Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99! (Limited time offer, US delivery only)

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

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Samuel Adams Imperial StoutSamuel Adams Imperial Stout
BA SCORE
3.8/5
Very Good
1,498 Ratings
Samuel Adams Imperial StoutSamuel Adams Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#15,235
Reviews:
806
Ratings:
1,498
pDev:
13.68%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
69
Gots:
99
Trade:
0
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,498 |  Reviews: 806
Photo of RidiculedDisplay
3.74/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

 2,117 characters

Photo of Tdizzle
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

 985 characters

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

Black brew with a creamy tan head that left rings and globs of sticky lacing.
Some roasted malts but it also reminded me of SATB aka Soy Sauce.
Thank goodness the taste is nowhere near SATB...
it's roasty, french roast coffee, German dark chocolate and black licorice flavors are all the flavors I tasted.
Full bodied, thick and creamy.
You'd better be up for this one!

 403 characters

Photo of hiikeeba
4.37/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

S - Sweet malt, roasted malt notes, some vanilla aroma. This would make a good cologne.

T - Starts of smooth, malt sweetness creeps in with an alcohol taste. Finishes with a subtle roast coffee taste. Outstanding

M - Silky and creamy mouthfeel with a hint of carbonation. Coats the tongue.

D - Despite being 9%, this is a very drinkable beer. The alcohol is not very apparent in this beer. It's a big beer in flavor, so it's a sipper. I think I am going to need a second job to keep this in the fridge.

 665 characters

Photo of Tilley4
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Been wanting to try this for a while now... Matt at Party Mart hooked me up with a freebie to try so here goes....

Well, this certainly looks the part... Its a coal black with a rich creamy mocha head that sits atop and stays...

Loads of dark malts and dark sweet fruits with a licorice kicker... Reminiscent of Old Rasputin...

Very nice effort from SA here.... The roasted malts and dark fruits come through with some chocolate and that anise... Not overly complex or anything, but this is still a good little
Impy from the boys in Boston...

 547 characters

Photo of Dodo2step
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

P- Brass Rail

A- motor oil like black. A skinny oak wood brown head. Leaves a minimal lace but its alright. Quite opaque as well.

S- roasted malts and toffee caramel. A unique sort of combo. Some dark chocolate hints come out as well.

T- sweet roasted chocolate malts. at the tail end of the taste i get some alcohol. Present and accounted for.

M- chewy and creamy. Smooth and chocolaty malt.

D- despite the high abv this beer is a surprise to me. I could really pound these back without knowing how drunk i would be in a matter of an hour.

 545 characters

Photo of Onenote81
3.1/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into my snifter. Pours very thick and syrupy. Black as night. Thin tan head which is gone pretty quickly. No lacing. Smells of booze, roasted coffee, and dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Flavor is different on this. I'm a little disappointed. There's definite big coffee presence, but it's overly boozy. Finishes slightly bitter, but the alcohol just makes this undrinkable for me. One bottle's enough for me tonight. I'll let the other bottles age a bit so the ABV might lessen a bit.

 508 characters

Photo of gpogo
3.49/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Black, very thick as it poured. Dark brown tiny bubbled head. Very sticky lacy head.

A- Alcohol, roasted malts. Light chocolate notes.

T- Bitter chocolate, roasted malts. Quite a bit of alcohol taste and significant alcohol warmth.

M- Full body low carbonation. Silky creamy mouthfeel.

D- Quite drinkable. I felt it was a bit boozey and not so complex.

 359 characters

Photo of allergictomacros
4.21/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thick, pitch black liquid (if I can call it that...) with a mammoth crown of sticky, brown foam that takes a while to settle. Head is the consistency of meringue. Nose has some roastiness, alcohol, dark fruit, and caramel/molasses, but isn't pungently strong. Big, heavy and creamy sweet, but not cloyingly so. Would be if not for the balancing toast and bitterness. Hefty espresso and resinous hop both make it through the heavy body. Definitely some astringency to this as well, cutting through the smoothness. Definitely a sipper. If you like RIS, this is definitely worth trying.

 583 characters

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sam Adams- Imperial Stout

A- Deep dark brownish black with a huge 1/3 the glass frothy reddish tan head. Thick lacing down half the glass.
S- Sweet fruit and molasses malt with chocolate and alcohol fumes.
T- Very sweet sugary molasses. Slight touch of sweet cherry?! Thick sugary chocolate and a hot dose of alcohol.
M- Very sweet with a good warming boozy finish.

Overall- Not bad, just a bit too sweet.

 407 characters

Photo of Lexluthor33
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark.deep brown near black small head and a light lace. An espresso colored beer.
The aroma was coffee strong with sweet aroma of chocolate and alcohol. Malts roasted with some toffee hints.

The taste starts off with the sweetness of malts and vanilla. The alcohol is there and in your face,but not obnoxious. There were the obvious coffee and chocolate flavors with mild bitterness.

The feel was full bodied and low carbonation. A bit oily and syrupy.

Notes: A strong,flavorful beer worth trying. Is it better than Brooklyn Black stout ? Well,maybe not but better without aging.
I felt it was really sweet and other than that I did not have any complaints.

 663 characters

Photo of webmanspidey
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into chalice. Dark brown/black, very light carbonated appearance and very little head. Smell is maple syrup, molasses, raisins, soy sauce, black tea.

Very sweet taste, not much bitterness or "heaviness" for this style. Alcohol only slightly apparent. Raisins, nuts, and maple syrup give this a dessert like flavor.

I'd describe this a lighter version of an RIS. Not too heavy or complex, but sweet and drinkable. Recommend trying one.

 451 characters

Photo of mugglesandhops
3.31/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is the best Sam Adams beer I have had to date. Very suprising how good this is. Poured an opaque black with a sand colored head that faded to a bubbly film. Smells of coffee, little chocolate, and hoppy. Taste is good, hoppier than I was expecting but not hoppy like a Bear Republic BBS. Still very tastey. I'm catching some green olives in the aftertaste also. . Some coffee and chocolate in there as well. Fairly thick feel to it. Overall this is a good beer that is pretty widely available. I would probably pick this up again. .

 537 characters

Photo of redneckchugger
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wow this beer suprised me. After trying the imperial white, i did nto expect to like this one, but its good. The nose is weak though, i barely smell anything, jsut some chocolate, weakest nose of any big stout i have ever had. Beautifil beer tho, huge mounded chocolate colored head, sheets of lacing. Wonderful well rounded tastes, hops cutting trhough the chocolate notes, some toffee in there as well, smooth mouthfeel. I really like this beer. Ilove wheni get suprised like this.

 483 characters

Photo of klewis
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep black with a big, thick head. A heavy halo lingers around the glass, leaving quite a bit of lacing.

S: A nice balance of chocolate and anise. Nice.

T: Well-balanced with a slight lean towards the sweet side. Anise is the dominant flavor, but nice contributions of chocolate and coffee as well. Slightly earthy.

M: Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. Perhaps a bit thin with a flavor that doesn't seem to stick around as long as it should.

D: A solid offering. Glad to see this one around, and I'll be getting more.

 540 characters

Photo of vacax
3.3/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Jet black with a brown big dense brown head. Good retention and lacing. Nice.

S: Cookielike rich malts, slightly biscuity, slightly herbal. Smells like a rich and delicious imperial stout! Double nice.

T: Whoa nelly. Big herbal flavors, anise, licorice, a touch of robutussin and dark fruit. Some very dark, burnt coffeelike elements with a medicinal touch. Flavors are sharp instead of smooth and rich. The look and smell of this are leagues ahead of the actual taste here.

M: Full and smooth bodied but not thick. Appropriate low level carbonation for the style. A bit of a warming effect on the palate which should not be so evident in the style at this ABV.

D: Medicinal taste and harsh malts aside, decently quaffable brew. Not much of a sipper because I don't really want to savor this. Not recommended if there are other imperial stout options available.

 868 characters

Photo of AVDeuph
2.93/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

My first of Sam Adams Imperial series...

A: Very dark and thick looking. No head to speak of and lacing is minimal. For whatever reason this doesn't look that appetizing.

S: A very subdued aroma. Not the power punch I like and expect from imperial stouts.

T: Well there isn't a good way to say this...taste is of raisins, alcohol, and vomit. More accurately, I think the raisins and the vomit are the same actual part of the flavor profile, but the presentation or maybe combination with other factors is really lending itself to some not-so-pleasant associations. Not very bitter, and to me this is very one-dimensional, with the heavy emphasis on that sickly-sweet raisin characteristic.

M: Medium carbonation and a thick body...to me this beer is slightly cloying, I think possibly because of the off-flavors which I have inevitably not been able to escape from at this point in my review.

D: Thick, cloying sweetness, alcohol taste...not so much.

This is not one of those beers that I "can't see why" others like it. I imagine if you were expecting certain flavors or you really like thick sweet stouts, you could really enjoy this. I, for one though, won't be purchasing this beer again in the near future.

 1,221 characters

Photo of Drew966
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout pours an opaque black with a dark brown head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. There is a little bit of "dark" fruit in the aroma. There is also some of this "dark fruit in the flavor as well. Bitter chocolate and a touch of coffee are also present. Not the best imperial stout I've had, but decent and worth a try.

 343 characters

Photo of bum732
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thick black liquid, nice tan head leaving crazy lacing. Smells of roasted grain, coffee, chocolate, dark fruits, some anise, some vanilla, Tastes of fruity malt hidden by a bitter chocolate and coffee backbone. Finishes quite sweet and smoky, roasted grain left on the palate. Alcohol barely detectable. Nice creamy full bodied mouthfeel. low carbonation.

An impressive offering from Sam Adams. A very solid RIS, will definitely try again and perhaps even try aging.

 476 characters

Photo of jsh420
3.3/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

pours pitch black with a 1 finger head that leaves lacing down the glass

smells boozy along with roasted malts coffee and sweet fruit

taste is very sweet upfront then comes the booze chocolate and roasted malts

mouthfeel - booze stings the mouth and carbonation is on the high side so the finish is as smooth as i prefer in a stout

drinkability - rather low - maybe 5+ years might take some of the booze and carbonation issues away

 435 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Black light proof beer with a medium sized brown colored head.

Sweet and fruity with lots of fig and berry scents. Little bit of spice in this mostly Cinnamon. Sweet molasses under that coffee and chocolate are notable for being absent in the scent of a RIS.

Starts out chocolate, patent malt and bitter. Smoothes out a bit as you drink it, smoke starts to dominate the other flavors. Not as complex as expected.

Mouthfeel is thick.

This is OK but isn't all that great. RIS but lacking in many respects.

 507 characters

Photo of ZAP
5/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Black with nice ruby highlights...really impressive looking...if this was a woman I'd have a bon...ahh forget that thought....it is fine looking though...

S-Great aroma..smells exactly how I like an Impy stout to smell...burnt molasses,figs, anise, dark chocolate, black coffee, black licorice (Alexander the Great would love the way this smells), and charred raisins.

T-Similar to the nose with a lot of charred, coffee, chocolate, molasses, licorice, and raisins.. Big time flavor....jumps out at you...

M-Creamy, rich, full bodied...abv is hidden but some dark chocolate bitterness on the finish...

D-This is one awesome Impy..I did a blind taster with this and Central Waters Impy which is also very good and this was by far the more impressive beer in body, big flavor, aroma etc...the CW was tasty but seems like a regular stout next to this. This is a great creation by Sam Adams....

 896 characters

Photo of jdklks
3.55/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a little light for an imperial stout and the head disintegrates quickly. still decent looking- dark black with brown edges when held to the light. Not as thick as I like my RISs.

S- Roasted coffee and malts. sweet dark chocolate. Nothing in particular stands out here.

T- Again, nothing really stands out here. Its almost like they are playing it safe (as sam adams tends to do aside from the few exceptions). A nice roasted chocolate flavor that is good, but ultimately kills the rest of the flavors while not really emphasizing itself. The result? a little boring.

M- This gets a 4 simply for its style. who doesn't like the mouthfeel of an RIS? However, it is not as full-bodied as I would like it, and it may be slightly over-carbonated.

 753 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, 9.2% ABV. Pours a pitch black color. Nice mocha, rocky head. Very nice head retention. A few spots of lace. Looks pretty good.

Chocolate, roasty, vinous, with some raisin and plum notes in the nose. A whiff of alcohol to go along with a bit of earthy, floral hop notes.

Nice amount of sweetness up front. Dark chocolate, followed by booze-soaked raisins. Good bitterness in the back to balance tings.

Seems a little thin for the size. Carbonation seems a bit high as well. Lacks depth, but still pretty tasty. Worth trying.

 542 characters

Photo of sonicdescent
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Let me preface this by saying I have never before this one had a drink completely ruined by carbonation. Reading over some other reviews, there is a chance this was a bad bottle and I will give it another shot.

Appears with a healthy froth of mocha head over a completely black liquid, very nice.

Scent is light chocolate malt but heavy earthy scents.

Taste is good, but I have a hard time sensing it over the massive amounts of bubble. I prefer my stouts to be near flat, but this isn't even a preference issue, it actually burns because of the amount of carbonation.

Mouth as stated before overshadows everything as this beer is a carbonation bomb. Overall drinkability suffers because of this. Will be re-reviewed if in the event this isn't a problem again.

 764 characters

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 1,498 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.