Thomas Hooker Imperial Porter | Thomas Hooker Brewing Company

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Thomas Hooker Imperial PorterThomas Hooker Imperial Porter
360 Ratings
Thomas Hooker Imperial PorterThomas Hooker Imperial Porter

Brewed by:
Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
Connecticut, United States

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Full bodied and rich color, our imperial porter has hints of roasted coffee, cocoa with a generous hop finish. Dark roasted malts blended with the crispness of English hops, this beer is smooth yet complex.

65 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-30-2003

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 360 |  Reviews: 282
Photo of dtx00
5/5  rDev +22.5%

Photo of AlexJ
5/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Happy birthday to me! I've been cellaring this since 03 and decided to open it with good friends to celebrate my 30th year.

It pours magestically into my waiting tulip, an ink black brew, thick as syrup, and inpenetratable by light. A thick head of whipped tan froth has great staying power and generously coats my glass in clingy lace.

The aroma fills the air with notions of dark chocolate mousse, crushed coffee beans, black molasses, and sappy pine. Bittersweet, spicey, and with enough depth to keep me sniffin' the whole time. Beers such as this are a treat for the nose as well as the tongue.

A sip reveals a dark medley of rich, dark chocolate, sweetened coffee, dark ripe fruits, butterscotch, toasted coconut, and enough sticky pine sap and earthy hop flavors to leave a long hoppy finish. The alcohol is well integrated, but definately tastes stronger than 7.8%, more like 9-10%. I'm surprised how hoppy it is after over two years on it. It's extremely complex and unmistakably American, I love it!

This has a big, full body to support all the massive flavor. It has the texture of melted silk on your tongue as it glides across your palate, coating it with layers of malt and hops. This beer is a masterpiece. Every bit as good as my beloved Old Marley, and a great way to celebrate a big birthday.

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Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +22.5%

Photo of BeerDog8805
5/5  rDev +22.5%

Photo of trumick
4.88/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was planning on just sitting back on this cold snowy Mi night and enjoying this beer without writing a review or even taking notes. But, this is the most amazing beverage to have ever spilled over my lips, and I just had to sing its praises.

Pours a deep dark redish brown with a nice thick fluffy head and tons of lacing all around the glass. The lacing stuck to the glass the entire time I sipped all the way to the bottom.

Scent is of dark, bittersweet chocolate, slightly burnt coffee, a bit of spicey hops, dark fruits, slightly metalic and alcoholic.

The taste is where this beer really grabbed me. The chocolate hits first, bitter and sweet at the same time (not just bittersweet, hard for me to explain), then the burnt coffee takes over almost immediately. Oh, that bitterness, what in Gods name is that wonderful flavor? I can only come up with coffee-hops. I get some citrus-piney hints too. There is a spice that stays with the bitterness also. I haven't sipped it for a few minutes and the wonderfull bitterness is still there. Sip-mmm, dark sweet fruits there, oh even in the burp. Outstanding flavor!!

Mouthfeel gets very high marks too, full bodied, creamy, smooth The small, fine bubbles only increase my enjoyment of this beer. An absolutely brilliant brewer must have come up with this one.

Drinkability is all day long, and back for more (too bad I only have one). Slowly though, the abv will sneak up on a brutha. I want another one of these! Next time I won't wait so long to enjoy it, if I get a next time.

Thank you, unionmade. My life is now complete, *OK* being a bit dramatic, but this is an amazing beverage. One that I will seek out in trade whenever there is the chance. I wish I could get this around here. Boo hoo, it's almost gone... :-(

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Photo of mentor
4.88/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Super-huge thanks to Sulldaddy for sending me this one. What a f'ing unique beer. Bottled in 2004. Poured a lushious 2 finger brown head over a dark dark liquid. Held to light, the color is deep mohogeny ruby. Smells woody hoppy, roast/chocolatey, and alcoholic. Yeah, roasty/chocolatey...but also a bit of smokey. More than that...charred. Some cottony hop character (Fuggles?) and mechanic-shop hop character (Perle?) invite me in. As good as it smells, it tastes even better. Chocolate to start with a mild alcohol and noticable hop bitter. The bitter is strong and cotton-mouthy, but its rough character is tempered by an underlying wet sweet. Whoa, the middle is a hop bomb of flavor. Minty hops (plus some zing). It must be Perle, with perhaps some Fuggles (or Wmette). Onward into more flavors...imagine roasting a marshmallow and sticking it right into the fire. Let the outside burn black, then pull it off the stick and eat the char. The aromatic qualities of the hops, when combined with the roasted grains, have a similar character. But its woody, too (like you dapped the flaming marshmallow on one of the burning logs, you idiot...except it works really well). In the later part of the sip, sugar sweet rises before being overwhelmed by a faster rising alcohol burn and aromatic hop aftertaste. Yummy! Boy, there's alot at play here. Plus, a thin layer of brown head still hangs over the liquid with incredible lacing on the inside of the glass. Who can make a beer like this? Truely incredible. So, do I finish the liter or save half to split with my best buddy? Well, I'm quite lit now (I had two before this) and I think I'll be kind and save the second half. Thick body and mild carbonation (despite the amazing head). Interestingly, the carbonation continues to form on my tongue after the beer is down my throat. Now, *that's* a thick beer. Near perfection, I wish I had another that I could age in my cellar.

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Photo of beernbbq
4.88/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Excellent. AS close to perfection as I have found and right here in CT. A beuatiful jet black with a tight brown head. Aroma and taste of coffee, dark chocolate and mint. Smooth on the tounge, not bitter or cloying and finishes beautifully dry. An wonderful brew and I will need to track down some more. Love the litre bottle, too.

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Photo of connecticutpoet
4.85/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A one-liter bottle, swing-top cap, bottled in 2004. Purchased in December 2004, sampled tonight.

This was a dark brown, thick-looking, slightly oily beer with a four-finger tan head that left a lot of lacing. Beautiful.

The aroma was subtle, but complex, with dark roasted malts, raisins, coffee with cream, and a slight sweetness with a touch of hops. Not as strong as I would have expected though.

The taste was amazing... VERY bitter, with incredible roasted coffee notes. I didn't pick up any caramel, but I did get a bit of burnt sugar. Also, the alcohol let its presence be known in the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel was smooth and creamy, perfect for the taste. Great body. And the drinkability was also exceptional... one bottle was enough for me (it WAS a liter, though *LOL*) and I would gladly drink it again. The only thing that puts me off a bit is the price. But for a special occasion, if you want a dark beer, this is a wonderful choice.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.85/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in the 1L swing-top bottle, into a pint glass. The color is black, with a good foamy tan head. The smell is a nice coffeeish malt . The taste is a very strong coffee roasted malt, with a chocolate sweetness in the taste and the very slightest hint of alcohol in the taste. Mouthfeel is nice and thick. As for drinkability, I could have this all day!!!

Thank you to UnionMade for a bottle of this simply amazing porter! A great one for a 400th review; an imperial porter that tastes like a regular porter on steroids...a simply wonderful character with just the right amount of sweetness, and absolutely one I hope to have again!!

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Photo of Boto
4.83/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1 Liter Bomber: Dark. This beer is dark brown with hints of ruby when held up to a light. Good size tan head. Decent lacing down the glass. Aroma is rich with roastiness, coffee and chocolate. The taste is rich: this is a full-bodied beer. Big roasty taste. The chocolate and coffee are still there is force. A hint of hops in there somewhere. This was even better than when I got an early taste right off the vat. Excellent job on this one, Paul!

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Photo of UnionMade
4.82/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

While trying to fend off the Thanksgiving tryptophan fugue at Eli Cannon's, Casey informed us that they were tapping the new Thomas Hooker Imperial Porter, and asked us if we wanted to try it.
Hell yes, brother.
The beer arrived in a pint glass looking inky black, topped with a dollop of greyish beige head. The head dies out completely about 3/4 of the way through, which is perhaps my only complaint about this beer. It's really not that big a deal though.
The aroma is very much an authentic baltic porter, except that it's fresh, with much more complexity to the malt. The depth of the aroma is really amazing. Very clean, with loads of roasted maltiness exhibiting coffee and sugary caramel, with a bit of dark chocolate. A very interesting suggestion of blackberry is apparent, coming through more as a blend of malt aroma than a distinct berry. Subtle earthy (german?) hops ride beneath the malt, providing just enough for balance. The aroma really blooms as the beer warms, definitely let it sit and breathe for a while before sampling, if it's too cold.
The beer is so amazingly smooth. Very full bodied, with a velvety texture to the carbonation. It brought back memories of this awful velour shirt I used to wear every day as a kid, until Mom convinced me to give it up. I loved that shirt, because it was so soft and comfortable. Anyways, the sip starts out with a powerful, yet refined roasted maltiness. Sweet, though not cloying in the least. The carbonation is almost microscopic, just a tingling sensation on your tongue. Loads of black coffee and caramel flavors, with some baker's chocolate towards the middle. Very complex and very clean. A faint blackberry fruitiness comes through in the middle, complimenting and accenting both the coffee and chocolate flavor. It doesn't hurt the caramel, either. A light herbal, earthy hopping punctuates the beer in the finish, just enough to provide balance. Very little hop bitterness. Most of the bitterness is up front, from the dark roasted malt. Any alcohol is completely hidden, save for a light warmth in the swallow. The aftertaste disappears quickly, although a faint coffee maltiness lingers on the back of your tongue. Exceptional.
This is perhaps one of the very few beers that's better than the original. This porter exceeded my high expectations, and then some. I'll be hoarding this stuff for the rest of the year.

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Photo of Starchild
4.82/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Godly carbonation filled my pint. It looks like it’s from a pub can. I'm really enjoying this swing top bottle. Thank god it’s a liter bottle because I really like a full imperial pint of imperial porter. Wafts of coffee, sweet roast; hops and spices reach my nose. The beer tastes so clean and complex. You can pick out every flavor. Yes some floral notes, hops, coffee, a tinge of smokiness, and black malt. It’s really surprising the flavors stay so distinct. Amazing. Get me a juicy hamburger with cheddar cheese, thick fries and a wedge pickle please. This beer is a beautiful creation.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.8/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep dark black/brown with red highlights. Huge tan head is formed that leaves residual lace all over the glass.
Aroma is heavy caramel and toffee, chocolate, coffee and a subtle floral hop note.
Flavor: Wow, talk about complex ! Thick caramel, milk chocolate, coffee, grapefruit, bubble gum, some darker fruits and an earthy but sweet hop note.
Mouthfeel was very nice and smooth. Transition is smooth with a nice transition to the bitterness. Hint of spice and dry alcohol on the finish.
Drinakability is high, even after a 22 oz. bomber of this 8.0 % nectar I want more !

Special thanks to PBrian for providing this nectar of the gods.
Xaipe, Bro

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Photo of waughbrew
4.8/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled in 2004. Most likely the new batch released 12/04.

Smooth is the first word that comes to my mind. Like a chocolate and coffee egg cream (for those of you in NY) with less fizz. A mix of milk chocolate and dark chocolate shavings melting on my tongue. VERY assertive flavor. A blast of chlorophyll and slightly tingly bitterness surges in and joins the barrage of flavor half-way through. Each sip is a reminder of how good it is, as if you forget in the few seconds that pass between them. Looks perfect, from the bottle to the body to the head. Smell is deeeluxe earthy vegetation, m&ms, and a nuttiness not unlike what I find in Bell's beers. The only imperfection that show itself to me is the overly vegetal finish. It is still an amazingly focused beer with the flavors fitting together seamlessly. Wow.

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Photo of markman
4.8/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thomas Hooker Imperial Porter (2003):

The damn thing got lost in my cellar somehow…all 33.8 ounces of it. Anyway, this is turning out to be damn good drinkin’. Not the head it had while young, but still with a little effort I got a nice creamy head with lacing to match. The taste is out of this world with chocolate, balanced by hops and a trace of oxidation that enhances by bringing an easy vinous quality in…nearly imperial stout-like. Very good lager here on this chilly October evening folks…very good.


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Photo of hopsaplenty
4.77/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1L. swingtop, bottled in 2005. Brewed and bottled by Troutbrook Brewing Company, Hartford, CT.

Pours vibrantly with an impressive dimpled cappuccino colored head of small and medium bubbles. Slow to settle, leaving strands of thick lacing. Deep, dark black with cordovan highlights. The smell is rich with coffee notes, roasted whole bean with some caramel and chocolate. The taste is filled with rich caramel and roasted coffee, sweet and with some alcohol which warms through the finish. Chocolate and roasted coffee bitterness appear in the finish. Full bodied and slightly slick on the tongue. Minimal carbonation, but this is not a problem. The Imperial Porter is wonderful and possessing great drinkability. Spectacularly enjoyable. This is a must try.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.77/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - nabbed this half-liter swingtop on a trip to Orlando in '09, I'm celebrating my first Florence Freedom game, a 9-3 shellacking of the Rockford Riverhawks. Pours fairly opaque with a thin creamy mocha cap. Decent staying power - although it fades to a partial cover within a minute, its staying right there.

Aroma - a good whiff of roasty malts and coffee. Good staying power on that as well.

Taste - rich and roasty, sweet notes of coffee syrup and espresso. Huge , huge flavors, I love the intensity without the big alcohol bite. The swallow and aftertaste show some bittersweet chocolate mixed in. An excellent and tasty finish as the flavors are slow to wind down.

Mouthfeel - milky and silky, the carbonation stays in the background but provides enough spark to keep this from being too heavy.

Drinkability - an excellent porter, next time I see this I'll grab several. Excellent beer tasting choice.

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Photo of slim2043
4.75/5  rDev +16.4%

Photo of proc
4.72/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An excellent porter. Pours out of its way-cool, swing-top bottle as dark as night with a generous head and carbonation. The aroma is that roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, toffee and caramel. One of the most fascinating aromas of any beer I've tried. It begs to be sniffed again and again...weird, but true. The taste is a flavor explosion with a good dose of roasted malt hitting your tastebudes, giving way to a nicely balanced mouthfeel as you start the swallow only to give way to a beautiful taste of coffee, caramel, malt and hops as it goes down.

One of, if not the best, porters I've tasted.

Thanks to pbrian for sending this my way many months ago. I wanted to wait for the cold chill of an autumn night, but I settled for an usually chilly mid-August evening.

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Photo of FullRW
4.71/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of OatmattStout
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful deep dark color with a thick tan head. Really active nose of roasted malts and coffee bean with a hint of leafy hops. Taste is awesome from first sip. Unbelievable rich flavors of roasted malt and coffee bean with really nice sweet undertow of caramel and bittersweet chocolate. And if that isn't enough there is a really nice hop finish that has tartness reminiscent of a really strong fresh espresso. The hops in this really make it awesome. This beer had a really drinkable quality and no syrupy or heavy finish you might expect with such a big beer and style. This is a limited release and I can kick myself for only buying two bottles.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a monster of a bottle. And me all by myself to drink it. This could be a very long night.

Pours black (surprise!) with a dark tan head that's mostly creamy but with some largeish bubbles.

Aroma is dominated by roasted malts, alcohol, and a decently spicy hop boquet.

Flavor starts with a lovely rich blend of chocolate and coffee, with hints of caramel in the mid-palate. The malts develop a slightly roasty character, but mostly at the back-end of the sip where they merge with a nicely understated hop bitterness to leave a very pleasant, lingering aftertaste.

Very full in mouthfeel and slightly coating, but with enough bitterness to keep it from cloying. Good, good stuff.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml swingtop bottle Bottled in 2006 purchased at Julio's in 2008.

Pours a solid black, with a large fluffy head that wouldn't quit. Aroma held some surprises. Alcohol, yeast, plums, cherries, some caramel some citrusy hops. Taste of alcohol, roasted coffees and chocolate and some more dried fruits some grapefruit and pine. Thick creamy mouthfeel. Lots of carbonation. Nice brew all around. Not quite what I was expecting, but a great sipper nonetheless.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.68/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Three years or so I happened upon some Thomas Hooker brews at Delilah’s in Chicago. I remember really enjoying them, although at the time I had no idea that they were gray market and so sought after. I’ve been wanting to try them again ever since. Many thanks to trader scthaden for making that possible.

Presentation/Appearance: Nice pop top bottle makes a huge whoosh upon opening despite a minor leak that occurred during transport (damn pop tops look and sound cool but they don’t seal as well as one would think). Any remaining concern is put rest when I pour the beer and am greeted by a massive swelling of brown, foamy tidal waves. Whoa, I almost over flowed there. The head settles quickly to a simple and steady ¼ inch but the lacing is out of this world – truly some of the best I’ve seen on a porter.

Aroma: I am instantly attracted to the bittersweet chocolate that is found so adequately in the front of the palate as well as the aroma. Plenty of coffee and a little bit of sweet dark fruits, cherry mostly.

Taste: Black grains dominate. Oh my, they are delicious. Monstrously dark malts with full chocolate and coffee flavors roll over the tongue and down the throat. The chocolate is very dark and very bitter, I would say it is something like an 85% plus pure cocoa bar. I’m hopeful that the chemical compounds that cause this bitterness are reducing my likelihood of contracting diabetes (as those in cocoa do) right now. That would certainly be a great excuse to drink this day in and day out (not that I need one). In many ways this tastes like a blend of Sprecher Black Bavarian and Ale Smith Speedway. We have here the full flavor, strength, and bitterness of the Speedway but also the ultra drinkable body, unique to such a black beer of the Sprecher. I like it a lot.

Mouthfeel: Wonderfully carbonated this dances and fiddles with the tongue. Initially it comes across as light bodied, considerably lighter then expected and entirely in a pleasing way. As it warms a smooth syrupiness intensifies the body but it remains fairly light and lager like. Bitter.

Drinkability: I feel buzzed almost instantly but this is an easy drinker. The ABV is ever-present but not disturbing of the flavor nor does it cause any heaviness or cloyingness. I would say, as good as it gets.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.68/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presented in a 1L swing-top bottle with a thin yellow tape over the top stating it was bottled in 2003. I poured out a healthy dose into an imperial pint glass and stood back to watch. What I saw was a beer of inky blackness with glints of ruby red around the edges and a mammoth firm biege head that slowly faded to a thin layer about 1/16" and depositing wispy lace.
The nose was heavenly, a mesmerizing blend of dark malts, hints of prune, molasses, coffee beans, and a whiff of alcohol fumes. I kept sniffing and sniffing, couldn't stop. Then, a taste. Mmmm... An expansive bounty of flavors, each consecutive taste peeling off another layer of a complex and delicious brew. First, roasted malt, slightly burnt. Second, rich espresso coffee and bitter chocolate. Then the sweetness of molasses, raisins, prunes and a hint of anise. Lastly, finishing with a slightly warming alcohol kick. Each flavor waxes and wanes seemlessly and provide a superb balance. The feel was full, creamy thanks to the abundant minute carbonation, and silky smooth.
By this point I think you can guess that I found this brew to be exquisitely drinkable. Troutbrook B.C.'s Imperial Porter easily meets the high expectations I had for it after having tried their Liberator doppelbock. This porter is simply amazing, a real achievement for the style.

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Thomas Hooker Imperial Porter from Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.08 out of 5 with 360 ratings