Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

Berkshire Russian Imperial StoutBerkshire Russian Imperial Stout
546 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

Bros Score:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 546 |  Reviews: 312
Photo of Tolann
3.68/5  rDev -9.1%
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

 496 characters

Photo of joe1510
4/5  rDev -1.2%
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!

 1,900 characters

Photo of alovesupreme
3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A black beer but far from opaque while being poured. This beer yielded an excellent head that stuck around for a few minutes and eventually dissipated to a ring of foam around the glass. A sticky beer that sticks to the glass and shows where it has been.
Toffee, mocha and dark berries dominate the smell.
Some chocolate and coffee make up the body of the beer with some anise and vanilla that are more subtle. Hops are present but subtle and the beer finishes with a sour tinge reminiscent of some form of berries.
The mouthfeel is this beers achilles heal. A thin body with slightly to much carbonation to make this a really great stout.
A good stout, that is great to have close to home. If the body was a little thicker I would seek this out more often but none the less a great beer.

 792 characters

Photo of htomsirveaux
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle tried 18 Mar 2009. Courtesy of jleblanc, thanks!

Poured in Sierra Nevada pint glass. Medium sized brown head. Light carbonation. Very dark brown, almost black. Aroma is relatively faint, roasty sweet, alcohol and prunes. Sweet and alcoholy to start. Toasty bready sweet, some flavor similar to an oatmeal stout. Not much bitterness, like a cafe au lait. Finish and aftertaste of dark dried fruits. Medium body, relatively low alcohol.

Low alcohol makes this quite drinkable, would like a little more aroma though.

 529 characters

Photo of argock
3.92/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz brown bomber into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Purchased from Ancona's (Ridgefield, CT) for $6.49.

A: Coca-Cola appearance with very dark brown body and fizzy beige-tan head with average retention and rare streamers of lace.

S: Coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and raspberries are prominent on the toasted black malt backbone.

T: Flavor is full and enjoyable with dominant roasted black and dark malts mingling with black coffee, cream, bitter chocolate/cocoa, tea, dark fruit, and light molasses flavor. It has a light berry-like sweetness which is pleasant and unique. Hops are pretty strong.

M: A little thin for the style which really hurts this category. Good even carbonation and great sweet-and-bitter aftertaste.

D: An extraordinarily drinkable Imperial Stout for the ABV. It is lacking some body though which hurts the feel and appearance somewhat. The tea and berry aromas and flavors are unique.

 936 characters

Photo of gford217
3.87/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bomber courtesy of cedromar poured into a tulip.

Pours dark, dark brown out of the bottle before settling in just short of jet black in the glass underneath a small off-white head that dissipates quickly to a collar leaving no lacing.

The aroma is big on dark chocolate malts with tons of licorice as well. There's plenty of molasses and some coffee as well.

The taste starts out sweet with licorice, vanilla and molasses. The dark roasted malts form a solid backbone with a little bit of roasted coffee bitterness in the finish.

The mouthfeel is actually a little thin with some soft carbonation. It's a bit oily and light-bodied for the style.

The aroma and taste are pretty good on this one but it just doesn't have the body I was hoping for from an RIS. On the flip side, this makes it drinkable and it's a decent beer overall.

 841 characters

Photo of TurdFurgison
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

I got this bomber as an extra in a trade with SteveO1231, thanks Steve. From first impressions, the beer looked and smelled like a great RIS. It was dark brown color with a thin tan head and had aromas of chocolate, dark fruits, and sweet malts. The taste was good too (same flavors as in the aroma) but not lasting, kind of a clean aftertaste for a RIS. I think the culprit is the mouthfeel, the body was thinner than I expected and didn't complement the aromas and flavors as fully as it could have. On the other hand, the soft body is probably related to the relatively low ABV (for a RIS), which makes it more drinkable to me. Maybe this is a new class, a sessionable RIS.

 676 characters

Photo of Durge
3.97/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very dark coffee color with a whispy tan head and average lacing. The aroma is a mild chocolate coffee with tangy orange hints. The flavor is charcoal and some citrus highlights. Fairly malty in a medium bodied brew. Mildly carbonated, very smooth, not particularly powerful. But very decent stuff and quite drinkable. Recommended for a try.

 343 characters

Photo of Duhast500
4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

The color is a complete black with a slight light brown head

The smell is a conyac flavor to it. A little maple syrip flavor.

The taste is of marmalade and a little chocolate flavor.

The flavor of this brew is engulfing. While sipping it the arorma will tease your nostrals. The feal is surprisingly light for a imperial stout. Goes down well and is quite smooth. and light.

 425 characters

Photo of leif86
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, oh so menacingly dark, ruby body. The head is like that of cola - dark and tan and quick to fizz up and relatively quick to dissipate. The head is rather frothy and leaves only a tad of lacing.

S: I pick up molasses and roasted coffee beans right away. Bringing up the rear is some general fruitiness that accompanies a bit of alcohol to the party.

T: Bitter, chalky chocolate with a sweet-from-fruit coffee immediately following. The high alcohol starts to warm things up and with the fruit begins to feel like grapes. The malts here remind me mostly of cereal grains and a subtle but present from the beginning to the end.

M: While I prefer something a little creamier and with a bit less carbonation I can't say that I'm at all disappointed. In fact, BBC pulls it off better than I expected when I saw the fizzy head.

D: Certainly an imperial stout that I'd love to add to my regular stock. The 8.5% compared to the 10+% of other brews means I could definitely have more than one 22 oz and not lose my composure or taste buds. Local, comparatively (to craft brews) inexpensive, and tasty - all great in my book.

 1,128 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.41/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours from the 1 pt. 6 fl. oz bottle sampled on Feb. 15, 2009. No brew date or lot number listed but it was probably fairly fresh from the brewery since they use no preservatives.

Appearance - Top notch. Dark brown-to-black pour with root beer-like bubbly carbonation and about 3/4 inch of foamy tan head and considerable lacing about the glass.

Smell - An appealing mixture of chocolate, liquorice, and florals. The chocolate leads the way followed by the others.

Mouthfeel - Bold and creamy on the tongue and remains steadfast with swirling. Almost chewy. Very good.

Taste - The flavor comes on strong similar to the aroma with a chocolate-coffee sensation followed by bitter hops and ends on the dry side.

Drinkability - Thank you and may I have another?

A fantastic value at $6.75 for the tall bottle and an enjoyable experience.

 840 characters

Photo of roadhouse
3.53/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a snifter. Thanks to Walken.

Appearance is black at first but when held up to the light it is actually a clear deep mahogany color. One inch tan head sinks to a skim relatively quickly. Spotty lacing left behind.

Aroma has some chocolate, a slight vinous note, some dark fruit, I'm thinking plum, and some slight caramel sweetness. Nothing special.

Taste is of milk chocolate initially, with the vinous character coming in midway through with the dark fruit. In the finish there is a bit of coffee like astringency.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, tending towards fullness. Pretty good carbonation level, it's not too creamy though.

Kind of a middle of the pack RIS in my opinion, though it was nice to try. Any beer that has a vinous character seems to turn me off pretty quickly.

 815 characters

Photo of PDXHops
3.47/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Yamar18 for sending this one my way. Poured into a Duvel tulip.

A fairly vigorous pour gets me a 1-finger head, but it's not too thick and disappears rather quickly. Not much lacing. The body is very dark brown, and you can see reddish highlights against a light.

A bit of fruitiness in the aroma, with some chocolate and dark malt. Not terribly complex, but inviting.

The dominant flavors are bittersweet chocolate and dark malts, with some coffee and cherry (?) in the background.

Mouthfeel is a little thin for the style, but it's tasty and goes down smooth.

Overall impression: Solid RIS offering. Not as bold or complex in flavor as the big boys, but tasty and quite drinkable.

 697 characters

Photo of aerozeppl
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Just about black with some hints of brown around the edges. Minimal mocha head that quickly dissipated.

S: Very nice fresh roasted smell. Hints of espresso beans and some roasted from normal coffee.

T: Tastes like excellent homebrew. Nice mix of roasted coffee and chocolate. Very nice and well balanced stout.

M: Very light for the style but it adds to the drinkability.

D: Very nice beer. This brewery really reminds me of a really great homebrew. Just a very well crafted beer.

 487 characters

Photo of ericlawton007
4.19/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark black, with justa little hint of reddish head. Smells very malty with a fair hint of chocolate. This RIS tastes very sweet, but not too over bearing in the chocolate. Very balanced, and has a wonderful mouthfeel. Slightly on the thick side, with very little carbonation. Alcohol is hidden very well, and I can drink this all night. Great bargain too, at $4 for a bomber at whole foods.

 390 characters

Photo of jonziefle
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a very dark brownish-black, practically opaque. One finger thick light brown-tan head, but reduces to a thin layer. Appears clear when held up to the light.

Smell: Smells of roasted malts and chocolate, with a hint of coffee.

Taste: Taste is a sweet chocolatey malt. Very smooth. Taste lingers in the mouth, first sweet, then slightly bitter. No hint of the high alcohol content. Not really any sign of any hops shining through.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth. Little to no carbonation. Medium-full bodied, just slightly not as thick as other stouts I like.

Drinkability: Very good stout, definitely something to try. A little sweeter and less dark/smokey than other stouts, but a very good choice. Also, I would prefer an ever so slightly thicker beer and fuller mouthfeel.

 790 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.95/5  rDev -2.5%
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

 666 characters

Photo of maximum12
3.54/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to tprokop7 for including this bottle in a great trade this summer.

This one works right out of the bucket, great smell on this RIS, hitting all the heavy notes of chocolate, malts, coffe, etc. That said, the flavor fails to fully back up that promise. Maybe I'm getting spoiled by all the great stouts I've had in the past year, but this one seems only somewhat above pedestrian. Again, it tastes like an RIS that's a little bleached out by the sun, nothing quite as strong, heavy, balanced, or interesting as I would have liked it to be. Not bad, but not great.

 572 characters

Photo of akorsak
3.3/5  rDev -18.5%
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.

 702 characters

Photo of Walken
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Berkshire: Imperial Stout (No freshness date) (Tastes 12/25/08)
22 oz. bottle, poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Motor oil dark brown with a bubbly mocha head that forms slowly and drops down into a thin coating with a thick crown of foam around the edges of the glass.
Odor: Soft, rich milk chocolate and coffee aromas fills out the aroma with a slightly woodsy, earthy aroma in the background. Warming intensifies the heavy cream aroma.
Consistency: Near perfection, like silk on the tongue. Smooth & viscous with very little harsh astringency from the roasted malts. Carbonation is a tad higher than expected.
Taste: The flavor of this beer centers around a mix of dark and milk chocolate malt flavors, paired with bright fruity notes from the yeast. Hop bitterness builds slowly throughout the sip and capping off at the point of balance. I don't detect much of any alcohol flavor outside of the fruitiness. Dark chocolate throws down in the finish, leaving a pleasant bittersweet flavor in my mouth.

This was my first exposure to this style of beer a few years back. It was a favorite then and still is. It was kind of interesting trying other hop forward American RIS with this being my only basis for comparison. I haven't found many others like BBC.

 1,260 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%
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.

 682 characters

Photo of mtbbaboon
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks a nice dark brown color in my snifter glass. Rather thin, tan, foamy head, even with an aggressive pour. The first thing I smell is chocolate malt, and that's followed by coffee and some sweetness (caramel?). Only a faint hint of alcohol. This is a great tasting beer. Malty, but not too malty. Strong chocolate taste with some hops mixed in, as well as sweet malt. I sense some vanilla. There's some bitterness in there as well. No single dominant flavor. Everything is really balanced nicely. This beer might look dark and heavy, but it's surprisingly light bodied and very smooth and creamy. This is a very easy beer to drink and it certainly doesn't feel like an 8.5% beer. This is a very good beer. I'm glad I tried it.

 730 characters

Photo of dirtylou
3.77/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, shipped by goodbyeohio, consumed during the first wave of nfl action as the snow begins to come down hard

appearance: pours noticeably thin into a bells chalice, dark mahogany body with a creamy tan head and just a minimal tan ring

smell: rich chocolate and oatmeal, robust malty aromas, minimal trace of alcohol

taste: i feel like i am echoing some past reviews in saying that this feels like a real nice american stout, but just doesnt fit the "imperial" bill. the flavors are nice notes of toasted oatmeal, bitter cocoa, licorice and earthy malts

mouthfeel: quite thin body, minimal traces of any sort of alcohol, rather high bitterness level

drinkability: good

 682 characters

Photo of brdc
3.5/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Thanks cookin420 for this large capped bottle poured into a snifter.

Very dark brown, not quite black, with reddish highlights, and a brown head that does not hold well and produces little lacing.
Aroma is initially acrid, burnt, but as the beer warms up, more bittersweet chocolate and coffee appear. It improves, but still lacking punch.
Quite thin for a RIS, it starts burnt in similar way to the nose, turning slightly sweet, chocolate and coffee as it warms up.
Nice beer, with a good taste, but it simply cannot be billed as a RIS; it is in the middle to high spectrum for a regular stout, but as a RIS it is a major disappointment; the chocolate I had with the beer (nothing special or particularly strong, mind you) obliterated the beer completely.

 761 characters

Photo of hopdog
4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle acquired in trade with jjpm74 (thanks!). Bottle labeled buy before Nov.

Poured a dark, dark brown (almost black) color with an averaged sized tan head. Aromas of chocolate, roast, dark fruits and a little on the earthy side. Tastes of light coffee, prunes, chocolate, and roasted malts. I found this to be weak for an Imperial Stout but overall a good beer.

Notes from 12/2/05

 391 characters

Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
Beer rating: 4.05 out of 5 with 546 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.