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 thekevlarkid
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Out of a bottle this beer look like used motor oil when I poured it into my glass. The two-fingers of head was cocoa colored, retained well and laced in sheets. The aroma was of chocolate, toasted malt, butterscotch and alcohol. The flavors were rather dry, coffee, bittersweet chocolate, alcohol, spices, roasted malt, alcohol and some citrus rind bitterness from the hops. The mouthfeel was slick and tongue coating. It was also a little rough, the body was full and the carbonation a little too high and prickly. Not a bad brew but the mouthfeel needed work and the alcohol was a little too transparent.

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

Bottle courtesy of dkachur - thanks!! Split w/ dkachur and poured into a brandy snifter.

Appearance: Pours a thick, dark, milky, chocolatey, black body, not quite oily but close, with a relatively fast-fading one-finger of pretty dark brown head. There are a few flourishes of tan lace, glittery and thin, but there's not too much stickage goin' on.

Aroma: A slight kiss of alcohol over a sea of heavily roasted malts, mostly chocolate, very sweet and milky, plenty of toast, and hints of anise, raisins, spice.

Taste: Surprisingly bitter - much more bitter than the nose would suggest - with strong hints of raisins and other dark fruits, toast, bitter chocolate, earthy woodiness, and a definite anisey note that's reasonably well-integrated. The bitterness is reminiscent of but not quite coffee-esque, too. Let's call this one a licorice latte, shall we?

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as it looked, or perhaps that's the carbonation cutting through, but this one comes across as a little prickly, with a decent amount of carbonation, making for a crisp but even mouthfeel, not as creamy or milky as it may smell.

Drinkability: The alcohol on this one is a little apparent - though not up there for the style at 9.2% - and the flavors decently interesting, really pretty unusual for a RIS. Quite the Boston Beer Co. touch. I'd be happy to try this one again, though I don't know if it's going to become a fridge staple.

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.01/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a glass from a bottle I bought as part of a four pack. The beer was completely black and opaque with a small lacing of brown. The aroma from this brew is heavy on the roasted notes. The taste is extremely strong, with the chocolate flavor of the malt taking center stage. There is also a coffee flavor that lingers after finishing a taste. The moutfeel is moderate and nothing special but works well for the beer. The drinkability is not that high, as this is a strong stout, but it does not have to be to be effective.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable and strong beer. Good for anyone who wants to try an imperial stout. Its good that a large brewer, like Boston Beer, is taking chances like this.

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Photo of SpecialK088
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a sam adams pint

A-Deep near black with a nice 2 finger head and lacing all the wya down the glass. Almost has a redish tint when put to direct light

S-Very very sweet near sugary malt with some nice roasted notes as well

T-Brown sugar sweetness with nice roasted carmel malt, pretty full bitter finish

M-Medium body but still a little thin for an imperial stout, full bodied flavor all the way thru though an relitively complex.

D-Far from the 1st imperial stout I would reach for and to be completly honest it just seems to be more of what sam does best a great gateway to the style.

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Photo of gmc234
4.73/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Sam Adams beer glass.

A: Pours like black syrup with a thick brown head. Completely opaque. Typical appearance for an imperial stout.

S: Roasted coffee notes, hops barely detectable

T: Powerful bitter dark chocolate (think >80% cocoa bar) followed up by a ristretto espresso

M: Thick character, barely carbonated

D: Excellent, but you wouldn't want to drink too many of these (unless you want to end up on the floor)

Overall this is an excellent imperial stout. In a way this seems to me to like a ramped up version of the chocolate bock. As far as food pairings go, this beer would go better either with or as dessert vs. pairing with hearty fare.

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Photo of BDIMike
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a completely black color, even when held to the light. There is a very thin head with a nice dark brown, almost purplish color.
Not the strong smells that I am used to on an imperial stout. There is a slight bit of chocolate and coffee malts, but not much else.
The taste is much stronger than the smell, but still subdued for the category. There are a lot of malt tastes, mostly of a smoky, coffee taste, with a slight bit of chocolate as well.
In an imperial stout I am used to a much thicker liquid, but the drink is very velvety and smooth all the way down.
Sam Adams Imperial Stout is a lot more subdued than imperial stouts than I am used to. It is easier to drink than most, because the taste is more balanced and a lot less of an alcohol taste than normal. Although, the brew does not have some of the strong and great tastes of others of its style, it is more drinkable because of the good balanced taste.

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

9.2% ABV. per label.Good to see SA branch out and make a foray into this style.Poured into a snifter an oil slick black with a minimal cappuccino (like the bottle says)colored head that is gone rather quickly.Aromas of charred dark fruit and black licorice,dark roast coffee and a bit of wood as well.Flavors are heavy on the black licorice with molasses and dark fruit quite prevelant as well,a nice bit of raw earthiness in the finish as well.A solid stab at the style,just all around good.

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Photo of Domingo
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Solid RIS that's on par with any of the other big names out there.
Big and dark with tannish head. Looks thick and murky.
Flavors lean towards coffee, semisweet chocolate, dried fruits, molasses, and a little bit of rum. Unlike some others, it's not just a one-dimensional "roasty" stout either. It's sweeter, a little boozier, but it has the right amount of depth to back it up.
Doesn't go down as thick or as hot as it sounds. For a beer style that's intended to be sipped, it's as drinkable as any.
Way to go Boston Beer. As the largest craft brewer (or at least close to it), they're still able to bust out the big styles as well as anyone else.
If you like the style, you'll like this one. Not the absolute best one, but it's better than many. At $10 per 4-pack, the price is right, too.

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Photo of erosier
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours a deep black color with a short and thick tan colored head that laces the glass on the way down.
S: Smells of sweet dark malts, coffee, chocolate, and faint hops.
T: Tastes of rich roasted malts, chocolate malt, coffee, then a bit of vinous fruit, and then some faint hops at the end of it.
M: Very smooth, thick, warming, perfect amount of carbonation.
D: Very drinkable, even for the amount of alcohol it has. All the flavors were extremely well balanced and the perfect amount of them.

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Photo of Beejay
3.74/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured very thick, and syrupy.. Large head on top, nice and dark. Looks like creamy hot chocolate. Just waiting for it to dissipate so I can pour the rest in.

S: Some chocolate and coffee notes.. Not getting a huge scent off this one...

T: Sweet chocolate. Something else in there, something sugary but I am note sure what.

M: Thick and chewy.. Like Syrup going down. Lets you know you are drinking a big beer.

D: I could do a six pack of this.. A pretty decent imperial stout, for a pretty fair price. This isn't going to beat a lot of other imperials on the market, but damn good if you're in a quick fix for something dark. Plus with the availability of Sam Adams, this will be an easier one to pick up where selection is bad.

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

12 oz. brown bottle

A: Black as night. Rocky tan head that leaves a nice lacing on the glass. Very nice.

A: Sweet malts with chocolate and toffee.

T&M: The thick, creamy mouth feel leads to unexcpected, but very welcome sweetness on the front, with hops bitterness catching up soon in the middle to balance. It finishes more sweet than bitter, but well balanced and not cloying. Just my style. I really, really like this stout!

D: For me, very highly drinkable. The alcohol does not show through on the palate to spoil the flavor. It's hidden so well. I am more of a sweet stout fan than dry and bitter, so this one hits the mark for me perfectly. This is a hit for Samuel Adams in my book.

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Photo of Tarheels4life
3.48/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Very dark color first thought was black as night.
S: Not much of a smell here.
T: Good taste to it can definitely taste the coffee and chocolate in this one.
M: Smooth feel to this one not thick like oil like it looks.
D: This one is just not super special, it is good but not really worth the price.

Overall this beer was pretty good but not going to buy it again.

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Photo of Brad007
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black color with the consistency of motor oil. Has a large brown head that fades.

Aroma has hints of chocolate and coffee in the nose. A bit of dark fruits as well. Can't detect the alcohol, which is good.

Taste is smooth with a strong hint of roasted coffee with only a hint of chocolate and dark fruit. Creaminess is at a minimum but is still present. Some alcohol heat that warms up the stomach.

Mouthfeel is full of roasted coffee and alcohol heat. Not much creaminess but it does go down pretty smooth.

Not a bad example of an imperial stout. Strong and needs a bit of aging. Otherwise, it's par for the style. Could be creamier but hey, I don't brew the beer. I only review and enjoy it. Pick this up but I recommend buying a bottle instead of 4 bottles at once.

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

Very different from any Imperial Stout I have had. Pours like motor oil with a light caramel head that disappears quickly and leaves a fair amount of lacing. Smells of brown butter, burnt caramel and dried fruit. Tastes the same with the addition of black licorice, not much in the line of hop bite. Mouthfeel is velvety and smooth. I wouldn't call this a session beer considering the alcohol content, but I could get down a couple.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Black as they'll come! It doesn't have the "thick or viscous" appearance to it that comes with some (ie: Ten Fidy, to give an example), but it's deep and opaque nonetheless. Head is a little delayed, but does form about a finger tall after a fairly assertive pour. Forms a nice tan/brownish colour, but doesn't stick around for an incredibly long time.

S: Roasted malts, some burnt sugar notes, some coffee and a bit of a plum-like fruitiness makes an appearance. Strangely, 'chocolate' is not among the scents I pick up, which tends to be more apparent in others. Still a pleasant aroma, though... not massive, but pleasing.

T + M: Quite similar to the aroma in many ways... the roasted malts, burnt sugar, and fruitiness are all noticeable. Coffee flavours and fruity tang are a little more intense/bitter and almost give it a bit of a 'syrup concentrate' type of character. The body likely plays a bit of a role in that, as it is a bit thick and sticky. The carbonation is enough to keep it from becoming too gooey, but it's pretty close. Granted, it allows for the flavour to linger for some time and that roasted malt profile does becomes a rather nice aftertaste after a few moments.

D: I find myself a little up in the air on this one. It's got good qualities, and I find myself enjoying it... especially slowly (and at 9.2%, it's the appropriate way to do it, I suppose). At the same time, I almost feel like something is missing, but I can't put a finger on it - the flavours are fine and develop further after each sip. The aroma is lighter, but offers a reasonable complexity in the scents. The body is thick, but not overdone. Outside of the appearance coming across as a little uninspired, it's a pretty solid beer. It might be that it's the slightest bit hot... perhaps a little age would do it good.

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Photo of Experimentacious
3.67/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle purchased about two hours ago, very excited to see this on the shelf at Kappy's in Peabody.

A- Blackness with zero light penetration. Tan head resembles the choco-froth of a starbucks mocha, good retention. Decent lacing not overly impressive. Head subsides about 1/4 of the way through drinking this stout, some sticky lacing remains.

S- Bakers Chocolate, smokey, something else...peat moss? earthy, alcohol, espresso, black truffle, almost buttery in a way, molasses, raisins, burnt cherries.

T- Wow, the taste is great but for me...lacks the hop profile I prefer in an imperial stout. I'm suprised with Sam Adams on this one though...big chocolate, burnt malts, big sweetness laced with alcohol undertones, the alcohol fights through until the finish, warming, coffee, caramel, earthy notes like fresh potting soil sweetened with a cafe mocha. What's trying to say is, although this isn't a kick in the palate type imp stout, for Sam Adams it's damn f***ing impressive. More sweetness than bitter balance almost too sweet but the alcohol and some bitter malt help.

M- Viscous, but not oily or syrupy, generous without being too thick, sugary on my teeth.

D- One is plenty I can feel the alcohol, which plays a big part in this brew.

I would prefer more hops earlier in the boil, maybe warrior or kent goldings, even if they cut out 2%-3% of the alcohol a better hop backing for this offering would be extraordinary.

Overall, Jim Koch you crazy saaahhhnuvabich, I didn't expect this. awesome beer, great job.

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Photo of StarlightSeraph
3.31/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Foothills 10 oz. glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark, dark brown, that looks black in the glass and lets no light through. Two fingers of a chocolate brown head that receded fairly quickly, but left a decent bit of lacing.

Smell: Roasted malts, coffee, a certain astringency that's mildly unpleasant. Dark chocolate comes through as well.

Taste: Almost a cloying sweetness right away, which fades into a coffee bitterness. The flavors are surprisingly distinct from one another, and they almost seem to clash. There's the sweetness of the malt, and the bitterness of the coffee/roasted malts...and not much else.

Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated, and very thin - which was surprising considering the pour. Looked like it was going to be much thicker.

Drinkability: It's easy to put down, but I can't say I'd want more than one. The sweetness becomes cloying after awhile.

Not a terrible Imperial Stout, but just tastes...unrefined. I'd like to see this one with some age on it to let the flavors meld together a little more. There's just not that much to this one. It looks beautiful, but goes downhill from there.

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Photo of damienblack
4.14/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer is thick, black and syrupy, almost like chocolate syrup. Aggressive pour leads to a massive mocha colored head, billowey and frothy. Excellent retention, at the end leaves a plateau in the middle of the glass, like you might find in hot chocolate. Nice patterns of lacing remain around the glass. Exactly how a beer should look. Not a huge nose on it, like a mocha cross between coffee and chocolate, neither really stands out. Not much of a hop scent, either.

Strongly roasted, full of bitter chocolate. The chocolate is probably the strongest characteristic the beer brings, it tastes just like baker's chocolate. The roast malt is dark and harsh, but not overbearingly so. It counterbalances perfectly with the dark chocolate. Little bit of hops at the end adds to the mix, leaving a lasting sweet bitterness that just lingers. Nowhere near the boozy taste of the other 2 Imperial Series beers, the alcohol content is neigh undetectable. For me, this is pretty close to fresh BBCS. Not the most amazing impy stout, but very solid. My favorite of the 3 new Imperial Series from SA by far.

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Photo of bilge17
3.67/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle served in a pint glass

A - Very dark, clean and clear appearance. 1/2" dark tan head..dropped out fast.

S - Get a sweet roasted malt and alcohol smell at first, also a touch of dark chocolate. The alcohol smell dominates most other aromas.

T - Big alcohol punch at first, but expands into a roasty, chocolately has a slight warm bourbon flavor. It took a few tastes to get past the over carbonation, but by mid glass it improved drastically

M - Rather thin on the tongue, which was disapointing from all the roasty, chocolatey aromas. CO2 fizz took away from the overall experience. It also has a good lingering bitter coffee aftertaste.

D - With the great presentation, aroma and medium body is overall a good Imperial Stout. Definately a slow drinker. I would reccomend this beer to a stout loving friend, but for the $10/4-pack and thin mouthfeel and heavy CO2...I will not buy it again.

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Photo of sprucetip
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes. Bottle into snifter.

black, thin brown head recedes fast, minimal lacing.

Strong smoky roasty, coffee, hint of vanilla.

Licorice, bitter chocolate, roasted grains, molasses, a touch of sweetness, an d then some hoppy bitterness in the finish. Clse to smooth, not quite balanced. I think some complexity is buried behind the smoky/roasty dominant flavors.

Plenty carbonated, thick, rich, full, alc warming, viscous.

Not bad at all. Pretty good, really, but a little off the mark. I wanted to rate it a bit higher because there was so much going on in it, but much of it was lost underneath the smoky/roasty intensity. Some age would likely do it some good. Wouldn't hesitate to have it again, and if I could get my hands on it in my part of the world, I'd age some.

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Photo of jbertsch
3.74/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Unibroue tulip glass. Poured ultra-smooth. Almost too smooth - I had to pour it aggressively to get any kind of head on it.

Color is pitch black. The head looks caramel-like, and has a medium body to it that fades quickly after the first sip. There's minimal lacing that stays with the beer until the last sip.

Hard to decipher if I smell a smokey slim jim, or a mocha with notes of dark fruit.

Taste is reminiscent of a very alcoholic mocha coffee. It's delicious, but almost too flavorful. I almost wish it was a bit more refined. But it does work well as an after-dinner beer.

Its mouthfeel is what you expect from the style - fairly thick, but not overdone so. Definitely best for sipping. The mouthfeel lends itself to a drinkability of probably no more than 1 pint. 2 would be doable I'm sure, but I think the taste would loose its charm and become cumbersome on a 2nd pint.

Another decent showing from Sam Adams, who's shown in recent years that they're good at many styles and have talents for other styles other than lagers.

I recommend you try this one, but is it the best Imperial? Or even the top 3? No.

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Photo of prototypic
3.61/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This one pours a very dark, chocolate brown color. There's no light getting through at all. At the right angle, it almost looks black. The head is a very impressive dark, mocha brown color that reaches two fingers in height. Retention was very good given the high abv. It stuck around for a long while. Lacing was thick and very sticky.

Smell: The nose is above average, but not quite good. A little lacking depth and strength. It's full of chocolate and roasted malts. It's got a nice, sweet smell to it. A little coffee is noted, but it's not particularly strong here. Smells like a touch of dark fruit is there as well. Maybe some light raisin. There's a slightly spicy scent that I can't quite put my finger on. Alcohol is blended very well and is not apparent.

Taste: The flavor profile is a tad better than the nose, but not enough to warrant a bump in score. It's sweet up front and very malty. Chocolate malts are the strongest, but the roasted variety isn't far behind. Coffee is very light in the mix. Too light if you ask me. Nonetheless, it is present and noted. There's a hint of dark fruit and licorice that add a nice dimension to it. I still can't identify whatever that light spicy presence is. Alcohol is much more prevalent here and is actually a tad hot. It finishes sweet and a little bitter. It's okay, but comes across as somewhat convoluted.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's medium bodied and not quite thick enough. Carbonation is light and it's ultimately pretty smooth. A little too thin to reach the next level. Drinkability is above average. At 9.2%, it is strong and a little too warm. The flavor's not put together well enough to command more.

BBC's Imperial Stout's an okay beer. Easily above average, but not quite what I was hoping for. It runs a little too warm and is a little convoluted in terms of the flavor. I'd be interested to see what happens with some age on it. It really could improve. Who knows? It's definitely worth checking out, but it's a little bit of a disappointment.

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Photo of RomanW70
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours jet black w/no head and minimal lacing. Looks super thick. Nose is cocoa, bourbon, vanilla, and coffee. Taste comes on a little hot, with a strong roast flavor with strong amounts of licorice. Is fairly thick, but not as thick as it looks. Loses some heat as it warms up and gives additional notes of vanilla and wood. Not the best Impy stout I've had, but not the worst either.

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Photo of Kendo
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a Sam Smith's nonic. Thick black on the pour, body is black with a small tan head that settles quickly. No lace.

S: Roasty malt, chocolate and coffee. Also something else in the background I'm having a tough time putting my finger on -- char or smoke maybe.

T: Roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate and a hint of black licorice. As it warms I'm also getting a bit of fruit. Finishes with a dry slightly burnt charcoal-sort of bitterness. Pretty good flavors and decent balance with a good drying finish.

M: Just about full in body. Well carbonated.

D: Pretty good.

Notes: A solid stout. Bottle says it's 9.2% ABV. I believe I paid $9.99 for the 4-pack, which is more than what I pay for 4-packs of Old Rasputin, which outperforms this beer by a good amount. Recommended, but I wouldn't call it world-class.

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Photo of Johnkal
4.36/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

great brew. I think a lot of the S.A.s have a distinguishable taste but this one does not have that typical S.A. signature. I think that this is a good thing. I love S.A. and this is just another reason to love this brewery. dark oil can appearance, nice dark tan head, taste of coffee, coco, and sweet malty goodness. Mouthfeel is good but not super smooth. you can't be disappointed with this one.

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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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