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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Reviews: 805 | Ratings: 1,495
Photo of Wrigfen
4.4/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I am not a stout drinker. Just a matter of personal preference. Well that is changing as of tonigh. I found a couple of bottles in our collection/stash my wife must have picked up at some time and I tried a bottle w/o even knowing I was chilling a stout until I poured it. What a great rich taste without being heavy or over powering as the few other stouts I tried in my life. The cocoa taste is excellent.
Guess what, I will know be a stout drinker with this as my staple mixed in with my IPA's etc.
Try this beer my friends it is really good!
I am hunting for some more tomorrow. Me! A stout who would have figured!
Nice job Sam Adams.

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Photo of rdilauro
3.06/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

I need to make a disclaimer up front and now! I am a stout lover and as such, I have tasted some of the best Stouts made. So, keeping that in mind and trying not to allow that to influence me, here is what I have to say about this beer.

It poured like all other stouts. Deep rich black with a small be concentrated almost amber head.
No question about the coffee influence here. I did not detect any chocolate here, so, this one was more for the coffee/espresso lover..

The instal taste was very pleasant...The coffee was so very present, it just about came out of the glass and grabbed you.

I was hoping for more body. This seemed a bit thin, and the finish then was the same, somewhat thin. Plus there was a bit of an after taste I could not figure out.

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Photo of arizcards
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Picked up a single in late April from Total Wine for $2.49.

Beer poured black as night with a brown head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose has some roastiness with a hint of mocha.

Taste is roasted malts, dark cocoa, some anise, and enough hopping to balance this out nicely.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and very smooth.

Overall this is a very nice brew. It is hearty, full of flavor and satisfying. Glad i finally tried and would recommend.

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Photo of M_C_Hampton
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A: poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass, very dark almost black with a short thick dark tan head that lingers leaving good lacing, clear

S: dark chocolate, sweet, molasses, coffee, malt, dark fruits, prune, raisin

T: starts sweet molasses, turns bitter with coffee flavors, a bit of hops on the end, not nearly as complex as expected

M: oily, viscous and thick, alcohol well hidden

O: good properties for the style, not as much taste complexity as expected

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Photo of datalager
4.68/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Insanely cocoa colored head, sitting atop an oil black body. And to add to the stunning appearance is lacing as frothy as sea foam.

The nose is like a three ring circus! Licorice, espresso, chocolate. Deep, full bodied aroma is immediately apparent cold out of the fridge. As it warms, the coffee scent steps back, and the anise steps far forward. Esters are quite present, to no surprise given the 9.2% demon.

Flavors follow the aromas nicely, with an addition of molasses mid gulp, and some slight caramel in the finish. Alcohol is ever more obvious upon swallow than in sniff alone.

Mouthfeel is where this ale gets a top award, IMO. Resiny, thick, syrup-like draw with a smooth burn upon swallow. Damn, this is a heavenly stout!

If you are looking for a top shelf beer that is strong, sweet and dark, this brew from Boston Brewing is as good as any I've had in the genre.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.09/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a dull, slightly translucent but rather oily brown colour, with a minimal flat futz of beige foam that becomes a static ring. Body looks quite thick, but the beer itself looks dead and lifeless. It's not overly impressive.

Nose is pleasant, though. Mild chocolate and toasty grain, with some boozy undertones which give vanilla and banana aromas. There's some deep caramel and toffee as well, providing a pleasant sweetness to provide body and structure. It's nice stuff.

Taste is similarly smooth and structured. Solid, pleasant dark malt sweetness, spiked with vanilla and aniseed. Some spicy booze comes out on the back, giving more of a prickly feel than anything else. Finish is surprisingly light, evaporating almost towards the end, with just a lingering roast character.

Feel is smooth but light and supple. It's very good.

Overall, this is a nice beer. A very nice beer, in fact. It's not an imperial stout that redefines the genre, but it's well made and well-structured. I like it.

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Photo of BlackBelt5112203
3.96/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter at cellar temperature.

L – Black color with a nice 3-finger, frothy, foamy, tan head. Awesome retention and fantastic sheets of lacing.

S – Mostly sweet aromas with chocolate, caramel, and brown sugar. The aroma doesn’t have much in the way of roasted malt but it is very pleasant.

T – It starts off sweet with chocolate, caramel, and molasses and eventually progresses to a smooth and mild bitter roasted coffee taste. After the bitterness fades, there may be some sweet dark fruits and licorice that creep in. It’s not as complex as some of the best beers of the style, but it’s definitely tasty.

F – Medium-to-full-bodied with nice carbonation, a sticky and mouth-coating feel, and a bittersweet and slightly dry finish. Bittersweet coffee, chocolate, and molasses flavors linger.

O – This is a nice RIS. As I said before, it’s not as complex as some of the best beers of the style, but it’s a great basic example of the style – just like most Samuel Adams beers. It’s very tasty and drinkable, and the ABV is hidden very well. While there are other Russian imperial stouts that I’d rather have, I would certainly never say no to this one. Nice beer from Sam.

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Photo of MichaelNickerson
4.79/5  rDev +25.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance - unbelievably dark beer with a dark brown strong, thick, and prestigious head.

Smell - coffee and cocoa aromas with subtle brown sugar, molasses, and raisin notes

Taste - small sweet complexion, followed by a strong coffee flavor that dominates the palate. Not too hoppy, but finished instead with a roasted taste.

Mouthfeel - extremely smooth for an imperial stout. You don't notice the alcohol taste at all.

Overall - Extremely thick and relaxing beer to sip on. Excellent dessert beer, especially if you love coffee and chocolate.

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Photo of BlesstheHarvest
4.42/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It is an extremely dark beer with a nice tan/coffee roasted head. It is appetizing and inviting.

The smell is great. It is sweet molasses, brown sugar, malts, chocolate, raisin, and some milder coffee notes.

The taste follows the nose. You can taste the molasses, the malts, roasted grains, the chocolate; it is a pretty good beer. It definitely pushes the sweet flavor boundaries but who can complain, it is dessert on a glass. It has sweet fruity notes like raisins and prunes, it also has a slight sour note on the back of the mouth but it is balances out with the sweetness of the roasted malts and the warmth of the alcohol notes.

This beer has a full body that coats your entire mouth with a sweet layer of malty chocolate syrup. It is mildly carbonated but overall it was enjoyable.

I would definitely have this again.

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Photo of mntlover
3.52/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a black some red around edges sports a smaller coco head that falls to ring fairly quick with spotty lace.

Aroma is roasted malts quite a bit of dry chocolate, some nice smoke notes with hints of dark fruits and light coffee. Not a great nose for a big stout but fairly descent.

Taste is mostly like the nose roasted malts a fair amounts of smoke notes in the taste also nice bakers chocolate light coffee and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel is only little bigger then medium seems little light for a big stout. Feel is good nice and smooth anyway.

Overall not bad but not really a big kick ass stout like most RIS's. Fairly descent but have had regular stouts with this much flavor. Did enough the smokey notes though seems a nice touch.

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Photo of ChestSplitter
4.41/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Glad I waited to review this after my 4th one, not my first. This beer has grown on me with each one I've had.

Pours a thick brown/black. Not much head at all.

Smells sweet, lots of chocolate.

Taste/mouthfeel: Big and sweet. All the flavors you'd expect from a big stout. I never got a hint of the alcohol. This beer has a long, long finish that ends up like coffee.

I've had these now in close proximity to both Guinness stout and Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout, as well as Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout and Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat. This has a bigger taste than all the others. It's sweet, but long and complex, and I don't anticipate it getting boring. It's got a syrupy quality reminiscent of the other beers in Sam Adams' imperial series but it works great here with all the chocolate/malt/coffee flavors, whereas not so much with the white and the doppelbock.

Headed to the store for another 4-pack now.

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Photo of lwillitz
4.5/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12-oz bottle into New Belgium globe

A - beautiful huge dark tan head over a beautiful pitch black body, great head retention and beautiful lace

S - dark chocolate, milk, coffee, suggestion of spice; smells sweet

T - dark chocolate, roasted coffee, dark fruit, alcohol stays mostly in the background until it shows up to warm the finish

M - slick full body with medium carbonation, warming finish, smoooth

O - a little on the sweet side, but a very excellent RIS

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Photo of Braz
4.47/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown/black. One finger of creamy brown head that recedes after a minute leaving a light lace. Aroma is heavy dark chocolate with a light roastiness. Light sweetness of chocolate up front, with a dry roasted coffee finish. Subtle spice aftertaste - the anise perhaps. Smooth lightly carbonated thick body. Alcohol is well masked by the strong chocolate/coffee flavors. Very good beer with excellent body. Will definately have this again sometime. This almost tastes like a milk stout.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.3/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a very dark brown color with good opacity. The head is a one finger light tan color. It fades fairly quick, but leaves a bit of lacing on the glass.

S: Honestly, if Sam Adams called this a chocolate stout, I wouldn't have batted an eyelash. Chocolate (both dry baker's and even a touch of the milk stuff), licorice and bright dark fruits are the most prevalent aromatic notes - even a bit of cherry seems to come through. Not much in the way of roasted malts; this seems like it'll be on the sweet side.

T: There isn't much deviation from the aroma. There's a lot of semi-sweet chocolate, cherries, and licorice to open the flavor profile. It finishes a bit weak, providing only a generic dark fruit and malt character that's far too hard to identify. The biggest problem is that it needs a bit more roasted malt to counteract its sweetness. I notice a slight 'soy' character on the aftertaste which is honestly kind of pleasant. Still, it doesn't alleviate how sweet it is.

M: Any doubts this is a sweet RIS are thrown quickly to the curb with its lingering, sweet, almost syrupy finish and aftertaste. It's also quite thick feeling. While this does a good job of covering the alcohol up, I'd honestly prefer it if were dry but a bit boozier.

O: Given its sweet nature and relative simplicity, I'd recommend this as a dessert beer or to someone who's never had an imperial stout before. All in all, this one is a fine offering, but nowhere near my favorite in the style. I'd pick Old Rasputin, Black Chocolate Stout, or Yeti over this any day.

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Photo of tdm168
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - pitch black with a soft, brown, big head that has great retention

S - licorice, coffee, chocolate, roasted malts

T - chocolate, dark fruit, coffee, faint anise, roasted malts

M - full bodied, smooth, warm

This was a nice, flavorful beer with decent drinkability. It has all of the right flavors and has really nice balance. My only dislike is that this isn't as full flavored as it possibly could be. I would definitely have this again.

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Photo of Geegmasta
4.6/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance- Black as my soul...which is extremely black haha. But no light penetrates through. A thick, caramel colored head formed after the pour to be about 1.5'' strong. Head remained for multiple minutes while slowly seeping back into the beer leaving a nice coat/lacing.

Smell- A coffee-eque aroma with hints of roasted malt and chocolates. A caramel/sweet undertone is a constant as well.

Taste- Surprisingly, the first taste was a smooth chocolate that remains throughout and then a roasted malt and coffee aftertaste will linger. A very warm taste. The ABV of 9.2% is not felt.

Mouthfeel- Medium to full bodied that coats the entire mouth and tongue in a thin coat of love. Quickly dissolves into you with a nice, warming feeling. Again there is no sting from the high ABV but you feel the warming effects.

Overall- A very well done stout. I have no complaints here. High ABV, check. Chocolate and caramel flavoring, check. Roasted malt taste, check. No overwhelming coffee tones, check. Definitely recommend. Another well done brew in the Imperial Series by Sam Adams.

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

Appearance - Pours inky black with a 2 finger mocha head. Average retention. Leaves a decent lace with fair stick.

Smell - Aroma consists of bitter chocolate, roasted malt, smokiness and a bit of raisin.

Taste - Lots of smokiness from start to finish, hitting on notes of sweet and bitter chocolate up front. Subtle raisin mid-taste, then hits on mocha coffee bitterness near the finish and extends into the aftertaste. Nicely layered.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body with fair carbonation. A bit sticky on the lips. Smooth; somewhat creamy. goes down nice and easy.

Overall - A very good imperial stout from Sam Adams. I gotta admit, I wasn't expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised by the well-rounded qualities of this RIS. It's not the most aggressive or the smoothest, but it hits on a lot of things well.

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

Poured into a Samuel Adams perfect pint glass. Pours black with a thick, dark tan head. The head retreats slowly. There are some visible bubbles underneath the head, indicating some mild carbonation in the beer. The beer is completely opaque. There is some lacing left on the side of the glass. I detect chocolate, coffee, and toffee. The alcohol is not detectable in the aroma. There's a nice bitterness from the dark roasted malts in the flavor. There's the chocolate and the coffee notes as well, but the sweetness is very mild. The alcohol is well hidden in the flavor. The body is full with mild carbonation. This is a smooth RIS. This is a very good beer.

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Photo of BigBarley
4.16/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured hard, only to conjure a half finger of creamy brown foam. Jet black body, no light gets through. Exceptional looking stout, extremely syrupy, alluring and dark.

S - Strong anise character, mild coffee and chocolate right behind. Tasty smelling, but not very powerful.

T - Dry, roasted character splashes on the palate. Mild raisin notes, everything seems wrapped in bitter chocolate or dark coffee. Sweetness is faint and mostly dominated by the mildly bitter roast character. As it warms, develops a moderate biscuit touch on the afterswallow. Very faint hop profile but enough to offer a crisp balance. Very good RIS flavors.

M - Thick and syrupy, but smooth. No alcohol burn, mild carbonation, mostly feels like a thin syrup. Not oatmeal stout thick but close. Still, the smooth way it slides down is refreshing.

O - Very good stout. Impressive beer by boston brewing, and my favorite of the Imperial Series. I've said it frequently, Sam Adams has a common failing which is the distinctive aftertaste of leather, Fortunately they are so prolific that they make plenty of beers that either hide this well, or completely lack it. And those beers are always amazing, which is why Sam Adams, when on point, can make an extremely enjoyable, unique beer. This is one of those.

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

A: Looks a bit syrupy as it sloshes around in the glass. Poured with no head but a thin layer of foam.

S: Dark chocolatey but with an odd tinny background.

T: Sweet Chocolate and caramel with a very noticeable alcohol burn. A little ashey with a bitter char finish and an increasing odd, plasticky flavor as it warms.

M: Bit of alcy burn. Thick but surprisingly highly carbonated.

O: Maybe I got a bad bottle? There were a lot of off notes in this one that I'd assume others didn't get, judging by the scores. Oh well, plenty of other good stouts out there.

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into stemless wineglass at mellow mushroom covington, la.
Pours a deep black with lingering tan head and lacing. Looks really good. Smell is very smokey scotch, some roasted and chocolate malts as well. Taste is of scotch, roasted malts, some chocolcate and booze. Its creamy but bitter and a nice brew. I'd get again when the budget doesn't call for a "whale" RIS. Nicely priced for the flavor.

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Photo of metter98
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a finger high dense and dark tan colored head that took a long time to die down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface, a collar around the edge of the glass and some lacing down the sides.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of licorice in the nose along with some notes of roasted malts.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, except that the flavors of roasted malts are more assertive and there are additional hints of chocolate and dark fruits. A slight amount of bitterness is also present.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. The roasted malts result in some dryness.
O: I found this beer to be an enjoyable and well-rounded Russian Imperial Stout. It packs in a good amount of flavors and also hides its alcohol very well from the taste.

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Photo of kagent777
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into my CCB snifter. I have been aging this bottle since I picked it up on a trip to Las Vegas in November of 2011.

Appearance: A pitch black beer with a one finger mocha head. The head sheets but does not lace, leaving spots instead.

Smell: Roast, char, and molasses. This one has a nice somewhat spicy quality to it.

Taste: This tasty beer starts out with a sudden molasses sweetness that gives way to a slightly bitter char note with chocolate and a general fruity notes. A hint of coffee and the spiciness reminds me of anise.

Mouthfeel: The body is rich and thick as an imperial stout should be. The carbonation may be a bit too strong for the style. Obviously the flavors coat the mouth really well.

Overall: This is a reddily available imperial stout, not too expensive. Even though it is flavors, other examples have more character. Solid, but nothing too special.

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Photo of jsulko
3.56/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a snifter glass

Pours a dark black with a decent chocolate colored head.

Smell is slightly chocolate with a heavy sweetness that overpowers anything else that may be there.

Taste is heavy in dark fruits and sweetness. Slight alcohol presence on the finish.

A very average beer for the style. Not one I would reach for again.

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Photo of NuclearDolphin
3.91/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Tulip Glass

Appearance - Pitch Black with a thin filmy dark brown head. Leaves behind some sparse lacing on the sides.

Smell - Rich & Sweet Chocolate, Coffee/Mocha, Yeasts and Burnt Malts. It smells just like an Imperial Stout should.

Taste - Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee, and Burnt Malts. While it tastes quite good, the finish is a strong burnt/ashy aftertaste. It gets better the more you drink, but it's there.

Mouthfeel - Thick bodied with moderate carbonation. It's slightly crisp, but I'm used to my stouts being creamy and smooth. This body feel just for some reason

Overall - It's got some great flavor, but the aftertaste does need some work before it can be an outstanding beer..

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Samuel Adams Imperial Stout from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
3.82 out of 5 based on 1,495 ratings.
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