Imperial Russian Stout | Wellington County Brewery

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Imperial Russian StoutImperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Wellington County Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Imperial Stout is patterned after the highly fortified Russian Stouts that were exported from the U.K. to Russia in the 1800s.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-28-2001

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Reviews: 109 | Ratings: 191
Photo of pootz
4.75/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow!...wadda beer!!! What can I say...I lost my beloved Okocim porter but I found a new master...the Iron Duke! This beer was named after the right guy...anyone who can kick Napoleon's ass, invent the gum boot and set a brewing standard for British brewers that exists to this day has GOT to have a beer named after him.

Comes on a distinctive crown topped old style brown liter bottle with a trick looking label with a picture of the iron duke in full dress battle regalia circa 1815. Best before code on label dated from 6 months from production.

Pours a dark coffee color that won't let light through a porter glass.
(I poured an ounce into a brandy snifter and held it to bright light and this brew is crystal clear dark mahogany but in volume it's roasted richness makes it appear black)
The pour leaves a creamy mocha cap that stacks out of the glass then this reduces halfway through the drink to a delicate tan lace.

The brew gives definitive odors of coffee, spice, cocoa and sweet roasted maltyness, licorice and molasses to the nose (this is almost a perfect replication of the Okocim Baltic porter aroma....I'm twitching with anticipation at this point for the first quaff!

Starts big and rich with an oily-cream mouthfeel up front...melts into a delicious complex mix of toasted malt sweetness balanced with just the right stout-hop astringency and some complex mocha-spice tastes...then the finish is medium dry...just perfect (I personally dislike overly dry stouts)

This is MY beer!! I think I found something that is a rough equivalent to the world's best Baltic porters (which I love).

I don't know what Wellington was thinking when they named this a has many of the characteristics of a Russian imperial porter...and that's fine with may also explain why many of the stout fanciers who try this brew (and are used to the dry Irish stout types) say it is too sweet. It may be.... by that frame of reference but I think it more aptly should be judged as a rich full strength Baltic porter. I love this thick rich heady brew call it imperial stout with a sweet twinge or a Canadian version of a good Baltic porter...I still love this beer!!

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Photo of funkengruven
4.58/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black as night, Roasted malt and toffee to the nose that is also presented in the flavor, which is just amazing. As it warms it gets smoother, more pronounced but not overpowering, Very easy going for a strong stout. If you haven't already tried this, try it, you won't be disappointed.

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Photo of the42ndtourist
4.55/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Quite the beer: pours out black and thick, with little to no head, then whacks you over the head with crazy coffee and chocolate malt flavours, before finishing up with some hoppiness and a good alcohol burn. I like it! And the bomber really hit me exceptionally hard. An exceptionally good brew. Cheers for Ontario, and here's hoping their strong ale is just as good!

edit: After trying it a second time, I'm just posting a few revisions: hops really aren't very noticeable; head is easily attained through a hard pour; I found it went down a lot more easily second time around; I will ratify the strength though - seems almost too tasty not to knock it back.

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Photo of tatterdash
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an ominous black with a dark brown head, very thick and syrupy looking. Aroma of dark chocolate and some coffee. Taste was a lovely roasted flavour, dark chocolate, burnt toast, black coffee, amazingly good roasted finish. Creamy mouthfeel, very syrupy as is warmed. This is one of my all time favourite beers, and definitely my favourite stout. I enjoy this as a nightcap and as this winter looks like it is going to be very cold, I think I should keep this on supply. I could drink this all day, all week, forever and ever. Amen.

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Photo of 3Vandoo
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A thick black stout, with a nice brownish head that stays it course with the beer. Smell of roasted malt, caramel and chocolate with a tiny touch of coffe. Taste is well balanced, you dont feel that beer is 8%abv actually, some roasted malt aromas, some chocolate finish and a tiny touch of coffee comes tickles your palate. A very well balanced imperial stout.

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Photo of Cwrw
4.37/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appreciation to 42ndtourist for sending me a bottle of this from Ontario. Classic looking label with the "Iron Duke" portrait on the cap as well. This is definitely one of the most revered beers in Ontario, so my anticipation was high. Poppping the cap gives that lovely malty-milky aroma. This poured impenetrably black, with a soft brown/dark beige head. The head churned very slowly, leaving some very sticky lacing that was lighter in colour. The beer's thickness is clearly evident when held closely to a light--this is extremely hard to see through: only hints of dark mollasses brown near the edges. The head went down to a thinnish layer, with almost red-tinges to the outer bubbles appearing. The carbonation and the foam gets better after a few gentle swirls, and it increased the head's retention; and the lacing then became big sheets screening the glass. Rich, meaty looking stout. The aroma is immediate seasoning salt maltiness, very meat-like, some wood, lactic creaminess, black licorice and mollasses. All in all it is expectedly malty-sweet, but with definining hopiness as well. Nostril-filling smells of pepper, brown sugar, fresh brown bread, root beer, tar, raisins and burt toast, dark bitter chocolate, a jot of charcoal, sweet maple syrup, and a nice lack of any strong alcohol notes. Delectable and appetising. The first characteristic I noticed when I sipped was a little less body than I expected. The taste is all licorice and spicy, leathery malt up front. Wonderful meat and toasted bread in the middle, and the substantial dryness from the hops leaves a definite bittering effect on the palate. There is a little milkiness in the taste, and the phenols can definitely be tasted in the middle of the tongue, albeit not as strongly as some Imperial Stouts. There is much salinity in the taste, especially at the back of the tongue, adding a very strong double-salted licorice flavour. Great sugar-and-butter toast aftertaste. Syrupy carbonation, very slick and oily. The mouthfeel is definitely full, but perhaps not as thick as some Imperials. The ease with which this goes down, with no biting alcohol and no overpowering qualities, renders it extremely drinkable. I paired this with three cheeses: Danish Havarti cheese was somewhat overpowered by the beer; French brie added a touch of metallic sourness; but 3-year Canadian aged cheddar could hold its own, and complemented the sweet maltiness with its sharp pungency. A perfect brew for this cold night, and I wish I had many more for the frost-bitten nights to come. This is one beer from Ontario I wish we could buy here in Alberta. This is a well-balanced Imperial Russian Stout--everything it should be. All the elements mix to create a beautiful alchemical concoction.

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Photo of crwills
4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I've had a lot of these, but this is my last bottle of my current batch. Hope I can find some more, because it's great, and I'm so glad it's local!

Pours pitch black with a big chocolate milk head.

Aroma is chocolate, cappuccino, brown sugar, chocolate covered cherries, and some mild alcohol.

Flavour is excellent, if simple -- dry, bitter chocolate or cocoa, and some bitter hops that balance out the maltiness well.

Super-thick mouthfeel, ear-warming alcohol in there, making the aftertaste somewhat sweet (but mostly pleasant).

My only complaint about this beer is that, for the style, it's not as complex and out there as some of the big name ones from the US. That being said, it's easy to get, and I'll always keep some in stock. Definitely up there with my favourite beers!

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Photo of TheHammer
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got six cans of this stuff from my buddy Ludachris. Looking forward to it, as Wellington seldom disappoints.

Appearance: A body as black has night with a finger and a half of dark brown head that retains and laces decently. There is a potential for more lacing and retention but all in all solid.

Smell: A good dose of heavily roasted malts, rich coffee and a hint of tobacco smokiness can be detected. Took a little bit of warming to come out and could be a bit stronger but pretty much everything I'd expect from an RIS.

Taste: Oh wow, just rich enough to make me love it. Starts with a strong well roasted malt presence that turns beautifully into a dark berry and plum fruitiness with subtle coffee and ending with a smooth coffee/chocolate bitterness. A little bit more fruitiness and it would be a 5 in my book.

Mouthfeel: Well, my only real complaint is that once the head disappears, it seems to take on a bit more of a watery texture. The carbonation needs a bit of work in that regard but apart from that, exceptional aftertaste that echos the entire beer and sticks around for just the right amount of time.

Drinkability: This is not a sipping stout that is for sure. I had no problems getting this down as the smoothness of the whole experience and somewhat refreshing aspects of the beer really add to it. Only qualm is that it seems to have given me a little bit of gas.

Final Thoughts: If I didn't know this stuff was 8% I would be on my ass so fast with this stuff it's not even funny. I did not detect even a hint of alcohol. I can see why many feel this is Wellington's strongest brew and I would tend to agree. I'm not a huge stout drinker, but this stuff might change that as I'm glad to still have another five. If you are in Guelph, pick yourself up a six pack at the very least.

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Photo of Crosling
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I usually write and discuss what I think about the appearence and aroma before I even taste the beer, but this just looked so lovely and smelled so nice that I had to sneak a taste. Damn, this straight up rocks. Black with an overflowing, bubbly and rocky head of light tan foam. Liquid smores aromatics with hints of graham crackers, coffee, chocolate and roast along with a suggestion of soy sauce and blackberries. Very rich malts in the flavor with notes of coffee, chocolate, black licorice and dark fruits. Very rich and very flavorful and there are not any rough hops to ruin the lovely malt presence.

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Photo of Popsinc
4.23/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black pour with an enormous tan head. Looks the part of a great stout.

Smell: Roasted malts, black licorice, only a hint of unsweetened chocolate and light coffee notes.

Taste: Roasted malts right off the top accompanied with some smokiness. Hop bitterness down the middle followed by the black licorice and coffee notes towards the finish. Chalky, dry finish...and yet that possible? highlighted by bitter coffee bean.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and medium bodied. Creamy texture, quite pleasant.

Drinkability: A top of the line Stout. Not overpowering or having an over the top flavour profile, instead having great balance and adequate smell & taste. Not the best batch i've tried but still a great beer. Wellington's best.

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Photo of ecoboy
4.23/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Exemplary, and very welcome.

Chocolate, coffee, sour and oiliness. Complex. Big. Do I really need to say more? Really?

Tar black with an off-white to toasty head. Mouthfeel of liquid and oil, with a chewy big malty middle. Almost meaty. Coats the tongue. Dark molasses sweet aroma to offset the tangy hops.

Wellington should be very proud. I'll say it again, an exemplary sample of a difficult style.

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Photo of MMansfield
4.23/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a 341mL from Pootz, thanks.

Appearance: Pours very thick and opaque. Colour of cola, with a small brown head dissolving to a lace ring.

Aroma: Big roasted malt smells. Also, notes of chocolate, molasses & bread.

Taste: Superb! Heavy burnt malt taste with hints of unsweetened chocolate and wood. Very little hop presence, but tastes fantastic with its strong malt backbone.

Mouthfeel: Higher level of carbonation reminds me of a porter, and not as creamy as I expected, but this was my first russian imperial stout.

Final Statement: This was wonderful! I haven't seen a russian imperial stout in Nova Scotia, but I am now about to look for one. I enjoy the style, and I loved this one by Wellington. I have another in a cellar to age.

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Photo of al_al1357
4.21/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Out of a can, this beer serves an opaque black with a lit a ring of carbonation throughout. Rich and complex on the nose with a prune and date-like sweetness - chocolate and coffee notes are also present. Loads of flavor in this beer. Taste is influenced by the smell - dark/dried fruits, chocolate, caramel, vanilla and molasses. The taste of alcohol is also present but not overwhelmingly so. Overall, a well-balanced beer with a robust body.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

473ml can with paper label.

Pours into my glass a deep, dark opaque black with a solid inch of creamy tan foam. Gotta love a good stout from a can for sure! Aromas of big dark roasted malt upfront along with a subtle creaminess. Coffee, molasses and dark fruity accents abound with a touch of cocoa.

First sip brings rich, creamy dark roasted malts upfront with a bold mix of molasses, coffee and dark fruits. A touch of cocoa as it flows down along with a mellow bitterness. Hops are mellow but balance out the sweetness well.

Mouthfeel is creamy and medium bodied with good mellow carbonation. Good viscosity without being overly heavy. A solid imperial stout that I'm happy to have been able to try. Nice to drink one of these that isn't an overly amped up crazy American version :-) Thanks Dave!

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draught at the Grad House at UW. A rare find on tap!

A - Near black, with a touch of chestnut. Leaves a light brown head that lingers about halfway through the pint.

S - Nutty, chocolate and espresso. You get a little bit of the alcohol, but not much.

T - One of the best Ontario stouts (shame there aren't more examples of the Russian style out here!) A sumptuous blend of coffee, chocolate, nuts and raisins. Highly quaffable.

M - Fairly thin for a stout, average carbonation. Very smooth.

D - At 8%, it's easy to let this one get ahead of you. But for a sipper, this one is tough to beat. A great effort from Wellington - glad to see it in can form as well!

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Photo of
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Very dark black with a large tan head that dissipates fairly quickly to a lingering ring.

Smell - lots of chocolate and coffee roasted malt flavours with some toffee, dried fruit, sweet tobacco, and earthy hops.

Mouthfeel - medium bodies, smooth and creamy texture, with moderate carbonation.

Taste - Echo of the chocolate and coffee, dark bread, nice strong bitterness, and a dry bitter finish.

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Photo of headlessparrot
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was so taken with Wellington RIS that last time I reviewed this beer, I set one aside, to be aged (for as long as I could resist the temptation). The result is this particular sample, aged in the crisper of my family's basement fridge for approximately one year and three months. Do note that whatever my impressions are, they are likely not what you'll find with a brand-new bottling (which, there's no need to re-iterate, is delicious).

The pour from this beauty is quite muted. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought that the seal was broken - almost pure coffee black, with little-to-no-head. Perhaps one finger, dissipating before I was even able to measure it. It does leave a bit of lacing. Not too dissimilar from the brand-new bottle. Looks delicious in spite of the lacklustre look, but perhaps only because I love this beer so.

Smell has strengthened a bit, but not really enough to make that extra year worth it. The licorice comes out a bit more, but it's still mostly roasted malt - heavy on the chocolate (equal parts milk and bitter). Cappuccino, coffee, molasses. Stronger hints of alcohol than the new bottle. Brown sugar. Maybe a bit vinegar-y/vinous. Quite interesting. Still utterly delicious, but again, I don't think this guy has benefited too much from that year in the cellar.

Taste, like with a new bottle, is just a little disappointing after how heavenly the smell is. Yet it's still quite good. Roasted malt, obviously. Mild but noticeable hopping, this one sells itself on the chocolate, molasses, and brown sugar. The woodiness that I once detected in the new bottling is gone, replaced by a bit more of a vinous twang. Coffee, cappucino - more of the nose, in other words. A bit more alcohol kick than the new bottling. None of the 'graininess' that I noticed, either. A bit sweet initially, but generally quite dry and bitter. This beer is still quite spectacular, though a year doesn't add anything special. I do wish more of the chocolate came through, but beggars can't be choosers.

Mouthfeel remains quite good. Smooth, and the year in the bottle has tamed some of the carbonation (maybe?). Substantial but not thick body. Drinkability has deteriorated as the alcohol kick has increased, but not by much. This one is still a treat that I'd sell my left arm for.

Still not the best stout I've had, and a year doesn't do too much to help it, but Wellington Russian Imperial Stout is a simply remarkable, delicious beer. I would kill to find this stuff on tap somewhere, and I'd pay an arm and a leg for the privilege of a few pints.

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Photo of Max8787
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Favorite Ontarian stout. Well balanced, couldn't be darker, strong chocolate aroma. Great for strong beer fan, maybe not the best pick if you start to drink stout.

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Photo of Gusler
4.16/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The quintessential stout color “Ebony”, the head massive, frothy in texture, chocolate brown in color, and the remaining lace a creamy thin sheet to smother the glass, actually a Chimay Chalice as I like my stouts in a big mouth glass, to get the maximum exposure to its treasures. Aroma of dark roasted coffee, bitter-sweet chocolate, malt and a real treat for the senses, sweet milk chocolate sweet at the start, the top chewy and creamy rich. Finish is pleasantly carbonated, masterfully hopped and the aftertaste lightly alcohol bitter, and quite dry, and one fine Imperial Stout.

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Photo of baiser
4.16/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a wonderfully rich, dark, black colour with an extremely creamy (for a bottle) head with tonnes of lacing. Looked like the froth over a finely brewed cup of coffee.

Smelled of coffee, caramel, a little alcohol. Pretty subdued.

This is a very good tasting stout. Tonnes of burnt coffee, toast, and a little plum at the end. Gets quite bitter as you drink it, but during each sip, there is a kind of sweetness from the roasted malts. Very well crafted. Balanced and very drinkable. Don't notice the 8% at all.

Very smooth and creamy stout.

Glad I bought quite a few of these fresh from the brewery in Guelph.

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Photo of mulder1010
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

473 ML poured into a tulip
Thanks to Dgilks for the can? Yes, a can.

A-- Poured a dark cola color and settled jet black. No light penetrating this at all. One finger dark brown leather head that slowly faded to a nice, thick collar and a thin layer of film. Some large bubbles here and there. Nice head retention on swirling. Half finger of head. Spotty lacing.

S-- Roast and quite earthy. Dark chocolate, dark roast, some coffee and a bit of tobacco. Quite nice.

T-- Smooth, quite smooth. Chocolate, coffee, tobacco, roast, and a bit of earthy hop bite. I like.

M-- Smooth body. Bits of coffee bite here and there. Roast and chocolate dominate the body with bits of prickly carbonation. Otherwise medium body and lighter medium feel. Dry chocolate, coffee, and bitter finish. Bitterness picks up a lot once warm.

O-- Nothing crazy about this. Very simple and straightforward but done very well. Roast carries the beer very well and the ABV is well hidden. Feels and tastes like 6%, not 8%. Very old school RIS but that is a very good thing when done this well.

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Photo of allergictomacros
4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark/Opaque with a dark creamy head. Not very tall, but certainly thick.

S - Fruity with notes of coffee.

T - Again some coffee, dark roasted malt and a hint of tartness up front. Finish is a solid roasted bitterness with a mild hop.

M - Very low carbonation level, with a thick, rich mouthfeel. Quite dry as well.

D - Very nice, rich beverage. A one-or-two a night beer for me - something to relax with.

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Photo of Absumaster
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours a pitch black color with a very thin head than disappears after a couple of minutes, leaving a black, thick liquid.

Smell is awesome, dark chocolate, molasses, burned notes and something what I would call stock, the stuff you make soup with you know? Also a good malty backbone to support all these heavy smells.This is all very mild and seems to be very balanced.

Taste is hopbitter and malt bitter, all of these "dark" taste like molasses, dark chocolate, burned malts. The tastes leans very heavy on the black/roasted part, and is supported by the malt. None of this comes across as sharp, it is rather mild and very drinkable. Body is pretty thick, but this goes very well with the style.

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Photo of Kremlock
4.11/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Deep dark black colour with hues of dark ruby red in the bottom of the glass. Brownish head that pours 1 inch thick then falls to about 1/16 inch. Lacing is medium.

S: Coffee and chocolate dominate the aroma. Plum in the background with some noticeable sweetness. Hop aroma is med-low.

T: Raisins and plum come threw right at the beginning. Roastiness is well balanced with some fruity esters present. A nice dark coffee flavour comes threw. Alcohol is present but is not harsh or distracting.

M: Carbonation is low-medium. Full body and smooth.

O: A very good RIS. IMO I would enjoy a bit more hop bitterness but overall this is a great bee.

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Photo of irishkyle21
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice to see this one making it's way up north. Looks like a RIS should dark almost black. Tanned head leaves some good lacing as it drop.

Smells of sweet licorice, chocolate, molases and some roastiness. Hops are hard to notice.

Tastes of roasted malts, sweetness and some hop bitterness. Very drinkable brew. I could easily forget aboutthe abv and have my fair share of these.

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Imperial Russian Stout from Wellington County Brewery
3.89 out of 5 based on 191 ratings.
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