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 linnymtu
2.63/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Wanted to post a full review because I'm not sure my beer was fresh. I had it out of the bottle, and not sure how long it since it was bottled.

A - Normal stout appearance, dark black with a tan head. I love the look of all stouts, but as far as stouts go, this one was nothing above average.

S - Good smell, about average for a stout. Chocolate, coffee dominate

T - This is obviously where it falls apart for me. Some kind of acidic dominating taste filled my mouth about a half second after drinking and lasted all the way through. Possibly could have been a bad beer? Bottled badly? I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure it isn't supposed to taste like it did.

M - Also dominated by the acidic overtone, not pleasant.

O - I will have to try it again assuming I got a bad one

 779 characters

Photo of neophilus
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

It's dark. It's got a tan head that sticks around. Looks fine.

Rich complex roasted malt aroma, layers of tangy grain-forward dark bread malt mingled with some sweeter light maltiness on top of alcohol heat. Spicy from the grain, subdued hop aroma follows it up.

Dark roasted smooth grain flavor dominates the taste. Acrid bitterness takes a heavy hand with the aftertaste leaving an ash-like flatness of flavor behind. Some hint of the spicy grain lingers with a bit of alcohol heat.

Full bodied yet smooth, washes down easily. Alcohol shows up a bit much and the acrid bitterness of the roast grain lands a little hard, but otherwise easy drinking and assertive stout.

 673 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.59/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours a nicely dark brown-to-borderline pitch black color. The head is a three finger khaki shade. While the retention is good, it doesn't leave much lacing on the glass.

S: This beer offers up a mix of sweetness (chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, dark fruits) and savoriness (soy, faint oxidation, maybe even a musty presence?) to pervades my nose. After a bit, its roasty character will pop up like weeds. Nice complexity to be found here, even if not every note works perfectly.

T: If the aroma dictated a slightly sweet, chocolaty stout, then the flavor profile dictates a roasty, licorice-forward one. Licorice opens up the palate before it fades into a faintly roasted coffee expression in the midtaste/finish. A distant aftertaste of char and umami qualities alongside an appearance of chocolate, smoke, and prunes after many sips give it an overall depth that is very good, but not elite. I'm not a huge fan of how this one finishes in general, but everything up to that point is rock solid.

M: I'd say it's a bit too thin and devoid of creaminess on the onset. The texture will eventually froth up giving a good counteraction to the roasted malts. This one really needs a drier finish to allow the savory/roasted qualities to shine through more vividly.

O: Likable, but at the same time, a bit aimless and meandering in its complexity. It comes across undecided whether it wants to be big, roasty, and dry or sweet, fruity, and chocolaty, and ergo doesn't really do either facet fabulously. This is a good off-the-shelf RIS that has the misfortune of competing with MANY great ones (such as Old Rasputin).

 1,662 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.06/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
8.0% ABV, no date.

A - Old Heathen pours like old motor oil and is just as black in the glass. Slivers of amber brown shine through the edges and a low, mildly retained mocha head caps this beer.

S - Slick bitter chocolate and gritty cocoa really contribute a dark presence to this aroma. Molasses, dirt, and the aroma of a cigar lounge leather chair as well as old books follow, adding to the "dark" character of Old Heathen while herbal notes of earthy hops have a kick at the end.

T - Thick and rich roasted malt coat the tongue and impart coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and molasses with a dirt-like finish and balanced earthy hops.

M - Smooth but thick and viscous, Old Heathen is as full-bodied as they come with a light surprisingly lighter bitter finish than I expected for the roasted malt presence. The beer is fairly gritty though; a little rough around the edges.

O - The wind is howling outside as snow whirls around; the perfect time to enjoy a beer such as this. Very dark and roasted, Old Heathen is a malty beast with smoky notes and burnt coffee for an aggressive grittiness and bitter finish. Maybe not the greatest Russian imperial out there, but far more drinkable in terms of alcohol than quite a bit of them.

 1,272 characters

Photo of JJKBeerLvr
4.77/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Very dark with nice brown head.

Smell: Pleasant, and can smell both the hops and roasted malts.

Taste: Excellent taste. There is both a strong hop and malt flavor, but it is not too bitter, nor too sweet. The balance between them is great.

This is one of the best imperial stouts I've tasted. You will enjoy it if you like a bold stout. It is complex, and every time I drink it, I get something new. Definitely a beer to drink again.

 488 characters

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.77/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from 12oz bottle into nonic pint glass. Dark brown oily pour, yielding a single-finger head even with a very aggressive pour. Smells sweet up front, with roasted undertones. Taste is delicious; coating your whole mouth with sweetness, then the roast-ness comes in and finishes. Leaving some nice lacing as I drink as well. Mouthfeel is creamy and full. A great RIS, a great beer.

 386 characters

Photo of rodlavers
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Overall, I've had sub-par experience with Weyerbacher. A colleague passed this off to me with high ratings, and I am glad to try to another Imperial Stout, and am curious as to what the brewery does with the style.

Appears black and thick, with a light mocha head. Starts off with a 1-finger head, but that thins out to a slim layer. Some chunky lacing, not much. It's very very black.

Smells of roasted barley and malt, sweet chocolate, black licorice, small hints of coffee, and maybe leather.

Taste, re: smell. dark fruit and tobacco in there as well, along with some hop profile.

Feel is decent, smooth and bitter at the same time, with some carbonation present at the end.

Overall this is just an OK Imperial Stout. I've had much better, and this experience affirms I am not a massive fan of Weyerbacher, no offense. Glad I tried it. Cheers.

 853 characters

Photo of brianjay
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very dark, pitch black in fact, body which is topped with a halo of thin head. The aroma is an interesting blend of sweet chocolate with soft notes of roasted coffee but alcohol peaks it's head in your nose and takes over. Taste is spiked by hazelnut and accentuated by an oily mouth-feel. Lingering flavor is balanced roasted nuts and coco.

 341 characters

Photo of thlayli87
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Black with thin tan head. No lacing.

S - Very earthy aroma, like freshly turned garden soil.

T - Sweet up front, then roasty malt, with an earthy hop finish.

M - Chewy, full bodied.

O - Well crafted imperial stout. The alcohol packs a punch but is well hidden.

 268 characters

Photo of Damian74
3.94/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a over sized wine glass.

A- Pours a dark black. The head is tan and very bubbly. It dissipates quickly, thin lacing on glass.

S- Smells very strongly of roasted malts. chocolate, caramel

T- Chocolate malt,coffee, smokey.

M- A heavy beer. Lightly carbonated. Roasted malt finish.

O- Good for the style. Would get again.

 355 characters

Photo of thecheapies
4.04/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Old Heathen going into a snifter. Old label art. Bottled 08/18/11. Best by 04/18/12.

Pours quite black with a tan head of almost two fingers. Head resting nicely and lacing moderately. Looks purdy good.

Smells roasty and a little milky. Roasty malts, caramel, chocolate malt, light evergreen, fennel, coffee, and hints of pine hops. So mellow and rich with a light sweetness to the nose that you can tell the age has had a magical influence on this one.

Salt caramel, Mocha Java, charred grain, milk, spruce, anise, menthol, and traces of oxidation. Still has a creamy taste, as if the beer skirted across milk sugars. These are all nuances of the caramelized sugars and sweet aged malt base. Light booze works well here, too.

Smooth and thickened. Nice permeating carb that creeps up into the gums of my upper palate. Tongue wants to glaze up in the front and dance a bit in the back.

This beer has held up mightily well, but perhaps peaked mere months ago. I can't remember if I've ever had a fresh taste, but now I want to to compare. A delicious and easy-going imperial stout.

 1,085 characters

Photo of Altrurian
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours pretty thick and gurgling. Dark, three-finger head forms, with some downward cascading, and lasts a good couple of minutes. Nice cling left behind. Opaque body, ruby edges. In sum, noteworthy aesthetic values.

Taste emphasizes the grain notes. Sweetness predominates, but the brew is not reminiscent of fruits. Really what come to mind is the best root beer float you've ever had: earthy and creamy, with the mildest of hoppy finishes. At a manageable 8%, I'm going to call this a session stout, and one to be reckoned with.

 531 characters

Photo of Act25
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Let it warm! A slow stout.
Best Stout so far. (since tasting a couple of stouts have out-notched Old H. 'Came back to this on SuperBowl and it both didnt disappoint but was great atop a Dales Pale Ale as a Black & Pale.

Strong so appreciate slowly.
Concur with A bros' review.

Blackest. A Cappacino like head: firm, tall, lasting.
Smell - December wet leaves, long early winter walk.
Taste - Soothing and strong. Coffee, chocolate, bitter, soaring.
Feel - Dreamy kiss. Feathers. Tongue tickler.
Overall Arc - Maybe best stout tried this year.

Bottle avail at Whole Foods nj. Case discount.

(drive carefully, drink slowly!)

Re-tasted and I hold with this high review, must taste against Narwhal, TenFidy, Boris, Old Rasputin, Founders and more because they are all so great and all clustered together around 4.5. This one probably at 4.2.

 849 characters

Photo of atr2605
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-pours black with a tan head with decent retention
S-prunes, coffee, hint of unsweetened cocoa
T-dark dried fruit of front combines with the coffee flavor and finishes with chocolate on the palate
O-I thought it lacked a bit of head retention and body, but the flavors were excellent. I would most certainly drink it again

 337 characters

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

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

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

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

M - Thin body (watery) and low carbonation.

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

 328 characters

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

Poured into a snifter.

A: Black with two-finger, tan, creamy head that lasted several minutes. Great lacing.

S: Roasted malt. Hints of chocolate and coffee. Mild.

T: Moderate sweetness and moderate bitterness. Roasted malt. Bittersweet and strong coffee flavor. Not my favorite Russian Imperial stout.

M: Medium to full bodied with fizzy carbonation. Smooth and chewy.

O: I feel like I might be giving this a 4.0 rather than a 3.5 overall only because I really like Russian Imperial stouts. The beer looks really good and it has a great mouthfeel, but the smell and taste were a bit of a let down.

 602 characters

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

from the cellar, 2011 bottle.

a deep brown/black pour with a finger of head and excellent retention. smells of chocolate, roasted grains, coffee. sweet cocoa flavor up front followed up immediately by a mellow coffee, dark roasted grains, a hint of figs. medium body with moderate carbonation, silky smooth and creamy.

not a bad stout at all - weak in comparison to some of the RIS that i've been drinking lately, but considering the low abv for the style, it's pretty solid.

 477 characters

Photo of thebrood1987
4.72/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very dark and I get roasted coffee dark malt plum and fruits. It start off very smooth with sweet dark roasted malty a bit of a fruity hop bite and then ending with a long roasty coffee bean taste although they use no coffee so this is all from the excellent use of malts...very impressive.

Definitely one of my favorite Weyerbacher beers I've ever had from them. Its very silky smooth and as the beer warms I get herbal tastes mixing in with the really rich and extremely tasty roastinesss. The body of the beer is a little thin for a russian imperial which is the only downfall but not enough to ever put a beer this tasty down.

The fruitiness plum flavor comes out more as it warms too. The tastes all come together in unison asa top notch quality russian imperial craft beer.

 782 characters

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

wonderful stout, kind of a best of both worlds sort of vibe, with the sweet creamy vibe of a milk stout, and that burnt malt bitterness of a nice coffee forward stout. pours thick and dark, with an inch of tan foam hanging around awhile. the nose is bitter, very dark roast on the grains here, and a hint of dark chocolate and black coffee as well. the flavor starts a little sweet, akin to a left hand milk stout, im pretty sure i can identify lactose sugars here, but the sweetness is short lived and gives way to the bitter malt in a powerful way. the finish is long and complex, with more and more coffee coming into the picture. great feel on this too, smooth like an oatmeal stout, full bodied like the russian imperials should be, and a well disguised alcohol kick that can be felt but not tasted. one of the better stouts ive had this season, and one i look forward to revisiting again soon. the best weyerbacher beer i have had to date.

edit: boy does this age well!

 976 characters

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

Pours nearly black with a bit of ruby. Small tan head. Not much lacing. Aroma is quite nice: rich, dark malts, roasted barley, some chocolate and vanilla, touch of coffee. Some alcohol rises to the nose. Flavor is incredibly smooth; wonderfully creamy mouthfeel. Flavor is roast malt, some chocolate, coffee, and vanilla, a touch of licorice. Some earthy hops and a dry finish.

 377 characters

Photo of kristiekatk
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with a thin, coffee-colored head. The aroma is dark and fruity; full of raisins, roasted grains, and chocolate. A very similar taste: espresso, dark chocolate, very earthy and with a fantastic ripe fruit quality. There are some soft, slightly char aspects and some light grassy hops in sweet and roasty finish.

The 8% alc/vol is very masked. It has a silky smooth mouthfeel, low carbonation, but is a little too light-bodied for the Imperial style.

 465 characters

Photo of CommanderOfAwesome
2.36/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle poured into a large snifter. Bottled on date: 9.11.12

A: Pours like you'd expect an imperial stout to pour, black. Very little head, no head retention. Overall pretty flat.

S: Not getting much aroma other than coffee. Maybe a weird pine/earthy smell but that's reaching a bit.

T: Smooth/flat. Comparing it to other RIS it comes across extremely thin. I wonder if I got a bad bottle. Syrupy sweet taste.

M: Thin, watery, no carbonation or body to speak of. Very poor for an RIS.

O: I'd like to try this one again, but this is a weak effort. This might be an example of a bad bottle, or a bad beer from a usually stellar brewery. I'll revisit my review if I try another one.

 693 characters

Photo of ghengisflan
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - It pours opaque black with little head.

Smell - The roast I smell from this beer is no more or less than a regular stout.

Taste - Again, roast predominates but there is a nice complex range of flavors including chocolate, coffee, and cream.

Mouthfeel - Rich and creamy.

Overall - While it's a good example of a Russian Imperial Stout in my opinion, I have had quite a few that are better.

 405 characters

Photo of LBeaux
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very, very dark brown, almost black. Head like mocha.

Aroma not pronounced, but faint chocolate/coffee. Can’t detect much if any hop aroma.

Thick, but less so than many imperials.

Sweet, roasty malt taste, with distinct chocolate and coffee notes finally showing up big time. Very little bitter aftertaste.

Not a big imperial stout guy, but in comparison to most in the style this is lighter and more balanced. Still bold, but not the kick in the teeth an imperial stout can be. Can’t decide if that's a good thing or not. Probably a little less exciting than the best imperials.

 587 characters

Photo of lsummers
4.48/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark as night with half finger tan head that dissipates fairly quickly. Smells of roasted chocolate grains with hints of coffee and a dark fruity character.

Taste is quite smooth and hits first with the sweet fruity chocolate which turns midway into the bitter coffee and ends with a touch of bitter sweet roasted hop character on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is not as thick as some of the other imperial stouts I've tried. Especially the other weyerbacher stouts. Helps that the beer feels a touch carbonated too. Heavy enough to remind you it's a stout though.

Overall, I definitely would love to have this beer be close by me. This might be a go to imperial stout for me.

 676 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.