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.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 831 | Ratings: 1,652
Photo of Bone53
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%

Poured from a bottlle into a snifter at around 50°F

Appearance (4.25): Great looking stout; Oil black with a two finger light brown head

Smell (4): Roasted malts, molasses, caramel, leather

Taste (4): Mainly roasted and caramel malts and dark fruits. Wish the roasted malts were more prominent. It does taste good, just a little weak for a RIS with little complexity.

Mouthfeel(3.75): Certainly on the lighter side for the style

Overall (3.9): I was expecting more from this offering. Its just above average for me, considering its a RIS, and nothing that stands out to warrant a revisit. Both the taste and mouthfeel are subdued. It seems more like a regular stout, and i would've probably rated it a little higher if it was rated as such. Maybe a good starter RIS, but for someone like myself who regularly indulges in world class stouts, this misses the mark by quite a bit.

 883 characters

Photo of 4thpalehorsemanale
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%

Light as an imperial stout on flavors and after it warms up even the aroma falls off along with the little flavor that was there. Carbonated head and dissipates quickly. Light bodied, honestly light all around, not something I would go back to. Sorry weyerbacher I do like your beers but pass on this one for me.

 313 characters

Photo of EvoRich
4.65/5  rDev +18.9%

Look: Poured into a snifer. Pitch black, pours with a big bubbly head which fades to just a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Deep roasty notes, with some chocolate, sweet, dark fruits.

Taste: Dark and roasty, dark chocolate flavors, with just the smallest touch of a coffee finish.

Feel: fulled bodied, medium carbonation.

Overall: I don't have much to say about this beer, but it is infact excellent.

 417 characters

Photo of cjgiant
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Have this a year after "best by" date, bottled in 2012. Does this RIS age well??

A: black, but poured a little thin to me, meaning a gave it a straight pour at the end to generate some head. That head did come, not in large quantities, but some larger bubbles, not foamy or creamy as if like, but they did sustain in a decent fashion.

S: dark chocolate, little coffe, light smokiness come out with a little warmth. I also get aight banana scent in the background

T/M: the mouthfeel, being a little weak is what first gets me. The tastes are a bit more bitter than the smell, also, with an almost hint-of-lemon bitterness underlying the coffe/smokey taste I get from the beer. The end taste is coffee bitter in nature.

O: expected more from the taste given the smell, but it was fine overall. I think with a better body, I'd put this I a list of must have again, but as is, I won't avoid or seek it.

 902 characters

Photo of spinrsx
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle from Party Source Syracuse NY for $4

Appearance - Dark brown colour with an above average size frothy light brown head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some great lacing. The head lasted for over 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, coffee

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and light coffee. There is also a faint burnt/charred flavour, some dark fruits, and a nuttiness.

Overall - Tasty and very easy to drink. Kind of a hybrid between a regular and a imperial stout. Enough flavour to keep it interesting and a little something for everyone taste wise.

 679 characters

Photo of mikeg67
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle. Pours black with tall, long lasting, creamy, beige head and nice lacing. Aroma is of roasted malt, toast, cinnamon – apple pie, dark fruit, chocolate and alcohol. Body is full, creamy and smooth. Taste is of roasted malt, chocolate, brown sugar, plums, black current, chocolate, charcoal and herbal hops. Finish is long and dry. Complex, delicious RIS.

 368 characters

Photo of MattyG85
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice.

Appearance: Pours pitch black with a moderate amount of bubbles. Slight finger of tan head that quickly fades into a couple small patches. Leaves some decent lacing.

Smell: A rich, roasty, and sweet dark malt forward aroma with big hints of chocolate and coffee roast. Dark roasted barley malts with big upfront hints of sweet chocolate, cocoa, and coffee beans along with hints of toast, biscuit, caramel, toffee, syrup, vanilla, milk, yeast, and slight smoke. Sweet hints of molasses. Slight anise spice. Dark fruit hints of cherry, raisin, fig, and prune. Light hints of earthy hops. A very solid stout aroma.

Taste: Like the taste, a nicely sweet and roasty dark malt driven taste with big notes of chocolate and coffee. Dark roasted barley malts with a upfront taste of sweet cocoa and dark chocolate, coffee beans, toasted bread, biscuit, caramel, toffee, milk, and yeast. Sweet taste of vanilla, syrup, and molasses. Subtle notes of anise licorice spice. Solid dark fruit undertones with notes of cherry, plum, prune, and fig. Hops are pretty light. A really good imperial stout taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with a fairly high level of carbonation. Very creamy and silky. Somewhat syrupy. A little alcohol heat is noticeable but its not overly hot.

Overall: A very good imperial stout. A little sweeter tasting and lighter feeling than typical for the style but it still delivers the big roasty taste very well with some nice dark fruit notes.

 1,530 characters

Photo of BlackBeerd
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From bottle, poured into nonic glass. It's an Imperial Stout in color, no doubt about it, pitch opaque black. The head is perhaps a bit darker than most in its, though not much so. However, the head doesn't stick around as long as similar beers like Old Rasputin, and there's almost no lacing.

The aroma is par for course when it comes to imperial stouts, nothing particularly stands out, but it's in no way bad either.

Following the precedent of the smell, the taste is good but not too complex- the taste hits you without taking too long. The taste is bold and flavorful as you'd expect an Imperial to be, so there's not much to complain about.

Mouthfeel follows the general theme thus far, leaving a nice warm taste in your mouth that lingers.

Overall it seems like a good beer for those who want to try out Imperial Stouts, by definition an Imperial is a good a lot bolder than a normal stout, and Old Heathen is a good baseline. Still, it lacks the complexity and attention to detail you'd expect from a true world-class offering.

 1,042 characters

Photo of dbl_delta
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle dated 12/18/14 -08/18/15 (the bottling and "best by" dates, I'd surmise) into a pint glass. Jet black, opaque, with a thin tan head. Fairly strong roasted/burnt malt up front, unsweetened chocolate, and finishes with plums or raisins. Thick and chewy. No alcohol burn. Noticeable but not dominant bitterness. OK, but not my favorite imperial stout by a long shot.

 376 characters

Photo of fscottkey
3.31/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: All black with no trace of light penetration. Fluffy/uneven 1 finger tan head. The head gives away pretty quickly.

S: faint scents of coffee, booze, oak.

T: Charred wood up front, boozy middle and a dry finish. There are also hints of cocoa nibs and bitter coffee

M: Light carbonation and light feeling on the tongue. Smooth and coating feel.

O: This is a decent beer. I am having trouble box it into one category of taste. It doesn't present with a single strong forward element. So hooray for balance - but it leaves it a bit unspectacular.

 549 characters

Photo of Roguer
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Minor, 1/2 finger head despite a strong pour. Head is dark brown and quickly fades to a thin oily sheen; brew is solid black.

Aroma hits with vanilla, chocolate, coconut, nuts, tons of roasted barley, and a character not unlike a BA stout - cream and booze.

Shockingly sweet, with tons of dark fruit, and a big dark hit of coffee and cacao coming in on the back-end. Roast barley throughout, but more subtle on the front. Coffee moves forward as it warms.

Definitely thin for the style, but with a long, lingering, satisfying finish. No sting, but lively.

This is a solid beer, although a little sweeter than I was expecting for a stout. The strong coffee and chocolate finish is definitely very pleasant. Worth checking out.

 729 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.36/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass. Why has this one Weyerbacher always escaped me till now? Never seemed to have found it till now.

Dark black walnut body, but comes out of the bottle more mahogany brown. Leaves a bit of leg and slick top, but not too filmy looking, with a finger of cocoa coffee brown head. Very bubbled collar and thin puck, but manages to always stick around as head disappears a little quickly.

Real fruity nose. Hints of blueberry, soft roasted malts, a little charring, a faint hint of warmth but not overly boozy. Hints at a large beer. Quite an impressive nose actually for a regular imperial stout.

Funny aftertaste. Very odd. First sip seems quite palate full, bringing some of the hinting fruit, then the finish is very wet and thin with little to distinguish. Slightly acrid finish but with not much sourness luckily. Fruit feeling hints of raspberry, blueberry, and watery juice, almost as if it's a fruit infused stout. Strange taste of peanut butter in here as it warms.

It's ironically not that bad, but it's nothing like I expected, or unfortunately reminding me anything of a regular imperial stout.

 1,148 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a tar black body with a tan head; nice lacing

Smell: Chocolate and coffee tones

Taste: Starts out with a chocolate base that in the mid-palate is joined by caramel, coffee and a bit of hops; closes with a slightly harsh, grainy character

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; a little thin for the style

Overall: Haven't had this one since my original review in 2006 (thanks then to BeerBeing, one of the great BAs from the old days) but this is a much better beer than I remember so I am going to consider this one a re-review

 561 characters

Photo of jpro
4.01/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz single picked up at Northbridge Pig before it closed. Poured into a tulip glass -

A: Black-brown, opaque pour; mocha head - one finger; good retention leaves a few specks of lace.

S: Milk chocolate; cocoa; sweet, roasted malt aroma.

T: Dark chocolate; coffee; fair level of hop bitterness; some smoked malt provides and extra layer of flavor; has a bit of a grapey aftertaste - reminiscent of DFH Worldwide Stout - obviously on a MUCH smaller scale.

M: Medium body; high carbonation; dry finish; feel seems a little light, though.

O: A nice stout; drinkable; tasty, with a good aroma, too; glad I tried it.

*from notes 01.21.14

 638 characters

Photo of dcmchew
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours pitch black with a small dark beige head, quickly reduced to a nice lacing.
Smells of dark roasted malts, with caramel, raisin, coffee, chocolate, molasses, cherries.
Huge dark fruit - sweet coffee combo in the first sip. Lots of roasted malts (almost burnt) serve as a blanket for raisin, juicy plums (especially), figs, ripe red grapes (red wine-ish) and a touch of sour cherries, also for big coffee bean notes, very dark chocolate and slight toffee. A mild citrus feel throughout. Caramel. Lots of dark spices and some vanilla and licorice. Some American hops trying to "conquer" the finish, and add a green feel to the midly bitter finish.
It's not as heavy as one would expect, but somewhat crisp. A tiny bit too carbonated, but still in the sipping category. Aftertaste of charcoal and dark fruit.
It's not gonna be my favourite RIS, but definitely one of the good ones.

 883 characters

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours black as far as I'm concerned. Big, creamy head is actually two-toned. The upper half is a firm tan and the lower half is brown. Loads of thick lacing.

S-Lots of roast and chocolate. Chocolate is bittersweet in the nose. Some soapy hoppiness as well. Pretty straight forward.

T-The roast is the first flavor I notice. It's quite strong. Then the bittersweet chocolate jumps out. Light anise. A bit of dark fruit and cola.

M-Full bodied but not viscous. Softer carbonation. A bit too hot for a sub-10% ABV brew.

O/D-Had Heresy before this and was very pleased with how this beer took to the barrel. A pretty standard big Stout.

 638 characters

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.

 1,887 characters

Photo of Kendo
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Body is black, with a 1-finger chocolate-brown head on top. Some lace.

S: Dark fruits, molasses and modest roast.

T: First impression: nothing really stands out. After a couple sips, I get some roasted coffee beans, some milk chocolate and some dark fruit. Hint of charcoal in the aftertaste.

M: Thin, a bit watery in feel. Call it medium in heft. This could use a little more presence.

O: OK; not the best RIS I’ve ever head, for sure, but inoffensive and an easy drinker. Lacks any strong characteristics - i.e., it's not big and roasty or filled with chocolate, or molasses, or even fruit. But it's going down easy enough.

 676 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Considered to be one of the godfathers of Imperial Stout, Weyerbacher's Old Heathen remains true to its rich English roots but weaves in an American twist here and there.

The massive stout starts with a rich and creamy pour- its slow separation of beer and foam eludes to its viscous creaminess. Once settled, its onyx-like deep "bark" brown hues are just shy from black but shows a depth of ominous clarity. Its tall column of foam is lightly mocha-stained and long lasting like mousse. Light speckled lace may be hindered because of its bold alcohol beneath.

Bold roasty alcohols portray a confident scent that borrows a slew of earthen character- cocoa, molasses, roasted walnuts, french-press coffee and burnt pine needles all contribute to a rich and roasty scent. There's a burnt dark fruit character that rises as the beer warms and tingles the nose ever so slightly.

Equally as bold are its verbose and roasty flavors- again, its the blend of espresso, bitter chocolate, roasted nuts and overall burnt taste that guide the taste over the tongue en route to finish. All the while, its underlying black-strap molasses sweetness slowly releases until the ale is malty-dry and mildly ashy tasting from that burnt pine-type resiny bitterness. A tinge of roasted currant and aniseed pronounces slightly as the ale warms and gives an extra tart taste to accompany its roasty dry finish.

The ale makes a lot of headway as it travels across the taste buds- creamy and viscous early, the ale fades consistently into a powdery-dry finish with mild roast-derived astringency and spicy bitterness. Certainly warm to close, the ale follows with a slim aftertaste of ash and burnt cinders.

Starting off very rich and creamy, Old Heathen shows its American influences with its somewhat naked dry finish that exposes rougher edges of its roast, along with a certain citrus pith and pine-like bitterness as the ale closes.

 1,917 characters

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle between reefer and room temp (Read - cellar), into goblet. Vintage 2013.
Aroma - weak - toasted with hints of carmel
Head small (<2 cm), creamy, light brown, fully diminishing.
Lacing nonexistant.
Body clear, dark brown.
Flavor- Starts only slightly bitter, ie malt balances the hops well, no diacetyl, alcohol not noticeable. finishs the same.
Begins lightly warming the stomach.
Palate - Body is medium to full, slightly oily, soft carbonation.

Overall, a quite good example of the style, very subdued. Think I'll have another!

 540 characters

Photo of dar482
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a black color with a brown/mocha ring around the class.

The aroma has milky chocolate, some black coffee, bit of raisin, not too much roastiness or robust aroma.

The flavor follows with a black coffee, a bit of milky chocolate, and then onto a roasty coffee bitter finish, a bit woody and herbal. The front flavor isn't too strong with the bitterness on the end being the prominent flavor.

The mouthfeel is medium to full, very silky and creamy.

A good and well restrained brew for the style.

 514 characters

Photo of microbrewlover
4.68/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This brew pours an opaque black with a one finger mocha head which lasts for several minuets. Good lacing stays on the glass until the end.

The smell is heavy with chocolate, coffee, nuts, raisins, sweet and roasted malts.

The taste follows the nose with sweet and roasted malts dominating, then chocolate and burnt coffee comes in. There is a slightly nutty taste then the finish is more silky chocolate. There is not much hop character but that is fine for this style; I am not complaining.

The mouthfeel is rich and smooth; nothing more to say.

Overall this is one of the best and well balanced Imperial Stouts I have had; another winner from Weyerbacher.

 662 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

I've had this quite a few times and, true to my experience with Weyerbacher's beers, the flavors can change slightly year-to-year.

I poured a little more than half of the bottle into a large snifter with mild force and some foam rose up but almost immediately started to break up and recede. Emptying the rest of the bottle into the glass, the same effect. The liquid is fairly impenetrably black.

Surprisingly, even after 10 minutes to un-chill, not much going on in aromas aside from some light caramelized char and some faint floral aromatics from the alcohol. Overall, anemic nasal penetration.

I've always remembered this beer being easy-drinking though with little dimension/complexity to the point of being boring. It's remarkably sedate and smooth in taste and mouthfeel as if they age the beer for 5+ years, polishing any harsh edge to it. Barely roasty, barely bitter. I would be led to guess that it's little more than a conservative splash of dark crystal and black patent atop maybe as much as 95% base malt. Could be way off.

Registering at only around 8% - low for an American version of the style - I am surprised each time with not having any heat or afterburn. It's kind of pleasant but I find that higher alcohol content adds the dimension that's lacking here.

But I never know quite what to expect with this stout every 3-5 months when I try one. More often than not, it's something I can have 3 of in one sitting and not take too much damage.

 1,468 characters

Photo of dgilks
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pitch black. Thick and creamy dark tan head. Good head retention.

Chocolate and touches of coffee. Quite sweet. Touches of roast.

Moderately sweet and malty. Touches of chocolate and caramel. Lightly roasty.

Medium-full body with moderate carbonation. Okay.

A solid beer but unexceptional to my palate. This needs a bit more oomph to really deliver.

 353 characters

Photo of jhartley
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into an English Pint glass.
Pours a jet black body, no light shines through this one! No head to speak of, just a light tan film that rests on the top.

Aromas of plums, roasted malts, dark chocolate and a slight stale coffee smell.

Great flavors of dark roasted malts, char, bittersweet chocolate. Really fills the mouth with a great dark roasted malt flavor, a slight bitterness that is off set with a malt sweetness.

A great Imperial Stout that is very easy to drink and has a lot of great roasted malt flavor. Alcohol is hidden very well. This would pair great with some chocolate desserts after dinner.

 637 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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