"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout | Hoptown Brewing Company

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"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout
55 Ratings
"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Hoptown Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 07-09-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 55 |  Reviews: 53
Photo of JISurfer
4.83/5  rDev +19.9%
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.

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Photo of rkhaze
4.8/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a thick black with cola colors trying to escape the edges. Quickly disappearing creamy brown head. Aromas of coffee, sweet chocolate, roasted malt, red fruits and hints of licorice and hops.
Complex bittersweet taste. Deep roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate, and creamy raspberry. Finished dry with a tangy hop bitterness, cocoa, a bit of smokiness and a hint of licorice that lingered nicely on the palate. The alcohol, while definitly present, was more complimentary than distracting. Like all Imperials, this one gets better as it warms.
Moderatly viscous mouthfeel. Rich, creamy and a little sticky with good carbonation. I found this scary drinkable for a 9% abv beer. Definitly warmed the stomach.
Not in the upper-upper echelon of Imperial Stouts, but certainly the leader of the followers. Just a great job and worth seeking out!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.57/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On first cracking the crown of this 22oz SuperSize helping of Imperial Stout, I know that the goods are being delivered. All the right notes are wafting out, before I have a chance to get a close look, even.
Appearance: black as pitch, with a good, toasted tan head.
I stir it up a bit, swirl the snifter some, and the familiar burnt flavors of any IS worth it's roasted barley malt creep evermore into my senses. But let's get more intimate...
Aroma: deep, bitter espresso, molasses, dark rum, thick, rich, sinfully indulgent, wickedly stong, just drinking in this smell may inebriate me! But it's a dark and twisted treat, and everything an IS should be!
Hops are here, when we taste, but it's that thick, dark, roasted malt that makes the biggest impression on the palate, and the booze, glorious booze. You don't get a sip out of this beer, without getting a full helping of the stong stuff.. More flavorful connotations arise in the taste profile occur, a bit hit of anise, some chocolate, a little raisin...
This is most impressive, and I feel that the fine folks in Pleaston, CA seem to have nailed the style, and then some.
Big alcohol, but big flavor, too. I wonder what Boris would think of his namesake brew? Oh, he'd love it, of course, much tastier than vodka, with plenty of kick!
thanks to BierRiese for this one!

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 22 ounce Bomber with a 3/4 plastic wrap label that has the generic Hoptown Brewery bottle label, with only the words ‘“Old Yeltsin” Imperial Stout’ to distinguish it from the rest of the range.

I recently tried this fine elixir at the 7th Annual San Diego Strong Ale Festival held at the Pizza Port, Carlsbad. There it was served on Tap, maybe even Nitro if memory serves me right, but the PP program listed it as “only” 8.4%, but it was a favorite. So how great to sit down and dissect this fine IS and review it properly.

Appearance: Imperiously dark. Viscous pour, vitriolic, thick, dark and dangerous – it is absolutely ebonious black and devoid of all reflective properties, not even a hint of dark brown at the edges, nothing. It absorbs all forms of light and wavelengths. This is a true “Black Body”. As I pour it forms a nice ½” dark brown head that lasts. No wimpish lame covering for this Imperial Stout.

Nose: Lots of freshly roasted malts, deeply burnt roasted malts – am I on fire? The burnt roastness leaps over to the hop bitterness in the back end. This is like smelling burnt paper that has been drenched in Malt Vinegar. It's working its way towards me and taking over.

Taste: Roasted malts, pungently bitter coffee middle, hops in the back end. Rich thick and dangerous. The vinous tingle only rises in the middle and leaves that scathing acetic vinegar feel in the latter third of the beer, all the while burnt roasted malts still linger at the back of the pitch waiting to launch an invasion like mad Soccer Hooligans after England have yet again beaten Scotland at Wembley. The vinous lick at the end gives this beer a real Imperial stout kick that I love. Wow, this is some beer. I did not detect the vinous aspect on draft, it was too smooth. I prefer the bottled version for this reason.

Mouthfeel: It starts with, and leaves, a deep thick rich feel in the mouth that coats the tongue and cheeks with a velvety rich bitter chocolate taste. The ending has an astringent vinous hygroscopic finish that puckers the cheeks a little. Marvelous.

Drinkability: I’m going back to Hi-Times in Costa-Mesa to get some more of this beauty, its just waaay too good for anyone else to drink it. Even given the alcohol, this beer just slips down way too easily.

Overall: This is good shit. No wonder Boris was permanently pissed!

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Photo of tavernjef
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ebony tinted brown with an immense brown head of foam on top. Keeps its top for a stint. Lace is very minimal, as most drips or fades off leaving only specks to decorate the glass. A thin collar always stays at the edges.

Nice aroma of dry hopping and deep dark roasted malts. Touches of rye, molasses, and dark fruitified alcoholic heat feather about the edges.

Taste is semi tangy, moderately roasted, fairly dark, and nicely drying. Flavors begin with a light dry rye sweep then dips right in with tangy dark fruit toasted fruits with dates, figs, and raisin. Partial chocolate makes a base under the fruity tangyness. Finishes with a tangy left over roast of grains and malts with an easy fading dryness of light, dry, leafy hops. Perhaps a smidgeon of coffee and chocolate creeps across the finish but tends to stay towards a sweeter, fruitier rendition of molasses and malts, yet maintaining a dry tone. Pretty cool finish.

Feel is pretty big and juicy. Respectfully clean and bold with a well rounded medium/full character wrapped up in darkened malty tang and dry hopped noting all across its general nature. Goes down without much hassle. Perhaps a bit too much tangy, but as soon as I type that statement the dryness flows right in taking care of that notion with one favorable turn of dark, bold roasty stuff and drying of chocolate and hops. Nice. Glad I picked it up. A solid Impy Stout.

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Photo of Troyone
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black with a possible slight amber hue, can not see if there is carb action, and there is definitely no head.

The smell is sweat and kind of bready, maybe a cookie dough molasses malt background with some chocolate and an orange hop aroma.

The best part about these evaluations (for the most part), at least moderately sweet, lightly acidic, and close to moderately bitter with lots of twangy chocolate and roasted molasses malt also has some orange hops.

Full bodied, syrupy and almost creamy texture, soft almost flat carbonation, and a smooth almost moderately alcoholic finish (hate when that happens).

If one likes the change up of Stouts in the mix this is a potent session Stout.

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Photo of xgabe
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
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...

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Photo of maxpower
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jet black color, chocolate pudding-bready aroma, dark roasty coffee chocolate fruity flavor, tan creamy head hig hoppy lasting finish, an easy drinking Imperial stout.I could drink more than on in a sitting.

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Photo of shapudding
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thick, luscious, creamy, black-brown, with a reddish-brown and thick head that reduced down to a ring and nice dusting swirl. Lovely! Amazing scents of darkness! Piney hoppiness, chocolate, red wine... yummm... Surprisingly vineous taste in there. Hearty red wine flavors, roasted malts, chocolate. Dark coffee in the after taste. Body is not as thick as it looks like it would be. Flows easily and smoothly over your tongue. Don't get me wrong, there is a TON of flavor going on here! This is great for sipping or relaxing, but maybe not as a session. Very good stuff!

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Photo of objectivemonkey
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of Wildman
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer was as black as the night with no light getting through it's dark mass. It formed a small medium tan bubbly head that left circular lace as it subsided. An aroma of malt, chocolate, expresso and raisins is present. A flavor of malt, chocolate and coffee with some of the alcohol present in the background. The finish was a little lighter than others with a touch of sourness to add to the overall bitter sweet finish. Not as over the top as say a Stone or Bell's, but a good stout. My thanks again to lou91.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of Gusler
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From pour to the last drop, one of the better “Imperials I’ve tasted lately and a sure repeat as soon as I can place another order with “Hi-Time Wines”. The beer pours a Beau Ideal stout deep brown to black color with the head enormous in size, creamy in it consistency and a delightful chocolate brown color, the residual lace, sticky glutinous sheets to cover the glass. The aroma of toasted grain, coffee, sweet milk chocolate and of course sweet to the senses, “Perfecto”, start ambrosial with a nice grain profile, the top chocolate fudge thick, rich, sweet, and the finish biting in its hop spiciness, mellow on the carbonation, chocolate dry aftertaste that lingers on well after the last drop is siphoned from the glass. Big 9% ABV makes it a beer for these wet and cold winter nights, a real “Yummy for the Tummy”.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at the Pizza Port Strong Ale Fest, Dec. 2005.

This imperial stout poured black with red-brown near the edges with tall, creamy, persistent, brown foam. The smell was redolent with coffee and malt with a touch of sweetness and a hint of licorice. The taste was very malt: dark, roasty malt, with flavors of coffee, cocoa, and licorice, and an overall light sweetness. The mouthfeel was very smooth and creamy with full body and medium carbonation. The aftertaste was very malty and lingered nicely. This was a very, very good beer, and I wish I could get more.

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Photo of goschool
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.34/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.32/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.32/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in the 22 oz. bomber, into a pint glass. The color is black, with a bubbly tan head. The smell is chocolate and anise. The taste is strongly chocolatey, with hints of the roasted malts and just a bit of bittering hops, and a noticable but not overwhelming alcohol. Mouthfeel is average. As for drinkability, could have a few.

Not a bad imperial stout. Though this one doesn't quite reach the jaw-dropping stage, it's still a damn good one, and one that I'd have again if I saw it around.

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Photo of meathookjones
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber. Pours out an opaque black color with a smallish tan head that left some sticky strings of lace decorating the glass. Dark chocolate and vinous fruit notes seem most prevalent in the aroma. A bit more dark fruit and light roastiness come out the more it warmed. Flavor kicks off with some ripe fruity sweetness with a bit of bitter sweet dark chocolate following that. Very light roasty notes in the back. More sweetness comes on towards the end with some plums and figs. Lightly bitter dark chocolate finish. Very tasty with lots going on in the flavor. Pretty slick feel to it with a good thickness though a little more body would have been nice. Greatly drinkable brew. No sign of alcohol plus a great flavor makes this go down quickly and leave me wanting more. Recommended.

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Photo of czechsaaz
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big sweet treacle aroma with underliying roast malt. Pretty fantastic. Some vinuous fermentation aromas too.

Pours darker than coal at midnight with a smallish brown head that quickly fades.

Initial flavor is intense roast malt with good bitterness from hops. But that gives way mid-palate to really complex sweet malty finish. I get some dried prune and chocolate flavor too.

The body seems a little thin for something with this much flavor. I want it to be huge and chewy and it's big.

Really nice sipping beer.

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Photo of Jredner
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of OStrungT
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours almost black. It looks inky. The dark brown head fades quickly leaving thick laces. This beer is very thick. It smells malty. Also, there is an alcohol smell as well as coffee and carmel. It tastes of coffee and chocolate. The alcohol taste is apparent. This is a smooth beer. Quite malty. It is carbonated just right. Due to the somewhat high alcohol content, this beer might not be the best choice for a night of drinking, but one or two is quite nice. This beer is, in my opinion, quite good. Definately worth buying a few bottles.

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Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.17/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a heluva good stout. Nice balance, smooth, nice body. Hops and bitterness present, but not overdone. Nice expresso-chocolate notes, alcohol well hidden. This is one well worth trying. The real deal. Somewhere between Old Rasputin and Sammy Smith. This is probably as good as any stout I've had, other than the Smith's (which is still my favorite).

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Photo of rallison
4.15/5  rDev +3%
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.

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Photo of pentathlete
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

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"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout from Hoptown Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.03 out of 5 with 55 ratings
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