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 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 kiddynamite920
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Guessing from a tough to read bottling date that this one is from 8/26/09.

A: 12 oz bottle into a tulip. Poured looking a light brown but ended up being a rather dark one. Near black in appearance with a khaki head with some sediment nestled in on top.

S: This clearly is an aged RIS. There is no way the alcohol could be this faint when the beer is fresh. Rather, dark and tart cherries are coming through. Deep and roasty with some coffee, but the sweet fruits are what is impressing me most here. Reminds me of Black Albert. Although it is very deep and malty, it could use a bit more bitterness. Almost has a hot chocolate with marshmallows aroma.

T: Well there's the bitterness. First impression was of milk chocolate followed by dry cocoa. Interesting transition. Dark roast coffee mixed with the above mentioned hot cocoa and marshmallows. There is also some of the cherries noted on the nose, with some tartness. This beer has definitely aged into something very interesting and I would love to see how it is fresh.

M: Big ol', heavy bodied RIS. Cant really complain about much here beyond the strange bitter/tart flavor that remains on the palate after each sip.

D: Definitely a beer that should be taken slowly due to the high abv, but also because each sniff and sip seem to bring out something you missed on the previous one. Could almost keep going back and adding more to each section here about this beer. I am very impressed how this held up for over a year, and will be more impressed if I find out the scribble which looks like '09 is actually '08.

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Photo of uno99
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle liberated to Canada by way of my brother from Merchants Liquor in Detroit. 22Oz for $6.49

A: This 58 Degree liquid flowed quickly into my goblet, giving a thick offwhite head that faded quickly leaving speckled lace. Body is black and very stout-like.

S: Lots of liquorish and deep and dark fruits. prunes and apricots, raisins and plums. A little bit of hops present

T: Yum. A flavor profile of atomic proportions. very complex and very delicious. quite sweet. molasses and brown sugar. dark fruits as well. A wallop of hops. Very good indeed.

M: Very thick. seems to thicken with time. carbonation is perfect. Slightly sour finish helps control the sweetness.

D: I cant believe this is over %10. what a great beer. this is single handedly going to get me drunk on this fine Sunday evening.

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Photo of arturorg
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served into a Flying Dog pint glass

A: Pours dark brown with no head and very small lace.

S: Sweet malts, chocolate, roasted coffee

T: Bitter coffee roasted and hops goodness, caramel, alcohol warming feeling, thin bodied. There's no visual carbonation but it there's some tingle.

Overall the flavor it's very similar to the milk stout the only difference I suppose it's the lactose flavor.

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Photo of HURTemHIZZY
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown, which thins out a bit more than I would like around the edges, and shows a cola like tint when held up to the light. Pour yields a one and a half finger tan head that could have been a bit darker and left no lace down the glass. The aroma is very nice, with big chocolate, both bittersweet and a bit of milk, and dark fruit notes dominating. There is a slight coffee undertone, but not too much in that regard.

Taste is solid, but not great. Again, chocolate and dark fruits are the most prevalent, with just a slight bit of coffee. It would be nice to have the coffee kicked up a notch just a bit, to balance all the sweetness present. The bittersweet chocolate tries its best to balance the sweetness, but it comes up just a bit short. Still not a bad flavor, though. Mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style, with a low to medium level of carbonation.

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Photo of FreshHawk
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Mahogany color that is a little on the lighter side for color for the style. Average sized, creamy, frothy, somewhat dense, khaki color head. Decent retention bu it disappeared a little fast leaving a thin layer of lace.

S - Pretty strong burnt barley aroma with black coffee and some dark chocolate. Rum soaked dark fruit is also present with some licorice with the alcohol aroma being pretty strong. Burnt molasses is also pretty strong along with the dark rum.

T - Roasted/burnt dark malt and black coffee is very strong with some dark rum and chocolate liqueur also coming out. Burnt molasses is in the background. Some citrus flavor hopiness comes out in the background. Licorice also comes out. Very strong, boozy stout with a fair amount of underlying bitterness.

M - Full body with a nice level of carbonation. Thick, creamy, and silky. A nice mouthfeel.

D - Definitely a sipper with a lot of big/bold flavor. Alcohol has a fairly prominent taste in this. However, as a sipper it is nice and fairly easy to drink.

Notes: A big, bold and boozy stout. A lot of roasted/burnt flavors along with plenty of alcohol flavors (dark rum, creme de cacao, herbal liqueurs, etc.). A nice sipper, although not an amazing beer. Nice for a big boozy beer every once in a while.

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Photo of Reaper16
2.56/5  rDev -33%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

served on-tap at Wilhagan's, Tuscaloosa, AL, into a tulip glass

Pours a cola brown, like Mr. Pibb to be precise. Mostly darker brown that is heavily informed by red, which reveals itself when the glass is held to light. Camel head sits up at a frothy two fingers. Lovely cap, that. Spindly lacing all over the place. Love the head, don't much care for the body's color. It doesn't look like the average impy stout, but I feel that 3.0 is what this beer deserves.

The first sniff is very much fruit-forward. Not in an "Oooooh, Belgian!" way but in a "Oh no, is this beer infected?" way. I don't think that it is infected. But the smell was so off-putting as to put that possibility in my mind. Tons of blueberry and black licorice and anise on the nose here. Trace amounts of chocolate malt, maybe some vanilla. The sorts of smells you look for in an Imperial Stout are either not present here or are overshadowed by the licorice/blueberry combo.

Man, this really tastes like blueberries. SO MANY BLUEBERRIES. Also, black licorice jelly beans. This basically tastes like a Jagerbomb. I wish there were more of it upfront. Some sweet lactose sugar thing sucks all the complexity out of the beer and leaves it a sweet, fruity mess. The finish sees some milk chocolate, finally, and that chocolate plays well with what lingers of the Jagerbomb-ness.

Nice, substantive body here. Silky smooth, with satisfying heft. The 10% ABV, while pretty well-hidden in terms of taste, will get to you after a while. The only reason you won't consume enough to really get hit by the alcohol is because the blueberry/licorice flavors will get to be annoying way before you get wasted.

This is a misstep. Too much fruit. I don't think this keg was infected (though it could easily be too old and not ordered from enough). It didn't taste infected. The flavors themselves made sense together, just not in the completely imbalanced way that they were presented in.

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Photo of skipapotamuss
3.2/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

App- Dark but not completely black some deep red around edges in glass. Smell- Sweet malty some chocolate slight boozieness hint of raisen. Taste- A little hot at end but some of that is to be expected. sweetness comes out as it warms gets a bit excessive IMO chocolate for sure but not too over powering kinda light on hop for an RIS tho but I'm not sure how old bottle was date unreadable. MF- pretty much what I would expect for a Imp. Stout. A little dry and a bit filmy in the mouth, not a bad thing. Drinkability- takes a hit here for me, the heat I don't mind but I have a hard time with more than one of these due to the sweetness. Over all not a bad Imp. stout but there are others I enjoy more

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Photo of Jeriba
2.75/5  rDev -28%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Deep dark red, almost black in color. Thin foam that doesn't stick around long. Very little lacing that I could see.

S: Cinnamon clove and prominent sweet malty aromas.

T: Toasted caramel, raisin, and chocolate to start. Burnt sugar finish, and the slightest bitter hop aftertaste. As I progressed, this brew got sweeter and more cherry-flavored.

M: Surprisingly thin and watery. Medium carbonation.

D: Drinkable, but almost too sickly sweet for my taste, and I prefer a more viscous imperal stout. I might buy this brew again to pair with the right dessert, or to cure a serious sweet tooth, but in this price range I could do a lot better.

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

355ml brown bottle poured into a Delirium Tremens branded snifter. BBE Date 03/09/10.

A. Deep black with a milky coffee coloured head.

S. Sweet malt, coffee, bitter chocolate, dark fruits and a slight hint of smokiness.

T. Strong coffee and liquorice with some chocolate. I can also detect a certain creaminess that is associated with some bourbons I really enjoy. A good hop finale.

M. Full bodied, chewy and oily.

D. A deliciously sweet stout that belies its 10.4%ABV. Deceptively drinkable, I personally think Great Divide's Yeti was better but will still be interested in how this stout fares against Avery's Mephistopholes Stout and Goose Islands Bourbon County Stout when I eventually get around to drinking them.

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Photo of ffejherb
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Left Hand brewery on 8/14/10.

A - Deep walnut brown with cola-like hues around the bottom edges and a rich, frothy beige crown on top.

S - Complex nose with a rich chocolate aroma at the core, but also coffee, licorice and dark fruit notes. Hop notes are quite faint, however, although some mild earthy and woody tones emerge after a bit, as well as a waft of alcohol fume.

T - Opens with a bold licorice character combined with semi-sweet chocolate and bitter coffee notes. As the liquid warmed, earthy hop notes and herbal tones opened up quite a bit. I also get a sense of some smokey malt in the mix. Flavor definitely gets more bitter as the liquid reached room temperature.

M - Full bodied with a pretty thick, syrupy and viscous texture, which lends itself to a chewy mouthfeel overall. Lingering bitter notes comprise the finish.

D - Very good RIS overall with a great chewy mouthfeel lots of bold, complex flavors. The alcohol doesn't get too out of hand either.

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Photo of philbertk
3.3/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Left Hand Brewing Company--Imperial Stout--A Black Ale To Brighten Your Day--2007 Release--22 oz. Bottle--10.40% ABV--65 IBU's. (4.0 / 5.0) Stout--Imperial--$6.99 Each. Thin no lace espresso head. Dark black red hint opaque color. Big loose sediment. Floral hop roasted malt espresso hint front. Dry sweet raisin licorice espresso chocolate roasted malt complex rich body. Cloying sweet hop spice mild hot EtOH end. Too big! Sampled 11/22/2008.

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

Bomber into a tulip

A - Pours a deep dark brown to almost black color, with light amber highlights. Head formation is strong, mocha colored, and extremely well retained.

S - Chocolate and caramel notes, some light toffee notes - very pleasant, smooth. A light amount of yeast breadiness is present.

T - Starts off with a light chocolate note, some roasted barley very restrained in the background. Mid-stream gets more bitter, but certainly malt forward. Hopping is restrained. Finishes with a smooth bittersweet chocolate note. Some roasted notes in the aftertaste.

M - Moderate body, creamy on the tongue, but not thick and chewy. Carbonation complements it nicely. Finishes with some sugar and hop resins on the tongue.

D - Very smooth, drinkable beer. Bomb of the ABV is so well hidden, you wouldn't even see it coming. Flavors are well integrated.

A fantastic RIS. This has to be up there with the best in my book.

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Photo of scoobybrew
2.76/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A - dark brown with ruby highlights, thick head that is well retained, leaves a nice lacing

S - slight roasted grain, alcohol noted

T - sweet malt that leads to an astringent alcohol and roasted grain finish, hops are hiding here

M - medium-full body, moderate carbonation

D - This is a very one-dimensional imperial stout. There's some roast and a lot of alcohol, but the malt lacks depth and there's virtually no hop flavor whatsoever. I would say it's disappointing, but Left Hand tends to excel in some styles and falls behind in others - so I should have known. I won't be seeking this out, but I'm not pouring it down the drain, but I wouldn't recommend it.

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle with a bottled on date of 12 12 0 something. Its smudged but I'm guessing 09. Pours a pitch black color with some sediment floating around. What little head poured out disappeared quickly. Smells strongly of chocolate and alcohol. Some roasted malts too maybe. Taste is pretty boozey, but thats expected due to the 10.4% ABV. Also get some chocolate taste. Overall not too bad. Certainly a beer to sip.

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Photo of ne0m00re
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

05/26/10- Had a 12 oz bottle (dated 8/26/09). This one had a little age on it.
A: Black with brown hues, it had a nice tan collar with lacing.
S: Sticky, caramel rum alcohol, roasted chocolate, very malty-sweet.
T: Roasted caramel malts with banana rum alcohol that lingers with smokinesss and some blackberries. Pretty good overall.
M: Syrupy, but creamy.
D: OK.

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

A-Pours a dark brown with a thin head that fades quickly and leaves no lacing.

S-Nose is pleasant, but faint. Dark fruit, roasted malt, coffee, molasses.

T-Much more pronounced than the nose. Mirrors the nose with the dark fruit, roasted malt coffee and molasses, but I am picking up more here. A bit of chocolate and toffee as well.

M-Certainly one of the lighter bodied RIS's I've had. And the carbonation is heavier as well.

D-Goes down fairly easily for 10.4%. And the interplay among the flavors made it interesting to drink.

A decent RIS, but there are too many better ones out there for me to seek this out again.

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Photo of blackie
3.23/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: deep brown in color, dark khaki head with average retention

s: roasted malts over a sweeter caramel body, coffee char and baking chocolate, earthy hops, decent but pretty one-dimensional compared to some finer examples of the style

m: low carbonation and a full body, smooth and even a bit creamy

t: charred roasts and a caramel malt back, prune, light booze edge, simple but a little sweet and without a ton of depth

d: not bad for the abv, but I could use a bit more to grab onto here, thought it's not a bad beer by any means

single from a 4-pack out of WF Raleigh

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Photo of steve8robin
3.55/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tried Fade To Black and thought it was ok, let's give this big brew a try...

A: Dark with ruby highlights shining through the entire brew. Small 1/2 inch off white head that fades at a decent pace. This is a stout? Ok.

S: Super strong scents. Black licorice and sweet sugars upfront followed by some dark fruits and figs. When all is combined, it kind of smells like flavored cough syrup. Ok.

T: Kind of tastes an unexpected left turn here. Taste does not follow the nose barely at all. Very roasted cherry upfront. Kind of like a burnt chocolate covered cherry. Sugary licorice and alcohol in the middle. Good.

M: Way too carbonated than it should be. Decent.

D: You definite;y have to get past the strange blend of flavors to get this brew down. Decent.

All in all, this is an ok brew. Not much to make it special. It seems like one of those brews where the brewer tried TOO hard to make something special. It needs less thought, but more creativity and thickness (for a stout). Not worth hunting or buying. Try once if you dare.

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Photo of JackieTH
3.74/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Into a glass poured initally appeared to be a substantially black liquid, but was a less impressive fully translucent dark-brown-reddish when held to a light. Three fingers of medium tan-colored head that did not hold long.

It took a deep whiff to extact what was a flavorful nose of coffee, malt and dried dark fruit.

Taste was an improvement on the nose with early sweetness, roasted coffee, medium dark chocolate, more dried dark fruits and maltiness. Some mild bitterness comes through toward the end which was nice to balance the sweetness.

No evidence of the 10.4% ABV anywhere.

Body/mouthfeel was disappointing for what was otherwise a good experience. Thin may be a good description, but it was certainly not in line with what I would expect from an imperial stouts of this style.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.54/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not available to me, picked it up on a recent trip to Florida.

Pours a dark chocolate brown, with light tan head, half a fingers worth, maybe. Looks kinda thin, and retention is not particularly good. I wouldn't call this an RIS...and imperial stout at best, as the bottles states.

Lots of roasted malts on the nose, with touches of caramel sweetness. Maybe a bit of cocoa, but very minimal if at all...

The taste is sweet like toffee, with some burnt or toasted malts with maybe a smidge of hop undertone....smidge. Theres a hint of expresso on the back end that lingers a bit. There is a hint of warm alcohol, but it is easily overlooked. Over all, it's rather tasty.

Medium to full bodied, much heavier than the pour led on.

This is a pretty tasty offering, nothing fantastic, but still rather pleasant. Though I would likely not drink more than 1 at a time, I would definitely revisit regularly if it were available to me here.

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Photo of chumba526
3.13/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appears a midnight black color with inch long brown foam.

Smells of sweet malts. A nice smoky smell is noticeable to. I also smell a slight floral aroma.

Tastes strongly of roasted malts and sticky super sweet malts and molasses. There is a nice floral/ grassy taste as well.

The carbonation is medium low which is normal for the style.
The very heavy body and the sweetness make the drinkability quite low. One of these is all I would want to drink a night.

Overall not a bad stout if you like stouts on the sweeter side. Worth trying but to sweet for my taste.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.48/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Black as the ace of spades with dark brown overtones when held up to the light. Fairly good head that left about an eight of an inch or so on the top till I was about halfway finished. Clumpy lacking. Pretty nice looking.

Smells of molasses, coffee, chocolate, fruits (probably prunes), anise, slightly alcoholic, and a distinct overtone of the Frio river in Texas (I know that's a strange quality to mention, but that's what the smell reminds me of, and keeps reminding me of each time I smell it again).

Taste... first thing I said was "WOW." Powerful and strong on the flavors. Not too much alcohol flavor for such a strong brew, but still detectable. Chocolate, roasted, sweet malts, toffee, a smidge of smoke, some coffee, prune, and medium hoppiness barrage the tongue with intense flavors.

In both the smell and taste I can detect something strangely plastic which is slightly off-putting. I basically deducted a half point in each of those categories because of this.

Mouthfeel is very thick and rich, smooth but tangy with ample carbonation, bitter at the end but not overly so. A truly thick brew that doesn't disappoint in this category.

Drinkability is low. It's heavy on the nose, tongue, and stomach, and I certainly couldn't drink more than one at a time. In addition, at $10 a four-pack, there are better values out there, and I'll likely not buy this one very often. In fact, the two bottles I have left will probably remain in the fridge for at least a week apiece.

Might make an interesting black and tan tho.

ETA: On my second go-round I mixed half of an imperial stout with half a sam adams noble pils. Now that's an interesting black and tan... I'll rate it a 4.2 (arbitrary rating based on hasty generalizations).

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Photo of gonger
4.48/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-Almost perfect for style. Black as espresso, but LED backlight shows reddish hue. Pour (at 55F) produces a 2 finger beige head which dissipates to a thin pancake which lasts as long as the glass. Patchy lacing remains.

S-Fresh bread, Burnt caramel, brown sugar, licorice.

T-Rich. Tastes like it smells, only more complex, more complete. The expected sweetness is almost, but not quite balanced by hop bitterness.

M-Full, slightly syrupy, satisfying.

D- Very good. Easy drinkability belies its considerable alcohol content. This is a substantial brew, as much sustenance as it is beverage. Perfect for a bracer after a long day on the slopes, or after a couple hours spent shoveling out the driveway.

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with ruby highlights and a creamy off white head that leaves sheets of lacing.

Aroma is roasted dark grain, molasses, coffee, and dark fruit.

Taste is rich, creamy espresso chocolate and dark fruit. Alcohol brings a pleasant warming presence. Sweetness bring to mind an oatmeal or milk stout, but it still contains a good bit of smokey bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is a silky and viscous medium-full.

A nicely done RIS that is a touch on the sweet side. Flavor is rich but not abrasive in the least. Very smooth and drinkable, but alcohol is a bit hot for the uninitiated, I find that it adds to the experience. Great chocolate and dark fruit notes.

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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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