Imperial Stout | Boulevard Brewing Co.

380 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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 380 | Ratings: 1,319
Photo of jjanega08
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage Bottle Number 3022
Batch Number and best by Date reads- 2011-1
I think there is another number but it must have missed the label.

A= The cage on the cork snaps apart into a million pieces like it's made of glass. The beer pours a thick black soupy color with a nice thick head on it. It's about a half finger high and holds some steady retention but not too great with some nice lacing on it. Looks pretty nice about what expected.

S= The smell is some big booze. A nice bit of bourbon but not too overpowering. The barrel comes through a bit not again not overpowering. A little underwhelming in the nose. I've heard a lot about how great this beer is but the nost is just above average in my opinion. Somewhat one dimensional and boring.

T= The taste lets the beer take off. Not overly hot at all and the bourbon plays a supporting role. It hits hard with big dark chocolate and coffee flavors. Great roast to this one. There seems to be a slight hop bitterness that you usually don't find in imperial stouts either. It's not overlay sweet and just right with the roasty bitterness. The taste is for sure worth checking out. There's some underlying notes of dark fruit raisins and plums flow over the tongue without playing a major role but just enough support.

M= A nice thick mouth and some smoothness that is broken up a bit by a slightly high amount of carbonation.

O= A solid beer! The taste is great and works well without being too sweet and hard to drink. There are a few problems that keep this from being out of this world awesome but it's still for sure worth checking out. I would drink this now and not let it age.

 1,654 characters

Photo of phishisphunk
3.14/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 Vintage. Bottle # 3522.

I had intended on cellaring this bottle for a few months until I heard through the threads that Boulevard reported possible brett infection through their sensory panel. Respect the manner with which they identified this character but found it humorous that they encourage immediate consumption even though the bottle has a best by 2013 date.

As always, beautiful bottle. I love the simplicity of the smokestack series.

Served straight from the refrigerator (into my Dogfish signature snifter) as I promptly placed in the fridge to stave off infection not quite knowing when I would get to it. I plan on talking my time with the bottle so I will pick up the nuances as it warms.

A: Appearance is pretty standard for a imperial stout. Pours dark with an initial mocha colored head that quickly recedes to leave a thin ring around the edge of the glass. Little to no head retention as the thin bubbles struggle unsuccessfully to retain to the glass. Lots of tiny little bubbles noted ascending upward give the appearance of a thin body.

S: The nose has 2 distinct aromas. The initial aroma is mildly tart with hints of sweet cherry and vanilla extract presumably from the barrel. Following this is the aroma from the stout itself. Roasted malt and baker's chocolate finish the nose if you hang out long enough to discover them.

T: The taste follows the aroma verbatim. Hints of cherry, vanilla, oak, rolled oats, roasted malts, and dark chocolate. The beer is sweet and boozy (DFH WWS comes to mind). Piney/soapy hops round off the taste. Finish is clean. The barrel and base beer don't feel real well integrated and they seem to compete from the finish to the end. The tart, sour notes overpower the what I suspect is a solid Russian imperial stout.

M: Despite the taste, the beer has wonderful carbonation and creaminess despite feeling a bit thin.

D: At this point, I'm not sure I will finish the bottle. As far as Barrel aged stouts go, I'm pretty underwhelmed. I do prefer big bourbon bombs, but the barrel did not do much for the base. Glad I didn't sit on this one. Probably drinking as well as it will right now. However, I can see how some folks would really enjoy this one. Pick one up and try for yourself!

 2,257 characters

Photo of bld81
3.12/5  rDev -25%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2011 Bottle 10650

Appearance - dark chocolate, small head, dissipates quickly, large bubbles

Smell - dried cherry, spice, some chocolate, not as much oak and bourbon as expected

Taste - whiskey and bourbon, vanilla, coffee back

Mouthfeel - somewhat thin, Hot Alcohol

Overall - Not what I expected, hoped to enjoy this more. I have two other bottles, one from the same case. Hope those age a bit better.

 407 characters

Photo of GoNowhere
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Number 2528. I don't usually dig on barrel aged beers but this one was really nice.

A: Dark dark brown with a soft leather head.

S: Whiskey. Chocolate. Burnt tobacky. Some dark ripe fruit too.

T: Whiskey. Burnt chocolate. Dominican tobacco. Big alcohol taste. It may have been a scotch barrel. Supple but super complex. See what you can find. There is a ton of stuff going on.

M: Big stout. Big flavor. Robust. Not syrupy. Just big. A belly filler. This beer should have come out during winter. I like it. I like Scotch. Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly.

O: To me, barrel aging beers seems to be a real buzz kill. However, this one is done quite well. Stout drinkers will love it.

 723 characters

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

Poured from a bottle into a snifter #3557

Appearance : poured this one aggressively small brown head froms and quickly fades into a brown ring

Smell : fantastic! Smells like I stuck my head in a whiskey barrel! Oak char, bourbon ,coffee aroma dominants.

Taste : taste is very similar to smell. No off flavors. Bourbon, coffee, vanilla, oak char.,flavors are intense!

Mouthfeel : full bodied , not syrupy

Overall : great beer it is what it says it is. I love barrel aged beer and this one is one of best I've had!

 517 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle. 2011 vintage.

The beer pours a very dark brown to black color with a tan head.

The aroma is great. I get some licorice and dark fruit notes, as well as a lot of oak, roasted malt and some chocolate. You can get all of the notes that you expect in a bourbon barrel aged stout,

The flavor is more of the same. I get a lot of milk chocolate as well as some woodiness from the oak, some bourbon whiskey notes, maple and vanilla. There is also some nice alcohol warming in the flavor.

Medium to thick mouthfeel and low to medium carbonation. Outstanding.

 606 characters

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

Okay, I really liked the Dark Truth the first time I had it and wasn't a fan the second time I had it a few months later - an off sour taste the second time. So I wasn't exactly expecting alot considering all the talk I've heard about Brett infection and funk in this beer. So I popped one early before the Brett could really color the flavor of it and what? - no Brett anywhere I could find in this bottle #1733 - just Bourbon and a heaven.

The smell is complete bourbon - vanilla, spice, great smell but not quite enough backbone to fight off the bourbon.

The taste is well ballanced - heavy on the bourbon but that's what I like. This is nearly up to one of my favorites - '08 BCBS. Sweet, rounded, vanilla and chocolate, with a hint of heat, smoke and oak. For a young beer this is wonderful. The match of chocolate and bourbon and vanilla is well rounded and each sip is a treat.

This beer was right on in terms of mouthfeel and had a somewhat slick feeling from the bourbon.

This is one of the better bourbon aged beers I've ever had. I'd put it just below the '08 BCBS but definately on par with the BA Backout and BA BORIS. I think it's actually better than KBS - This is a wonderful beer. Maybe I was lucky but I had no hint of Brett in this beer, I certainly hope it ages without that coming into the picture because there is little I'd change with the way it's drinking right now.

 1,395 characters

Photo of ArrogantB
3.46/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Now I heard this has some brett in it which makes sense because I thought I smelled a bit of it but then I thought "nah, its all in your head". Maybe its just "tartness from the barrel" as TA would say. Anyway, I would be sad if I bought mroe than one for aging as this cost $13. Dark black with a whiff of soured something at first and then wood. Taste is wood, oak, booze and imperial stout, actually not quite bad. This was also easy to dirnk but I split it with someone else so maybe thats why. All in all I was a little let down by this one but I will continue to buy the smokestack series because some of them are really tasty (BBQ, Saison Brett, Rye on Rye, Chocolate Ale).

 680 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.09/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured jet black with great carbonation leaving a big brown cap and lots of bubbles

S: Well, it was funk, booze, whiskey

T: Not a big fan. I like most Boulevard Smokestack and big beers but this one not so much. I noticed immediate sourness, whiskey, roasted malt, any wood was subdued, booze, light cocoa

M; Thin for style, warm on the end, funky

D: Average

 365 characters

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

Poured into a Unibroue tulip. 2011, bottle #12153.

A: Very dark chocolate brown, nearly opaque. One finger dark tan head with good retention, nice lace.

S: Molasses, chocolate, hint of whiskey. Fair does of spice.

T: Fantastic. More molasses, chocolate and coffee, roasted malts, whiskey again in the background. Sweetness emerges as the beer warms.

M: Smooth and a bit oily. Fairly heavy mouthfeel, appropriate for the style.

O: Pretty nice beer, very enjoyable. Will buy again.

Saw that they only had a few left at the store, better get back before they are gone.

 571 characters

Photo of KevSal
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Decided to review big beers all this week and this guy arrived today from birtchstick, so i decided this guy is next. big thanks Jon

Batch 2011-1 no 8370 54% ale 46 aged in whiskey barrels! oh man a lot more than i expected.

was very skeptical about this guy after hearing about the brett infection, thought maybe the earlier the better.

poured in a tulip glass

A- looks fantastic, once the pour stops a foamy 1 inch head rises. looks really good, but im still skeptical if im going to like it. dark all the way thru, with dark brown on the very edges of the glass. head fades into a brown ring around the glass, a quick stir brings it back up.

s- smells really good, not very much funk in my glass but its slightly present, maybe its different from bottle to bottle, right now it comes off more of a barrel. a lot of sweet whiskey barrel notes come to the nose.

t- skepticism gone. yup this guy is great! very rich flavor. burnt malts, whiskey molasses. very reminiscent of abyss surprisingly(no not the 09 lol). alcohol is slightly present in the finish

m- creamy, very good mouthfeel, exactly how i like it the most. covers the tounge well but not to thick. enough to leave a great after taste

o- this guy is a winner! if i wasnt told there was brett in it i probably wouldnt have noticed it. maybe the next glass will show it more being a bit more warmed than this glass was.
this guy is awesome fresh, im really glad i got 3 more to sit one to see how this one develops. im actually looking forward to how the brett develops in the future. got an 08 i plan to do a side by side possible in the summer, will report back

if you can pick 2 of these guys up, have it now and sit on it to see what occurs in the bottle, it might be really nice down the road.

* if you dont like brett and have a ton of these guys already word has the frig will keep it from developing to fast, so put em in the fridge!*

 1,916 characters

Photo of davesway10
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle number 1264 Batch 2011-1.

Pours a nice dark brown-black with a beautiful thick tan head which quickly recedes. I can taste a little vanilla, coffee, chocolate, I also get a sweet "tangy/fruity" taste ? is this the Brett? I really like it, not your typical stout but very tasty. Personally I think it adds to the overall drinkability of this beer.

 354 characters

Photo of yeahnatenelson
2.97/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Note: Boulevard has stated on their website that this year's batch has been at least partially contaminated with brettanomyces. If they feel it's fair to release the beer as-is, I feel it's fair to review it as such.

2011 Batch

Appearance -- Pours a rich dark brown, nearly black, with one finger of stiff sudsy tan head. Appeared still until halfway through the poor - mild carbonation. The head soon dissipates into a dirty halo.

Smell -- My fears have been confirmed: brettanomyces is definitely present. Red wine vinegar, apple must, and dank cellar. Chocolate malt, coffee, and oaky vanilla.

Taste -- The malting is exceptional with cocoa, coffee, black malt, and the faintest bit of anise. Barrel character is nice, lending lots of vanillin and wet oak with a little bit of bourbon character. Brett is present, but certainly not dominant. Musty and earthy with green apple and horse barn. Lingering flavor of char, cocoa, vanilla, and lemony brett funk.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-full in body with milder carbonation. Feels velvety, but could use more bubbles. Alcohol is very hot. I was hoping to have the time to let this age for at least six months, but the brett infection issues

Overall -- Fortunately Boulevard mentioned that their sensory panel picked up 'brett-character' in the bottles, otherwise I would have broken into this one after it was too late to enjoy.

Yes, this batch has clearly been contaminated with brett. This hasn't progressed too far as of yet, but there is a definite funky/musty/vinegar-like character, especially in the nose. The taste hasn't been tainted too terribly yet but it has definitely muted some of the good stuff happening in the beer. The fact that I'm rating this so high speaks to how incredible this base beer tastes. The barrel-aging lent nice oaky character, but the alcohol heat was through the roof. This one really could've helped with time in the cellar.

It's okay for now, but I'm sure this will be undrinkable in another six months.

 1,995 characters

Photo of boomer31
4.41/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 version. Bottle 3101

A - Pours a beautiful rich black with a deep brown head and tiny bubbles. A good amount of stick. Perfection

S - I get a nice bit of mocha and vanilla. The vanilla from the barrel really comes off sweet and hides any roast that may or may not be present in the beer.

T - A great balance of chocolate, vanilla and barrel followed by a hint of perceived bitterness from the ABV. A good bit of residual sweeness clings to the mouth, yet not cloyingly sweet. Only a hint of roast as this warms. Very nice.

M - Very rich and full bodied. Great carbonation. This really hangs on at the end which is a bit much.

O - Overall I'm very impressed with this beer. From the website I read about traces of Brett and warning to drink immediately as it's already been aged. I figured this was to keep the brett from funking this beer beyond I drank it the day I bought it. A very nice example of a barrel aged beer even though I prefer my barrel aged beers to have a ton of barrel character.

 1,023 characters

Photo of Auracom
3.81/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

6-7 oz. from the bomber on March 24th, 2011 in my mini snifter - one of 10 beers in my stout tasting; from notes.

A - Completely black coloring. Not oily like Founders Imperial Stout. Neither significant head nor retention. Lots of alcohol feet on the sides.

S - Caramel and whiskey characters in front. Standard imperial stout affair underneath - roasted noted, chocolate. It's not as strong as I had hoped.

T - More whiskey up front, lots more caramel, nice vanilla addition over the aroma, stronger dark chocolate bitter quality at the backend. The lingering aftertaste is pretty unique and noteworthy with whiskey and dark fruit flavors. The taste is far stronger/greater than aroma.

M - Very nice... not too thick but certainly a heavier body. Great carbonation but again not overly so. Very very smooth. Slightly chewy.

D - Fairly drinkable with no real abv presence in either nose or drink. Overall the brew isn't quite what I hoped it would be. You can tell that the aging wasn't as strongly emphasized which is a bit of a letdown.

 1,047 characters

Photo of HaysAmerica
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of a 750ml bottle, #16338 out of ??? bottles for the 2011 run into a small snifter. Batch Number 2011-2; Best by Date of 01-2013. This is my first Imperial Stout from Boulevard. Pours almost jet black, w/ a tan head that dissapates after some time. Strong alcohol in the nose w/ whiskey notes. Very apparent aging in the barrels coming through in the nose. Some roasted barley, quite malty indeed, some dark barely coming through - has almost a touch of toffee to it. Warming effect coming through on the back end from the alcohol! I don't get an espresso note in this beer anywhere; rather some of the rye that was used in the brew comes through. The alcohol from this brew is almost overpowering the malt. Completes with a dry finish. Hop presence is minimal; providing something of a balancing act. They whiskey is really coming through on this one; it is fresh though w/ no aging. As the bottle warms up the chocolate/coffee flavor gets a chance to come through & the 11% alcohol takes a backseat. Very full body w/ this; to be expected.

This would go fantastic w/ some rich chocolate cake or very rich desert. Just for some fun, I tried a little chocolate candy w/ the second glass which allowed for a marvelous interplay. Overall, I'm pretty pleased w/ this beer. It fits to style & for a big beer, I like this one. Pretty drinkable overall for an Imperial Stout. Just make sure to stop after 1 bottle before you forget what happened last night! Prosit!

 1,471 characters

Photo of Wadsey
2.44/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle No 3514 of batch 2011-1. Poured into North Coast Brewing Co. snifter.

A: The beer itself strikes somewhere between dark brown and black. So it is appropriately dark with insubstantial head. It appears to be clear.

S: Acetic note, like Rodenbach Grand Cru, pops out. Next, dark dried fruits, nail polish remover/solvent, and roses (from fusels, I assume). A touch of damp wood.

T: The acetic character is still evident albeit more muted than in the smell. Dark, dried fruits, nail polish remover and roses play prominently. Fairly sweet and alcoholic. Barrel is initially evident in damp wood and tanic quality, although once the beer hits room temperature, some whiskey shows itself. A little roastiness comes out. Finishes with solventy, boozey fruits.

M: A medium body and warming. Higher level of carbonation than expected for a barrel-aged imperial stout. Surprisingly astringent in finish.

D: Boulevard Imperial Stout hits all the wrong notes for me. I like it less and less as I drink more. Too much crystal malt, too little barrel. 11 abv is obvious and I do not know what to make of the out-of-place acetic smell/taste.

With all that said, I'm very curious how this beer ages. Good thing I'm sitting on a couple bottles of '08 and plan to open one for a side-by-side tasting with my group.

 1,316 characters

Photo of Wisconsuds
3.74/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received in a trade from the Head Chef of KC's own Blancs Burgers & Bottles. Go there if you're ever within a hundred miles of the place. Thank me later.

Bottle #11320 in the 2011 Boulevard Smokestack Series. Batch #2011-2. 1 pint 9.4 fl oz poured into an oversized brandy snifter.

Oh boy. Pours a slow, viscous midnight black. To call it opaque would be an understatement. A light tan head develops, then slowly fades away leaving spiderwebbed lacing on the glass.

A VERY apparent sour nose on this brew. I can't tell if it's from the whiskey aging or the rye/oat/malt added. Faint hints of dark chocolate, oak, and chili-esque spices sting the senses as well. The sourness has me slightly worried.

Tastes of bitter dark chocolate, black fruits, and slight lactose. Leaves a hot, alcoholic syrupy finish behind.

This Smokestack offering has low to medium carbonation, and the body mass of someone on A&E's HEAVY. Not gonna lie, this beer is difficult to drink. Why I thought it would be a good idea to drink it solo, I have no idea. Terrible decision. It would benefit from at least a year of aging. The woody/chocolate notes are great, but this beer has me breathing fire right now.

 1,190 characters

Photo of Snow81
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black as night no light penetrates my beer

Head: Dark thick tan head

Smell: Roosted burnt malts with a big whiskey and a small amount on the back of the palate

Taste: Caramel, toffee, roosted malts, whiskey hints just a bit, subtle heat

Weight: Medium to heavy body with low carbonation
Finish: Whiskey, vanilla and roosted burnt malts

 351 characters

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Yet another of the great boulevard smokestack series that I've had the pleasure of tasting. 750 mL corked and caged bottle no 6610. Poured into a duvel tulip glass.

Inky jet used diesel motor oil black. You can't see a single millimeter into this thick, dark brew. There's a half finger head that dissipated into a sheen. The lacing is nice and leaves sheets behind on each sip.

The smell is rich and smooth. Whiskey is obvious and notable, as is alcohol. There are smooth and rich deep smoky, roasted malt aromas that show up early. You can smell the wood barrels. Coffee and chocolate aren't far behind. Spicy anise and pepper make an appearance. It's a bit herbal and there's also some earthiness to it.

The taste is an explosion of deliciousness that few imperial stouts can rival. Powerful Lovely woody whiskey flavors accent every sip. You can really taste the wood, which is something that I cherish in these barrel aged beer creations (I love the taste of wood in all its forms). Roasty malts are everywhere. A bit of vanilla peeks through. There's a touch of dark fruits along with a smidge of spicy anise and licorice. Leathery tobacco flavors make a welcomed appearance as well. Don't forget the classic toffee, chocolate and coffee flavors either, they're all there in spectacular style.

Feel is heavy, rich, thick, full bodied, and almost chewy. A great aftertaste of chocolate, coffee and roasty wood flavors lingers forever, leaving a slightly sticky, sweet roasted feeling on the lips.

Drink is described by a single word: Smokestack.

Very lovely in every way. This beer is a credit to the style and is yet another tick in the incredibly well crafted and delicious goodness that is the Boulevard Smokestack series. If it's still available on my next trip to St Louis, I'll pick up a couple to age.

 1,823 characters

Photo of jar2574
3.38/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From the 2011 production. Excellent lacing and good sized head. Good head retention. If you hold this beer up to light, a little light gets through as a ruby color on the edges of the beer. But mostly this thing is black.

Smells of roasted malts, licorice, espresso.

Tastes include alcohol, hot on the tongue. There's also some sourness, some bitter flavor, and some roasted malts. Less coffee/espresso flavor than the smell implied.

Tough to drink too much of this, the alcohol isn't that well hidden and this thing packs a punch.

An interesting experience and a unique beer. I'm still not sure where the sour flavor came from - (perhaps the oats? or the bourbon barrels?).

I feel like I've had better imperial stouts and probably wouldn't buy this one again, but I'd drink it if someone gave it to me.

 810 characters

Photo of Mississipping
4.45/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottling, #6549, poured into an original Boulevard Smokestack Series goblet. The label has changed slightly since the first batch, but still looks great. As always, the cork put up a hell of a fight, or am I just that weak?

A: Pours a very dark brown, which settles to a deathly still black. Absolutely no penetration of light at all. A very small butterscotch colored head briefly, and gently, rests on top It quickly recedes back into the black abyss, leaving only a thin, swirly film and a thick, foamy ring behind. Lacing is minimal, however, very long legs. This looks great!

S: Wow! This there is quite a bit going on here. Immediately, I smell a plethora of dark fruit ... raisins, dates, plums. At the same time, a good amount of anise, toffee, and barrel characteristics (oak and bourbon) meld into one big, yet well balanced, aroma. Just behind the delicious smelling punch at the beginning is vanilla, dark chocolate, and coffee creating a smooth transition from sweet to slightly bitter, finishing nicely with subtle roasted barley and booze. (As it warms, the roasted malts really come out on the finish and, accompanied with the dark chocolate, leaving a slightly bitter aftertaste.)

T: The taste follows the aroma very nicely, with only a few characteristics making an appearance earlier or later than expected. Dark fruits are still pretty dominant, along with toffee, and licorice. Sweet chocolate shows up, which is a welcome guest that easily makes friends with the other dominant flavors. The coffee and roasted barley remain hidden until the end where they sidle up stealthly. The finish is quite complex, comprised of contradictory sweet (chocolate and toffee) and bitter (coffee and roasted malt) characteristics. This is a lot better than I remembered it being.

M: The mouthfeel is slightly, slightly disappointing from a desirable point of view, rather than a drinkability point of view. I like a viscous, thick, sticky barrel-aged stout, but this is just a little thin. It's still medium bodied, with a slight stickiness on the tongue, but just a little less viscosity than I would like. The finish is very pleasant ... slightly drying and bitter, but still comprised of chocolate and toffee. It's mmm mmm good!

D: Drinkability is pretty high, considering the style and the abv. The mouthfeel definitely lends to the drinkability, however, that shouldn't necessarily translate to drinking it faster, as it did with me. I always, of course, tend to drink a slightly thinner barrel-aged stout quicker than I should. This one caught up with me, so hopefully this review isn't incoherent.

It should be noted that there are some differences between the 2008 and 2011 version of this beer. The 2008 was only about 10% barrel aged, while the 2011 version is 46% barrel aged. While it's been a while since the first batch, the 2011 batch surprised me and really surpassed my distant memory of the 2008. It's a little more complex, yet very well balanced. Fortunately I still have a bottle of the 2008 and will do a comparison of the two at a later date. Either way, this is one very highly recommended stout!

 3,139 characters

Photo of birchstick
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 2011-1

A - pours a viscous black color with a nice taupe head

S - smells of a nice oat and chocolate malt character with charred molasses and a splash of vanilla and bourbon

T - starts off with really sweet, malts and come cola flavors. Next, I got very sweet molasses, with a tinge of burnt oak. It finishes sweet with some subtle cocoa flavors that gives way to a nice spicy rye. The very last flavor I got was a nice bourbon flavor on the back end and exhale - the bourbon tasted like the straight bourbon I have come to know and love. As it warmed, it is almost like drinking a really nice RIS and then following it with a sip of bourbon. Obviously, pretty hot as far as the bourbon goes based on the description. Awesome stuff.

M - a little watery and thin for a beer of this style, surprisingly so

D - As mentioned, this is a really solid Imperial Stout. Very bold and flavorful throughout. However, I feel like this is just a tad bit under the upper echelons of this class, barely, just barely - it is almost like Abyss's little brother. Easily one of the best off-the-shelf barrel aged Imperial Stouts I have tried. Looks like I need to go buy some more and see what some age does to the heat. Well done Boulevard!

 1,233 characters

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

Batch # 2008-1, Bottle 06447 / 11960; Sampled January 2010
A vigorous pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a four-finger thick, dense, brown head that leaves a richly layered lacing pattern on the sides of my glass as it slowly subsides (subsequent pours do the same). The beer is a black, concentrated color that is most definitely opaque. The aroma smells of a rich, sweet, dark chocolate character that has been amplified quite a bit more than I would have expected. There is a supporting back drop of roasted grain character that smoothly supports the rich, darkly roast caramelized, sweet grain character. This is dense smelling, with a savory malt character that provides a balance to the more dominant sweet, rich maltiness. Sweet espresso notes that has been amply sweetened with anise-scented simple syrup. There seems to be a touch of floral, quite peppery smelling herbal character, green peppercorns, and this leads me into noticing some barrel character with notes of toasted coconut, chocolate and sweet malt boosting vanilla notes, spicy oak subtleties, a spiciness that really reminds me of caraway and some bright though somehow soft cedar notes. The aroma is quite interesting, very complex and it wasn't anywhere near what I was expecting.

Sweet, rich malt notes coat the palate up front, but this slowly gets tempered towards the finish with spicy oak notes, peppery almost herbaceous notes, savory caraway spice notes, a touch of warming alcohol and a touch of hop bitterness that mingles with the bitter dark roast notes. There is a complex dark grain character that provides a middle of rich, whole grain, brown bread character. The whole grain character, really sticks out in this beer; it is so savory, complex and tasty. Spicy bourbon like notes intermingles with bourbon like fruitiness and a woody spice character, smooth roast grain notes, savory whole grain notes a complex rich chocolate character that leans towards savory more than sweet malt character (but definitely has some balancing sweetness too), cocoa character that has a touch of chalkiness to it, somehow lightly tart vanilla notes, tart coconut milk flavors, . The mentioned tartness is quite light and definitely does not seem to be "wild" in influence, but does add a nice influence to the beer. The texture of this beer is quite rich and satiating, but at the same time it is well balanced by the tartness, complex barrel spiciness and drying roast grain character; and while it is viscous, it really finishes on the dry / light side somehow and I wonder if the age of this beer has some influence here. Speaking of which, I think it is the combination of the barrel character and the age that gives this beer such a dynamic spiciness; it really achieves some unique flavors and aromas in this beer. A supporting ester, phenolic and general complexity really helps to boost the overall complexity of this beer. As the beer warms an almost spicy, cinnamon and even nutmeg, or ginger, but definite caraway, as well as some anise and some spicy carob are all noticeable in the flavor. The warming also accentuate aromas of plum, prune, fermented raisin, some floral roast apple notes and spicy, not quite hot, but approaching, hot alcohol notes.

This is a very rich, very complex beer that is really hitting the spot right now. I really like how well that the barrel aging notes influence this beer without overwhelming it; it even took me a while to realize, when smelling this, that it was in fact barrel aged, but it really boosts the savory and hearty character of this beer quite a bit and integrates quite well with the rich, sweet, roasted, dark grain character. I am really quite enjoying this beer, definitely more than I would have suspected, and it is certainly hitting the spot on this cold (ok cool by most standards) Tucson evening. I wonder how much of the age of this beer has helped to mellow and integrate this beer, whatever it is, this really works.

 3,973 characters

Photo of dragonWhale
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nothing better to accompany a game of Yaniv with some dear friends than a bottle of the 2008-1. Been looking forward to this one. Thanks, busternuggz..

Black and dead sexy fat brown head on her. Smells good, little roast, some chocolate, brown sugar, maybe some smoke, and alcohol.
The taste is excellent, the alcohol dies down a little bit from the smell, creamy roast with chocolate sugar and a background of wood. Awesome.
An excellent beer, will seek this out again in the future. Way too drinkable.

 504 characters

Imperial Stout from Boulevard Brewing Co.
4.16 out of 5 based on 1,319 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.