KGB Imperial Stout | Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

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KGB Imperial StoutKGB Imperial Stout
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.

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User Reviews & Ratings
Reviews: 168 | Ratings: 296
Photo of zeff80
3.96/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured out a thick, jet black color with a very small, light brown head. It left minimal traces of lace. It smelled very sweet with notes of chocolate and toffee. Some subtle floral notes, too. It tasted of sweet roasted barley, caramel and some bitter, sharp grassy hops.

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Photo of fountainofyouth
3.24/5  rDev -11.7%
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 -3.3%
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 +1.1%
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 +5.2%
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 +2.5%
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 -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 TMoney2591
3.22/5  rDev -12.3%
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 +4.9%
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 +1.6%
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 -15%
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 +4.6%
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 -13.9%
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 -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 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 dheacck11
3.55/5  rDev -3.3%
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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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.61/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Forgot what color it was when I poured it but KGB sits black in my big ol' goblet o' RIS. Dark beige head fades to a lazy skim and leaves a few polka dots of foam.

Smells like brown sugar, charcoal and molasses.

Roasty caramel chocolate nougat desert sweet stout. Dried dark fruit in back. Flavors dull and muddle as it warms which is a shame because it starts great. Hearty, smooth mouthfeel.

Brewed with "Midnight Wheat" which is trademarked so don't try and steal that great name. I didn't know one could trademark wheat.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
3.2/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle tried 5 Mar 2011. Served in the (512) One snifter.

Large thick brown head. Well carbonated. Very dark brown, opaque. Aroma is roasty, smokey, burnt coffee, and sweet dark sugars. Starts much the same. Well roasted coffee bitterness. Touch of tobacco. Some chocolate milk sweetness. Medium body, ethanol is warming. Lingering roasted/burnt bitterness.

Overall, not bad but towards the middle of the pack for this style.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.5/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at Bailey's Taproom in Portland, OR.

Pours a solid black-brown, with a fine and full, but relatively bubbly head of caramel brown. Great lacing as it subsides. Solid body to it with a firm bead. Looks great.

Robust nose with big, smooth roasted characters coming through, giving caramel and a touch of light coffee. Creamy chocolate noticeable too. It's so smooth. Wonderful stuff.

Taste is smooth and clean, but with lingering complexities on the back. More sweet caramel, dark more brusque roasted coffee beans, and chocolate in a silky high-cacao way. All is layered with the smoothness of character which seems to epitomise it. Awesome.

Lovely drop. It's smooth, round, clean and complex. Everythign you want in an imperial stout. Love it.

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Photo of Scotchboy
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz long neck bottled on 20 Dec 2010, poured into my CBS snifter.

A: Opaque black as you would expect, practically no head in this expansive glass; splotches of tannish/brown lacing and alcohol lacing stick to the glass.

S: I like it, sweetness and hops meet the nose; molasses and hints of chocolate, oily herbal hops, perhaps a bit of tangy wheat as well? Dark dank malts and hints of coffee, roasted notes.

T: Taste follows the nose, there is a good amount of chocolate, the molasses and sweetness of burnt caramel mix with roast and coffee and charred wood, herbal hops are still here, between those and the wheat there is the slightest hint of the presence of a citrus rind.

MF: Oily medium feel, with lower carbonation and a hint of alcohol still.

O: Still a good drinker after a year+, and a great value. Recommended.

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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 hopfacebrew
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My man Erik hooked up a bottle of this - thanks man!

Poured to a pint glass.

A - The beer pours very dark, not quite pitch black, but dark with reddish brown edges and a a 1/2 finger brown head. Not much retention or lacing.

S - Aroma is that of a lot of roasted malts: chocolate malts, black patent, etc. A light hop aroma barely detectable and a bit of alcohol.

T/M - Just where the nose left off the flavor starts: A good amount of roasted malts on the tongue. In addition to the chocolate malts and patent malts there are hints of coffee and espresso. A very mild bitterness throughout and a noticeable alcohol warmth. The beer doesn't finish as smooth as I would prefer though fairly balanced. There is a sting of alcohol and malt that I can't quite describe, not terrible, but noticeable and deters from the enjoyment of the beer. Full bodied with decent carbonation.

D - It's better than average.

Overall, I was disappointed slightly in this beer and likely won't be back for the price. Too many other Russian Imperials out there that are far superior.

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.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 03-10-2011 13:50:12

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Photo of army01
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Black Gold. This pours like used Pennzoil. Light tan head that disappears quickly to light lacing around the rim of the glass

S: bold coffee and dark chocolate scents

T: The chocolate flavor is first on the tongue, but lighter than expected, followed by the much bolder burnt coffee taste. A decent amount of bitterness

M: Not nearly as heavy as one would expect by the appearance, but seems to lack something.

Overall: This is a decent imperial stout. I would drink another if someone were to bring one to me, but would not race out in search of another bottle.

Serving type: 1 year aged bottle

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Photo of zoolzoo
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pitch black, motor oil pour. Head is slow to form, never really amounts to much. Big coffee and bitter dark chocolate nose. Taste basically follows suit, bitter dark chocolate, coffee, not too roasty. Hops linger beneath, and unfortunately throw in a dash of soy sauce.

MF is pretty thick, carbonation is higher than the head indicates. Not a bad impy, solid offering from Widmer.

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Photo of yemenmocha
4.2/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bitter dark chocolate monster! Wow this is one of the better dark/bitter chocolatey beers I've sampled. Pours near black, tan head, and a modest nose of roasty aromas. Palate is unambiguous with bitter chocolate and roasty flavors. Such a full flavored beer. Same flavors extend into the long finish.

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