Onion Pub & Brewery / Wild Onion Brewing Co.

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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #85
Ranked #1,478
4.25 | pDev: 7.53%
Onion Pub & Brewery / Wild Onion Brewing Co.
Illinois, United States
Notes: Russian Imperial Stout aged on bourbon barrels.
Reviews: 71 | Ratings: 316 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of mschrei
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A longtime want. Glad they started distributing to the south suburbs. Excellent example of the style. Sweet, bold, big body, plenty of boozy presence. Really liked the coffee version, but the original is much better. As good as the Cycle/Bottle Logic collaboration I had earlier today, Have to buy more of this one.

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Photo of brentk56
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours with a burgeoning beige head that rises to two fingers above the dark brown liquid; decent retention and streaks of lace

Smell: Sweet chocolate and Bourbon, almost like a booze filled confection

Taste: The Bourbon and the sweetened chocolate intermingle, up front, with the vanilla and a hint of cherry developing;; nicely balanced, from the swallow to the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; the alcohol is well-hidden

Overall: This beer has been sitting in my cellar for quite some time, the remnant extra from a generous BA trade now forgotten; never had a beer from this brewery but this is a very nice beer that is one of the most balanced examples of this style that I have encountered

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Photo of GrumpyGas
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can highlights "2018" in red under the name and is imprinted with "PKG 05/07/19"
Oozed into a tulip glass, the near-goopy body is a very, very, dark maple brown color only allowing light at the edge. A 1/4" cover of tan colored tiny bubbles dissipates to a persistent single-bubble thick cap and runs back to the pool after agitation. The glass remains clean as the pool level drops.

Aromas of cocoa and whisky envelope the olfactory and escort the rich, toasty dark chocolate over and through the palate. No overpowering single flavor is detected, but the whisky brings with it more of the sweet barrel highlights like vanilla and molasses while the tannins of ash, oak, and stone fruit are pleasant.

Mouthfeel is full, rich, creamy, and enjoys a certain chew.

Overall a high-class example of the style.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled November 2016; drank 1/18/17 @ the Yarchives.

Black appearance. A rough pour yielded a small tan head; minimal lace.

Banana, bourbon, pickle & milk chocolate notes in the nose.

Thick, sticky mouthfeel.

Banana, bourbon & milk chocolate flavors up front; dry oak notes on the finish.

The oak/pickle notes are a turn-off for me, but this was drinkable.

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Photo of pubscout
4.91/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wild Onion Brewing's Drago is aptly named, and to that end, the bottle description of the beer should suffice for any BBA Stout lover.
"Darker than a cold Siberian Winter night and bigger than Ivan Drago's uppercut, this formidable beer took a long time to reach your discerning palate. Brewed with vast amounts of roasted barley and aged in oak bourbon barrels for eight months, this Russian Imperial Stout is a contender."
Beware, however. This 9.5% ABV beer packs a wallop, so it's best enjoyed at home. That allows you to have more than one. It's an "SSS"--Superb Sipping Stout. Perhaps among the top three best BBA Imperial Stouts in my experience.

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Photo of scream
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Did not know what to expect from this but was quite impressed.It just was good in all aspects. I would definitely grab this one again were it to be available around here.

Good job guys !

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Photo of ER527
4.87/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is perfection. Creamy, chocolate, chewy, no metal flavor that dogs so many bba stouts. Best of all, very present bourbon and boozy. Destroys kbs and bcbs

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.39/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Sampling a cellar temp 12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. The beer is jet black with no light passing through in my glass. A dense creamy tan head of 1.5 cm foams up but quickly falls to a tight edge layer. The aroma is a big hit of bourbon, charred malt, some anice and decent amount of fusol alcohol. No hop profile on the nose.
First sip reveals a thick chewy body with mild spacious almost cask like carbonation. Sticky texture coats my palate after each sip.
Flavor is also all malt with some dark chocolate, roasted notes, vanilla, bourbon and some dark fruit. The alcohol is actually pretty well hidden here. Hops absent.
Pretty drinkable for a bigger Imp Stout, and a nice dose of bourbon profile if you are into that characteristic. Im glad to got to try this one and would drink again if given the opportunity.

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Photo of REVZEB
4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Somehow feel this is underrated, while acknowledging it is not the upper most tier of barrel aged stouts, but there really isn't any weakness either. Nice creamy and smooth body. Taste is standard for style, but all done well, the bourbon is forward, the dark chocolate and malt meld together, and there is a kiss of vanilla at the end with some light charred wood.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Begin UPDATE (11/2018): Had the last bottle in the 4-pack at three years of age.

Beautiful beer, with an amazing aroma and amazing flavor; the only place I judge it could have improved was in it's mouthfeel, yet, for a 9.5% ABV beer, perhaps that's not possible. Increasing Look, Smell and Taste to 4.5.

I have had it four times now. Each time I have really liked it, yet I have tended to like the aged ones the best.


12 oz.; 2015 beer; two years age.

Wonderful, complex aroma; great taste - molasses, hops, incredible--very well balanced; creamy mouthfeel. For the price, this is one of the best barrel-aged stouts out there.

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Photo of Sabtos
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Black with a moderate tan froth clinging in peaks and settling to a bubbly film and raised collar.

Smell is chocolatey, nutty brownie batter with a slight sting of heat and oak and a touch of waxiness.

Taste is slightly tangy with peanut butter, oak, and chocolate, finishing like bourbon spiked Vanilla Coke, but with a round, full body, soft light froth, and a semi-dry, tingly stinging finish.

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Photo of q33jeff
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25


Bottle to snifter, out by fire pit @ JPK's.

LOOK: Dark black, no head.
AROMA: really nice smells, lots of bourbon,chocolate.
TASTE: lots of bourbon and chocolate. Tasty.
FEEL: heavy bodied, weak carbonation.

Really nice beer, pleasant surprise.

Bottle to goblet.
Confirming all taste notes from last year. Look # up from 3.0 to 4.0, now that I can actually see it.


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Photo of BSiegs
4.02/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great looking black pour, very dark brown when held to light. Two fingers of medium brown foam with great retention for a BB stout. Really nice, balanced aroma. Blend of dark chocolate, bourbon, light roast and earth. Taste is more bourbon forward, it hits you with a punch and lingers on the swallow. Still doesn't overpower the good base stout thought, with notes of chocolate, roast. Subtle earthiness, spice, and barrel character. Medium-full body, low moderate carbonation, and a slightly dry, boozy finish. Overall, a good to very good bourbon barrel stout and will certainly purchase again.

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Photo of Spinaltapped
3.67/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Acquired from my local beer shop. Drank out of a Transient Artisan Ales teku.

Look: Poured with two fingers of strong khaki head, body is dark chocolate brown, good spider web lacing, large amount of small and fast down-up carbonation.

Smell: Booze soaked fudge, cold brew coffee extract, brown sugar, vanilla extract, light dark fruit, nutmeg.

Taste: Brown sugar, milk chocolate, cappuccino, bourbon cream liqueur.

Feel: Medium bodied, silky mouthfeel, a bit thin and overcarbed.

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Photo of Zoomslowik
4.16/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L- Black pour, very little tan head.

S- Heavy bourbon and vanilla. I get a little cherry as it warms up.

T- Pretty aggressive booze. Sweet base with a blend of dark chocolate, vanilla and dark fruits.

F- It's okay. Decent thickness, not particularly rich or creamy though.

O- I like it. I would love it with slightly less booziness and a creamier mouthfeel.

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Photo of FBarber
3.99/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours completely black, shiny and opaque. Fizzy cola like head dissipates leaving no residual foam, no lacing.

Smell has notes of roasted malts, vanilla, oak, and bourbon.

Taste follows the nose with a well done Russian imperial stout base with some roasted malts and bittering hops giving way to an alcohol burn with a strong bourbon presence on the back end. Notes of cola, vanilla, and some black cherry.

Feel is on the fuller/thicker side. Fizzy soda like carbonation and mouthfeel. Not my preferred feel for a beer of this style. Definite heat with a slight alcohol burn on the back end.

Overall a really nicely done BA stout. At the price its a very solid option.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into stout glass. It pours an inky, oily black color with a finger of foamy, mocha-colored head and lacing that lasted through the pour. What a great aroma of cocoa, coffee, caramel, dark fruit, and a whiff of bourbon. The taste is outstanding: the coffee and chocolate blend beautifully with vanilla, black cherry, oak, and a nice bourbon finish. It has a nice, chewy mouth feel with low to moderate carbonation. The 9.5% ABV is just right: this stout has substance but it isn't a booze bomb and the bourbon doesn't overwhelm the other tastes. Overall, Drago is a revelation. I'm not saying it's the best RIS I've encountered but it challenges the leaders of the style and the price point is reasonable. I'm going to look for more, for sure!

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Photo of Beginner2
4.26/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Suddenly in the same day, I've gone from zero to two Hads from Wild Onion. Read their website. Impressed by their commitment to the environment by repurposing an abandoned stone quarry. They put a Communist Hammer & Sickle on the label of their RIS. (Drago, as I curiously looked up, is the Russian giant that gets beat in the 15th round by Rocky Bilboa in Moscow as the Kremlin leaders look on woefully a few years before the Cold War folds and, in a great twist of fate, Roland Reagan looks like a genius.) And back to reality, Wild Onion's restaurant hosts weddings in one of the wealthiest communities in Chicagoland. Clearly, Onion has a sense of humor and a complicated personality... and they have produced a complicated and impressive RIS.

It looks normal for a RIS, a brown head of foam that disappears and becomes a syrupy substance.
The smell does not belie the alcohol, an achievement not made by many a RIS.
Taste gives me all that sweet malt and the vanilla and the what-not that comes from oak barrels that aged bourbon.
The mouthfeel is full and smooth and almost creamy.
And it all goes great with sweet cookies for dessert... which is what I've just done.
And... I just might again.

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Photo of SaltofOH
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle, no visible date. Says 9.5%. Guinness pint.

A: pours dark black/brown, opaque with 3 fingers dark tan head that recedes to a thick foamy cap. Decent lacing, killer retention.

S: reeks of bourbon and vanilla! 8 months in a barrel will do that, I suppose. It was a good barrel; barrel selection is key. Some dark fruits lingering in the background with a touch of bourbon alcohol - not fusel, really smells like you poured a shot of bourbon in a stout.

T: taste is immediately sweet; caramel, bourbon, prune, golden raisin, milk chocolate, more! This absolutely blows dragon's milk out of the water.

M: thick, syrupy, some light carb.

O: holy smokes, this is a barrel aged beast. Great BARIS. Alcohol is not overpowering; bourbon character steals the show. Texture makes it dangerously drinkable. Careful with this one!

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Photo of mikeinportc
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle thanks to @LongTaco15 . :)

Pours black with thin-side-of-moderate tan head.
Smells of dark chocolate,coffee, vanilla, and bourbon barrel.

Tastes of dark chocolate, slightly charred, vanilla coffee, oak tannin, and bourbon, with a little tongue-tingling bitterness on the finish.

Feel is thick, oily (not creamy), very smooth, very fine carbonation, and a pleasant back-of-the-throat burn on the finish. Though the alcohol is noticeably present, it is quite smooth, and doesn't come across as "hot".

Overall, very good. Dangerously drinkable. :) It would be a favorite, if I could get it here.

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Photo of beerguy04
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a jet black color with tan bubbles more than a true head. Smells like a vanilla and cocoa bean mix. The taste is similar, definitely taste both chocolate and vanilla. Has a little coffee aftertaste at the end. Mouthfeel, is nice and medium. Overall, a delicious beer.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.44/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to 5EKF for this bottle!

A - Pitch black and oil-like color, dense toffee colored lacing, no carbonation, lots of legs on the sides of the glass.

S - Bourbon, vanilla, cocoa beans, some delicate chocolate spiciness.

T - Nice bourbon blend with the rest of the beer, charred chocolate, oak, vanilla, roasted toffee, the alcohol does make itself know. Mild lingering smoked/roasted chocolate bitterness on the back end.

M - Thick, full bodied, semi-dry, very syrupy on the lips.

O - This beer is grossly underrated so far. Highly recommend.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

JZeilinger shared this bottle with me, The beer poured out as a rich looking black color with a thin brown head on top. The smell of the beer is roasted with some subtle barrel oak notes on the nose. The taste has a nice roasted dark chocolate thing going on with a hint of vanilla in there too. The feel is smooth, medium to full bodied. Overall it's a solid brew.

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Photo of jzbikowski
4.73/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Very good barrel aged stout. I was really surprised how good it was. Compared favorably to KBS and Bourbon county, but at much less $$.
Can't wait for this year's release

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Photo of avalon07
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick consistency. There was a small amount of foamy, tan-colored head that quickly dissipated. Sparse lacing.

S: A good aroma of malt, dark fruit, chocolate, and booze.

T: Tasted of a bit of dark chocolate, some roasted malt, grassy hops, lots of dark fruit (plums, in particular), a tinge of vanilla, the boozy quality, and a hint of caramel. A pretty complex and big flavor, but not as much as other Russian Imperial Stouts. The grassy hops are a debit, but in general, the flavor is solid.

F: An average amount of carbonation with an extremely smooth, silky finish. Full-bodied.

O: There are better examples of an RIS than this, but Drago is generally well made.

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Drago from Onion Pub & Brewery / Wild Onion Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 316 ratings