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 schellsbeer
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a 4 pack the other week. Quite excited to try another imperial stout. Just don't want to be disappointed but we will see.

A - So far so good. Black as night. A little dark brown can be seen at the top of the beer as it settles into my glass. Little head but that is ok. The small bubbles and lacing that surround the outside of the glass are dark carmel in color. Reminds me of burnt sugar.

S - Very impressed. Sweet...Black jelly beans...anise...some booze smell....if there is some chocolate in there, I can't smell it. Smells like a very high end quality Imperial Stout. And now for the all important taste. Here goes...

T - The alcohol is very present but in a nice way. Smooth...dare I say silky. (I can't believe I just used the word silky to describe a RIS. What a wuss I have become.) The taste is nice but not as complex as the smell. I was expecting a little more from the taste. I am glad that I purchased a four pack because it will be interesting to see what a year of cellaring can do for the taste. Just average at this time. Maybe I can review it again in a year and see what I come up with.

M - Very good. Again, a 4 in my book. I wish is was a little thicker than it was even though it is very smooth. Coats the mouth and tongue but again, not as much as I was hoping for.

D - Lower because of the price and because there are other RIS out there that are better and less alcohol. Still a very good example from Sam Adams. Probably the best Sam has offered in a long while.

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Photo of jmalex
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

My first try of this beer. I took the tour in Boston several weeks ago when this was first released.

APPEARANCE: Pours into a Sam Adams glass nearly pitch black with a loose-bubbled, one-finger-high mocha coffee head. It drops to a big collar with a full splotchy covering of bubbles on the surface. Lacing comes in layers matching the sizes of my gulps.

SMELL: Big aromas of sweet dark chocolate and rich caramel. A mild roastiness hangs over top as does a slight dark fruit character. Not a whole lot of hop aroma at all, but it's damn near perfect as it is.

TASTE: A harsh roastiness up front, but it smooths out gradually. The wonderful aromas of chocolate are almost nonexistent in the taste. Instead it finishes with some mild dark fruits and more of the harsh, bitter roasted character. After the swallow, some hot alcohols begin to come out as well.

MOUTHFEEL: A nice full body with a decent amount of carbonation. I really don't have any complaints here.

DRINKABILITY: More of an overall impression here. It's a decent enough beer that's as drinkable as it is tasty. Not much else to say.

I'm glad I grabbed a few bottles and may even go back for more, but it's not something to actively seek out. Try it if you see it though.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured a very dark brown, nearly black, with a nice thick tan head that stuck around for a while. Good lacing. Good start. Strong licorice aroma with burnt barley and wood. Molasses and mocha with dried fruits round it out. Not the most appealing, but still good. Then, the first sip... ehhh, what happened? Weak mouthfeel, some may say even "watery" for the style, considering this is an Imperial Stout. Noticeable carbonation gives it a harsher feel as well. As for the taste, the molasses and burnt barley are most prevalent. Second-place is the alcohol and raisin flavors. Some soy sauce in the finish. Its not awful, just unbalanced.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours from the bottle thick and oily. Body is pitch black in color and a mean, foamy, brown head sits on top. Head holds its itself pretty well: puffs up to about 3/4 of a finger in height, and clings to the walls of the glass as it slowly declines. Stringy lacing. I'm impressed so far.

Smell: So I'm sitting here trying to figure out what anise is. Apparently it's a major component in this aroma, and it resembles licorice, fennel, and tarragon. Well, I guess that's what I'm smelling. Very reminiscent of Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout. Kind of a hickory, smoky, flavor throughout. Sweet, rich, dark chocolate lurks in the immediate background. Maybe some coffee. Definitely some caramel and/or molasses. Interesting smell, though not my favorite. Once again, reminds me of Samuel Smith's IS.

Taste: Whoa, that is pungent! What starts off as malt, dark chocolate, and dairy gradually rolls into sweet phenols and molasses and then nosedives into astringent, whiskey-like alcohol. Hops are present toward the latter half of the sip; they're spicy and perfumy. Finishes very, very dry. All in all, not a bad flavor. EDIT: This got much smoother with each successive bottle. Still hot, but more caramel to it. I dig.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, full, well-carbonated (low-medium in strength), and certainly hot and dry. Feels gritty; leaves a lot of sugar crusted around the lips. Kinda spicy. Not what I would normally go for in an RIS.

Drinkability: I must admit: this was better than I expected. Who knows? I may end up really liking it by the end of the 4-pack. For right now, however, this is not really my cup-o-tea. I love RIS's, but this one just comes off as too boozy. The taste is never allowed to really develop, and only gets worse as the beer warms. Hopefully I'll like the remaining few more, but I could also see myself going the other way.

EDIT: This beer got better and better with each successive bottle. I might buy this again - we'll see.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.13/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass.

4.0 A: This thing is fucking dark as night. I can't even see any lighter shades around the periphery when I hold it up to a light. Brown head with below average retention, but a decent amount of lacing.

3.5 S: Prunes and raisins. Some roasted barley. Not bad, but far too weak to be any better than average

3.0 T: Alcohol is way too apparent. Chocolate is the standout flavor, then a roasted barley, caramel, and a LOT of molasses. Tastes a lot like my first homebrew, but didn't have the alcohol beating the crap out of my tongue. This, gotta appreciate that it's chock full of flavor.

3.5 M: Medium heavy body. Decent carbonation. A little chewy. Could be smoother if not for the alcohol wallop.

2.5 D: The constant presence of the alcohol and the thick chewiness make this a not so drinkable beer even though the taste isn't bad.

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Photo of Yesac
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- jet black in color. medium sized dark brown head that fades to a think layer. Some thick bubbled lacing on the glass.

S- Big on roasted malt. Some coffee. Nothing special here.

T- I'm impressed, this is fairly complex. Smooth overall.. nice bitterness. Dark fruits, dry chocolate and java. Roasted malt backbone. The 9.2ABV is hidden very well. Awesome.

M- Medium/thin slightly dry and sticky. Medium carbonation.

D- Easy drinkin' stout here. Sam Adams has done an awesome job on this style. So smooth rich and complex. 9.2% give it balls and it's hard to detect.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.86/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a fridge cleanup I'm conducting to get all my non cellaring seasonal brews finished before it gets too warm. This Impy stout pours a jet black color and a handsome brown head that stays for quite a while and leaves luscious, sticky lace. The nose is reserved, with creamy and bitter black chocolate notes but not much strength.

Bitter dark chocolate, medium hops, and heavy dark fruits (cherries, figs?) provide the impetus here. The texture is thick and rich but still can't quite corral the alcohol. The aftertaste is a tasty melange and the hops get theirs back. Overall, a decent, well made RIS/Double. Like most SA products, this is good but not quite top notch.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
3.96/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed 4/6/2009 (Bottle, served with spicy chili):

Pours an inky dark brown, nearly black, colored body, with a big brown colored head, lasting. Good lacing too. Chocolately roasted aroma, alcohol too. Some good chocolate and toffee aroma. Not an overly strong aroma. Nice chocolate taste, creamy mouthfeel. Reminds me of Stone RIS. Some alcohol on the backend. A good chocolate milk taste but with some bite to it. Wow, this is pretty good. I'm interested in seeing how this ages. Very tasty. Definitely will buy again.

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Photo of RickSawyer
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an inky, opaque black with hints of translucent brown shimmers alongside the edges of the glass. A respectable head marches up the glass before surrendering to atmosphere, leaving only a film of residual bubbles. Nose is solid. Dark stone fruits, bitter chocolate, toast. Across the front of the pallet, bits of burnt brown sugar, dark cherry. Then a butterscotch transition into a bitter, dark coffee and toast. Alcohol burn on the swallow that dries up mouth. Creamy texture with plenty of body. Solid.

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

The appearance is two fingers of fudgy brown head. Thick jet black body; looks like solid matter rather than liquid. Pure black.

The smell is heavy mocha and coffee beans. Raisins and grape skins. Dark but not burnt. Sweet and also roasted. Rich and great. Some chocolate and red wine. Brown sugar, nutty.

Severely burnt flavor, but also sweet. Major dry red wine vibe. Some nutty brown sugar flavors. Heavy raisin and plum at the end as it warms up.

The feel is smooth and oily and viscous. Really dark but bitter and sweet. Balanced, strong, delicious.

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Photo of lonestar4lunch
3.3/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The Imperial Series just showed up in town so thought I would give it a shot. This one pours black as night with a 2 finger head. Foam is dark and does not want to go away. The aroma is robust with malt, maple and dark chocolate. Kind of tingles the nose. This is a hearty beer. Taste starts off semi sweet but then the roasted malts take over and there some decent carbonation going on. Seems like every other sip I get some fig or other fruit finish before the dryness ends it all. As far as drinkablity it's not bad. Has somewhat of an oily finish, kind of sweet and the alc % doesn't keep reminding you it's there. Kind of reminded me of Strom King but not NEAR on it's level. I did enjoy this though.

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Photo of BringusKilkenney
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The appearance is jet black no light emittance with just a small head and some lacing looks pretty good to be a macro.

The smell is of nice roasty malts and dark fruits. Smells like a well done imperial kinda impressed.

Tastes nice and malty and dark. Has notes of dark fruits and roasted malts and chocolate like bitter bakers chocolate.

The mouthfeel is heavy and smooth very nice liked this brew alot especially from such a big brewery i could drink this for a while has great drinkability with the lower percentage on the imperial it is kinda nice but disappointing at the same time.

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Photo of jwc215
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black with a thin, tan lasting head - espresso-looking, with some lacing.

The smell is robust - dark chocolate, dark fruit, toffee, some roast. Slightly pungent.

The taste is of chocolate, roasted coffee, fruity alcohol. The alcohol is present, but not overpowering - masks just slightly, making the nose a bit more impressive than the taste. A touch of earthy bitterness gives it a nice balance. It has a woody-ish, dry finish.

It reaches full-bodied.

This is an enjoyable sipper! Alcohol could be hidden a bit more, but it's not unexpected for an abv of 9.2%. Nicely balanced and fairly complex!

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Photo of nick76
3.17/5  rDev -17%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

The aroma is almost meaty with touches of bacon and maple syrup, chocolate, and burnt malt. The appearance is black is with a huge head. The flavor is like the aroma. The palate is thin for the style. Overall it's a well made beer but it does not do anything great.

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Photo of Nick3
4.09/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer poured into a Rochefort chalice is black as night. No head on this one but a thin, dark brown film rims the top of the beer and looks delicious. Smell is an enticing menage of dark chocolate, molasses, and roasted malts. Taste is dark chocolate up-front, in the middle and in the finish. Finish also brings a peppery tinge with some roastiness and alcohol warming. Sticky and chewey on the palate; I had no problem finishing this beer. A pretty good RIS that was pleasantly better than I expected.

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

Pours a motor oil midnight black. Coffee head with thin lacing.

Coffee, chocolate, anus.

Chocolate, coffee, slight alcohol.

I really enjoyed this beer, but it made me feel dirty. Something about Sam Adams brewing an Imperial Stout didn't seem right, like if my sister where in playboy. Weird.

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Photo of champ103
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours an opaque black. A large tan head forms on first poor. Some thick and sticky lace is left on the glass as the head recedes.
S: This is interesting. Very malty. Sweet molasses and dark fruits at first. A roasted chocolate aroma follows. Towards the end a slight dry charcoal aroma. Some alcohol as well.
T: Sweet and sticky molasses that boarders on cloying (though not quite). Roasted malt and chocolate. Alcohol.
M/D: A full body and low on the carbonation end. Very sticky and oily. This is a nice sipping beer. The alcohol is present, but does not over power.

This is a really good stout. One of the better Sam Adams that I have had. Highly recommended.

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Photo of number1bum
3.66/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown color although it's clear that it's not quite black while pouring, although it appears so in the glass. Dense two inches of creamy dark tan head sits on top. Keeps a very nice, full lace and leaves a ton of stick on the sides.

Smell consists of chocolate and roasted malt, some coffee and dark fruit. Also a sticky sweet molasses aroma, which along with the dark fruit are two aspects that I don't love. A whiff of booze creeps in now and again, as well.

Taste also has a strong molasses sweetness along with some fudgy chocolate. There is some roasted malt but I'd prefer a bit more I think. There is a dark fruit quality that carries over from the smell, with flavors of raisins and prunes. Also some coffee and hop bitterness in the finish. This is reminding me a lot of their Cream Stout which is also a good beer but not one of my favorites.

Mouthfeel is exceptionally creamy and smooth. Very soft in the mouth, chewy, full bodied, quite rich. Very nice.

Overall this is a pretty good Imperial Stout but not one of my favorites. Something about the molasses/dark fruit combo just doesn't appeal to me all that much. It's also a bit on the sweet side. A solid brew, definitely worth trying, but it has a pretty premium pricetag on it so I can't even say it's something I'd keep on hand. Storm King is superior and cheaper, and there are others I'd prefer as well.

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Photo of Floydster
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle purchased from Beverage Warehouse in Marina Del Rey for about three dollars, usually comes in four packs, poured this into my Lost Coast pint glass tonight

A-Very dark brown that is almost black, one inch foamy beige head with good retention and especially after a nice swirl, some lacing too
S-Roasted malts, burned grains and barley, sweetness that is mostly vanilla and chocolate, light espresso, and
T-Starts off slightly sweet with lots of malt, slightly roasty in the middle with some chewiness as well, lots of cocoa and grains in the finish, aftertaste is quite both sweet and dry, nicely balanced, more chocolate and vanilla comes out by the end, liked how this one changed with temperature and got more mellow
M-Roasty, dry, chewy, and sweet, mouthfeel, medium to full bodied, moderate carbonation, taste lingers for quite some time actually
D-Could drink a few bottles of this, not too heavy on the stomach, pretty good drinkability overall, expected this to be overly sweet and filling but it was not thankfully

One of the more impressive beers to come from Sam Adams recently, not really in the mood for an imperial stout tonight but it was still good, would drink again, recommended

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Photo of drgonzo3705
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very motor oil black with a small fluffy mocha colored head. Not much lacing, but other than that looks great.

S: Bitter chocolate, molasses, and a sweet maltiness make a nice nose. Bit of an alcohol burn.

T: Chocolate and a bit of coffee.

M: Full bodied, creamy, mild carbonation.

D: Good go to stout. Still a bit hot but should age nicely.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into tulip glass.
Served at 50 degress and warming...
A: Dark brown, almost black. Good head. Starts a light tan and settles to a medium tan with tiny bubbles.
S: Sweet malt and alcohol
T: Sweet turning to bitter. Lingering taste of coffee and licorice. Definately taste the alcohol. Not as smooth as some Imperials I have had.
M: Medium to heavy mouthfeel
D: Yeah, sure.
Not as smooth as other Imperial Stouts I have had but a good try.

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Photo of CHSLBrew
3.35/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter.

A-Deep, gorgeous, opaque & bright black beer. Lush dark brown head rose off the pour, reduced quickly.

S-Chocolate, roasted malt, extensive dark fruity esters and dried fruits. Something grassy.

T-Chocolate is present, but not as prominent as in the aroma. Heavy roast with hint of alcohol flavor, but quite a bit of boozy harshness. Fruitiness is deep, bright and dark at the same time. Some hop characteristic, with an assertive bitterness. Finishes slick, bitter and fruity with a bit too much alcohol.

M-Slick feel, oily-full body. Low carbonation.

D-Good flavor, but the harsh alcohol and minimal chocolate and roasty characteristics seems not quite perfect for the style. A bit of aging would perhaps make this beer interesting and help smooth out the alcohol.

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

A 12 oz bottle poured into my pint glass. This beer pours a very dark brown color that lets in no light. The tan brown head is well over an inch thick when poured. Settles to a nice 1/4 inch thick and then a decent surface coating. Good lacing. Aromas of chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and some spices. Flavors of bitter coffee and somewhat sweet dark chocolate upfront, followed by a bit of roasted nut and a bit of spice (cinnamon perhaps). The bitterness comes out more as the beer warms up a bit. Has a crisp and creamy, smooth full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Easy to drink in a good way. Pretty good effort here.


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Photo of BARFLYB
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle split with oglmcdgl, thanks for the chance.

A- Sam's Imperial Stout is dark black and thick looking. A bit of some brown light creeps in on top. A impressive active head of light brown foam does it's thing to build a nice cap of foam.

S- You got your usual deep roast malt giving of a burnt coffee smell. With that comes chocolate and some fusel alcohol scents in this nine percenter.

T- Taste like a imperial stout with rich chocolate and deep malts. Bitter chocolate as well plus some hops in this fresh bottle contributing. The coffee comes through in taste as well as a slight burnt/roast flavor in the after taste. All that on top of some apparent alcohol.

M- Thick, velvetly and full flavored and just some co2. A bit warming from the alcohol and some burnt aftertaste.

D- A smooth stout that needs to be sipped. I enjoyed it but with so many stouts on the market i fear this may get lost in the mix. I'm interested to see what a year does to a bottle.

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.48/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

It poured very thick, the color was such a dark brown that it was on the verge of being black. The was some tan foam with a load of lace on the side of the glass.

Upon first sniff, the smell of roasted malts, anise, coffee and spices filled the nose with a pleasant soft aroma.

The taste of roasted malts, semi-sweet chocolate, with a hint of dark bitter sugar and coffee are flavors that jumped out on the palate! We balanced for all the components. One of the better stouts so far this year. Hurray for Boston Brewing Company! There beers only get better and better!

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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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