KGB Imperial Stout | Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

167 Reviews
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KGB Imperial StoutKGB Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.30%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Formerly a rotating release, "KGB" is being re-released as "W'11" in late 2010 - with seasonal winter/spring availability.

Added by Mitchster on 06-21-2003

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Reviews: 167 | Ratings: 294
Photo of rodbeermunch
3.41/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Jet oily black, tan head, 2/5" deep. Aroma was heavy roast, dark fruit bitterness.

The taste was like the aroma, except the alcohol was prominent. Big bitter, big roast, big boozy. Affordable in this format 12/6. Hoppy and burnt makes for a bitter experience, dropping those dark fruit times all over you.

A decent beer, especially in limited amounts, gets tiresome those after too much.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.25/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

No label information. KGB Russian Imperial Stout is brewed in the style of a Russian Imperial Stout, available in 12 oz. bottled 4 packs and on limited draft. 2013 release.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a snifter glass.

(Appearance) Pours a light brown/tan head over a very dark brown body. near black. Retention is below average and lacing is light and stringy. 3.75

(Smell) Moderate roasted barley, light chocolate. Very mild and underwhelming nose for a RIS, potency is mild. 3

(Taste) Moderate chocolate malts with notes of earthy, heavily roasted barley with subtle notes of coffee bean. A bit heavier on the delivery than the aroma suggests, but still not exceedingly impressive. 3.25

(Mouthfeel) Texture is silky, lightly chewy, slick, medium dry. Carbonation is mild, generating a light frothiness and a modestly crisp finish. Body is shy of medium for the style, medium/heavy overall. Balance is slightly earthy and roasty bitter over sweet. Alcohol presence is mild and there are no off characters. 3.5

(Overall) As far as beers go, this beer clocks in as an above average, fairly drinkable stout. Against other Russian Imperial Stouts, the flavor profile is mundane and shallow without much development, stunted and simple. As I recall a 4 pack of this beer sold at a considerably high price, I wouldn't recommend this as an ideal Imperial Stout option, but potentially a decent stepping stone from Guinness to something much, much finer. 3.25

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company's
KGB: Russian Imperial Stout

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Photo of Pegasus
3.73/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: A small, dense tan head surmounts an utterly opaque black body. Scattered, thin, patchy lacing decorates the glass walls.

Aroma: Roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and spicy alcohol dominate the aroma,

Taste: Opens with charred malt and bitter cocoa, followed by spicy alcohol. The charred malt lingers throughout, defining the backbone of the taste. The taste is a bit one-dimensional, being defined by charred malt and alcohol. Finishes with a lingering note of charcoal. The ABV of 9.3 % is very well-concealed.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, fairly full, pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: Sort of a Russian Imperial Stout-light, but cheap at the price, it was $6.99 a six-pack when released, how can one complain?

Presentation: Packaged in a custom twelve-ounce brown glass longneck bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

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Photo of JebBeerFish
3.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle date Dec 10 2012, stored in my cellar. I have been spoiled by Founders RIS and while this RIS is not bad, it falls well short of the Founders. Would like to try a fresher release on draft, but not likely to purchase a bottle again.

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Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz, 2012 bottle of KGB Russian Imperial Stout.

Black and opaque in the glass, with a semi-durable head. Limited lacing.

Aroma: rich dark and sweet malts and aged alcohol esters.

Flavor: rich and fairly complex, with a hint of whisky that comes with the obviously high, but not harsh, ABV. Lingering flavor of very dark roasted grains.

Feel: full, thick and smooth with some warming. Good, light carbonation.

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Photo of ISmith87
4.13/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - opaque brownblack with small tan head that leaves nice lacing.
S - chocolate and vanilla, cream, dark malts, simple.
T - chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, vanilla, cream.
M- thick, medium-heavy mouthfeel, alc covered aftertaste is roasted coffee and chocolate/cocoa.
O - good beer/good deal, its a good ris, similar to gf double stout

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Photo of scotorum
4.24/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dec. 18 '12 on the label so this has aged a year.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Smith English tulip glass.

a: Opaque black with the barest glint of clear ruby at the bottom. A two inch tall brown head receded slowly to thick surface foam and dense patterned lacing.

s: Dark chocolate malt.

t: Wonderfully silky smooth dark chocolate and coffee malt followed by a hop bite towards the back of the mouth, which gradually becomes more noticable. The high ABV, however, does not appear prominent. AS it warms, the chocolate/coffee flavor becomes more ashen.

m: The silky viscous sensation is the first noticed on sipping this. Medium to heavy otherwise.

o: An excellent RIS, one of the best I have had. Considering the lower marks many others have given, perhaps this improves signitifantly with age.

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Photo of Brenden
3.67/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

While it doesn't appear to be especially viscous, there is a certain thickness to this beer. It's almost black with a tan cap of head that stays strong and gives up some rings of lacing where the beer settles and some spotting between.
Roasted malt is heavy and leads to some char in the smell. Dark fruits come in along with the usual roasted coffee and bittersweet cocoa. There's just a faint whiff of alcohol at the end.
There's lots of roast in the flavor as well, and this beer finds itself just short of tasting burnt. Cocoa powder, baking cocoa and coffee grounds add strength to it, but where it improves over the aroma is a little added sweetness of vanilla as it pulls some dark fruits and char into the finish.
As with many Widmer Brothers offerings, the body leans light for this huge style. It does have some heft, but thickness and richness are key to this style in particular. It almost makes it, but not quite.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.07/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From the W Series 650 ml. bottle stamped: 11:37-WA-DEC1012. Sampled on November 30, 2013 less than two weeks from its expiration date.

The pour is black as a starless night with a moderate pillowy mocha head that eventually settles down and leaves lacing in its wake.

The aroma has dark malts, rye, and the slightest touch of cherry. A little booze too.

The body is medium to full.

The taste begins with dark malts and rye like the aroma suggests but there is a boozy character that filters its way in at the end and that's what lingers on the palate. If the boozy quality could have been more muted I expect this would have been a dynamite beer. That's not to say it is a bad one.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Years ago, I had the Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen and thought that it was one of the more enjoyable beers that I ever tasted. Although my preferences have changed quite a bit, I wanted to give this a go when I saw it at Top Hops a few weeks back. I hoped that it would be a bit more easygoing than other Russian Imperial Stouts that I've had and even though the alcohol was strong enough here, that did turn out to be the case. Whether this was categorized properly was another matter, however...

Of course, the pour was dark and reminded me of a thick soda. Not a lot of head here but the lacing more than made up for it, as it left near-perfect rings after each sip that I took. Quite a burnt aroma to this that was repeated in the taste. Burnt coffee, burnt oats, burnt the point where this felt a lot like an Irish Dry Stout taken up a notch of two. Some vanilla and cream for good measure gave this a it of depth but the warmth that other beers of this style have just wasn't here. The carbonation was light and so was the body, giving this a consistency of espresso without the caffeine. Certainly not a "motor oil" beer like so many other examples of this style.

Yes, this was strong but not enough that I felt like I was tasting alcohol as has been the case with so many other RIS's. This should have been categorized as an Imperial IDS and on it's own this was about as easygoing as a Stout could be. A bit more body and warmth and less of a burnt and smoky mouthfeel would have made this grade but if I hadn't ever tried anything this dark before, this would be the beer that I'd begin with. One in a sitting would probably be enough for most people.

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Photo of fountainofyouth
3.24/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a Guinness pint glass.

Appearance: My god it is dark. Essentially black. The head is decent-sized, maintains well, and sticks to the glass.

Smell: Good and strong. Sweet dark fruit and smoke. Almost bock-like.

Taste: A little shallow. There's some spicy hops and blackened grain that are good, but not too much else. The rich malt in the nose isn't in the flavor enough. Only at the end does it creep in, and by then it's too late.

Mouthfeel: It's pretty light-bodied for an imperial. The end is very, very dry, almost metallic. Not pleasant. Standard carb.

Overall: Could've been done better. Had worse, but I've had much better, too.

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Photo of brentk56
3.55/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 12/10.12

Appearance: An impressive wall of mocha colored foam builds above the black liquid; the lacing was smattering

Smell: Ashy roast, licorice and tobacco

Taste: Opens with a lot of ashy roast, with the licorice flavors building in short order; just a hint of dark fruit, in the middle, with the fruit, tobacco and roast flavors bringing up the rear

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Rather underwhelmed by this beer as it lacks the layered depth of flavor and full body that I look for in the style

Thanks, kemoarps, for the opportunity

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Photo of vette2006c5r
3.71/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Kgb pours a black color with a nice lacing tan head. Their is a a strong roasted malty aroma. The taste has a sharp almost sour malty bite, black licorice flavors and a strong boozy tast. Full flavor bu more of a sipper. Overall an interesting sourish russian stout.

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Photo of arizcards
3.86/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber at the end of April from Total Wine for 4.79. Bottled on 12-10-12.

Beer poured black as night with a very nice brown head.

Nose has hints of roasted malts and mocha.

Taste is nicely balanced. Roasted malts, chocolate, mocha, and a decent amount of hops keep the sweetness at bay.

Mouthfeel is medium to heavy and satisfying.

Overall I like this brew, not to boozy and very balanced and the office is nice. Give it a shot if you have the opportunity.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.76/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours an opaque yet clear jet black in color with some light amounts of gentle visible carbonation near the surface of the beer and some very dark amber + cola brown highlights. The beer has a two finger tall dense foamy dark tan head that slowly reduces to a thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a couple of small slightly thicker patches and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of dark roasted malts that slightly intensifies as the beer warms up.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of dark roasted malts along with some light amounts of coffee beans. There are some very light hints of dark fruits (raisin) that contribute a little bit of initial sweetness. The beer has a light to moderate amounts of bitterness that lingers for quite a while.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth. Light amounts of dryness in the finish.

O: Fairly easy to drink with very well hidden alcohol and not as intense flavors/aromas - not overly roasted or bitter.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.37/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Kevin or Jeff for this one, not sure who it actually belonged to. It pours out nearly black with some very, very dark brown tints that stain the extremities. The khaki, almost half-inch head actually has decent retention (for a Russian Imperial Stout, anyway) and leaves a few spots of chunky lacing along the sides of the glass.

Straightforward and simple is the aroma, possibly almost to the point of being a little one-track minded. Heavy roasted malts, embarking on the modest trail of light ash and light char. Sprinkle something faintly reminiscent of cocoa powder over that, and you've pretty much summed up the aroma of this one. It's missing out on a lot of great, yet typical RIS elements, and that makes it seem kind of bland and boring.

After taking a few sips, it unfortunately doesn't seem like the flavor profile will end up being the redeeming factor of this beer. It's far from bad, offensive, or gross - it just happens to be far too stripped down and painfully average when other beers of the same style are considered. Some deeply roasted, almost charred and burnt malts scrape the palate along with a dark cocoa bean finish, and now I'm struggling to pick out anything else.

The one and basically only addition the flavor has that the aroma doesn't is a bit of alcohol. In retrospect, it really isn't good nor bad, it's just there. I guess it gives a bit of robustness to an otherwise basic and slightly wimpy RIS. Even the mouth feel is lacking a bit; it's medium bodied, but still thin within the style; more oily and wet than creamy or smooth. Carbonation is pretty good, and sadly, it looks like that may be the high-point.

A pretty big "meh" in regards to a style that's full of huge, robust, and complex beers. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with lighter, simpler brews - hell, I love me a nice German Helles Lager... but when I pick up a Russian Imperial Stout, I have certain expectations and they just really weren't met here. Not bad, but uninteresting to say the least.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.22/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

2013 edition. Has it really taken this long for a Russian imperial stout to be named in honor of the KGB? Regardless, this stuff pours a murky black-brown topped by a finger of khaki foam. The nose comprises mild roasted malts, light chocolate powder, and a dash of blackened pretzel. The taste brings in more of the same, with a strong roasty bitterness pervading the second half of things, along with a hint of nondescript booze. The body is a stolid medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a thickly smooth feel. Overall, a middling RIS, one that just doesn't bring the proper amount of robustness or control necessary to communicate the style.

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Photo of ksimons
3.85/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A-very dark brown with two fingers worth of tan head that sticks to the glass

S-rich roasted malt, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a bit of molasses and licorice

T-taste is similar to the smell with a large amount of roasted malt and black coffee, dark chocolate, a light molasses

M-a bit on the thin side for the style, good carbonation, dry roasted mouthfeel

Overall this may not be the best of the style, but I think the smell is very good and it is easy to drink. I would have it again.

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Photo of metter98
3.73/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a finger high tan head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and the sides of the glass.
S: Light aromas of dark roasted malts are present in the nose; these become a little stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste has flavors of dark roasted malts along with notes of coffee beans and faint hints of raisins. It has a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels a little more than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. The roasted malts leave some dryness in the finish.
O: This Russian Imperial Stout is really easy to drink compared to other beers in the style because it's not overly full-bodied, bitter or roasty and hides its alcohol very well.

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Photo of screamking
3.12/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into snifter.

Pours pitch black with a thin tan head that disappears very very quickly. Lacing from side to side. The aroma in this is quite faint, for such a strong style there is just not a lot here. Dark fruits are present but just barely. That's all.

The taste leaves me wanting more also, there's a nice bitter rasian quality but that turns to a bad old coffe flavor. Worse than that its watered down bad coffee. I would be completely disappointed with this beer if I had any indication of its quality. This was a complete shot in the dark and it missed badly.

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.84/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Arrives a decadently rich brown with a creamy, thick, golden cocoa colored head. Great lacing but the retention is not so special having dropped to a few chunky islands and a partial ring within 3 minutes.
Smell is a bit weak. Some sweetness, some malt, some chocolate and vanilla all in good balance but the search is annoying.
Taste is better and more pronounced. Bittersweet chocolate, malt, some light hops, vanilla and just a hint of some spice in the background. Really good balance.
Exceedingly smooth, this full bodied brew just slides across your tongue and down your throat willingly. Effervescence is almost non-existent, more of an afterthought once the head formed. Drying finish works well. And it only gets better as it warms.

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Photo of SHODriver
3.16/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A: pours black into a snifter with a fingr and a half of dense and deep tan head that slowly fades to a small mat
S: my nose is trashed from cleaning my bathroom but I get a bit of hop bitterness(or cleaning agent astringency) some roast malt and a bit of chocolate
T: surprising hop bitterness up front with a bit of roasted malt and some dark chocolate. swallow brings more roastyness, piney hops and some chocolate
M: seems a bit thin for the style but still feels smooth and a bit creamy in the mouth. carb is a bit too high as well
O: it isn't terrible but it isn't great.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours an opaque black with a cocoa powder colored head that sits just over a finger thick. Fair retention. Streaky lacing with good stick.

Smell - Not much, to be honest. Earthy, with mild hints of chocolate and roasted malt.

Taste - Moderate notes of deep roastiness. Darkened caramel. Earthy. Mild bitter chocolate tones. Finishes with a lingering coffee bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body. Moderate carbonation. Super smooth and creamy. Entirely drinkable; near quaffable. That's not nearly the case with most imperial stouts.

Overall - Pretty tame by RIS standards. Might be a good intro brew for the style. Even near room temps this thing didn't have much kick to it. In a way, trades a punchy flavor for a smooth, drinkable experience. Old Rasputin's doppelganger, if you will. Certainly nothing that's going to satisfy the hardened Imperial Stout drinker, but I wouldn't call it unpalatable, either. Just a bit safe, is all.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.18/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I gotta say, I really enjoyed this 2013 version.
In a tulip glass the beer was near black in color with a small tan head and a little bit of lace.

Roasted malt aroma. Coffee and chocolate; strong coffee and dark chocolate.

Taste of espresso and dark chocolate. Some tobacco.

Dry, appropriately bitter.

Nice beer.

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Photo of dheacck11
3.55/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2013 KGB RIS
Poured from bomber into tulip glass

Pitch black. Not even a hint of light coming through.
No head at all, just a little thin peach fuzz around the rim.

Nose is suprisingly mild, hints of oak, whiskey, and tobacco.

Taste is really earthy, with a rich minerality going on. Lots of cedar, tobacco, hints of vanilla and smoke. Sharp hop bite at the finish. Generous dark malts throughout. Not super boozy, but the alcohol is noticeable.

Mouth feel is thick and full, but not syrupy like other RIS. Just feels creamy and full. Leaves the mouth watering.

Big and bold, worth a try, but just above average for the style.

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KGB Imperial Stout from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
3.61 out of 5 based on 294 ratings.
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