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 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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of wl0307
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Coming in a 12 fl. Ozs. slim brown bottle, bottle-conditioned; BB info. unavailable from the bottle/label, served mildly chilled in a Hapkin’s short-stemmed tulip-shaped sniffer.

A: pitch black in colour, coming with a thin layer of dark brown foamy head with very good retention, on top of rather mild carbonation.
S: deeply roast malty and fruity at the same time, hinting at dark chocolates, toasted nuts, treacle, overripe plums, sour-ish brown prunes, a touch of vanilla, etc. Not as heavily malty or heavily hoppy as some other American takes on the styles I’ve had, while it keeps a pronounced acidic fruity edge to add to the overall complexity all in all.
T: juicy fruity-malty on the mildly effervescent entry, ensued by black prunes, coffee candy, lightly spicy & bitter roasted nuts, vanilla-ish undertones and a lightly metallic touch, finished with a decent input of bitterness (just enough), prune-ish sourness and a dry-ish touch plus chocolates & toffee-ish malt undertones lingering in the end.
M&O: medium-plus bodied, lightly effervescent on the palate and decently executed, this Imperial Stout ticks the boxes as a quality craft beer although I’d say the balance on the palate gears towards the sweeter side which takes off a few points on the overall performance to me.

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Photo of alaimoa
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter producing a bit of coffee head and jet black color. Smell had an upfront booze aroma with a bit of roasted coffee notes with some sweet fig too. Taste sweet fig, chocolate, coffee, toffee, burnt sugar leading into a booze finish. Would have liked a bit more smoothness. Feels ok with decent carb.
Overall not a bad stout

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Photo of BigMarty1980
4.79/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Pours out as dark as black coffee. The head is a beautiful rich cream brown.

S- Coffee

T- Taste is of coffee/expresso. Hints of raisin and maybe some figs.

M- Its a great full body.

O- This is by far, at this point, is one of the best Imperial Stoudts I've ever had. Perfect for a cold fall/early winter day. You will not disappointed.

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Photo of CwrwAmByth
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Fullers snifter glass.

Pours an oily black colour with a tiny tan head.

Smells of port, raisins, dark chocolate, liquorice, and just a hint of oaky dryness.

Tastes of alcohol and dark fruit, with rather a wine-like quality, followed up by bittersweet, dark, burnt malts - chocolate, liquorice. Quite a nice mouthfeel, not too thick with a small level of carbonation playing on the tongue.

Overall a pretty nice beer, nothing outstanding in any particular category but a really nice, solid package, with few mistakes. A nice, drinkable impy.

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Photo of usechopstix4soup
3.37/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured into snifter glass and boy do I have to say, the very first thing I noticed about this beer was the very strong alcohol smell from it. It was very, very pertinent. I thought I had poured a liquor of some sort!

It poured an oil black with a decent tan head that didn't last too long but kept a film over the top. Looking from eagle's view, it look as though there was a slight purple tint to it, which I thought was cool. It has a very interesting smell once you get pass the strong alcohol aroma, something sweet like raisins and pine nuts, cherries, aged grapes and dates come to mind.

Tastes of a stout in fruit, if that makes sense. Bold stouty flavor, consisting of mainly bread and some faint chocolate, but definitely cherry and grapes that overpower the taste.

Very strong beer, not just in flavor but I believe this is 8%. Interesting experience. The beer is very bold and if you are a person who is adventurous and love to try new beers, this is one you should get your hands on.

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Photo of schwemjw
3.76/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Dark black with a slight tan mocha head.

S: Dates, plum fig and a little shot of roast to liven things up. Slight cinnamon. Dark italian roast coffee. Bitter and chunks of chocolate.

T: raisins and brown sugar start things off. Dates and figs covered in dark chocolate dominate the middle. Very dark coffee but without the bite finishes this off. a little funky.

M: Very thin actually. finish is light and fruity but hangs with you.

O: A lighter fruitier stout with good flavor throughout. I would have liked a little more complexity and i wish it was bigger but definitely a sessionable stout. /85

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Photo of 57md
3.76/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep, dark brown with two big fingers of fluffy tan head. The head lingers for a significant time. The nose has definite roasted malt notes. Roasted malt comes through upfront in the flavor profile, as well. The finish has a strange sweet note that seems definitely out of place.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.64/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A- pours pitch black in color with a dark tan fizzy two-finger head that reduces to a small film floating on top, leaving no lace. Continues to fizz like a pop

S- dark and roasty malt, slightly smoky from the peat. Dark fruit and a touch of coffee

T- coffe and roasted malt with smoky peat, gives a bit of smoky campfire. Has an almost lactic like sweetness mid-palate that leads to more roasted notes on the finish, with just a touch of hop bitterness, a bit of metallic linger

M- medium body with high-fizzy carbonation leads to a super bubbly mouthfeel and finish. The carbonation is all over the place, would prefer a bit more cream and less fizz

O- This one was interesting, it drank like a milk stout with RIS malty strength. The flavor was actually quite enjoyable, but the mouthfeel seemed a bit thin for the wealth of flavor. The alcohol is hidden brilliantly and drinks as easy as a milk stout

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz.

Pours jet black. Coffee-and-cream head is about half an inch thick, retains as a film.

Smells of mild oak, roasted coffee, and hints of caramel and vanilla.

Flavor of cocoa, coffee, buttered toast, caramel, and a bit of vanilla.

Fuller body with a light sting of carbonation on the back of the tongue.

Pretty good stout, I've had better but its up there. Definitely worth trying, good flavor, decent body. Weyerbacher doesn't disappoint.

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

Appearance: Pours a dense, black color…head is mocha colored, full of tiny bubbles, making a lush, fluffy cloud…settles to a thin layer but does liven up with a couple of swirls…(3.75/5)

Smell: Roasted malts, oatmeal and light coffee bitterness hit my nose first…it’s noticeably earthy and has a slight alcohol astringent presence…there is a slight airy citrus quality that I pick up late in the overall aroma…it’s got a nice imperial stout smell, but it’s not unusual or unique by any means…pretty straight forward…(3.5/5)

Taste: Much like the nose…roasted malts, light oatmeal and mild coffee bitterness up front…flavor lingers on my tongue, leaving mostly robust roasted malts to savor…there is a faint dark fruit sweetness happening here, that takes the edge off the typical “imperial” stout flavor…it certainly has a noticeable alcohol astringent notes happening as well…this is a straight forward flavor, with little exotic or substantial going on here...it’s unfortunately pretty basic in flavor, though I am enjoying it…(3.5/5)

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body for this style…there is medium carbonation here as well, fluffing up bringing roasted malts and light coffee bitterness to the palate…I find it to be smoother and lighter than most imperial stouts…roasted malts and oatmeal (more as it warms) linger well into the after taste…(3.5/5)

Overall: While this is a solid brew, it’s not the best thing I’ve had from Weyerbacher…the flavor is very drinkable and it’s lighter body lend itself to being able to drink a couple in one sitting, I have to say overall I was a bit disappointed…for me, imperial stouts should have a chewiness that I can really get a hold of and a bit more depth in flavor, which Old Heathen lacks…while its good, it’s not great and for me isn’t worth the higher price tag that this brew commands…if like me, you find it on a mix-a-six wall, then by all means scoop one up, but I won’t be stocking my fridge or closet full of this one…(3.5/5)

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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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