Black Cauldron Imperial Stout | Grand Teton Brewing Co.

very good
608 Ratings
Black Cauldron Imperial StoutBlack Cauldron Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Grand Teton Brewing Co.
Idaho, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
There are few styles of beer more flavorful than Imperial Stout. Our thick, rich version is brewed with plenty of caramel and roasted malts and subtly spiced with Cascade and Super Galena hops. We accentuate the natural smokiness of the brew by adding a small amount of beechwood-smoked malt. At 22.5 degrees starting gravity and 9.5% alcohol by volume, this beer boasts flavors of chocolate and coffee, along with raisins and dried fruit soaked in sherry.

Black Cauldron is a strong ale best enjoyed in moderation. Try pairing it with full-flavored grilled or roasted meats. Rich desserts like chocolate cake, truffles, fruit tarts, caramel flan or crème brûlée are all excellent matches.

We brew our Black Cauldron Imperial Stout to recognize and honor the women in the history of brewing. Brewing has been women's work since the dawn of civilization. In all ancient cultures, beer was a gift from a goddess, and women maintained status and power through their skills as brewsters. This remains true today in indigenous cultures from Asia to Latin America, Africa to remote villages in Scandinavia. Around the world, women bake bread and brew their own beer.

In Europe, the rise of cities brought commercial brewing, as governments realized the potential tax revenue to be had from large breweries. By 1445, the first all-male brewers' guild was established, the campaign against witchcraft burst forth across Europe, and the purge of women from brewing had begun. Beer historian Alan Eames has written that, when an occupation was listed, most of the women burned for witchcraft in Europe were brewsters or alewives.

Most of the imagery we associate with witchcraft today originated with the brewster. The large black cauldron bubbling over with foam? A brew kettle, of course. The black cat? Necessary to keep rats out of the grain store. The tall pointed hat? It allowed the brewster to be seen over the heads of taller men in the marketplace. A broom? The symbol of household domesticity, it is still associated with brewing all over the world.

Without the work of these women through the ages, it's entirely possible beer would not exist today. To learn more about the role of women in today's brewing industry, visit For more on the history of brewing,

With its dark malts, alcohol and unfermented sugars Black Cauldron is ideal for prolonged cellaring. We’ve enjoyed samples aged as long as nine years.

Original Gravity (Plato): 22.5º
International Bitterness Units: 54
Color (Lovibond): 40.0º

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-23-2006

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Reviews: 327 | Ratings: 608
Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Black brew with a huge mocha colored frothy, dense head. Really the head is beautiful. There is copious lacing all down the glass as well. Not a single thing to complain about here.

S - Faint roasted hazelnuts, mild grapefruit pith. When it is warmer, I also get chocolate malt, cola and alcohol. Over the smell is lacking in potency. Something an intense aroma can ruin a strong beer, here it failed to do the beer justice.

T - A bit of cola and charred malt dominate the flavor. The 500L+ roasted barley really makes its presence known. There are fainter flavors of white pepper, alcohol maybe a hint of chocolate. The aftertaste is a lingering bitter of scorched barley and a bit of subtle citrus pith.

M - Very smooth, thick, actually very refreshing too.

D - I have to hand it to this brew. Coffee and chocolate are the first flavors that usually come to mind when I think stout, but this one has cola an char. An interesting twist - and frankly, it works. I am pleased with this one. I drank the bottle quickly and enjoyed it profusely. Make no mistake, this isn't an iconic stout and certainly not the best that I've had, but I wouldn't hesitate to have it again.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.36/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked this up mostly because it was new and at ~$9 a four pack it is much cheaper than the 1L bottles I saw a couple years back. It had the standard appearance of an imperial stout, inky black, dark coffee colored head. Smells was mostly roasty malts, average. The flavor was more of the same heavy roasted maltiness and not much else. This was by no means a bad beer just your average imperial stout.

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Photo of homebrewhawk
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a snifter. Poured a deep brown/black with a quickly dissipating tan head. Roasted barley and some piney hops in the aroma. Medium bodied and smooth. Fair amount of roasted barley and chocolate. Not a lot of hop bitterness. Nice long finish of chocolate malt. Could use a little more body for an Imperial Stout, but pretty drinkable.

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Photo of dougofthefuture
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fresh bottle taken from the beer fridge. Warmed slowly while reviewing.

A - Motor oil black, no head, and very little lacing.

S - Boozy and sweet. It's hard for me to pick up much more than that.

T & M - Kind of hot for 8%, and lots of black licorice flavor. Initially there wasn't much for much to enjoy here, but as it gets closer to room temp, the roasted malt nuances start to come through. There's still too much licorice and booze here though. Mouthfeel is a little thin, but not to the point of distraction.

D - It's been 30 minutes and I'm half way though. I'm ready for something else. I'm glad I bought 1 instead of 4.

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Photo of mp2mp
4.75/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark. Pours with a slight but lacey head. Little or no residue for a bottle aged beer. Nice caramelly aroma with elderberry overtones. Very smooth on the tongue at first taste developing into full, rich stout. No pansy fruity flavors. One starts to enjoy the hops in a pleasant lingering aftertaste. Very well balanced.

We served with a espresso cheesecake with acclaim from all guests. But it holds it's own as an after-a-hard-days-work as well for a pleasant buzz.

The carton is good reading and the graphics are cool.

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Photo of emerge077
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Single for $2.49 at Ray's in Wauwatosa, WI.

Pours into a mug with a few fingers of cascading chocolate syrup stained foam. This settles quickly, forming a solid crown of lace from the surface to the wall of the glass, very sticky. Very plummy aroma, fruity, sweet and roasty. Fairly light for an RIS, but full flavored. Some mild char, not too bitter, sweet molasses cookies, and plums. Perceptible alcohol as it warms.

Very easy drinking for an 8% RIS, i'm glad to have tried it. For my money though, Viking Big Swede is similar and a few bucks cheaper.

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Photo of bigreduw64
3.34/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of the bottle with a hard pour that produced almost no head, just what I like to see out of an Imperial Stout. It should mean some body to this beer. Taking a whiff from the oversized wine glass I poured it into gives me a smell of dark roast coffee and a little booziness. The taste is something of a mix that I can best describe as white sugar topping a 90% bittersweet chocolate. It has an odd sweetness that tastes thin in the mouth. The body is somewhat thin for an imperial stout, but that helps it in drinkability. If you are looking for an imperial stout to have a couple of in a night this one would work. However, I like a stout that is thick and viscous when I am drinking an imperial stout and this just doesn't live up to that billing.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.16/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a dark brown/black with a soft tan head, nice notes of lace.

S: On the first smell I got a lot of what smelled like isoproponal, but I'm sure it was the ethanol. Some black malt and charcoal, but very light. Very boozy on the nose, like a spirit not a beer.

T: Here we go. Nice dark baker's chocolate and roasted malt. Very light coffee flavours. Solid taste.

M: Very thin for the style, this is an RIS, felt like a regular stout.

D: This beer is OK, but with all the classic great RIS's out there, this is going to get lost in the shuffle, it's from another time.

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Photo of rye726
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours near black with shades of brown and a thin mocha head.

Nose has roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits, oak, molasses and coffee.

More rich malts, cocoa, wood, espresso and ripe fruits in the taste.

Medium to full body is well carbonated. Tasty, nicely balance imperial stout.

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Photo of tpd975
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Joey Redner for this one.

A: Pours a dark black hue with a nice 1/4 finger solid head. Good retention and some lace noted.

S: Aromas of burnt malt, coffee, chocolate, and light smoke.

T: Tasty brew. Nice chocolate up front with a bit of bitter coffee. Hints of smoke and tobacco come through in the middle with light hops in the finish.

M: Medium in body, smooth with great carbonation.

D: Good, what a nice rare tasty treat.

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Photo of badbeer
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black with a tan head and decent retention. Roasty aromas, as well as licorice, tar, and also a fair amount of earthy hops. Taste was roasty, with almonds, caramel, dark chocolate, and a touch of smoke. Body was medium and so was the carbonation. I'd drink this again if it were available to me. Thanks to pepsican for the sample.

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this bad boy way back in the day from younger35. Ah yes, memories...thanks Dan!

1 liter black wax swing top bottled poured into a snifter. NOV 01 2007.

Pours a deep onyx black with a quick one finger dark mocha colored head that disappears almost instantly. Thin spotty lacing holds on to the sides of the glass. Smell is pretty smokey with roasted almonds, coffee grinds, and bbq meat. Underneath all that smokey goodness is dark chocolate and rich caramel malts in the nose. Overall though, this beast really is about the toasted aromas, I just wish it had more UMPH! Taste is a bit more sweet than the nose which is nice surprise but still a good amount of smoke. Milk chocolate, leather, and fig with smokey bbq flavors. Aftertaste is somewhat fruity with dark berries and tobacco. Medium to full body with a slick feel from the soft carbonation. A bit thin for the style, but it seems to help with the drinkability. Probably one of the more drinkable RIS's that I've had. A very fitting beer for a bitter cold night in Syracuse. Thanks again Dan-O for the opportunity.

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Photo of brdc
4.75/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks johngalt1 for this beer; been sitting on it for a long time. Should have waited longer, cut my finger bad trying to open through all this wax. Swivel top very large bottle.

Poured into a snifter, produces a beautiful pitch black brew with a dense, creamy, voluminous coffee colored head that lasts forever, and coats the sides of the glass as you swing it around. Just beautiful.
Not a lot of hops on the aroma of this properly aged beer, just a faint hint of grassy hops; mostly dominated by chocolate notes, a bit on the sweeter side, caramel, roasted malts, dark fruits, a hint of spices.
Creamy on the palate, very close to full bodied, and it tastes better than a lot of beers around 10%; I cannot believe this is around 7%.
A little closer to an oatmeal/milk/sweet stout as the perceived IBUS are quite low, but a delicious beer. Wish I had more.

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Photo of sholland119
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Bailey's Taproom in Portland.

Pours a deeply opaque jet black. A solid mocha colored head and some nice lacing.

Roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate dominate the nose. Very nice.

Taste follows the nose. Bittersweet chocolate on the front end, finishing with a roasted coffee and a modest hop bite. Very nice.

Rich, oily mouthfeel, just the way I like my RIS.

For my money, the only thing better than a flavorful beer is a flavorful beer that is low in ABV for its style. I am still rather stunned that this is only a 7.5% ABV as it tastes much bigger.


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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks goes out to JohnGalt1 for this big bad bold bottle of beer. Alliteration is Amazingly Awesome.

Gigantic 1 quart, 1.8oz bottle with a wax capped flip top pours a deep black with a nice tan head that leaves good lacing and retains pretty well.

Nose is alot of roasted malt, a significant dark fruit presence, some light smoke, and a bit of peat.

Taste follows with big roastiness, some dark fruit, but not as much as indicated in the nose. A slight "Belgian Royal stoutishness" if you will. haha. The peat does show up in the taste, but it is very subtle. Some defenite chocolate here, but coffee flavors are light. A slight wine like dryness is present towards the finish, which comes with a nice subtle display of hop character. Alcohol presence is relatively low, but that was somewhat expected by the lower abv on this one.

Mouthfeel is suprisingly viscous for the abv, bold, slick like an Impy oatmeal stout, and very easily carbonated. Very palateable.

Drinkability is quite good here, The abv has a bit to do with that, but nowhere near as much as you would expect. The mouthfeel is almost perfect here, and that combined with the balanced yet complex taste makes for a very easy drinking imperial stout.

Overall a suprising and good experience from GT. A very elaborate bottle presence represents some hard work that was done to craft this beer. A unique, balanced, and very enjoyable offering from the Cellar Reserve series. I will certainly be turning my head in the direction of Grand Teton more often due to this beer. Not to be scoffed at. I may just finish this 1L on my own. (In fact i planned on it all along) Thanks again to Toby for hookin me up with this one. Great beer.

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Photo of aluskungs
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wax sealed bottle bought from the brewery in 2005. Cracked it open on my birthday okt. of 08.

Pours nice and heavy, not thick like oil. Good dark lacing on the sides of my rapscallion cognac glass. The beer is pretty much black.

Strong date smell with some alcohol and coffee thrown in there.

The taste is smooth (3 years old) and very drinkable. Dates, licorice, tobacco flavors, like a port wine. Excellent!

A great beer that doesn't need to be 18 percent alcohol! A well balanced beer that shows that you don't need a lot of alcohol to make a great "extreme" beer. Really great job. I should have bought more. My loss.

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Photo of DIM
4.45/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottled 11/07

a: This was an inky black color. It poured with a thick, dark mocha colored head that faded fairly quickly.

s: I got lots of cocoa and milder notes of bitter coffee plus a little bit of cherry. Despite the relatively low abv, I found a little warmth as well.

t: Lots of raw, bitter cocoa that had some coffee qualities. There were some faintly sour dark fruits at the end as well. This wasn't at all overpowering, but it was far from a lightweight. It was rich yet restrained.

m: Maybe just a little thin for an RIS, but with a slightly lower abv, I guess that's to be expected. The carbonation was creamy and long lasting.

d: Big thanks to JohnGalt1 for this treat. I wish this readily available to me. I'd love some more of this one.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.8/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Let me start by asking why the [email protected] would you wax coat a bottle? Man I almost lost a finger trying to open this. I almost started a post in the forum over wax coated bottles. STOOPID!

Big ole 1 liter bottle from 11/07. Pours a very, very nice deep black color. Great cocoa head on top. Heavy dark chocolate aroma-like walking into a bakery. Great flavor-fantastic blend of chocolate and a mild espresso. Lingering fresh baked brownie taste. Some dried fruits in there. Almost a faint iodine inky taste in a good way. Black and velvety smooth mouthfeel for the heavy roasted and chocolate flavors. Incredibly drinkable-a liter bottle goes down like nothing. Make a night of it. Damn fine RIS-and a hell of a lot of flavor and character for 7.5%.

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Photo of weeare138
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Much thanks to hopdog for sharing this 1 Liter, wax tipped, flip top. November, 2007 vintage.
Appears a near black with a small tan cap that fades into a mild collar. Spotty lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of coffee, mocha, cocoa, caramel, plums, raisins, and grainy astringency.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with some roasted coffee beans standing out among the varietal of flavors.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, roasty, grainy, acidic, and slightly thin in the swallow.

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Photo of brentk56
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2005 bottling; tasted 7/30/08
2007 bottling; tasted 1/4/09
2010 bottling; tasted 8/17/10
2012 bottling; tasted 8/4/12

Appearance: Pours a dark dark brown color with a modest tan head that turns into a ringlet rather quickly and only dots the glass (the 2007 and 2010 had better head retention so I have bumped up the score by .5; the 2012 retention was not as good but the lacing was better)

Smell: Roasty, with tons of dark fruit (blackberries and dried plums), licorice, coffee and cocoa; the 2012 smells almost burnt, however, and has a hoppy aspect

Taste: The fruit and coffee make themselves apparent up front, with a roasty bitterness taking control by mid-palate; after the swallow, the coffee and chocolate elements move to prominence but the dark fruit remains to accompany those flavors to the finish; somehow a bit of orange is in there all along though that only becomes discernable halfway through the bottle (the 2012 version is much hoppier, with a burnt character that overwhelms the other elements)

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; almost creamy

Drinkability: A first rate RIS that has stood the test of time

I think I got the 2005 a while back from Bitterbill. Thanks for the opportunity. Can't remember who shared the 2007, but thanks as well. The 2010 was provided by FlandersNed and I purchased the 2012 in South Carolina when the brewery started to distribute to that state

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Photo of russpowell
4.6/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

07 batch; Got this one in trade with Bitterbill, cheers Bill! Curses to Grand Teton & their insipid over waxing of the flip tops! Cut myself with a butter knife getting this baby open.

Pours ebony/black with 2 fingers of brown head. Great lacing & good head retention

S: Dark fruit, & rich chocolate, brown sugar a touch of vanilla & some smokeyness as this warms way up.

T: Dark fruit, dryness, baker's & semi-sweet chocolate up front. Leafy hops, dryness & more chocolate, & a touch of oaky booze are on the scene as this warms. Finishes with a bit of booze, almost pulled a 5.0

MF: Slick, oily, medium bodied with just enough carbonation smooth this out. Pretty warming

Drinks pretty easy despite the complexity/ A really good take on the style that uses finesse to win the day. So far; I'm fairly impressed with these Grand Teton cellar reserves

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was afraid that I wasn't going to be able to find one of these anywhere after I bought one back in December, well I got lucky by digging around at Northridge and there was one bottle left. I'm quite excited.

A: Poured from a 33.8 oz swing top with a bottling date of Nov 2, 2007. Poured out thick, extremely dark brown, almost black, and completely opaque, poured aggressively and a large brown head sat on top, reduced to an inch, then to about nothing, excellent lacing. Some big yeast chunks settled at the bottom.

S: Big heavy malty smells, very dark coffee, funky smell similar to pepperoni pizza, faint detection of hops not really standing out. Smells sweet.

T: Chocolatey up front, very malty, pretty bitter up front and in back. The latter half of the beer is very hoppy, piney hops really pop out and leave a very clean feeling in the mouth, linger there for quite a while. Pretty sweet beer overall, lots of malted sugars in this one. No alcohol, which is surprising being at over 7%.

M: Very creamy and smooth, pretty thick, and very sticky. This thing is like eatin a chocolate ice cream cone, it sticks to the lips like mad. The finish is very clean and there is a nice hop/coffee lingering in the mouth. This is an amazing feeling imperial stout. Not as thick as others, but still quite a bit thicker than a standard stout.

D: This is an easy drinking Imperial Stout, not as extreme as others, and very flavorful. Alcohol is a bit sneaky though, and I recommend splitting the liter with someone else. Very delicious though.

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Photo of dnichols
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was served a mug from the tap at the Sports Page bar in Pullman, WA.

A: It poured a black body with ruby tints at the edges when back lit. The head was moderate and deep chocolaty brown with sticky tiny bubbles. The head receded slowly and left little lacing.

S: It had a deep roasted malt aroma that gave off odors of chocolate and coffee.

T: Yummy...nice stout. Rich, thick and creamy. It presented a solid sweet and bittersweet chocolate profile complemented by a biting back side that reminded me of campfire coffee. As the brew warmed the flavors blended nicely into an easy moca latte.

M: It was medium to full bodied with a smooth, creamy and rich presense. It had a sweet coco front, biting coffee back and a clean warm finish.

A thick sticky liquid that rolls through the mouth, is nicely complimented by a more subtle carbonation than most. Quite nice.

D: Its modest ABV, creamy chocolaty flavor and smooth warm and clean finish make this a beer that would be easy to enjoy long into the night.

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Photo of Bobikel
4.8/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from the giant one litre bottle into a .5 litre goblet.

Appearance - Inky jet black with a nice sizable milk chocolate colored head. Almost no light passes through this sucker. The head is slow to die down leaving a little bit of lace down either side of the glass.

Smell - Deep and roasty, as all Impereal Stouts should be. Coffee, burnt chocolate, a very small amout of heat from the alchohol, and caramel sweetness round out the nose.

Taste - That is a fantastic Imp Stout. Again the deep roastiness consumes the mouth. Alchohol is warming but otherwise not present. I was a little dissapointed to see such a low ABV on an imperial stout. But now I think if it were any higher the balance would be thrown off. Chocolate, coffee, a slight rumminess fill the mouth with a lingering sweetness that is slowly replaced by bitterness after the finish.

Mouthfeel - A thick sticky liquid that rolls through the mouth, is nicely complimented by a more subtle carbonation than most. Quite nice.

Drinkability - A nice slow sipper, perfect.

note - The wax dip around the swing top is/was the worst idea in mankinds history.

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Photo of YonderWanderer
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got to try this one courtesy of one of my friends who brought it back from Wyoming. Pours a dark black/brown with a thin layer of foam on top. Smell is of whiskey, chocolate, and licorice, blended together nicely.

Taste is outstanding. A firm blend of chocolate, coffee, licorice, with hints of fruit and whiskey in the background. Very tasty indeed. Alcohol, while not as high as other imperial stouts is well hidden. A smooth and creamy mouthfeel top this one of. An excellent RIS and worth your time!

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Black Cauldron Imperial Stout from Grand Teton Brewing Co.
3.92 out of 5 based on 608 ratings.
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