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Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

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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

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Reviews: 309 | Ratings: 536
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 BierBliss
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured into a tulip

aroma: coffee notes

appearance: pours black, a large inch head that fades slowly, light lacing

flavor: malty, not very hoppy, no strong coffee or chocolate that would be expected

mouthfeel: smooth, not as boozy as many RIS, no real heat

overall impression: a fine drinking RIS, a personal favorite that I revisit often

certainly a beer that I will purchase again and again

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Photo of jmerloni
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Solid dark brown color, big tan head. Laces moderately.

S - Robust stout aroma. Roasted chocolate, some mocha coffee, notes of vanilla. Big malt aroma here: brown sugar, most likely.

T - Sweet milk chocolate, big malt backbone that's somewhat unbalanced.

M - Good mouthfeel. Medium bodied, slightly overcarbonated.

D - Decent beer. Could see myself getting again, but only cuz I'm from mass and this stuff is everywhere.

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

Provided as an extra by Jnorton00! While I am reviewing this directly after nhindian, we did not share a bottle!

A: Brown pour with about a finger of bubbly brown head. The retention is ok, and only a small amount of lacing is noted. The head seems to rush back into the beer after it sticks to the side for just a moment.

S: Full of roasts on the smell, perhaps some hops worked in as well. Not getting much chocolate, coffee, or anything like that. Perhaps some dark fruits mixed in.

T: I was a bit worried when the smell lacked some typical stout characteristics, but the taste actually doesn't disappoint. Starts off roasty and is followed by a nice chocolately middle. The finish is dry, roasted malts, again perhaps some residual hops and a hint of metal. The dark fruits are slightly noted, but take a back seat to the chocolate.

MF: A bit lighter than I like. Nicely carbonated. The alcohol actually is surprisingly notable for a 8.5% beer.

O: Nothing to write home about. Balanced, easy drinking RIS in my opinion. A little on the sweeter/lighter side for my tastes, however.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looks like a R.I.S. : opaque, black with minimal brown head/retention. Reasonable carbonation. Smells of roasted and chocolate malts. Slight yeast in the aroma as well. Clearly a malt drivin beer. Tastes very similar to how it smells, mostly chocolate and little roasted barley, lacking the coffee flavors in my opinion. Acidity is surprisingly low and smooth. Low astringency. Body is reasonable, maybe slightly on the thinner side. Bitterness is spot on. Highly drinkable considering the ABV and extreme flavors happening. I'm kind of impressed. I would have again.

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Photo of Trilogy31
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with bright chestnut at the rim under light, light fizzy head that quickly dissipates and leaves no lacing. The nose brings dark caramel, tootsie rolls, along with bourbon and prune notes. The taste brings rich chocolate notes, cafe au lait, light spicing as well as caramel and cotton candy. Finishes a bit hot putting it slightly off balance but a nice beer all the same.

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Photo of Thads324
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A : pours a deep dark black, nothing but black on the edges either. Big thick tan head that goes no where from the aggressive pour.

S : a sweet and boozy start with a hint of chocolate and dried fruits. A little bit of dark roasted grains. Big booze all the way through, but does not cloy.

T : starts again very sweet and creamy. A bit of coffee in the middle with just a tad bit of vanilla. Finishes a bit boozy and sweet again, with some good malty flavor and roasty coffee and dark chocolate.

M : carbonation is ok, body is solid but a bit boozy.

A pretty good one, but drinks bigger than 8.5%. I'll buy another bomber when the weather cools down.

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
3.72/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Darkness Snifter glass, split with a fellow BA.

A- Very dark brown almost black color, ½ finger mocha head, moderate splotchy lacing, slight carbonation.
S- Sweet, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, slight roastiness, vanilla.
T- Roasty smoke taste upfront, nice carbonation, coffee, chocolate, licorice, slight bitterness to this one.
M- Medium mouthfeel, well carbonated, crispy finish
O- A solid extra in a past trade, quality brew with easy drinkability it’s a beer you have to try once but not really necessary to revisit in my own opinion.

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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 angelogarcia3
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An excellent imperial stout very dark in color with a dense tan head. Chocolate aroma leads to a very creamy mouthfeel. Tasting a very light burnt coffee though with spicy chilli fries you don't notice the bitterness at all. Had it at Eli Cannon's in Middletown, CT.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep brown with a nice tan head. Decent retention.

Big molasses and coffee/bitter chocolate aromas. Some licorice as a well.

Bittersweet dark roasted malt, great balance. Molasses, coffee, bitter chocolate. Not a hint of alcohol. Smooth and bitterness in the finish is welcoming. Dark fruit in there as well. Wonderful.

Full bodied with just a hint of carbonation.

Easy to drink. Shared the bottle, and was glad to enjoy this with a friend. Very worthy of a try and a repeat. I like the fact this isn't over-boozed.

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

Thanks to Hopsbreath for this.

Appearance- Dark brown bordering on black with small brown highlights at the edges. Nice light tan head that sticks around for a while.

Smell- Typical RIS. Lots of roasted barley and chocolate notes. A small amount of alcohol.

Taste- Creamy chocolate accompanied with a little smoke and licorice. Roasted malts and a bit of alcohol rounds out the beer.

Mouthfeel- Nice and heavy in the beginning and then thins out at the end. I would like it to be a little more uniform.

Overall- This is a good, solid beer. It is not outstanding, but would be easy to drink any day of the week.

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

Thank you DNuggs for this extra.

Poured from bomber into pint goblet - Best by date 05/24/11

A: Poured used motor oil black , one finger head that dissipated into a thin tan lacing,decent carbonation.

S: Deep roasted malts, slight chocolate,licorice.

T: Deep roasted malts , licorice ,slight molasses with hints of bitter coffee , fruits w/raisin.

O: Overall this RIS hits the spot ,the flavors are evident and well blended , they don't overpower each other and none are dominant, good balance and feel.

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

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

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

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

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

M- pretty thin for the style.

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

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Photo of 2BDChicago
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear and deep mahagony brown, solid medium tan foam of average retenion with minimal lacing.

S:Initialy pick up sherry and roasty malt and followed by alcohol fire.

T: Whoa, totally unexpected, it's not Imperial Stout and man is there carbonation. Did I miss read the label? Flavors are a pleasant blend roasty malt, dark chocolate, and maybe a touch of coffee. Sweeetness at a perfect level. On the low medium side for mouthfeel. At the end I'm kind of left with a slight bitter taste.

O: This is a very drinkable stout, but could only be considered Imperial because of the abv. I am totally thrown off by the high scores on reviews. Yes, there's a very good blend or rich dark flavors. But I can't say this beer in the upper echelon of brews in this country. Not just because it's way off the style, but it's just not perfect. I think there's a touch of favoritism on the part of the locals, when it came time to rate this one. Don't get me wrong, I'd drink this again if offered, but I just see it as a top tier brew.

Bottle stamped: Best by 4/26/11

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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 DirtybeerguyRI
4.92/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

APPEARANCE: Dark as pitch at midnight with a thin but persistent lace. Even with an aggressive pour, the head is minimal and disappears quickly.

SMELL: The primary nose here is dark chocolate and roasted coffee. Under that, you'll pick up hints of licorice and fruit. This may sound like an odd pairing, but it's really quite nice.

TASTE: Fantastic! This stout baths your palate with a luxurious fusion of dark chocolate and coffee with fruity, semi-sweet undertones. There's a mild alcohol taste combined with minimally-bitter roasted malts. This beer would pair wonderfully wonderfully with a dark chocolate cake (such as Black Forest German Cake) or chocolate pot de crème. It would also be interesting to try this beer with red meat dishes featuring caramelized onions or some other semi-sweet flavoring. I recently had baby-back ribs with a bourbon-molasses sauce and I think that this beer would have been a wonderful pairing.

MOUTHFEEL: This stout almost caresses the mouth. It's very smooth and velvety. On the finish, there's a slight bitterness that pricks at the tastebuds.

DRINKABILITY: I can drink dark, complex stouts for an entire night, but others with easily-overwhelmed palates may want to limit this brew to a nightcap or 12-ounce glass with desert. To get all the layers of taste, let mouthfuls of this beer warm in your mouth. It's worth it.

VERDICT: Berkshire Brewing has turned out a brilliant Russian stout that really stands out from the pack. This is a true beer geek's brew. I wouldn't call this a night-long session beer for the average beer enthusiast, but with certain types of food (or just as a treat for the mouth), this beer rates as a must-try.

John Harvey

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

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

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

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

On tap this past Saturday at The Publick House in Brookline. Served on nitro into a 10 oz goblet. Dark brown colored body. Thin white head that left lacing all down the glass. Smell was not potent, but it had a nice espresso aroma. Taste was very nice, with lots of roasted malt and mild dark chocolate flavors. Mouthfeel from the nitro was excellent, as it gave the beer a wonderfully creamy texture. I love stouts served this way. This beer may not be the most complex RIS I've ever had, but a great locally brewed one nonetheless.

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

Aroma- Fantastic rich chocolate. Rich roasted malts, coke like sweet sugar and coffee. You can get lost in the aroma. As it warms the floral earthy hop reveals itself in the nose along with a bit of solvent alcohol lurking.

Taste and Mouth- Touch of malty sweetness and roasty bite are like a malty ying and yang. Smooth, rich, dark chocolate and light coffee notes. Black licorice and a touch of smoke. Finishes with a soapy, herbal hop bite and dark, roasty astringency. As it warms the soda like sweetness lingers with the floral notes. Creamy and effervescent carbonation. A bit chewy.

Not quite thick enough or especially layered in its complexity to be transcendent, but quite a fantastic RIS and right up there with the best of em. I'm not sure how well this would age because I love the supporting role the hops play here. I really hope one day they make a BA version of this, as that could be absolutely sublime.

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Photo of BranfordBound
3.74/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nitro-tap at Mikro in Hamden.

Poured into a tulip glass, very dark brown color with that think nitro head which never goes away. Leaves very good lacing.

Muted aroma of chocolate and some coffee, maybe a touch of roasted malts.

Very sweet, lots of chocolate floating around and a little coffee. Not overly roasted by any means, not hoppy either, quite basic.

Very smooth from the nitro, pretty light bodied for the ABV.

Obviously an easy drinker, but I feel that maybe the nitro muted some of the flavor, I would probably prefer this to just be regularly tapped and see if it's different. Good beer, though.

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Photo of Damian
3.71/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank on nitro-tap at Mikro, Hamden, CT
Served in a snifter

The liquid poured a deep brown/black color and was topped by a two-finger head of super creamy and dense, light tan foam. Sheets of drippy lacing trickled down the glass. The head slowly dissipated to a thick, long-lasting film.

The aroma was very powdery and dry. Some black coffee was noticeable. Not much else going on. As the beer warmed, the nose became sweeter and a bit more interesting. Fruity with hints of brown sugar and licorice. Slightly spicy.

Dark fruits came through strong in the flavor profile. The beer was moderately roasty up front. Nutty in the center with notes of caramel, toffee and brown sugar. Some cold coffee as well. The beer finished off-dry with a kiss of hops.

From the nitro-tap, the mouthfeel was initially super smooth and slick. Ultra creamy with a fine, tongue-coating effervescence. As the beer sat and the carbonation died down, the liquid seemed quite thin for the style.

Berkshire Brewing Company's Imperial Stout may have been considered a fine beer when it debuted a number of years back but it seems rather unremarkable this day in age. The fact that I had this beer on nitro- tap made for an interesting experience but it did not mask its shortcomings.

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Photo of TommyW
4.46/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Black with some dark red tints; sticky, off-white head.

S- Sweet dark fruits mixed with roasted coffee beans, dark chocolate and dark malts.

T- Nice mix of sweet and roasted flavors. Dark fruit, coffee and dark chocolate are all present. Alcohol warms you but isn't noticeable in the taste.

M- Medium body with a smooth feel.

D- An impressive RIS to say the least; being so local i plan on drinking much more of this and even aging a few to see how they hold up.

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Photo of mjn5036
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a large snifter. Best by date reads about a month ago. God damn it. Let's do this thing anyway...

This one pours dark, dark brown and appears to be black once it has settled into the glass. A large, bubbly, mocha color head rises from the pour and lingers for a moment or two before dissipating.

Nose is roasted bitter chocolate, toasted grain, dark malts, dark fruits - figs and prunes, and faint alcohol.

The taste is similar to the nose; a lot of roasted notes, dark fruit and a pleasant coffee/espresso profile followed by chocolate. It is sweet and slightly bitter at the same time, but not overbearing.

Mouthfeel is a little thin for the style but it drink super easily. Alcohol is faintly noticeable throughout but not domineering. Enough carbonation to make it go down easy. I don't think age has hurt this one too much but I will certainly be trying it again and re-reviewing it. All around it is just a solidly good beer.

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