Samuel Adams Imperial Stout | Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

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Samuel Adams Imperial StoutSamuel Adams Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Imperial in stature and bigger than your average stout. This colossal stout was inspired by those created by 18th century English brewers for the Russian Imperial Court of Catherine II. The special malts in this intense and massive brew delivers rich flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, and anise.

Added by Duhast500 on 01-18-2009

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Reviews: 805 | Ratings: 1,495
Photo of Sammy
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from annual special pack. Very drak brown and and a disapearing three-eights of an inch head. aste that is integrated chocolate and coffee and that stops short of being astringent in bitterness. Good drinkability and satisfying.Better than average from the style.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick opaque black with a huge 3 inch dark khaki head that lasts. Random patterns of lace on the glass on the drink down. Smells of plums/raisins, licorice, milk chocolate, and slight soy sauce. Taste is of dark fruits, licorice, chocolate covered fruits, and soy sauce. There is an acidic component to this beer that lingers on the palate after each sip - almost a citrus juice taste/feel. Mouthfeel is a bit flat with a thickness in the mouth that is somewhat hard to take combined with the flavors of the beer. Overall, a pretty good RIS and one of the best from Sam Adams but there are lots of better beers out there.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.28/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful pour. Thick, perfectly black. Dark chocolate brown, three finger head with full lace all the way around.

S: Dark chocolate dominates with roasted malt and coffee notes.

T: Roasted malt dominates. The coffee, chocolate, nut notes. Not as sweet as I see others reporting.

M: thick body, moderate carbonation.

Overall: This is an impressive beer as for the smell and pour. The taste is good but not quite what I hoped after seeing it and smelling it.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Imperial Stout was the first of the three in the series that I tried. The pour was a dark black that generated a nice brown colored head that lasted for a little while. The smell was heavily burnt and roasted with some dark chocolate in there as well. The taste gave off much of the same flavors as the smell did but with the addition of some fresh wood in there too. The mouthfeel could have been a little thicker I think but overall this brew was pretty good.

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Photo of metter98
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a finger high dense and dark tan colored head that took a long time to die down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface, a collar around the edge of the glass and some lacing down the sides.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of licorice in the nose along with some notes of roasted malts.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, except that the flavors of roasted malts are more assertive and there are additional hints of chocolate and dark fruits. A slight amount of bitterness is also present.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. The roasted malts result in some dryness.
O: I found this beer to be an enjoyable and well-rounded Russian Imperial Stout. It packs in a good amount of flavors and also hides its alcohol very well from the taste.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It seems that it was only natural for the Boston Beer Company to brew an Imperial Stout.

The beer pours a very dark brown, basically opaque, pour that rouses a 1" head that eventually levels to a trace then holding firm. Lots of lacing on the glass- it's the look that you expect from an Imperial Stout.

Deep aromas of roasted grains bring out scents of dark-roast coffee and cocoa. A nice estery-fruity blend gives notes of grapes, anise, cherries, figs, and dates. A bit more complex than most great Imperial Stouts.

Flavors do much the same. The fruitiness wraps around the caramelized and roasted grains wonderfully. Fruits calm down as the cocoa and coffee flavors gain intensity well into the finish. Light pine hopping comes in the aftertaste.

A nice round texture gives a good deal of creaminess, weight, and fullness. Bitterness from hops compliment the bitterness of cocoa and coffee well. The texture takes of a powdery, chalky feel late and makes me beg for another sip.

Ulitmately the beer fares well. The fruity notes balance out the roasted notes well for variety, complexity, and imagination. The textures are fine but lack the rich smoothness that I have come to love in the top ranked Stouts. Boldness and assertiveness is kept in check respectively speaking.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, the very last of my haul from last summer's (it seems so far away) Montana incursion. And today's sudden return of snowy, blustery weather just seals the deal.

This beer pours a dense, viscous black, no highlights, even when held to the snow-refracted light of day, with two fingers of tight creamy Brown Cow head, which settles fairly quickly, rendering but a low rise of lace around the glass. It smells of milky roasted cocoa, and slightly sour dark fruit stewed in booze. The taste is big chocolate malt, more zingy black fruit, a bit of earthy coffee, and a soft drying bitterness. The carbonation is very mild, the body full, smooth, and nice and creamy. It finishes still quite sweet and chocolaty, myriad subtle underlying drying agents keeping things palatable for the long haul.

A pretty tasty RIS, overall - the big ABV is AWOL as far as the flavour is concerned. Given the agreeably restrained chocolate goodness, matching this with a more sugary dessert would work nicely.

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Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A fairly hard pour yields two thirds black liquid and one third creamy mocha head that leaves strands of lace

Smell: Raisin and mocha aromas dominate, with burnt toast and vanilla underneath

Taste: A bit more dark chocolate comes through on the palate than in the aroma, with raisin, mocha and smokey elements adding complexity; a touch of hops appears by mid-palate; but the sweeter flavors push it to the back and leave a lingering sense of anise in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A decent example of the style and one, that because of the brand, might attract a new crowd; still, I can easily list many others that I would prefer

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally got around to trying this one.. wasn't a huge fan of the Imperial White but I love me some RIS's. Pours like engine oil with a nice tan head.. excellent. Smell is very roasty, but also very boozy... a little too strong in the nose for my liking. Taste wise, this is a pretty hoppy RIS, moreso than most. Nice roastiness to it too along with the complex chocolate, coffee flavor characteristics. Once again, that strong ABV is quite prevalent as you get quite the burn after each sip. Nice sipper beer, makes for a good night cap.. couldn't see having more than one in a sitting. Nice stab at an RIS and I like the sweetness but the alcohol taste needs to be toned down.. until then get me a Storm King, Ten Fidy, or Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a small dirty brown foamy head with average retention and some lacing. Aroma of black chocolate and dry roasted malt with light bitter notes is not all that bad. Taste is also a nice enough mix between some balanced roasted malt with lingering sweetness and some medium sweet black chocolate. Body is about average for style with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well made with no flaws thought doesn't really stand out from the pack.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.96/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

23 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Guinness goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Acquired at a local Ralph's market. Reviewed live. No best before date is listed. Expectations are average; Sam Adams' beers usually hover right around a C+ for me (with a couple exceptions).

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a four finger head of great tan colour, impressive cream, good thickness, and fantastic retention considering the high ABV. Colour is a solid nontransparent opaque black. The appearance is rather impressive all around; I'm excited to try it. No yeast particles are visible (though it is nontransparent) and no bubble show is present. Decent lacing.

Sm: A moderately strong aroma of chocolate, nuts, cream, some roast, dark malts, and milk. Intriguing, but not particularly complex or subtle.

T: Creamy, with overdone milky notes and bland chocolate. Vague unlayered dark malts form the mundane foundation. Not particularly complex nor subtle. No nuts come through; perhaps I was wrong concerning the aroma. Most egregiously, roast is missing - the central element needed to make this good. Balanced decently. Built okay for the style, but lacking true quality.

Mf: Creamy, smooth, and wet. Largely downright wrong for the style; should be coarse and dry yet with pleasant creaminess. Adequately carbonated. A touch too thin for the style.

Dr: A drinkable little imperial stout from Sam Adam's. Enjoyable and pleasant for the price, but largely forgettable. A decent introduction to the style for the masses, but not an ideal choice for true fans of imperial stouts. I like it, but it's in serious need of work. To its credit, it hides its ABV very welll.

A poor candidate for aging.

Would pair decently with cheap chocolate.


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Photo of LXIXME
3.91/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a couple of inches above the glass leaves a big light brown head of at least 1/3 the glass, and then it begins to settle, kind of slowly.

The head rests above a clear (I think) black beer.

Aroma consists of light alcohol dark roasted malts with some dark chocolate, licorice, prunes, and very light grains.

Roasted malts, with very light dark chocolate, some alcohol, dark fruits again maybe prunes but very light, and a light licorice again comes through. A lot of things going on in the taste, an enjoyable drink.

A light roasted slightly dry aftertaste.

A worthy stout, kind of reminds me of stouts you get at micro-brews, which is usually a pretty good thing.

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Photo of zeff80
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a thick, foamy, brown head. It left sticky, thick rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled very roasty and of coffee notes. Some dark chocolate aromas, too.

T - It tasted of burnt maltiness and black coffee. Nice dark chocolate notes and molasses.

M - It was very soft and smooth. A medium bodied stout with a warming alcohol presence.

D - This is a pretty good imperial stout. I had higher hopes. I hope it is better with some age.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.15/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes.

Pours black with a very thin mocha head. Nose brings forward roasted malt, dark chocolate, a bit of coffee, dark fruits, some peat, and a large dose of black licorice. Taste has some roasted malt and some of the characteristics of the nose, but this is just dominated by anise in a way that is somewhat unpalatable. Feel is fairly heavy with low carbonation. Drinkability is severely affected by the one flavor that really takes everything else out of the game.

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Photo of nickfl
4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - The body is an opaque black, topped by a finger and a half of medium brown foam. the head settles slowly and leaves good lace.

S - A strong aroma of chocolate and sweet coffee with minor notes of toffee, caramel, and molasses. Fruity notes of plum and black cherry with some light, citrus hops are hiding behind the malt.

T - Lots of chocolate and coffee up front with nutty toffee. Light grapefruit hops briefly make themselves known, along with plum and raisin notes, before a dark, roasty finish with moderate malt and hop bitterness. The finish leaves the palate awash in lingering notes of smoke, chocolate, toffee and tobacco.

M - Thick, oily body, moderate carbonation, and a reasonably dry finish.

D - Sam Adams really came through on this one; this is a very drinkable and complex imperial stout. The malt character is great and has just the right combination of bitterness and dryness to keep it well balanced and very easy to sip. I'll be buying some of these to age, and I would love to see a barrel aged version.

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Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

9.2% ABV. per label.Good to see SA branch out and make a foray into this style.Poured into a snifter an oil slick black with a minimal cappuccino (like the bottle says)colored head that is gone rather quickly.Aromas of charred dark fruit and black licorice,dark roast coffee and a bit of wood as well.Flavors are heavy on the black licorice with molasses and dark fruit quite prevelant as well,a nice bit of raw earthiness in the finish as well.A solid stab at the style,just all around good.

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Photo of jlindros
4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a velvety super dark pitch black creamy looking liquid into my SA perfect pint glass with a light 1/2 finger creamy rich dark head that fades quickly.

N: Wow, chocolate up the wazoo. This has all kinds of chocolate, starts with some baker's chocolate, a little dark choc, slight milk choc, choc malt, etc. Some roasted malts, and dark malts in general. There is quite a bit of roast with it and hints of dark dried fruits. It's really nice velvety chocolate aromas. Some hints of booze on the nose though.

T: Taste is super thick too, with lots of chocolate, again all kinda of chocolate, bakers, dark, malts, milk, etc. Not over the top, but crazy. Some bitterness from both charred malts and some nice spicy hop characteristics. A little chewy malt flavor with it. Somewhat velvety liquid. A little sweet malts and syrupiness, and dark malty flavor with a little boozy taste but hidden well for 9.5%. More roasted malts and some coffee flavors with it. Some oatmeal comes through later.

M: Thick velvety smooth, slight syrupy, lots of malty velvet, and lower carbonation but perfect for the style. Smooth, not too thick but nice.

F: Pretty bitter on the finish, with some spicy earthy hop tones, and lots of dark scorched charred malty bitterness. Some lingering roast, coffee, and tons of chocolate. Some long lingering oatmeal taste as well.

I knew Sam Adams was making some great beers, but with this they hit a home run. This is an awesome beer, lots of roast, chocolate, nice bitterness, the abv hidden well, it's amazing. I need to get some to age.

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass; no bottle dating, but is the old label, so it should be a few years old. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1 finger dense dark tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of dark chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, toast, toffee, light char, molasses, raisin, dark bread, and roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt notes; with good strength. Taste of dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, toast, toffee, molasses, light char, raisin, dark bread, and roasted earthiness. Light roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, toast, toffee, molasses, dark bread, raisin, light char, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt flavors; with big flavor robustness and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and full bodied; with a very creamy and moderately slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice imperial stout. All around good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt flavors; with big robustness and very easy sipping. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of chinchill
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into a Belgian snifter.

Appearance: This beer, rather gently poured, raised only a thin layer of head that soon reduced to a thin ring and small island. It is a pitch black in the glass, and opaque, but with dark brown edges visible in the pour.

Smell: Dark roasted grains, chocolate, molasses, roasted coffee, a hint of sherry and a trace of smoke.

Taste: Black light-roasted coffee, molasses, dark toast, burnt caramel, chocolate, raisins, dried plums, vanilla, and faint smoke. Lingering aftertaste features dark roasted grains and black coffee but is only mildy bitter. Excellent flavor integration.

Feel: Very smooth and full bodied; good, light carbonation.

Overall: Excellent RIS with moderate complexity.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

You can always trust Sam Adams to never let you down - to deliver something that's at the very least, up-to-snuff - but this one goes above and beyond.

Talk about flavor - it's packed to the gills! Super dark. Very full bodied. RICH !!! It's really quite intense, and at 9.2% alcohol, with all that malt still remaining in the body, it's got to be pretty high calorically. And I think that was probably something that the original "Russian Imperial" stouts had. The back label of the bottle reads "... our take on the stouts brewed by 18th century English brewers..." and I think they've probably actually tried to do that.

So, continuing with that thought, it's fairly moderately carbonated, which would have been the course, I'm sure, mimicking the cask ales enjoyed at home in Britain. Malty and smooth.

It also has a very English yeast character, which is obviously the first step and barely needs to be mentioned, but I pick up pears and apples.

Of course, there's also a bit of the "burnt currant" character that Michael Jackson used to refer to, which is more malt-led. Some of the roastiness of the malt leads to that, coupled with the fruitiness. There's black coffee and baker's chocolate, and the intensity of the dense malt offers anise as well, and even cola, althought they probably occur at least in part in combination with the leafy, softly grassy and floral, and even gently minty hops.

It's a sipper to be sure, but don't be surprised if it disappears more quickly than you'd expected ;)

It appears to be completely filtered, but I'd imagine that it would still age well, or at the very least, hold up for quite some time. Any oxidation would probably only lead to more bready flavors in the malt anyway. At the price they're putting this out, I'm buying more!!!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark black color, with a thin brown head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruit and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a hearty roasted malt character and a little bit of smokiness. Then some semi-sweet chocolate flavor comes in along with some dark fruit. The hops presence is mild as it should be in this type of beer and it brings some balance. The ABV is well-disguised. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is slick and slightly sticky.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, it's a decent beer but there are several in the style that I would choose before this one.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle - $2.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours an appropriate black body with a frothy, medium-sized, tan-hued head.

Smell: Malty bouquet of roasted barley, oven-charred bread crusts, chocolate, a dash of anise, and a cup of cafe au lait. Some simple alcohol wafts as well.

Taste: Roasty, toasty maltiness with tastes of caramel, black coffee, powdered milk, anise, and chocolate sauce with a fair degree of sweetness. Earthy, spicy hop flavor with a medium-high bitterness trying to cut its way through the dense maltiness. Black currant fruitiness throughout. The flavor turns a bit more char-based nearing the end. Earthy and warming on the drying finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Slight creaminess to the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: It's good sipper, not great, but certainly worth a try or two. I am willing to get on board with this one.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.56/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Buffed mahogany with a creamy mousse-like crown of caramel colored foam that occupies the upper third of the snifter. Gotta love the black-and-tan look of a well-brewed Imperial stout. The foam hangs around a while and leaves a smattering of suds when it eventually fades. Edit: in the end, tattered curtains of lace look fantastic.

The nose is slightly short on roasted malt and slightly long on alcohol. To be fair, the beer is still a few degrees too cool. A hint of dark butterscotch isn't unpleasant, although it is odd for the style.

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout doesn't seem as fine a creation as the other members of the Imperial Series. Double Bock is outstanding and Imperial White is very good as well. SAIS tastes like an Imperial schwarzbier... if such a beast existed. The dark power and depth and complexity of a world-class RIS just isn't there.

The flavor profile consists of dark-bittersweet chocolate, blackstrap molasses, a shot of Absolut, a splash of Sambuca, a dash of bitters and a mild-moderate smoky char. This is distinctive and different beer, but it doesn't quite fit my preferred profile for the style.

The mouthfeel falls a fraction short in terms of size. In other words, it's more 7.2% than 9.2%. Having said that, it's perfectly fine in the grand scheme of things and makes the beer easy-peasy to drink quickly or slowly. The latter is recommended.

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout is now available in the state of Iowa. That's fine and dandy, but Double Bock will get most of my Imperial Series dollars and Imperial White will get the rest. The brewery probably won't do it, but a minor overhaul is in order.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured a thick, black as night opaque liguid, pretty much oil like in thickness. A large, two inch plus head of tan quickly rose over the top of the glass.

lots of dark chocolate hints were very noticeable from the very beginning. A touch of hops on the back end, and the ever present ABV smell came through after it started to warm.
dark chocolate flavor, very pronounced and noticeable. As it mellowed lots of roasted coffee and some notes of cookie dough and even a touch of vanilla were becoming noticeable. Very sweet and sugary on the palate, with a very present abv warming thoughout. It was not a light brew by any means. A very full flavor and feeling coming off of this one. Reminded me of some of thee other breakfast stouts I have had in the past. Very full bodied and the more you sip the more flavors you start to notice. Damn fine crafting on this one.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared with tenderbranson69 poured chilled into a sampler glass

A - An opaque black like a piano w/ med brown sugar shaded cap. A thick ring of lace adheres to the glass, the bead is pin sized

S - A chocolate and smoke aroma in the nose w/ a hint of dark fruit like plum and mild caramel note

M - Med high carbonation w/ dry smokiness and rich concentrated dark sugary sweetness w/ a spiced hop finish

T - A bit of molasses w/ smoke and dark roast coffee w/ a mild alcohol flavor. The taste is sweet and has a mild anise and subtle pine hop flavor. There is a dominant smoke taste from the malt almost bordering on smoked stout w/ a beefy slightly salty flavor.

D - A borerline average imperial stout drinkability wise, but the smokey coffee-like flavor made it better and more interesting than most. I would probably not seek this out even though it has basically good drinkable characteristics

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Samuel Adams Imperial Stout from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
3.82 out of 5 based on 1,495 ratings.
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