mouth is full and flush with warming spicy alcohol, roasted remnants of a big stout and a lingering flavour of a fudge brownie that was devoured.

Notes: American brewers take a style and mold it into their own whether that beer style has been dead for decades / centuries or not. Berkshire Brewing has taken in the Imperial Stout Style into its home to befriend it and make it a charmer for beer geeks and stout lovers to gawk over. A brew that I will make a point of visiting again.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On nitro at Publick House

A: The beer pours essentially black in color with a finger of khaki colored head.

S: Strong aromas of licorice, molasses, coffee, and dark chocolate. Plenty of roasted malt as well as a mild booziness. There is also a touch of burnt sugar, maybe a slight caramel sweetness.

T: The flavor is fairly sweet with lots of molasses, burnt sugar, and licorice flavors. Heavy on the coffee and roasted malt, too. Some bitter dark chocolate is also present. A light booziness.

M: Medium bodied with low, smooth carbonation.

O: Usually I find nitrogen leaves beers relatively flavorless, but this was still quite bold. Impressive.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip. Received in the Birthday BIF from normyk; thanks Rob, big want! 2007 or 2008 vintage; not sure which one.

a - Pours a dark brown color, almost black, with one inch of tan head and light carbonation evident. No head retention and no lacin on the glass. Looks pretty good.

s - Smells of coffee, sweet chocolate, roasted malts, sweet dark fruits, light vanilla, and maybe some light caramel malts. Very enjoyable.

t - Tastes of chocolate, dark fruits, roasted malts, coffee, vanilla, sweet sugar, light toasted malts, and light caramel malts. Very nice, but a slight step down from the nose.

m - Medium to full body with low carbonation. Super smooth and creamy body; awesome feel to it.

d - I thought this was a pretty good RIS. I thought the mouthfeel and drinkability were great, and I enjoyed the sweet chocolate in the smell a lot. The taste was good but not as good as the smell. I think the years have made this a very drinkable RIS. Would definitely like to get another bottle of this one.

Edit: As it warmed up a bit and I worked through the 22 oz. bottle, I thought the taste improved greatly. I would suggest letting this one warm up before consuming.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Thanks to connecticutpoet for this bottle!

So far, these Berkshire beers have been pretty tasty. Why have you New Englanders been hiding them from us? Dastardly. Anyway, this one pours a solid obsidian topped by a relatively short-lived finger of khaki foam. The nose comprises roasted malts, leather, molasses, burnt biscuits, and a minor touch of mint. The taste holds notes of roasted malts, molasses, brown sugar, figs, milk chocolate, and cinnamon. The body is a firm, somewhat hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a rather smooth feel. Overall, a more-than-decent impy stout, but just missing the ride to Greatness. Keep 'em comin', Berkshire!

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Photo of woodychandler
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! CO2 fumes began to eminate from the bottle as I tilted it towards the glass to begin pouring. It poured with a big, deep brown head above a very deep brown, almost black, liquid. The nose smelled very pleasantly of chocolate and raspberries. It had a very thick, creamy mouthfeel. There was an abundant taste of chocolate in both the mouth and on the finish. I really enjoyed this beer and only wish that I had access to some more of it. This went really well with the roast lamb for Easter dinner. Happy New Beer Easter Sunday MK6!

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Photo of vfgccp
3.99/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A – Dark khaki head holds up with ok retention and relatively poor lacing. Dark cola color with mahogany / amber highlights.

S – Dark roasted grain, soft booze, dark chocolate, and cherry cordial candies.

T – Big, toasty, malt character that stops just short of bitter char. More raw grain flavor than most stouts. There’s a milky sweetness in the center. Alcohol warms the backend over milk chocolate, roast, and a faint woody bitterness.

M – Soft and full bodied with a dry finish.

O – The grain character has an interesting homemade edge to it that I really enjoyed.

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Photo of stakem
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Prime 16 on 3/11/11 served in a sort of short tumber. This brew appears a dark brown color with a thin creamy tan cap that holds with a thin lacing across the top. When held to the light, this brew displays clarity through the edges and lighter browness about the body.

The aroma is dark and fruity with a scent of raisin and plum mixed with chocolate notes. A little bit of young yeastiness is evident throughout. It is overall lightly roasty with some indications of coffee. Overall not bad.

The taste is dark and fruity like plum and chocolate. The alcohol is apparent with a fruity flavor that has a slight resemblance to Belgian yeastiness. It gets even more interesting as it warms as a bit of a vinous touch comes out in the finish.

Quite a warming brew that is felt through the back of the throat. It is medium to full bodied with a light level of carbonation. It is easy drinking but really lacks that solid roasted bitter character I look for in a good RIS. This offering was a little too fruity for me. In this case I was very appreciative of the short pour, more than 10 ounces or so of this would have been a waste.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with ruby highlights and a decent tan head that persists throughout the glass. Smells of milk chocolate, toffee, a bit of roast. Taste starts off chocolaty melds towards a toffee tootsie roll, follows with some roast and finishes with that lingering tootsie roll. Body is medium, carbonation is medium as well, mouthfeel is sticky. Not a bad stout, but definitely not one of my favorites. That Toffee/tootsie roll flavor ruins this one for me. One and done.

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Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
4.02 out of 5 based on 540 ratings.
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