KGB Imperial Stout | Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

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KGB Imperial StoutKGB Imperial Stout
296 Ratings
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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Ratings: 296 |  Reviews: 168
Reviews by nsabo:
Photo of nsabo
2.57/5  rDev -30%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I've had this beer a few times now and I'm decided that this just doesn't match my expectation of an imperial stout. The first time I tried this it drank like a plain (albeit boozier) stout. Now it tastes like a heavier, boozier cream stout or a very thin RIS. This feels smooth but thin, though the mellow bitterness of the chocolate and the hops go nicely together. I like my stout grains burnt, but here the creaminess awkwardly contrasts that burntness and
I just can't find much going on here.
I know, at $7/6pk it's a deal, but in terms of style this beer is a bit conceited.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
3.37/5  rDev -8.2%
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 BeerAdvocate
3.7/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #49 (Feb 2011):

Tan lacing crowns this deep, sooty brew. Stewed dates, leather, hint of mace, carob, mild coffee and a watery charcoal fill the nos- trils. Smoothness is there, but the creaminess is over the top--sip after sip enjoyment. Choco-burnt character comes off a little bitter; burnt sugar and charcoal. Hops jump in there with their own bitterness to balance the malt, and the fruitiness struggles a bit to stay in the game. Inner warmth grows after each taste, with hints of vanilla or nougat and with a burnt black currant flavor in the charred semidry finish. Perhaps not of epic proportions, yet sized just right, it's a welcome surprise this winter.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.18/5  rDev +13.9%
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 Beaver13
2.79/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle W'11 version dated 1/4/11. Pours a dark brown-black with a big creamy tan head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is a bit subdued - chocolate malts and grains with a little roast and a touch of plastic.

The flavor is roasted chocolate malts, anise, and some tar with a big charred bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, an interesting big beer from Widmer. But it's too much tar and charred bitterness for me.

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Photo of SmellsofMahagony
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of Mora2000
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with an off-white head. The aroma is heavy on the coffee and chocolate with some roasted malt mixed in. The flavor is more of the same. I get a lot of bitter chocolate as well as some charred and heavily roasted malt. The alcohol is very well hidden and is not noticeable at all. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A very nice imperial stout.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.62/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Dark black throughout with a thin brown head that leaves spiderwebs of lace down the glass, though the beer looks a bit thin.

Bold and complete aroma of roasted malts, a touch of chocolate, and a bit of tangy licorice.

The flavor is simple, with the roasted malts dominating most of everything else. There's a bit of sweetness, though this is a simple, but complete stout.

Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation.

Decent enough big stout, but there are better options available practically anytime, anywhere.

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Photo of TKEbeerman
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of moundbz
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.54/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black, small beige head, nothing out of the ordinary for style. Aroma was largely a deep burn of roast.

Taste, good, warming, heavily bitter, heavy on the heavy roast, slight hoppy feel to it. Hoppier than most in the style. A little bit too alcoholic to be excellent, but the price point on a 6 of this $9 works very nicely. A good beer, solid second tier option for the style, and nice to have it in 12 oz bottles.

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Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev +3.5%
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 Oelschlager
3/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of LXIXME
4.33/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big rich light brown head slowly dies leaving a pretty decent lacing atop a clear dark brown or black colored stout.

Roasted malts with a dark fruit backbone aroma, almost like roasted cherries or apricots.

Taste warm and roasted malts with dark chocolate hints and a light dark fruitiness in the background, rather enjoyable.

A light dark chocolate roasted lightly dry aftertaste.

I rather enjoyed this imperial stout, when I poured it I could smell the alcohol but that seems to disappear as I drank it.

Not the heaviest stout I've tried but a pretty darn good one.

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Photo of Brenden
3.67/5  rDev 0%
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 switzer
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
3.1/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottled Jan 27 - consumed 5/31

I'm seeing a lot of Sub-Par reviews and I'm disagreeing with them to a point. For a $8.99 six-pack RIS at 9.3% it's a solid brew and value...not to mention ageable!

A - Black - teetering on dark brown root beer cola. So-so.

S - Dark Fruits, vanilla, coffee and dark chocolate

T - Well...the dark fruits are there, almost a Belgian quad characteristic followed by vanilla, coffee, and chocolate. You'd guess by everything I mention, it has everything solid that a good RIS should. There's a smokey, almost ashy component that compliments all the above mentioned. Not quite offensive, but not happy it's there either. Will it mellow with age....I hope so. Don't mistake this with roasty...because it's ashy. As it warms, it gets more ashy...the price is keeping me from a 3 score.

M - No complaints at all. Oily, velvety slick. It paired extremely well with some moist father in law who HATES stouts loved it along with that desert and said he finally found a stout's place in the world. (For him at least)

O - at $8.99 why not pick one up? Good, but nothing to call home about. Mouthfeel was the best aspect of this brew...which is very important when it comes to RIS's.

*EDIT* I've now finished the 6er. Thin, ashy and subpar. Go with Green Flash Double Stout or Old raspy for the 4-pack over this 6er... best advise I could ever give.

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Photo of DrewBest
4/5  rDev +9%

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
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 GilGarp
3.3/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle stamped 1/4/11.

Served cold into a pint glass, KGB is a very dark brown stout. The head is short but creamy smooth and has good longevity. Some small lacing is left behind.

Aroma is rich and roasty with a nice coffee character. There even seems to be a solid late hop addition.

Flavor is where this imperial stout starts to disappoint. It has a nice strong roasty quality to it but it doesn't have the depth to make it really interesting. A little hoppy, a little sweet, but that's about the extent of it's bag of tricks. If you're looking for complexity, this won't do it.

Mouthfeel is medium-plus in body and a little over carbonated. The alcohol comes through a little strong but it would probably be better after a few months to a year.

It is a fair strong stout but certainly not going to complete with the TenFidys, Storm Kings, or Old Rasputins of the world. Then again, it's considerably less expensive. If you consider it a budget RIS, then it's probably worth what you paid.

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Photo of Magpie14
3.3/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I found some old notes on this one...

A: liquid black. Soap bubbles sit atop a thin dirty yellow foam, lace is meager (understandable due to ABV). Presentation is lacking overall, it just doesn't catch my eye

S: smell is of roasted grains and malts with a rather strong wafting of spicy alcohol. Sweetness has some chocolate, licorice, and a tinge of fruitiness. Interestingly it reminds me of bananas

T: this beer blends its roasted character with alcohol. Nothing is cloying sweet nor is it sweet enough to stick around. I find a soft toffee and caramel flavor with some crushed coffee beans. These few flavors sound nice but are a mishmash of insecurity. Nothing is flowing well and if something tries to make a stand on the tongue, the peppery alcohol knocks it over. This beer gained some strength as it warmed both in flavor and alcohol, with more of the latter

M: a soft snap of carbonation and a hearty medium to heavy body. Mouthfeel is rather slick but when the flavors are awry the feel suffers as well

D: the menu mentions "notable alcohol content." Not sure if I have ever seen that before as a selling point. In any event this is a good winter warmer and I was able to snag a fading out of season glass. Plenty of other RIS's to reach before this one, although I am glad I was able to sample it

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Photo of ShawneeIrish
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of ElGordo
3.85/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pored from the 12oz sniffer into a Maudite sniffer. Body is a deep dark brown - almiost black - topped by a thin layer of creamy, khaki-colored head. Aroma is big on roasted dark malt, with notes of mocha and dark cocoa nibs. A hint of floral hops and a touch of lactose sweetness round things out.
Palate is big on roasted dark malt, with big notes of bittersweet chocolate and mocha. A good dose of floral, bitter hops, bourbon, and some bitter dark chocolate linger on the finish. While some rough, boozy edges still remain, the base of the beer is still quite tasty.
Body is full, slightly creamy, but not as thick or rich as other vintages of this beer. It's still very tasty, but nit as finely crafted as it could be. I don't know if it's the scaling-up of the batch or a different recipe, but they've lost a bit of the edge here.

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Photo of markcp
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of bradleyp
3.4/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got a six pack of this at the local gas station.

A: Very black in color, with a nice dark khaki head at the end of the pour.

S: Smells of coffee, and light chocolate aroma. Very nice malt overtones that also does not smell very boozy at all.

T: The taste is a little more boozier. At 9% this beer does taste like a great stout. Coffee, some chocolate, dominate the taste.

M: This is a nice thick stout. Goes down nice and smooth, and no nasty aftertaste.

O: I would probably drink this again on tap, but I don't think I would buy another 6 pack again.

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KGB Imperial Stout from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.67 out of 5 with 296 ratings