"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout | Hoptown Brewing Company

very good
55 Ratings
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"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.

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Ratings: 55 |  Reviews: 53
Photo of brentk56
3.74/5  rDev -5.8%
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

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A rough pour brings up a decent-sized head of creamy dark-tan foam atop an opaque black body; but it fails to hold for very long and leaves only minor spotty lace about the glass. Of course it is 9% abv, which cuts down on the head retention a little.... The nose delivers sweet cocoa, toffee, sugar, day-old coffee, a thick drizzle of molasses, and a pinch of citrus rind. It's delicate, seemingly natural (bottle-conditioned?), and exceptionally fine-bubbled carbonation leaves smooth across the palate. The flavor is more intense than the flavor suggests, with notes of burnt sugar, molasses, caramel, dark toffee, poorly made espresso, dark fruit, dark wine, citrus, and berries. It finishes dry and lingering with a splash of alcohol, a burnt/carbon note, and juicy citrus fruits. Interesting!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
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 feloniousmonk
4.57/5  rDev +15.1%
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 GClarkage
3.73/5  rDev -6%
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.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of Zorro
2.26/5  rDev -43.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Pours a black brew impervious to light.

Smell is sweet and fruity with the expected coffee and chocolate aroma. Grain sneaks in under the stronger aromas.

Taste is very metallic! BLAH! Tastes like nails! I try but all I get is an Iron Taste.

Mouthfeel is thin.

Maybe I got a bad bottle but this was some bad stuff. I tried to like this but I had to pour it out, rusty nails brau.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of Gusler
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
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 Dogbrick
4/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
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 jfcaa193
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
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 alexgash
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Black as an eight ball with a dense layer of beautifully brown head. Lacing coats the over-sized tulip glass nicely. Nose is made up of roasted coffee, sweet alcoholic raisins and plums, soy sauce, dark chocolate, and maybe some hop bitterness. Not bad, if maybe a little [too] reserved.
Solid, rather raw, roasted grains and sweetish malt up front. Sweet, dark fruit and alcohol pick up in the middle, with notes of astringent hops sneaking in. Astringent bitterness swells into the finish, as the alcohol does a little burning. Finish is bitter, with a sweet roasted malt skeleton. Big, full body, with a thick, chewy feel. Not a bad beer, but I think it could use some tinkering, as the hops are too astringent, not enough flavor.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.96/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
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 brewandbbq
4.34/5  rDev +9.3%
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 beerguy101
3.32/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark brown color. Large tan foamy head. Aroma is chocolate and coffee. A medium bodied Imperial Stout. Malts are chocolate with a hint of caramel and coffee. Hops are slightly spicy. Nicely balanced. Perhaps a little thin for an Imperial Stout. No alcohol bite. Mouthfeel is thin. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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Photo of beerpadawan
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of JISurfer
4.83/5  rDev +21.7%
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 blitheringidiot
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Colorful pastoral cartoon motif that explains unfiltered.

Buh-lack black with brown head collar quickly disapating zero carbonation thick.

Scents are obvious and huge. Albeit of unexpected candy brown sugar. Molasses & cake icing sweet.

First swigs: Burnt torched carmelized sugar. Syrupy oatmeal powdery aftertaste. Some doughy characters and prune or fig taste. Bisquick in the dry lingering finish. Not detecting hops in particular.

Mouthfeel is thick as all get out. Too thick?

Last swigs: Burnt malts with citrous aftertaste. End is a bit fusel. Thanks to Shapudding for dplitting the bottle. Sipper!

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Photo of DogFood11
4.06/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of Phatz
4/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of IntriqKen
2.38/5  rDev -40.1%
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.

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Photo of aracauna
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not perfectly black, you can see brown light around the extreme edges, but it's dark enough not to count off for. The head is a nice medium brown soup foam, but thin and quick to fade into a weather pattern. A very rich malty aroma with some fruit aroma. Low hop presence. There's a lot of fig in the flavor. I can almost feel the tiny seeds in the fig preserves my mom makes from the fig tree in our yard next to the cannaa lillies. It's sweet, almost a little too sweet as it edges on cloying. This mild bitterness in the back keeps it just on this side of the line, though. Still, that figgy flavor makes it pretty interesting.

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"Old Yeltsin" Imperial Stout from Hoptown Brewing Company
3.97 out of 5 based on 55 ratings.
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