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 falloutsnow
3.2/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

A: Poured into a tulip, leaves 3mm head throughout the session, light brown or burnt meringue in color. Simple, but effective lacing. Body is opaque, black-brown away from light, red-amber with orange highlights when held up to light. Visible carbonation streams alongside glass.

S: Charred bread dominant (pretty nice), malt sweetness becomes apparent with warmth. Where's the typical coffee or chocolate flavors, though? Did you not use those malts? Some vague ingredients list would have been helpful; I'm guessing the brewery left those specialty malts out?

T: Opens with bready maltiness, pleasant vanilla and semi-dark chocolate, which are gradually overwhelmed by alcohol on the palate. Would be better with some age on it to mellow the alcohol. A bit too malt and not roasty enough for an imperial stout. The vanilla and chocolate are nice enough, but the beer is too sweet and too alcoholic for its own good. Where is the roasted malt backbone? Aftertaste slightly bitter, with some hints at coffee, but nothing substantial.

M: Feels thick and creamy, with just enough prickly carbonation to keep the beer moving along the palate. Very nice. Finishes semi-dry.

O: This doesn't strike me as a particularly strong imperial stout. It's too sweet, too alcoholic, and lacking the mix of roasted, smoked, and mocha-like flavors that I've come to expect via the standards of this style.

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

Oeverall, this is an OK imperial stout. The bottles I bought were old (4-1-2010). I normally would think that a good thing for a 10% russian imperial stout. It seems well settled in and mellowed, but I am not a big fan so far. I will try the next one much colder (and later). It will probably give me a hangover toomorrow.

It's somewhat sweet, roasty, and bitter. It is fairly mellow - no bite - presumably from aging. Unless it is much better colder, I would not buy it again (that's why I make these BA notes!).

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Photo of pge17
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle in a Sam Adams Boston Lager glass

Appearance: Very dark brown, almost black. Able to see through it though. A medium tan head. Lacing isn't great but it does leave streaks on the side of the glass.

Smell: A pretty nice sweet malt with an alcohol touch. A bit of coffee if you search for it

Taste: Starts with a roasted malt sweetness and alcohol up front (although the booze is covered up pretty well for a 10.4% brew. Some nice bitter balance to follow. It ends with some nice coffee notes, maybe a hint of roasted cocoa beans.

Mouthfeel: Typical stout thickness, but still very smooth and drinkable, not as syrupy as other imperial stouts.

Notes: A very solid imperial stout, pretty enjoyable

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Photo of JayS2629
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark brown. Almost black with a medium head that fades fast. Nothing amazing on the lacing. The smell is complex, mix of dark berries, alcohol, oak, smoke, and roasted malt. Hints of coffee and dark chocolate. The taste follows with the coffee, dark chocolate, hints of molasis, oak, vanilla, smoke, and the alcohol peeks through. Makes it a bit of a rough drink. Its definitely a sipper. A complex and interesting, but high ABV you feel the warmth, sipper.

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.69/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark brown with a reddish tinge. Smallish head - under 1/2" - sticks around for a long time. Great, no, amazing lacing.
Smell is malty with atouch of hops and a sweet smokiness. Sadly, its a weak nose.
Taste is very malty but with hops present. Smoke, turbinado sugar, dark fruits also make their preaence felt. Well balanced.
Fairly rich feel with a dry finish. Full bodied and a medium effervescence. Warming especially through the middle and finish. A really nice feeling beer. A good drinking beer though the ABV should slow you down a tick.

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Photo of mentaltraveller
4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at, fittingly, the Tap House. This is an excellent brew. Served in a snifter.
Appearance: Black as night.
Smell: alcohol and dark chocolate
taste: excellent mix of dark chocolate, coffee and alcohol; each flavor is intense in its own right, but this is a well-balanced beer. Each flavor has plenty of room to breathe.
mouthfeel: thick as a brick, with just the right amount of carbonation
overall: a great imperial stout.

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Photo of YouSkeete
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark brown, on the cloudy side. Black appearance. Light bubbly white head without much lacing.

S: Thick coffee malts and smooth dark chocolate. Interesting hint of raspberries of blackberries in the background. Yeast and malted barley make their way to the nose as well.

T: Bittersweet chocolate and fresh roasted espresso beans hit the palate with a delicate, though distinguishable balance. Heavy on the sugar sweetness. Nice mild hop character. Alcohol is well masked by the big flavor of the body. Molasses and hints of oak and wood in the finish.

M: Spicy, sweet and creamy. Medium to full bodied with medium carbonation.

D: Pretty. Worth the buy if you're a fan of Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of eric5bellies
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a very dark mahogany with an off white head that dies quick.

S - Aromas of dark fruits and coffee.

T - Nice cocoa flavour up front with a nice milkyness to it. A littel boozy on the finish.

M - Medium to full body with low carbonation.

O - A very solid stout.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass, the beer pours a nice black coloring with brown highlights under the light. The beer has a dense, microbubbled, foamy head that is sandy colored. The nose is that of dark molasses with some fruit highlights a little bit of booze characteristics. The flavors are sharp and bitter, with roasted coffee, sweet and slightly sour molasses, and heavy dark caramel. Full flavors on a creamy body that is well balanced by carbonation in the body and booze. Slightly bitter malt and coffee aftertaste, the beer has a smooth and dry aftertaste. Good lacing on the glass. The beer is strong and easy to drink. Would make a great winter warmer.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out a pitch black appearance, tan head, very slight. Aroma was burnt.

Taste, big huge beer, a little bit of everything in a stout. Burnt malt, chocolate, slight coffee, wood, molasses. Hid the alcohol decently, bitterness was definitely there. Gritty at times. Definitely enjoyed this more as it warmed up, do not drink anywhere near 'cold' it might go down faster, but so many of the nuances packed into one beer aren't as noticeable.

$10 for a 4 pack at John's in Iowa City, this beer is definitely drinkable at that price.

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Photo of rebel1771
3.6/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours not quite black with reddish tones with very little head.

S: Smell of raisins and figs right away with a burnt coffee aroma following.

T: Bitter coco flavor up front with kind of a milk chocolate like flavor mixed in. Very boozy and burns in the stomach a bit.

D: I had high hopes for this, because Left Hand's milk stout is awesome, but was let down a bit. It isn't bad by any means just a little underwhelming.

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

From notes. Black but with ruby highlights when backlit. Thick, creamy tan head with good retention and some lacing. Very active and attractive.

Initially roasted grains with a little caramel and some malty sweetness. Star anise and some booze add complexity. Pretty smooth and balanced.

Black patent and roasted barley, with caramel and other malty sweetness are prominent up front. Star anise/licorice flavor, and woody flavors (though not barrel aged) add depth. Smooth, balanced and complex.

Rich, full, creamy and viscous but with fairly strong warming and burnt grain aftertaste.

Excellent imperial stout. Not quite in the league with the elite of the style, but close. I liked it better than I recall liking the barrel aged version of this beer.

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Photo of chrisgn
3.48/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a very dark brown with a foamy white head and good lacing up the glass. Has a toasty coffee aroma, but also a very sweet raisiny smell. Cola also comes to mind. Dark roasted coffee comes through in the flavor along with some dark chocolate sweetness. This beer is very sweet and roasty all at the same time.
Mouthfeel is good...proper carbonation and rich feel.
Sweetness gets to me a bit to be very drinkable. Also get very boozy as it warms. If you are a fan of sweeter stouts that this will be up your alley at an imperial level.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.12/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got this at De Bierkoning in Amsteram.

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours brown and very transparent for the style. Yields a 1 finger, medium looking, off-white head with decent retention. Head fades to a thin film and a ring. Sits black in the glass with zero carbonation evident. Only a ring remains until the end and leaves touches of lace down the glass.

SMELL: A big nose of roasted barley malt and it is very smoky. Some toffee notes in there with lots of roasted, burnt espresso beans. Notes of chocolate there in the background as well, but the roasted smoky qualities are more dominant. This is going to be a smoky, burnt bomb.

TASTE: Roasted barley malt, lots of toffee, and very smoky as well. Spicy alcohol in the taste the whole way through. Bitter-sweet chocolate and some black, burnt espresso beans as well. Bold and lingering aftertaste is plenty roasted, burnt, and smoky as well, with a slight touch of booze underneath. Very roasted and espresso dominant, and relatively sweet as well.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Not quite as creamy or smooth as hoped, but goes down fine and finishes a little sticky on the palate. Perhaps a little too sticky. Average at best.

OVERALL: This is decent example of the style for sure, but no better than an average imperial stout. It's very roasted and burnt, with strong notes of burnt espresso beans, so if you're weary of coffee stouts, this might be one to steer clear of. That said, it's got a lot of flavor and makes no apologies, so if that's your bag, you may really enjoy this one.

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

Pours a somewhat see-through dark brown. About a half inch caramel head.
Smells of sweet dark raisins, and a good amount of malts.
Tastes like coffee and is surprising easy to drink, light and roasted :D.
I guess it sitting in a cooler for a helluva long time has been good for the beer.


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Photo of stevenseg
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

If there is a brewing company in the world in desperate need of a cosmetic makeover, it's Left Hand Brewing Company out of Longmont, Colorado. Despite the label design of an amateur marketer, Left Hand laid it all out on the table with their Imperial Stout.

I am not a big fan of Left Hand brewing in its own right, but I am a fan of stouts...especially cold ones (it was the only stout in the cooler at the beer store), which prompted me to pick it up. I'm looking for that sweet malt flavor and fire from the 10.4% ABV.

LH's Imperial poured a little lighter than I had expected. Stouts push black with no transparency, and I can see daylight through the poured glass. The head build and left a nice film, and the lacing indicates heavier body than its color does.

Subtly hints of roast, which was offset by strong smells of alcohol and sugar. There is subtle maltiness in the nose, but the strong alcohol content overpowered all.

The residual sugar in this stout is very high. Sweetness indicates non-fermentable sugar was used to sweeten it up, which is definitely appealing to me in a stout. The malt flavor was definitely there. I can also tell some adjunct sugars were used. High gravity + lower maltiness = adjuncts.

The best aspect of this stout is its mouthfeel. The carbonation is perfectly done for its style. I think a little more body should accompany higher alcohol content, but the consistency was good nonetheless.

Overall I think Left Hand did a great job with its Imperial Stout. I do have a bit of a funky aftertaste most likely from the byproducts of non-malt sugars fermenting. A bomber is the perfect size for this guy, or share it and get something else to offset its strength.

Their Imperial Stout department is doing well...now Left Hand just needs to do something about that label.

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Photo of crazyjoedivola
3.89/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz botlled into tulip. Bottled on 1-19-08. The years have been very good to this beer save for a lot of sediment in the bottle.

A- Pours black with thin brown head which recedes quickly.

S- Smell is roasted malts, coffee, figs and dark fruits.

T- Taste is dark chocalate, coffee, heavily roasted malts with some black licorice and molasses sweetness that lingers in the finish.

M- Velvety smooth oily mouthfeel with good carbonation.

D- Good drinkability considering 10% ABV still couldn't put down more than two of these in a night.

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Photo of pioppo
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Brown with quite persistent and fine beige foam.

S - Coffee over all!! Also roasted and caramel. The ethylic meets some note of red fruit creating a distinctive aroma of rum.

T - Some acidity in mouth with a persistent bitterness in the final.

M - Dry and viscous. The fruity bitter it's combined in a very fine way with the ethylic.

D - The robust body and the high alcoholic make this beer very interesting but not much drinkable.. A bottle of 33 it's already too much!!

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Photo of Satchboogie
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650ml bomber poured into a snifter

A: Pours pitch black with a massive 2-finger light brown frothy head that slowly dissipates. Leaves great lacing. Only improvement would be a darker colored head and thicker body.

S: Dark chocolate, alcohol soaked fruit, licorice, floral hops (a little cherry).

T: Dark chocolate upfront (say 75% coco) with a molasses sweetness and a little floral hop bite in the background. It eases out to licorice and alcohol soaked fruits, plums. There does seem to be a little cherry from the hops. Finish is warm, dry, with cherry filled chocolate taste.

M: Medium carbonation, Medium body, pretty chew and a little viscous feel. It's quite smooth and almost velvety. Goes down very easily. While it's not as thick as I'd like out of my RIS, it's got a nice smooth texture.

D: I enjoyed this over the course of almost an hour and it's definitely a sipper. I drank the first glass pretty quick but the second pour went quite slower. It's pretty much what I expect from a beer over 10%ABV.

Note: This was really tough to grade. I felt like both the taste and aroma were a 3.75, neither were quite a 4, so I had to compensate with a 3.5 and 4.

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Photo of LairdChisholm
3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep, dark chestnut brown color. Almost black. There was a slight mocha head that had sub par retention. There is very little lacing.

S - I got some roasted malts, along with some powdering coco. Not too pungent though.

T - Upfront I get some bitter roasted malts with a hint of mocha. After this, there are some juicy plums and raisins. The after taste consists of bitter coco.

M - Very consistent with the style. Good amount of carbonation with the heavy mouthfeel that essential for a good Imperial Stout.

D - Tastes good but nothing jumps out. A good after dinner beer.

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Photo of Tucquan
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2010-12-08 at Rivermont Pizza in Lynchburg, VA.

A - Dark brown with a short tan head and a little lacing.

S - Mild grain, some coffee, sour yeast, hop floral.

T - Roasted dark grain, mild choclate, anise, yeast, decent bitterness. Finishes on the sweet and roasty side. Quite nice.

M - Medium body and light carbonation yield a mildly creamy feel.

D - Enjoyed it.

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Photo of grover37
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle poured into an oversized snifter. $2.69 from Vintage Estate. Bottled on date of 4.1.10. Pretty busy and ugly bottle design with a poorly drawn dragon that blends into the background.

Appearance: Dark brown - not black - with light brown around the edges. Half inch light beige head that fades quickly leaving a few big patches. Nearly no lacing.

Aroma: Strong chocolate and light booziness. Some vanilla oak notes but dominated by chocolate with a hint of java.

Taste: Chocolate malt and very light sweetness, followed by strong alcohol warmth a bit of bitter black malt. Lingering chocolate sweetness and some piny hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium-low carbonation. Slightly creamy and smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Surprisingly drinkable despite the very high ABV. Although it's a bit boozy, I probably would have guessed 8.5 or 9%. Not labelled on the bottle either, so this one could be deceptive for many. The 8 months of age on this bottle probably helped it a lot.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.32/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle shared with my wife. Poured my allotment into a tulip glass. Pours a lighter-than-expected mocha brown/black. Not as deep as I would have thought. A creamy finger-width head rests atop. Decent retention. Lots of lace. Scents of baker's chocolate, slight hops, roasted malts, and a little booze.

The mouth is of moderate depth, but lacks the creaminess I like in this style. Doesn't coat the palate like others. The flavor profile is "meh" at best. Nothing really stands out, and everything comes together in a basic way. Heavily roasted flavors, but the sweet balance is lacking. This was an alright stout. Not my go-to, but I wouldn't say no to it.

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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 JoEBoBpr
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from a 22oz bomber.

A - Pours a nice dark brown color with slight ruby colors a a nice .5 inch tan head. THe bubbles are very dense and tightly packed. The initial pour didnt seem viscous but while swirling it around I find some nice thickness.

S - Aroma of some dates and figs and some raisins. Dark fruits are very present. Dark and rich caramel with some nice brown sugar. There is definitely a boozy sweetness as well. Slight roasted malts and on the back end some slight sweet milk chocolate notes.

T & M - Flavor starts off with some nice dark fruit sweetness and some slight caramel as well that is very delicious. After this there is a nice warm alcoholic ester that is sweet as well. This is followed by some nice roasted malt character that has some coffee hints as well as some nice chocolate bitterness and sweetness. The roasted character blends very nicely with the sweet aspects and the nice boozy sweetness as well. There is a slight hop grassy note at the end but its barely recognizable. Overall a nice creamy stout with nice flavors and good frothy full mouthfeel.

D - Very good beer with some nice flavors but a high ABV might be a sipper and a one-a-night beer.

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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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