Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
309 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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 309 | Ratings: 536
Photo of brureview
4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a dark chocolate color with a 1 finger head into a snifter.

Excellent aroma initially: chocolate and cocoa. The strong aroma fades quickly with warming.

Mouth feel is quite carbonated and enjoyable in the style.

The taste is initially a strong chocolate-cocoa which also fades quickly with warming. Some hints of licorice.

Overall a good Russian imperial. The aroma and taste elements don't linger. The stout is also a bit thin for the style. Worthwhile drinking, but I was disappointed by the fading of important taste and aroma characteristics of the beer.

 569 characters

Photo of KalH
3.89/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Standard RIS black body with a quickly dissipating tan head.

A - Dark fruit, chocolate, roast - Subtle aroma coming from the nose.

T - Dark fruit plays a prominent role along with milk chocolate in the flavor profile. Rich and coating on the tongue with a nice black licorice and roast aspect in the finish.

M - A lot thinner than I like my RIS. Felt this could have been a little more full, though it does have a great silky smoothness and even carbonation.

O - Felt this could have been more forward in the aroma and been more viscous, but other than that this was a good RIS. Be aware, the alcohol definitely creeps up on you! The dark fruit really plays nicely in this and I felt this was surprisingly easy drinking for the style. Recommended.

 755 characters

Photo of gueuzeonhigh
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer received accolades from the BA tasters.
I think as a Russian Imperial, this beer seemed to me more like average, ho-hum perhaps a bit below average. It was a yawn.

Poured a nice color.
Short lived head.
Presented a hopps laden, roasted malt even perhaps a flowery nose.

The flavor was thin-- this beer needed that over-used "gravitas"-- it need much more wieght.
If it was labeled a "porter" then I'd give it much higher marks.

The ABV is high enough to be a RIS, but the flavor got left behind somewhere.

Who knows, maybe I was the one with the "bum-bottle"--

Mouthfeel was average--

And overall hard as I might try-- I call it "average".

I'll seek another bottle-- maybe this present one is not the "real thing".

 732 characters

Photo of ToasterChef
4.67/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm celebrating National Stout Day with a slightly chilled bottle of a new (to me) Russian Imperial Stout. It is poured into my Smuttynose Big Beer Series snifter.

The beer is an opaque black liquid with a thick tan foam head. Fairly good lacing is left behind.

The nose has some big roasted malt smells coming off of it, but it doesn't come across as overly sweet or alcoholic, a fault some other beers in this style have. I also smell some hints of oak and black licorice.

The beer has a very nice flavor. Like the aroma, the flavor isn't too sweet or alcoholic, but it does have subtle amounts of both. I taste brown sugar, raisins, plums and a touch of smoke. It provides a delayed warming sensation that is quite nice.

The beer is full bodied with average carbonation. It is a little sticky on much so on my lips. Within my mouth there is a long-lasting coat, but it doesn't feel to thick. It contains some of the dark fruit flavors I mentioned above.

This is a really good RIS. It also is fairly inexpensive (I paid 5.99 + tax & deposit for this 22oz bottle). I'm glad Berkshire is now distributed to Maine. I'll have to get more of this!

 1,149 characters

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.

 612 characters

Photo of DefenCorps
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle, Winter 2007 release that I received in a trade long, long ago. I think it was Cedromar who sent it to me. Thanks, man!

Almost black, this beer has reddish brown highlights and a thin, light brown head that falls off to a ring. The nose is decent. Moderately roasty, moderately licorice-like, with some coffee and cocoa, this isn't a particularly rich RIS. There's even a little bit of burnt sugar. The palate is similar. It seems to have thinned out with age, but hasn't picked up any off-flavors from oxidation. A blend of roast, licorice, coffee grounds and unsweetened cocoa, this is decent. Dry, modestly roasty on the finish, this beer is medium-light in body, moderately carbonated, and all-told, decent. Recommended, especially if you can get this locally.

 772 characters

Photo of matttttYCE
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2 fingers high and light cocoa colored head. Stick around for a bit and the lace is decent as well. Jet black colored liquid.

Nice dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, some chocolate malts, maybe some caramel, and lovely notes of berry sweetness (maybe ever a grape too) in the background.

Dark, bitter chocolate, dark coffee, some burnt sugar and caramel, more of the lovely fruity and berry notes, hint of cola. Not a whole lot going on here, but more than enough to be complex (especially with the berry fruit notes) but pretty straight-forward at the same time.

Medium body, smooth and light viscous consistency, light carbonation, and a quick and light finish.

Overall this is a really good RIS. Is it amazingly complex? No. Is that a problem? Not in my mind. Does the mouthfeel leave a little bit to be desired? Yes, it's a tad too light for an IRS. But overall, is this a wonderfully executed RIS? Absolutely! Would gladly drink this again anytime. Love the berry fruit notes in the taste and smell. I think this is the first RIS that I've had that has had really clear cut mixed berry character in it and I love it!

 1,125 characters

Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Portsmouth

The beer pours a jet black with a thin tan head that fades fast. There is a light roast to the nose and some alcohol. The taste is no different, it's is a very drinkable ris. Mouthfeel is rather medium, it's not too chewed and not too watery. Overall this was a tasty ris, but nothing spectacular.

 320 characters

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.

 1,585 characters

Photo of CharlieMurphy
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Superficially cola black. You can see through it with a red lens. Cola like carbonation and lacing only on the sides.

S: Pretty amazing. Rich mocha, chocolate, brown sugar, tweed, honey, toffee, and its probably in my head, but cola.

T: Lighter, soft roasted malts. This has a near flat cola like quality to the delivery of dark sugars, cane sugar, stale coffee, mild cacao.

M: Light for a stout, but very appropriate. Not cloying, not drying, not a huge RS liability.

O: Tasting + price point = high 5

 512 characters

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.

 556 characters

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

Deep black body with minimal head or lacing although you can see the beer is on the thinner side for the style and that carbonation is still lively.

Hits all the appropriate aroma and flavor notes, just not in a big enough way for me. Not enough depth of flavor, unfortunately. Roastiness, chocolate, anise, molasses all present. Modest sweetness, caramel and toffee underneath. Brown sugar, prunes and raisins. Semi-dry finish.

Medium body, kind of thin and lacking. Medium carbonation as well, a touch on the high side for my taste. Just a little stickiness. Prefer a bigger body and smoother mouthfeel on a Russian Imperial. Overall not bad but a little forgettable.

 673 characters

Photo of datalager
4.92/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I won't go into the detail I usually do, or that others have already done. instead I'll say this: I picked up a 22 oz bomber at the local Whole Foods...on a whim. The blind purchase was made under the guise of both my love of stouts and Berkshire Brewing. Boom and boom on both counts!

I'll skip the details, because this is an imperial stout, so the profile isn't far from what you would expect. In brief, it is black, malty, roasted, boozy, and just downright delicious. It is not the individual details of this ale, but rather the sum of its characteristics that make this a real stout lover's dream. The one unique flavor here is the slight "fresh" coffee flavor, that nobody does better than Berkshire, IMO.

This is easily the best imperial stout I have ever had, and one of the tastiest stouts overalll. Don't hesitate to grab one. And enjoy it slowly...22 oz at 8.5% will make you happy...fast.

 904 characters

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

22oz bottle poured into a snifter

The body sits an ink black in the glass with chestnut brown edges when held up to the light. A foamy cap rose about a finger and fell quickly to a thin collar.

The aroma is overly sweet. Caramel and roast with some milk chocolate. Hops are present and lend a minty/fresh cut grass aroma throughout.

Just like the nose, the flavor profile is a little subdued. I like my RIS's to be bold and assertive. This is neither. It has some nice flavors, but really lacks a wow factor.

On the palate, roast and sweet caramel hit you up front before milk chocolate takes you to a finish of fresh cut grass and a blend of bitter roast and sweet caramel. As you work your way through, a warming begins to build as some faint booze begins to creep in.

The mouthfeel is full and lush. Smooth and creamy, a pleasure to sip.

 845 characters

Photo of KTCamm
4.54/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the Berkshire bomber into a pint glass.

Pours very dark black with just a smidge of foam on top. Strong dark chocolate smell, roasted too. Smooth creamy taste, some sweetness. Loads of chocolate in the flavor, and only mildly bitter. Remarkably clean with a flavorful finish. More chocolate than stout. Really tasty.

 329 characters

Photo of Kranders
4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amazing beer. Poured pitch black with a small amount of head. Really rich aroma, full of coffee/chocolate and dark malts. One of the smoothest and most inviting RIS I've ever had. It's thick and full with chocolate, coffee, burnt sugar and all sorts of complex dark flavors. Still, it doesn't overwhelm the palate and it's easy to appreciate every little aspect of the brew. It's nice and thick, and leaves you tasting it for a bit after it's gone.

 448 characters

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.

 1,072 characters

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

Jet black with a thin tan head that goes away quick but leaves a film over the top of the beer.
Smells like chocolate with roasted malts and a little coffee underneath.
Tastes incredible. Same as smell with an almost bitter or sour taste way underneath and a little kick from spices, the alcohol. content or both.
The mouthfeel is spot on for this beer. Its got a slight thickness to it but its also got a little bite from the carbonation and/or abv.
Overall this is a great stout but one would expect nothing less from BBC.

 525 characters

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

Poured from a bomber into a straight-edged pint glass and enjoyed with ribs and potatoes.

A: Pours close to pitch black with a beautiful bubbling-into-head effect (fancy beer term?) and an off-white two finger head. Good retention but minimal lacing.

S: Mostly chocolate and coffee. A hint of mint and cherries off the back.

T: One of the best-tasting stouts I've tried. Mostly chocolate, with a bit of coffee and cherries. Some nice oaty earthiness. Not much in the way of alcohol, but increases as it warms. Essentially tastes like black forest cake in a glass (but good, since most black forest cakes suck).

M: On the crisp side for a stout, but still creamy with the perfect amount of carbonation.

O: Delicious stout. Plan on buying again. Then again. Wonder how it would cellar.

 791 characters

Photo of gkatsoris
4.92/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Black as night, with a fizzled tan head. No lacing at all. Poured more like a porter than an RIS.

S: CHOCOLATE MILK. Smells like Hershey's Chocolate Milk. Slight vanilla, and very slight black cherries. Boiled peanuts.

T: Chocolate, cocoa, slight coffe, slight expresso. No bitterness at all. Extremely balanced!!! Slight peanuts. And chocolate milk.

M: Very thin, but not at all in a bad way. The maouthfeel is super balanced as well. goes in chewy, but is thin on the palate, and finishes thin also. Leaves a nice coat on the tongue.

O: Not rated as a top 100 brew, but should be rated as a top 100 brew. Thank God it's not rated as a top 100 brew; more for me!!!

 673 characters

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.

 747 characters

Photo of zeledonia
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed 25 November 2011, reviewed from notes.

Pours black, with minimal dark tan head.

Smell is quite sweet. Dark roasted malts are there, but the fruit aromas are much more obvious.

Taste is very much on the sweet side, but I like that. Has interesting dark fruit character, with a strong cherry presence, but also has some zippy tang and hoppy pop that keeps it from becoming cloying.

Mouthfeel is heavy, but not overly weighty. Has a syrupy stickiness that locks onto the sides of the tongue. Good lifting carbonation, long finish.

Another really tasty beer from Berkshire. Quite sweet for an imperial stout, with pronounced dark fruit flavors. Light on the hops and the roast. Good stuff.

 699 characters

Photo of SWMeyer4141
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Claret

Appearance-Dark brown. Almost black. Head is about a 2 finger beige head that dissipates pretty quickly. There is some lacing on the glass. Not too much carbonation in the appearance.

Smell-Lots of dark fruits, tons of cherry in the nose. Some subtle roasted coffee and dark chocolate as well. Doesn't smell all that sweet.

Taste-Dark fruits remain the most predominant flavor. Some sweetness comes through with some sugary goodness...molasses, but the dark fruits really take over much of the taste.

Mouthfeel-Creamy, very nice. Moderate carbonation, medium to full in body. Finish is sweet at first then becomes dry wanting you to come back for more.

Overall-Really like this beer. I think it cost me 5.99 or something. Very drinkable, nice to see a RIS below 10% sometimes, a little more drinkable, and can drink the whole bomber. Good beer.

 871 characters

Photo of Gushue3
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I dont know what the label removed the Russian from the Imperial Stout but here goes.

Comes out very dark, just slightly see through and has two finger head that's foamy and has big time retention. Body is black and looks very nice.
Big time roast and dark fruits come out along with some chocolate and light hops. tiny bit
Big malt bomb. roasty and a slight coffee taste but not too much other than that. becomes bitter toward the middle and finish is roasty. No lingering taste.
heavier side of medium and a decent amount of small carbo bubbles. very soft feel thats nice.
Looks and smells great but the taste just did not do much for me. Definately a disapointment from one of my favorite local breweries. I'll get another one and sit o it for a while.

 784 characters

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.

 651 characters

Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
4.02 out of 5 based on 536 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!