Russian Imperial Stout | Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

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Russian Imperial StoutRussian Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Full-bodied stout that starts with a complex, malty sweet and high-roasted character that is wonderfully balanced with the use of citrusy American hops.

75 IBU

Added by mophie on 12-13-2002

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Reviews: 112 | Ratings: 262
Photo of oline73
4.51/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Once I decided to bring home a growler of the Chokolad, I had to get this one to compare it as well. Poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours black with a layer of tan head. The head takes a while to get to the top of the pour because the body is thick and it wants to keep the bubbles in. The head then fades to a ring around the edge of the glass and leaves some lacing.

Smell: Lots of roasted malt here. Some sweetness from the grain. Also picking up some dark chocolate and alcohol warmth.

Taste: This beer is extremely smooth and incredibly well balanced. Roast with dark chocolate, alcohol, and some hop bitterness. Everything works together so amazingly well. I'd love to have another.

Mouthfeel: Thick body with some of the smoothest carbonation I have ever had. Tingly carbonation with a slight dryness.

Overall: Everything about this beer works. Nothing is over the top, but there is so much going on. I would have this again in a heartbeat.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
4.36/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Mrvonzipper for sharing this one

Look: Black and totally opaque with brown rings around the edges and absolutely no head a bit surprising

Smell: The nose is very bright with lots of roasted malt and chocolate greating you right away with hints of coffee and some alcohol in the backdrop

Taste: The flavor is just as good as the nose with the same notes greeting you right away. roasted malt and chocolate blend extreme well and create a wonderful balance of flavor. The background carries some roasted coffee dark fruits and a whiff of vanilla

Mouthfeel: Full body and low carbonation

Overall: Great beer I am glad I got the chance to try this one. After trying the Iron Hill bourbon barrel quad which was an infected mess I was a bit hesitant about the brewery but held back judgement and this one delivered big time

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Photo of pitasoup
4.07/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from blind bif 6, thanks to hophead101 for the bottle.

A: pours slow like molasses, black, rolling brown carbonation that fades up into creamy brown head. dark and murky, edges leak out some brown when held up and tilted, but otherwise no light is coming through. 4

S: chocolate, lots of chocolate, toffee, molasses, very small hints of whiskey, vanilla, willamette, and burnt grains. 4.5

T: similar to the smells but not very sweet. in fact, the first flavors are black-patent like burnt malts. the chocolate, molasses, whiskey blowup that i was expecting wasn't there at all. what's happening here? vanilla comes out as it sits 4

M: medium to medium-full, lighter than the pour and color would have suggested though. slightly astringent/tart from darker/burnt grains. warming after the swallow and ever so slightly solvent on the tongue. 3.5

O: a big ass chocolate stout? the smells are fantastic, but the taste doesn't deliver, overall a pretty solid beer but it use some more pop in the flavors. after letting it warm up for 30mins or so, smooth and delicious vanilla begins to mix nicely. bumping up a few points for great balance and drinkability at room temp, wow i wont even bother chilling this next time 4

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Photo of ehammond1
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Thanks for opening this, MrVonzipper!

Deep black in color with a thin brown head. Looks thick and substantial in the glass.

Big, complex aroma of roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate, a bit of dark fruit, and a bit of candy sugar sweetness as well. Complete.

This is simply a marvelous example of the style. Big, bold flavors of roasted malt, coffee, dark fruits, chocolate, and just a bit of sweetness. Big flavors, bold and assertive, yet balanced and drinkable.

Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation.

A great example of a favorite style.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

App: Very deep and dark brown, nearly black color, with a small tan head that settles slowly. Fair lacing but not a lot of it.

Smell: Roastiness predominantly, with bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and a touch of booze.

Taste: Minimal hop character; any bitterness seems to come from its dark chocolate flavor; good roastiness, faint coffee undertones. Very slight booziness in the finish.

Mf: Smooth and a little creamy but I felt the body could have been even fuller than it was and that it lacked much in the way of the chewiness or stickiness I really enjoy in many of the better examples of this style. Medium carbonation that gives the body life but possibly detracts from the mouthfeel in that it takes away from the fullness and creaminess.

Overall: Definitely a well made RIS but not all that big in flavor or body. Balanced and pretty drinkable for the style but didn’t quite make the overall impact I’d hoped for.

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Photo of larryi86
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle from the Newark location poured into a tulip

A- Black with a three finger tan head.

S- Dark chocolate, roasted malts, caramel malts, faint coffee, some piney hops.

T- Dark chocolate, caramel mats, roasted coffee, some hops in the finish, very well balanced.

M- Medium to full body, smooth, nice creaminess.

O- A nice RIS, 9.5% ABV is very well hidden. Not the most complex beer and I little on the pricey side, but worth trying of you get the chance!

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Photo of rtaps
4.39/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours black with a nice tan head, decent retention leaving minimal lacing, and slightly viscous looking
very nice nose on it, nutty chocolate, some coffee and roasted malts.

taste is great kind of fallows the nose. nutty chocolate, roasted malts, with some coffee there all blended nicely

medium bodied and carbonation.

overall its a good RIS wouldn't mind getting another one

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.39/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to MrVonzipper for sharing this one during his tasting!

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa powder, slight dark fruits, and alcohol. Taste is of dark roasted malt and cocoa powder. There is a nice roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good RIS with some solid aromas and flavors.

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

Tap (Growler from Wilmington) Pours a rich black with a thick tan head that left a solid coat of lacing on the glass. Aroma is strong of coffee and chocolate, and the taste is very strong of the same. It is sweet without being over powering, and no hint at all of hops or strong malts. Very well balances and the 9.5% is also well hidden in this very creamy drink. Definitely a beer for sipping -- take your time with this one!!

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Photo of keanex
4.31/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on nitro last night at Iron Hill Brewery in Maple Shade, New Jersey.

A: Huge creamy thick tan head, expected from the nitro. Body is pitch black. This looks wonderful, especially through nitro.

S: A bit faint, possibly because of the nitro (first nitro beer), but there's roasted coffee notes with some dark chocolate. A bit mellow compared to what I was expecting, but inviting.

T: Absolutely wonderful. Very mellow, again I'm assuming due to the nitro, but there's the roasted coffee with the dark chocolate very mellow but very balanced throughout. Wonderful beer.

M: Thick and creamy, absolutely wonderful.

O: A great beer on nitro, I'll be trying it on normal tap next, but this is wonderful.

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

This bottle was randomly given to me by Rempo (Mark) after he had heard that my grandfather passed away. I had never met him before but he came in and gave me the bottle along with a handwritten note giving his condolences. It was one of the kindest moves of advocacy I've seen yet. Thank you, Mark, immensely for giving me this Want out of sheer kindness and advocacy.

This beer pours a full bodied dark chocolate brown, very smooth and velvety, with a two finger very creamy mocha brown head. It looks exactly like a RIS should. The aromas are smooth, soft, and creamy. You get smooth dark roasted malts, ala coffee and cream, with a moderate amount of milk chocolate. I actually get some milk too, like hot chocolate. The flavors consist of roasted malts, milk chocolate, mocha, coffee bitterness, with a slight nut character. The bitterness is a little strong than anticipated and is really the only thing holding it back. Otherwise, it features nice complexity. It drinks very, very smoothly and is near perfect in body. It's just so creamy. The alcohol isn't present at all and despite being full in body, it isn't overly filling or overly thick. It drinks ultimately well. Overall this is a fine beer and a great representation of the style. I'm very glad I could try it.

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Photo of MsRif
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at Iron Hill in Media, PA. Poured a dark black opaque color with a beautiful cocoa colored head. Nice head retention and lacing throughout the session. Had an aroma of roasted and sweet malts as well as chocolate and booze. Tasted of roasted and sweet malts, sweet chocolate, a touch of bitter hops and coffee. Not too complex, but well balanced and certainly very drinkable.

Full bodied with light carbonation. Smooth and quaffable. Not my favorite RIS but still a good example of the style.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.41/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Iron Hill, Media, PA

Pours like a typical stout: dark black color, toasty dark brown perhaps around the edges, with a small, patchy, tan head. Not overly aromatic, with scents of roasted malts and coffee coming through. Big roast in the taste, but not overly flavorful or smooth, dark malts, coffee, and grains. Decent. Alcohol is felt before it is tasted. Heavier-medium mouthfeel, dry, and drinkable. Good, but not the most memorable of stouts.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

real sturdy russian imperial. pours jet black with an awesome creamy nitro head. smells bittersweet like hops and dark chocolate. taste is chocolate malts and coffee notes, with a pronounced hop finish true to the style. alcohol is well concealed and the mouthfeel is butter. so smooth and creamy perfect on the nitro tap. my favorite beer ive had from iron hill

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Photo of SolipsismalCat
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark opaque brown with tan sticky lacing.

S: Roasted malt. Coffee but mostly chocolate.

T: Moderate sweetness and light bitterness. Rich roasted flavor. Lots of chocolate. This is really good.

M: Full bodied with soft carbonation. Thick and creamy and warm.

O: Wonderful for the cold winter months. So rich and warm. Must have this again.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.17/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Shane for popping this bottle open.

A: Pours a dark brown color, practically black, with a small tan head on top. The small head lasted a good while and reduced to a thin layer on top. Minimal lacing.

S: Rather sweet with some chocolate, dark roasted malt, some dark fruit, and a surprising amount of hops by the way of light citrus and pine.

T: A good bit of roasted malt, coffee, and some chocolate. On the sweet side, with some cream, and more milk chocolate.

M: Medium to full bodied with low carbonation. Drinks a little thick, but smooth.

O: Very easy drinking with a nice flavor profile. Not overly complex, but I have no problem with that at all.

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Photo of biglobo8971
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into tulip. The color is black as hell, with a great foamy 1 inch head. The nose is malty, with a slight hint of chocolate. The taste is exceptional, very well balanced between the malt, roast, chocolate sweetness, with a terrific finish. Not over anything, just solid all the way around. Will put on wants and seek out more in the future.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.39/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Darkness tulip. Beer is black / brown at the bowl with a tan head that disappears quickly, low carbonation, no lacing.

Aroma is sweet with a strong roast to it. Mild alcohol too.

Beer is medium in body, sweet up front, malt and alcohol, strong flavor, almost a dry finish with a lot of roast at the back end of the beer. The beer feels almost still in my mouth, plain but very flavorful, sweet, almost vanilla. I like it and would have it again.

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Photo of eclipse54
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A corked and caged 750 mL bottle from inlimbo77; thank you! I couldn't find a date code, but It's probably a recent batch and I know it's from the Wilmington, DE location (per the label). Poured into a snifter...

Pours completely black with a centimeter of beige/khaki head that lingers for a decent amount of time considering the alcohol content. It leaves scattered patches of wet bubbles on the glass as it subsides.

The aroma is of roasted malt, some dark coffee grounds, brown sugar, caramel, and some chocolate molasses. The alcohol is completely hidden in the nose. The taste begins with some caramel and vanilla notes, moves into the molasses and roasted malt, and finishes with some dark fruits, coffee, and sugar. A warming alcohol presence is found in the very end.

Mouthfeel is very good, having a crisp, yet rich texture that gives it a velvety smooth feel. It finishes a touch dry, but not sweet or sticky. Very well done. Overall, this is a very, very good RIS that is certainly deserving of the silver medal it received at GABF this year.

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Photo of KAP1356
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been waiting a while to try this one. 750 ml corked and caged bottle, purchased from the West Chester location, from the most recent batch, poured into a Weyerbacher tulip...

A - Pours a completely opaque black with a nice, fizzy, foamy, khaki colored head that forms about .5 fingers thick. No real lacing.

S - Roasted malts, some nuttiness, roasted coffee and lots of fudge-like chocolate. Milk and dark bakers chocolate make a strong impression along with some nice dark fruits. There is a nice earthiness to the nose.

T - Coffee first but like the nose, the chocolate takes over. Milk, dark, brownie like chocolate really comes through along with some dark fruits, making it sweet on the palate. There does seem to be either a slightly smoked taste or a deep roasted malt flavor along with it. I really enjoyed this taste!

M - Medium bodied but just bordering on being full bodied. Creamy and smooth with a nice level of carbonation (more than expected).

O - Thoroughly enjoyed this beer. I didn't expect it to have such a rich flavor and chocolate like presence. Will absolutely seek this one out again in the near future.

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Photo of orangesol
4.17/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Iron Hill - Lancaster during their recent X-Mas in July event.

A - Pours jet black; with hints of brown around the edges; with a small half finger tall tan head leaving streaky lacing down the glass.

S - Smells of coffee, bakers chocolate, dark roasted malt, licorice, light smoke, and sweet dark fruits. It is complex yet it smells like any other RIS would.

T - Starts off with plenty of rich coffee quickly giving way to a mix of sweet bakers chocolate, dark roasted malt, light smoke, and some sweet dark fruits. It has lots of smokey roast yet it remains quite drinkable. The finish has plenty of dark roast, mixing with some chocolaty sweetness, to linger on the pallet long after the finish.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Rich, roasty, feel with plenty of it lingering through the finish.

O - Very nice. I see why this has won all those GAFB medals over the years. It has lots of things going on inside it, yet it remains drinkable and easy to enjoy. I am glad they snuck this keg on at the last minute.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.18/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml corked and caged bottle traded to me from user InjuredReserve. thanks! drank from my stone IRS snifter.

A- the beer pours out an opaque black body with a taller than expected khaki colored head on top. the head takes its time falling, and leaves behind small rings of lacing. very nice.

S- the first thing i pick out of the nose are roasted malts. after that i get some chocolate (both milk and dark) followed by a little bit of black licorice. coffee and earthy hops move in towards the end.

T- the taste starts out with more of the dark roasted malts that i could smell before moving onto some chocolate. both milk and dark are represented, but the dark makes a stronger showing. the little bit of black licorice that i was able to smell seems to have grown in the taste, but nothing near the offensive level (think belgo anise IRS). earthy hops and espresso on the finish. a little bit of alcohol shows throughout.

M- the body is on the lower side of full. the carbonation is a nice and subdued level. moderate alcohol warmth. very smooth.

O- this is a very good and under appreciated RIS. this is something id love to be able to pick up again. check this out if you get the chance.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This poured out as a very deep brown color. The head was tan and left behind a light amount of lacing. The smell of the beer has a little bit of a spiciness to it. The nose also has a burnt chocolate aroma. The taste of the beer has a heavy roasted malt taste. There is also plenty of chocolate and some hoppy bitterness in there too. The mouthfeel of the beer has a good thickness to it. Decent oily feel to it. Overall this beer is pretty good for sure. Not my favorite RIS. But not bad, definitely worth trying.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Iron Hill has begun CANning some of their beers and this was among them. I purchased mine at their local location in Lancaster.

From the CAN: "Full-bodied Stout that starts with a complex, malty-sweet and high-roasted character that is wonderfully balanced with the use of citrusy AmeriCAN hops. 2011, 2013 GABF Silver Medal; 2003, 2006, 2010 GABF Gold Medal; 2012 GABF Bronze Medal; 2006 World Beer Cup Bronze Medal; 2010, 2012, 2014 World Beer Cup Gold Medal."

It might have been a tallboy pint CAN, but I had no fear, having recently bought some glassware at the church rummage sale across thee street, including a brandy snifter. I Crack!ed it open and commenced an inverted Glug into said snifter, creating two fingers of dense, deep-tan head with good retention. Color was Black/Opaque, allowing zero light penetration and while I would have marked SRM as 44, the CAN measured it as Lovibond = 50. Nose had wafts of smoke, dark chocolate, lemon zest and a marshmallow-like sweetness. Mouthfeel was full and creamy, like a dollop of ice cream or a spoonful of chocolate pudding. Whee! I CAN appreciate why this is such a popular style, but it just seemed a bit overwhelming to me. The finish was semi-sweet with a dominant dark chocolate flavor lingering well past my swallow. I was reminded of the birthday cakes that my paternal grandmother used to make. She never gave up her secret(s), but it may well have included lemon zest in the recipe. Would you fill a cooler with this and Ten Fidy? You are more daring than I am if you answered in the affirmative!

Transcribed from notes dtd Sa, 04 Dec 2010. This was IHNWales' RIS available at IHLNC.

The deep-brown head evidenced some real staying power in awaiting me to get around to it. Color was inky black with deep-brown highlights at the edges. Nose had a powerful French Roast coffee scent along with a citrusiness, like lemon zest. I began to muse as to whether I could grate some lemon or orange peel into my coffee grounds with any success. Mouthfeel was big and chewy. It had a wonderful chocolate taste, like a fresh oven-baked brownie.

Speaking of which, was anybody else diggin' the eastern-European chick on FX's Fully Baked commercials? I'd eat her brownie. Hers might be a blondie. Either way ... Damn, where is my Russian mail-order bride? She shoulda been here by now. That whole thing with Kvass has skewed my worldview. I was inculcated from Boot Camp to hate the pinko Russkies and now I can't get enough of them or their language.

Back to the beer. Finish had a definite chocolatiness to it that made me think that this would be an excellent dessert beer. I would not need a whole bunch of it on its own, however.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.82/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage (not noted but I knew when I bought it and it was fresh at that time). Poured from a corked and caged 750ml bottle into a Darkness snifter.

A: Standard pour yields a .5 finger fine light mocha head with good retention. Beer is an opaque black. Lacing is stringy and sparse with little cling, small legs too. The nice head and lack of lacing cancel each other out in scoring. Average.

S: Nose is moderately aromatic. Raisins, roasted malt, rich molasses, brown sugar, chocolate, liquorice, and prunes. Solid, but nothing really sets this apart.

T: Opens with some boozy spiciness. Notes of raisin, chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, and brownie along with a subtle hop bitterness that fades quickly. Sweet and robust. Middle is more liquified dark fruit and milk chocoalte. Finish is molasses sweetness with some coffee in the back. Aftertaste is molasses and liquorice. Complex and very balanced. Nice.

M: Medium bodied with low to moderate carbonation. Oily and slick in the mouth. Warm and silky going down with the slightest bit of heat at the end. Finish is messy with an aftertaste that lingers. Pretty standard but the way the alcohol is hidden is nice.

O: This is solidly in the upper tier of Russian Imperial Stouts that I've tried. No overwhelming flavors are present. Instead, there's a real nice balance of dark fruit, hop bitterness, and Imperial Stout characteristics. Those GABF medals were well deserved.

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Russian Imperial Stout from Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
4.17 out of 5 based on 262 ratings.
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