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.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,653 |  Reviews: 831
Photo of wangbruins
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Black-need-to-change-your-oil-color with a huge tan head that broke down nicely

S- Strong smokey and roasted scents like a liquid campfire, if that makes sense

T- Coffee at first and very earthy with some slight cherry flavors, not as bitter as some RIS

M- I was expecting it to be thick but it was very surprisingly smooth and almost thin (almost)

D- Almost too easy and very enjoyable. I could easily sit around and put down a whole bunch of these

 456 characters

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

This is a very nice Imperial Stout, a tad bit boozy, nice and thick, full bodied and full palated. The beer pours a pitch black color, no light penetrating through. There is a nice creamy brown head that retains fairly well, not much lacing. The nose on the beer is very sweet malt, roasted dark chocolate, sweet florals, sweet nutty flavors. There is a nice cocoa powder aroma too.

The taste is very full bodied, thick, and creamy. All the usual suspects are in this Imperial Stout, some roasted cherry chocolate notes, some boozy sweetish malts, some charred roasted grain. There is some hop bite towards the finish, and there is definitely some booziness and a slight throaty coarseness from the alcohol. There is a touch of nutty flavors popping through, but the booziness towards the finish takes over. The mouthfeel is a tad oily with some residual charred cherry flavors too. This is a nice beer for the style.

 918 characters

Photo of PatrickJR
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into oversized snifter.

A - Opaque black with some light making it's way through on the edges. A quarter to half inch of head rises; mocha colored with just a twinge of purple. Retention is fairly short though a little lace is left behind.

S - Immediately there's a rush of dark fruits; raisins and plums are most evident. There's a good deal of sourness present as well leading into some toffee and butterscotch aromas. Milk chocolate and just a hint of coffee grounds find their place as well.

T - Old Heathen tastes pretty much like it smells. Sour dark fruit (currants, plums, raisins, dates) kick in first followed closely by moderately strong notes of caramel and toffee, though the sweetness is somewhat subdued. Notions of licorice mingle with the fruit flavors. Mid palate the sweetness tapers quite a bit giving way to a good deal of lactic-esque sourness. Sourness quickly turns into bitterness accompanied by roasted flavors like burnt toast and stale coffee peppered with milk chocolate. Bitterness leans towards the burnt side with a touch of alcohol peeking through in the finish. Everything about the taste has improved as it's approached room temperature.

M - Medium to full bodied with a soft carbonation but still enough bubbles to keep it from being a syrupy mess. Extremely smooth.

D - Though nothing has jumped out at me about this beer, Old Heathen has been an enjoyable RIS. My biggest shock is how dramtically the taste improved as it warmed just a few degrees. Quite complex and devoid of overly roasted and burnt flavors that (to me) limit the accessibility of others in the style. Not something I would personally want to throw back all night long, but definitely one of the more enjoyable examples of the style I've had in a while.

 1,792 characters

Photo of rebel1771
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a jet black with a frothy dark tan head.

S: Strong aroma of chocolate and coffee. Very sweet smelling.

T: Bittersweet chocolate at first, that fades to a dry pumpernickel flavor with hints of candied fruit.

D: This brew is a big beer but still very drinkable. Some brews go out of their way to blow you out of the water, this does not. This is a really well done Imperial Stout.

 390 characters

Photo of SLeffler27
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This snifter glass fills with a rich, black, velvet beer under a thin but dense head closely resembling the color of coffee ice cream. A lacing first coats the glass, then becomes a fine webbing. As the glass empties, one can notice legs upon swirling.

Strong, dark chocolate with black coffee, oak and molasses is carried airborne in fumes of alcohol reminiscent of brandy as is warms.

This stout opens with lush chocolate as it follows the nose adding bitterness and an amazing finish. The complexity of these flavors intensifies as it warms.

This one has a full, creamy body, lots of warming alcohol, both of which are welcoming.

Weyerbacher has produced a welcome addition to a good book or to be shared with a companion while sitting by a fire. I intend to try this with Rocky Road ice cream.

BTW, Tap & Mallet in Rochester, NY (where I tried this gem)is a great place for good beer, and the food is top notch too.

 924 characters

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

Served in a pint glass.

A - Poured black with a huge khaki head that settled to an eighth inch. No real lacing.

S - Roasted smell. Coffee, chocolate and then some sweetness.

T - Slightly bitter roasted coffee/chocolate flavors.

M - Smooth, lightly carbonated medium to thin.

D - Not thick and chewey, but still a good RIS.

 327 characters

Photo of blackearth
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased from Ray's Liquors in Wauwautosa, WI. Pours an oily pitch black with a khaki tan head. Aroma of bourbon, oak, cream and vanilla. Full bodied and creamy with low to medium carbonation, this beer's flavors followed exactly from the aroma adding a roasted chocolate flavor to the cream, vanilla and bourbon flavors. Very drinkable, not heavy due to that subtle flavors of the bourbon. I need to get some more of this.

 424 characters

Photo of zeff80
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a thick, firm, long-lasting head of tan foam. It left some nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled very roasty with subtle coffee (expresso) notes. There were chocolate smelled and some mild floral notes.

T - Great dark chocolate and roasted caramel malt flavors. It had a bitter hop bite to match to sweet chocolate and caramel taste.

M - It was smooth and crisp with a somewhat dry finish. A medium bodied ale with just a touch of alcohol warmth.

D - This is a very good RIS that is fairly easy drinking with an ABV that isn't over-the-top like many other imperial stouts.

 620 characters

Photo of vacax
3.71/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a dark tan head that is rich with microbubbles and attractive lacing. Aroma of caramel malts, bubble gum, and a slight hops spiciness. Taste displays a smooth balance between roasted malts and a bubblegum sweetness. Dark malt finish with some residual dark fruit. Medium-full body and medium carbonation. Quite a good Imperial Stout in my opinion, nice combination of roast and sweet.

 401 characters

Photo of drinkHoppy
3.61/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Old heathen is a fun beer to pour. It is jet black with a dark tan, creamy head which takes up every bit of glass the beer does not. Don't pour too fast, this will foam over. It does not drink nearly as thick as it looks, and is quite easy to forget this beer is 8%. The smell is pretty pronounced, kind of roasted and chocolaty. A bit of carbonation is noticeable and helps the beer to go fast. This is easy to drink for the style and the alcohol percentage, but the mouthfeel is the only reason I don't buy this beer more often. The taste really lingers and laces your mouth. I find myself taking my next sip just to remove the taste that is left from the previous one.

When people tell me Guinness is the best beer, of course I know they are ignorant to how many types of beers there are, I recommend them to Old Heathen. I am aware that they are very different, but, Old Heathen is a great beer, and i am positive others will like it more than I do.

 997 characters

Photo of colts9016
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Got this bottle from a BIF, thank you.

Poured into a pint glass at 51 degree.

Appearance: A dark Tan foamy creamy one finger head that has some retention. The body of the beer is jet black. The clarity of the beer is opaque. There is some carbonation bubble on the side of the glass.

Nose: A rich dark roasted malt, espresso, a molasses like sweetness, dark chocolate, a little bit of wood, citrus, and floral. There is a slight hint of phenols in the background of the beer.

Taste: A very dark roasted malt, espresso, milk chocolate, a touch of molasses, a little wood, cirus, and some floral. There is a nice earthy flavor that grounds this beer. Like in the nose, there is some phenols.

Overall: The mouth feel of the beer is a little flat with some creaminess. The body of the beer is medium full and the finish is medium. This RIS, isnt chewy and full body up in your face like a great RIS. It does hold the characters of a good RIS, so, it isnt too bad. I enjoyed drinking it.

 989 characters

Photo of philipquarles
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle. Pours an extremely dark brown with a medium light brown head. Smells of light cocoa and darkly roasted malt. No blatant coffee aromas, surprisingly. The taste is dark, slightly bitter roasted malt with some milk chocolate. Mostly sweet. The body is on the lighter side for an imperial stout. A mediocre RIS, really.

 328 characters

Photo of Yimosan
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz Brown bottle onto a glass dimpled mug.

A: Jet black with a thick and creamy 2 finger brown head. The head thinned out fairly quick forming a brown bubbly ring around the edge.

S: Chocolate, roasted malt, raisins, and fig.

T: Chocolate definitely comes through first, then sweet roasted malt and I also tasted Fig Newton cookies somewhere in there. As the beer warms, the flavor becomes more integrated, like combining all the components I mentioned above into a blender...simply delicious.

M: Smooth and creamy like a cup of hot cocoa.

D: A very good Russian stout that goes down extremely well.


 628 characters

Photo of cvstrickland
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The twelve-ounce bottle pours opaque ebony with a faint gleam of polished teakwood trimming the periphery. The brew is capped with a finger's thickness of pale beige foam that fades into a ring, providing a few freckles of lacing that remain on the sides of my Duvel tulip.

The aroma is fruity, dark, and licorice-laced; notes of caramel-drizzled plums, fudge brownies, and dark chocolate-covered raisins swirl above the glass.

The taste is darkly chocolatey with a splash of dried fruits and a bit of cola nuts dipped in caramel. A twangy malty edge of unsulphured molasses adds richness and a note of black coffee that is almost smoky in character languishes deep into the aftertaste.

The drink is lush, full-bodied, and super-smooth. Rich and satisfying, Old Heathen is a fine, fine sipper.

 796 characters

Photo of DraperyFalls
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had one of these last night with a bowl of ice cream. The best way to describe the pour on this beer is 'exciting" as the thick (but not overwhelmingly) head forms out of the beautiful dark brown of this stout. Pick it up and you'll get an even more exciting whiff of it. The taste is above average but not uncommon compared to other imperial stouts. There is however, a definite hint of what the server at the Weyerbacher Brewery described to me as "Belgian-influenced" which I can see, but it wasn't the first thing that came to my mind. This "Belgian-influence" added to the smooth mouthfeel of this beer.

 610 characters

Photo of cpmau11
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into large snifter. Small tan head, Very black body. This beer does not seem to have very good head retention. Aroma smells of alcohol and chocolate. The taste has a nice roasty complexity with a hint of what seems to be British Chocolate. Very smooth and warm mouthfeel. Drinkability is pretty decent since this RIS is only arond 8.0. Overall I thought this was a very good beer, decent compared to other Russian Imperial Stouts.

 437 characters

Photo of TheFightfan1
3.63/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Poured black with a largly bubbled coco cola heading that disapates to nothing and left no lacing at all.

Smell is deeply roasted and a slight hoppiness can be detected.

Taste is ridiculously roasted with an unbalanced maltiness,also a little gritiness.

Mouth is very smooth and slick a nice sting on the tongue is left a while after finishing. Full bodied ok carbonation.

Drink is good I could have a session with this beer on a chilly night. Even for 8% ABV it is very drinkable.

All and all I was a little disappointed from what I've been hearing about this beer just a good beer nothing spectacular.

 631 characters

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

This is a really good imperial stout. It is not over-the-top amazing, but it is one of the more drinkable ones I've had to date. It contains all the usual expected aromas and tastes, roasted malts, sweet maltiness, slight alcohol masked by the sweetness of the beer. There is a nice, subtle oakiness.
Hop bitterness and flavor is low...lower than most others I've tried. Mouthfeel is a bit thin and overcarbonated, but that kind of works.
This is the most sessionable Imperial Stout I've tasted.

 495 characters

Photo of clayrock81
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a midnight black, oil-like body with a creamy, sticky head. Strong malt smell of roasted/coffee and sweet malts like chocolate, caramel and some dark fruits. Medium-to-full-bodied and very smooth. Lots of malts in this beer such as roasted, coffee, dark chocolate, caramel, toffee and some other tart sweet flavors, like cherries or something. Hops balance it out on backend with some herbal dryness. Passes easily and is a very enjoyable beer.

 450 characters

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

Pleasing one to two finger head which has lots of big bubbles at first which then sink down into sheet of foam, dark brown in color, the lacing slides easily down the glass. Like its immediate peer group, black as the ace of spades. Anise seed, bittersweet dark chocolate and rum cake, sweet baking spices and creamed coffee make up the bulk of the nose, white raisin, fig, pear, peach fruit, interestingly non-dark in character, flows through your nostrils at a good pace. Medium-bodied, the carbonation awkward in how it handles its enthusiasm, hurts overall balance. The coffee, caramel, chocolate as well as raisin, fig, date, apricot, banana fruit keeps it sweet but by no stretch sugary. In fact, it's much drier than expected. The black licorice, flowers and orange peel lend nuance, still, nothing overtly hop-inspired going on. The roast factor is low. Grinds to a halt semi-prematurely. Needs to offer more pleasure or, conversely, more intellectual engagement.

 971 characters

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

A - One finger of medium brown head on an opaque black body. The head settles pretty quickly and leaves little lace.

S - Dark and malty; caramel, figs and toffee. Some light milk chocolate and a hint of spicy hops as well.

T - Milk chocolate and smooth coffee. Caramel and toffee in the middle with some minor fruit notes. The character darkens in the finish with some more robust coffee notes and more bitter chocolate. Some slightly smoky, charred notes linger on the palate.

M - Medium-thick body, low carbonation, and an only slightly sweet finish.

D - This is a bit light for the style and unusually smooth. Neither hop character nor roasted malt is overly powerful and while, when combined with the smooth alcohol, this makes for easy drinkability, it also limits complexity. In some ways, this is almost more like an Imperial Porter. A good beer overall, nothing to complain about, but nothing special and not as interesting as I would hope for something in this price range to be.

 992 characters

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

12oz bottle in Duvel tulip

A: Black as night, pours with a huge head that dissappears quickly leaving a small bit of lace. The head was surprisingly dark colored, almost a dark caramel color.
S: Chocolate is the most obvious smell, followed by roasted malts and some dark fruits from the yeast (I assume).
T: The taste is predominately roasted malts along with some sweetness, almost makes me think of a bigger version of a sweet stout. There is still a bit of chocolate on the tongue, but it is in the background. No sign of hops, the only bitterness comes from the roasted malt.
M: Creamy, and a little drying, medium carbonation, needs a little more "richness", comes across a little light on the tongue, maybe a little less attenuation.
D: This goes down very easy, a great dessert beer, there is no sign of alcohol, I expect a little bit of "warming" in a RIS. This makes me think of an imperial sweet/milk stout, a bigger (and roastier) version of Young's double chocolate stout. Very yummy, very recommended. I wish I could get this in KY.

 1,049 characters

Photo of Yetiman420
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Unibroue tulip glass.

Pours black with a thin tan head despite a tremendous amount of fine bubbles.

Rich aroma with roasted coffee chocolate malt. After the head settles, aroma turns slightly metallic.

Drinks easy for an imperial stout but at 8%, it may be one of the lowest RIS I've sampled. A modest balance of what I'm guessing may be coffee and chocolate malt.

 369 characters

Photo of Naugled
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle served in tulip glass

A: fine brown head, dam near opaque dark walnut color

S: nice roasted malt smell, coffee and dried fruit in background

T: nice subdued flavors, little bitterness, but some sournesss, which helps cut the sweetness of it. caramel, candy come through as well as some late bitterness from the hops, nicely balanced

M: medium mouthfeel, but rich and smooth with little carbonation bite.

D: very good, I could drink a few of these.

Well done lighter Imperial Stout

 499 characters

Photo of mralphabet
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Pint glass

A: Pours dark as night... about 1 & 1/2 fingers of tan... It fades to a small ring, with little to no lacing.

S: I'm getting some chocolate, maybe dark cherries and alot of coffee.

T: Very creamy coffee, with hints of chocolate toasted malts and a slight dark cherry aftertaste... There is a a little bitterness at the back of the palate but it is not over powering... True Russian Imperial Stout.

M: Mouthfeel is on the money. Perfectly carbonated for this style. Thick, rich and smooth...

D: Pretty drinkable for a 8% ABV... I could a couple a night.

 605 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.