Left Hand Imperial Stout | Left Hand Brewing Company

very good
434 Reviews
Left Hand Imperial StoutLeft Hand Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Left Hand Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by UncleJimbo on 01-27-2002

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Reviews: 434 | Ratings: 523
Photo of Sammy
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

all the characteristics you would want in chocolate, thickness, a tad sour (I don't especially subscribe to that one), dark colour, a bit of hoppy oil and bitterness, good malt profile. Aggressively carbonated. .
Two years later, there is porterish fel to this, it is medium mouthfeel with chocolate and coffee thrown in, and sour finish.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.17/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: black with no light getting through. Very nice lace but only a quarter finger or so head.

S: licorice and coffee mixing together to form a bittersweet medley

T: very complex taste. No dominating flavor. Raisin, coffee, licorice and chocolate all combining to create a conglomerate of those flavors without one standing out.

M: moderate carbonation and full bodied.

Overall: The taste is right on. One of the better russian stouts out there for sure.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a terrific beer. I've been missing out, with this session being my only. Sampled from a 12 oz. bottle, the beer decants with a dark brown, yet not completely opaque, allowing deep ruby highlights. A 1" head forms with a tan complexion and lightly carbonated. Soft, yet firm aromas of roasted malts, pale malts, caramel, lacto-fermented scents, coffee, and berries decorate the aromas. The flavors come across more intensely than the aromas, but still remain soft. Dark, roasted grains take on chocolate brownie / french roast coffe characteristics, while complimented with a solid caramel / toffee / toasty malitness. Light sweetness of Milk Stouts and Oatmeal Stouts add complexity and roundness. A fresh hint of liqorice root and blackberries are icing on the cake. The body is very full and round, but very smooth, velvety textures; not rough at all. The alcohols thus far have remained sweet and hide in the caramel-sweet malts. Only now does the alcohols show power and warmth. Warming increases into the finish while the body moderates to go down easily. Simply a fantastic beer with very low flaws. Could be heavier? Could be more roasted? Could hop it up for a serious American Double Stout? At any rate, I'll be comming around to this one again shortly.

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Photo of brentk56
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark brown, a few shades to the light of black, with a rocky beige that leaves a few dots

Smell - Dark chocolate, with hints of coffee and citrus fruit

Taste: Opens with a bitter dark chocolate flavor that adds a bit of anise and citrus by mid-palate; after the swallow, the chocolate gets richer, but there is an underlying sweetness through the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A decent imperial stout that lacks a bit of complexity and mouthfeel

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Photo of zeff80
4.24/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

bottled on 6/13/07

A - Poured out a dark brown color with a one-finger, off-white head. It left small traces of lace.

S - It smelled of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and caramel.

T - It tasted bittersweet like a bar of dark chocolate. A nice roasted malt flavor, too.

M - It was crisp and sharp, with a warm alcohol presence. A heavy-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good RIS. Nice roasted matl flavor and a bittersweet chocolatiness.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a really nice, dark color that is nearing on black. Thin mocha head with a few legs. The nose brings some nice roasted characteristics as well as some nice chocolate and black licorice. The flavor is a bit more muted with a bit of chocolate and roast. The black licorice hangs in the background. Pretty nice feel with a bit of booze and a good body. A nice-drinking beer and a tasty imperial stout.

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Photo of nickfl
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with half a finger of light tan foam on top of a black body with some brown highlights showing through. The head settles out pretty quickly and leaves light lace.

S - Dark, malty aromas of molasses, licorice, caramel, and red apple. Not much in the way of roasted character, almost more like a barleywine than a stout.

T - Dark, sugary malt with notes of caramel, molasses, and dark chocolate. More chocolate in the middle, accompanied by licorice and dark bread notes. Things finish up with smoky, spicy chocolate and caramel with a bit of earthy Turkish coffee that lingers in the finish.

M - Medium-thick body, moderately low carbonation, and a fairly sweet finish.

D - Very nicely done, this beer is complex and interesting with a nice balance that keeps it drinkable. The aroma is not as dark as I would have expected in that it focuses mostly on dark sugary notes of caramel and molasses with very little roast to mark it as a stout. The roast character does manage to make a more significant impact in the flavor profile where some earthy coffee flavors show up in the finish and a dark chocolate character that plays a strong role throughout. It becomes particularly complex in the finish with notes of licorice and smoke as well as complex spices notes that linger on the palate. A very enjoyable and well made beer; all the more so since it is reasonably priced and comes in a reasonable, 12oz serving size.

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Photo of oberon
3.54/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown with some reddish hue when held up to the light with very fizzy non existent head wich was very unexpected in a bad way,the aromas were quite nice though rummy and buttery with an underlying milk chocolate note as well.Really a pretty thin mouthfeel for an Impy stout but a nice melding of flavors rum and bitter chocolate dominate upfront with a earthy,dry finish.This beer has some highs and lows a nice aroma and some flavor qualities but the thin mouthfeel and appearance left some to be desired.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Although it's one of the lighter colored Imperial stouts I've had, that's not what makes it stand out in my mind. The rich caramel and chocolate flavor is just so enticing that it's become a personal favorite of mine!

Unfortunately, despite its beautiful ruby-accented dark-chestnut body, the short creamy tan head just won't hold; and the nose is a little limited as well with some alcohol and dark-caramel notes as well, but not much more. (In a way it's very much like a doppelbock!). The mouthfeel is its first redemption though, in that it glides lazily and effortlessly across the palate with a gentle stir of the tastebuds from its fine-bubbled median carbonation, and a bit of cushion from it's dextrinous, full-medium body.

The flavor is what makes this beer worth trying, showcasing some of its yeasty fruitiness (apple, berries) upfront, and then laying out its luxurious maltiness which is loaded with dark-caramel, buttery toffee, light cocoas, bready and toasty notes, and a gentle coffee-like roastiness. As it warms it starts to show it's complexity; but the alcohol becomes more apparent as well (a trade-off!). Still, it's warmth is never aggressive, and actually lends a nice bit of "spice".

It finishes drying with a wash of alcohol and some residual dark caramel and cocoa-like maltiness.

Unique and nicely done!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on date of 12/12/07, poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a thin beige head that fades slowly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of coffee, dark fruits, chocolate, roasted malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste is malty but not overly thick as most big stouts can be. There are sweet flavors of chocolate and dark fruits. The hops presence is very mild but about where it should be considering the style and the fact that the beer is almost a year-and-a-half old. There's a slight alcohol sting. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is a little sticky.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, slightly filling, strong kick, good representation of style, it's a decent beer but there are certainly several other big stouts that I would choose first.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.38/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Botted On: 10/24/07.

Appearance: Pours a black body with a smallish, wispy, white head.

Smell: Aroma of licorice, roast, plumskins, and an aromatic sting of alcohol.

Taste: Sweet, sugary dark maltiness with some roast and plum fruitiness. As with the aroma, it's still pretty boozey. Splash of creme de cacao. Hint of peppermint. Light pine-flavored hops and bitterness. Some sweetened licorice twists prior to the sweet, vaguely fruity, vaguely menacing finish.

Mouthfeel: Just a bit above medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: I'm glad to have finally reviewed the beer with the Green Dragon hiding it's shame behind a Native American rug. It's about time, really.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Barely opaque, burnt pecan shell brown with generous reddish amber highlights. Actually, with strong backlighting, I can appreciate light on the opposite side of the glass. Appearance is far from a deal breaker for me, but Russian Imperial Stouts should be pitch black or close to it. The toasted tan head doesn't last long, which I'm sure is at least partly due to the ABV. A high collar of lace will have to do.

The nose is more American double than Russian Imperial, if I can make that somewhat fine distinction. The various aromas include heavily roasted barley, dark chocolate fudge, black coffee and citric hops. I like my RIS noses to be more black malty and I like them to have at least hints of blackstrap molasses and/or anise. In any case, none of that impacts my enjoyment of this nose or the score I've decided to give.

Wow! Whatever complexity was lacking in the nose has now been found. LHIS doesn't look much like an RIS, it sorta smells like one and it definitely tastes like one. Each gulp delivers bombastic flavors of black malt, chocolate liqueur, espresso, anise oil and a double shot of hop juice. This is a delicious big beer whose bona fides become apparent after the first sip and are carved deeper and deeper in granite with each successive mouthful.

Molasses notes become more prominent as the beer warms and the fact that it's a sweeter than usual version is a definite plus. The finish lingers interminably with snappy citrus zest and anise (my two favorite parts of the flavor profile) lasting the longest. Drink it barely cool and you will be rewarded.

I was all set to call the mouthful medium-full. However, as I get into the bottom half of the bomber, I'm prepared to call it simply full. It's silky smooth, lightly syrupy and impressively enjoyable. Is alcohol present? If it wasn't for the mild amount of tongue numbing and the warm bloom in my belly, I'd never have known.

Left Hand Imperial Stout is a wolf in sheep's clothing. In other words, don't judge a beer by its color. Please ignore the downward pull exerted by the first two scores. This is a remarkable Russian Imperial Stout that can hold its own against the best of the style, and is, by far, this brewery's finest achievement.

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Photo of russpowell
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poued a dark mahogany going to purple, that still let a little light in. Bubbly tanhead drops off fast leaving a thin filmy head, minimal lacing

Smell: Rich malt& leather

Taste: Molasses, fruitiness, slight bitterness, with slight Bourbon-like taste. Vanilla, leather, plum and alcohol on the finish. Very warming

MF: Slightly prick on the tounge, but mellowed out fast.

Despite the ABV this was very drinkable 7 went down even better with an OU win in the Holiday Bowl!

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Poured a thick black, extremely opaque. A small tan head was evident immediatly. This faded very quickly but left behind a decent amount of lace in its wake.

S - The smell was very strong. Huge aromas of chocolate shake. Very big creamy full bodied smell. Lots of hints of milk and sugar, maybe some cookie dough, very very yummy smelling.

M & T - Wow, soo creamy and smooth, like chocolate mousse going down, really very good. This was the pure defination of a dessert beer. Lots of flavors of chocolate cappucino, milk, sugar all are readily apparent and very enjoyable. The alcohol made its presence slighltly known with a small residual warming feeling that bottomed out in the belly.

D - Overall this was awesome, easily one of the best Imperial Stouts I have ever tasted. Very smooth, I could easily drink this all night long, highly recommended, Awesome!!

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Photo of smcolw
4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Impressive four-finger head with lots of spotty/chunky lace. Near black color where no light passes through.

Milky aroma with a touch of mocha.

Creamy, black patent flavor. The alcohol is obvious but not over stated. Firm body with good carbonation. The aftertaste is similar to a strong alcoholic drink, i.e. warm with brandy elements. Lots of coffee in the aftertaste. Very pleasant.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.28/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: poured from a 12oz bottle with bottled on date of 4/5/06 into a snifter.
A -Black as coal with medium tan thick head that leaves generous amounts of lace.

S - An aroma of stone fruit and citrus with a mild chocolate and dark malts w/ mildly alcoholic scents.

M- Vinous, warming, oily, with creamy depth. Supple and roasty accented with carbonation.

T - Roasty cappuccino-like acidity with tinges of burnt bean and piney juniper woodiness. Fruity yeast esters and tones of alcohol combine with a peppery spiciness. More darkly roasted flavors emerge as it warms - nice sweet chocolate maltiness and hints of bittersweet chocolate mix nicely with a hop and yeast counterbalance. Subtle hints of rum soaked raisins peak through in the finish.

D - Interesting textures of lively and subdued in this imperial stout add levels of complexity. A kind of tug of war between gentle and rambunctiousness give the big stout curiousity. Something I would try again to compare tastings. A black beer that has potential to brighten my day.

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Photo of Jason
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber with no freshness date.

A- Dense foam yields a very sticky tan head with web-like lace all the way down the glass. The brown color is very dark, two shades away from complete black.

S- Big roasted coffee aroma, faint smokiness with a soft malt sweetness and leafy hop in the back.

T&M- Very creamy with a light and smooth carbonation ... heavy body. Layers of roasted grain unfold showing suggestions of French Roasted coffee, dark bakers chocolate and black strap molasses. Nice chewy thickness of malt in the middle with ample sweetness that mixes well with the estery dark berry fruitiness. Sufficient handful of hops helps to balance, finishes a little sweet with a long lingering roasted character and a warming alcohol.

D- Easy to sip on a miserable sleet riddled Boston night. A good pairing with some candied pecans.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color is dark brown, almost black, with a nice, light brown head. The aroma is very rich and full of chocolate smells. A light bit of roast aroma is also present. The taste consists of a great combination of rich, strong chocolate and dark fruit malt flavors. A moderate amount of alcohol flavor runs throughout a sip, its not easy to forget this has 10% ABV. Towards the end of a sip a bit of roasted malt flavor pops in leading to a rather weak and disappointing finish. Overall, everything here clicked together nicely, except for the almost non-existant finish. Highly recommended.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.47/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Workin' my way from the dairy farm to the palace here, folks. It pours a mildly translucent dark ruby-brown topped by a short-lived bit of off-white foam. The nose comprises roasted malts, maple syrup, molasses, light chocolate, and a touch of fusels. The taste is pretty much identical, though the roast seems to block out, nay, cancel out some of the other notes, particularly the molasses. The body is a hefty medium, with a light carbonation and a slightly thick feel. Overall, an OK stout, one that doesn't seem to even aspire to much greatness, preferring instead only slightly above-average goals. Basically, this stout is lazy. Plain and simple.

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Photo of woodychandler
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A finger's worth of light-brown head with decent retention. Color was dark-brown, allowing just a little light penetration. Nose smelled like devils food cake or fresh brownies. Mouthfeel was fairly thick with a heavy chocolate taste. Finish was rich with chocolate. Again, an excellent after dinner/dessert beer.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.4/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep black opaque almost incandescent but when held up to the light I was greeted by the darkest of dark amber brown tones. Head is tan a bit thin but I suppose this is due to the alcohol notes Full even ring of lacing and continues this way until the end. Aroma: Deep aromatic tones that send chocolate and coffee sensations due to the roasts used in these beers for certain there are fruit tones here meant to shock and awe. Simply amazing and wonderful the beers in Denver were amazing last summer and I expected this to be no different for the Imperial Stout style as labeled. Taste: Yep this one is treating me well with creamy alcohol infused vinous tones what an amazing beer very complex and oh so good. Thank you Left Hand for bringing it to the table tonight I really needed a flavorful stout. I get plum over ripened simmer in moonshine this is wonderful what a great beer. I need to find more beer like this again and again. Mouthfeel: Is full and viscous just the way I like it what a great beer, my god why can't this be a local brew in this area, certainly a fine ale that's lets every flavor speak it's peace. Drinkability: I wish I could force myself to drink another but something tells me it's one strong ass beer with mucho flavor awesome representation fo the style brings fullness in body and flavor ein prosit!

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Photo of stakem
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottled 9/19/07 poured into a tulip. The brew appears black in color with a khaki head that fades leaving patchy lace.

Smells delicious like decadent milk chocolate, coffee and slight rootbeer/anise spiciness.

Tastes sweet and boozy with licorice, chocolate, roast, leather, earth. Like the nose, there is a bit of a cola/root beer/birch beer spiciness to the finish that is peculiar but interesting and enjoyable.

Medium to full bodied, modestly carbonated and quite enjoyable.Talk about a sleeper of a beer. This was not tasting its age and I feel like it aged quite gracefully with some unique nuance.

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Photo of Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer, pours jet black, low carbonation and limited tiny bubble head. Wispy lacing. Burnt malt nose. Tasty, strong, vinous Imperial. Notes of expresso beans, chocolate. Not quite as full bodied as some imperials, but this one is tasty and satisfying. Finishes minty clean with some drying hops to scrub the palate and keep the tongue wanting another jolt. Quality sipper.

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Photo of jwc215
4.46/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours nearly black with a thin head that soon becomes a swirling patch that eventually disappears.

The smell is of chocolate, honey and coffee. Dark fruits and a touch of warming alcohol also present. Very inviting, to say the least.

The taste is of coffee and chocolate - mocha-like. Slight roastiness with a touch of charcoal smokiness give it a nice touch. Dark fruitiness adds to complexity and balance. Sweet, but with sufficient balance. Some hints of anise/licorice come through as it warms. It has a warming, long coffeeish finish.

It is full-bodied, silky/creamy, rich and heavy.

It is smooth despite noticeable alcohol and complexities. A great brew.

Thanks to jcwattsrugger for providing me a bottle of this treat!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.49/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2 1/2 years later, I review again, this time not from a bomber, but a 12 ounce bottle, not in the cold of winter, but the heat of June, and with more experience behind my belt...

Deep black color, with crimson highlights around the edges, very small head, if any...

Aroma is thick, rich and huge....dark rum, carob, molasses, massive coffee and chocolate, big-time roastiness...a cavernous depth, dark delights,...

Taste: vast feel in the mouth, coasts the entirety of the sense, paints the corners of the palate with decadent deliciousness....an excellent Imperial Stout...yum, yum, yum, and alcohol says, "here I am", but it's welcome now, it holds our hand, and it hides iin the stairway, and it hangs in the curtain, and it sleeps in your hat.

Most splendiferous....top notch IS, I'll gladly reach for more1

(thanks for the re-visit, Chaz!)

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Left Hand Imperial Stout from Left Hand Brewing Company
3.82 out of 5 based on 523 ratings.
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