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Imperial Stout | Boulevard Brewing Co.

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Imperial StoutImperial Stout
BA SCORE
4.18/5
Exceptional
1,329 Ratings
Imperial StoutImperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Missouri, United States
boulevard.com

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

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,279
Reviews:
385
Ratings:
1,329
pDev:
10.05%
Bros Score:
4.24
 
 
Wants:
273
Gots:
416
Trade:
26
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,329 |  Reviews: 385
Photo of Sammy
3.47/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Did not age well from 2013. Musty.

34 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of acurtis
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.65/5  rDev -12.7%
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.

 922 characters

Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 edition, drinking super well right now. i cant believe its taken me so long to get to this one, you used to see it around all the time, and now its nowhere to be found! its a great beer, grain heavy in a cool way for the style, more than just the dark barley roasted element, it has that sure, but it has more cerealy bready build, some wheat and oats in here for sure, its got a lot more going on than most amidst the roasty coffee and dark chocolate notes that are common in the style. some sweetness in the nose, and i can smell the whiskey and wood too, but being a blend of some fresh beer too, it has less of that all encompassing whiskey character to it, which i appreciate here actually, i think it lets the more unique mash come through, some rye in here too i think. its got raisin and plum and port wine aspects, but also bran and bagel breadiness, along with a rich dark roast that doesnt pack too much bitterness into it. smooth on the feel, light carbonation and a lot of body, creamy and dense but not too much. obviously a beer to share, but i found this rather drinkable for the style, its got some nice complexity and not over the top sweetness, its what i like in the style. there is a little tangy element to the finish, like maybe this sat a little long, but its maturity is nice. id like to try it fresh at some point, but i was impressed with this one on the whole! the smokestack series beers are all fantastic!

 1,441 characters

Photo of spycow
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of kjkinsey
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%

Photo of Knapp85
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%

Photo of metter98
4.09/5  rDev -2.2%
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 +7.7%
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 -3.6%
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 kojevergas
3.23/5  rDev -22.7%
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 Taphouse_Traveler
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of emerge077
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
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 oline73
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.01/5  rDev -4.1%
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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Imperial Stout from Boulevard Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.18 out of 5 with 1,329 ratings
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