Arcadia Imperial Stout | Arcadia Brewing Company

very good
280 Reviews
Arcadia Imperial StoutArcadia Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Arcadia Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our extraordinary Imperial Stout is black as midnight with a rich, palate-warming mouth feel. It offers an alluring aroma of dark roasted malts and blackstrap molasses with a hint of smoke. The flavor features notes of coffee, bittersweet cocoa, black licorice and hints of prune. A generous addition of hops contributes to the complexity and balance, and gives the liquid a pleasantly astringent finish. With proper aging our Imperial Stout matures for up to four years. It is the winner of a prestigious Gold Medal for Bottle Conditioned Ale at the 2002 Real Ale Festival.

OG 1090; 59 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-09-2003

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Reviews: 280 | Ratings: 465
Photo of AlexFields
3.19/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours dark black but with no head at all. I like the color but it looks flat.

Smells strongly of vanilla. Some booze. Overall a very light smell, not getting any dark roasty notes, maybe some chocolate or coffee though.

Taste is similar. Lots of vanilla, a little booze, some dark sweet candy (orange maybe) that gives it a bit of tanginess. This actually reminds me a bit of Vanilla Bean Rum Barrel Dark Apparition, although not as extreme in flavor and not as good.

Mouthfeel is weak, it's almost flat.

Overall a decent beer, unfortunately the carbonation is too screwed up to fully enjoy the nice flavor.


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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.04/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light-bodied, but dark coloured brown-black, with a coarse-bubbled fudgey head of mocha foam, that settles like a crema ring around the edge of the glass. Minimal retention or lacing. Body is too fluid, in particular.

Smell is really quite lovely. Big smooth roasted chocolate flavours, with lighter notes of tea and raspberries. Slight smokiness to it, with a tingle of barbeque. All of this is based on a pleasant vanilla biscuit sweetness. Really lovely.

Taste is also good, but a little milder than the best examples. Here, there's a smooth, roasted grain character, with a pleasant backing of dark chocolate and a slightly astringent bitter finish of over-pressed coffee. Not a huge amount of depth to it, but it's still very pleasant.

Feel is definitely lighter than it should be, but it doesn't go badly with the smooth, but not particularly boisterous characters in the flavour.

Not a bad drop, all up. Lighter than the average Imperial Stout, but still bigger and fuller than a standard example. Not bad at all.

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Photo of sidetracked
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Bottle dated vintage 2007. Pours black with a thin light brown head that dissipates quickly.

Smells strongly of sweet raisins, prunes, and dates. Some bitter roastiness and sweet molasses. Little cherry fruitiness too.

Upfront taste is a lot of sweet dark fruit, molasses, brown sugar. Slightly sweet roasted malts mix with molasses in the middle. Sweetness continues through the finish where there is a little coffee bitterness as well. Lingering roastyness.

Full bodied with a light chewiness. Creamy. Little to moderate carbonation. Slightly sticky.

Out of four bottles, this one was by far the best. Others were thin and watery with a less robust flavor. Nice sweetness that is more fruity than chocolate. Easy to drink and well balanced. Wouldn't purchase again knowing that three out of four bottles would be less than average imperial stouts.


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Photo of nhindian
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a Surly Darkness snifter.

2009 vintage.

A - Pours pitch black, much like the black emptiness that the label shows as well. There's a nice 2.5-fingered head, tan in color, with decent retention for the style and alcohol. Lacing consists of long vertical strands of foam with patches of clarity here and there.

S - The smell on this is pretty rich, even for a Russian imperial stout, full of roasted malts, some slight soy, and high amounts of dark fruits, and a surprising burst of hops at the end. As it warms, the booze definitely comes through a lot more, and I find myself liking it less as it goes on. Fresh out of the bottle it's great, but slowly degrades over time.

T - The taste follows closely behind the nose, but is a bit more consistent overall. Throughout, there's a two-fold bittering effect; some from the roast, and some from the hops in the finish. Again, I find myself surprised by how much hop influence is here, both because it's nearly two years old, and because it's a RIS. The soy doesn't come through as much as the nose. The dark fruits are very prominent as well, something I enjoy about this a lot, especially as it mixes with the coffee and decadent chocolate. Quite complex and pleasantly surprising overall.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately heavy with good carbonation. Relatively chewy, yet also viscous and somewhat syrupy. Overall incredibly smooth, and goes down smoothly and easily.

D/O - Drinkability is moderately high. At the start, I was completely blown away by this beer and it instantly ranked high up in the RIS charts for me, but the degradation in the nose as it warms is a killer. The taste is still solid throughout though, so despite that I am still incredibly happy at this beer. I bought this blind a few months ago and didn't even realize it was a vintage bottle.

The description on the label puts this at 90 IBUs, while the newest description on Arcadia's site lists this beer at 59 IBUs, so there definitely was a recipe change between this bottle and the newest, which could account for the big hop notes in this one.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Another random single from Binny's. It pours a straight obsidian, with minor ruby highlights when held in just the right way against some light, topped by a half-finger of tan foam. The nose comprises oats, very light roasted malts, biscuits, and light toffee. The taste holds notes of roasted malts, dark chocolate, molasses, light charcoal, light maple syrup, and oak. The body is a hefty-yearning medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a thinly syrupy feel. Overall, a bit on the thin side for its power and a tad too oily for my liking. These, combined with a slightly weak smell, make for a decent, but not great, stout.

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Photo of metter98
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a thin mocha head that died down quickly but left some delicate lacing and a narrow ring of bubbles on the surface around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of licorice, roasted malts and raisins in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but slightly more complex with additional hints of coffee beans and molasses. The finish has a slight amount of bitterness along with some hints of alcohol.
M: It feels medium-bodied and relatively smooth on the palate with a light amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is easy to drink for the style, but would be more interesting if it had a fuller bodied.

Note: 2008 Vintage

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Photo of notchucknorris
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage

A: Pours a very dark brown and almost black color with a big mocha colored head. As soon as the beer touched the glass, the head balooned up like a root beer float. Probably the longest I've ever had to wait for a head to go down. It took me 10 minutes to pour this whole beer.

S: I get banana bread, brown sugar, chocolate, bourbon and a touch of clove. Interesting smells from an imperial stout.

T: Nothing like the smell. High in bitterness. Lots of roasted/charred malt upfront with a dark chocolate and coffee finish. Slight bit of apple cider vinegar in the middle as well which seemed a bit off. The mouthfeel was a bit weak for me. Still, a pretty good imperial stout.

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Photo of djeucalyptus
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2009 vintage, labeled 9% abv.

pours the typical motor-oil near black with a vigorous pour yielding a thin and frothy ruddy brown head that has fair retention, leaving decent lace.

aroma is full of brown sugar, figs, plum, hints of vanilla and bourbon. I'm sure some malt is there... but the sweet and boozy seems to overpower.

taste is interestingly light up front, especially given the abv. mocha, espresso, toasted wheat bread. dark malts come through along with some maple syrup and toffee sweetness. port and bourbon alcoholy booziness packs a decent punch in the finish. Odd, imbalanced and confusing.

Mouth is shockingly light... body is on the light side of moderate, which catches me off-guard. ample, fervent carbonation intensifies the booze notes and hightens the sharp, astringent sweetness.

I really wanted to like this one. And I generally love Russian Imperials. But this one was just a bit messy... bottled in 2009, maybe it's already peaked? seemed a bit off. Not one I'd particularly seek out again, but still interesting and glad I gave it a shot.

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Photo of EricCioe
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage. This pours black with a small, half finger tan head rising up and subsiding into a ring with hints of lace. On the nose there are big notes of anise, molasses and licorice, with some dark malt behind that, some dark fruits, maybe hops, further back. There is a little bit of the classic coffee and dark chocolate combination deeper down, but nowhere near as prominent as the anise and dark fruit. In the mouth, the sweeter notes, the sweet malt and molasses mostly, are clearly up front. But as they peel away, dark chocolate and deeply fruity pine hops start to show and fade slowly in a long finish. The body is medium full, which is a bit of a disappointment, but it's on the small side of ABV as imperial stouts go, so it's not quite surprising.

Overall, I like this beer better than the sum of its parts. It won't satisfy huge coffee lovers or chocolate stout folks, but for a change of pace imperial stout this is nice. I'm a big fan and I'll be looking for this more often.

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Photo of Daktyls
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: As all imperial stouts, pours a deep, motor oil black color with very little head that dissipates quickly.

S: Coffee up front, followed by some vanilla, bourbon, and a bit of chocolate. Not overly aromatic though.

T: Some sweet malts with raisins and prunes. Very rich with chocolate and coffee in the background. Some dark cherries can be detected with a bit of hops too.

M: Very boozey feeling, not a whole lot of carbonation, big bodied.

O: Quite delicious, the boozieness is pretty entertaining, though having another one immediately after may overdo it a little bit.

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Photo of output01x
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12-oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A vigorous pour yields a 2-finger creamy tan head. The body is pure black with no traces of color when held to light. Over time, the head recedes to a good coating which leaves great lacing.

Strong malt, dark chocolate, and roasted coffee beans aromas. The smell is strong and in your face every sip you take.

Flavor is surprisingly light at first with notes of malt then coffee. It ends with a creamy bitter chocolate note. The 9% ABV is surprisingly well masked.

The body is surprisingly light with moderate carbonation, helping to make this very drinkable. However, I would have personally preferred a thicker, creamier body.

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Photo of gnemesis
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My 50th review! I can't believe I'm only on #50 but how sweet the journey! I found this bottle as a new addition in my bottle shop but it is vintage 2008... wonder where this has been hiding. Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter on 2/26/2011.
This ale pours a black liquid topped by a thin tan head that recedes with a quickness- no lacing. My nose immediately picks up on the sweetness. A few more sniffs and I'm engulfed in dark fruit (figs/plums), chocolate, vanilla, and a dab here and there of caramel. I don't pick up on the roasted malts until it touches my lips. More sweet chocolate, vanilla, caramel, dark fruit, bitter chocolate, roasted malts. They all pull together nicely but I do detect a bit of warming booze. This is a 2008 and it still seems a bit hot for my liking- I'd expect this from a fresh bottle but not one with some age and one of such low ABV for the style. The body on this beer seems a bit light and thin for an imperial stout as well. I prefer the thick and chewy malt monsters. This isn't a terrible offering from Arcadia but I know they can do better. The fact that the distributor just dropped off a case of 2008 vintage bottles has me scratching my head a bit and I wonder if poor storage could account for the mediocre nature of this stout. I will try again with a newer bottle and report back.

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Photo of ThirstyBird
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appears super dark black with a small light brown head that quickly goes to a ring. Smells of deep rich black malt, dark fruit. Taste is sweet and a bit fruity up front, then some molasses with a more bitter, ashy and dry aftertaste. Body is full and carbonation is lout side of medium but quite nice. Overall a pretty nice sipper.

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Photo of TCHopCraver
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Shared with zoso1967 on 1/24/11.

Arcadia's 2007 vintage (as it said on the label) Imperial Stout pours a medium-dark black with a hint of brown. There is no head from my pour into a 23 oz. snifter, just a light brown film. There is almost no lacing- just small, light dots of foam and a clear, boozy film on the sides of the glass.

The first smell is very boozy, with heavy sherry and bourbon qualities. Deeper inspection reveals roasted malt, coffee, and some dark chocolate. This smells like it was oak-aged, but there is no indication of this on the bottle. Usually breweries make sure consumers know if their beer is barrel-aged. Curious. I definitely do smell some woodnotes and vanilla, along with some dark cherry aromas. At times the smell is so boozy that it makes me think of household cleaners.

The taste is very nutty and roasty. Big flavors of bitter coffee emerge with just a touch of chocolate near the end of the sip. The flavor can be quite astringent with hints of sweet booze- bourbon and sherry. The finish is decently bitter with nice drying qualities.

The mouthfeel from this beer is very light for an Imperial Stout, to the extent that it is almost absent of body to match the flavor. This lack of body really brings out the bitter and astringent qualities too much. I am not a fan of this MF.

Overall, this is a weird beer. I like the flavor for the most part, but the smell is so odd and the mouthfeel is just plain weak. I will not buy this again, as I can find many better Imperial Stouts at similar, or even better prices.

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Photo of hopgoddess76
3.18/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a 12 oz. bottle of Vintage 07 into a snifter.

Appearance: Jet black and opaque with a small tan head and low retention.

Smell: Hints of coffee, raisins, and figs

Taste: Strong raisin and prune taste up front and a dry coffee finish.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied and almost effervescent.

Drinkability: The strong prune taste and light body are conflicting, but after the first few drinks it goes down very quickly, to quickly for a RIS. This beer may be past its prime so I'd be interested in trying a more recent release for comparison.

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Photo of dave097
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Popping my BA cherry on an Arcadia

A: Poured '07 vintage into tulip glass. Jet black with thin tan head that falls quick.

S: Lots of coffee, a bit of vanilla, raison, a touch of buttery diacetyl.

T: Lots of raison and prune, I expect that for being 3+ years old. The coffee taste kind of takes a back seat along with some bitter chocolate. Nice amount of roastiness, not acrid. Taste the diacetyl as well.

M: A little thin, but very small bubbles give it a little carbonic bite.

D: Not too bad, nice roasty character and it is warming me up as I drink it. I'd like to try one a bit fresher.

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Photo of Internatbrewlove
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This Russian Imperial Stout pour a think, nearly opaque dark brown with a moderate light brown head. The aroma of this beer is complex with a hint of cherry, bourbon, coffee, and malt. The taste is a melange of chocolate, bourbon, coffee and a mild to moderate hops. The mouth feel starts out with moderate fine carbonation that quickly fades into a slight alcohol sensation smoothed by mocha.

A very nice, complex, Imperial Stout from a Michigan brewer, no less.

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Photo of zoso1967
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Graciously shared by TCHopCraver. He bought this bottle new, but it was labeled as being the 2007 vintage.

This stout pours a deep dark brown that lets just a little bit of light show through. There is not a whole lot of head, but what little head there is has medium tan color. The lacing is not great, but there are some specks left on the sides of my snifter.

The aroma is a mix between two different categories. In one corner you have roasted malts with plenty of burnt coffee, char and bitter cocoa. In the other corner you have sweet and boozy notes that have a wine like fruitiness, some molasses, cherry and a hint of vanilla. Some sniffs are almost akin to household cleaner due to the alcohol presence.

The flavor is pretty interesting. It is a bit roastier than the aroma with plenty of rich coffee, some bitter cocoa and a bit of nuttiness. There is definitely some sweetness with a hint of dark fruit and molasses. We drank this at a good stout temperature to start with, but as it warms the wine like qualities show through even more. Luckily the hotness is much better camouflaged than in the aroma.

The body is surprisingly thin for such a large beer and has a definite watery quality. The thin nature emphasizes the astringent qualities of the finish. Carbonation also seemed just a tad low.

This is pretty drinkable only because it does not seem like it's as big of a beer as it is. This brew tastes decent, but the mouthfeel is a bit of a killer for me. Also, I am not sure I have ever imbibed a beer that had such a different aroma every time I sniffed it. I will probably not seek this out again, though I may give a fresh bottle a try.

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, vintage 2007.

Pours opaque black with a trace of tan head that quickly dissapates to a placid surface. Zero lacing.

Vineous booze with char, chocolate, coffee grounds, and sherry start off the aromatics. A hint of tart fruit with nuts and vanilla follow through.

Medium bodied with a flatish mouthfeel. Slick and oily but a bit thin for the style.

Run-soaked plums, espresso, charred malt, brownie bits and bakers chocolate lead off the palate. A wine-like vineosity adds a faint tartness and perhaps cherries in the back. Warming booze and hints of worstershire and black licorice follow through.

Finishes with char, alcohol, chocolate, anise, and sherry.

Not so sure about this one. It has some nice complexity but being almost dead-flat really kills it. The vineous trace of tartness detracts as well.

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Photo of JizackFH
3.17/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - This beer pours a deep black color, and has a very small chocolate head on it. The head had poor retention, and left no lacing on the glass.

S - Smells of deep roasted malts and bittersweet chocolate. I am also getting notes of dark fruits, molasses, and alcohol.

T - The taste is of sweet malts and a roasty bitterness. There is a smokiness to it too. Also, there are notes of dark fruits, alcohol, coffee, cherries, and a touch of hop bitterness.

M - It has a medium-full body and low carbonation. It is smooth and goes down pretty easy. There is also a bit of an alcohol warmth.

D - This has decent drinkability. It goes down pretty easy and the flavor is pretty good. I was expecting some more complex here. It'd pretty much your average RIS. There are many better ones out there.

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Photo of donteatpoop
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark bistre color, virtually no head at all save for the little ring around the glass.

Picked up some dark fruits, roasted malts, caramel, and chocolate.

Roasted malts and dark fruits hit the mouth upfront, a little heat from the alcohol blending in with the taste; finishing with a lingering sweetness.

This had a nice creamy mouth feel, very smooth going down.

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Photo of fbone
3.56/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A:looks like a stout to me,hardly any head,low retention.

S:caramel and roasty,strong alc. smell.average at best.

T:Caramel and roasty.The alcohol sticks out.Tastes ok but does not inspire poetry.

M:medium body,slippery as it slides down your pallet ,alcoholic burn lastly.

D:ok for sipping on a winters day.I feel the alcohol should be more incorporated into the flavors of the beer instead of just sitting on top of the taste.But overall its not bad,this beer is just not outstanding.I'll probably not buy this one again.

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Photo of LairdChisholm
4.49/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a jet black color. Absolutely no head or lacing.

S - Smelled this one coming out of the bottle. There are some deep roasted malts, coco, fig, and plum, in that order.

T - This one has three very distinct layers that are all very good. The first one has deep, warming roasted malts with a little boozy feel. The second has dark fruits, plums, figs, and dark cherries. The third is a warming bitter coco aftertaste that finishes this stout of very nicely.

M - Perfect amount of carbonation with a sticky heavy mouthfeel. Very consistent with this style.

D - This is a good stout but I don't need to another right away. It's a sipper for sure, even though I've seen RIS's with lower ABV. A good brew over all.

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Photo of svendryden
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured in a Pint Glass, nice deep black with thick tan head.

S - Faint for it's ilk, get the chocolate and some malts.

T - Quite a bit of chocolate, alcohol is noticeable but not overpowering. More coffee than was indicative in the smell but overshadowed by the malts and chocolate. A bitter finish that's a bit too potent.

M - Thinner than some other Imperial Stouts. Alcohol vapors move a little too quickly to the nose, and seem to strengthen is it warms.

D - Thinner so seems to go down quicker, but the alcohol in the nose would keep me from downing too many too fast.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.91/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured into a pint glass to two inches of cocoa colored head. I'm gonna call this beer black. I just don't get much on the nose. There's some sweet roasted malt and alcohol. The taste is much more intense than the smell. I get black coffee and a little bit of licorice. The mouthfeel is nice and creamy. This beer seems to mellow out as it warms. It's not a bad beer at all.

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Arcadia Imperial Stout from Arcadia Brewing Company
3.83 out of 5 based on 465 ratings.
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