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

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Samuel Adams Imperial StoutSamuel Adams Imperial Stout
Very Good
1,498 Ratings
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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,498 |  Reviews: 806
Photo of BARFLYB
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
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 +17.9%
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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Photo of scruffwhor
4.01/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice jet black with dark brown highlights at the top of the beer. Lovely, soft and thick layer of dusty brown foam after the pour. Rich, creamy and dark roasted malts with some warm alcohol that lends a slight charcoal aroma. Vanillin zucker mixes with robust French roast coffee and 60% cacao dark chocolate. Theres some creaminess mixed with a smooth abv. in the finish. Very smooth and silky smooth malty palate. Great nightcap sipper.

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Photo of engisch
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours nice, thick, and black with a nice deep cappucino colored head. The head is rather short lived and there remains just a bit of lace on the top, but there isn't much lacing on the glass. For the nose, I get a light chocolate and roasted malt sweetness. The small is nice, but nothing special when compared to other imperial stouts. The flavor is good, but lacks the complexity of the RIS's that I have come to love. The beer does have a nice thick and creamy mouthfeel with little carbonation. I only bought 1 bottle as I wanted to try it, but I wasn't disappointed as my expectations were rather low. I probably wouldn't get it again, as there are plenty of others of the style that I would choose over this. Overall, I enjoyed it and it isn't a bad beer if you aren't able to find other more enjoyable imperial stouts!

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a thick used motor oil black color. The head is a half inch of tan foam which recedes slowly into a thick, firm cap of lacing. The aroma is of graham cracker, milk chocolate, and roasted malt. The taste is a lot like the aroma. It is bold, and well rounded. I would be no means say that this beer lacks depth, but it doesn't have that extra complexity that makes for a great imperial stout. The mouthfeel is full bodied with appropriately low carbonation, and a velvety texture. Overall, this is a nice Imperial Stout, and it is even nicer to see BBC doing some bigger beers. All in all, this beer reminds me a lot of a cross between Lion Stout and Old Rasputin. It has all the roasted malt and graham cracker of Lion Stout with the well rounded higher (but not to high) alcohol of Old Rasputin. I would certainly drink Samuel Adams Imperial Stout again when in the mood for a large, but not overpowering stout.

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Photo of KeefD
3.72/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours nice and thick, almost a solid black, even darker in the glaass, but the head is short lived and there's no lacing. In the nose I get a lot of caramel, some burnt sugar, light chocolate and plenty of roastiness. Not really much in the way of coffee. Smells OK, but could use some more roasted malt and a bit more coffee that I've come to love out of RIS's. Really not a lot going on in the flavor. Sure it's loaded with roasted barley, some hint of caramel and chocolate, but that's about it. Rather one-dimensional. Mouthfeel is the best part of this beer, nice thick and creamy, richly textured, low carbonation. I'm on the fence with this one. It's not bad by any means, but can't touch the best of this style. I can think of 15-20 RIS's I would rather have. Uninteresting really, and probably won't be buying it again. I'll take a 4-pack of Old Rasputin for $2 cheaper any day.

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

Pours black and opaque with some purplish notes as well (or just reflected off the cool purple label). Smells like anise, chocolate, coffee and alcohol. Taste is bitter yet sweet. There's a good presence of roasted malt flavors, with vinous fruit/alcohol and flowery hop flavors as well. Mouthfeel is thick and chewy. Carbonation level is mild, but on for style according to my very limited impy stout experience. I only had one bottle to drink, but would have had more if available. I like beer.

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Photo of bbothen
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into snifter.

Pours a deep dark black color with a thin brown colored head. Head quickly dissolves into a slight skim across the brew & small ring of bubbles around glass. Not much lacing.

Smells of roasted sweet malts, some fruitiness, some chocolate & coffee, leather, faint smoke, little to no alochol aroma.

Sweet, molasses, nice hop bitterness, chocolate, roasted coffee, nice toasted flavors, tastes swell.

Thick, syrupy, chewy, full bodied, low carbonation, lingering bitterness.

This is quite enjoyable. Drink it without expectation.

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

Pours a tiny head with low retention and a dark brown color.

Smell is of licorice and chocolate malt which overtake the roasted malt underneath.

Smooth chocolate malt licorice tasting beer with a subdued roasty characteristic underneath.

Full carbonation with a good body and creaminess lie underneath.

This is a decent beer from Sam Adams. It's a little overpriced, but I encourage people to try it at least once at a bar.

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Photo of SixpointJMH
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a damn near black as night colour with hints of ruby when held to the light. Head is a dark tan colour and a bit thinner looking than expected, as I was anticipating something with a bit more of a creamy heft to it. Minimal and spotty residue is left on the glass.

The aroma is chocolaty,with some coffee and alcohol certainly in the mix. General roasted malt has a strong presence as well. Not bad, but all in all a bit tame for the style.

The flavour is similar to the aroma, with bitter chocolate and a heavy alcohol presence leading the way. Toasted/roasted malt is evident toward the finish of each sip and is quite strong at times. Perhaps some fruit here and there that wasn't really picked up in the aroma. Mouthfeel is full bodied and slick ,but even still a slight touch thinner than expected for the style.

Minor flaws (if you even want to call them that, as they aren't flaws per say, but more so personal style preference differences) this is a nice beer that is actually one of the easier drinking imperial stouts around. The one thing I'd certainly do is tone the alcohol presence down a bit, as I think it'd bring out the other flavours a bit more. Regardless, this is a nice bigger, bolder brew from the BBC.

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Photo of fitzy84
3.79/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thick head for the pour with a really dark black appearance. Patchy lacing and eventual thinned out head. Roasty aromas with mixtures of chocolate, coffee, toffee, malts and grains. Even with this great mix, it was a little thinned out I felt. Taste was great; bitter cocoa mixture with a good sense of earthy, toffee tones. Creamy mouthfeel gives it a nice milky texture throughout drinking. Overall, a neat dessert-like beer from Sam Adams.

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Photo of tweeder263
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a thick black brew with dark tan one finger head. Sweet dark chocolate scent slight hop scent . Taste of slight chocolate and slight odd alcohol type flavor that lingers in your breath. Mouthfeel is good,,not totally chunky but feels almost right. Drinkability is good , this beer has its moments , the alcohol isnt disguised too well and its of an odd flavor.

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Photo of fightingirishcmk
3.52/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a thick motor oil consistency. Very dark, without any redness even when held up to the light. Head was very small, 1/2 finger, and was brown in color. Moderate lacing was left on the glass.
S: Chocolate, coffee, and cherries are all apparent.
T: Bitter chocolate was the predominate taste, but anise is present, and it finished very bitter.
M: Full bodied, viscous, with a moderate amount of carbonation.
D: Only average for an imperial stout. Chocolate flavor dominated a bit too much and, although good, wasn't great.

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Photo of IronCitySteve
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pitch black, held up to the light and all I see was black. A very thin tan head and no lacing.

S: After letting it warm up a tad, I get some sweet chocolate and some molasses, with some alochol scents as well. Alcohol becomes more prevalent as it warms.

T: Some roasted malt flavors, mixed in with some smokiness and alcohol. There are some hints of dark fruit. Not a bad mixture, but nothing really stands out.

M: Seemed a little thinner than you would expect from a R.I.S. but it is not too bad.

D: The bottle I had stated an ABV of 9.2%. Not a bad option as far as Imperial Stout are concerned, but this would not be my first option.

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Photo of nasty15108
3.61/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Poured pitch black and syrupy. The pour produced a head of thick brown foam the quickly subsided. Nice lacing.

S - Malty with hints of coffee and vanilla. I wish that the aromas were a little stronger.

T - More of the same. Hints of grape, almost like a port or cognac. Slight sweetness up front, finishes of with a decent amount of bitterness.

MF&D - Thick as motor oil. Warming throughout. Nice change of pace, but I couldn't drink more than 1 or 2 of these in a setting.

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Photo of hoppymcgee
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

12 oz. chilled bottle poured into an imperial pint glass. Paired with a baby blueberry cheesecake.

A: BLACK as night - similar to crude oil or molasses. The head resembles a dark brown coffee color. The head does not last long and settles into a nice, lasting ring.

S: Maple tree bark, dark grapes and figgy fruityness mixed with dark-roasted coffee.

T: Too malty sweet for me. Has a roasty amber finish and long-lasting flavor. Vanilla aftertaste is pleasant.

M: The body of the beer is flat. The carbonation is moderate and "stings" the tongue. The flavors are long lasting.

D: You can certainly tell it's 9.2% ABV. One and done.

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Photo of BeerTruth
3.76/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a single bottle at Finger Lakes Beverage in Ithaca.

12 oz. bottle poured into a nonic.

Pours a deep onyx black with a full two finger dark brown head that slooowly falls to a creamy layer of foam. The lacing is picture perfect, spiderweb like all over the sides of the glass. Smell is extreme sweetness with raisins, plums, and some licorice. Alcohol and fudge find their way in the nose as well. I could use a bit more in terms of roasted aromas and smokiness though. Taste starts off with a bit of a coffee bitterness, gooey chocolate sauce, and molasses. Licorice and some piney hops midway, this is definitely a fresh IS. Aftertaste has more of the dark fruit aspect with dates and figs. Once again though, could use more roasted flavors, but good overall. Mouthfeel is medium to full with a thicker feel. Carbonation is low making it slick in the mouth, ehhh. The sweetness is a bit much which takes away from the drinkability. Not a bad IS, but I could see some time vastly improving this beer in just about all characteristics.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer was served lightly chilled in an Imperial Pint glass.

Appearance: The body of the beer is straight blackness. The head of the beer is the color of dark brown creamed coffee. No retention is noted in the head as it quickly resolves into a ring of foam.

Smell: Black currant fruityness leads the charge combining with dark roasted / charred coffee. This is further supported by the aroma of figs, grapes, anise, black strap molasses.

Taste: The beers flavor very much mirrors the aroma. I would have liked a bit more roast in the flavor but over all this is good stuff.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The body of the beer is full. The carbonation is low but works well. The flavors are long lasting. This beer is about 9% roughly but leaves my glass faster than I expected. Overall this beer is a sucess. Well played Sam Adams!...

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Photo of Wegbier
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ok i am new to the Russian Stouts but what a great beer.

a- how do you rate this, well so black the sun couldnt penetrate it ever. thick lacing and a small consistent head.

s- some sweet malts but a lot of licorice (anise on the label)

t- a good finish, not sure but good.

m- my favorite part of this beer. if you ever ask yourself what a full or thin taste is, then drink this one. I make sure to drink this one every sip it is so full tasting and almost gritty, it would be better after a year or two.

d- slow and heavy but enjoyable when you let it sit in your mouth and swirl around with no bad finish.

I should have rated the stone RIS it was a year old and has become my standard.

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

I recently realized that on more than one occasion I've not given the same respect to lower-rated beers than I do the rarer and more highly-regarded ones. That is, the better beers get the proper glassware and get consumed at the perfect temperature, while others will get a regular pint glass and a perhaps few minutes to warm up a bit. This undoubtedly has an effect on my perception of the beer.

I went into this review almost falling into the same trap, but decided that in order for it to be scored fairly, I should treat it the same way I would a bottle of Dark Lord or Kate the Great. So now this bottle of Sam Adams Imperial Stout sits next to a proper goblet, waiting to warm up to the recommended 50°F.

A - Pours much thicker than I was expecting, filling the glass with light-consuming darkness. The head is medium tan, short-lasting, and its larger bubbles remind me of cola. Two minutes in the glass and no sign of a head remains. No lacing remains as the glass empties.

S - Nose is roasted malt, dark fruit, and a hints of chocolate and anise. Overall very sweet smelling, with little to no alcohol perceptible.

T - Surprsingly more bitter and hoppy than I was expecting. Molasses, roasted malt, dark fruit, and bitter coffee are the standout flavors. Finish is quite bitter.

M - Thicker than I was expecting, but the carbonation seems to make it feel thinner. Slick and syrupy. The 9.2% abv is very well masked.

D - A sipper, mostly due to the finish. Definitely worth trying if you're a fan of the style, but stick with a single if possible.

With all their resources, I can't understand why Boston Beer can't create examples that better rival the smaller guys. Good effort, but I was expecting more.

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Photo of davexisxrabid
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this 12 oz. bottle into my Sam Adams Sensory Glass. Comes out black with tinges of brown at the edges, a beige one inch head with low retention. Excellent lacing during the drinking period.

Dark chocolate/cocoa powder aroma, cinnamon and caramel.

Dark chocolate flavor, nutty, with a little caramel sweetness.

Full bodied, thick brew; a nice sipper. The flavor sticks to the palate for a little bit after each drink. The alcohol is well hidden and the moderate carbonation give this brew an excellent mouthfeel.

Drinkability is likewise excellent. Good flavor that is not overpowering - the flavor doesn't become cloying. If it wasn't for the high abv, I would definitely say I could drink this brew all night. I probably could, but then I'd be on my ass after a few hours of pounding these. One of Sam Adams best in my opinion. (And a helluva lot better than the Imperial Double Bock)

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Photo of Riverwarrior
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

S = A smoky sweetness is the first thing I notice with a hint of alcohol in the background.

T = Very sweet malts upfront mixed with charred flavors. There is some coffee and chocolate near the end, but the charred maltiness overpowers in the finish. The alchohol also shows up in the finish.

MF = Body is rich and syrupy. Carbonation is moderate. Creamy.

Overall, this is a decent stout, but it didn't do much for me.

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Photo of surfer4life
4.42/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle

A - Pours a thick and dark molasses color with a very small brown head.

S - Horse Saddle, whiskey, chocolate, coffee and small hop notes.

T - Very chocolately up front, some hop bitterness in the middle and very sweet candy like finish.

M - Creamy and heavy, higher carbonation than a lot of stouts, but doesn't detract from the fresh feeling it leaves.

D - Very drinkable, well done to Boston Brewing!

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

Poured from the bottle a rich, dark black with a creamy, thin tan head.

Aroma of sweet malts, plums, and booze.

The taste is a fairly sweet medley of dark fruits, booze, and malts.

Medium bodied, smooth, and moderately carbonated.

Very sweet and fruity. Perhaps this is one needs to age a bit. The alcohol is also a touch hot and takes away from everything else.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
2.74/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This beer pours a dark black/brown with just a hint of raisin sneaking through around the edges. The head is a collar of smokey brown.

Smells of smokey marshmallows, coffee, cough syrup and vomitus. Whoa. The healthy sweet grains are nice, but there's something downright nasty going on here. It clearly isn't spoiled, but rather the way the smoky character blends with the sweetness.

The flavor starts with a bit of smokey malts, coffee, brown sugar and caramel, but quickly collapses into a sickly sweet cough syrup that causes me to gag. Yikes!

Feels dense and present with a pleasing presence to the carbonation that livens things up without being disruptive. Nice.

I'm not quite sure what's going on here, but it triggered a lot of bad reflexes that I would prefer not to get from a beer.

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