Vinatta Russian Imperial Stout
Kelsen Brewing Company

Vinatta Russian Imperial StoutVinatta Russian Imperial Stout
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #60
Ranked #910
4.45 | pDev: 7.19%
Kelsen Brewing Company
New Hampshire, United States
Vinatta Russian Imperial StoutVinatta Russian Imperial Stout
Notes: Vinátta is a bold Russian Imperial Stout that required four separate mashes to produce one six barrel batch of beer. This beer has a big, chewy mouthful and has flavors of chocolate, prunes, leather and tobacco. This is a bold beer that pushes the limits of an already extreme beer style.

Vinátta will be brewed once every winter in limited quantities.

Friendship is about strength, longevity and working together. Vinátta, Norse for friendship, is a Russian Imperial Stout brewed by friends, to be enjoyed with friends, today, or years to come. Vinátta is a collaboration with our friend Andy Day, owner of The Drinkery and Cask and Vine.
Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 88 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of ichorNet
ichorNet from Massachusetts

4.53/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally opening a 2017 bottle of this beer I've been storing away, and decided to also give it a solid review while I'm at it. Kelsen's darker beer styles have long been lauded as their most vaunted brews, and this is likely their most coveted single release. I've had it before, but only fresh... this changes now!

Pours a tar-black color with some very, very slight brownish notes around the edges. A very thin but retentive head of khaki-colored foam builds up to a half-finger at its highest point. The surface is mostly clear and devoid of bubbles, though some wisps still remain here and there. I will say that it seems the appearance of this beer varies between vintages, and it is likely that this being a couple years old could account for the poor head formation. As such, I will give it the benefit of the doubt.

The nose here is quite rich and dominated by notes of savory meat, tobacco, dark fruit, leather, earthiness, cocoa, caramel, and dark chocolate. Some light notes of fruity dark roast coffee, surprisingly-bright herbal hops, sticky pine, and toffee. This is really holding up after years of careful cellaring, I will say that. I have had some super awful beers recently from my closet of stuff I've been keeping for years, and this does not seem likely to be one of them. This already is giving me way better vibes than Vendel with a year on it, for example. I think this is likely one of the best-smelling RISes I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying.

My first sips of this cement what I thought from the nose... this is excellent with a couple years on it. It ages spectacularly, and displays prominent savory flavors combined with nice coffee and chocolate maltiness. Dark, rye-like grains with a superb spice and pine-y focus from the hops appear in the mid-palate, while dense caramel sweetness and a round, palatable mouthfeel become apparent and really help out the entirety of the experience. Dense toffee and really nice, sweet chocolate suggestions help balance the insane bitterness that this still commands after several years of maturation. I'm really impressed here, not gonna lie. The feel is smooth and velvety, with a slightly oily slickness toward the end of each sip, and a very modest showing of the intense ethanol on order here. This is definitely the best RIS I've had in a while, and it sits in such high regard without any extraneous ingredients or even any type of barrel-aging. Just a big old beer (literally, in my case)... do you dare? You should.

Jan 05, 2020
Photo of Radome
Radome from Florida

4.34/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Tasted from a 500 ml Belgian-style bottle.

L - Opaque, deep brown color. Fluffy, long-lasting tan colored head. A very pretty beer.

S - Wonderful aromas of espresso, chocolate, smoke, oak, roasted grain. No real hops notes; yeast gives a low fruitiness.

T - Complex layers of flavors including chocolate, bitter espresso, toasted wood, sherry.

F - Medium to thick body with a creamy, silky feel. Low carbonation. Medium to high hops bitterness that pairs well with the bitterness from roasted grains. Strong alcohol burn., but not harsh because it is in good balance with the other strong sensations.

O - This is a delicious beer, overflowing with rich, deep aromas and flavors. A delicious, satisfying beer that is among the best examples of the style I've had.

Jun 27, 2019
Photo of brewandbbq
brewandbbq from New Hampshire

4.18/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

4oz sample served in a plastic cup at the source. Presents opaque black with barely a trace of tan head. Retention and lacing is minimal. Chocolate and char in the nose with hints of roast and coffee. Full bodied with a creamy, velvety mouthfeel. Brownie batter and Oreo shells on the palate. Finishes fairly dry with lingering bakers chocolate.

Nice, straight -forward RIS that's just not done justice in a small plastic cup.

Also tried 2017 on draft that was faded and oxidized with a cola-like aftertaste.

Mar 09, 2019
Photo of Holderness
Holderness from Massachusetts

4.13/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L — Pours a very dark black body with three fingers of thick pale brown head produced with aerated pour. Great retention and good lacing
S — Herbal hops, caramel, bakers chocolate, dried dark fruit, smoke, toffee
T — Intense and smokey. Lots of well roasted barley malt, caramel, molasses, dried dark fruit, and bitter herbaceous hops
F — Big mouthfeel, medium- carb. Definitely a sipper, this brew is a bruiser
O — A huge RIS that one should definitely be prepared for going into. Perhaps the most intense stout I’ve ever had


Nov 14, 2018
Photo of jdhilt
jdhilt from New Hampshire

4.1/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a two finger light brown head that fades slowly leaving no lace. Black color, no highlights. Good carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Coffee, some dark fruit nose and taste is leather, coffee, bitter cocoa. High ABV (12%) is hidden. Pricey at $13.45 for a 500ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. Bottle # 14803764.

Feb 01, 2018
Photo of Damian
Damian from Massachusetts

4.33/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Drank from a 1 pt., 0.9 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Craft Beer Cellar, Belmont, MA
2017 vintage
Bottle # 14803259
Served in a snifter

Review #1400

Very dark brown, bordering on black, appearance. Medium bodied for the style. The oily liquid was topped by a creamy, frothy, khaki colored head that slowly fell to a thick bubbly mass. A curtain of spotty lacing coated the glass.

The nose was really rich and robust. Big roasted malt and sweet caramel notes were immediately noticeable. Loads of fresh coffee too. I am shocked that this beer does not contain actual coffee. Strong milk and dark chocolate notes. Boozy but not at all hot. There was a powdery yeasty quality as well. Dark fruits were also apparent. Plums and raisins for sure. Touch of brown sugar.

The flavor profile was also quite interesting and complex but somewhat rougher around the edges. Malty and rich up front. Nice mix of roasted and sweet caramel malts and some brown sugar notes. The roast profile intensified as the beer moved along the palate. Slightly smoky in the center. Raisin and plums were also apparent. Acrid, bitter roast and sharp piney hop notes rounded things out in the finish. Moderately boozy. Some ashiness lingered on the palate after the swallow. As the beer sat, both the roast and hoppy notes mellowed out.

Nice creamy, frothy mouthfeel. Medium bodied for the style. The liquid contained a moderate effervescence. Slick and smooth on the palate. Solid.

Vinatta Russian Imperial Stout is a robust and complex Russian imperial stout and an excellent traditional representation of the style. In a beer landscape where almost every notable stout is either barrel aged or coffee infused, it is refreshing to try an unadulterated take on the style. That said, my six-plus month old bottle seemed a bit raw. Perhaps another year-plus in the cellar could smooth out some of this beer's rougher edges and transform it into something truly magical.

Aug 24, 2017
Photo of TheDoctor
TheDoctor from Canada

3.77/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Serving: Bottle
Bottled: 2017

Pours a robust jet black with a couple fingers of khaki mousse. Decent retention; some lacing. (4)

Spiced malt aroma, fairly roasty, brown sugar. (3.75)

Wood, coffee, hard water, alcoholic warmth. (3.75)

Full body with a thinnish feel light carbonation and a roasty finish. (3.75)

This is a pretty good beer.
It is a roasty, thick, boozy stout but nothing really pops and it is a little thin. Kind of an okay/cinnamon astringency throughout and the alcohol comes through as well. It would be better with a little more rich roast notes but it isn't bad, either. As it warms up to room temp some chocolate comes out but not enough for my tastes. (3.75)

Aug 13, 2017
Photo of Dope
Dope from Massachusetts

4.29/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Batch 2/7, whatever that means?

A: Pitch-black pour with a tall dark brown head. Head is thick and long-lasting, the lacing not so much. Just little specks here and there.

S: Burnt toast and cocoa immediately. Some dark fruit like figs and prunes.

T: Charry burnt toast up front with a backing of prunes. A touch of dark chocolate at points. Finish is leathery with lots of prunes and a touch of star anise, especially in the aftertaste. Hints of smoke here and there randomly. Very very little heat despite the 12% ABV.

M: Super thick, chewy, ultra silky.

O: Definitely a true RIS. It has pretty much every flavor stuffed into one stout. Not just a chocolate bomb or a coffee bomb, it's got the whole kitchen sink in here. Mouthfeel is off the charts and there is little harshness. Great beer, it feels very traditional and it sticks to the style well.

Jul 27, 2017
Photo of cmurphy7
cmurphy7 from Massachusetts

3.9/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a very smooth imperial stout from Kelsen. Despite the 12% ABV, it is very drinkable. rich malty scent and a lighter mouth feel than most heavier stouts. While the alcohol strength comes on in on the nose, but leaves in the finish which leaves a nice aftertaste.

Jul 15, 2017
Photo of Lingenbrau
Lingenbrau from Oregon

4.48/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with dark brown highlights and an almost non-existent dark tan ring of of a head. Smells of lightly toasted sweet dark bread (think squaw), and brown sugar, with a hint of alcohol. Taste follows with a big helping of roasted coffee beans and some earthiness, a touch of dark fruits, and elevated alcohol presence as it warms. Feel is very balanced starting sweet, finishing dry and bitter with mild to moderate carbonation. Overall, this is a well made RIS, and I am always happy to experience non barrel aged offerings of this quality. Cheers and thanks again Tim!

May 31, 2017
Photo of jzeilinger
jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.34/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to SawDog505 for this beer!

A - Pitch black pour with a frothy, thick lacing.

S - Milk chocolate, cocoa, roast, oak, creme.

T - Cherry, milk chocolate, cocoa, light oak, delicate creme, dark fruit, mild lingering cocoa bitterness.

M - Rich and full bodied, thick, creamy.

O - This is an AMAZING beer that's under the radar. I want more. 'Nuff said.

May 24, 2017
Photo of dpgoblejr
dpgoblejr from New Hampshire

4.95/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Very dark brown pour with a frothy tan head. Layers of tiny carbonation bubbles wash along the sides of the glass. Aroma of dark fruits, bittersweet chocolate, and tobacco. Amazing flavors of prune, leather, coffee, chocolate, roast, malt and anise all come together beautifully. The thick, soft, crewy mouthfeel is unreal and almost unbelievable. Everything comes full circle in Vinatta and a classic RIS shines brilliantly. Overall, I must say this may be the best RIS's I've ever had!

Apr 02, 2017
Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4DAloveofSTOUT from Illinois

4.46/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle sealed with gold pressure cap.

poured into HF wine stem.

Vintage 2016

Appearance: black body with thick and creamy off white color head. The head does not have much staying power. Head drops down to a ring around the glass. Most of the head does not cling onto the glass. Booze legs are present on the glass long after each sip. Heavy amounts of sediment is found in the bottom of the bottle after the beer is emptied from the beer containment vessel.

Smell: Rich, sweet, and roasted malt aroma. Chocolate, roasted malt, light smoke and light dark fruits. Spicy booze note which is very inviting.

Taste: Moderately roasted malts. Tobacco, dark fruit, leather, brown sugar, rich milk chocolates, and light smoke / char which all add complexity to this brew. Finishes with brown sugar, milk chocolates, some dark fruit, lots of leather, hint of black licorice, minimal hint of soy sauce(but its definitely there), dark chocolate / bakers cocoa, and a light roasted bitterness to round out this beer. A complex, substantial, and truly satisfying Russian Imperial Stout.

Mouthfeel: This is approaching a full bodied beer. Carbonation level is low yet adequate. The texture of this brew is fairly oily with creamy carbonation. This drinks right at its ABV and has a light booze finish which actually adds to the overall effect in the best possible way. It gives you an appreciation that this beer is big and substantial without being harsh or out of balance in any way.

Overall: Every now and again you find beer that is a benchmark of the style of the beer you are drinking. Vinatta is a benchmark of the style for Russian Imperial Stouts. This is the easily the best non-barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout that I have drank. It is really hard to find any negative aspects of this Russian Imperial Stout. This beer drinks well fresh and most likely will age very well. You can tell the brewer cares about this beer; really classy label and attention to detail. I dig the viking theme of Kelsen label art. Very fitting for the well crafted dark beers that they brew.

Dec 10, 2016
Photo of mikemahn
mikemahn from New Hampshire

5/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big, bold RIS. Pours like motor oil and has the perfect mouthfeel that all Kelsen beers have. This beer is chewy and delicious. The 12% ABV is perfectly hidden in this decadent treat. Very excited to have one to age as well. In terms of straight ahead Russian Imperial Stouts, I would say this is definitely at the top of the list.

Nov 22, 2016
Photo of treznor
treznor from North Carolina

4.29/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Big backbone of leather and lovely RIS punch! Great beer! Lots of structure and great flavor. Definitely has an RIS nose to it. Alcohol is hidden will until it gets a bit warmer, then it gets a bit boozy (though not over the top).

Apr 02, 2016
Photo of ScaryEd
ScaryEd from New Hampshire

4.81/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Cask & Vine.

The pour is jet black with a creamy dark khaki head. Some decent retention and solid amount of lacing.

The aroma is pure bittersweet dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, and a touch of fig and berries. Very nice balance of sweet and bitter. There's a hint of char there as well.

The taste is very rich and complex. Lots of dark chocolate and vanilla, as well as roasted coffee. I also get plenty of dark fruits. There's a smokey bitterness lingering throughout, as well as a very subtle, chewy, leathery taste.

The feel is full bodied with moderate carbonation. Not quite as sticky or chewy as expected, but quite creamy and surprisingly smooth. Definitely a warmness from the alcohol but nothing overbearing.

Overall, a truly fantastic RIS that is well worth the hype it receives. I got to try both the 2015 version and the 2016 version (fresh) and both were outstanding. This is everything a big stout should be and then some.

Mar 16, 2016
Photo of Shack_Daddy
Shack_Daddy from New Hampshire

4.9/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is amazing. I saved a couple bottles from last years batch and it tasted even better after a year of aging. I'm looking forward to gathering a couple bottles each year and hopefully will be able to enjoy a 6 year vertical flight (with friends of course, because the 12% is hidden so well.) cheers guys!

Mar 07, 2016
Photo of rjp217
rjp217 from Massachusetts

4.88/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pitch black color with huge amounts of lace. Aroma is kind of muted but enough roast and chocolate to let you know. The flavors are incredible. Waves of vanilla, chocolate, coffee, subtle smoke. Nice amount of sweetness but balanced and very drinkable. Can't believe this is 12%. Kelsen knocked it out of the park with this one. As with Paradigm, judging this based on style, basically no faults. Amazing brew!

Mar 07, 2016
Photo of AaroneousMaximus
AaroneousMaximus from New Hampshire

5/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Can't say enough good things about this beer. Starts smooth, good alcohol right off the bat. Mouth feel is excellent, great coffee and sweetness at the end

Mar 06, 2016
Photo of HoppyToppy86
HoppyToppy86 from New Hampshire

4.84/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Was fortunate enough to find a bottle at my local craft beer cellar. First sip and you get an incredibly full mouthfeel, not thin whatsoever. It's a flavor explosion of chocolate, vanilla, coffee and a slight fruity finish which reminded me of Bourbon County Regal Rye. Kelsen, you really hit the nail on the head with this one. Dialed in perfectly. If you find this beer, buy it immediately!

Mar 04, 2016
Photo of IratePlanet
IratePlanet from New Hampshire

5/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is excellent. The pour is dark and thick with a modest tan head with an unmistakeable aroma. Rich roasted malt smokiness with subtle sweet prune flavor and hint of chocolate. 2016 is even better than the original. Bought a case at Kelson and should picked up 2 because the best Russian Imperial Stout just got better!!

Mar 03, 2016
Photo of Bierman9
Bierman9 from New Hampshire

4.48/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased directly at Kelsen today, 16.90z for $14.00.

Enjoyed in a small tulip glass. It is a very deep, dark brown, to the point of being completely opaque. A fairly hard pour produces a creamy, mocha-hued head which ebbs rapidly leaving a thin, fine layer of suds. Doesn't leave much in the way of lace, perhaps due to the high ABV, but there's still some there. The aroma is exquisite, detectable from a foot away from the glass. It has lots of choco and dark fruit, like raisins and figs. Seems a touch boozy, as well. The body is medium-plus bordering on chewiness, and the feel is satiny smooth.

Taste? Mmmm! Dark choco and roasty notes mix with semi-sweet cocoa and espresso. Raisins, figs and currants then meld together with some licorice action. Is that a hint of smokiness? Might be.... not sure... Does have some subtle, earthy, floral hopping at the finish. Only thing not increasing the overall score was the cost; a tad pricey. Still, a very solid RIS, all around! Prosit!

4.48/5 rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5


Feb 27, 2016
Photo of risendragon
risendragon from New Hampshire

4.58/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought from the shop itself, first time I've ever had to wait in line to get beer.

L- Jet black, almost no light coming through at all. Like motor oil with a thick tan head. (4.5)

S- Deep chocolate, dark fruits like cherries and red apples, some coffee. Quite a bit of booze but for 12% it's very muted. (4)

T- Follows the smell but with richer dark chocolate, cherry notes, tobacco, plum. Best RIS I've had so far! (5)

F- Chewy chocolatey goodness. (4.5)

O- New Hampshire's best kept secret is now one of New Hampshire's best breweries! This is definitely one of their best if not their best offering yet. Balanced and roasted yet deep and complex. (4.5)

Feb 27, 2016
Photo of johnnnniee
johnnnniee from New Hampshire

4.15/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Cask and Vine,
Rich roasty maltiness with bits of caramel and dark dried fruits. Solid earthy hop presence even after a year. Very tasty, glad I got to try this!

Jan 03, 2016
Photo of theandyday
theandyday from New Hampshire

5/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love this beer.

This to me is everything a RIS should be: big, bold, rich and exceptionally drinkable.

The beer pours a rich dark brown with just enough head to let you know it really is 12%. It dissipates quickly, so be sure to get your nose in there and enjoy the aromas as it disappears. Some booze, a rich distinct aroma (I've had this beer enough times I can't exactly explain the aroma but I can recognize this beer just smelling it) - it creates a sense of anticipation. If you've ever spent time in a brewery it just smells like a massive amount of specialty grain/malts.

The flavor continues to evolve, but dark fruit, subtle leather, tobacco and rich dark chocolate. It opens up like a complex red wine as it warms. 50+ degrees is necessary for this beer to share everything it has to offer. It's complex and rich without ever being too assertive - no barrel aging and this beer comes out kicking ass and taking names.

I can't wait to continue to watch this evolve and stand it beside the next year, and the year after that.

May 07, 2015
Vinatta Russian Imperial Stout from Kelsen Brewing Company
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 88 ratings