"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout
Hoptown Brewing Company

"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout
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Stout - Russian Imperial
4.09 | pDev: 12.22%
Hoptown Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout
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Reviews: 53 | Ratings: 55 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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Dogbrick from Ohio

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sample at the Most Honorable SuperHappyFun Stout Tasting. Bottle from Park Lane Liquor in Lancaster, CA. This beer pours black with a medium beige head that recedes steadily. Stringy lacing. Aroma of roasted malt and coffee, plus some hops. Rich body with a chewy mouthfeel and flavors of roasted malt, coffee and hops as well as some dark chocolate. The finish is rich and smooth with sweet malt and coffee lingering in the aftertaste. Pretty good overall.

Oct 31, 2009
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brewandbbq from New Hampshire

4.34/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2005

Pours opaque black with mahogany edging, and barely a quarter-inch of beige head. The whisp of foam dissapated quickly leaving a placid surface and few small streaks of lacework.

Aromatics are full of dark chocolate, Kahlua, and espresso-drizzeled fudge. A hint of tart vineousity follows though along with a trace of nougat.

A bit short of full bodied, but still chewy enough. Velvety, slick and oily. Lowish carbonation.

Rich, dark chocolate leads off the pallet, with coffee infused fudge and charred cocoa nubs. Black forest cake batter drizzeled with a Kahlua reduction.
Bitterness is balancing, and hopping in general is without a trace.
Alcohol is barely warming and an afterthought at best.

Finishes quite mellow and rounded, with a hint of vineousity. Very much like a aged Baltic porter.

Great stuff and very well could be peaking at three years. Still quite fresh tasting and bold, but plenty of aged complexites and mellowness.

May 05, 2008
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ism from New Jersey

4.02/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark black with auburn tint, opaque, topped with a russet head that quickly disappears. Aroma is very pleasing and almost... meaty; unsweetened chocolate with a touch of roasted coffee bean are dominant, with hints of dark berries and rum. This is replicated on the palate, with grainy notes, finishing with roasted chococoffee lingering just right. Medium mouthfeel, but chewy without effort.

Tastes aged and complex, great for sipping.

Feb 03, 2008
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xgabe from California

4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber into my Duvel tulip glass.

Pours thick and black, as an RIS should be. Amber orange and red hues at the edges once you tilt the glass to get a hint of what colors lie in that darkness. Small light tan head that dissipates quickly; little lacing.

Smell is intriguing... bittersweet chocolate, cacao, hints of cinnamon sweetness, though no typical strong espresso / coffee tones like many seem to have.

Same hints of bittersweet chocolate and a *tinge* of cinnamon (I usually hate cinnamon in nearly anything, but I like it here... it's that light). The taste is not quite "over-the-top" in comparison with other RIS's, but this is one you can sip down to the last of the 22 ozs.

Mouthfeel... very enjoyable. Light carbonation, full body.

Overall: I really enjoyed this one. This is one RIS I can enjoy on a fairly regular basis without getting tired of it... wait, can I get tired of any beer? Hmm...

Aug 21, 2007
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rallison from California

4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an excellent dark black with a pretty decent 1 finger slightly fizzy tan head. Rich chocolate and roasted coffee aromas - nice and rich smelling.

Taste is good. Lots of rich dark chocolate and espresso, tons of malt. Some hops to balance, but mostly rich malts.

Mouthfeel is decent, but could use a touch more carbonation. Very rich, as an Imperial Stout should be.

Drinkability is good for an RIS.

Overall, recommended. I'd passed up this beer many times, simply because the label was kind of cheesy. But, this is a nicely done RIS. Maybe not a Stone or Bell's RIS, but good nonetheless.

Jun 06, 2007
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Gueuzedude from Arizona

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled April 2007
When poured fairly vigorously, it ends up with a nearly three-finger thick, light brown colored head that sits atop an almost black colored brew. The aroma is richly malt focused, and has perhaps even taken on some aged malt notes. The aged malt notes seem to have accentuated some dark malt derived Maillard browning aromatics. These notes intermingle with notes of chocolate; a touch of warm rum & molasses; lots of well toasted, dry, biscuit malt character; some hints of burnt figs and even some notes of burnt concord grapes. It even takes on a rich, meaty, almost brothy like quality (is it umami?) as it warms up.

Thick and chewy, while not quite being syrup-like and certainly not cloying. This is definitely a sipping brew; it is served at about 50ºF (10ºC), which is a pretty good starting temperature. The malt is quite soft and enveloping, with a mix of dark chocolate, complex malty sugars and something akin to a chocolate shake made with lots of espresso-roast coffee beans. The finish tries to dry things out a bit with sometimes austere notes of toasted grain and burnt barley; in the end though this can't shake the dark sweetness, as even a lightly sweet, rich molasses burnt caramel note seems to close things out. This brew is just so smooth; there is really not much hop bitterness here; just enough to keep things from being cloying. Up front it has a touch of sharp, burnt grain derived acidity, but this is well tempered and is not even an after-thought by the time the beer rolls past your lips. This definitely has some age to it (without a bottle date I don't know how much though), but it has only just started to oxidize a bit (a touch of blackened sherry is noticeable); this has added a bit more malty complexity to this brew at this point, though this should still age quite gracefully for many years to come.

This is the quintessential smooth, sipping brew, the mouthfeel on this beer is just about perfect. The flavors and aromatics are quite good, but not nearly in the class that the mouthfeel sustains quite effortlessly. One thing is sure, I need to go back and down grade a bunch of Imperial stouts after this brew.

May 02, 2007
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Phatz from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to weeare138 for sharing this beer.

Appearance: Pours opaque black with a moderate tan head and nice lacing.

Smell: There is a pleasant berry red fruit aroma along with the chocolate and roasted malts.

Taste: Dark malts and chocolate flavors and a berry tartness with a long lingering roasted aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium light in the mouth.

Drinkability: It is OK. The 9% does not show so that it a plus. It is a big beer to share. Worthy of a taste.

Hope this is helpful.

Mar 09, 2007
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weeare138 from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

To be fair, I'm not sure of the exact age of this bottle. I know I ordered it from liquidsolutions at least 2 years ago and it's been sitting in my fridge since...
Appears a pitch black onyx with a small, creamy tan head that fades into a mild cap. Lots of streaky lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of molasses, cream, ripe fruit, coffee, cocoa, and roasted grains.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a mild sour note. I'm not thinking oxidation due to age b/c there's none of that cardboard, or slickness going on in the flavor.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, slightly astringent, toasty, and mildly tart with coffee, & cocoa lingering on the semi-dry finish.

Mar 09, 2007
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brentk56 from North Carolina

3.74/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a nice black color but the head is a bit disappointing and doesn't leave much lace

Smell: Lots of rum-soaked dark fruit and a touch of dark chocolate

Taste: Starts out with a coffee and chocolate blast that is joined, mid-palate by dark fruit and some roasted malt flavors; after the swallow, a significant bitter presence joins the fray; the finish has some off flavors (phenolic) that detract from an otherwise impressive array

Mouthfeel: A tad above medium body with modest carbonation

Drinkability: This is a near miss that has a lot going for it; a heavier mouthfeel and a better finish would make this a winner

Feb 10, 2007
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bhitt from Illinois

3.92/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: black & syrupy with light brown head, not much lace, medium-small bubbles.

Nose: very sweet with everything expected from an imperial stout (toasty espresso, caramel, molassas).

Taste: Up front, taste is sweet and with very ripe, dark fruits. The sweetness lingers quite a while and then some hops and roasted, charcoal bite comes through in the finish. Mouthfeel is very refreshing and silky with low carbonation and small bubbles.

For a 9%, this is incredibly drinkable. Warming and refreshing simultaneously.

Jan 05, 2007
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sulldaddy from Connecticut

3.96/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A bottle from westsidethreat I believe. I am sampling at room temp in a stemmed flute glass. The beer pours a pitch black and is fairly thick. A thick forthy tan head foams up 1 cm and recedes to a sturdy surface layer. Aroma is dark roasted malt and some coffee beans and a bit of molasses. First sip reveals an average to thick body with fin tingly carbonation. Texture is silky smooth. Flavor starts a little sweet or bittersweet chocolate some brown sugar and molasses with a finish of dark fruit, raisins and long roasted notes that linger. no real hint of abv anywhere. A tasty beer to try if you see it. I would like to have the opportunity again.

Oct 21, 2006
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MuddyFeet from North Carolina

3.18/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A bottle received from a previous trade. Sorry, but I have forgotten who sent this to me, but I do know it was my first CA to MA trade.

Pours an almost black in color. Thick brown head that dissolves to a thinner brown hear. But it never completely dissolved. Nos eis lots of burnt malts and overripe/rotting cherries.

Flavor is not as complicated as I would think for the style. Straightforward toasted malts and burnt biscuits. Some overripe and (gone bad) fruits that if they were real fruits would probably make you spit them back out. Medium to heavy body that improves as the beer warms. A decent slow sipping example of the style.

Jul 26, 2006
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DogFood11 from California

4.06/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Another in a long line of bombers making their way out from deep in the beer fridge.

Lots of cocoa, almost like sticking your nose right above powdered cocoa. Like the brewers name would suggest it has a hoppy backside Mcgillicuty slapper that fits in nicely, some a woody bitter end adds to the slapper. Chocolate and cocoa linger forever, and there is an ultra rich, creamy remnance that forms an oily coating. A splash of Dark slightly cloyed fruits are deep and buried beneath this behemoth. Carbonation comes in with a flash towards the middle but can't budge the body of this bad boy.

Notes: Probably the best offering from Hoptown I've sampled. A variation on a great style.

Jun 09, 2006
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IntriqKen from California

2.38/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I love Imperial Stouts.
I don't love this one.
Poured jet black with a half finger tan head that melted to fine lacing.
Aroma is subdued dark fruits and alcohol.
Taste is raisins, prunes, coffee, alcohol. Pretty much the right elements, but tastes like they are artificial flavorings added to alcohol rather than the results of fine brewing byproducts. Coffee taste is like too much instant coffee was put in the mix...dark fruit flavors are there, but not like they are mixed..more like they are setting on top of the alcohol.
Aftertaste is bitter reminisces of the dark fruits and a definite alcohol tasting.
Mouthfeel is too thin for this style.
One of my favorite styles done synthetically.

May 29, 2006
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objectivemonkey from Minnesota

4.45/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an almost completely opaque black, with only a thin ring of ruby around the bottom. In fact, I had to hold it up to my 100 watt lamp to see anything. A thick head, more bubbly than creamy, dark tan in color, lasting quite a while, and lacy lacing down the glass, leaving a spotty lacing after. A thick aroma of roasted malts, chocolate in there, an idea of licorice too, then searching deeper there is a funky something, like a bready but hoppish character to something underneath the roasted malts. This is a very complex and delightful aroma.

Let this brew warm up a bit, as I like my stouts that way. The taste begins a little less than expected, still very nice, but a little weaker than expected. But really, its just balanced very well, like the aroma. Roasted malt is obviously the primary focus here, a vein of dark chocolates and barley very present, and other dark delightful stuff. But there is a surprising hoppiness to it, hinted in the aroma, that lends a kind a sweetness that doesn't allow it to bitter all that much, an intersting turn that I can definitely appreciate.

This is an interesting beer to drink, with the varying character that leaves you guessing and searching for the answers. And it comes on slow, with its full character really coming on through the middle in a smooth wash of flavor, and slowly fades away with a hint of sweetness, slightly bitter, and mellow through a long and delightful fade. Not all that thick of a body, which at first was a little alarming, but came to not notice it as I went along and the flavor distracted me.

I picked this up when in San Fran at BevMo, filling out a basket of 750s. I think I picked it up mostly because I was picking up a lot of Belgian styles and IPAs. This is the first of Hoptown's two stouts I've had, and I can't wait for the other. I have to say though, if I weren't looking for darker beers, and there was a noticable lack of them to choose from, I wouldn't have had this joy. Really, I'm a design whore, and the label is downright boring. If given more work, Hoptown would be the better for it. So, keep Hoptown in mind when searching for beers, cause this truly has been a good find.

Apr 12, 2006
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IrishRedRock from Pennsylvania

4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First off, let this baby warm up if it's been in the fridge. Flavors are much more dulled when cold, but seemingly even moreso than other beers, a beautiful hoppy rich flavor profile emerges once it warms up to just below room temp.

Pours mildly thick and black, very little head with a ring of brown lace. Chocolate covered plums and booze in the nose. You can taste the alcohol throughout, yet it remains in check when compared to the black currant, thick sludgy black coffee, chocolate and raspberry. Yow. And did I mention the hoppy kick in the (proverbial) balls this leaves in the finish? Wow. Real nice. Sweet and bitter aftertaste. Smooth with little carbonation, but it fits perfectly for this meal of a brew. Glad I picked this one up a few weeks back in SoCal. Tasty indeed. Definitely grew on me as it warmed.

Mar 30, 2006
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pentathlete from Virginia

4.12/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark chocolate brown with a minimal foamy head that falls rapidly to a choco-ring and swirly islands of bubbles. The nose hits with cordial (like a liqueur, not like friendly) and sugars, with plenty of hop overtones. Big malt flavor, ashy hops underneath, and a nice alcohol burn to close things out. Tasty. Mouthfeel isn't as smooth as I expected, feeling big bodied at first and then losing its form and finishing a bit thin. Certainly drinkable, big, lots of flavor.

Mar 26, 2006
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Jredner from Florida

4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Was a deep black color poured into a tulip glass with a firm but smallish mocha head. Almond extract and vanilla in the aroma with ample raosted malt and mild chocolate. Licorice and chocolate flavors int he fore. Burnt tasting toward the end with ample bitterness. Very big and satisfying brew.

Mar 01, 2006
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

4.42/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Let's not talk about Communism. Communism was just an idea, just pie in the sky."

--Boris Yeltsin

Opaque ebony, monsterously black. I had to hold the pint glass up to the bright setting sun to see even a glimmer of ruby at the bottom edge of the glass. The taupe colored head isn't the darkest I've seen, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. It's firm without being heavily creamy, doesn't last as long as it might and doesn't deposit much in the way of lace.

The nose is all kinds of incredible. Massively roasted black malt holds sway, yet dark brown sugar, molasses and bittersweet chocolate contribute as well. I'm trying to convince myself that anise is present, but I can't say for sure

My first sip tells me the beer is a little lacking in body... even as the flavor is exploding in my mouth in incredible fashion. 'Old Yeltsin' has everything that RIS lovers crave. It's massively malted, with all of the flavor goodies that come from roasting the bejeesus out of black and chocolate malt. For some reason, molasses and anise have come to the fore on the palate.

This wouldn't be a Hoptown beer if it didn't contain a noticeable amount of little green cones. It's less hoppy than some of the brewery's other offerings, but that's understandable given the style. Even though they're covered in black goo like ducks in a oil slick, the citrusy hops kick the flavor into another gear. These guys brew their asses off!

Sweet and bitter go at it tooth and nail, with bitter persevering by virtue of its longevity. The finish wants to be molasses sticky, but alpha acids cut through it like a knife and keep things bracingly bitter and dry. Warming results in even more flavor intensity, especially with regard to anise.

I like the mouthfeel more and more as I get deeper into the bomber. While it lacks the chewy, expansive fullness that I prefer in my RISs, it gains drinkability in the bargain. Assuming that it's advisable to gulp a 9.0% ABV beer, this one is gulpable. I prefer to sip and savor, though, the better to probe the depths of its black-hearted soul.

This beer is yet another quality offering from the vastly underrated Hoptown Brewing Company. I continue to be amazed that this brewery doesn't get more recognition. If you're a hophead who loves Russian Imperial Stouts (like me), then you owe it to yourself to give 'Old Yeltsin' a try.

Feb 21, 2006
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beersarang from California

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A solid above average imperial.

Pours a black with a very small dark tan head, so far spot on. Leaves some minor lace. Easy to see the slick alcohol.

Sweet grain aroma of coffee and smoky phenols.

Malt character is big, full of all things roasty with an emphasis on charcoal. Leads into an assertive bitterness with little hop character. A fairly two dimensional but well balanced beer.

Medium to full bodied, could have used more thickness, but this beer gains points in drinkability.

I like it, Hoptown I believe has some good brews.

Jan 13, 2006
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GClarkage from California

3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

01/01/06- Purchased at Beverages and More in San Mateo, CA. First review of 2006!

Presentation- 22oz bottle with no bottling or freshness info. Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Darker in color, approaching black. Nice larger inch or so creamy dirty brown head. Leaves very nice patches of lace behind.

Smell- Darker roasted malt scent with some chocolate notes, but not much coffee. Can smell some hop bitterness as well.

Taste- Wow, this is one hopped up beer. The sweet malt stuggles and barely cut through the sharp bitterness from the hops. Bittersweet chocolate, some maybe even smoky malt taste with just a touch of coffee.

Mouthfeel- Bittering doesn't last much into the aftertaste, but kicks you in the teeth when you first take a sip. Not really creamy, but fairly easy to quaff. Carbonation is about normal for most Double Stouts these days (too much). I even aged it for about a year. Wonder how hoppy this thing is fresh?

Drinkability- Probably will pass of this one again if I see it. Would be curious though about the taste from a fresh tapped keg.

Jan 02, 2006
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JISurfer from South Carolina

4.83/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow, this is one serious beer! I like the darker/stronger beers, so this one is straight up my alley. I got this one at a BevMo out in Oakland. Damn, I should have bought more! I was really impressed with the appearance. It had a super thick, frothy head, with awesome retention. The color of the beer was a pitch black color, similar to old motor oil. It also poured like old motor oil. The smell had plenty of differences in it. It started off with hints of maple sugar combined with some darker fruits, ie plums, the switched over to a chocolate coffee kind of thing, then finished off with a tinge of hops and alcohol. The taste was very similar, but the coffee tasted like coffee ice cream. Overall this is one of the better Russian Imp's I've had in a long time, maybe ever. If you can get your hands on it, definately give it a shot.

Nov 09, 2005
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baiser from Massachusetts

4.07/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a stout that packs a punch. Pours like motor oil, thick and black with a thin, short lasting dark tan head. Heavy alcochol, dark roasted malts and finishes with a tinge of sourness. Taste is luscious, rich, molasses, roasty, burnt, sweet and wonderful. Hopped like there's no tomorrow. A great west coast stout. The alcohol was a bit much at the end.

Nov 05, 2005
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poluti from Virginia

3.36/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It pours a dark muddied black with a very dark tan head. It is a great looking imperial stout. The smell is a muddled chocolate with a hint of nut and alcohol. It's sensation is a little bit above average for the style. I was missing the minor hop notes associated with my favorite beers of this style. However, all in all, a decent nose. The taste was pleasant. Very malty with minor bitterness for the style. It was a tinge sour on the sides of the tongue. It had a decent body but a little too thin for an Imperial Stout. There didn't seem to be a sound balance between sweet and bitterness as the sweet malty flavors do an overload on the taste buds. It is a very drinkable beer. Just be weary of the alcohol content. It could be the equivalent of a night-cap if you don't watch yourself.

Nov 01, 2005
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goschool from California

4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The black pour is topped by a small dark tan head which leaves a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is largely roasted malts with coffee, molasses chocolate, and a bit of citrus from the dry hopping. Dark chocolate with a smidgen of liqueur is the predominant taste. There is some bitterness, but not as much as the nose would lead you to believe. The mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth and creamy. This seems very easy to drink for the first 4/5's of the bottle until the 9% abv sneaks up on you. This stout deserves more attention.

Sep 30, 2005
"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout from Hoptown Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 55 ratings