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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Ratings: 1,496 |  Reviews: 806
Photo of Beernoisseur
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I appreciated Sam Adam's imperial series. I have always respected their apparent desire to keep things fresh, and their fearlessness at trying something new.

This is a good beer. Maybe not a great one, but certainly enjoyable. I got a 4-pack of these to expose my friend to beer outside the realm of macro lagers. He still shotguns natty lights. Whatever..

The beer is dark, and the head is the color of coffee with only a splash of cream in it. Lacing is thin, but that doesn't surprise me for some reason I can't identify.

The smell is pretty good. Coffee, dark chocolate, hearty roast aromas. Also, there's something astringent and tart just offstage. The hops?

Taste is certainly pleasant. Everything you'd expect is in there. Maybe the flavors don't cooperate perfectly, but they certainly are cordial toward one another. Toasted brown sugar, slight citric tartness, followed by a slow, sweet coffee/dark chocolate finish.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, just like you'd expect when it takes a beer five minutes for the bubbles to rise to the surface to form the head.

I could drink one or two of these a night, but certainly no more than that. It's good for what it is. Let's always keep that in perspective, shall we?

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Photo of malcontent
2.69/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Exactly as the style should appear; Jet black body incapable of allowing light to pass through it, cocoa-colored head that leaves a generous amount of lacing behind. Pretty much perfect.

Loads of stone fruit on the nose with a healthy amount of milk chocolate. No real coffee or roasted notes, a touch buttery. Smells as though it's on the sweet side.

Yeah, it is. Initial rush of raisin is knocked off-kilter by a diacetyl misstep and then a clumsily bitter, roasted finish that sits all wrong. Cloying and astringent all at once. Alcohol runs a bit hot.

Mouthfeel isn't bad at all with a great degree of creaminess and soft carbonation setting the drinking up for a luxurious beverage...which can only be attained if it tastes good. The Double Bock was great, but the other two entrants into the Imperial series have been total let-downs. BBC should focus on their strength as the best large-scale brewer of lagers in the US.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.68/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. Purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos.

A: Pours a pitch black body with a fairly impenetrable blackness. Has a finger of tan-colored head that recedes quickly into a light donut, leaving a few drabs of lacing down the glass.

S: Lots and lots of brown sugar, with some roasted malt. Dark chocolate is an afterthought.

T: Roasted malt, brown sugar / caramel, and a port-like aftertaste with a slight alcohol burn. Feels kind of rummy at times, but in a thin way. Dark chocolate is there as well, almost no coffee though. A serviceable IS, but seems almost one-dimensionally sweet and underattenuated.

M: Definitely on the thin and watery side of an imperial stout. Hovers around medium-bodied. Carbonation is low, but that's good for the style, to bring out the flavors... Except this doesn't have a lot of depth to showcase. A little warmth from the ABV.

D: I enjoyed drinking it, and don't regret paying $7 for a 4-pack (on sale). But I'll be giving the rest to someone who enjoys sugar bombs.

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Photo of yesyouam
4.21/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout is an impenetratable black ale with a thick, dense, splotchy, muscovado colored head that's adorned with a smattering of oily bubbles. It leaves thick, doily-pattern lacing on the glass. There are chocolate, coffee and licorice in the aroma, with a slight molasses-like sweetness. There is alcohol in the nose and something earthy, like manure. It's full bodied and smooth with a clean, dry finish. It has a full, roasty malt flavor, slightly sweet, with chocolate and licorice notes. It's not very bitter and I can taste a little alcohol. It's very drinkable. This is what I'd describe as a "Pennsylvania Impy".

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Photo of Chelsea1905
3.67/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours very dark with a tanned head, but the head disipates ver early and leave very little lacing behind.

Smells like licourice, alcohol and a bit of caramelized cherry.

tastes like dark toasted malt, a high (120) crystal, a little licourice and a little of a port aftertaste.

Quite effervesent for a Stout, and a decent ABV is quite apparent. but for a 12oz it's easily consumable

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Photo of botham
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. pours oily black with minimal head. thick and syrupy in appearance. a bit of swishing produces a dark brown, creamy head that dissipates quickly.

aroma is deeply roasted with notes of burnt malts, dark chocolate, and an earthy wooden base. the earthy character gives way to an almost smoke-like note that works quite well with the roasted malts.

taste is roasted, with a very mellow quality and additional notes of dark chocolate and a bit of coffee. the flavors here are inseperable, creating a very complete and satisfying profile. after a bit of warming the earthy wooden character comes forth and a bit of alcohol shows.

mouthfeel is full bodied, creamy, and quite smooth on the palate. finishes silky smooth with residual roasted malt and chocolate.

drinkability is good. a lack of true drinkability is inherent to the RIS style, which contributes to a hit here, but as far as overall appreciation, this is an excellent RIS. full of black malt character and silky smooth on the palate, this one warms the stomach and leaves the palate satisfied. cheers!

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

Debated on what to pour this one into, ended up pouring it into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass. Poured a black in the center, but on the edges you can see it's brown. Had a chocolate milk colored head with multiple sized bubbles that goes away about 1/2 way through the drink, slight lacing on the glass. Smells good, you can smell hints of chocolate and some roasted/burned malts. Tastes good, you can taste a bitter type chocolate taste with some burned malts tasted as well. Mouthfeel is good, pretty smooth, and no carbonation bite at all. Surprisingly drinkable for an Imperial Stout. Also I really like how this is in a 12oz bottle. Every once in awhile Im in the mood for a Russian Imperial Stout but don't really have the time in my schedule to sit and enjoy a 22oz bottle.

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Solid black with ruby highlights when held to the light, thin mocha head with nice retention and and wisps of lace.

S - Semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla, slightly burnt, roasty malt, a hint of licorice and maybe even soy sauce.

T - Soy sauce, roasty malts, semi-sweet chocolate, slightly nutty with a hint of whiskey.

M - Slightly thin, even watery after a little while. lighter carbonation but needs a little more mouthfeel.

D - Too thin and too much soy sauce as it warms.

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

Poured opaque darkest brown with no light penetrating. Head dissipates to varying shades of lighter brown just sitting atop the surface. Scent is full of roasty malts, coffee, cocoa, and dried fruit. Taste is slightly less impressive than the aroma with bitter chocolate, prune, licorice, and alcohol coming through. As you'd expect this one has a substantial body and coating mouthfeel. This one is good, worth trying, but not one to leave a lasting impression.

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Photo of BamaBeerBuff
4.32/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Jet black pour with a creamy, espresso-mocha head that's about an inch in size before slowly settling to a thin layer of creamy film over the top. Not a ton of lacing.

S: Very rich and deep. Smooth and inviting. Dark fruits, specifically currant and fig, anise, dark chocolate, some fudge, and light amounts of dark-roast coffee/espresso. Some alcohol is present, but it's only mildly distracting.

T&M: Fairly smooth on the palate. Full bodied with a carbonation level a tad bit higher than I'm accustomed to in a RIS. However, the flavor is such that the zestier carbonation works decently. As for the flavor, it's got a dark fruit character of currant, big time anise/licorice, dark baker's chocolate, espresso, and a leafy and earthy finish from the hops. Less assertive with burnt chocolate/coffee flavors than other imperial stouts I've sampled, but it's big on complexity. Alcohol is well-hidden, as well. I suspect this beer would have better scores if the label on the front didn't say Sam Adams.

D: It sips pretty easily, though the intense complexity really lends it well to just that--slow sipping. A great effort by Sam Adams, probably one of the best beers they brew.

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Photo of treehugger02010
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My buddy got this for me in a mixed six pack. I poured it into a pint glass.
A: The body is deep black color with orange highlights. The head is 2 fingers tall, tan and redish, sticky lacing small bubbles and fine retention.
S: The aromas are toffee, ecpresso and cocoa nibs.
T: The flavors are strawberry, bitter choholate and lots of sweetness.
M: The mouthfeel is smooth.
D: This is a fine beer.
Don't drink and review.

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Photo of bgreg3
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

App. - Jet black. Creamy brown foam head.

S - Intense robust flavors. Coffee and chocolate notes. Gentle dark fruits.

T - Intense creamy chocolate and sweet malt with dark fruits like cherries with coffee finish.

MF - Pretty heavy like a stout should be.

D - Gets better as you go along. The first taste caught me off guard and took getting used to. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears an opaque, dark black with a small dark tan head that slowly fades away. Scattered spots of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is smokey with cocoa, brown sugar, and licorice found amongst the mix.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with more of a prune, and fig flavor coming through in the flavors.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, sugary, and bitter.

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Photo of pmcadamis
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I was totally shocked to see this on the beer list at Brewhaus here in town. I must be out of the loop or something, 'cause I had no idea that SA was releasing an Imerial series of brews! I scanned the menu and sort of just read past "Sam Adams" but then my wife pointed these new 'uns out and I did a double take. Gotta try it!

A - Thick viscous black liquid that gurgles slowly out of the bottle like its been thickened up with something vile. The head is small, but dark-brown-cocoa in color, and the quality of the foam looks pretty good. This definitely looks the part!

S - The first thing I thought was "charcoal grill." This has some of the dark chocolate and coffee that you'd expect from the style, but there is also an almost too-powerful smokyness to it that reminds me of that liquid smoke stuff my mom keeps in the fridge. Beef jerky notes are there, along with wood smoke and a dank basement aroma that I actually really like.

T - A little too smoky and not quite enough substance for me to really like this one. Its really good, and I love smoke/rauchbiers but the combination of bitter dark chocolate and oily smoke is not quite right. Still really good stuff though! I'm just being picky.

M - THICK. This junk is really THICK and almost slick. I like its heft, but like the smoke notes its almost too much. Nice and unique, but a little flabby IMHO.

D - This is a good beer from a good brewer. Sam Adams never really does anything super-stellar, but they do almost everything they do quite well. I've always thought of brewers like DFH or Rouge to be innovators and arteeests, while Sam Adams is like that musician or band that never really has a hit but has been around forever and just writes damn good songs. This is a beer worth drinking, but I probably wouldn't go out of my way to pick up a six pack or a four pack (I don't know how they are packaging this stuff since I tried it at a bar).

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Photo of mtstatebeer
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Pours a pitch black color with a good sized creamy brown head with good lacing. Aroma is roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, molasses, raisins, and a touch of alcohol. Flavor is similar, chocolate, raisins, and a bit boozy. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy, slight bitterness that lingers. My favorite from SA so far, well done.

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Photo of SuperSpy
2.74/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A - Black and opaque. A big rocky, brown sugar colored head that starts to die after a minute but leaves lots of lace. A very nice looking beer.

S - The aroma is a bit weak but there is some dark chocolate and sweet malt. Not too impressive.

T/M - Full-bodied but not as chewy as I expected. Plenty of roast, some dark and sweet chocolate. Some lighter roast coffee in the aftertaste. Nothing too terribly outstanding but overall it's pretty good.

O - A decent beer, but not the best Imperial Stout.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark black, but not too viscous looking. Barely any head develops, just thin reddish-tan foam that forms a thin ring. The smell doesn't particularly impress. It seems more fruity than anything, with hints of sweeter chocolate, and not much roast or alcohol character.

Semi-sweet chocolate malt flavor, almost some vanilla in there. Again, weak on the burnt/roast character. There is a decent enough bitter balance at the end to tie it together, so it avoids becoming too cloying. The alcohol stays well hidden. A bit syrupy, but not as chewy as some in this style can be. Carbonation seems sharp initially, but fine.

I'm not a fan of this beer. It was a long time coming, and you'd think Sam Adams would know what it takes to bring a RIS to the market that can stack up, but unfortunately there are many better ones out there. Nice try, but next time spend a little more, make it better, and charge a little more. People will come...

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Photo of Metalmonk
3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow...a Russian Imperial Stout that's oil-black and thick like sludge is not uncommon these days, but these one pours even blacker and thicker than most. The mocha-colored head looks like toasted marshmallow.

Generous alcohol in the nose, but rather than edging in too far it lifts up the overripe dark fruit (fig, plum) and coffee notes. Light smokiness as well.

The first time I tried this it had a bit of a soy sauce flavor, which turned me off (dig the soy sauce, but not in beer). The next couple meetings I didn't find that to be as strong of an impression, but it's still here. Also get plenty of roast in the flavor, husky flavors of coffee and nut, and a little burnt chocolate. Something here reminds of whiskey flavor, which makes me like it just a tad bit less than I would otherwise. Coffee and char in the finish. Hardly the sweetest or hoppiest RIS. But it's big. Lots of girth and attitude here. Is it good? Most definitely.

Texture is not too thin, not too thick, with moderate carbonation.

This RIS leans on the bigger, less subtle side of the field. Not the most balanced either, but it's got an impressive character nevertheless. A memorable beer that might just make some RIS fans outta your average Samuel Adams Boston Lager beer drinker. Or not.

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Photo of Traquairlover
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the second time I have had this beer. The first was at a tasting event for big beers. It came towards the end and was disappointing as it seemed very mundane next to some of the beers we had been drinking. However, a 2 oz serving in those conditions is not necessarily a fair test of a beer, so here I am again. It's not my favorite imperial stout by any means, but I'm glad I gave it another chance. It is a very approachable beer and I would think it would be a very good beer to give someone just trying out bigger, darker beers.

12-oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A = Very dark chocolate brown with a dark orange head, very thick and frothy, good retention, leave coating on glass as it recedes to a light but still substantial foam covering on surface, does not leave lacing when drinking though.

S = Smells of unsweetened cocoa powder, melted butter, very light chicory.

T = Bitter coffee, caramel, cocoa and light hints of powdered malt.

M = Medium heavy body with frothy non stinging mellow level of carbonation, good mouthcoating.

D = This is a pretty easy beer to drink for all the strong flavors.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
2.91/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours an inky, viscous, black with a surprisingly lively tan head that sticks around for awhile. Aroma is a tad boozy, with some coffee notes and dark malt roastiness. Aroma was a touch fainter than I expected. Flavor is young and bourbon-y, pungent, not really what I expected...a vintner I once met would describe this beer as a "bit of a rascal," as in it lacks maturity and should lay down to mellow for a bit. Not sure how this beer would age, but it drinks to me like the RIS of a young red wine. Mouthfeel is not at all sticky - for all the viscosity this beer seemed to exhibit in the pour, it comes across as not thin, but certainly not viscous for a RIS.

This beer wasn't bad, but in a world full of RIS's, there are many others that are way better (and why waste time with one that is just OK?). For all the self-claimed brewing credentials that the folks at Boston Beer anoint themselves with, I am a little surprised they couldn't do better than this.

Nonetheless, a ton of gratitude to JaBier for hooking me up with this bottle.

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Photo of Anthony1
3.17/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

poured into a perfect pint.

pours a dark, almost black body with thin tan trim. no lace really.

smells of dark fruits, coffee, and chocolate. some roasted malts, but nothing really amazing. tastes like your average chocolate stout. roasted malts and roasted coffee, some dark fruits, some chocolate or licorice. full bodied, not very impressed. May have drank it too cold, may have been a bad day, but i didnt enjoy it more then your average stout

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Photo of cnally
3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Very deep black color in the beer, completely opaque with a huge, uncontrollable coffee-tan head that just sits menacingly on top of the beer.

Big burnt malt aromas, licorice, coffee.

Very sweet for the style. Huge burnt flavor, smoky and woodsy...chocolate and molasses in the middle of the flavor, with a very bitter aftertaste.

Slightly watery feel, uncharacteristic of what I have come to expect from this style.

Very good, very very good for the price. However, it goes without saying that there are probably better options within this style.

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Photo of sophisticated
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A) Poured thick and oily-looking black with huge and extremely dense brown head with excellent retention and lacing

S) Good - sweet and rich. Coffee, cocoa, caramel, malts

T) Roasted malts, coffee, hint of sweet molasses or caramel, bitter chocolate. Ends bitter, not overly sweet. The bottle says it has anice, but I'm not sure I picked up on that

MF) Creamy, medium to thick

D) Quite good. Tasty but a bit bitter for me. Plus high ABV makes 1 bottle enough.

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Photo of nrbw23
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a black color with a brown head that dissipates rapidly to a thin layer of bubbles on the top. Would have liked better head retention.

S- Smells of roasted malts, toffee and caramel. Some dark chocolate and touch of alcohol comes out as well.

T- Tastes of dark chocolate, burnt wood, smoke, coffee, caramel, and alcohol. I like what's going on here and the alcohol is hidden well.

M- Full body with pretty low carbonation.

D- My personal favorite of the Imperial series. Pretty easy to drink.

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Photo of russpowell
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

New score based on another tasting; dropping the Taste, appearance & drinakbilty scores. Getting a grape bubble gum flavor that's off putting.

Review based on notes

Pours ebony with 2 fingers of cocoa colored head. Crazy lacing & good head retention

S: Dark fruit & faint smokeyness

T: Dark fruit & chocolate, plus dryness up front. Faint cofffe notes mingle with cocoa, smokeyness & dryness as this warms. Finishes with slight astringency, molasses, oakyness & cocoa powder dryness, damn near pulled a 5.0

MF: Smooth, creamy & a bit chewy too

Drank easy for the style & ABV, one of the breweries better offerings IMO

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Samuel Adams Imperial Stout from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
3.82 out of 5 based on 1,496 ratings.
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