Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

544 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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Ratings: 544 |  Reviews: 312
Photo of travduke
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a midnight black body, 2 finger tan head which faded quickily into the abyss. Decent lacing.

Smell: Tons of cocoa, toffee, sweet. No alcohol smell at all, I like that.

Taste: Wow. Lots of chocolate flavors going on here. Very sweet with the cocoa. A little coffee in there. Still, no alcohol taste. Very enjoyable.

Drinkability: The mouthfeel is a little thin but the alcohol is so well hidden. I could put back a couple of these bombers easily in a night.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Near black, off white head is small and leaves to ring. Some small lace.

S - Mostly cocoa. Sweet and bitter, a small amount of coffee in there. Sweet malt backs it up.

T - Chocolate milk, chocolate chip cookies, cocoa, some coffee. Nice.

M - Medium body good coating, maybe a little cloying but still in the zone.

D - Would tire fast, but pretty tasty.

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Photo of jsh420
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

bottle from Cakanator - about one year old

pours dark brown with ruby highlights - 1 finger tan head that left some spotted lacing

smells of milk chocolate and lightly roasted malts - little fruit

taste is ok - like another reviewer picked up on there seems to be some grape soda flavors? its not bad it just threw me for a loop - also semi sweet cocoa

mouthfeel is on the light side (but the brew is only8.5%) very smooth and creamy good carbonation

drinkability - while this beer doesnt have the big extreme complex flavors it does taste good and very drinkable

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Photo of deereless
4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Espresso like head, crimson brown color, a few sticky spots along the side of the glass - 3.50, S: Tons of cocoa aromas, some molasses like sweetness, tootsie roll and coffee - 4.25, T: Interesting mix between a dry graininess and chocolate sweetness, some dried cherries, faint hop bite on the tail-end of the beer - 4.25, M: Very smooth and creamy - 4.50, D: My first Berkshire Brewing beer and I'm impressed, a solid representation of the style and very drinkable - 4.50

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

Beer sent courtesy of ppoitras in the Naked Beer Geek - thanks again Pete!!

The bomber pours the famously standard black as night, decent tan head in my favorite glass - the Corsendonk tulip. Weak Brussels lacing.

Aroma is pure impy stout - coffee, chocolate and rich toasty malt. Quaff add roasted nuts and bits of burnt toast, almost on the charcoal side. Thick, rich and chewy - damn fine cold weather drinking beer. No hint of any alcohol - but to me any impy under 9% is on the wimpy side.

As noted, I say this is impy/double stout, but not a Russian Impy stout - no dark fruit or anise present. Still tasty and enjoyable.

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Photo of mikey711
3.82/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not sure when this bottle was from but I believe it is a year old now.

A: From a hard pour it left only about a quarter inch of head. It was mocha colored but disappated quickly. The beer itself it almost pitch black with just slight traces of light coming through at the bottom.

S: Super roasty and chocolatey. Also a bit of booziness in the nose.

T: Roasted black malt definitely dominate this one, putting this one a more more on the bitter side than the sweet side. The chocolate does not come out as much as I had hoped. There is a slight bit of brown sugar and then strangly a slight sour taste

M: It is a little rough around the edges and there is some booziness to it. Also, there body could a been a bit more and a little more creaminess too.

D: It is one that I could finish for myself, but I grew tired of it much quicker than I expected.

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Photo of msolar
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a solid beer - one of my favorites from BBC (at least until they release a chocolate or milk stout).

Strong smell of coffee with fruit notes (although I don't pick up on the prune notes other people seem to). Great flavor with a slight alcohol after-taste. I'd love to try it aged for a while.

I've served this on tap at home and would happily do so again. It makes a great compliment to some of their lighter ales.

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Photo of coachdonovan
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a jet black with a little oily/inky look in the glass. aroma is a little vanilla, a little coffee, but i get dark/sweet fruits like dates, prunes, cherries.

wow, didn't expect the smokiness here. i wasn't crazy about it at first but as i near the end of the bottle this is really growing on me. mouthfeel is nice and it's a fairly mild so drinkability is high. i can't say that this RIS brings anything to the table that i haven't experienced before, but of course that doesn't mean it's missing anything. i'm on board for another.

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nearly jet black body with brownish hues with a slowly developing dense, tan head that patiently dissolves with nice traces of lacing throughout the beer.

Big malt aroma jumps from the glass, vanilla, chocolate, and tasty bread.

Much sweeter flavor than the aroma suggested with sweet chocolate malt and coffee undertones to follow. As the beer warms, it becomes more roasted and balanced.

Smooth & dry, medium to full in body with medium carbonation.

This is a tasty brew, easy to drink and is a great example of the style with a pleasant balance of flavor offerings.

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Photo of Floydster
3.46/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 ounce bottle recieved as an extra from tpd975, thanks again Greg, poured into my small Flying Dog nonic last night, color is nearly black, 1/2 inch light tan creamy head that lasted a few minutes, decent retention, good lacing at first, aroma consists of smoked accents, dark chocolate, roasted malts, and burnt sugar, flavor starts off with dryness from the chocolate, roasted malts with some caramel and toffee sweetness coming through in the middle, finish is also dry with same flavors from the middle carrying over, slightly sweetnes as it warms, dry, malty, and roasty mouthfeel, medium to full bodied, pretty soft carbonation, taste lingers, drank around ten ounces of this and that was more than enough, can be heavy at times, not very smooth until it fully warms, this made me want to try the bourbon barrel version because I liked the barrel aged scotch ale a lot more than the standard version, which I think will also be the case here, might drink again, worth trying

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

Split this one with Birradr14 on a dreary night, poured into some pint glasses, thanks for the shot.

Just like 98% of all the stouts i've had(which is alot), Berkshire Stout is black, no way around that. Maybe not the darkest stout but dark enough. A medium viscosity look to the body and a vanilla white head that formed a cap rather quickly, very minimal lacing. The smells consisted of dark malt with chocolate and some vanilla. There even was a small trace of hops in this 9 month old bottle. The taste pretty much was the same although the chocolate comes out a bit more as does the vanilla. I also got some faint tootsie roll in the back. Not picking up any coffee but a small amount of roast coming from the malts. The feel was really good, smooth as silk with a slightly above medium feel with low carbonation. This went down almost to easily. I could of polished off a bomber of this easy with no problem. No sign of the 8.5% anywhere. I hope Berkshire decides to enter the PA market at one point because i've been impressed thus far.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22-ounce bomber into an (ugh) Coors Light pint glass.

A: Poured a dark brown, almost opaque black color with a little bit of ruby highlighting around the edges and a frothy, tow-finger head of tan foam.

S: Smells light smoked and sweet, like charcoal broiled malt husks and a bit of weakly brewed coffee.

T: Tastes bittersweet at first, with a hint of coffee and cocoa to accompany the slightly roasted, yet thin, malt profile. Soon, this gives way to a more complex malt flavor of ripened berries, raisins, citrusy bitterness and a distinct roasted malt finish.

M: Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied but still very good and drinkable.

D: This is the imperial stout for the American stout fanatic. Tons of malt character with no letdown in the fresh floral and piney hops department. Best to split a bomber of this with a buddy, but it'd go down quite nicely on its own.

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

I've got one of these in my beer cellar waiting for a cold winter night sometime next winter but I piked up a fresh one today to get an idea of what awaits me.

Pours an inky, motor oil black with a decent sized head that fades to a quarter inch that sits nicely atop this viscous, silky dark treasure.

Smells very strong of dark roasted coffee, bitter chocolate, super rich malt, chocolate milk and just a hint of alcohol. Wow, this is inviting even on a summer evening.

First sip is an intense blast of bitter, dark roast coffee, dark chocolate and even some rum. This is beer has some serious complexity! Each sip brings about some very strong flavors. The high alcohol content leaves my tongue dry after each sip but the initial flavor profile goes from espresso to dark sweet fruit like prunes and raisins to a hard alcohol like bourbon or rum. Very, very delicious.

The alcohol content does not detract from the flavor of this beer. The silky smoothness of it is just amazing. Wow, I really am digging this beer and really look forward to one with a year or so of age to mellow it out even more!

Phenomenal beer!

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Photo of albern
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one of the best imperial stouts I've had. I typically avoid the style because it is either too loaded up with coffee and mocha tastes, or there is too much of an ABV throatiness in the finish, or there is just too much burnt and charred notes that make it too much the sipping experience. The Berkshire Imperial Stout suffers from absolutely none of the above.

The beer pours a fairly thick dull dark brown color impenetrable to light. There is a nice creamy tan head on the beer. Not tons of retention, no lacing to speak of. The nose on the beer is sweet malts, chocolate malts, cocoa powder, and some cherry or raspberry tones in there as well.

The taste is wonderful. This is a creamy, but not overly thick, low carbonation stout that is very chocolatey, almost fudge like, with a nice cherry and raspberry finish to it. The beer has some roasted notes, lots of fruit in the palate, and a full bodied character to match its creaminess. There are some hop notes to keep things in check, maybe a touch of some spice in the finish, but mostly just lots of creamy cherry or raspberry chocolate fudge brownie tastes. The ABV is very well hidden and the mouthfeel is just a touch oily. This is a very good beer for the style, well worth seeking out. L'Chaim.

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Photo of ryrust5301
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - A little lighter than most russian imperial stouts. It's still black, but not a oil black. More like black with brown edges, and what appears to be a fair amount of carbonation. Decent looking head of thin tan foam, that leaves a golden ring around the perimeter.

Smell - Coffee is evident, but not overly bitter. It's more of a sweet coffee smell, as i'm sure there's a handful of coco in this.

Taste & Mouthfeel - Not big and bold like a RIS should be, but more of an imperial stout flavor, and a light one at that. Not enough big flavor in this beer, it's far to subtle, and doesn't grab me in any way. It's still a decent stout though. Coffee bitterness, and sweet chocolate are the main components, with the chocolate flavor really owning this one. It's a nice balance between the two, just not as big as it needs to be. Mouthfeel is too medium bodied and thin, and just not full enough.

Drinkability - A pretty good stout to sip on, just not a RIS quality beer. Very enjoyable, just not all it could be.

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Photo of ShrLSU
4.11/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearence is dark black with no head. Leaves some slight patchy lacing around the edges. There are some nice rasted malt scents along with sweet toffee, a hint of chocolate, and some slight dark fruit. The taste is pretty nice and slightly sweet. It defintely has a slight milkiness to it. Definitely picking up some toffee, coffee, and chocolate flavors. This is suprisingly thin for a RIS. I find this to be quite drinkable, but couldn't finish a bottle on my own for sure.

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Photo of DrJay
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark and opaque with reddish brown edges. Fine, dark tan collar with a skim of tiny bubbles coating the surface of the beer. Short-lived spotty lacing clung to the glass. Sweet, malty aroma with caramel and toffee notes, a bit of roast, milk chocolate, faint licorice. Bittersweet chocolate flavour with mild hop character. Malty and roasty, but not overly so. Pretty tasty, a bit subdued. Faint cherry. Full bodied and creamy, a bit of astringency. Quite drinkable due to the milder flavours than a lot of big stouts have.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired as an extra in a trade with tai4ji2x. Thanks Xenon!

Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Fairly vicious pour netted a small, foamy, tan head. Body is pitch black with very faint red-brown hues at the bottom of the glass (only when held to light). Doesn't look too thick. The head keeps its initial height throughout the session, which is nice I suppose. Very light lacing.

Smell: Mocha and lots of chocolate malt. Toffee, toasted malt, caramel and pine also show up, especially after it warms. Pretty basic though.

Taste: Coffee, chocolate, toasted grains, and toffee. Prickly, grassy, hops make themselves known but don't dominate. The flavors work together harmoniously. Finishes buttery, with a touch of charred wood/ash. Smooth and mellow. Definitely grew on me toward the end.

Mouthfeel: Medium-to-light bodied for the style. Carbonation is pretty low, but still produces a bit of action on the palate. Prickly at times. Dryness is pretty light. Not much else to say. Pretty smooth.

Drinkability: This about as smooth as an RIS can get. Wasn't too thrilled after the first couple of sips, but this one definitely grew on me. The ABV is manageable, which is great for those of us that like to drink the whole thing. Not the most complex or amazing beer out there, but one that I could imagine myself ordering over and over again.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bomber bottle taken out of the fridge and allowed to warm for about half an hour. Poured into my nonic pint glass. Appears an opaque dark brown color with about two fingers of tight, creamy rich tan foam. Decent lacing is left on the inside of the glass as I sip my way to the bottom. Smells of grassy hops, sweet cocoa, caramel, brown sugar, maybe some fig or prune. Tastes of dark roasted grains, caramelized malts, molasses, raisins or prunes, bittersweet chocolate, mocha coffee, and flowery hops. A slight sourness towards the finish that I'm not crazy about. Alcohol is rather subdued and the body is a notch below full with medium carbonation. A great, affordable RIS.

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Photo of chinabeergeek
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber. a best by date is printed on the glass, but very hard to see. 05/19/09

poured into tulip.

opaque black, with just a hint of red under the light. tan head recedes to wispy layer and foamy ring. lacing is minimal and tends not to stick.

mild, roasted and charred malt aromas have hints of both coffee and cocoa. slightly fruity note (dates or raisins?), but faint, into a backend with coffee reminiscences.

flavor is an amalgam of roasted malts and coffee/cocoa hints. trace of plums, with some earthy, grassy hops and charred malt giving a moderate bitterness, continuing with a hint of acidity right before the finish.

not too thick or overly viscous, but decently smooth, with some momentary acidic texture in the finish. moderate, complementary carbonation.

nothing extremely robust, but a decent imperial stout for the local price of only about $5 or 6

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

A - Super dark color with a tan/off white head that lasted a little longer than I anticipated.

S - Nice nose. Coffee and roasty malts. Not too complex.

T - Some chocolate taste and coffee again.

M - Almost some creamy mouth feel in the chocolate taste, but not a heavy mouth feel over all. Almost a zing feel in the sip. Not an alcohol taste or burn

D - really pleasant I'd look for this one again. Seems to be a straight forward Imperial Stout. Easy to drink and begs to be simply enjoyed

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Photo of joe1510
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz Bomber

2008 Vintage

A big thank you goes out to BeerTruth for this bomber, thanks Adam! Berkshire's Imperial Stout gurgles as black as night into my snifter with an easy growing milk chocolate head that rises to two fingers in height without a problem. The head falls over time to a short cap that leaves behind some peak and valley lacing that's pretty impressive. Although the head shrinks to the cap a quick swirl brings it right back again.

The aroma on this impy stout is very interesting. The first thing that hit me was how closely this resembles boiling wort. Once I get passed that the graininess is surprisingly very clean and lightly toasted. A soft sprinkling of cocoa powder lies over the top of some rich toffee sweetness. A swirl of the glass brings out a touch of anise and a little roastiness. Like I said, this has an interesting aroma that I'm very fond of for whatever reason.

The clean toasty graininess comes right back across the tongue to get things moving. Mild toffee and cocoa come through mid-palate and seem to coat every tastebud. As that takes hold a soft leafy hoppiness shows itself briefly. The swallow is all chocolaty with a portion of that being the sweet Tootsie Roll variety. This stout throws some interesting flavors out there and they all work together vey well.

The body is on the lighter side of heavy and has a soft, somewhat gritty mouthfeel. A touch of heat rises up through my nose on the swallow but is otherwise unnoticeable besides the warming of the chest.

The lower abv (for the style), unique flavors, and lack of alcohol presence combine to make this an easy beer to put away. As a matter of fact I can feel it going to my head already.

I really like this impy stout. The nose threw me for a loop at first but when I reoriented myself I liked what I was drinking, quite a lot actually. Thanks for the bottle Adam, sorry about 'Cuse!

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Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
4.02 out of 5 based on 544 ratings.
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