Old Heathen Imperial Stout | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

very good
831 Reviews
Old Heathen Imperial StoutOld Heathen Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Rich, velvety and deliciously complex, Old Heathen (8% ABV) is a truly distinctive stout. We use seven types of malt and two varieties of hops to bring forth this big brew. Quite robust and roasty on the palate, Old Heathen Imperial Stout has a wonderfully fruity nose and a moderately dry finish. The taste is highly complex. Perhaps you’ll even discern notes of espresso or chocolate.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-19-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 831 | Ratings: 1,652
Photo of Darkmagus82
2.65/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Poured from bottle into a snifter

Appearance – The beer pours an almost pitch black color with a one finger of brown colored head. The head fades relatively quickly leaving a tiny bit of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is quite heavy of a roasted malt and coffee smell mixed with a rather strong aroma of a grainier and spent grain like smell. Mixed with these smells are some sweeter aromas of a caramel and chocolate with a little bit of a char and a hay like smell. The mix of spent grain (husky and musty) and hay really put a bad spin on the aroma, overall producing a rather unpleasant aroma.

Taste – The taste begins with a roasted malt taste with some darker chocolate flavors right from the start. Some sweetness is present upfront with a little bit of vanilla and caramel right from the start. The roasted flavors increase after the initial taste, with the sweeter flavors losing some ground and a good deal of a woody and coffee flavor coming to the tongue. Some flavors of a grainy nature as well as a little bit of an earthy and char taste come to the tongue more toward the end of the taste. With the mainly roasted body and light sweetness, one is left with a somewhat drier and grainy stout flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the slightly thicker and creamier side with a carbonation level that is on the average side. The slightly thicker body was decent for the darker flavors of the brew, although it did not do well for the more grainy flavors. Like the body, the carbonation being on the lower side, was good for the darker flavors, but not so good for the grainy tastes. Overall, just OK.

Overall – The flavors never really meld well in this one; with too much bitter graininess which does not compliment the roasted flavors all that well. Not an imperial I would frequent too often.

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Photo of KeefD
2.71/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Darkest brown, almost opaque, one finger creamed coffee head, light lacing. Aroma is of fruity esters, alcohol, light chocolate and a little bit of roastiness. Strong alcohol smell comes out as it warms. Too much sweet fruit in the nose for my liking. I like more roasty malts in my stouts. Flavor is more of the grapey fruitiness. Has an almost red wine-like quality. Some roastiness is present but it's buried deep. Also some light chocolate flavors, but not much going on here. Alcohol is very present and not well hidden for 8%. I don't know if this is an older bottle, but at this ABV it should have held up well. Not very impressed by this beer.

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Photo of number1bum
2.71/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark brown color with a fizzy two fingers of tan head. Head settles to a thin lace, leaving a bit of stick but retention overall isn't all that impressive.

Smell is, in a word, odd. It has a cola sort of aroma to it, with a syrupy sweetness and a grainy roasted aroma. I can get a bit of chocolate with much effort, and also an odd fruitiness; not really sure what it is, banana maybe? Weird, and not really what I'm looking for out of an imperial stout.

Taste has more roasted malt character than the smell which holds it together a little better, but it's still pretty strange. I definitely think it's banana I'm smelling/tasting now, which I can't say I expected in an imperial stout. I can't say I really like it either. There are other fruity esters, as well. It's a bit on the grainy side and like the smell it has a cola sort of sweetness. Really lacks robustness and depth of flavor, and the malt profile is just bland and boring.

For an imperial stout, even one on the low end at 8%, this is quite thin. It's less than medium bodied and just feels thin in the mouth. There is almost a complete lack of aftertaste which speaks to how thin it is, as well. Can I have more malt please?

This is another Weyerbacher beer that I find extremely underwhelming. This is just a very strange imperial stout. Has an overall cola sort of quality to it, and the banana qualities are also odd. It's also very thin and needs much more in the way of body. Just lacks robustness overall, and frankly isn't all that good. I'm not a fan, and I won't be coming back for more.

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Photo of bum732
2.74/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

S: Fruity with some herbalness, smells like an American porter, touch chalky, some cappucino.

L: Pitch black, light tan head, creamy, dissipates slightly, good lacing.

T: Dark fruity sweet with a light roasty component. Dark caramel and medium bitterness with some coffee candy sweetness in the finish. Touch of ash.

M: Medium mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

I hate imperial stouts like this, not much roast or chocolate. Despite this, i can recognize a good beer designed like this, this beer is not one of them.

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Photo of cbutova
2.75/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Not sure I'm a big fan of the new label scheme but this one is better than most of the others. Very surprised I haven't gotten around to this one yet but always nice to review a new stout. Date of 12-13-12.

A- A fairly aggressive pour into a small snifter reveals a beer with a pitch black body and a dark, mocha colored foamy cap. The head forms to only about a finger in size with a fizzy, bubbly texture. Retention of the head is decent and a silky ring leaves sparse, spotty lace.

S- A lot of dark fruity notes in the nose to me. Not incredibly strong overall or as roasty as many RIS examples. Some roast grain, cocoa and caramel hints but lacks that depth I look for in this style.

T- Dark fruit forward here for me as well. Raisin and slight cherry feel overall with a very acidic and burnt presence from the roast malts. Cocoa and roast grain come to mind of course but these flavors are not as rich or deep as a lot of the modern styles. Licorice, anise, smoke, molasses and oxidation come to mind here and there. Something thin feeling about it.

MF- The body does not feel as rich and thick as the best examples of RIS. It is not watery and actually has a nice silky consistency with moderate, smooth carbonation. Acidic burnt bitterness in the finish. Nothing from the alcohol.

Not my favorite RIS by any means. The acidic feel and the heavy dried dark fruit presence doesn't result in the smoothest experience by any means. Just feels a bit thin and one dimensional I guess.

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Photo of cvm4
2.76/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours black but seems to have a thin body already. The head is one finger and tan. Not much lacing.

S - I'm not getting much more than roasted malts.

T - Mainly roasted malts with coffee and expresso in the background.

M - Thin body (watery) and low carbonation.

O - A poor example of what even a basic RIS should be.

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Photo of adamette
2.77/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Live review. Poured from the 12 oz. brown bottle that I bought for $2.16 from Save-On Tobacco & Beverage in Mentor this past Wednesday into my gold rimmed Brewery Ommegang Westvleteren style goblet. No observed "best by" date.

A Actually dark brown head over a completely black body. I have always liked the look of these imposing, ultimately really cool Imperial Stouts. 4.5

S Dark roast malt of course but also a dark fruit smell of dates that I did not find as appealing. As far as beers in this style, the ones that I enjoy are the classic dark roasted malt darkness, not with the inclusion of this dark fruit smell. 2.5

T Sure enough, and disapointingly, the dark fruits (mainly dates) smell carried right over into the taste and the desired classic dark roast malt was not enough to make up for this undesirable taste in the beer. In fact, the dark fruit taste lingered well into the aftertaste. Come to think of it, it is similar to an anise or black licorice taste, something that I have never liked. I used to separate out all of the black jelly beans and give them to my brother Paul. Maybe he would like this beer. 2.5

M Rather basic for the style really. There is certainly a heaviness, a weight about this beer and the aftertaste lingers but it is really a standard feel. 3.0

D Just fine for the style which does not lend itself well to drinkability but the drinkability is driven down by that anise taste that is not to my liking. 3.0

Notes: Weyerbacher is one of my personal favorite breweries (I gave their Merry Monks a 4.9!) but this is not a good example of beers from this great brewery, unless you like that anise taste like my brother Paul.

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Photo of pezoids
2.81/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is pretty thin for and Imperial Stout. Poured out a midnight black with a thin tan head. Bitter roasted grains and alcohol in the aroma. Again, the body is thin and bitter with roasted grains and some chocolate. Strong alcohol is in the forefront. There’s some roasted coffee, caramel and cocoa in there. Not bad but lacking for an Imperial Stout. Maybe this is an Imperial Stout Light.

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Photo of Jeffo
2.88/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got this at De Molen in Bodegraven.

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Black pour makes a small, medium looking head with relatively lousy retention. Head quickly fades to a splotchy wisp and ring. Jet black body, thicker looking, and no carbonation evident. A slight ring remains until the end but leaves no lacing down the glass. An impressively thick body and lackluster head balances out the score here.

SMELL: Milder nose of roasted malt and musty leather. A note of oats in there, though I don't think this is an oatmeal stout. A light note of cocoa in there, but overall, this is just too mute to be anything worth writing home about.

TASTE: Some roasted notes and sweet caramel malt. Some leather, grapes, and red wine as well. Quite mute up front, but the sweet caramel and wine flavors come alive a little after the swallow. Bold and lingering aftertaste showcases some bitter chocolate as balance, but it is still dominated by sweet caramel and red wine. Very sweet for an imperial stout.

PALATE: Medium body and medium-high levels of carbonation. Creamy enough on the palate, but not overly smooth. Goes down fine and finishes slightly mouth-coating. Fine here.

OVERALL: Nothing wrong or offensive about this beer, but nothing worth writing home about either. If you like your imperial stouts on the sweeter side, then this might just do it for you. Though I enjoy a little more bitterness, the main criticism is that the nose is too mute and the initial flavor is lacking. After the swallow it comes to life a little, but needs more upfront. One worth checking out if you see, but I won't need to go back.

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Photo of tayner
2.89/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

poured black with very little head, just a small ring around the edge, perhaps i poured TOO carefully.

Smelled of burnt malt and some strange dark fruit i cannot put my finger on.. someone else said olives.. perhaps... it sort of turned me off before i even tasted it.

It tasted better than it smelled, thank goodness. Pretty smooth, not much complexity. Roasted/burnt malt flavor, slight hop finish, not alot of alcohol burn...

Felt a little thin for an imperial stout, not oily and mouth coating as i was expecting it to be.

Pretty easy to drink, but this did not wow me. If it was local to me I would perhaps drink a few during the winter, but not one i will seek out again.

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Photo of bruachan
2.89/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

i don't even remember where i picked this up. 8%? does that qualify as a RIS?

the head couldn't have fizzled more quickly. it faded faster than crystal clear pepsi. so...i'm left with a pint glass full of ink

warm smelling, and roasty. oaky vanilla, too. nice but a little weak

it's got a sharpness to it, despite the low % (not an ethanol sharpness, just something up front that goes POP). it's very winey up front, and actually does not boast much of a RIS character in the flavor...soy sauce, mildly roasted finish. it's thin and fizzy, too

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Photo of treehugger02010
2.89/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

I don't know if my palet isn't "expanded" enough, but I really didn't like this beer. It felt really good in my mouth, and the smell was rather aromatic. I don't know what was in this beer, but I think I'm going to try it a couple more times and then make a better judgement. If anyone knows what would be a good "beginning" beer for me to try if I was going to find out more about Old Heathen. Don't drink and review.

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Photo of WaltTrombone
2.9/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This poured totally black, coal mine at midnight black, with a dark tan head that faded fast. Aroma was dark chocolate and espresso. The taste also had the dark chocolate and espresso, along with prue, cardboard, leather, grapefruit, lemon peel, and warming alcohol.

The mouthfeel was not what I would expect from an Imperial Stout, it was thin, a little oily, not thick and creamy. It had a really fizzy carbonation that I disliked a lot.

The finish was grapefruit and espresso. All the flavors tended towards bitter and tart, no sweetness, and, for all the different flavors, didn't seem very complex. I recently had a Stone Imperial Stout, and if I had had the Old Heathen after that, it definitely would have scored lower. No comparison...

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Photo of wiseguy142
2.91/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Just got done with an exam- felt like something strong and dark. Pours black but brown around the edges with a creamy, thick, foamy tan head.

Aroma isn't particularly striking. A confused mix of slightly harsh hops and some roasted malt, alcohol, and light coffee and must. The aromas don't blend together in any pleasurably subtle way and there's no one aroma that would otherwise compensate for that.

Taste follows up on the aroma. Very stale tasting, both the malt and the coffee flavors, with a sickly hop flavor. Almost like they didn't use quality ingredients or something, which I find hard to believe since most of Weyerbacher's beers are quite good.

Very soft and cushiony mouthfeel with low carbonation. This beer needs some rehabilitating to make it anything special.

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Photo of Naes
2.91/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This one pours out black with a two finger dark tan head.
The aroma is roasty and not much else.
The flavor is also roasty with a lot of dark fruit tones. There is also a slight roasted coffee flavor with a bit of hops near the finish. Unfortunately, this stout also has the leathery flavor that many imperial stouts have that does not agree with me.
Mouth feel is full flavored with a moderate amount of carbonation.

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Photo of Edwaka01
2.93/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 12 oz to nonic pint.

A - Poured a red-brown. In the glass, black, even when held to the light. 2/5 finger head, dissipates quickly leaving no trace.

S - Pungent, aggressive and not pleasing. Dark malts mixed with puke bile. Wow, horrible.

T - Redeeming, to say the least. Roasty, appropriate, malty, cocoa, coffee. Still the aroma picked up on upon sipping is horrific.

M - Full, smooth, pleasing. No complaints or surprises here.

O - What the F is going on with the aroma of this brew? Its horrific. Hopefully a bad bottle/batch? The taste and everything else is great, but the aroma really throws this one for me. Throws it right into the 'never again' category. Unfortunately/fortunately, I have a 6 pack, so I'll give this one another (5) shots.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
2.93/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

The world is full of great Russian Imperial Stouts. In fact, it's rare to find one on this site without a glowing review. But I found this one to be very....average. We just got distribution of Weyerbacher here in Wisconsin, and everyone's excited (this flavor of the month excitement goes back a year or so - we got Stone this summer, Southern Tier a little before that, etc), but that excitement for me didn't turn into a greatly favorable impression of this particular beer.

It pours black and a bit thin, with a very modest amount of head. Aroma is faint but reminiscent of dark malt, roastiness, and chocolate. Flavor is same, but I was distracted by this due to some wateriness and a very faint flavor (particularly for this style of beer).

This beer wasn't bad, it just doesn't compare to many others of the style. Still, I'd have it again and weakly recommend it. I bought a 6-pack at Discount Liquor in Milwaukee.

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Photo of birchstick
2.94/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - pours an oily black with about a one finger chocolate head

S - a pretty weak nose, but I can pick out some chocolate malt and a bit of roasted character

T - taste is of sweet milk chocolates that are complemented by some raisin flavors. It finished with some roasted coffee and left a dark chocolate flavor on the palate on the exhale. No hop presence rally noted. Not too much going on, but pretty decent.

M - thin to medium body without much carbonation

D - for being 8 percent, this one doesn't drink like it. This isn't too bold of a RIS, but it is pretty good for what it is. It exhibited the standard chocolate and coffee flavors but nothing too much outside of it. Definitely worth a try if you want a decent stout.

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Photo of AnPiobaire
2.98/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I poured Old Heathen Imperial Stout from a 12 oz bottle at around 52 degrees. It poured a dark brown with a tan head. Not completely opaque but dark.

The nose was minimal but had some cocoa and coffe notes.

The taste was ok but not nearly as bold as I like to see in an Imperial stout. The same subtle cocoa and coffee notes came through on the palate with a bitter hollow finish.

The mouthfeel was much too thin for what I am looking for in an Imperial stout and the carbonation was higher then I like as well.

Overall this is not an awful beer by far but there are many many more better examples of Imperial Stouts out there. Enjoy!!!

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Photo of AltBock
2.98/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle with a shadowy figure of a medicine man or a mountain man on a mountain looking at the full moon in front of him. It's one of their better labels. There is however still no date on the bottle.

I went ahead and poured this oldie into a Maudite Snifter. When it settled, this RIS is a solid ink black with a 1/2 an inch head of mocha colored foam. This mocha head quickly dissipated into a foamy mocha rings along the edge and few mocha spots of lace here and there.

This RIS smelled like cinnamon candy with a hint of dark roasted malts and a tiny splash of dark chocolate. This has to be the first RIS that I've smelled that smells exactly like bulk cinnamon candy.

No cinnamon in the taste, but the taste was dark and roasted like a good RIS should be. This RIS contained dried dark roasted malts, a hint of black cherry, a touch of espresso, and then it suddenly ends with a hoppy alcohol combo. Imagine subtle floral hops soaked in alcohol. That's what the hoppy/alcohol combo tasted like.

The mouthfeel to this RIS was medium bodied and very carbonated with a slightly roasted aftertaste of dried dark roasted malts, a hint of dark fruits, and a drop of alcohol at the finish.

It's clearly not the most roasted of flavorful RIS out on the market, but it is a decent one. It's one of the few can miss RIS. It's one of those beers you get when you want to start out on that particular style of beer.

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Photo of wvsabbath
2.98/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark black, tan with a creamy dark 1 inch head. Nice lacing

Smell - Standard chocolate coffee stout smell. Some malts and barley. Kinda weak actually for r.i.s

Taste - Very mild bland coffee chocolate taste. THis is pretty smooth and weak for a russian stout. Kind of reminds me of a watered down version and not much kick to it. Missing flavor for sure

Mouthfeel - Its incredibly thin and smooth for a r.i.s. Not much warmth to it, not much flavor, very weak for the style. I could drink a pale ale right after this.

Drinkabilty - Im shocked its 8% cause it feels like a 5%. Nothing special, so many better ones out there. Put this up against hoppin frog boris r.i.s or old rasputin and you will see the difference. Maybe a good starter r.i.s, but seasoned vets skip this, its a waste of a drink.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
2.99/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - A balck ichor with only a tiny short lived head and mere tiny specks of lacing. A bit dissappointing.

S - Figs, chocolate, soy sauce, lemon and a touch of rubbing alcohol, but I don't mean a stong fusel alcohol, an "alcohol aroma" isn't what is present, it is that other chemical smell in rubbing alcohol that I smell here.

T - A bit of a chocolatey malt profile with a nutty flavor (hazelnuts and peanuts I'd say) with a touch of lemon sourness. That same chemical smell of rubbing alcohol appears faintly in the taste. It really isn't that bad, it is a sort of sweetish chemical flavor. I mean it certainly isn't a plus, but it hardly kills the beer.

M - Thick, smooth, barely refreshing.

D - Not too good, it isn't the sort of beer you drink a lot of, there are a lot of superior stouts on the market IMO. If you are looking for a "sour stout," then this is a viable option. I might have it again, since Weyerbacher is so local. I am excited to try the heresy I have though!

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Photo of avylover
3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Newer bottle than pictured in BA photo. (2003) New label with a silouhette of a ranger against a night sky. Paid $10.50 for a six pack. Pours very thick & slow with a smallish deep tan head that died quick, not suprisingly for the style. This is one of those beers you could put a spotlight behind and still it's just straight black. Aromas of black current, butter, black coffee, some malted milk and alcohol.First thing I notice about this beer is the fact that it is a bit too carbonated for the style. Bubbles fizz up on my tongue, REALLY detracting from the strength of the taste. Alcohol is quite evident here, not masked well compared to some other imperial stouts.Honestly it's hard to get some taste notes past this carbonation.There is definitely a bitter fruity taste, almost like fruitcake. A coffee flavor pokes through in the bitterness and roasted malt, but not much else. Mouthfeel is not smooth like I would expect, but sizzly from the carbonation. No major lingering stickyness, which is nice. Drinkability is just OK.

summary: Fruity Imperial Stout, with too much fizz and a high price. There are way better brews out there. If you like imperial stouts, try a bottle before you pick up a sixer at this price.

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Photo of chefhatt
3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured this beer into a pint glass, it was as black as night, with a little tan head that quickly dissipates to a thin lace around the edge. The smell is of roasted malts and chocolate. The taste is very balanced well of malts and hops, i taste some chocolate on the back of the tongue. the mouth feel is ok. Overall this is a ok beer for me, i'm not really into dark beers but i like to try them.

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Photo of Minkybut
3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer was black and poured brown head that did not last very long at all. The smell was kinda reminiscent of berries. The taste similar to brake fluid according to one taster. I did not like it but did not get the brake fluid thing. I will not be buying this beer again.

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Old Heathen Imperial Stout from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 1,652 ratings.
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