Big Swede | Valkyrie Brewing

Big SwedeBig Swede
113 Ratings
Big SwedeBig Swede

Brewed by:
Valkyrie Brewing
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 05-13-2002

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 113 |  Reviews: 89
Photo of happygnome
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: pours a very dark black color with about a quarter inch of head that dissapears fast leaving a little ring around the edge of the glass
s: coffee cocoa with hints of bananna very inviting, no hints of alcohol
t: roasted malts cocoa and coffee no hints of the bannana that there was the slight hint of in the aroma
m: medium to to full bodied beer with average carbonation

overall, i really enjoyed this, very good will deffinatly pick up more

 447 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle served at 50 degrees and poured into a pint glass

A - Poured a very nice and very thick dark chocolate brown, almost black, however there was just enough light getting through to give it a rich chocolate note. A rather large tan head about two inches high then rose up over this dark liquid and crowned the top of the glass for a good few minutes. Eventually it decided to settle down and left behind a nice pillow of brown foam, which stayed until the very end of the session. Very thick lace surrounded the glass throughout this entire time and really obscured the insides for a good long while. Really quite nice actually and a very good-looking stout.

S - The aroma was very pleasing and welcomed on this rainy night. Very nice blend of rich coffee and chocolate notes that were swirled around in a good amount of sugar. Lots of interesting notes in here as well. This was one of those that needed to sit down and warm up a while for the really interesting things to start happening. Some nice notes of a bourbon like alcohol and perhaps a hint of some vanilla starting to come out now. Still real strong with the chocolate notes and nice sweetness, perhaps a touch of oak or maybe it is just a deep roasted earthy malt, but either way very nice and definitely was smelling the part so to speak.

T - The flavor followed suit almost perfectly with the rest of the presentation. The first notes to come across to me were a deep roasted coffee taste, not the kind as if you normally find in a coffee stout, but rather, more of a hint of it, laced within an imbedded biter dark chocolate flavor. Lots of earthy tastes in here too, vanilla, caramel sugar, all playing a role. Some dark and fruit, perhaps even a raisin was cloying around trying to break through. The finish definitely had a bit of a hoppy note as well, really coming through the longer you let it linger. Some nice fresh grass flavors mixed in with the sweetness really giving it some nice depth in the profile. Overall, it was defiantly very full flavored and the evolution over the course of the session was not only nice, but also very well balanced.

M - Not as full bodied as I would have liked, it came off as a very full porter, or a lighter stout, whichever you prefer, but in these days of the Imperial Stout, this did not really come through in that class. There was however still very nice qualities to this one that cannot be ignored. Rich smooth and creamy it was very full on the tongue and the carbonation was definitely not a letdown here as you could tell it was still alive all the way until the end. Nice and strong all the way through the finishes, this was definitely a very nice beer.

D - Outstanding for something called an Imperial Stout. I am not really sure what the alcohol content on this one was, but I really could not pick up any of it throughout the session. It really had a very shippable, but as the same time sessionable quality to it. Being very sweet and not soo much as filling as others, it was definitely a winner. I would have loved to have had some more of this one any day.

Overall I did not know what to expect when I was getting myself into a Swedish Imperial Stout, but I was more then pleasantly surprised to say the least. The flavors were extraordinary and the rich creamy feel was just what I needed at the time. I of course have has much bigger in the way of stouts, but this was still excellent and a real treat. I would be glad to try this one again anytime.

 3,494 characters

Photo of Lordsloth
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle with foil wrapping.

I served it a bit cold for a SIS(Swedish Imperial Stout as they called it), and there was practically no head at all- just a thin, tan, bubbly layer on top. A nice dark brown/black beer.

Smells good- a choclatey/coffee flavor floats up from the glass. Taste was more like a sweet Milk Stout at first, with a deeper coffee/Imperial stout flavor afterwards. A bit light in the mouth for an RIS though. Drinkability was ok. Alcohol content was hidden well. A pretty good offering. Next time I will let it warm up a bit longer.

 559 characters

Photo of elricorico
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black in the glass, opaque. One finger of tan head that leaves a bit of lacing as it goes.

The smell had me very excited. Sweet chocolate cake with a rum tinged chocolate icing. The notable alcohol in the aroma was pleasing to the nose.

The taste was good, but didn't quite live up to the smell. Milky coffee, caramel sweetness, bitter chocolate and an alcohol heat.

The body wasn't quite as full as I expected, but the carbonation was adequate and the overall effect was pleasant. An all around good example of the style, thanks to orrshow for sharing the bottle.

 567 characters

Photo of Beertracker
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Viking's Big Swede is best served at warm cellar (50-55°F) temperatures from a brandy snifter or pear shaped stemmed glass. The Big Swede pours up with a small, tightly bubbled khaki head that's barely sustanable over a rather opaque dark brown body. The initial aroma is seemingly marred by a vegetal (DMS) presence with some oxidation (papery/sherry notes), but as it warms in hand this dissipates and becomes more complex with rich, fruity esters (black currant, elderberry), but has an herbal (licorice root, vanilla bean) overtone with a dominate sweet, dark malt roastiness (coffee/mocha). Alcohol warmth is well masked. The initial characater is a bit odd, but definitely malt oriented with lots of sweet mochachino & some sugary (muscavado/treacle) notes with some of dark fruitiness and complexity from the yeast. The finish is a bit sharp and abbreviated, but remains malty nontheless. This medium-full bodied ale is lightly carbonated, creamy, and warming. The Big Swede is quintessentially more of a Baltic Porter than a Russian Imperial Stout. Viking's Big Swede is a welcomed friend on a cold winter's night.

CHEERS! Beertracker

Taster's Note: *Special thanks to hoppymeal for the bottle!

 1,206 characters

Photo of tempest
2.69/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I seemed to have a pleasant memory of the last time I tried the Big Swede. My current bottle doesn't match those expectations, however. The aroma is a mix of vegetables and Jell-o chocolate pudding. The flavor follows with a hint of roasted grains and smooth milk chocolate, but mostly ugly veggies flavors. I don't think this bottle has an excuse or anything. I picked it up as a single from a fridge at the Blue Max - same place I got the last bottle. I can at least say the alcohol is well-hidden, bravo. I can't drink the whole bottle of this, though.

 555 characters

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with a small light tan head. In the aroma, smokey and sweet coffee, In the taste, a sweet oatmeal maltiness. A smooth big bodied mouthfeel and a dry malty and coffee aftertaste. Smooth and nice coffee presence. ABV is not known but was not really tasted, has to be lighter for a imperial stout.

 310 characters

Photo of joe1510
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle
$5.49 4-Pack
Coffee Grounds, Eau Claire

Viking's Big Swede Swedish Style Imperial Stout poured (after a very hard pour) the darkest of browns bordering on black. No light shines through the body except an occasional mahogany highlight, and this is only when held to the light. A super creamy brown tan head formed on the pour and fell to a cap rather quickly. The head only formed after a very aggressive pour. Leaves some patchy lacing.

The aroma on this beer is unique and I'm digging it. It's hard for me to even describe. Mild black coffee and super concentrated sour inedible berries (like what? I'm not sure). Roasty malts glide around in the background and as it warms a toffee/butterscoth like character comes forward. It all comes to a halt with a nice pine sap finish.

Starts off with a decent but not overpowering roasted maltiness and leads quickly into those slightly sour and tart berries I mentioned in the aroma. Fresh coffe beans show up on the swallow along with a nice dose of pine needle hop bitterness (more than your average stout). Unique and tasty brew.

Medium bodied with a slightly oily mouthfeel. Mild carbonation lets this beer mosey on through coating every tastebud on it's way through.

This is a good stout that goes down easy. It doesn't taste to me like the alcohol is too big to get in the way of having a few bottles in a sitting.

My first beer from the brewers at Viking. A unique stout that I could keep on drinking. I wish now I would have gotten more than just one 4-pack my last trip up to Wisconsin. Good stuff.

 1,571 characters

Photo of Flyer
3.39/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Doesn’t come across as very “imperial,” but it’s fairly enjoyable. Pours inky black with a small head. Very little aroma. The up front is roasty and smokey, satisfying in the way of a good stout but not very intriguing. It finishes a little bitter-sweet. Before this, I’d never had a beer as high as 8% ABV with so little detectable alcohol – for me, that’s not a plus. This is an okay-to-good imperial stout, but its problem is that it lives in a world with more than a few great imperial stouts.

 504 characters

Photo of Chaz
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours an inky-black to the eye. When held to direct light it's more like a deep crimson-brown, but it's pretty darn dark at any rate. A medium-firm pour produces a darker tan head, with good retention and lacing. The nose is fairly non-descript by comparison to many other renditions in the style, with dark and caramelized/burnt malts, and light notes of toffee, bitter chocolate, and licorice. Lightly fusel and boozy - hooray booze! A bit more expressive on the first sip, with the roasted malts and semi-sweet / bittersweet chocolate notes making an immediate impression. Some of those dark malts seem bitter (burnt) and acrid, and in this case help to balance out the rather cloying sweetness of this brew. Fairly warming and certainly quite warming as it warms, the alcohol is nonetheless "cooler" on the palate and in the aromatics than I recall it being back in the bomber bottle days. Notes of sweet red apple, plum, date, and lighter licorice. Body seems a bit thin for the style but this doesn't harm the drinkability, and might actually improve it. Mouthfeel is just about average (I'm erring on the side of familiarity . . . ) This is perhaps a bit more "average" than I recall (especially with the scores of great RIS and American Stout renditions available these days), and is sweeter than I like in the style. Still, Big Swede is a solid brew worth revisiting. A sipper, well-suited toward cooler months, as well as a dessert beer ready and waiting for a cigar or two to mellow out with.
Served chilled, in a bulb.

 1,531 characters

Photo of IntriqKen
3.01/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch black with a tan head that melt to a tan covering of tiny bubbles.

Aromas are slightly smokey and surprisingly fruity.

Flavors are dark toasted malt, some smokiness, and sweet fruitiness that ends up leaving a bit of citrus in the mouth.

Not at all like an RIS to my humble tongue. Too much fruit sweetness and no toasted brown sugar sweetness. I imagine this is due to the selection of hops but I found it unusual and slightly distracting.

 461 characters

Photo of CFbeermaker
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured "black, like midnight on a moonless night", with a small light brown head. Smells of roasted barley and chocolate with a sweet smell like a scotch and water. Tastes how it smells with a little smokiness and some faint floral hops at the end. Has a nice mouthfeel. Not as heavy of a beer as it looks and is actually quite smooth and pleasant to drink. It also seems to be getting better as I drink it which almost reminds me of a scotch on the rocks type feel.

 466 characters

Photo of Crosling
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color with a light brown head. Mild and a bit disappointing aroma. Fairly good, but not great in the flavor profile. A bit sparse and poorly extracted, not much complexity or character. Finishes fairly well though, with lingering chocolate character.

 261 characters

Photo of ArrogantB
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was a very dark black pour into a pint glass since I didn;t feel like using a snifter. The head is short and white but hangs around a little. Not a bad RIS but then again, nothing special here. I probably would not buy this beer if it were available. I am not quite sure what made it Swedish style?

 308 characters

Photo of umustdrink
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Completely opaque black color. Head is a nice brown color that settles at an eighth inch. Lacing is in small patches.

S - Chocolate pudding, bananas, milk chocolate and a very light roast coffee.

T - Nice roasted malt flavor, I taste more chocolate where others might say its more like coffee. Some sweet vanilla, banana, and lighter chocolate tones. Finish is a nice light coffee.

M - Consistency is on the thin side but with a nice chalkiness. Taste sticks with you for a long time.

D - Very nice and pleasant all around. Will have again and will recommend.

 575 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Impenetrable mahogany with a glimmer of reddish gold along the bottom edge of the glass. In spite of an increasingly elevated pour, the mocha colored cap only reached a height of a slim one finger. It's hanging in there reasonably well, but doesn't look the type to leave any lace. At only 8%, the beer shouldn't be this head and lace deficient. It's still a good looking stout.

The nose is great because it's powerful and because it's multi-faceted. The primary aromas are roasted barley, bittersweet chocolate and coffee. The thing that makes it different is a bourbon-like, charred oak, vanilla esteriness. I'm pretty sure Big Swede isn't aged in bourbon barrels, but it might as well be.

I'm not sure that Russian Imperial Stout is the correct style. And I have no idea what Swedish Style Imperial Stout even means. When compared to the heavy hitters, this one comes up a bit short on brute strength and mouthfeel. Not to worry because it more than makes up for it by being stupendously delicious.

I've had a lot of big stouts, but I don't know that I've ever had one that tastes quite like Big Swede. There's more than usual happening on the taste buds, all of it good. For starters, sweet, sour and bitter are exceptionally well-balanced. All are present and all contribute something of value at differents points along the flavor arc. As is often the case, sweet dominates early, sour occupies the middle and bitter cleans up at the end.

I would have bet that Viking ages this sucker in bourbon barrels. Every one of the usual suspects are present: brown sugar, vanilla (especially), a light oaky char, even a little smoke. I'm alternating between trying to break it down during one mouthful and simply enjoying it the next. I know one thing, I wish I had the big bottle rather than this woefully inadequate twelve ouncer.

I've changed my mind about the mouthfeel. Even though it isn't as massive and as thickly chewy as I might like, it's as silky smooth as any beer in recent memory. I have no problem with the carbonation being on the low end if it results in a mouthfeel this luxurious.

Nothing that I've had from Viking prepared me for the incredible beer... that is now gone from my glass. It's easily the finest thing these guys have ever created. I'm compiling a list of what to look for the next time I venture up to Madison. Big Swede has just been added, given a few exclamation points and circled. Outstanding!

 2,448 characters

Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown that becomes an opaque black in the snifter. Last bit is swirled and added, resulting in a couple fingers of chocolaty foam.

First whiff is of banana, a hint of smoke, and roasted malt. This later subsides, producing a boozy note. Started out big and appealing though.

Taste is really exceptional. Chocolaty, rich smoky malt, and that banana note hangs out in the background. Second time drinking this (1/2008), there's a juicy fresh plum note that is upfront. Dry finish, with mild bittersweet chocolate, char, and dry tobacco leaf. Smooth on the palate, silky mouthfeel. It has a fullness about it, but isn't heavy or cloying. My guess on the ABV is 7-8%.

Well done!

 693 characters

Photo of nlmartin
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A giant thanks to jeffkrenner who sent this beer as part of BC-2. The beer was served at room temperature in a Imperial Nonic.

Appearance: The beer pours with a black hole blackness. The head of the beer is about 1 finger high. The head is a the color of lightly creamed coffee. Rings of lacing remain behind on my glass.

Smell: The beer has a very pleasing combination of chocolate, dark cocoa, light coffee, vaguely mineral and vanilla.

Taste: The beer presents the palate with a blend of dark semi sweet cafe vanilla mocha. The taste then goes slightly herbal and slightly mineral flavor. Then the beer explodes into a very deep chared roasting. If you dont like chared and deeply roasted avoid this beer.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: This beer is just shy of a heavy body. The beer has a very low carbonation. The flavors are long lasting and very much chared. I found this beer hard to put down. If I come across this beer again I will definately buy it.

 968 characters

Photo of Mdog
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black, almost no head at all.

Smell: Some chocolate, and maybe a little banana?

Taste: Starts sweet and roasty, then dark chocolate bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium, not as heavy as a lot of imp. stouts.

Drinkability: Pretty good stuff.

This is a pretty good beer from Viking. It's not as amped up as other imperial stouts but has more there than a regular stout. One of their better offerings.

 418 characters

Photo of badbeer
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out black, but more dark brown around the edges. Light tan colored head that slowly dissipates leaving some spotty lacing. Light cocoa aromas with coffee hidden even more, there is a definate creamy vanilla aroma as well. Taste doesn't overpower the palate, but isn't skimpy either. It starts out with a light cocoa flavor paired with some vanilla, leading you to a small amount of earthy hops, before turning into a long roasty finish. Taste gets better as it warms, and the finish is the best part of each drink. Creamy and smooth with low carbonation, lighter side of full bodied. Overall this is one pretty good beer, and one that is better than my ratings show. To be honest, this is one that I'll be picking up quite often, I really enjoyed it.

 756 characters

Photo of blackie
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: Upon pouring, a low mocha colored head is produced and soon recedes. The beer is nearly black in color.

smell: Milk and dark roasted chocolate malts upfront followed immediately by a metallic tinge. Moderately sweet with a slight, sweet lactose aroma. Moderate, herbal hop aroma.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is a low medium, and the body on the lighter side of the heavy range.

taste: Roasted malts upfront give flavors of dark chocolate. A touch of lactose. Moderately sweet with a decent amount of hop flavor and moderate bitterness. The finish is only slightly dry. Not as roasty and deep as I usually prefer.

drinkability: not a problem...ABV (whatever it is) well hidden and a good example of the style

bottle picked up during my last trip to Madison for the GTotMW

 796 characters

Photo of Westsidethreat
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours thick with a lot of viscosity to it. Deep, dark, ebony brown possesing no ability to allow light thru. Head raised momentarily then dropped to a film and dark beige ring.

S: Dried cocoa, angel food, cafe au lait, hints of orange liquer and minor hazelnut.

T: Immediate dark, dry bakers chocolate with glints of sour milk. Moments of anise hints and mild iced coffee move the adventure along. Generous amounts of bittering hops mixed with roasted grains add a nice bite to this brew. Finishes with some serious chocolate icing, alcohol highs and cafe mocha.

M: Medium body, full across the tongue.

D: This was a delicious beer. Very sweet and sugary but nothing cloying or obtrusive. Best Viking beer to date.

 729 characters

Photo of dfried
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty much black, some crimson/mahogany at the edges. Head was a thin film and ring, almost butterscotch in color. Roasted malt aroma with a lot of dark cherry like sweetness, and some noticable hops. I liked the taste quite a bit, creamy roasted malt, and a lot of fruity flavors. Very good grassy hop flavor as well. Body was full, but not as full as a lot of RIS's, which made it quite drinkable. This beer might not stand out for the style, but I was pretty impressed by it, both in drinkability and originality.

 517 characters

Photo of sponberg
4.02/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. "Swedish style Imperial Stout" in a bottle with a foil neck label - doesn't look at all like the one in the pic. Doesn't matter. Viscous very dark brown with a chocolate milk colored head that's still hanging tough 20 minutes later. REALLY like the aroma in this one - earthy hops, toffee/fig/port-like maltiiness, whiffs of alcohol, and slightly burnt coffee.

Starts with a big round chewy dark maltiness - figs, plums, toffee, almost sherry-like notes - alongside subdued coffee, alcohol, and earthy hops. Somewhere in there is a taste like what oak lumber smells like - a spicy woodiness for lack of a better term. The alcohol starts to show up in the middle along with more pronounced slightly burnt coffee, followed by a hint of apples (where the hell'd THEY come from? The alcohol evaporating, maybe? Got me!) and a roasty bitterness. Finishes with dry cocoa, coffee, and port-like smokiness with lingering alcohol and dark sweetness. Chewy but not overly so. Complex, but after a couple I'd be wanting to try something else.

Very interesting Impy stout from a brewery I had never heard of. Thanks again to FBG Tip Top for the bottle!

 1,154 characters

Photo of demcorhip
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew poured a dark black, with a hint of ruby around the edges when held up to light. No head, and essentially no lacings in this very slightly carbonated beer.

The burnt malts produced bitter scents of espresso and dark chocolate. Creamy notes also present, as well as a faint floral grassiness.

The burnt malts produced flavours of dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee. A hint of oak? An even lesser hint of vanilla? Some sweeter roasted malts present with a touch of caramel, and the mild earthy, floral, and grassy contribution from the hops and yeast compliment the bitter flavours.

This is a medium bodied flavourful and balanced brew. Its mostly roasted bitterness is balanced nicely with some creaminess and sweeter malts, as well as the earthy, floral, and grassy notes. Not much carbonation in this offering.

This is a tasty, drinkable, almost big beer. Not quite session fare, and certainly not crossover fare, except maybe for those who are big fans of espresso or dark chocolate. A good, substantial drink on a cold weather day.

 1,111 characters

Big Swede from Valkyrie Brewing
Beer rating: 3.85 out of 5 with 113 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.