Russian Imperial Stout | Karl Strauss Brewing Company

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14 Ratings

Brewed by:
Karl Strauss Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by AtLagerHeads on 11-03-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 14 |  Reviews: 9
Photo of hawkmage
2.5/5  rDev -26.9%

Photo of Overlord
2.53/5  rDev -26%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

It was a galling evening of drinking at Karl Strauss tonight. Thanks to generous traders (thanks Jastack!) I had plenty of great stouts at home to drink. Instead I got stuck with this. At first I was excited to see this "seasonal" offering. But, quickly was I disappointed.

Having just tried their brown ale, I was surprised by how similar in color it was. Smelled similar, too, in that they both didn't smell like much. This was maybe a bit maltier and "roastier", but there wasn't a lot going on here. Just forgettable. I'm not so sure this was an RIS, either. Or even a Stout, for that matter. Just a more roasted dark beer. No fruits, notable coffee or chocolate flavors (okay, maybe a little).

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
2.7/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Without a doubt this is the worst interpretation of a fine style that I have found. The first hint was the look of this supposed stout that looked much too much like the Black's Beach that was sitting in front of the young woman next to me. I asked the new bartender if this was really the stout, he smelled it and said that he believed it was the stout because the head was slightly darker than the Black's.

Having a clear, dark ruby body masquerading as an Imperial Stout was bad enough, but the lack of any real stout sense in the nose made matters worse. By the time I got to the taste I wasn't expecting much and I wasn't disaapointed in my expectation. Thoroughly bland and lacking real stout substance, this sad brew did not satisfy at all. In the end the partially drained glass was taken away and replaced by a more appropriate glass of beer.

Be prepared to get the same brew if you go to the Carlsbad Strauss as the bartender assured me that this was indeed the way this brew normally comes to the glass here.

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Photo of Floydster
2.75/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This was the seasonal beer that was on special at Gourmet Pizza Shoppe for three dollars a pint tonight, wish I would have just stuck with the Alaskan Smoked Porter now

Color was really weak for a Russian Imperial Stout and was dark brown but light brown when held up to the light, the head was even light and was a lighter shade of tan than expected, it was only 1/4 inch and mellowed fast

Smell was some chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and barley, smokiness, and some faint vanilla aromas

Taste was like a nut brown ale than a stout to me, had lots of cashew flavors to got along with burned malt, no realy dryness to make it distinct in the aftertaste, some caramel flavors and even a little sour finish once it was warm which definitely did not taste like it belonged, not much to the taste, just faint flavors all the way around

The body was not very thick but taste stuck around for a little while and I felt the carbonation was okay

Could not drink much of this because it is heavy on the stomach even though it is lighter than most RIS, it is only seven percent alcohol supposedly too, but the taste gets old and it is not smooth

First one of Karl Strauss' tap only brews that I have tried and I was not impressed at all, I do not recommend this beer and it is one of the worst I have had in this style

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Photo of t0rin0
3.27/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Not sure if I should say I had this on tap or from the bottle. I was at the stuffed sandwich last wednesday and someone from the brewery had given Sam some swingtop bottles filled from the tap. We got to sample this, a saison, a tripel, and the stargazer which was more like a DIPA than an english IPA.

Im not sure exactly how to score this beer as I liked it but I hate stout. I guess it wasn't very RIS but it had some good qualities. You can interperet that however you want.

The beer poured very clear and very light. It was a light brown color with out much head. The little bit of foam that was light brown and didn't stick around long. Basically looked like a mild brown ale.

The smell was of roasted malts and dark malts. There wasn't the over the top chocolatey smell that I've come to expect from RIS beers. Like one of the other reviewers said, its more like a brown ale than a stout. The only difference being the presence of some roasted malts.

The taste was more like a RIS beer though. It wasn't nearly as heavy but there was some of sweetness to balance some of the roasted qualities. A mild to moderate hop bitterness for the style and no alcohol taste. I actually somewhat enjoyed it.

Very light body and pretty drinkable. I think that most of the complaints in these reviews are directed towards this beers failure to comply with the style. Pretty light beer overall.

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Photo of Stoffel
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of LKFH
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of magictrokini
3.63/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From the ratings, it looks like there are two versions of this. The one I got from the tap was nice. Poured black with a squatty, creamy tan head. Pleasant chocolate, cream, and caramel nose. Not too complicated, but inviting. Taste reciprocated. Smooth, mostly sweet chocolate, vanilla, and caramel flavors. Occasional coffee bitterness with mild dark fruit. In terms of mouthfeel, not really as thick as I'd like my RIS, but did keep close to the style. Alcohol was at 8.8% and well masked. For those that got the "clear brown" variety, you may have got something else. This wasn't bad.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a draft into a snifter? at KnB Wine Cellars in San Diego, Calif. Color was pretty much black. Minimal head once I got it. Light lacing on the top. Nice amount of film spread evenly throughout the sides.

Smelled chocolate malts up front. Also some citrus and mint in there.

Big alcohol bite up front. Also roasty and toasty malts. And did I taste marshmallow?

Medium body. Oily texture. Average carbonation. Smooth finish.

Pretty disappointing considering all of the other Karl Strauss beers I’ve had. I thought this one would have been pretty good, but it was just OK.

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Photo of shade13
3.75/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of IntriqKen
3.9/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a very dark amber black with a highly nitro infused head that left lacing covering the entire glass.
Aromas were mostly espresso coffee with a hint of cocoa powder.
Taste again was espresso dark coffee, cocoa powder unsweetened chocolate and a very drying tale end from hops felt but not tasted.
Aftertaste was dry espresso.
Rich mouthfeel but still a little thin for the style.
Not as impressive flavor and kick as I would expect from most RIS, but still very enjoyable as a fresh IS and very drinkable.

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Photo of HopHead84
4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


On tap at Karl Strauss. I seem to have advocated my way through the entire tap list this afternoon.

A: Black with a finger of beige froth.

S: Molasses accompanies an aggressive roasted malt profile and dark chocolate. There's a light licorice note and some earth. I get a touch of dark fruit.

T: Roasted grains meet dark chocolate and a restrained coffee presence. There's a little licorice and evident molasses. Bitterness is earthy and aggressive. Alcohol is apparent in the finish but not detracting.

M: Full body with medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is chewy and sticky.

Overall: A good RIS. When I got to the pond the fish were gone. I'm filled with regret.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.01/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours almost as a nitro, perhaps due to a tad extra nitro in the line, but combined with the taste, this seemed to work flawlessly. Light raisin nose with a plethora of olfactory influx.

First swigs: Light roasty stout aspect that might fall towards a true Export Stout rather than RIS, but not to a fault. Rolling gentle feel with a touch of baker's chocolate without being too cocoa.

Last swigs: A head turner RIS that offers a twist of refreshing head scratch.

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Photo of Devinph
4.25/5  rDev +24.3%

Russian Imperial Stout from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.42 out of 5 with 14 ratings