Imperial Stout | Boulevard Brewing Co.

381 Reviews
Imperial StoutImperial Stout

Brewed by:
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Missouri, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Like India Pale Ale, the classic Imperial Stouts were originally brewed with high levels of alcohol and hops to withstand the rigors of a long sea journey, not to India but to Imperial Russia and the Baltic States. Our version is an over-the-top riff on the style, with a huge grain bill featuring several kinds of malted barley, wheat, rye, oats, and spelt. Robust grain and coffee flavors are counterbalanced by date and plum notes from the Belgian yeast. To add extra complexity and depth, this Imperial Stout is made up of a blend of freshly brewed beer and several barrel-aged beers, carefully balanced. Za Vas!

63 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-23-2008

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Reviews: 381 | Ratings: 1,320
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to SalukiAlum for sending me this one!

Bottle number 13907. Batch 2011-2. Best by 1-2013.

Pours an opaque pitch black with a huge 3 inch dark khaki head that fades to a small cap. Decent rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smells strongly of oak and whiskey up front. Lighter smells of vanilla and cookie dough. Taste is very whiskey forward. I get the oak and vanilla tastes that come along with that too. Other tastes that you would expect from a stout are either missing or masked by the barrel aging. There is a bit of roasted grain taste after each sip. There is also a slight sourness present that I have read could be a sign of infection. Beer has a low carbonation level and is very thick and creamy in the mouth. Overall, this is a whiskey bomb. Not that it's a bad thing but it takes precedence over all other tastes and smells for the most part. This would probably benefit from some aging.

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Photo of metter98
4.09/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a quarter finger high tan colored head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of whiskey from the barrel aging are present in the nose. Hints of dark fruit and wood also become noticeable as the beer warms up.
T: Much like the smell, the taste has flavors of whiskey, but these aren't overpowering and you can still taste underling notes of chocolate and roasted malts.
M: It feels a bit more than medium-bodied on the palate and has slight hints of warming from the whiskey barrel aging.
O: Except for the whiskey, this beer manages to hide its alcohol very well from the taste and seems to be more like a 8-9% abv beer. It is rather drinkable for the style.

Note: 2013 vintage, Batch 13310-2.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A crazy big Stout will all the hallmarks of greatness. I'm surprised this one doesn't land on the 'Best of' lists.

This Smokestacks RIS is extremely aggressive with the roasted and bready malts, which are evident throughout the aroma, flavor, and body. Espresso, bittersweet cocoa, and molassas flavors are so rich, thick, and weighted that it drinks more like a milkshake up front. But the beer begins to lighten at mid palate, allowing for a nearly dry and crisp malty finish. As the beer warms, toasted fruits of black currants, raisons, plumbs, and cherries begin to reveal themselves for added complexity and variety. The balance of flavors keep the bold streaks of roast and alcohol from getting out of hand. This is one beautiful beer.

Even with the initial pour, the jet black color gives a billowing mocha head that is both intimidating and seductive at the same time. With lots of retention, lacing, and legging there are no flaws with this beer. The think that sets it apart for me is the ability for the beer to go from aggressive roast in the beginning and fade into a malted milk and shortbread taste in the end is truely remarkable.

Thanks BlueOkie!

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Photo of biboergosum
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml caged and corked bottle, 2014 version, another in a line of awesome second wave Boulevard products to make their way into Alberta of late - good on ya, Horizon.

This beer pours a rather solid black abyss, with the barest of red cola basal edges when pressed against the late-August sunshine drifting into my basement, with four aggressive fingers of puffy, tightly foamy, and mildly creamy tan head, which leaves some stellar pockmarked concrete wall lace around the glass as it slowly sinks away.

It smells of lightly toasted, and somewhat meaty caramel malt, bittersweet cocoa, black licorice, cafe-au-lait, subtle barrel notes - astringent and soused wood staves, and maybe some dry vanilla - ethereal black fruit, and a hovering alcohol warming. The taste is semi-sweet, grainy caramel malt, a bit of biscuity, chocolate-ensconced toffee, more black licorice nibs, subtle and thus genial coffee beans, a surprising (until you actually read the damned label) low-key barrel-bred character - wood and spice-tinted vanilla, mostly - an evolving dark orchard fruitiness (plums and overripe cherries), and a sidling, sort of indecisive booze acridity.

The bubbles are fairly understated in their timid and hard to come by frothiness, the body a heady medium-heavy weight, and generally smooth, with a decent creaminess being generated as things warm. It finishes sweet, the caramel, cocoa, licorice, vanilla, and yes, boozy-booze all contributing to my imminent downfall.

Overall, a rather agreeable, and haltingly approachable big-ass stout, the barrel treatment a forgettable sideshow at best. What one should really concern themselves with here is the sexy, unadorned stout metrics thus described, and all working so well together, in the face of a threatening, but not quite yet engaging 22-proof alcohol measure - which shall resolve itself soon enough.

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Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottling

Appearance: Pours a fudge brown color capped by a rocky mocha head that leaves a webbing of lace behind

Smell: Chocolate and dark fruit with hints of coffee and whiskey

Taste: Chocolate and dark fruit flavors (prune, primarily), up front, with the whiskey barrel and spicy yeast flavors building, in the middle; after the swallow, the hop bill adds some bitterness but the chocolate, vanilla and whiskey tones return in the finish; there is a bit of surprising tartness in the aftertaste (shades of the 2011 Brett infection, perhaps)

Mouthfeel: Creamy and buoyantly carbonated, with a medium to full body

Overall: The yeast makes quite a difference here, and this is as much a Belgian stout as it is an Imperial Stout; a really interesting beer with a lot of complexity

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Photo of kojevergas
3.23/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

BOTTLE: Batch number I14295-1. Best by: 10-2016. 2014 vintage. Brown glass. 750ml. Classic understated label design. Hood-and-wire cap over a cork.

11% ABV. Expectations are high. Served cold into a snifter and allowed to warm.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 1.5 fingers wide. Khaki colour head. Should be richer and darker, but it's decent, with nice creaminess and fullness. A thicker more even consistency would be ideal. It's supple and soft enough. Retention is excellent (esp. for the ABV) - ~10+ minutes.

BODY: Opaque solid black. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Appears well-carbonated. It's far from unique or special for an imperial stout, but is above average. Certainly appealing.

AROMA: The whiskey barrel character eclipses the base aromatics, with pungent whiskey-soaked wood, whiskey's signature spiciness, and hints of mesquite. The whiskey hides the base for the most part, but I do find cream, dark malts, oats, subtly spicy rye malt, and oats. Additionally, the barrel wood dips into sourness a bit, indicative perhaps of infection.

I find no roasted barley - to its detriment, and the rich dark malt backbone that should be prominent is absent. I find no smoke, chocolate, coffee, etc. This aroma suggests a neutral simplistic base beer with an eclipsing whiskey character, neither of which is interesting.

Aromatic intensity is quite low; this is a timid reticent aroma.

No yeast character, alcohol, hops, or off-notes are detectable.

TASTE: A light hint of sourness mixed with dampened cardboard is present, which throws off the balance and build substantially - but doesn't make this undrinkable. Just...different. I imagine if they'd stop mucking about with blending they wouldn't run into that problem.

The whiskey barrel isn't anywhere near as rich or evocative as one would hope, but it's present. Some subtle spice, a kiss of mesquite, whiskey soaked wood. There's no vanilla or rich toasted oak.

Mild as the whiskey barrel is, the base is even less interesting. I don't know that I've run into an imperial stout with such a neutral or even insipid malt backbone in a long time. I can tell dark malts were used, but there's just not an accompanying sweetness; it comes off depleted. Cream is the most notable note in the flavour profile, though the oats are nice as well, and bring a hint of starchiness to the taste in addition to their usual smoothening effect on the texture. I search for rye, but have trouble finding it; perhaps rye's subtle spiciness is overshadowed by whiskey's. Odd, since you'd think they'd work together.

Roasted barley is sorely missed, but frankly I'm desperate just for anything of interest from the base. This beer is crippled by its lack of a robust malt backbone, and it doesn't offer anything else in its place; there's no chocolate here (not even chocolate malt), no coffee, no smoke, no vanilla, no dark fruit, no charred or burnt sugars, no marshmallow, no caramel, no hazelnut, no nothing. It's oddly simple and lacks depth of flavour. There's not much subtlety or nuance to it. Flavour duration is average. Flavour intensity is below average. The beer doesn't have an American feel to it, and I suspect American yeast was not used - to its detriment.

I don't dislike it. As it warms, I find it flirts with a lactose sugar sweetness in the second act. And some faint raisin fades in.

TEXTURE: Way too thin, lending it a weak presence on the palate - an issue not helped by its surprisingly moderate body. I wonder why they used wheat in the grain bill of an imperial stout? This is oddly light, but of course unrefreshing, and there is some faint alcohol warmth. Smooth and wet. Slightly sticky, a biteen chewy, slightly syrupy. Its best attribute is its creaminess, and the smoothness lent by the oats works well here, bringing it closer to a porter without overstepping bounds. It's well-carbonated to boot, and has a slight powdery feel (which would be fantastic if this had any cacao presence at all).

Overall presence on the palate is above average, I guess - if only because of the creaminess and silkiness. Still, this texture fails to elevate the beer or to accentuate any specific notes from the flavour profile.

OVERALL: I expected far better given this is a Boulevard beer, but it's by no means a bad brew. Nor is it anywhere near world-class. In spite of its alcohol presence, it's drinkable enough, and I'll enjoy finishing the bottle. But with the wealth of widely available superior imperial stouts out there, I won't be buying this again. Even non barrel aged examples of the style like Victory Storm King, North Coast Old Rasputin, and Great Divide Yeti bring far more complexity to the table. This seems more like an attempt to cater to the market than an inspired brew; certainly Boulevard knows craft beer fans go apeshit for imperial stouts. I just hoped their offering would be consistent with the quality of the majority of their lineup.

High C+

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Photo of largadeer
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml split 5 ways. Black color, almost opaque even in the pour, with a surprisingly large dark tan head forming. Solid head retention, spot-on appearance for the style. Chocolatey, brownie-like aroma, little bit of heat, faint licorice. Pretty easy on the palate for an 11% imperial stout; great balance between roasty bitterness and rich dark chocolate flavors. Medium-bodied, not terribly thick or cloying. Dries up a little bit in the finish, allowing the roastiness to take over a bit more. Solid stuff.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.01/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a huge brown foamy head with great retention and perfect lacing. Aroma of dry roasted barley malt with some coffee notes and some sweet lingering notes with some bourbon notes as well. Taste is a complex mix between some roasted malt notes with light bitterness that is offset by lingering sweetness and some coffee notes with a slightly overwhelming bourbon finish. Body is quite full with some creamy notes and some perfect carbonation with slightly apparent alcohol notes. I am not sure what to make of this one - complex and somewhat balanced though a lot more bourbon then I would have liked.

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Photo of zeff80
4.83/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a huge (4 finger) brown, foamy head with big bubbles. It left sticky patches of Brussels lace all over the glass.

S - It smelled of dark chocolate, sweet caramel, floral notes and hints of fruits.

T - It tasted of chocolate, caramel and fruity sweetness. It had a bitter/citrusy hop presence and slight hints of raisin.

M - It was crisp, sharp and velvety smooth. A medium-bodied beer that is surprisingly easy to drink despite its alcohol content.

D - This is outstanding. The finest of the Smokestack series.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. The 1000th beer I've input a review for here.

Pours a very, very dark brown bordering on black. The color of super dark chocolate. Mocha head with a bit of lacing. Nose brings a lot of different characteristics, with some dark chocolate, coffee, anise, roasted malt, a bit of smoke, and a mild earthiness. The taste is very roasty with a bit of booze. Some really nice smokey, earthy notes and heavy amount of dark chocolate. Medium body with very nice carbonation. Overall, this drinks really well and is a great example of the style.

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Photo of mothman
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Batch

Poured into Town Hall Chalice

Pours a nice full tan head. Great retention and decent lace. Color is a dark black.

Aroma: Tons of fresh earthy hops, chocolate, tons of roasted malts, and coffee. A nice big stout.

Taste: I think this beer isn't aging the best. Some vinegar flavors/ oxidation showing. Once a person gets passed that, the chocolate, caramel, coffee, roasted malts show. I'd say that this beer is better off fresh.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy a little sour notes from the aging maybe. Full bodied with a great amount of carbonation. Ends dry, malty, and sticky.

Overall, I'd much rather have this fresh. The aging isn't doing this beer any good at all. It is decent, but it could have been better. The new batch should be decent.

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Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into snifter, bottled on 11/1/2013. Pours dense pitch black color with a 2 finger fairly dense dark tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass with a good amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of big raisin, plum, date, fig, licorice, molasses, dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, dark bread, toffee, bourbon, oak, vanilla, clove, pepper, light char, and yeast/roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast, dark/roasted malt, and light-moderate bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, date, fig, licorice, molasses, dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, dark bread, toffee, bourbon, oak, vanilla, clove, pepper, light char, and yeast/roasted earthiness. Fair amount of earthy yeast spice and roast bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark fruit, licorice, molasses, dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, dark bread, toffee, bourbon, oak, vanilla, pepper, and yeast/roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, dark/roasted malt, and light-moderate bourbon barrel flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance with the yeast notes and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and lightly slick mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is an incredible Belgian imperial stout style. All around awesome complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, dark/roasted malt, and light-moderate bourbon barrel flavors; and extremely smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of oberon
4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 bottle.Pours jet black with no light getting thru,a full two finger deep beige head atop that settles very slowly into a frothy mass.Aromas of dark fruti stand out most with lighter whiskey barrel notes,not in your face.A smooth creamy fuller feel makes for a good sipping brew.Alot of dark fruit on the palate along with dark molasses and chocolate,there is a detectable earthiness in the finish wich was nice.Not a big roasty/coffee influnced imperial stout here it's more of a dark fruit and sweeter brew.I like it alot,the barrel aging doesn't overpower the beer.

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Photo of jlindros
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Veggie for sharing this.

Nice creamy darker fizzy head covering, nice lacing, pitch black beer, decent legs too.

Nose nice dark roast and caramel, dark choc, mild phenolic booze, little coffee, candy and lots if caramel, little fluffy nougat and creamy choc, faint whisky barrel.

Taste brings more phenolic booze right off, warning tingly booze, into dark malts, little roast and hint coffee, dark choc, fluffy creamy cocoa, fluffy nougat, very light feeling for being so heavy, like a three musketeers bar, but still rich and semi creamy. Nice fluffy earthy hop bitterness, little roast bitterness too with hint of acrid burnt, char, little sticky sweet and candy light syrupy sticky, then into a little sweet whisky and touch of toasted oak barrel. Finish is long bitterness, sticky semi sweet, more warming booze and tingle, little fudgey choc, caramel, etc.

Mouth is fuller bod, creamy thick fluffy airy, fluffy carb, plenty of warming booze.

Overall pretty nice. Good stout characters, nice cocoa and fluffy flavors, barrel is nice but not a ton.

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Photo of chinchill
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Cellared 2015 bottle with a Sept. 2017 BB date stamp; opened September 2016. Served in a Belgian snifter.

Appearance: essentially black and opaque body with a semi-durable light tan head.

Aroma: whisky and whisky barrels; black bread; alcohol; dark dried fruits; hints of vanilla.
Flavor: bourbon and oak; molasses; less dark dried fruits and more chocolate than in the nose. Hints of vanilla, brown sugar and black bread. Lightly sweet, overall.

Mouthfeel: very full, relatively thick body with alcohol warmth extending from the tongue downwards.

Overall: quite nice but likely to improve with further aging.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml corked and caged bottle into a couple of tulip glasses. This is the 2008 edition.

Pours a pure black in the glass, topped with several rigid fingers of dark mocha head. This retains with a thick finger that stays put, leaving back a huge sticky latticework of robust lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma is thick in the nose, with notes of chocolate fudge, burnt coffee, smoky roast, and a deep and pithy smelling dark fruit character. Maybe just a tinge of herbal hops and spicy alcohol warmth sits on the edges. This smells delicious.

Luckily the taste follows the nose, with a dense and rich mix of chocolate, roasted coffee, dark fruit, and a bit more bitter citric flavors than what was in the aroma. Bold alcohol sweetness trails warm dryness and spice into the finish. The mouthfeel is full bodied and chewy, with a creamy sharpness that fills the mouth up with flavors. The alcohol is EXTREMELY well hid here and besides the added flavors here from it, I would never guess that this is nearly 11%. OK, in actuality, maybe the slow fog that is creeping over my brain as I work through my glass is giving that away.

Wow, this was nice! Flavorful, complex, and powerful, a couple of years have done well to help smooth this RIS out. If you have any in the cellar, I’d definitely recommend breaking one out. This is drinking great right now!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap 8/17/2014 at Battleship Brewhouse in Fall River, MA, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a large brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains chocolate, coffee, dark fruit, roasted malts and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with mildly sweet flavors of chocolate, coffee, licorice and dark fruit. Then a hearty roasted malt character comes in along with a significant alcohol sting. The hops presence is very mild but provides a decent balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

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

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, slightly filling, very strong kick, decent representation of style, it’s a decent beer but there are better choices in the style.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Note: 2013 Vintage. Batch #13310-2. Best by 11-2015.

A: Pours an opaque yet still clear jet black in color with moderate to heavy amounts of gentle visible carbonation along the surface + edges of the glass and dark cola brown highlights. The beer has a half finger tall dense foamy dark tan head that reduced to a couple of small patches of thick film surrounded by a very thin film covering the majority of the reminder of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Strong aromas of roasted malts, dark fruits (prunes/plums), and whiskey with moderate aromas of oak.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of roasted and chocolate malts with a light to moderate amount of dark fruit (prunes/plums) sweetness. That is followed by moderate to strong flavors of whiskey with a light amount of oak. Hints of alcohol towards the finish and just a touch of bitterness which fades quickly.

M: Just shy of heavy bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth with just a touch of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: This beer is extremely drinkable for an 11.8% ABV Imperial Stout and the alcohol overall is well hidden. Very enjoyable to sip on this one and the whiskey does not overpower the other flavors/aromas of the beer.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Standard appearance of a big stout, dark brown-black with a finger of tan head, which sank to a collar and laced the glass. In the nose, dark malts, roast and char, tobacco, anise, some neutral booze. Taste of roasty dark malts, coffee, dark chocolate, charred wood, tobacco, black licorice, notes of dark dried fruits and some stiff whiskey / neutral alcohol with a slight burn to it. Body was on the fuller side of medium. Nothing really memorable about this one when stacked up against all the other similar beers of the style, but it was solid overall.

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Photo of mactrail
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just a touch of the funky Brettanomyces in this batch 2011-2. I say it's fabulous and makes for an unexpected complexity in a big stout. Handsome in the Orval chalice with a dark beige head and lacing all over the place. Alcohol heat with fruity flavors and aroma of mincemeat pie.

Barrel flavors are muted but distinct. The impression I get is brandy-flavored fruitcake. Some yeasty flavors, along with raisins. Nutty and biscuity malt along with the roasted flavors. Dry aftertaste with some bitterness, both hoppy and bacterial. This is worth a taste just for the restrained barrel flavor that is in contrast with many boozy, over-wooded beers.

I think Boulevard is doing interesting work with beers and should be given some thanks for their tasting notes and acknowledging the Brett infection.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle #5753 of 11960.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, near black body with a tall, foamy, tan-colored head.

Smell: Huge, rich roasted malt aroma jam-packed with acute notes of chocolate, mocha, blackstrap molasses, and aniseed side by side with a scent of fresh-baked nine-grain bread.

Taste: Tempting tastes of dark, roasted malts, full of dark chocolate sauce, molasses, Java 'Dutch Estate' Coffee, anise, and caramel with a moderate amount of sweetness to attend to. Slight smoky, charred grain character and hint of wood-fired oats. Thin vein of dark fruitiness lurking within. Bold mix of roasty, resiny bitterness, though it falls a tad short of balancing the sweetness. Touch of warming alcohol (though comparatively light considering the ABV percentage) on the sweetish, highly roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Fairly smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: A top-notch, surprisingly drinkable Imperial Stout and my favorite of the Smokestake Series thus far. Nice work, Boulevard.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 release. Zebra stripe black with slim slivers of sepia along the edges when the glass is backlit with blazing morning sunshine. The mocha colored cap crested at three fingers after a gentle pour and looks like it will hang around for a long while. Pretty attractive lace too, especially considering the ABV and partial barrel aging.

The aroma is wonderfully deep and rich. Never mind the fact that wheat, rye, oats and spelt were used. Black-roasted malt dominates all and results in plenty of dark chocolate, black coffee and black licorice. Call me crazy, but the effect of having aged 10% of the beer in bourbon barrels is easily appreciated.

One big mouthful is all it takes to confirm the fact that Imperial Stout (along with Long Strange Tripel) is the best Boulevard Smokestack Series ale yet. The brewery did their homework in a major way because this American double stout rivals some of the best beer of the style.

In case you're cellaring a bottle, this initial release (only release?) has aged in outstanding fashion. Even though it's incredibly bold, the various flavors have knit together perfectly. Maybe they did so when fresh too. The ABV seems like a misprint because no 11.0% ale should be this easy to drink.

Specifics include dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, blackstrap molasses, Sambuca-soaked raisins and a wee splash of bourbon whiskey. A modest amount of hop flavor and bitterness keeps things from being too sweet, even this long after the release. This is a wonderfully well-crafted ale from a Midwestern brewery that doesn't get enough love.

The mouthfeel has held up remarkably well. It isn't thick and nougat chewy, but it's plenty big enough and is crushed velvet smooth. Ideal carbonation (gentle) helps immensely and means that anything from sipping to gulping is possible. The former is the better way to go, although the latter is hard to avoid.

Boulevard Imperial Stout is a 'Special Limited Release Ale', which is a shame. If any of the Smokestack Series beers deserve a year-round release schedule, this one does. I now regret having traded away all but one bottle from my initial half-a-case haul. Highly recommended.

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Photo of billab914
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2011 vintage poured from a 750ml bottle into my CBS snifter. It poured pitch black in color with a very thin tan head clinging to the edges of the glass.

The aroma has a very rich bitter sweet chocolate flavor to it with some some sweeter, malty, caramel and molasses flavors mixing with some modest oaky, vanilla and whiskey flavors to it as well. Just a little bit of roasty, coffee, bitter flavors come through. I think they balanced all the flavors pretty well overall though.

The taste leans more on the malty, sweet flavors up front with some notes of caramel and chocolate present. Towards the finish some of the darker, bitter-sweet chocolate notes start to mix with some of the barrel characters and just a hint of a roasty, coffee like flavor.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side and carbonation was very low. I like low carbonation in this style, but this was a little low even for me. Overall it was a pretty good beer, not outstanding in the style but drinkable and flavorful. Pretty decent beer to sip on this evening though.

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Photo of russpowell
4.24/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours ebony with 3+ fingers of rocky mocha head with caramel streaks in it. Insane lacing & head retention

S: Roasted malt, a touch of smokeyness & some booze

T: Roasted malt, booze, black currant, baker's chocolate & some smokeyness up front. Rich dark chocolate, wet roasty grains & a touch of dryness as this warms, plus nice dark fruits. Finishes dryish with a bit of booze warmth in the finish, plus some charred grain & cocoa

MF: Oily, fairly chewy with fairly lively carbonation that smoothes out a bit

Drinks great for the abv, there is much to love here. Will stockpile this when possible, great IMP stout!

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks goes out for finally getting this bottle in my hands. I cannot express how long I have waited to finally be able to try this one. Served at cellar temp and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 04/08/2009.

The pour was fantastic. Rich dark brown in color, nearly totally black with no light shine through on it what so ever. A huge tan head of foam came up over the top to a height of nearly three inches before settling back down into a thin film that coasted the inside of the glass and never fell to more then an inch in height. The aroma was rich, deep and dark chocolate notes with loads of coffee mixed in. Some light fruit notes are balancing it out now as well, really very well done here. As it warms it became very much sweeter. Such a really well done big stout. Smooth, rich and very creamy feel. Full bodied and loaded with carbonation with a high ABV that was nearly undetectable. Rich chocolate notes are the first things that we find here and they are anything but subtle as they meld into a wonderful coffee infused finish that really was the icing on the cake for me.

Overall this was a damn fine big stout. Not as heavy as some of the others in the class, with more carbonation and a slight Belgian inspired feel. I would go for this one again any day of the week

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Imperial Stout from Boulevard Brewing Co.
4.16 out of 5 based on 1,320 ratings.
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