Old Heathen Imperial Stout | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

very good
1,653 Ratings
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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,653 |  Reviews: 831
Photo of sisuspeed
3.06/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2009 Bottle

Pours essentially black with about a fingers worth of creamy tan head. The head eventually reduces to a thin film, but still leaves a few suds as lacing.

Roasty malts with a hint of coffee on the nose. Some dark fruits, figs and an off-putting metallic note come through as well. The metallic/iron note isn't too bad, but it detracts from the rest of the nose. A little bit of chocolate as well. The nose could use a little more strength.

The taste is balanced between sweet chocolate notes and dark malty bitterness. A touch of dark fruit as well, but not too much going on. Fairly plain.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, but on the thin side, especially for a Russian Imperial. Carbonation is ok, but seems a bit prickly for the style. Alcohol is almost completely hidden. A metallic note seems to linger on the finish.

Drinkability is average. With so many imperial stouts on the market, this one falls a bit short. Not a bad beer, but not really close to the usual suspects. A little more complexity in the nose and taste, plus a heavier body, would help this one out a bit.

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Photo of argock
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a Duvel tulip. No freshness date. Part of 6-pack purchased at Beer Run (Charlottesville, VA) for $11.99.

A: Very dark brown, nearly black with solid, 1-finger foamy, beige head with decent retention and spots of lace.

S: Akin to a chocolate cookie with some mild biscuit and breadiness, roasted malt, sweet and dark chocolate, bit of coffee, and earthy herbal hops with a molasses note in there too. Sweet and earthy.

T: On the sweeter side for an imperial stout but very smooth and enjoyable. More roast character is in the flavor with the same bittersweet chocolate and earthy hops mix, with the chocolate and maltiness winning out handily. The moalsses jsut stings a little and the coffee component is very minor. All in all, Old Heathen drinks like an amped-up sweet stout. alcohol is not detectable.

M: A tad light for the style, but the smoothness more than makes up for it.

D: Old Heathen is like meeting up with an old friend -- you know what you're going to get, but it is a very enjoyable time nonetheless. Sweet and malty with abit of coffee and earthy hoppiness, this is a nice brew that I will come back to often.

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Photo of jwhancher
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a jet black with brown colored head. Decent bit of foam.

S: Smells of mostly chocolate with a little bit of roast. Slight alcohol/solvent notes, but hops don't seem to be there.

T: Starts a little bland - I get most, or all, flavors in the finish. That's when I get the chocolate & roast. The slight high alcohol notes is evident in the taste.

M: A nice creamy medium-full to full mouthfeel. Very nice & "mellow".

D: It's a decent Imperial Russian Stout. Good for a nightcap or during the winter nights. Drinks a lot better as it warms.

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Photo of JDFish
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the tap to my glass, looked very dark and a typical dark foam about a finger thick. Some IRS have a disgusting sweet rotten molasses flavor. Others are more roasty. This one was the latter. Roasted malts and coffee notes. The take home message on this beer is that it is the most drinkable IRS I've ever had, I really appreciate that. Great balance, a little less complex than Old Rasputin, but its taste and drinkability was very close. This is a good thing. I really enjoyed this as I could've easily had a second pint..not something I can say for all IRS. Great Brew!!

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Photo of crossovert
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle.

It pours a dark brown/black with a big foamy tan head. The head sticks for a while and recedes with some nice lacing.

The smell is pretty classic for the style, jsut a clean, no frills version of it. It has lots of cocoa, some smoked peat, caramel, roasted malt, and coffee.

The mouthfeel is nice and thick. The flavor is a bit weird at first. It almost has a metallic tangy note Along with that is some dark malts, roasted malt, chocolate, and some alcoholic. The next sip is mroe of a roasted flavor. It is a bitter, roasty imperial stout.

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Photo of Franz4
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- poured a good tan 2 finger head that left nice lacing as it settled.

S- smell is very interesting, cocoa, toasted nuts, and I'm sensing something just slightly vinegar-like as well, but it's not off-putting, it's just there and very pleasant.

T- Cocoa, coffee, and toasted malts are dominant, again that vinegar flavor is present, but just very subtley.

M- nice body to this one, effervescent carbonation, slightly dry finish.

D- A nice stout, I'm still trying to grasp what the vinegar-like flavor was in this one, again, it wasn't strong and by no means lessened my enjoyment of this beer, I think it actually made it better, reminded me of a few sours I've had, but it was much more subtle than that.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to rageagainst123 for this!!

Black as night, with a medium brown colored head, and a little lacing. Retention is marginal.

Definitely get some booze, which is surprising given the relatively lower ABV. There is a slight tartness to the aroma, which leads to a bit of chocolate in the end of the whiff.

Sweet and bittersweet chocolate, roasted malts, hints of coffee, no booze, milky. Very pleasant.

The feel is creamy, full bodied, but on the lighter end.

Great drinkability in the end. It's not the greatest RIS, but it is tasty, and the ABV is low, and easy to put back. I think this is easily the most sessionable RIS I've had.

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Photo of Chaney
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured pitch black with absolutely no light passing through. The light peppery brown head held its retention somewhat throughout the session.

S: Very nice smell of chocolate (more of the milk variety as opposed to the dark), coffee, dates, and more than a hint of vanilla.

T: I would have never pegged this as an Imperial Stout - more of a milk stout due to the type of sweetness I detected. The initial taste was pleasant enough, but the middle and finish weren't rich or full enough for my taste. Where was the roasted cinnamon and strong richness that I usually associate with ISs? The Imperial-ness was lacking in this Imperial.

M: Fairly thin for this style and a touch more diluted than I would have liked. As for the lacing, I got a few lingering bubbles on the side of the glass, and the carbonation seemed sufficient overall.

D: It was fairly smooth and I honestly couldn't detect any alcohol at all, but overall this was a bit underwhelming.

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Photo of ksimons
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-pours an inky black with just a tiny bit of lace around the top

S-getting a lot of smoke up front with roasted malt and coffee

T-roasted malts, coffee, a bit of lingering hops and bitterness. My only complaint is that it seems a little weak and watery

M-very smooth, sort of thin body, almost no carbonation

D-very smooth, nicely balanced, and the alcohol isn't too overwhelming. Unfortunately it tastes a little thin

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Photo of thecarster1
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a- bottle poured into a tasting glass, one plus fingers fades to uneven layer, pours thick like oil, dark black/brown coloring.

s- coffee, some sweet creamy toffee notes, earthy and nutty, roasty malts.

t- coffee, sweet malts, very roasty, ever so slight hint of strength, smooth, this hits me as one of the sweeter ris that i've had.

m- full/creamy, coating.

d- really nice, i'd drink this again, this is one of the better offerings from weyerbacher that i've just gotten around to trying now.

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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 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 Thanby
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours nice and black, thick and opaque with a little brown head that almost completely disappears.

Definitely dark fruit in the nose, fig and raisin, a lighter and less malty character than the average RIS.

The taste is fairly smooth and and again full of the dark fruit, a bit syrupy but not too bad, the malt still takes a back seat but fills out the body. I wasn't expecting this much citrus from an RIS, it's more like a Belgian dark, but once you get the idea it tastes pretty good.

The finish is a little thick, but this is where the malt finally shines. The raisin and fig fades and the roasted malt becomes more apparent, and it is delicious. Thick body and good carbonation, very drinkable.

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Photo of JamnesCameron
3.05/5  rDev -22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a MJ tasting glass.

Pours a deep black with ruby highlights around the edge of the glass, with a creamy, light mocha head. The head slowly drops, leaving tons of lacing.

Aromas of chocolate, coffee, roasted grains, and alcohol.

First sip is of mainly roasted grains, light hints of cocoa. Not the big flavor burst I was expecting.

Mouthfeel is thin for a RIS, almost watery. Light creaminess.

Fairly decent drinkable beer. But nothing too exciting about it. Not a big flavorful brew.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From notes.

A - pours an inky black with a mountainous brown head which quickly faded to a bubbly foam in the center of the beer and a ring around the glass.

S - dark fruits are abundant. Cherries and raisons mostly. Some licorice and a roasty malt base.

T - taste is deep. More dark fruits, raisons, cherries, figs are the most decernable. Some chocolate sweetness. A little bit of coffee. Hint of licorice.

M - medium bodied. Light on the carb. A little thin for a RIS though.

D - complex yet balanced stout. Good stuff.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle. Poured into a large tulip glass. Pours a dark brown/black color with a nice 2 finger head that quickly settles to form a slight coaster of light tan head. Medium mouthfeel. Dark chocolate, slight coffee, and milk chocolate aroma. A fairly sweet start with some hints of dark fruit along with dark chocolate, roast malt, and a tiny bit of leather. Some lingering bitterness. Overall, not a bad imperial stout but nothing extraordinary as well.

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Photo of prdstmnky
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass, Old Heathen has a very dark brown body (nearly black). It yielded a 1/2 inch of mocha colored head without much retention or lacing. There is a nice chocolate nose to this, with some coffee and sweeter malts coming through as well. The taste is just like the aromas, just not as defined, somewhat subdued. This stout as a lighter body than i expected, with adequate carbonation. I didn't get much alcohol in this at all, and was a really easy drinker for the style and ABV (I cant really read the dating on the bottle, so maybe it is slightly older and had a few months to cool down)

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Photo of WAN2RIDE
3.69/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz. pour into red wine glass. Bottle date 08/13/10.

Appearence is just what I think of when I'm thinking of a good hearty stout thick, somewhat viscous, with a dark tan head. Head was rather thin and dissipated quickly, but with a thicker lower hopped beer this is expected.

Sweet malts and a touch of alcohol on the nose. surprisingly little roast for my expectations.

Taste is quite good and much lighter than I would have expected for an imperial stout. I am not greatly familiar with the style and I have been hesitant to try a few after having Brooklyn BCS and Yakima Twilight as my introduction. This is definitely a much more enjoyable beer for my palette at this point. Taste is of roasted malt, but not bitterly roasted. Light coffee flavoring, but no bitterness. Tastes vaguely like a lightly sweetened iced black coffee. Very enjoyable, but lighter in all aspects than what I had expected. I've had heavier lower abv stouts before.

Mouthfeel was nice. Somewhat syrupy, but in a light way that becomes lighter due to the carbination.

I could definitely have more of these in a sitting than would be recommendable for the alcohol content, without much warming it really sneaks up on ya.

Overall quite enjoyable, but a little less robust than I was expecting for the style. I did like it quite a bit and I'm sure I'll have it again so a revisit to this review may be forthcoming.

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Photo of SeasonalBrew
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep midnight black with a rather creamy looking tan head. Retention is decent, too. A thin cap remains throughout the life of the beer.

S: Dark roasted malts with undertones of coffee, caramel and bittersweet chocolate.

T: The roasted malts and coffee lead the way, followed by some sweet caramel malts. The finish is a balance of bittersweet chocolates and dark fruits. It's good, but it falls short somewhere.. something isn't there to blend it all together.

M: A medium and slightly creamy mouthfeel. When I think RIS, I expect something a bit more full-bodied. Something more viscous.

D: Very drinkable, but it suffers from a poor mouthfeel. Overall, not too bad.

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Photo of Spider889
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is likely one of my favorite Weyerbacher beers thus far.

A very traditional American Stout imo. Very dark, black in color with a small mocha head and average lacing/retention.

Smelled rich and roasty with mild coffee and caramel undertones.

Very malty, roasted grains and a mild toast/char flavor that I love in big stouts. Slightly sweet, nice notes of chocolate and coffee and sweet dark fruit co-mingle here.. There's some decent bitterness on the finish to round things out a bit.

A little hot for only 8%, but in a RIS I wouldn't have it any other way.

Not my favorite RIS but a solid selection and a beer I'd be happy drinking any day.

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Photo of codewarrior
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz into a snifter

This was also part of a mystery stout box from 7ways, and again, many, many thanks.

Disclaimer: This tasting immediately followed a tasting of Founders Breakfast Stout, which is both far, far larger than this beer, and far, far better than this beer. I should probably bump the score up by 20%, but I have some more en route, and will update my rating with the next batch.

L: Black with red around the edges, tan frothy head with good retention.

S: Crisp bitterness, like an export stout, only deeper with muddy, earthy tones in the back.

T: Hits sweet like a quad up front, fading into a traditional caramely stout bitterness. Slight vein of fruitiness throughout. Finish lingers wonderfully. Far more complex than it smells.

F: Thick, but not thick enough.

D: Tasty, and delicious.

To me, this feels, drinks and smells like an export stout. It tastes more akin to a Russian Imperial Stout, but in all other ways it doesn't rank. Were I measuring this as an export stout, I think it would be nearly perfect, as a Russian Imperial Stout ... it's merely good.

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Notes rom 10/26/2010:

12 oz. bottle at 50* into a snifter.

A: This pours absolute black and thick as crude oil with a half-finger of dark khaki head that is gone quickly. It features zero lace.

S: It smells of sweet dark fruits, bittersweet chocolate, and medium roast coffee.

T: It tastes like bitter chocolate, espresso, plum, licorice, and sweet caramel.

M: It has a rather thin and creamy body for the style.

D: This is a decent-tasting beer but it lacks all the intangibles.

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Photo of morimech
4.21/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark black in color with one finger of tan head that quickly settled to a thin cap. Just a little spotty lacing is left on the glass. Rich aroma of chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and a hint of alcohol. The aroma is every bit as good as any other RIS I have sampled. The flavor is not quite as good and that is due to the amount of alcohol that overwhelms the flavor in the finish. Starts off malty with chocolate and a mild roasted note. I get some cherries and plums as well. More bitter than sweet. Has enough of a body for a RIS but stops short of being viscous and creamy. Well done carbonation. Absolutely enjoyable RIS from Weyerbacher. I will have to keep a lookout for this beer in the future.

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Photo of Ruination2007
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this 1 month old.

A- Coffee colored head, creamy with tight bubbles with several large ones scattered throughout. Head falls to a tight 1 cm thick amount leaving lacing on the glass all the way down. Pitch black, zero sun comes through.
N- Roasty dark malts, chocolate malt and alcohol. After warming a bit, fruity esters become develop. Light grain notes that remind me of caramel 60 malt.
T- Roast barley and coffee malt up front. Familiar chocolate malt and hop backing working together. Noticed brown sugar while swallowing. Toasty biscuit and minor caramel background.
M- Carbonation almost zero. Expected stout feel, viscous.
D- Great stout. It hides its 8% alcohol well but still has the warming feel. Definitely worth a space in the cellar.

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Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.05/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12oz brown pop top; simple but cool label, no date. This is my first Weyerbacher beer, picked it up in Omaha.

Appearance: Pitch black brew with a nice light tan collar that fades to a thick, chunky ring and a decent film.

Smell: Not overly vibrant, but pleasant. Melted dark chocolate, a touch of nutty character, some light alcohol, and maybe just a ghost of roastiness.

Taste: Flavor isn't bad per se, but it's surprisingly muted. A touch of darker milk chocolate, a wisp of roasted malt, and a touch of boozey alcohol. Would make a middle-of-the-road stout...Imperial Stout? Meh.

Mouthfeel: A bit on the light side.

Drinkability: Medium

Conclusion: No idea how old this might be w/out a date; I've had it myself for about 7 months. Still, this style is generally fine to hold onto, so I don't really know what's going on here. Nothing tastes bad here, but this is definitely one of the lightest-tasting Imperial Stouts I've had to date.

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Old Heathen Imperial Stout from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 1,653 ratings.
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