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 puboflyons
4.06/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle with no obvious lot code or expiration date. It pours dark brown to nearly black with an impressive brownish-reddish foamy head. The aroma is full of roasted chocolate and/or coffee. The mouthfeel is creamy. The taste is a decent balance of hops and cocoa and it packs a punch at 9.2% ABV. Pretty powerful brew and fairly consistant with the style.

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Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.86/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am looking forward to this beer since the crew at Sam Adams' seems to make quality stouts. From a visual perspective this beer does not disappoint. The color is a deep, deep leather brown. Floating contently above it was a beautiful cap of mocha-colored foam. Definitely an inviting site.

A big cocoa nose intermingled with dark fruit, coffee and the volatility of alcohol esters. The beer attacks the palate with the bite of a deeply roasted--almost astringently roasted--malt providing flavors similar to those in the nose. It rolls back through the center with a smooth viscosity and a very powdery dry profile. A little sweetness emerges and quickly disappears before the well developed bitterness at the end.

The palate is left dry with faint recollections of the alcohol that was.

The flavor profile of this beer is a bit rough around the edges but generally solid throughout. A good brew, one worth trying.

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Photo of mikereaser
3.26/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - pours a deep black with 1/2 inch of tan foam

S - light bitter chocolate and roasted malts

T - bitter chocolate, sweet & roasted malts, cloves and a booziness that takes over in my opinion

M/D - very creamy & flavorful, decent carbonation, a bit too boozy for me

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Photo of SeaBrew40
2.32/5  rDev -39.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Pours black, totally opaque. Nice creamy head with good retention and lacing. The smell was overpoweringly sweet, more toffee than chocolate. Smooth mouthfeel, perfect carb. I felt like the brew was trying too hard, and was not a well rounded imperial in taste or aroma. Too many things stuck out to make it very enjoyable. It would go from very sweet to bitter with a very bitter, roasted aftertaste that I found undesirable. I would not drink again, and can't really recommend it.

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Photo of stockingcpl
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This brew pours as a very dark (almost black) brown. The head is plentiful, sustained with lacings. Head color starts a nice foamy chocolate and slowly fades to a nice creamy tan. Very nice!

Smell: Malt and chocolate. Aroma curve is nice and tapered. This brew has a wonderful but not overpowering presence.

Taste: Very creamy initial taste. Certainly strong in overall flavor, alcohol heat is present. Chocolate and coffee is detected, but a very bitter. Malt is nice but also heavy. This is a BIG beer, and it seems as if each element is struggling to stand out. I wouldn't call this a refined beer, but I certainly wouldn't call it "spastic" in design. The flavor curve is extended, and flavor transitions are muddled until the sustain where the malt jumps out.

Mouthfeel: The very sharp bitterness covers most of the other flavors. The malt sustain does not clear the palate very well. It should be noted that these characteristics are somewhat consistant with this style.

Drinkability: Fortifying in presence. This is a heavy beer that, true to style, is not all that drinkable. However, the overall concept of this brew is excellent.


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Photo of SykDoc
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. It pours a little less viscous than oil and is almost black. A 1 inch dark mocha colored head forms and slowly reduces to a healthy dose of lacing covering the top. Opaque when held to the light.

A nice mixture of dark fruits and caramel malts are the highlight here with some alcohol sneaking through. Some coffee notes and a bit of a roasted/wood component. Just a bit light.

The taste presents again with a good dose of caramel malt, dark fruit, and bittersweet chocolate. A nice level of hidden coffee and alcohol also present. Tasty mixture of hoppy bitterness.

The mouthfeel starts out a bit foamy and creamy. It is reasonably full bodied. A good level of dryness sits on the palate and the bitterness aids this feeling. The longer it sits in my mouth, the spicier notes sneak out. Fairly smooth.

This is a good stout. I think it is capable of competing with some of the better stouts, but definitely not top tier. The mouthfeel and booziness were its biggest weakness, but still worth drinking and enjoying.

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Photo of BWMKappaSig
3.55/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle in a tulip glass

A: Light doesn't get through this thick black beer and a brown head pours thick and fluffy gradually easing up, leaving a thick lace around the glass.

S: Initially reminiscent of a Starbucks cafe vanilla, the sweetness seems to lessen as it warms. Roasted malts and some noticable alcohol dominate the nose.

T: Rich dark chocolate meets the tongue with bitterness coating the mouth. Much deeper roasted flavor than their cream stout, with a surprising amount of hops bitterness. While a malt bomb, it's pretty well balanced, though the alcohol

M: Medium to full body, it doesn't feel as creamy and chewy as many other imperial stouts. There's a definite coating on the mouth, but not to the extent of other brands.

D: A decent example of the style, though the alcohol taste is a little offputting.

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Photo of Misfit138
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into pint glass

A- Jet black with a two inch creamy brown head

S- Bittersweet dark chocolate roastiness

T- Very strong dark chocolate flavor with vanilla ending

M- Heavy with mild carbonation

D- This is a strong stout. Very flavorful, warming due to the high alcohol also. It is good, but I think it is a tad heavy and I love stouts.

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

Looks pretty black to me, no highlights or edges at all. A dense, dark brown cap formed during the pour and fell very slowly, leaving behind a ton of lacing, basically coating the glass. Solid big stout aroma, lots of caramel and toffee, coffee and roasted malt, a bit of burnt malt and alcohol. Moderate to low bitterness with a rich malty texture. A bit of mineral dryness from the dark grains. Kiss of green hop flavour. Sweet caramel and roast throughout with mild alcohol in the finish. Full bodied with a creamy texture and low carbonation. Mild warmth. A solid stout. Pretty drinkable for a bigger beer.

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

12 oz bottle poured into a Harpoon Winter Warmer snifter

A - Pours pitch black. Two fingers of brown foam slowly bubble to the top

S - dark, roasted malty sweetness, hint of a solvent aroma, plum

T - a bit boozy, a healthy dose of bitterness lingers on the back of the tongue.

M - good viscosity, a little over carbonated for my taste, but not bad

D - good, but a little on the boozy side. I've had other RIS that did a better job hiding the 9% ABV. maybe it is a little young, but has been in my fridge for a few months.

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

Pours black with a brown head...decent retention. Leaves a layer of foam at the top

Aroma: Coffee, chocolate, booze. The back of the bottle says anise, but I don't detect that as much. Maybe I don't have a nose for detecting that though

Taste: Starts out with a sweetness coming from the chocolate, finishing off with the bitterness of the coffee, balancing out very well.

Mouthfeel: Carbonated fairly well with a full body. Creamy. Smooth. Goes down great

Drinkability: I don't know if this applies to imperials. I would feel bad detracting points, because there is no way I could have more than 1 or 2...but with a full body and a 9.2% isn't going to cut it as a session brew. But that isn't what its trying to do. Winter beer or desert beer. Not a session. I'll still give it a 4 to be fair.


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Photo of templar316
3.84/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm reveiwing poured into a british pint and allowed to warm to cellar temp.
It's black as the devil, not a hint of light going through this, and a thick brown head which lingers for awhile. Rasputin would be proud, the nose hits with booze, coffee and paritcularly anise undertones, but the alcohol warning is there. the flavoris all this and more taking some time to roll across the mouth you get Anise, powerfull and purpley rolling to chocolate and finishing with a terrific coffee bitterness. Jim Koch is really reaching for greatness on this one, and while I've had better russian imperials I haven't had many, and I'm a fan of the style.

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Photo of biggred1
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark, almost black with a thick dark cocoa colored head that settles slowly and leaves sticky brown lace on the glass. The nose is rich and malty, coffee, semisweet chocolate and anise are all present. The flavor is like molten fudge with a charred coffee bitterness struggling to just balance the flavors, and it succeeds. The flavor complexities are fully realized when allowed to warm up a few degrees. The mouthfeel is nice and viscuos. The finish is a little dry and chalky with warm alcohol. I am really impressed with the quality of this brew, SA really knocked one out of the park with this one.

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Photo of mjaskula
3.22/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a pint glass. Pours a dark black, with a moderate dark tan head. The head leaves some lacing as it reduces to a ring.

The aroma is strong of alcohol and dark fruits with a bit of sweet molasses in the background. The flavor is full of dark fruits and alcohol. There is some coffee, sweetness, and a bit of hop bitterness.

This is one thick and full flavored brew, I'm not sure that I could have more than one in a sitting.

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Photo of happygnome
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: pours a inky black color with about an inch of brown head that doesnt dissapear very fast and leaves a good ring of lace around the edge of the glass
s: deep roasted chocolate, hints of dark fruit coffee and a touch of the alcohol
m: full bodied beer feels creamy, little carbonation

overall, this isnt a session beer, but the style never is.Very enjoyable

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Photo of NewGeneric
3.54/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Drinking this one right now. Pours an inkly black, with just a bit of brown visible around the edges. Thick mocha head that fades quickly, but leaves plenty of lacing. Smells of somewhat fruity yeast, slightly citrus/earthy hops, caramel malt, and alcohol. Tastes similar with less hops and some chocolate notes. Quite smooth, but definitely takes a back burner to the other great imperial stouts out there.

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Photo of jneiswender
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured out of a 12oz brown bottle into a pint glass.

A-Coffee ice cream head, black body

S-toast and cocoa.

T-espresso notes, very pronounced hop flavor, some bitter chocolate.

M-thick but quite a dry finish on the palate

D-good taste. Like a lot of Sam's beers you have to appreciate the introduction to a style that the brewery brings. Not the greatest in the catergory but a good representation nonetheless.

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Photo of tr4nc3d
3.04/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a tulip from a 12fl oz bottle

Pours a velvety black color with a one inch mocha colored head that fades on average leaving minimal lacing.

Pretty dominant smell of rubbing alcohol, dark roasted malts and chocolate. Overall the rubbing alcohol overpowers any other smells, which to me is not a good thing.

Dark roasted malts upfront with a slight roasted coffee bitterness, sweet chocolate and soy like in the middle with a mild alcohol heat/burn taste finishing it off.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with higher then most other stout carbonation. Thick and chewy.

No way in hell I could have another one of these, too thick of a mouthfeel and there is better stouts in general. Overall though this is a decent stout made from SA.

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Photo of tedpeer
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sam Adams Imperial Stout

12 ounce poured into a pint glass.

A - Poured black with a thin tan head.

S - Roasted coffee and chocolate and alcohol.

T - Chocolate, coffee. Metallic. Sweet. Alcohol in the finish.

M - Viscous, creamy.

D - This was an ok imperial.

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Photo of ExtraStout
4.5/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark, thick and syrupy. The frothy brown head is gone pretty quickly with little lacing. Smells of roasted coffee and semi-sweet dark chocolate. Mouth feel is creamy, smooth and very tasty with a little bit of bitterness. For a Sammy, it was an unexpected treat. I liked it a lot. Reminded me of the Stone 12th anniversary bitter dark chocolate oatmeal stout but a bit less smokey. I'll be getting more.

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Photo of afacini
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bought this beer to go with some perogi I was making... and it didn't fail to compliment the Russian eats.

For >9% ABV, it is surprisingly smooth and drinkable.
Aroma is of strong chocolate and coffee malts, and tastes accordingly. If you dip a dark chocolate bar in hot black coffee and let it melt... that's probably a good way to put it.

Color was pure blackness with a fine brown head. Can't say I polished this one off until well after dinner ended, but drinkability is very good anyway.

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Photo of strangebrew52
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice dark black with some tan head, leaves some lacing on the glass.
S: Sweet dried fruit, some roasted malts. Slight smell of alcohol. The nose is surprisingly light for the style in my opinion.
T: Roasted malts, a hint of sweetness. The coffee finally comes in and lingers in the aftertaste
M: Nice carbonation, goes down smooth.
D: All in all a pretty decent beer. I wouldn't go out of my way for it but definitely wouldn't turn one down.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice black color with a small tannish head and decent carbonation. Nose is roasted malt and chocolate. taste is smooth, amazingly smooth for 9.2% ABV RIS. It was light chocolate, roasted malts. Not to complex but tasty. Mouthfeel was medium, not that heavy and drinkability is good. As compared to most RIS I could drink more of this than a Stone IRS due to its smoothness.

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Photo of RidiculedDisplay
3.74/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Have been curious to try this for some time. This and maybe the Imperial Wheat were the only things within the Imperial Series that had much pull for me. Here we go:

Appearance: As to be expected, Sam Adams has incredibly tight quality control, and as such I expect them to pay attention to something other brewers may put on the backburner in order to concentrate on aroma or flavor: the appearance. I wasn't disappointed, in that regard. Poured with a really large, two finger coffee color/caramel color head, which settled only after about 3 to 5 minutes (quite a while, really) to a half-finger. Still pretty robust looking head, though, at a half-finger. Body is complete night black, totally opaque, and what you'd hope for in an RIS. Lacing is exceptional - lasts until you take a sip or swirl again, patterns all over the place, mountainous, arms, and spots. A+ job on the appearance.

Smell: On the front end is some hints of nutmeg, very weak coffee, bittersweet chocolate, black licorice, and mild butterscotch or caramel. After that, the alcohol hits, which, as others have noted, is a downer, since this, while 9.2% is by no means a low ABV, IS, after all, an RIS. RIS's with 12% ABV's I've tried don't have quite as much of a ethanol kick as this one does in the nose. Back end is grain and yeast.

Taste: Metallic quality that others have mentioned is definitely there, right away, intermixing in and out with the bittersweet chocolate and mild coffee flavors. Not too much roastiness, and some caramel follow. Upon swallowing, the coffee flavor peaks through more than in either the beginning of the taste or in the nose, which was encouraging, and saved me from demoting this to a 3.0 for the metallic flavor and the very much still-perceptible alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Adequately carbonated, and even though you can taste and smell the alcohol, it isn't "hot," really, at all.

Drinkability: Surprisingly drinkable for an RIS, but really only something I'd buy if I had no other RIS options, which, given Boston Brewing's distrib., might end up being the case at some point - if they keep brewing this.

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

A- Poured into a New Belgium snifter, this beer pours black with a brown head that dissipates to a thin layer over the beer. Some spotty lacing sticks around all along the inside of the glass.

S- Sweet notes of chocolate along with roasty coffee and anise. There's a noticeable alcohol presence.

T- Roasted coffee and dark chocolate up front, but these flavors don't last very long before the 9.2% ABV makes itself known. The finish is slightly metallic tasting but leaves a nice espresso bitterness lingering on the palate. The alcohol is too pronounced in the flavor though.

M- The beer feels full-bodied and slightly creamy but with some watery edges that keep it from having a great mouthfeel. The carbonation is fairly active.

D- I was able to finish a 12oz bottle, but the strong alcohol presence prevented me from wanting to crack open a second one. For some reason, I wasn't expecting an imperial stout from Sam Adams that needs some time to "cool off", but here we are.

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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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