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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged | Big Sky Brewing Company

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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-AgedIvan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged

Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
2006 - 8.75% (draft only)
2007 - 8.75% (500ml flip top bottles ~ very limited)
2008 - 9.5% (750ml - capped - 1152 bottles)
2009 - 10% (750ml cork and cage)
2010 - 10% (750ml - cork and cage)
2011 - not brewed
2012 - 12.2% (750ml cork and cage)
2013 - 13.8%
2014 - 11.5% (750ml cork and cage)

Imperial stout aged 4 months in freshly dumped American oak Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels.

65 IBU

Added by Bitterbill on 11-10-2008

For Trade:
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Reviews: 283 | Ratings: 820
Photo of ChrisPro
4.58/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle tasted on 6/5/10 thanks to callmemickey!

Pours jet black with huge bubbly dark mocha head.

Aroma was beautiful oak and coconut, with some great chocolate and vanilla and hints of molasses.

Flavor was nice sweet chocolate and bourbon, with a slightly bitter, balanced finish.

This was easily one of the smoothest imperial stouts I have every head and the mouthfeel was like silk sliding across my tongue.

Incredibly drinkable and I feel like I could put away a whole 750 mL if given the chance. I now understand why I like the Bottleworks XI so much.

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Photo of Powderhornphil
4.13/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage.

Pours black. Several fingers head with great retention.

Bourbon booze and vanilla. Barrel notes.

Taste is great. Bourbon, dark fruit, chocolates. Taste is more dynamic than the nose.

Full mouthfeel but a bit stickier on the finish than I would prefer but nice.

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Photo of Buebie
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle # 924 of 1152.

Poured from my thick wrapped tin knecked 750ml green bottle, into an oversized snifter. The lable on this is old fashioned, I like it, its simple with an old school font.

The beer itself pours a glug glug slow glug with its long thin kneck. Black in color, zero light penetration. The head is a fizzy cola like 1'' brown. It quickly dissipates to a very thin film of retention and some thin greasy drapeage.

The aroma itself is not somthing I'd call a traditiona RIS. The aroma here is sort of a turnoff. A root beer like port wine oaky aroma. A swirl brings around alcahol at the knose, also some roasty chocolate grain aroma. This was not detectable to me without swirling. But still, that cheap port wine aroma will not leave.

Mouthfeel is quite heavy and creamy, with little carbonation. The only carbonation that is present is upfront, then creamyness kicks in and dominates. A bit of a slickness on this coating my mouth aswell. Terrific feel to this beer.

Upfront this is sweet with protein like oaty flavors, and plenty of chocolate grain roastyness. Some carmelised brown sugar with hints at vanilla beans, maple syrup, mollasses. At the swallow things heat up and coat my mouth and throat with a modest amount of warmth. Dark roasted oaky wood come blasting down the door at the swallow kicking my tounges ass. Just a touch of bourbon here, with plenty of roasty chocolate character, as well as a cocoa powder like flavor. Reminding me of a dark chocolate truffle with that cocoa poder dusting over the top, and an infusion of booze inside the creamy chocolate center.
Lingering is a bitter roasty flavor of wood, and plenty of hop backing. Bitter and grapefruit like, these hops linger bitterly for plenty of time after the swallow.

I think when Marry Poppins was talking about "a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down" she was referring to ivan the terrible.
IMHO, the mouthfeel on this was up there with Darklord, and too me, Darklord has the best mouthfeel of any RIS I've ever had.
This beer is superb, the aroma is lacking, as is any head retention and lace. But overall, this is a fantastic ris!

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Photo of alcstradamus
4.31/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with 3 fingers of head. Lots of lacing coating the glass.

Aroma is lightly toasted malts, a solid amount of floral hops, fudge, vanilla, and a hint of coffee.

The flavor is dominated up front by sweet dark fruitiness and big fudge brownie. Very rich and complex, with underlying notes of coffee, floral/citrus hops, oak, leather, tobacco, vanilla...basically all the usual suspects that you would expect a high quality imperial stout to have. The way I describe it, it should be an easy 5 for taste. However, there is something about the way the dark fruits and the hops interact that holds it back a bit. Still, very solid.

The body is full and carbonation is high. Fairly creamy. Very nice.

Drinkability is pretty damn good for 10%. This beer is of very high quality. Very close to breaking into the realm of the absolute top imperial stouts.

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Photo of yamar68
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2012 vintage (12.2% abv):

Gorgeous looking stuff... motor oil body with edges of copper clarity, a dense pale khaki head retains well, producing smears of oily lacing and beading beneath. It looks alive and quite scary. A second pour provides a darker shade of brown, making a yin yang in the glass.

The nose is even more impressive... smooth bourbon and chocolate layered with mushy cherries, vanilla, fudge, molasses... all the tasty things you would hope to find in a big barreled stout like this. No individual aspect steals the show, everything is totally in sync which is remarkable to me given the size of the beer.

Delicious. Booze soaked dark fruits that fall just short of "hot." It's very hard to believe that this one packs the 12 percent alcohol that it claims to. Sweet bourbon with chocolate, creamy vanilla flavors, cocoa beans, faint bitter coffee presence surfaces at the finish. I've heard people say that 2010 was better... if that's the case, 2010 Ivan must be the best beer on earth because this stuff can hang with the best of 'em.

Hot damn. Fantastic.

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Photo of scottoale
4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml. green champagne bottle #728 of 1152 that has silver foil over the cap and neck. Foil underside is gold. A big pop from the cap and out pours a black as pitch brown liquid with a foam three-finger light brown head. Great carbonation eventually lets the head down to 1/8" and some coating of sticky lace.

Sweet and roasty nose with a good backing of bourbony alcohol. Caramel, chocolate, dark fruit, oak, vanilla and booze really come through as it warms.

Big flavor starts out sweet and fruity with plum, pear, fig, raisen and currants. In steps some roasted malt and oak with some notes of chocolate, toffee, vanilla and charcoal. All of these flavors melding with a bourbon infused oakness. Sweet and earthy, balanced completely with a nice warming finish. The taste dept. scores a big "5". Super tasty stuff.

Full bodied with complimenting carbonation, the alcohol stand right out but never dominates the overall expirience. I truly feel a few years age on this brew will make it incredible and put it up high in the top ten for it's class and style. A big bold barrel-aged monster to be reckoned with. Super job Big Sky! And another big thanks to travisd13 for making this trade one to remember...cheers!

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Photo of strohme2
3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

2010. I don't know why I was saving this, maybe the champagne bottle size was a bit intimidating for me. The beer was properly cellared for just over 4 years then placed in the fridge for the last 6 months or so of it's life. Ever since then, it's been staring at me with every opening of the fridge.

The beer pours a dark chestnut with some dull red highlights. A cappuccino colored head is fairly thick. At first taste, the beer is thin for a imperial stout. I've never had this beer fresh so I can't compare but after almost 5 years it's pretty impressive. Large smell of dark fruits, heavy on the oak, light on bourbon. Some cocoa at first that melts away the more I drink it. There is no heat, everything has blended so well together. Again, I don't know how it was when fresh, but the bourbon is almost nonexistent.

A great beer but I prefer my imperial stouts, especially aged in bourbon barrels, to have a better body and a bit more bourbon. Still very good.

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Photo of mulder1010
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Ivan 8.75% ABV 750 ML poured into a tulip

Thanks to Doodler for the trade of a big time personal want

A-- Poured dark reddish black and settled jet black. Nice looking milk chocolate colored head. Maybe got to a finger in height before settling to film. On swirling the glass got a dark brown, leather looking head that changed back to milk chocolate. Got some specs of lacing and a few lines of lacing.

S-- Off the bat first smell was toasted coconut covered in milk chocolate. Once it warmed it changed to vanilla, oak and bourbon. Can tell the age has softened the bourbon and made the other flavors stronger.

T-- Vanilla, coconut, chocolate, oak, and bourbon. Basically in that order.

M-- Medium high feel and low carbonation. Flashes of the bourbon here and there but nothing overpowering. Get a bit of the ABV feel in the middle of my mouth. Very silky and smooth after the bourbon feel goes away. Bit of a vanilla coconut feel at the end of this.

D-- Well tempered is all I can say. The aging of this has made this an excellent BA beer. Still get the tones of the bourbon but much more subdued and a lot of other flavors come out. Feel guilty opening this up! Only flashes of the ABV but otherwise well hidden. Good body and good character. Have to show a lot of patience in cellaring the 2010 version!!

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Photo of tlema1
3.59/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: jet black, thin tan head
S: dark fruit, booze
T: plums, figs, booze
F: full bodied, booze
O: booze dominated this from start to finish, it that's what they were going for, they got it

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Photo of afksports
4.23/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage. Shared with my friends Nikolai, Sergei, and Svetlana. One more complex oak bourbon-barrel aged beer in the coffers of what I've tried. Another one knocked off the Top100. This one is from Big Sky in Montana, and took some doing to get. But after I called on my Russian friends, everyone seemed to want to help me just a bit more. Faaantastic.

The appearance... this beer is sexy as hell. Beautiful head that bubbles on the initial popping of the cork. Deep and rich and dark, vicious and viscous, Ivan has a full finger or more of head on a tiny pour into my glass and sustains thorough lacing that clings all over. The smell is oak, bourbon, booze, and hints of dark fruits, hops, and mean caramel roasty malts. It tastes primarily of bourbon up front, but has a hop forward character at the lips. As it goes through the bourbon presents itself more strongly, and despite the sweetness, booze heat finishes the taste. Minus the heat, this might be a Storm King Stout type of feel. But the heat is good for some, like my friend Nikolai who noted that in Mother Russia this beer would keep the cold Siberian winters warm.

Its thick and full bodied, with tons of carbonation. Best stored standing up, it seems like there's some goopy sediment that I mistakenly got in the brew because I had it on its side like a dumbass. Discounting for my error, this is a drinkable brew for the folks that are in to 10% alcohol by volume Bourbony beers. Sergei was giving me high fives and even called his friend Marshal Zhukov to tell him about it.

As for me, I don't plan on a St. Petersburg visit anytime soon, and I probably won't see Montana too soon either. So I'll take it as a lukewarm appreciation. I'm a little over bourbon-barrel aging, and I'd love to keep this one to cellar it and see how it develops. Until then, give me a good ol' brown anytime.

But don't let the Russians see this. I told them it was exceptional (and truthfully, it kind of is...)

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Photo of hopfacebrew
4.11/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Note: This review was a re-post from my former account, jmkratt, which was hacked and I lost all my reviews...sorry for the redundancy.

Poured from 2010 bottle 2266 of 3800 that my man kiddwhiz hooked up to a globe glass. Thanks again.

A - The beer pours a pitch black color with huge 3 finger brown head! No matter how I poured the beer I got huge head which had unreal retention and nice lacing. At the bottom of each glass I still have a 1/2 finger head, unreal.

S - A fair bourbon aroma mixed with hints of roasted cocoa, chocolate, and a hint of dried fruit.

T - The beer starts with a bit of oak flavor on the front with a woody sweetness. Pale and Crystal malt character becomes prevalent in the middle with mild bitterness and a nice bourbon flavor. The beer finishes smooth with a druid fruit taste mixed with a little bourbon and roasted grains.

M - Full bodied with good carbonation. Very thick and tasty.

D - It goes down real easy for a stronger beer with such complex character.

Overall, I found the beer to be a bit much at the beginning but towards the middle that changed and the final glass I was really yearning for more. It was a pleasure to try and I wish I had another to cellar!

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-10-2011 14:03:38

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Photo of WYVYRN527
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 750 ml. bottle. 2009 release, bottle #13 of 3000.

A: Pours black, with a cream colored head that settles rather quickly. Boozy as it is, the lacing is minimal, but retains a good head, given proper treatment.

S: Aroma is of chocolate, toast, vanilla, and oak, also with fig, prune, and coffee.

T: At first, vanilla and coconut show, followed by toasty oak, chocolate, espresso, and dried dark fruits. Hops linger in the backround, drying out the finish of the brew. The alcohol is there upon swallowing, giving it a warming feeling.

M: Mouthfeel is good, and full bodied. At the same time, for this style, it is a bit lighter than other barrel aged beers of this style.

D: This beer is very good, but one bottle is enough. Have it with dessert, as it is sweet and will accompany just about anything after dinner.

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

On tap at Stub & Herb's. Served in a pint, woo hoo.

Dark, charred, ashy all around. The barrels take a backseat which is somewhat disappointing. Some vanilla, yeah; but not nearly as creamy and sweet as I hoped/wanted it to be. Medium to high carbonation on a medium body. Good but definitely not great in my humble opinion.

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle 281/1152

Pours a beautiful brownish red with simply gorgeous one finger quickly receding tan head. Smells of licorice and rum cake dominate the roasted malts. First sip is yeasty and bitter, very fruity with pears and raisins leading the way. The bottle conditioning leads to a wonderful creamy mouthfeel.

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Photo of Khazadum
3.96/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Huge creamy head that was easy to produce. Tons of miniature bubbles that never get overwhelmed or distrubed by an active carbonation profile. Inky darkness and a sticky lacing create a picture perfect design on my glassware.

S- Strong oak presence comes forth with vanilla tones in the beginning, background of sweet syrup that the bourbon provides. Little bit of dark fruits laced in bourbon sweetness as well.

T- First impressions are of the vanilla and oak character that fades quickly as the bourbon starts to heat up. Middle is a bit alcoholic, tad astringent, and minor sweetness from the bourbon character.

M- Thin, disappointing, over-carbonated. This is the big let down of this beer. Watery while having a tad creamy nature. The carbonation persists on the opening and through the middle. Lingers barely. Almost a dry finish.

D- Regardless of how off this is from a traditional bourbon barrel aged beer, it isn't a bad beer. It has some issues, it does come forth with a bit of silk on occasions, but overall it is a decent offering. Not as good as I was expecting, though.

Wanted some chocolate, or dark fruits, or roasted grain, or even burnt grain. It is too plain in terms of flavors, but what it does have it does well.

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Photo of GregSVT
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml corked and caged bottle into a snifter - 2009 Vintage

A: Pours a dark black with a real nice brown head that fades to a layer leaving a good amount lacing on the glass.

S: The nose immediately hits you with whiskey and then settles into nice cocoa and vanilla aromas. Really smells like milk chocolate.

T: The taste starts with a lot of dark fruit and chocolate leading to a really nice molasses and vanilla flavor and ending with a nice sweetness on the finish. Barely any booze detectable...just big rich flavors.

M: The feel is big and chewy with a beautiful creamy texture. Great stuff.

D: Wow I found my new favorite barrel aged RIS. This is way too drinkable for 10%.

Side note: toughest cage to get off ever...it was wound so damn tight I hurt my fingers getting it off.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Chaney- Thanks Brandon!

Review from notes:

Pour black into my tulip glass. Good carbonation, and excellent lacing on this beer. Very dark and impossible to see through. Very good looking RIS. Nose is that of bourbon, vanilla, oak, roasted malt, coffee, some hops in the background. Taste is the same profile as the nose, with the bourbon really coming out as the beer warms. Fantastic tasting brew! Feel is on the smooth/creamy side for the style, but still amazing. Overall, this is an amazing beer- glad I got to try it.

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Photo of zhanson88
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Finally getting around to drinking and reviewing this bad boy. 2010 version, bottle 1404/3800.

Appearance: Ivan pours a dark brown color that appears pitch black once in the glass. About 2" of tan head forms, which has great retention and decent lacing. Legs are okay. Almost a perfect looking RIS, but it does look a bit thin on the pour. That's my only beef with it.

Smell: Interesting. Very dark fruit heavy.... lots of fig, raisin and date. Lighter amounts of chocolate and coffee. The barrel treatment shows very nicely as well. Nice amounts of woodiness and vanilla, with lighter bourbon scents.

Taste: Once again, lots of dark fruits. Figs and dates especially have a strong showing. Coffee and bitter dark chocolate are present, but very lightly. There is a shitload of vanilla presence in this beer, which is awesome. Also some woody notes as well as bourbon. The finish is woody with a lot of dark fruits, and even some cherry-like notes. The cherry seems off-key which is disappointing....slight knock on that.

Mouthfeel/Overall: The body really disappoints me. Pretty light....high carbonation. A far cry from creamy and full. It does improve somewhat as it warms, but it's still below average. Overall this beer is on the cusp of something great, but not quite there. I really liked the barrel treatment, and the dark fruit notes were quite different and refreshing. Definitely a must try, but not quite world class. I wish I had access to previous versions, but I guess I'll have another shot at it next year.

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Photo of claaark13
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle, 2503/3800 from black13. Right on man, Big Sky was the first non-Indiana craft beer I tried and it is nice to finally try their big man on campus. Poured into a Founders snifter.

A - Fairly dark, just less than pitch black, not all that thick looking. Nice looking tan head with good retention. Actually, it is a very nice looking head. Looks nice, but nothing special.

S - Dark fruits mixed with some vanilla and oak. Bourbon really starts to come through after a few whiffs. This actually smells quite nice. The bourbon is delicately laid above the dark fruits and is just fantastic. As it warms, it just gets better.

T - The dark fruits come out and then comes the bourbon. It isn't too overpowering, but I do get some esters towards the end. After the sip, some oak and then a nice vanilla/toffee flavor remains. This is a very interesting beer for me. I really enjoy this after flavor, and as I sip on it more I want to drink more. The slightly hot flavor goes away after a small number of sips. Whatever hotness in there really just dissipates into the vanilla/toffee after flavors.

M - It is just a little too carbonated and light for me at first. The body carries the flavor well though and allows for the flavor to stick on the tongue for a bit.

O - This is a great beer. The biggest thing holding it back is the bubbly mouthfeel at the beginning of each sip. That aside, I'm liking this beer a lot and will give it a shot in the future.

"A-" despite what the weighted score gives.

6/23/12 Update on 2010 bottle:

Appearance is great. Still a nice, thick, creamy head. Good legs, issue is that the color could pour a bit more black. The aroma difference is that the malts seem to be a bit more aggressive than the last review. Based on my previous description of the taste, it should have been a 4.0. The current taste shows some bready malts mixed with the dark fruit, vanilla, light oak on the finish. I taste a little cork, which may be my fault for laying it down. There is no booze. It is incredibly smooth and pleasant. It is a 4.5 at this point. Mouthfeel has improved as well. Thicker feel on the palate. Upgrade to 4.0 going on 4.5. Overall, it is just shy of a 4.5. Updated review would be 4.5/4.0/4.5/4.0/4.0.

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Photo of JamnesCameron
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased from my local Binny's, thanks to George for the advance taste before I bought. Bottle number 196/3000.

Poured into a snifter, leaving a large tan head that dissipates quickly, leaving a slight shimmer of a head. Black as night, even up to a light bulb, nothing gets through.

Aromas of candied, chocolate-covered fruit, and vanilla. Slight roast aroams as well.

First sip is bourbon (vanilla and alcohol). Some roast and chocolate at the back of the sip. Good balance of beer and barrel aging.

Mouthfeel is medium to full, but not heavy or filling. Bourbon richness fills your mouth with vanilla and a nice warm alcohol bite.

Drinkability is very good. I'm going to enjoy this over the next hour or so as it warms.

I wouldn't categorize this as a RIS, belongs in the barrel aged group. Not a lot of RIS coming through in this, but excellent none the less. I'm going to have to pick up a few bottles to age, if I can make it through the winter without opening another one.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to a very generous BA for crossing this big want off of my list! You know who you are.

Just the pour on its own indicates that this is one huge effin stout. Like hot pitch on a summer day, it is opaque, thick, and syrupy as it pours into my glass. A creamy head foams up on top, light brown in color and fine and frothy in consistency. Each sip yields a thin ring of lace with some leggy spidery streamers connecting them. Very pretty. A swirl wipes it all away, and leaves a film that doesn't really produce legs, but does bring a bit more foam and aroma out of the beer.

The aroma is complex and balanced, with the bourbon barrels only there to augment the base beer. dark chocolate, roasted malt, some syrupy sweetness, and hints of bitter chocolate all come to the forefront. Dark fruits (extremely dark) like raisins and dates swim the in background. Oaky vanilla and slight balancing bourbon come in, as well. The flavor track similarly, with the roast becoming a bit more present with the dark fruits that are also amplified on the palate. The raisins are especially notable. Again, the bourbon here is only around to provide a bit of extra flavor, and it definitely hits the mark. This is how a barrel aged beer should be -- base beer shining through and enhanced by the spirit.

The complexity of the flavor sort of overshadows the texture of this beer, and I find it a bit too thick for the balance. A phenomenal brew overall, as one might gather from my rambling earlier. I hope to be able to try this one again, because it is awesome.

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Photo of EricCioe
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this at a stout night with friends. It was Ivan, Abyss, Darkness, and Dark Lord, in that order. We had pretzels and water and some Goose Island Summertime in between rounds. Everything I had was out of a 6 oz snifter.

This poured a rich black with a nice rich espresso crema head over a finger high with good retention and spotty lace. One of the prettier big stouts I've seen. On the nose, there is a decidedly non-raucous mixture of molasses and oak especially, along with some bourbon notes and good deal of roasted malt. In the mouth the molasses and oak really take over, that dry woody flavor mixing with the sweeter notes of molasses, bittersweet chocolate, and bourbon. The flavors die away leaving bourbon for a long finish. The body is medium full, sort of less full than I would have expected, but still plenty enjoyable.

Overall, this is a fine stout that makes me really happy to be moving to Missoula soon.

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Photo of StoneTSR
3.76/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: A large, inch-thick, rocky, off-white head swells up as about six ounces of beer is poured into a tulip glass. Almost zero light gets through the beer itself. Some very subtle shades of reddish brown escape from the edges of the glass when held up to light. With a much larger and longer lasting head than I expected, there was, surprisingly, no lacing to speak of.

SMELL: Sweet, dark fruits dominate the aroma at first, but after a few sniffs big chocolate and vanilla flavors waft in.

TASTE: Cherry, raisins and dates are very strong in this beer while the vanilla, chocolate and oak notes serve to round out the flavor. A little balance comes in the form of some increasingly intense roasty notes as the beer warms along with a touch of hops.

MOUTHFEEL: Sweet start with a pretty dry finish. A subtle sparkle tickle the tongue, just enough to gives this otherwise silky beer a little bite.

OVERALL: The oak does not come through as strongly as I would like, and the fruit on
the nose was a bit of a turn off at first, but as I began taking in the subtleties of this beer it became much more enjoyable.

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Photo of ChadQuest
3.28/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Starts off like you would expect a stout to, very dark in hue and with a large tan head standing well above the body.
The aroma has a lot of roasts present, dry chocolates too, and some oak and vanilla mixed in there somewhere.
The flavors seem a bit harsh, this does have a prominant alcohol note and barrel note, but this harshness was differant and really coarse in a differant way, slightly astringent. Maybe it is the roasted malts and the alcohol, do not know. The oak and vanilla comes in and gives some depth and does end up with a good mix of flavors overall but the coarseness hurts it.
The mouthfeel is slightly creamy and coating.

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Photo of MCain04
3.77/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle from 2013 vintage, bottle 653/3000 poured into a Half Acre snifter at around 50F. Price $16/bottle.

Pours a dark brown body, almost no head to speak of, large beige bubbles quickly dissipate into mild rimming.

Smells of bourbon, sweet molasses, dark fruits, figs, vanilla, and light grape sweetness.

Taste is bourbon-forward with strong notes of molasses and vanilla. Drying alcohol esters. Subdued roast character. Taste is thin. Drying finish.

Feel is thin for as big as the beer is. Low carbonation. Easy drinking.

Overall, for as much as I anticipated this, I'm disappointed. This needs improvement in several areas. My other bottle will be happily donated to a friend who didn't get a bottle from the latest release, and here's hoping that future releases improve.

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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout - Barrel-Aged from Big Sky Brewing Company
4.28 out of 5 based on 820 ratings.
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