Samuel Adams Imperial Pilsner 2005 Harvest
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

Samuel Adams Imperial Pilsner 2005 HarvestSamuel Adams Imperial Pilsner 2005 Harvest
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Pilsner - Imperial
4.15 | pDev: 9.64%
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Massachusetts, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Samuel Adams Imperial Pilsner 2005 HarvestSamuel Adams Imperial Pilsner 2005 Harvest
Notes: Brewed exclusively with an enormous, almost reckless, amount of first harvest noble hops - Hallertau Mittelfrueh from Germany. 110 IBUs. The "murkiness" is from hop particles, which are literally in suspension and create a permanent haze. It's part of the overall experience, and was intended.
Reviews: 241 | Ratings: 251 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of TMoney2591
TMoney2591 from Illinois

4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Budweiser pokal.

connecticutpoet is quite the mensch for sending this my way!

Missed the failsafe for "brewery fresh taste" by four-and-a-half years. So it goes. It pours a boggy amber, leaning like a cholo to the orange side o' town, topped by over two fingers of stalwart, creamy, ecru foam. Honestly, I think those color swatches in paint departments look to this head for the purest example of the color ecru. The hops in the nose cry out from a locked basement, the prisoners of a gang of buttery biscuits. The ringleader is a rotund toffee bastard, lazy and seemingly overconfident. I don't think I've ever had a pils approach my 'strils in this manner before. Now my tomgue has no idea what to expect. Let's end his anxiety, eh? At first, the "reckless" amount of hops mentioned on the neck tag make their collective presence known, all piney and citrusy and whatnot. But, like the more sheepish rabbit from Watership down, they flee into their warren. Just as in the smell, a sweet and buttery toffee-led gang is the cause of the panic. This time, though, the hops grab for vengeance, stinging the tongue throughout the aftertaste. It all makes for quite the thrilling cinematic (and pleasant gustatory) experience. Everything sits in the mouth with a bit of weight, but not much; the carbonation is there, but meek, like the wallflower trying vainly to ask his crush to the prom; and a lovely creamy feel pervades. Copacetic, man. Even with the age, this is a fine bit o' brew, I tell you what. I can only imagine how it will be in a few more years...

Jul 12, 2010
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Reagan1984 from Massachusetts

4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I could not believe when a buddy brought this beer over in late December. Let it sit in my cellar a few ore months. Today was the day...

2005 Harvest... "For Brewery Fresh Taste Enjoy Before January 2006"

Oh well, a little late...

From opening and pouring the beer you could not tell it was 4+ years old. Beautiful creamy eggshell colored head. Decent retention. Sheets of lacing. Crystal clear deep amber color with a touch of visible carbonation.

Aroma was stronger then I had imagined and really still reminded me of the more recent Imperial Pilsners from SA. Some hop, but a big ripe pineapple aroma. Smells like some aged DPA's I've had.

Smooth... That's the word. Initial burst of sharp hops, quickly followed by a moment of alcohol... (smooth) and then some nice smooth layers of malt and caramel.. Not sweet at all though.... Then into another moment of bold hop bitterness. This fades to a lingering hop effect that is nice. Afterwards, you get a moment of alcohol again... But still very nice.

Velvety mouth feel. Smooth as silk. Medium to bold body. Tiny tight carbonation.

Really a wonderful beer. Will take another 4+ years to age another.... Oh well, Very honored to have been able to enjoy this one.

Apr 03, 2009
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aletales from Oklahoma

2.63/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

It was with great anticipation that I tried this beer over the holidays. I should have believed the label about a reckless amount of hops, but my definition of reckless is far to conservative. When the brewers of this beer say reckless, they mean it.

In the glass the aroma was hoppy and it was hard for me to distinguish much else. When I sipped the beer the moutfeel was lively, but soon all of the maltiness disappeared into an overwhelming hop fest. I felt like there was no balance to this beer, but then again I am no hophead.

Jan 24, 2009
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mltobin from Connecticut

4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Prior to this 2005 Imperial Pilsner, I had only had some of the classics from Sam Adams: Boston Lager, Summer, Winter. But I had read somewhere that this had a high ABV and tasted good.

Upon pouring, the beer was a nice dark color with quite a bit of head to it. It tasted very good with vanilla and other tastes hitting my palate. I enjoyed it very much so and it was the beginning of my trying a lot more of the smaller batches of beers that Sam Adam puts out over the course of the year. Overall, a very good beer.

Dec 28, 2007
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plaid75 from New York

3.43/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a very murky deep copper hue with a one finger pillowy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a robust caramel malt with a mellow but peppery noble hop.

The taste was upfront spicy hop with a grainy middle and definite doughy malt finish. There was an astringent hop aftertaste as well, and a mild warming alcohol.

The mouthfeel was chewy, with a dry finish.

Overall a very interesting beer. Although the hops have seemed to mellow over a year, I still don't believe there is enough of a grain bill to support the hop dosage.

Mar 22, 2007
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auxiliary from Rhode Island

2.82/5  rDev -32%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Appearance - Cloudy light yellow color, nice head, but disaolved pretty quicj. Not mcuh lace either.

Smell - Bitter, grapefruit, flowery smell.

Taste - mailty, flowery, geapefruit taste, bitter.

Mouthfeel - Medium body, bittter.

Drinkability - Not much into bittern beers that taste like grapefruit. Seems others enjoyed it. You can get about 3 glass's out of this.

Feb 12, 2007
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EStreet20 from New Jersey

3.31/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Yes, I know this beer was released over a year ago with a limited shelf life. Yes I know the best by date was over one year ago. Still I loved this beer so much last year that I had to snap up two bottles of it when I saw it in the store this year. I know this isn;t the way Jim Koch intended it to taste but I figure it'll be fun to review with the age on it.

24 ounce bottle poured into a 20 ounce "tulip" shaped pint glass.

A - This beer looks incredible. It glows with an opaque golden orange color and is topped by an excellent finger and a half of white head. The brew is hazy, due tot he hop particles in suspension according tot he bottle. Really just a beautiful looking beer.

S - A hop rush comes at me but more subdued than I remember. Grapefruit smell leades the way mainly.

T - Here you can tell that the brew's flavor has diminished. The hops have subsided to the point where the brew is a little too sweet and funky tasting. It has definitely fallen from what Mr Koch wanted flavorwise, the alcohol stands out too much and the hops don't stand up.

M - Full on the tongue but doesn;t have the pop it did a year ago.

D - Well this proves why Jim Koch is the expert and I'm not. the beer really has fallen on its face from a year of aging. Looks like the "best by Jan of '06" was correct.

Notes: Either way, a great beer, this tasting was mostly experimental. I can;t wait for the next batch of Sam Adams Imperial Pils.

Feb 04, 2007
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yelterdow from New Jersey

3.66/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Best by January 2006. Served in a pilsner glass at just over fridge temperature.

Appearance- Aside from the much darker and richer gold color, the pour yields a two-finger bone white head.

Smell- Loads of Bavarian hops... grassy and spicy and full of character, even after two years. Behind the hops, there is a sweet, creamy malt nose that comes forth.

Taste- A surprising maltiness disperses across the tongue, leaving the primary hop notes to handle the finishing bitterness. Dense and full of flavor, the dry, lasting bitterness lasts for several minutes.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Prickly at first, then foamy and round in the mouth. For an imperial pils, this is nice... but a bit thick and heavy to really sit back and enjoy fully.

Feb 03, 2007
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aluskungs from Massachusetts

3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Even though it says best before Jan 2006 here I am drinking it in Jan 2007. It has been in the basement fridge "lagering" for over a year and seems to have survived. Here goes!

Good foam head and stays awhile. Color is like diluted cider with bubbles.

Big hop nose surprised me! I mean pilsners should have a hop aroma but this was more like an IPA! But I guess that's why it's called an imperial pilsner. Oh yeah some malt sweetness present too.

Yes it's like a pilsner, but bigger, heavier, and more alcohol. I quickly find out that you can't chug this beer like a pilsner, it has to be almost sipped. Unfortunately becoming an "imperial" beer it seems to have forgotten what kind of beer it's suppose to be. Can you really have and imperial pilsner? Isn't that an oxymoron (or am I the moron?). To me it has become a strong ale, all of it's pilsner characteristics are almost gone.

But it's a tasty beer! Strong sweetness, like a storm, hits your tongue followed by a hop calmness eye of the storm, and then sweetness again. The hop taste is muddled, can't tell what kind of hops, just a generic hop taste, same with the sweetness.

But it's a tasty beer! Ale or lager, whatever this beer tries to be it is an interesting beer to sip away at and enjoy.

Jan 20, 2007
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sullysbeer from Michigan

3.84/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Aroma: Citrus hop nose masks the pilsen malt sweetness, slight alcohol, Slight grapefruit.

Appearance: Murky Amber with a tan head retention that lasts. Slight Brussels lace that sinks quickly.

Flavor: Malty up front; An explosion of citrus hop flavor bursts in your mouth like a grape. Finishes with a lingering hop bitterness that makes you literally take another sip to help quench your thirst.

Mouthfeel: Medium - fully body with a perfect carbonation.

Overall Impression: This beer is for sure a hop heads delight. Imperial Pilsner?? Naw, more like a lagered India Pale Ale (IPA). Once again you have to give it up to these guys. Great Beer.

Dec 05, 2006
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mshallah from New Hampshire

4.64/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased Dec. 1st 2005 with a best before Jan 2006 stamp on label. This beer was intended to be enjoyed fresh because hops are the star. Hallertau Mittelfuh hops are used in crazy quantities. Aroma is fresh floral piney and orange citrus. Wow! Taste is of hops and more hops with a malt sweetness in the distant background as support and the alcohol is noticable. An ale-like carbonation makes this a creamy pils as opposed to a crisp one and there is an incredible lingering aftertaste. Swirl this cloudy dark gold brew in a short stem glass and amaze at it's head retention and lace, and marvel at bubbles streaming from points on the bottom of the glass. This is like nothing else out there and commits me to trying every new big bottle one-off that Jim Koch has to offer.

Nov 08, 2006
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Doomcifer from Rhode Island

4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I haven't had one of these babies since last year but scored some stragglers at a local liquor store that I decided to pop into for the hell of it. I was excited to see them because I remember absolutely LOVING this beer in the fall of '05. I was eager to see how much it has changed in a year.

Pours an extremely murky, dark orangeish a lighter shade of cider. Enormous, frothy head that just stays there forever. Ridiculous lacing to white out of the glass. What a gorgeous beer, just as I remembered.

Aroma is of fruity, citrusy hops, hops, and more hops. It is noticeably lighter and a bit sweeter smelling than it did fresh. It's not as "in your face" as it used to be. When fresh, it would jump out of the glass and smack you around a bit before you decided to sip it.

Then the taste...whew. Still a hop bomb, although noticeably milder than it was fresh. That really isn't saying much though because it is still just completely over-the-top. When fresh, it borders on being offensive, and astringes your entire mouth. Sweet honey malts, and hops all over the place. Very bitter, lasting well after you put the glass down from your sip. God, this is good. More piney and spicey now than when it was fresh as well. It's the same beer but has a few slight different characteristics. I enjoy seeing how a beer can change over time like this.

Mouthfeel is very heavy, almost syrupy and rolls around on your tongue. I would describe it as chewy as well. This is a GREAT beer but is it very drinkable? I don't know. As with any over-the-top hoppy beer with a high ABV, it can only be so drinkable. I could probably take down a couple of these bombers but just one would be perfect and enough. It's a beer that you should baby and enjoy the hop attack.

This is easily the best pilsner I have ever had, by a long shot. I'm not a huge fan of typical pilsners at all. Also, imho, it is the best beer that Samuel Adams has ever brewed thus far.

Oct 23, 2006
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jeffjfindley from California

4.64/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Intentionally cloudy, great amberish-orange color.

Smell: My girlfriend says it smells like beer. I concur. Very good, lively, malty beer. Mmmm.

Taste: Immensely satisfying. It tastes like a very malty pilsner. I don't know what else to say. I'm having a difficult time putting it down.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and refreshing with a hoppy finish. This doesn't feel much like a pilsner, but I like it.

Drinkability: Easy as hell, and equally satisfying. This beer is basically a hopped-up version of Lagunitas' Pils, which I love to death. Predictably I also love this, and I want to be alone with it, so go away.

Sep 16, 2006
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Toddv29424 from District of Columbia

4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow is the first thing to say with this beer. Pours a hazy golden color, which i'm told is to do with the hop residue still suspended in the beer. Smell is huge. It's just as you would expect--a strong pilsner mixed with hops--but it seems as though the balance is really well thought out and tempered. Taste is big and chewy. It's as though the hops are infused into every corner of the taste, but it still maintains the pilsner body. Really impressed by this beer, especially because itÂ’s from Sam Adams!

Sep 02, 2006
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baiser from Massachusetts

4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Popped open this with a bunch of friends and everyone enjoyed it, novices and connoisseurs alike. Pours a hazy golden orange colour, with tonnes of lacing and a beautiful head. Aroma was wonderful, full of citrusy and piney notes. Taste is complex - full of fruit, bitterness and a herbal character. Mouthfeel is smooth and full bodied. Overall, a great beer to sip on.

Aug 20, 2006
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cbl2 from New York

4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

$5.75 24 oz. 8.80% Best by January 2006.


Pours a beautiful hazy orange adorned by an inch of tight creamy white head that has some serious legs.


Hops predominate with citrusy overtones muffling a bready yeastiness in the background.


I'm surprised, but the first sensation is that of sweet malts which is followed by a sickly sweet, yet hoppingly bitter grapefruit tartness that actually had my salivary glands gushing! Finish is delisciously pine-hop bitter and begs you to sip more. One of the most impressive brews from Sam Adams in a long time. A very well balanced brew that nicely masks an impressive 8.8% ABV with loads of hops (not sure on the IBU's), and plenty of sweet malts.

Jul 30, 2006
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ReDave from California

4.69/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This may not have been "*the* hoppiest beer in the world." But it is definitely "one of the hoppiest beers in the world.", certainly for a lager!
24 oz bottle. [Man i whish I'd bought a case]
Very orange amberish color. surprisingly white creamy head, with good retention.
I'm not sure what i was expecting, but this was IT! Very IPA grassy / flower nose. Wonderful crisp, hoppy lager [much more crisp than the DFH 'imperial pilsner' I've had] spicy and some malt.
This is exactly what I'd want if i ever thought of an IPA Pilsner.
Can't wait til next year. [don't disappoint me Jim]

Jul 15, 2006
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Foxman from New Jersey

4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It pours a honey-hued golden amber, thickly cloudy and murky. Three fingers of sculpted beige head roil and sustain considerably. Atolls of lacing ring the inside of the glass.

The aroma grants a draft of deep caramel and malt sweetness, carrying light touches of berries and vanilla. Hops are clearly bested here, but they do present a soft citrus and noble layer. Alcohol is just sensed.

Upon tasting, there's a tidal surge of sweet grain with candy sugar, caramel, and earthy berries. Vanilla and lemon appear briefly before a bluster of stridently bitter hops wash in grapefruit, pine, and a coppery noble character. Alcohol clears things out near the close, allowing a crisp, pressing bitterness to linger mightily in the finish. It's quite a blend and progression of some serious elements.

Full bodied, it explodes and fills the mouth as a bitter wild fire lays waste to the palate.

The aroma is about malt, but the flavor, with the brief initial exception, is about a frontal hop assault. The tag boasts of balance, but it's more of a swift trade-off between some dense components. The ABV is solid, but it's the IBU's strafing the palate that limits this most. Still, you don't drink this so much as experience it, and I'm glad I did.

Jul 13, 2006
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CRJMellor from Arkansas

4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a turbid, cloudy, hazy orange and amber hue with a very large off-white and tan head that has staying power.
Aroma is a powerful amalgamation of hop notes with citrus and a pine resiny bang that really jumps the olfactory nerves. Some caramel and fruity notes appear as the beer opens up a bit.
Flavor is just what is advertised a thick pilsner. Has the crip but big pale malt and caramel underpinings coupled with a sharp but relatively clean hopping dose.
Mouthfeel was thikc and chewy and a hop lovers delight. Really aggressive hopping interplays nicely with the malty backbone and produces a rich and flavorful palate experience.
Drinkability was very high. Definitely got more than expected with this one. A relatively clea, but big Pilsner with a massive does of hops ? Could have been real mess but the folks at SA really pulled of some magic with the formulation. Can only imagine the experimentation that went into this recipe. Very, very good beer.

Jun 14, 2006
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ohmybock from Georgia

4.72/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 2 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Imperial Pilsner? I think it might be better described as an Imperial/Double Kellerbier instead.

I was blown away by this beer. First of all, I'm not a pilsner fan. Secondly, I'm not much of a fan of Sam Adams beers. However, I would drink this one year-round if it was available. This murky beer isn't much to look at, but it sure tastes great. It definitely doesn't look or taste like a typical pilsner. Actually, this brew seemed to have some similarities to a St. Georgen Brau Kellerbier I once had on draft in Bamberg (ie - the cloudiness, the wonderful German hop bitterness and aroma set against a satisfying malt backbone, and the hint of sourness). No, this is certainly not "crisp" like your typical pilsner.

Whatever you want to call this one, it's a winner. The wonderful German hop character in this one is just outstanding. The muddiness of the malt might be something that could use some improvement. Oh well, this is easily the best Sam Adams beer I've had and is excellent just the way it is.

Sam Adams, PLEASE consider making this one available again. Better yet, how about making it a year-round product?

(Note: This review was based on my thoughts when first trying this beer back in late 2005.)

Jun 13, 2006
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JayTheFinn from California

3.99/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The store owner at M&R Liquor in Carpinteria, CA talked me into getting this one even though I'm not a huge pilsner or Sam Adams fan...but I'm coming around.

Pours a deep orangey brown into the glass with one finger off white head. Some sticky lacing.

Superb hops scent! For me, that means present but not overly aggressive. Although if hops are going to be aggressive, I guess I'd prefer it in the smell than in the taste.

The taste is so very hoppy. Quite sharp on the tongue, spreading like a bitter piney wave. Malty sweetness attempts to balance the hops, but to me it's losing the fight.

The hoppiness lingers a good long while in the mouth. Very well carbonated.

Drinkable because of hop flavor, but not an all nighter due to overly strong hops and high alcohol level. Overall this is an excellent beer to sip and admire.

Jun 10, 2006
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Boto from Connecticut

3.91/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

24oz. bomber, 2005 edition: This one pours a cloudy orangish color. There was a fairly decent off white head that lingers and leaves a bit of lacing. Waiting for it to warm a bit and hopefully get more of a nose from it. It is currently a bit thin for a beer of this strength. I smell the hops, but they are faint. Mainly pine and grapefruit aromas. It wins a few more points on taste. Some sweetness poking through a good hop bite. I would classify this as an IPA and not an Imperial Pilsner. Still, a very drinkable brew.

Jun 10, 2006
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kpwill07 from New York

4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Man. This has to be the hoppiest pilsner I've ever had. By far.

It pours a nice amber color. A decent head. Nothing to write home about.

This beer has got to be Samuel Adams way of saying, yeah, we can do hops, cause that's exactly what this beer is, a hop showcase. It's good. I liked it a lot.

I'm not all that big on beers like this, but I definitely enjoyed it.

May 25, 2006
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I remember when I was a kid and ate all of the Flintstone vitamines and my mom said that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Now I know what she was talking about. This beer is packed with wholesome a flawed level. The immense barley additions lead to a thick and almost syrupy sweet flavor and texture. The hops add a big burst of spiciness, earthiness, dirtiness, and grassiness. Together, the flavors round out nicely, but in a over-kill presentation. The beer ends up a little too grainy, thick, and vegetable-like. The alcohols hide well for the 8.8%. Full and robust on the palate with an oily / buttery finish. Though it took a while to warm up to the flavors and texture, it never really mellowed to a drinkable level for me.

May 15, 2006
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VoodooBrew from South Carolina

4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1.5 pint bottle. "Enjoy before January 2006." Well I guess I was a little late...

Pours a luminous semi-hazy orange-copper with a generous white head. The nose is redolent of hops, or course, with floral and spicy notes along with alcohol. On the palate, hop flavor is swiftly followed up by a big bitter character, then some floral and citric notes, with traces of alcohol in the finish. The mouthfeel is marked by a strong lingering bitterness, but it's a sort of "messy" bitterness (in the vein of St. Arnold Elissa IPA and some others) -- in other words, not especially clean or crisp.

As pedestrian as most Boston Beer Co. offerings are, they are clearly capable of brewing up some quality beers from time to time. Imperial Pilsner 2005 is pretty damn solid, and whereas my bottle had some age on it, I'm sure it's noticeably better fresh.

May 15, 2006
Samuel Adams Imperial Pilsner 2005 Harvest from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 251 ratings