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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout | Big Sky Brewing Company

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Ivan The Terrible Imperial StoutIvan The Terrible Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by jegross2 on 05-23-2012

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Reviews: 99 | Ratings: 505
Photo of dpgoblejr
4.83/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Dark brown/black pour with a slight mocha khaki colored head. Roast, char, tar, and a little coffee on the nose. Flavors of tobacco, roasted malt, licorice, and coffee abound in the taste. Medium feel but coats well and the abv is hidden well. Quite enjoyed this offering and I was pleasantly surprised. Cheers!

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Photo of ManBearPat
4.75/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Great RIS. The comparisons to old Rasputin are legit. Only points off for a lack of proper carbonation... Otherwise, a well above average example of the style.

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Photo of Mehinaman
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This might not be the best stout I've ever had, but it's still pretty damn good. Tastes or chocolate and coffee. Pours pitch black and is not too thin at all which gives it a good mouthfeel. I will buy again

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled this evening on 2/8/16. Comes in a 12-ounce bottle. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a "MOOSE DROOL" handled-glass stein.

Brew pours a pitch-black in color with close to a 3-finger foamy/creamy beige head. LOTS of ring-like lacing is seen with each sip that stuck to the sides of the glass. Aroma is of dark fruits, roasted malts and black coffee. More going on with the taste with some bitter-sweet chocolate and a hint of smoke also in the mix. Minor bitterness for the finish which is common for this style of brew but doesn't last long. Medium+ to full-bodied with perfect carbonation. More of a sipping type brew then a chugging one for sure. Slow down and and enjoy it. Overall a great brew!

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Photo of Libeertarian
4.49/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2014 bottling. I had saved a few. I may review the 2015 bottling soon as well to see if aging the 2014s a year made much difference.

Nearly opaque and pitch black, although I can just barely see very dark red hues in the light. Head is fine and frothy, a slight orange-tinted medium or dark brown. Sinks down quickly at first, then retains a nice thick lining for the duration. Strong aromas of molasses, licorice, and pure ethanol. A bit of soil and burnt toast in there as well. So sweet and hot on the palate, it will take me a few moments to figure out just what is going on in this beer. Booziness runs through this beer all the way, which could be an effect of aging. Still, you can definitely make out such flavors as molasses, vanilla, toffee, baking chocolate, licorice/anise, leaf matter, menthol. Lots of good flavors, here, but the alcohol makes it a little too harsh. It is hard to distinguish roast qualities from hop qualities. Finish definitely produces hop bitterness, but it's subdued, and fairly nondescript, meshing well with roasty and boozy aftertastes. Medium body and fine, subtle effervescence makes this deceptively drinkable. Were I not reviewing this, I'd have been in danger of drinking it too quickly. It's watery, yes, but not watered-down. Only mildly astringent, and quite warm. 4.47.

Update: Okay, I'm reviewing the 2015 bottling now, approximately 24 hours later. Fresh, instead of aged a year. Let's see if there's much difference here:

Looks the same for the most part, but with better lacing. Smells roastier, smokier, with more chocolate notes, not much of anything else beyond ethanol, disproving my speculation that the latter aroma might be the result of aging. More chocolate as well on the palate. Otherwise, most of the same flavors as in the year-old 2014, except that leaf matter is swapped out for tobacco, and then booziness is not as pronounced in the taste, but still shows its full strength in the mouthfeel and finish. Mouthfeel is also slightly different. About the same level of carbonation, but more classic suds than effervescence. Fuller, less watery perhaps. Warming still, but less harsh. In all, I'd say appearance and smell are in the same range, but taste has slightly improved, though not really enough to change the rating, though the feel has vastly improved. I gave the year-old 4.75/4.5/4.5/4/4.5. I'll re-rate it based on this fresh batch. Fresh, in my opinion, it's slightly better than the 4.47 I had given it for year-old, but that is very much a matter of personal preference. 4.49.

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Photo of tzieser
4.46/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass (no tulip on hand, sorry proper glassware nerds!)

L: pitch black in color (completely opaque) with a thick eggshell colored head. The head on this beer never seems to quit. One of the best looking stouts I've seen in a while

S: rich, sweet malt aroma. suggestions of hot chocolate, roasted malt. Coffee. Alcohol is barley noticible in the nose. Quite nice

T: incredibly smooth. One of the smoothest Imperial Stouts I have ever had. Sweeter than I was expecting, lots of chocolate malt, dark chocolate, coffee, mocha, a bit of dried dark fruit in there as well. Finishes a little bitter, with roasted malts lingering. Excellent

M: mouthfeel is dry, inviting you to drink more

O: an outstanding imperial stout. Not too boozy or bitter. Well balanced for a beer of such high gravity. Well done!

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Photo of zfw
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Nice caramel start, roasted malt, alcohol is there but not overpowering even at 9.5. You can find a new dimension to the flavor with every sip. My only criticism is there are others in this style that I can buy much cheaper.

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Photo of Hat_Fulla_Beer
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into tulip.

Pours black with one skinny finger of dark brown head that leaves floating dandelion fluff lace as it recedes.

Smells of chocolate covered cherries, raisin, prune, coffee, sweet black licorice, campfire smoke and mild herbal hops.

Tastes of more chocolatey dried fruit and roasted nuts, toasted brown sugar, black coffee, vanilla, licorice and more faint green hops.

Feels thick and soft. Full bodied with creamy carbonation. Finishes off-dry.

Verdict: Vigorously recommended. A huge, tasty beer.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Howler style.

Black pour, 1" head of tan foam, very good lacing.

Dark, bitter, chocolate and roasted malt in the smell. It *almost* has an oat note or maybe it does. It's faint.

Dark chocolate in the taste, not overly bitter, nice roasted malt flavour, light sweetness, pretty basic but delicious.

Medium bodied, same for the carbonation.

An all around well brewed Imperial Stout. No barreling required for my enjoyment.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 twelve ounce bottle poured into a mini-snifter.

Pours a deep black, somewhat viscous, and produces a finger thick khaki-colored head. It sits well over the oil-like liquid. Lace forms around the edges of the liquid and streaks across the top. There's much to admire here. 4.5

Dark chocolate is potent as is sweet vanilla and caramel. There's a burly sweet malt thickness apparent on the nose. I'm reminded more of a scotch ale. 4.25

Dark chocolate takes the lead on the palate as well, toffee and vanilla follow-up and then there's a spicy bite of hops. Baker's chocolate lingers on the finish. With some warmth, some dark fruit flavor and even some cherry emerges. There is an excellent number of flavors here. 4.5

Smooth and creamy, but with a rush of carbonation mid-palate and a spicy hop heat that give the beer some bite. There's no alcohol feel or burn, which is impressive for this 9.5% brew. 4.25

This beer deserves more props. It's damn good. All across the board. A 4-pack for around $10 is a steal. I look forward to aging the other three bottles and enjoying them many years from now.

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Photo of alarmclock314
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 2014. Pours black with a small tan head on a hard pour. Smells of roasted malts, oak, and cocoa. Taste follows with cocoa, roasted malts, and some oak on the end. Some pleasing dryness in the finish. No alcohol warming. Surprisingly low carbonation, even for the style. Medium body. Overall, it has a good balance of favor and the lower carbonation works well.

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Photo of markgugs
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Way underrated brew...this is one of the better non-BA imperial stout I've had, reminds me in many ways of Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout, only with a thicker, more viscous mouthfeel (thus, the surprise that it's not, in fact, barrel-aged). Nose is earthy, like freshly-ground espresso and cocoa beans, and the taste features so much fudge and mocha-like coffee it's overly decadent. Rich, thick, chewy, amazing. Excellent "normal" imperial stout.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.34/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a chalice. 2014 bottle.

Appearance: Pours midnight black with a moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of tan head which settles into a thin creamy layer.

Smell: A rich, roasty, and sweet dark malt forward aroma with hints of chocolate, coffee, and biscuit. Dark roasted barley malt with upfront hints of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, biscuit, toast, caramel, smoke, and yeast. Hints of molasses and some anise licorice. Dark fruit hints of fig, raisin, and plum. Subtle earthy hops. A pretty good smell.

Taste: Like it smells, a roasty, rich, and sweet dark malt forward taste with good notes of dark chocolate, baker’s cocoa, biscuit, burnt toast, coffee, cream, caramel, smoke, and yeast. Sweet notes of molasses. Subtle notes of anise licorice. Dark fruit undertones with notes of raisin, fig, and plum. Light note of earthy hops. A very good taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, rich, and somewhat slick. Alcohol heat is minimal.

Overall: A very good take on a Russian Imperial Stout. Good dark malt flavors with a good balance of roasty bitterness and sweetness.

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Photo of ivehadthatbrew
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look (4.25): Barely jet black, slight brown/red hue around the edges. Nicely carbonated, tan head. Likes to cling to the edges.

Smell (4.25) Dark dried fruits, raisons, cherries and plum. Soy sauce, chocolate and coffee. Very earthy soil like tones. Not sure how I can tell from this point, but I think it's going to be more tannic. I need to look into how I'm relating this smell to a dry and bitter mouthfeel.

Taste (4.5): Fuck I love this. Raisons and cherries way up front. My palate is singing. Going more in depth, chocolate, bitter endings like coffee and earthy tones, like the ones I got in the aroma! Reminds me of coffee with sweet vanilla creamer.

Mouthfeel (4): An astringent tea like feeling and at the same time a creamy texture. Dry, medium plus bodied overall. Very light bodied for a Russian Imperial Stout, or at least for ones I'm use too. The finish goes on forever.

Overall (4.25): I'm very impressed. I'll be buying more of these guys. Same price as Narwhal by Sierra Nevada and just as good quality in my opinion, just a bit more approachable.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.29/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: AleSmith Barrel-Aged Reserve snifter glass
From: Bottlecraft North Park in North Park (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $3.50
Purchased: Feb. 10, 2016
Consumed: Feb. 11, 2016
Misc.: 2015 vintage; Bottle read 280152, going with a bottled on date of Oct. 7, 2015 (FreshBeerOnly.com was not helping me out with this one); Underneath the bottle cap read “Beaverslide”

Kind of an impulse buy, probably because of just trying a Black Albert, but it recently piqued my interest after coming across it on Beer Advocate. First time I’ve seen it in San Diego as well, so I went with it.

Poured a black color with 1-to-2 fingers of fizzy, tan head, which thinned out rather quickly. Bad watery lacing on the sides of the glass. Bad retention all the way down. (Sight - 3.50)

Smelled dark roasted notes of caramel and toffee, chocolate, dark cocoa powder, dark chocolate milk, faint metallic notes, semi-burnt toast, toasted brown sugar, dates, raisins, hints of smoky licorice and some warming, booze late. (Smell - 4.50)

Taste was good, but not as good as the nose. Got sugary, thick chocolate, dark wet cocoa, roasted caramel, toasted brown sugar, sugary dark toffee, some smoky char wood, roasty coffee malts, molasses (wishful?), metallic notes, but not as much as the nose, and burnt licorice. (Taste - 4.25)

Full body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish. (Feel - 4.50)

A very good Russian Imperial Stout. Had a great one the night before and this one was almost as good. (Overall - 4.25)

4.29 | 95 | A

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Photo of Pegasus
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: A nearly three-inch, dense and fine-beaded tan head, with excellent retention crowns an obsidian body. Thick, utterly glass-coating lacing adorns the glass walls abundantly.

Aroma: Profound aroma of vinous alcohol, burnt caramel, cocoa, vanilla, and dark fruit

Taste: The taste begins with burnt sugar, then bitter cocoa, then baker's chocolate. Midway through the taste there is cold coffee, black licorice and charred barley. There are hints, but only hints, of the high ABV of 9,5%, mainly slight vinous alcohol flavors. If anything, the alcohol is more notable in the aroma than in the taste. Hints of vanilla and wood appear as well. Finishes with a lingering burnt and moderately earthy note.

Mouth feel: Rich, smooth, velvety, and full.

Drinkability/notes: An absolutely wonderful Russian Imperial Stout, worthy of the style. I am surprised that this was offered in a four-pack of twelve-ounce bottles for $11.99, rather than a twenty-two ounce bomber at the same price.

Presentation: Packaged in a standard twelve-ounce frosted brown glass long neck bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium chalice.

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Photo of nawpnawp
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a nice creamy head. The nose is a nice malty backbone with hints of chocolate and molasses. I wasn't expecting much from this, but it exceeded expectations. The malty backbone and hops in this shine. It's not super hoppy or anything, but compared to other stouts, you can taste it since it isn't exorbitantly sweet. I'm really digging the malt character on this one. The mouthfeel on it is solid as well.

Overall, it has great characteristics and I think it is a fantastic example of a classic RIS. I am looking forward to getting a barrel aged version of it someday.

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Photo of adman08
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Dark brown with minimal tan head. Sweet almost oak aroma with hints of coffee and molasses. Prominent dark chocolate flavor, some coffee and a slight sweetness. Creamy smooth body, not terribly thick. Tasty imperial stout, a little on the sweet side but certainly not too sweet, just not super roasty.

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Photo of hardy008
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a one finger tan head. The aroma has dark roasted malt, cocoa, and some dark fruit.

The taste is mildly sweet with cocoa, dark chocolate, dark fruit, and there is dark roasted malt which brings bitterness for balance. The alcohol is well disguised. I would not have guessed this is a 9.5 % abv beer.

Medium to full bodied with modest carbonation. Chewy. There is a chocolate aftertaste. A well made beer, and I am glad I had a chance to try this.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.24/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage. 12 oz bottle.

Served slightly chilled into a goblet. Ivan the Terrible is a deep dark brown with good clarity. The head is thin and leaves no lacing.

Aroma is rich and roasty with a hint of sweetness.

Flavor is bold and full of dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and nuts.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, nicely carbonated, and well balanced.

Overall a very good imperial stout. Nice to see it in 4 packs this year.

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Photo of Tone
4.24/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a black color. 1/3 inch head of a tan color. Great retention and decent lacing. Smells of sweet malt, slight roast malt, yeast, hint of sugar, hint of syrup, hint of hop, and alcohol. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, alcohol, slight roasted malt, hint of syrup, hint of hop, and a hint of yeast. Overall, good appearance, strong aroma, strong body, good blend, and good feel.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I had this beer in a snifter at the Pine Box in Seattle.

Appearance: beautiful black hue; rich and thick with a finger of creamy tan foam with great retention and a thick lace. Just wonderful.

Smell: surprisingly mild, but still quite good. Nicely roasty with a little bit of a creamy character. A bit on the light side, but well-composed.

Taste: richly roasty, chocolatey, with caramel, toffee and a little dark fruitiness. There's a bit of an oaky, vanilla component, although this is not the barrel aged version -- interesting. I think it's very good indeed.

Mouthfeel: big body with a good carbonation and a silky smooth texture and a brilliant creaminess. Wonderful!

Overall: this is surprisingly easy-drinking despite its ABV. Very, very tasty and highly quaffable -- what else do you need?

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Photo of chinchill
4.21/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle dated 2015. 9.5% ABV.

Poured with an exceptional, frothy tan head that leaves a very full cost of lacing.
This has a really nice aroma from a mix of medium and dark roasted grains.hints of coffee and a light touch of booze. The coffee and booze are more obvious in the taste which is rather strong. Mildly bitter with a moderately bitter aftertaste.

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Photo of WoodBrew
4.21/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Ivan the Terrible.....is terribly awesome. Great stout....would love to try the barrel aged version. Pours opaque black with then ecru head that is leaving a spotty lace. The carries a deep roast with waifs of alcohol. The taste is like peat and espresso mix. Themouthfeel is close to oil....nice an thick....luv it. Overall...if your a Russian stout fan.....you should like this.

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Photo of IPAGeorge
4.21/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured form a bottle into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint

A. Pours a beautiful black as espresso impenetrable by light with a 2 finger cappuccino colored head with very nice lacing. Looks great.

S. Aromas of dark chocolate and dark roasted malt make up the character here. A slight aroma of a dark dried fruit like prunes or raisins.

T. At first I get a chocolate flavor suddenly followed by a fig like dark fruity sweetness then a finish with a little bitterness and a pleasant baby spinach note. A bit of complexity here hitting different notes at different times. Each flavor blending into the next with ease. I'm liking it.

M. Not motor oil but still thick. Chewy but also with a little carbonation. A tad warming going down. The carbonation is a nice counter balance to the chewiness.

O. A very drinkable stout. A little thick but it fools you with the carbonation so the finish is more like a black ipa. Beautiful to look at. Very solid complexity of flavors here and the aroma basically backs that up. Nicely done.

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Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout from Big Sky Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 505 ratings.
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