Siracusa Nera
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Siracusa NeraSiracusa Nera
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Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States
Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #412
Ranked #10,059
4.02 | pDev: 9.2%
Oct 19, 2022
Aug 04, 2016
Siracusa NeraSiracusa Nera
Notes: Combining a roasty Imperial Stout with a jammy Syrah wine, this beer is bold and complex. Notes of coffee, dark chocolate and anise from a blend of roasted malts meld with flavors of plums, cherries and stewed fruits from Syrah grape must in this jet black stout. Aged on American oak to add some light toasty vanilla to the mix.
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Photo of GreesyFizeek
Reviewed by GreesyFizeek from New York

3.25/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3
On tap at Dogfish Head Taproom and Kitchen in Milton, DE.

This one pours a very dark black color, with a small head, and not much lacing.

This smells like heavy duty roast, tobacco, smoke, leather, tannic wine, and oak.

This sounded pretty interesting, but it ultimately did not work for me. The wine additions didn’t add a ton of sweetness, which kind of seemed needed, as the base stout is super roasty and smoky. I think the wine added some leathery, bitter, and tobacco-like notes, with very little fruit characteristics. The oak aging only served to add more bitterness.

I also think the thinner body didn’t help with the more intense bitter characteristics of this – they might have been able to get away with these flavors if the body was creamier and thicker, a la Founders Imperial Stout, or something like that.

I like the idea behind this, and I like a lot of Dogfish Head beer still, but this one didn’t quite work for me.
Oct 19, 2022
Rated: 3.98 by QuentinDishaw from Massachusetts

Jun 06, 2022
Rated: 4.31 by Bogdawg from Massachusetts

Apr 10, 2022
Rated: 3.75 by TMoney2591 from Illinois

Feb 15, 2022
Photo of KT3418
Reviewed by KT3418 from Colorado

4.75/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
Total Beverage has some of these and the bottle date is from 2018 lol. I really enjoyed this, the base stout is very solid to me on its own and then it's like this boozy soaked chocolate raisin.
Jan 16, 2022
Rated: 4 by bigred89 from Maryland

Oct 31, 2021
Photo of quinticsquash
Reviewed by quinticsquash from Maryland

3.22/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25
very dark thin foam, very dark and almost black

fruity and boozy. slight oak, coffee and winey notes.

taste: coffee comes out through very much. subdues a lot of the more complex, tart notes.

mouthfeel: quite fizzy, heavy, and boozy.

overall: fine for a stout, i like the fruitiness but it gets overpowered very easily and the overall flavor is a few too many clashing flavors.
Jul 03, 2021
Rated: 4.1 by Satsuma from Florida

Mar 21, 2021
Photo of trevormajor
Reviewed by trevormajor from Ohio

2.05/5  rDev -49%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2
12 oz bottle, vintage 2017, poured into a snifter at 47 degrees F:
L - dark with a hazelnut head that lingered
S - raisins, grape must?
T - strange taste, a bit bitter, like tart molasses
F - medium mouthfeel with medium carbonation
O - This one may have aged a bit too long
Jan 04, 2021
Photo of mvanaskie13
Reviewed by mvanaskie13 from Pennsylvania

4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Poured into a small chalice: color is solid black, head is light tan and presents 1/4 inch thick and dissipates quickly to a frothy top with lacing cling on the sides.

Smell is slight roasted malt blended with grape/cherry notes from the syrah must, not overly sweet aroma, hints of chocolate, unique blend of dryer/bitter RIS base with slight sweetness from syrah must.

Taste is similar with RIS and roasted malt upfront with slight chocolate and grape/cherry/raisin/berry mix flavors from the must; plums and chocolate covered cherry flavors seem to emerge with warmth, light, limited oaky vanilla notes.

Mouthfeel is low carbonation, moderate sweetness, light drying bitterness and alcohol.

Overall an excellent RIS variant - really like the vinous but light sweetness provided by the syrah must - seems to soften the potential booziness of an RIS while providing depth; oaky notes are limited but noticeable.
Dec 18, 2020
Photo of feloniousmonk
Reviewed by feloniousmonk from Minnesota

4.09/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
Solid Blackness, rich brown head, gets slimmer as we go.

In the nose: char, bourbon barrels, anise, molasses, deep dark chocolate.

In the mouth: Big sweetness, well tempered. So smooth, yet robust, big-boned, boisterous and bodacious. What's in this? "A Russian Imperial Stout with Syrah grape must added and aged in oak."
Well, there you go. Some vanilla, toast, coconut, and then the wine comes through. Mmmm, yes.
Full bodied, full flavored. I like it. It is good.
Oct 17, 2020
Rated: 4.23 by aszatk01 from Pennsylvania

Oct 01, 2020
Rated: 3.93 by CisPiece88 from Nebraska

Aug 19, 2020
Rated: 3.73 by Unclevince from West Virginia

Jun 19, 2020
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Reviewed by Rug from Massachusetts

4.52/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Bottled 9/27/18

So I’ve only had one beer in this vein before, Night Shift’s stout with pinot noir grapes, and the grape just didn’t shine through all that much. Hopefully that changes with this one given thier reputation for strange beers

Pours a very dark brown with just a ring of light brown bubbles and leaves no lacing

It’s funny, this smells like your run of the mill stout, roasty and malty with some smoked notes, and the grape is just a background note. Even more subtle suggestions of vanilla and oak

Wow, the grape comes in right away in the taste, almost giving this a tartness, very jammy and intense, but not overbearing if that makes any sense. After the initial fruitiness (and slight barrel character) subsides, there is an intense creamy roast, with notes of black coffee and caramel that lasts long into the finish, but still with some dark fruit notes and a touch of nuttiness. Complex as all hell, some solid oak radiating throughout the sip

Obviously full bodied, this has light tingly carbonation and doesn’t finish too heavy. Not overly sweet in finish, just a bit chalky if anything

God damn, this might be one of my favorite stouts ever. Admittedly, I’m a DFH super fan, but I can put all bias aside and proudly say this is an incredible beer, and for only $4 a bottle. Unquestionably picking up more

EDIT 9/27/21 - 3 years after bottling

I decided to set some of this aside to have it at 3 and 5 years. It hasn’t changed a whole lot, but the light grape in the aroma has matured into chewy raisin. It tends to be a bit more roast forward in taste now, mostly on the swallow. On the other hand, it’s a bit more creamy as well. It’s lost a bit of balance but nothing that affects the score
Jun 02, 2020
Photo of Ozzylizard
Reviewed by Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4
$ 13.00 (Including tax)/4-pack of 12 oz bottles ($ 0.271/oz). Purchased 5/4/20 at Franklin Beer, Franklin, PA. Reviewed 5/12/20.
“BOTTLED ON 09/27/18 0855” stamped on neck in yellow. On shelf at store. Stored at home at 42 degrees and served at 60 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter.
Appearance – 3.5.
First pour – Brown (SRM 20), clear.
Body – Black (SRM 40), opaque. When held to direct light, same.
Head – Average (Maximum 3.5 cm, aggressive center pour), burlywood, high density, average retention, diminishing to a three mm crown and thin partial cap.
Lacing – None.
Aroma – 3.75 – Thick roasted malt mixed with a weak vinous overtone, no hops, no yeastiness.
Flavor – 4 – Begins moderately bitter with roasted malt, no hops, no yeastiness. A slightly sweet vinous flavor follows. No alcohol (10 % ABV as marked on the label) taste or aroma but a moderate gastric warming occurs. No tannin or vanillin from the oak are detected. No diacetyl, no dimethylsulfide.
Palate – 3 – Medium, watery, soft carbonation.
Final impression and summation: 4. Other than the slight vinous aroma and taste, this is indistinguishable for any run-of-the-mill RIS. Well, other than the price point which is lower than most IPAs. In fact, it is a bargain. Label is simple and contains little information.
May 12, 2020
Photo of DonBowman
Reviewed by DonBowman from Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Almost black out of the bottle with tannish head and lace. A fairly thick chocolate with a syrah grape finish. 10% alcohol that sneaks up on you quickly. This is a unique, hgh quality imperial stout.
Apr 19, 2020
Rated: 4.5 by MonkeyPilates from Minnesota

Mar 12, 2020
Photo of MoMaMe
Reviewed by MoMaMe from Maryland

4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
A good stout, with a slightly different twist.

Drank straight from the bottle so I can't comment on looks.

Smell is chocolate, dried tart cherries, and raisins and a slight hint of oak.
Taste is a rich stout with notes of dried fruit. Full bodied. Although the alcohol is heavy at 10%, it is not noticeable in the taste. Finish is nice with a long lingering, pleasant aftertaste.

Overall, this is a good stout, but not one I would by again based on price ($6 for a single bottle)
Feb 23, 2020
Rated: 4.06 by fehrminator from North Carolina

Feb 22, 2020
Rated: 4.08 by Boone757 from Virginia

Jan 05, 2020
Rated: 3.96 by MykeJ from Minnesota

Dec 24, 2019
Rated: 3.83 by Jjmj51 from Rhode Island

Nov 28, 2019
Photo of Strix
Reviewed by Strix from Wisconsin

3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5
Murky opaque near black

Some malt with red wine note, hint of chocolate

Honestly this is like somebody poured some red wine into some Guiness. Super dry, some roasted stout notes and dark fruit notes but it's all in a muddled fog.

Kind of a nice smooth mouthfeel.

I can see how some might enjoy this but for me it was a hybrid with little redeeming qualities. Points for being experimental, but no points for flavor, IMO.
Nov 16, 2019
Photo of EnderFett11
Reviewed by EnderFett11 from Virginia

4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Poured from a bottle into a snifter glass. Dark brown, almost black, color. Not much head production while pouring heartily, but eventually around a finger of tan head appeared before fading not long after. Fairly intense wine smell, combined with something like roasted barley, different but not unpleasant. Tastes similar, with the wine grapes coming through and lingering after swallowing. Taste took some getting used to but it grew on me. Not a strong alcohol flavor at all, especially given the 10% ABV. Medium bodied at most with only a bit of carbonation. Not bad on its own, I might get more again if I'm in the mood. Might be even better with the right pairing, maybe cheese.
Oct 31, 2019
Photo of 88blkiroc
Rated by 88blkiroc from Illinois

2.73/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5
I'm normally a big fan of anything Dogfish Head but this one tastes like soy sauce blended with green olives and a splash of red wine. Not a fan.
Oct 28, 2019
Rated: 4.15 by williahd from Maine

Oct 27, 2019
Photo of Jugs_McGhee
Reviewed by Jugs_McGhee from Louisiana

3.61/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
BOTTLE: 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with a logo-bearing red pry-off crown cap and a purple label. Ran me $4.19 USD plus tax for the single bottle at Freret Beer Annex in New Orleans, LA.

10% ABV. "Russian Imperial Stout with syrah grape must added & aged in oak."

Served cold into a stemless wine glass.

HEAD: Barely a half centimetre in height, if that. Dies within 20 seconds. Khaki-tan while little it lasts, but thin and weak. Not the robust gilded tan head with rich creaminess and soft froth you want in a great Russian imperial stout. Leaves no lacing/legs.

BODY: Predictably, it's an opaque black. No yeast/lees are visible within but it's opaque. Still, I figure it's filtered.

Appears true to style, if a bit disappointing particularly in terms of the head. Seems aptly carbonated. Doesn't stand out compared to other Russian Imperial Stouts.

AROMA: I do find the red wine grape must, and I'd find it in a blind tasting as well. Would I recognize it as Syrah? No. Don't know that I'd peg it as "jammy" either (a characteristic I'd associate with Cabernet Sauvignon, not Syrah, anyway). Faint plum and date. Dark malt sweetness. A scintilla of chocolate malt.

No coffee. No overt roasted barley. No anise, no oak, no vanilla/vanillin.

Chocolate covered cherry emerges as it comes to temperature. The red wine aromatic is actually the dominant note here, which works for it - but I did expect a more complex beer based on the premise...and I definitely expected more (i.e. some) oak barrel notes.

Enticing, but it suggests a beer that doesn't deliver on the strengths of its premise. Aromatic intensity is average.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Lighter bodied and smoother than I expected given its style. Bends more acidic from the obvious/dominant red wine flavour, which helps accentuate the wine must flavour. Neither overtly jammy nor recognizably Syrah, but definitely recognizably red wine and I'd definitely figure it for an assertive red wine if I tried it blind (I'd probably guess Pinot Noir but I don't pretend to know much about wine).

Malt backbone isn't as roasty or as chocolatey as I expected, which simplifies it. Dark malt/schwarz malt sweetness takes a backseat to the wine (as does everything)...this is definitely a beer for the wine drinker, and that's actually a compliment.

Lacks an overt or rich oak presence. No vanilla/vanillin, toasted white oak, etc is present.

I don't taste any coffee or anise.

Cherry does surface, and I guess a scintilla of chocolate malt emerges as it warms, but it doesn't evoke actual chocolate (e.g. brewers chocolate) but luckily it doesn't have any ruinous Hershey's syrup notes as a result.

Perfectly carbonated (which is to say it's low in carbonation) which helps evoke that wine vibe. I'm really digging the incorporation of the Syrah must, which feels strangely natural and seamless and helps set this apart from the many Russian imperial stouts out there. Admittedly, I expected the wine incorporation to be a gimmick, but to Dogfish Head's credit, it works.

Balanced and gestalt in build. Complexity is adequate, but it certainly isn't on par with the best beers in the style (or even, probably, Old Rasputin, which to me at $8-$10 a 4-pack is the silver standard).

OVERALL: A wickedly successful marriage of wine and beer, to my admitted surprise. I usually find myself disappointed with Dogfish Head's beers (which tend to skew overpriced and white hipster-oriented in their loud marketing), but this is one of their best efforts by my estimation. I can't say I'd pay $16+ for a 4 pack of this over the $7.99 4 packs of Old Rasputin available here in New Orleans regularly, but I do think it earns its high price of $5 all in per bottle and the marriage of wine and beer flavours at work in this is really remarkable.

I'd be curious to see them do this with Cabernet Sauvignon grape must, Pinot Noir, or Malbec. If they made a whole series out of it, I'd bite on each variant. Still, the absence of oak barrel notes does it a disservice (and one can't help but note there's no age statement with respect to its time in barrels) and the roasted barley and anise they seem to want this to evoke are conspicuously absent.

B (3.61) / GOOD
Oct 13, 2019
Rated: 3.2 by mmmbeer89 from New Mexico

Oct 08, 2019
Rated: 4.1 by robebo44 from Virginia

Oct 06, 2019
Photo of SierraNevallagash
Reviewed by SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.49/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75
12oz bottle - dated 09/27/18 - poured into a snifter at 58F.

Pours a deep mahogany brown, sitting absolutely jet black in the glass, topped with a finger of dark brown head that actually sticks around for a little while, and leaves a bit of lacing as it recedes to a thin island of foam surrounded by a thick brown collar.

Nose: A stunningly unique aroma. I was thinking the Syrah must woukd get lost in the heavy roast, but that is definitely not the case. There is definitely some rich, charry roasted malt, but there's also an olfactory explosion of jammy Syrah grape. Strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry jam, with vanilla bean ice cream. It has that very identifiable jammy blueberries and cream note you find in a good Syrah. The roasted malts evoke some chocolate notes which pair very nicely with the sweet, fruity wine notes, revealing a bit of cherry and pipe tobacco. If you really dig into it, you sort of bypass the grape must, and then the oak presence becomes very clear. Many of the aromas remind me of a beautifully mature sherried malt whisky. Just an absolutely, wonderfully unique and pleasant aroma.

Palate: This is a relatively rare example of a beer in which the complexity runs so deep, that it becomes challenging to pick apart the order in which the flavours unfurl. The wine notes actually take precedence at first, before the rich roasted malt takes over, and this pattern seems to repeat itself over and over, as both aspects of the beer slowly evolve. The roasted malts bring bakers cocoa, lightly toasted coffee bean, vanilla, molasses, walnut, and brown sugar, while the grape must contributes concord grape jam, raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry preserves, vanilla bean, fresh fig, plum, and boysenberry. There is some delicate oaky barrel spice that seems to bond both forces together. The finish is long and drawn out, but ultimately, the Syrah grape must wins - gently finishing with Concord grape, blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry preserves, ad well as just a spark of red wine tannin.

Mouthfeel/Body: With an ABV that's neither high nor low, the weight of the beer also falls somewhere in the middle. At 10%, it isn't thin or watery, and the amount of residual sugars wouldn't allow for that anyway. Howevever, for an imperial stout of this calibre, it seems to be severely lacking in body and weight. For the style, and all things considered, I would in fact go as far as saying that the beer drinks quite a bit on the thin side. A thicker, fuller, more rounded body would really elevate the entire experience, but the slightly watery delivery prevents it from really showing its full potential.

Overall: While the body of this beer is certainly lacking, it isn't enough of a flaw to prevent me from being completely and utterly impressed by this one. I've had a few stouts with wine treatment, and almost always, the wine components get completely lost in the mix, and are nearly invisible. Others come across tacky, artificial, and saccharine. Others are completely infected, sour disasters. This is in a league all its own. The balance of roast malt and grape is nearly perfect, and the complexity and nuance is something to marvel at. Certainly not an ale for everyone, but if you're hunting for complexity, nuance, innovation, or just something entirely different, this is an absolute must try, and in my personal opinion, a home run offering from Dogfish Head.
Oct 04, 2019
Rated: 4.28 by BeerDawgs from Georgia

Sep 28, 2019
Rated: 3.87 by Livyatan1996 from Missouri

Sep 12, 2019
Photo of MikeWard
Reviewed by MikeWard from Pennsylvania

4.01/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
12oz bottle into a tulip. Bottled 12/7/18, so closing in on 9 months old. My 50th beer from DFH.

Looks menacing in the glass. Pitch black body with an excellent coffee with a dash of cream head, leaving a layer of lacing

A little spicy and woody on the nose.

For a RIS, this is pretty smooth. The overall flavor is strong, but the abv isn't particularly noticeable. Not getting the oak or spice from the nose, molasses and grape are light. It's a touch metallic at times, but no soy sauce, so that's a win.

Mouth is a bit below medium, finish warm and a little winey.

Overall, if such a thing exists, this is an easy drinking RIS. At 10.0abv, a session of these is out of the question, but it does go down easy.
Aug 29, 2019
Photo of flagmantho
Reviewed by flagmantho from Washington

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Poured from 12oz bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: rich, black hue with a finger of frothy tan foam. It looks the part!

Smell: sharp with a bitter, astringent wood and cherry note atop a rich chocolatey goodness; there's toffee, dates and tobacco in there too. Perhaps a bit pointed, but good nonetheless.

Taste: sweet and malty, with a good roastiness and a nice red wine character. It is sweet with chocolate and toffee, like you'd expect from the style, but pairs a lovely red-wine astringency. I dig it.

Mouthfeel: rich body with a good texture and moderate creaminess. Altogether, it works out real well. I like it.

Overall: I mean, it's a good imperial stout that tastes like it has spent some quality time with a red wine barrel. Is it the most successful realization of this idea? Maybe not. But it's darn good.
Aug 27, 2019
Photo of CHickman
Reviewed by CHickman from New York

4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Bottled on 09/27/2018, this pours pitch black/very dark brown color with a 2 finger foamy tan head that was packed with bubbles of all sizes, dissipating very slowly, leaving minimal lacing. Perhaps almost a year in the bottle let this change so that the lacing didn't cling, but the aroma was really nice with cocoa, red wine, grape must, dark chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, faint molasses, raisins, cherries, dark fruit and earthy notes which seem like a combo of twigs and pumpernickel bread. Some coffee grinds, toasted grains and oaky aspects come through after it warms, adding complexities and balance as the fruity sweetness fights for attention with the chocolate and woody scents.

Flavor starts off like the nose but has more floral notes and peppery spices in the mix with more chocolate, roasted nuts, coffee, a dash of vanilla, smoky notes, pine hints, and more dark fruit. Has a taste of some tart berries or rotting grapes, even white wine, then burnt bread crust some licorice in the finish. The dark chocolate and grape flavors hide the ABV and add complexities like the nose that fight for attention.

Mouthfeel is bitter and on the thin side like most RIS's, with nice malty sweetness balanced by the oak, fruity notes and hops. Very smooth, this was much better than I expected. It's ready to drink now so crack yours open!
Aug 22, 2019
Rated: 4 by alexsergio from New York

Aug 11, 2019
Rated: 3.87 by Pens1967 from Louisiana

Aug 11, 2019
Rated: 3.9 by drunkenmess from Michigan

Jul 23, 2019
Photo of DeuilEtoiles
Reviewed by DeuilEtoiles from Pennsylvania

4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Not a few reviewers emphasize the malt, chocolate, coffee, etc smells. They are absolutely present. However the grape is very evident. More reminiscent of a Concord grape than Syrah.
And the grape is also readily available in the taste. I am catching the flavors from the oak along with malts, cocoa, some spice and, again, a sweeter grape than Syrah. It’s absolutely chewy on the tongue.
I could do without the hops that mar so many Russian Stouts. Incidentally, are any of them brewed in Russia? I lived in Europe for several years and never encountered a Russian flavor I enjoyed. Notes of frustration and bitterness.
I drink more wine than beer and the beers I enjoy are dark ales. Stouts and dark quads. This wine twist is quite pleasant.
Jul 21, 2019
Siracusa Nera from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 341 ratings