Imperial Stout | Dark Star Brewing Company Limited

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Imperial StoutImperial Stout
Very Good
Imperial StoutImperial Stout

Brewed by:
Dark Star Brewing Company Limited
England, United Kingdom

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

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User Reviews & Ratings
Reviews: 14 | Ratings: 23
Photo of hopley
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

• Look – 4.5 – Solid jet black color with tan head that lingers throughout.
• Smell – 4.0 – Mildly roasty and sweet but couldn’t really smell much.
• Taste – 4.5 – Mildly roasty and very sweet, very smooth. Slightly high carbonation at first but this seems to settle out. A hint of alcohol burn really accentuates it.
• Feel – 4.5 – Thick and solid mouthfeel. Chewy.
• Overall – 4.5 – Really enjoyed this and would drink again. Very tasty.

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Photo of chinchill
3.51/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

330 ml bottle served in a Belgian snifter. BB date stamp of Fall 2014, but carefully stored. [Thanks to RBWG-14 friends for bringing this from London.]

Pours near black and opaque with a barely decent head. Spotty lacing.

Aroma: sweet medium and dark malts with some alcohol esters. Hints of dark fruits and black cherries.

Flavor: surprisingly sweet, even in the finish. Some hops kick in and bring more balance to the aftertaste. Both medium and dark malts with some burht toast notes. Some sherry and the like from the alcohol esters, yet the high ABV is partially hidden.

Feel: full body with medium-light carbonation Despite aging the high ABV is too obvious. While this is not oerly hot, it does pack some heat and tongue harshness.

O: a rich, imperial sweet stout. Glad to try this but disappointing nonetheless.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.81/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A 330ml bottle with a BB of Sept 2014 (2012 vintage). A bit out of date but hopefully holding up well. Given to me as a gift a while back and stored in a cupboard. The label describes it as slow matured for complexity.

A: Poured into a Duvel tulip. Bottle conditioned. A very dark brown hue that appears pitch black in the glass. Yields a decent head of creamy mocha foam that lasts for a couple of minutes before subsiding to a patchy surface layer. Slight lacing.

S: Aroma of rich roasted malt with hints of prunes, dried fruit, molasses, faint burnt grain, vanilla, a twinge of liquorice, fruity yeast esters, subtle earthiness and faint stewed leaves. A warming whiff of booze in the background. Well-rounded and complex - very nice.

T: Tastes of sweet roasted malt with a lingering bitter finish. Notes of mild burnt grain, coffee grounds, dried fruit, molasses, a hint of liquorice, fruity yeast esters, faint vanilla, earthiness and stewed leaves. A touch of alcohol in the background. Slightly sweet, followed by a strident, malt-driven bitterness upon swallowing.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with soft carbonation and good body. Could be ever so slightly livelier and thicker. Somewhat astringent, accompanied by an aftertaste of rich roasted malt, dried fruit/molasses, yeast esters and mild stewed leaves.

O: Pretty good - a complex imperial stout. Looks alright, while the aroma and flavour are a satisfying blend of roasted malt, dried fruit and yeasty notes, all followed up with a boozy finish. Good body; can't help thinking it could be a tad thicker. Not the best example I've tried - my impression is that this is just a shade too bitter to be balanced. That said, it's still an impressive effort that goes down nicely. Worth sampling if you chance across it.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled and possibly bottle conditioned so much going on in that bottle & all good black currant, liquorice, aniseed, awesome & kickass
The flavour of the most important

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3.25/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle. Lager glass. Enjoyed on apr´12. Tan froth, thin lasting crown. Toasted malts & citric hues to the nose. Malts & subtle sourness – green plum-, low bitterness at first sip. Then unexpected hoppy explosion creates a dry palate. Wood & aged hues, gentle viscosity.Full body, soft carbonation. Slightly tartar finish. Comment: barrel notes produce unbalanced flavor. I´ll give it an opportunity so I´ve picked it up to my cellar since I think its complexity reserves nice surprises. We´ll see!

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Photo of fullsweep
3.47/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

330mL dark brown/blackish bottle poured into a pint tumbler (as that's all the glassware I own).

A: nearly pure black ale; slow pour reveals no head whatsoever, only a tiny bit of off-white foam.

S: molasses, rich, sweet scents.

T: very sweet but balanced with a strong bitterness as well; another reviewer mentioned hints of vanilla and that is spot on--in fact I think that is stronger than the expected cocoa, coffee, etc. of stouts in general; it must also be said that there is a strong presence of alcohol in this too which leaves it resembling a touch of vodka.

D: this is no session brew at 10.5, even though that is typical (or even low) for this style. It was certainly a pleasant experience, but not one I'd go for repeatedly.

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Photo of thryn
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottling; picked it up while I was in the UK. Pours nearly black -- holding it up to the light shows it is a reddish brown -- with some floaties and no real head, but the halo leaves pretty trails on the sides of the glass.

Nose is a little boozy, with some dark chocolate, toffee and vanilla notes, and a hint of coffee. Also a little raisin and soy sauce, which I'm guessing means I might have sat on this one too long.

Fortunately, the soy sauceishness is not there on the palate. Just a rich, chocolatey stout with sweet coffee and bitter coffee notes. On the sweet side and very smooth.

Mouthfeel is slick and not sticky. It could stand to be thicker. No carbonation, but I expected that.

Not my favorite RIS ever, but certainly a good one, and I wonder how much better it might be with better storage or slightly fresher.

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Photo of PartyBear
3.91/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled (330ml), 2009 vintage, poured from chilled into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance: The body is almost black, dark chocolate colour, with a fast fading small creamy tan head, and no visible carbonation.

Aroma: The aromas are very earth, bitter espresso coffee, dark Belgian chocolate, vanilla cream, and ice-cream cone wafer.

Taste: The initial flavours come through quite weak, there is a bit of coffee, and roasted malts but they don't really assert themselves. Towards the end there is a more noticeable bitterness from the malt, that brings espresso, dark chocolate, and a light smokeiness that lingers into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Quite heavy on the palete, with a smooth silky feel.

Drinkability: The aroma was superb, one of the best I have experienced with an RIS, unfortunately the flavours just didn't back it up, proving weak and uncommitted. However, this is a 2009 vintage, so I am drinking it very young, within a year of brewing in fact, meaning it hasn't really had chance to mature. I have another two bottles of the 2009, and I intend to cellar them and re-review, at which point I am confident that the taste will be a damn sight full and more potent.

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Photo of wl0307
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Almost three years since my first encounter of the bottle-conditioned version, this time round I'm sipping the smaller, 330ml version. 2007 Vintage, BB APR.09, served cool in Gulden Draak's tulip-shaped sniffer glass.

A: a force-pour results in a 2cm thick yet still short-lived fluffy tan head, sitting on top of a jet black hue, while the carbonation level is unknown.
S: extremely aromatic with hints of fortified wine (as of sweet Masala), lots and lots of dark, vanilla-ish chocolates, roasted malts' nutty edge, almost oily black sugar syrup, skirted by a raw-ish gristy malts as well; the deeper layer of jammy dark fruits (like preserved plums and black berries) ascends following a good swirl, but overall the balance gears towards the aromatic, 110% thick black maltiness. A faint touch of alc. is only detected after a close sniff, exactly like my previous encounters with both the cask- and bottle-conditioned versions, while the hop profile is not quite apparent, either.
T: marvellous! - the thick & oily winey-malty foretaste comes restrained in flavour actually, followed by an aromatic black-malt mid-taste full of charred-wood and burned-nut aroma, "focused" preserved dark fruits (the same as on the nose); underlining all of the above is a soothing but chewy & dry bitter impact, while a decent input of herbal-spicy touch of hoppiness also stays loyally behind. In an intriguing contrast, the finish is satisfying and yet thirst-provoking at the same time.
M&D: mellow, lightly oily, slick, very fine on the carbonation; the hop influence is not so bold and BIG as in many American interpretations of RIS, but still quite substantial by the British standard. The result is a slightly modern take on the old world's version of RIS, that a key sour/winey touch is certainly retained, while the hoppiness also renders a bit more charm to the overall complexity. All in all, this is a fine product suitable to newcomers in the real ale world before moving on to the more traditional and stale examples such as Harveys~~

* Tasting Date: 13/09/06
I've always thought the 500ml bottle-conditioned version I got at the Pitfield Beer Shop (a week before it was closed) is some sort of "limited edition" of this beer--afterall the price is like it's unique (at whopping 4.3 pounds!!!). But two days ago I spotted it again at a nice offie in Brighton, this time coming in 275 or 330ml small bottles!! So I think I can rest assured that Dark Star has perhaps decided (wisely) to put this ale on the regular production line, and my pre...cious bottle doesn't have to wait alone in the cellar anymore~~ 2005 Vintage, served cool in a large Burgundy bulb wine glass.
4.5 A: pours a jet black colour, with brownish glows against light; the almost negligible beer head is force-poured then dissipates in no time, leaving large air cells floating on the surface; very static body. All's well for an aged English RIS.
4.5 S: sweet vinous upfront, with a deep scent of blackberry and black-plum like oak-aged Syrah--buttressed by an aromatic, vanilla-laced dark chocolatey base, roast nuttiness, licorice, sweet woodchips, and an interestingly refreshing edge of leafy herbs, like mint! No alc. detected on the nose, as it hides just too well behind the mildly sweet chocolatey facade.
4.5 T: in a gentle wave the palate is flooded with softly-textured sweet filtered coffee and chocolate syrup, ensued by an unsweet edge of treacles, fruity hints of black cherries and ripe black plums, and an intensifying aroma and taste of roast nuts... the overall bitter-sweetness quietly lubricates the whole palate like the texture of Extra Virgin olive oil, yet not quite finished until a "gagging", dryish kickback of high alc. stings from behind (if swallowed too fast, that is). Amazingly long finish, full of burned woodchips, nuttiness, 90% chocolates, and never-ending bitterness of hops to help strike a superb balance.
5 M&5 D: absolutely rounded and smooth on the mouthfeel, and the texture is rather warming than burning, making this 10.5%abv. beer an easy-drinking one, even quaffable~~ This bottled version is even softer than the cask-version tasted 8 months ago, which I should think is attributed to the softening power of bottle-conditioning?! All in all, since this beer is apparently not a one-off as I wrongly believed, one should seek it out to compare it with both the traditional English RIS as well as American interpretations. This beer deserves its own place, I believe.

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Photo of stcules
4.17/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black color. But very black. Not too much foam, half finger, beige in color.
Strong, intense smell, quite alcohol warming, with cocoa, choclolate. Full, sweet, inviting.
Then in the taste, all. A lot of cocoa, chocolate, choclolate of Modica. The rhubarb, liquorice, roots.
Intense. Less smooth than the smell, but really good.
Again rhubarb, artichoke, liquorice, cocoa.
In the aftertaste a lot of rhubarb, softnend by the cocoa, slightly floury.
Very good.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pretty near black, with slim, soon trimmed down cocoa-tan head.

Blackstrap Mollasses, treacle, in aroma...hints of anise,blackberry, fig...bittersweet, flavorful, but mellow.

And, to drink...anise is larger in the taste, than the aroma, really licorice-y, with a dry fruitiness, raisins, grapes, ...not getting the grittier coffee and chocolate flavors we know from American imperial stouts. Diferent horse, different color.

And the 10.5 % isn't exactly sticking out, this is very smooth...medium bodied...could be bigger, in mouthfeel and texture, but I think they made the beer they wanted to, and it's hard to fault them for not being Expedition Stout or Dark Lord.
Very mellow, and relaxing...a cordial Imperial, quite accomodating.

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Photo of corby112
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hand-pumped at the Wenlock Arms in northern London.

Pours pitch black with a thin tan head. Aroma consists of roasted maltiness, chocolate, coffee and toffee. This is a very quaffable smooth stout with roasted chocolate maltiness, coffee, oatmeal, alcohol and toffee flavors. Sweet and bitter with nice alcohol warmth in the finish.

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Photo of Naerhu
1.55/5  rDev -60.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A - Jet black body with no head.
S - next to no aroma, but what aroma there is, is charred malt.
T - Very bitter, burnt malt, slightly sweet. Long lasting flavor.
M - oily and heavy. A little hot from the alcohol.
D - O.k. this is the worst beer I have had in a while. It was just incredibly bitter and heavy with no carbonation.

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Photo of Imbiber
5/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark Star Imperial Stout 2005, sampled cask-conditioned well over a year after it was brewed. Aged for half of that time at the brewery, and the other half in the cellar at Spuyten Duyvil, Brooklyn, where I was lucky enough to have it a couple of weeks ago (notes were taken).

Served at perfect cellar temperature for real ale, this wonderful brew was pretty much totally opaque. There was a small head which lingered. The aroma was enticingly vinous, a little perfumed maltiness and a hint of alcohol.

Taste... Holy firkin! Very smooth and dangerously drinkable, the initial moderate bitterness (smoothed out by sherry notes) being superceded by a fairly intense roastiness coupled with a fair smack of hops. Perfectly balanced and (as far as I remember) with more depth than the sample from the same batch I tried last summer in the UK.

This stuff just slid down with so much ease. The long, roasty, bitter finish was the only thing slowing down my imbibing frequency - it would be blasphemous to do anything but savour every sip.

Wow. Perfection in a glass with all aspects, in my opinion. Was Ninkasi manifesting her spirit in this beer for the ultimate imbibing pleasure?

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Imperial Stout from Dark Star Brewing Company Limited
Beer rating: 3.92 out of 5 with 23 ratings