John By Imperial Stout | Scotch Irish Brewing Company

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John By Imperial StoutJohn By Imperial Stout
Very Good
John By Imperial StoutJohn By Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Scotch Irish Brewing Company
Ontario, Canada

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.70%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 82 | Ratings: 84
Photo of hopsolutely
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Unfortunately I do not remember when this bottle was put in the cellar - it may have been a couple of years ago, but the brew date tag does not show a year (starting in '10 - and I don't think it was an '09?!). Very different - and I don't know whether it's age-related or intended. Clearly need to buy another one to determine that, but will leave this as a place marker until later...

Pours an oily black with a dense, cascading, large bubbled head. Aroma of spoiled milk and/or wet, rotting whisky barrels - not unpleasant, but very different. Taste is high in molasses and oak tannins, with a bracing finish bitterness, again very distinct. Very strong flavour and not a taste profile I'd choose.

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Photo of Kartoffeln
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing a bottle aged a little over a year (bottled 18 Dec. 2010).

A: Pours a seriously opaque dark mahogany, practically black, with a massive, pillowy head of dense tan foam. Excellent retention, slowly dissipating to a heavy, frothy cap and leaving lots of lacing.

S: Roasted barley and chocolate and black malts with notes of blackstrap molasses, cinder toffee, and charcoal. Bursting with dark fruits, loads of black plums, sultana raisins, black and red cherries, candied figs, and a hint of cooked peaches. Faint bubblegum esters and ever fainter grassy hops. Undertones of butteriness, icing sugar, and booziness lurk throughout.

T: Strangely, there isn't much besides chocolate malts and roasted barley with black coffee, molasses, and charcoal notes until the finish. There's a burst of dark fruits followed by nutty yeast and a slight sour note, leading into a lactic tang, black coffee, and charcoal in the finish.

M: Medium-bodied but aging it resulted in unexpectedly high carbonation with a pinprick bite that survives even a slow, hard pour. The ABV is well-hidden and it's relatively easy-drinking, but the long-lasting and bitter finish throws the balance.

D: I'm not sure what to make of this, as I think aging was detrimental besides making it smell fantastic. I didn't take detailed notes on the fresh bottle, but it definitely had lower carbonation and a somewhat rounder palate. I hope to find a fresh bottle to compare to this review ASAP, even if it'll be from Heritage instead of Scotch-Irish.

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Photo of Columbanus
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottling date is Oct 19, 2010, so this beer is a nice 4 months old.

A - black with a thick, brown head, some lacing, reduces to a ring one third way through the beer.

S - aroma is a pungent, slightly sour, almost like red wine. Not sure what is causing that, but it is not very pleasant.

T - A dominant malt flavour, mild at first, then hits with powerful roasted, chocolate richness, with a nice bitter, dry finish. Not much hop character there, it's all about the malt.

M - Smooth, silky, rich creamy texture. Very satisfying.

O - Goes down easy, maybe not as bold and big as the Imperial label might imply. It's at the low end of the alcohol range for imperial. Still a great stout, should be proud to be Ontario brewed.

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Photo of paxkey
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Love the stubby. Love that it comes from Ottawa where I spent 3 years at Carleton University.

This beer smacks you in the face as soon as the cap is pried. Thick complex malt aroma. It's well below freezing outside so this should do the trick.

After the pour the aroma remarkbly changes to brown apples , a bit sickly sweet, it wafts up from the head.

This stuff sure looks interesting ni the glass. It is very dark brown, close to black as described on bottle. The head is 3 or 4 fingers poured in a chalice. fluffy mocha head. lots of sticky lacing.

I'm past the rotting apples smell and again its pure malt coming through. whiskey, lots of bakers chocolate coming through. and roasty coffee smells.

The booze is present in the sip but it is mostly masked with very burnt tasting malts. tastes like coffee grounds. There is some hops spice and floweriness.

creamy mouthfeel with a long long finish. the beer stays in your mouth for awhile.

a nice imperial stout.

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Photo of bylerteck
2.87/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

It's been slightly over a year since I've purchased anything by these guys and slightly more since I tried the Johny By. I remember hating it the first time but we'll see how it goes this time.

A - Pours pitch black with very minimal carbonation that I can see streaming up the side of the glass. Originally with a one finger head that seemd mocha or brown in colour but it's faded to a few small islands now with some big bubbles. Alcohol clings to the side of the glass tightly when tilted and as I drink it.

S - A good combo of coffee and chocolate. Licorice is very present with some mild roastiness too.

T - Sort of sour. Coffee and chocolate are almost non-existent, just this sort of soury/malty/sugary sort of flavour comes through sadly. Lacks bitterness to balance.

M - Light to medium bodied. Slight carbonation works.

D - At least it smells good. Sadly this is considered one of the best beers in Canada according to BA. Maybe I got a bad bottle but this still needs work. I wouldn't be able to finish one, let alone a few because of the sheer lack of balance and flavours to match the style.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle

Appearance - The beer pours a brown/black colour with an average size frothy/fizzy brown head. I can't see much carbonation due to the darkness of the beer and there is just a little bit of lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for over 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - malts, roasted nuts, coffee, chocolate

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and it feels very creamy yet light on the tongue. The alcohol is extremely well hidden and the most noticeable flavours are malts, coffee, chocolate and a touch of vanilla. There is also a roasted/toasted taste. The beer finishes with a bitter coffee aftertaste.

Drink - An average stout that I'm happy I tried but would not seek out again.

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Photo of liamt07
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the LCBO, into a snifter. Bottled on November 3, 2010.

Pours a very dark brown, with a finger or so of reddish mocha head. Fades quickly and tiny collar is left. Nose aint too exciting, mild coffee and vanilla. Some milk chocolate and roasted notes are here slightly. Taste is quite similar, coffee is at the forefront, yet muted overall. No real outstanding flavours here, but some bitter chocolate is balanced with a touch of vanilla sweetness. Mouthfeel could be thicker, and finishes dry and bitter. Good drinkability for the ABV.

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Photo of mrnobody
3.41/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

341 ml bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours black with a finger and a half of coffee coloured head which dissipates quickly but leaves some lacing.

S: Smells of roasted malt, chocolate and a metallic sourness.

T: Tastes of bitter coffee with a little sweetness. As it warms, the alcohol becomes more noticeable.

M: Seems a bit watery, suitably lightly carbonated.

D: Drinkability is only okay, the alcohol is masked fairly well but the flavour is lacking.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured in to Duvel tulip glass.

A - Dark black, thick; small amount of medium brown coloured head.

S - Dark roasted malts, bitter roasted coffee and a slight licorice nose.

T - Bitter dark roasted coffee dominated the palate. Some hints of chocolate and a faint licorice taste round out this one. Overall, the palate is good but not very complex for a RIS and somewhat one-dimensional with the coffee taste.

M - Medium body, smooth. Very lightly carbonated.

D - Surprised that this one is not a coffee stout as the bitter coffee completely dominates the palate. As I continued to drink this one it tasted more and more like a robust coffee porter than a RIS. Still an enjoyable beer, just didn't seem to fit the style as well as I would have liked.

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Photo of divineaudio
3.19/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

341ml dated bottle into a snifter.

pours the color of used motor oil, a thick, greasy, dark brown. a hard pour gives me only a thin film of head that disappears quickly. lacing is almost non existent.

smell is slightly sour and roasty with some dark chocolate. also notes of molasses and tobacco.

taste is mostly burnt malts with notes of smoke. has a sharp bitterness to it and an almost soapy taste in the finish. hop/alcohol content is barely detectable.

feel is fuller with light carbonation.

drinkable, but not sessionable. not a bad beer, but not one i would recommend.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Courtesy of northyorksammy (thanks!). Poured from a 341mL stubbie into my Portsmouth tulip.

Brunneous opaque body with a beige head which recedes to a tall curling collar and a thin cloud-shaped slick. Multitudinous yet fine sandy lacing coats the sides outlined by a shimmering polish.

Quite malty and a bit grainy nose, with suggestions of ovaltine and chocolate malt balls. Light brown sugar and an undertone of roast as well. Perhaps a tiny note of fruit.

Sharp roast flavors at first along with a bit of hops - scalded coffee, white-chocolate covered grapefruit, and a mix of raw and over-toasted nuts (pecans?). Some brown sugar and black bread crusts in the finish. Oddly both rough and refreshing.

Medium-heavy bodied, creamy but not oily, with decent carbonation. Surprisingly astringent.

An OK stout, but not exactly a triumph of engineering, so to speak.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

341ml stubby bottle poured into pint glass april22 2010

A near black with thick mocha head that has good retention and leaves several partial rings of lace

S some bakers chocolate and faint coffee and the booze is very well concealed

T the coffee is even more faint and the bakers chocolate is not as bitter as it smells, no booze and perhaps some very faint licorice

M quite thin and not enough carbonation to bail it out, a low point for this beer

D for 8.5% it went down like a cold glass of chocolate milk, points lost for weak a feel and one dimensional smell but still pretty good overall

thanks ritzkiss for this one, a good beer but I'm surprised this was on the Canadian top 25 for as long as it was, please don't get me wrong I enjoyed this beer and odds are you will too.

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Photo of Bestuurder
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured very dark, hard black colour from a stubby brown bottle. No head and very little lacing.

Aroma is pleasant with oak, chocolate and strong coffee. The chocolate malt scent and flavour are very apparent.

Taste is balanced, a bit strong of coffee, but not overpowering. Light, cask-like, carbonation. Full-bodied and robust.

Definitely a strong beer, yet does not entirely drink like one. One can easily drink another without issue. Slightly chewy and mildly thick is texture.

An excellent brew that certainly goes well with strong cheeses and spicy white and red meats or by itself.


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Photo of kwjd
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with some bubbly head that quickly dissipates. Small amount of lacing. Not a huge smell, some roasted malt and faint coffee. The taste is fairly average for a RIS, with some bitterness and coffee. Not too much carbonation for a smooth mouthfeel. It is pretty thin for the style, I wish it was a bit creamier. Still a tasty enough beer though.

Edit: a month and a half later I tried this again and I love it. There may be a consistency problem. This time it is a creamy tan head and proper carbonation. The flavours are coming through a bit more. I bumped my score up to average between both times because the beer I'm having is much better than the C+ I had before.

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Photo of MattyV
3.72/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a totally opaque black into a shaker pint glass. Maybe half a finger of dark beige head that recedes quickly leaving quite a bit of lacing and settles into a ring around the glass' edge.

Smells of stale coffee, some mocha notes, pinch of caramel sweetness, but dominated by more of a roasted aroma. Pleasant, but subdued

The chocolate and coffee flavours are evident right away upon tasting, as is the bitterness from the hops. There's also a burnt smokiness that lingers throughout, alcohol content is only slightly evident

Very low carbonation, medium-bodied

Didn't blow me away at all, but a decent, pretty flavourful stout, probably one of my favourite Scotch Irish offerings alongside Sgt Majors IPA.

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Photo of bartle
3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque black with tanned brownish head with very big bubbles that dissipate quickly leaving residual sugar lacing around the side.

The aroma is full of chocolate, light wood smoke, plums, currants, molasses and a hint of vanilla. There is a subtle hint of bitter cocoa lingering in and out of the alcohol warmth. Not much hop presence, but that's not a bad thing.

The taste is of bitter cocoa, slightly sweetened, molasses from the nose, some chocolate, hints of stewed dark fruits but not as present as it is in the nose. There are some bready notes from the yeast and a little dry hay like snap on the front of the tongue from the hops. Still, it's chocolate and roast forward, not a lot alcohol fruit flavours or esters. Truly rich in flavour.

The body is a little thin, lower carbonation, oily, a nice dry finish considering the amount of sugar show sticking to the glass.

This is one of the better bottles that I have had.

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Photo of tuvok
3.26/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Have to qualify this review by saying that I am not experienced with the Russian Imperial Stout style and was trying this one as a follow-up to a sample I had at the brewery. Also, I'm not that big on high-ABV beers and at 8.5% this one was a bit more potent than I normally consume.

Inky black, opaque and mysterious. Very little head was evident, what little I did manage to coax out was a dark reddish brown.

No highlights here, just mainly a faint coffee smell.

A slight sweetness hits at first, followed by a strong coffee taste and a long-lasting and rather bitter finish. Also noticed a faint citrusy/grapefruit flavour in the mix. Despite high ABV, alcohol was not present in the taste.

Smooth with very little carbonation.

Compared with non-Imperial stouts this one finishes more bitter than I would prefer. With that said, the initial sweetness helps to balance things out. Not sure I would buy again but I would not refuse it if offered. WARNING: The alcohol was well masked when going down; however, I did feel it a while after I finished. For a high-ABV beer this one was easy to finish off.

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Photo of uno99
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

My first time drinking this, apparently prior batches were better - but here goes:

A: poured into a pint glass. love the huge mocha head and sticky laceing. stubby bottle has alot of sediment left in the bottom.

S: Not huge. smells almost like a mild pub ale. ala boddingtons or somthing. quite roastly. pleasent.

T: bittneress upfront. roasted chocolte and some coffee finish. pretty smooth. nothing offensive.

M: a little low carbontation. feels sticky and full bodied.

D: Would be a nice choice to have a few at a pub or house party - just keep in mind its high alchohol - take smaller sips!

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Photo of clockwerk
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Served from that bad ass stubby into a wine glass.

A- Produces a dense mocha foam that recedes into a nice cap, and eventually ring, and then like, nothing by the end, but whatever. It's nice and dark. Held up to the light it produced mahogany edges, if only barely.

S- Nice strong notes of coffee and chocolate. Very pleasant. Didn't blow my mind, but solid. But then again, my sense of smell sucks. If you ever see me give anything a 5 for smell, you can trust it's pungent.

T- Right off the bat it's a kick in the mouth of coffee and chocolate. Really strong and nicely balanced. A hint of dark fruit kicks in mid palate, and gives way to a mildly vinous finish. The alcohol gets a little hot in the finish. But I actually like that, so it's good by me. It's not too far off Peche Mortel in terms of intensity, and more complex. Chocolate, Coffee, Dark Fruit and Wine.

M - Carbonation has a nice spritzy feel that hits and recedes wonderfully. Feels maybe a touch thin, but nothing that reduced my enjoyment of it.

D - I'm using this as a tilt. It's an 8.5% beer. How drinkable do YOU think it is? I'm tossing it a 5 here because I think this stuff will age well and reward the patient. It's also light enough I can down a couple without feeling full.

Overall, I'm really impressed. I'll flat out say for LCBO selection, I'll take this over BCS and Diabetes Brulee anyday. I hope people see how good this beer really is. I'm going to store a few bottles and see what happens.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aaaah, another stubbie, quite a nice surprise upon its appearance at the table...

This beer pours an absolute black, no light seepage, no hope. It has lots of blocky, chunky dark beige head, which leaves a random smattering of lace in its wake. The aroma is warming alcohol, caramel, and chocolate. The taste is caramel malt, bitter, leafy hops, bittersweet chocolate, and more soft warming alcohol. The carbonation is light, the body thick, creamy, and full, and it finishes bittersweet, the hops persisting with the mildly treacly caramel.

A stellar mid-octane stout, like dessert in a bottle, but with enough hops to stave of the cloying factor.

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Photo of seand
3.48/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours an opaque black with a minimal amount of tan head. Just enough builds up around the edge of the glass to leave some lacing.

S: Strong roasted malt, with coffee notes, and some alcoholic bite.

T: Sweet and full, though somewhat less complex that I'd expect of a beer in this ABV range. Some alcohol is clearly present in the finish, along with some bitterness.

M: Very low carbonation, though certainly not completely flat. Fairly full sweet sticky body, finishing slightly dry.

D: It drinks pretty easily, though it is fairly high ABV.

Decent, but not great. I'd not likely get it again.

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Photo of eat
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

After finding the John By on cask at Volo, I had to give this one another shot since I was so disappointed by the bottle. Turns out this is a much better beer on cask. The best looking of the four cask Imperial Stouts I sampled together. Almost black body with a creamy beige cover of head, receding to a ring around the glass.

Decent smell. Lots of coffee grinds, nice roastiness. Slight dark chocolate. Could use way more presence, but nice.

Lots more flavour than the stuff in the bottle. Minerals, solid earthy hop bitterness, cocoa, roasty, quite malty. There's something odd in there as well, I can't figure it out. Some kind of spiciness. A touch of grapefruit bitterness on the finish. Moderately dry finish. This is also the most flavourful of the four stouts I sampled at Volo.

Light-medium body, low carbonation. Could definitely use more body, but not horrible.

The look and feel are significantly improved and the flavour bumped up a notch on cask. If it used to be more like this in the bottle, I can see how it was well-received in Ontario. Fairly drinkable and something I might even buy to take home if it was in bottles, but, sadly, the bottled John By is a different beer.


Review of the bottled version from 01-25-2010:

When I bought this bottle I remember thinking it looked a little watery sloshing around at the top. On the pour I could immediately see that not only was it watery, it was also producing almost no head. I up-ended the bottle to try to get something out of it but still ended up with nothing. I don't think I've ever encountered a beer with such a complete lack of head. Absolutely nothing there. The beer itself is black. It seriously looked like I was pouring cold coffee out of a beer bottle. 2.5

Nice enough smell. Molasses, chocolate, minerals, roasty malt. A little weak, but that's to be expected with no head. 3.5

The taste is pretty nice actually. It's hard not to let the beer's major defects effect my score on taste. If the head and feel were both there this would probably be a pretty great stout. Nice smoky malt, bitter hops, dark chocolate, some light coffee. A little weak, although I wouldn't be surprised if a fuller body would fix this problem in itself. I like the taste though, nice and bitter. Very smooth at 8.5%; if someone told me this was 5% ABV I'd believe them. 3.5

One of the most watery stouts I've ever had. Not only does it look like cold coffee, it has the same feel as well. Almost zero carbonation and thin as hell. Not impressed. 2.0

Didn't this used to be on the Canadian top 25? It definitely does not deserve to be in the same company as any beer currently on that list. Maybe this is a defective bottle. It definitely tastes pretty good, I'll buy another bottle sometime to see if it has a better feel. It's drinkable but the feel is such a letdown. 3.0

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Photo of ludachris
3.2/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle served at cellar temperature. Last one on the shelf, so I had to grab it.

Pours a jet black that's almost opaque, with the only light being emitted through the edges of the beer which reveals some walnut brown highlights. 1 finger of quickly dissipating foamy tan head tops this beer, leaving only dots of lace.

Lightly smoked nose with notes of milk chocolate, coffee grounds, and molasses. A decent nose, but it seems to lack complexity and in need of amplification.

Milk chocolate upfront and bitter coffee notes in the back with not much in between.

Mouthfeel is suprisingly light and quite watery for the style. There's a decent balance between the few flavours going on, but nothing special.

I remember having this beer about a year ago, and as others have said, things have changed since. I'd take Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout, which is priced about the same, any day over this. It's sad because this was one of Ontario's best beers out on the market, prior to the newest batch's release, where everything seemed to have gone downhill. There's always next year's.

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Photo of Long813
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dated: M-12-09

G: Pint Glass

A: Opaque black body with one finger of dark mocha head. Yields poor retention and very little lacing.

S: Sweet milk chocolate and dark roasted coffee beans. The mix of the chocolate and coffee is very pleasing, but it falls short of a strong aroma.

T: Again with a nice balance of milk chocolate and coffee beans. It starts off with the sweet chocolate and ends with the coffee. Not a bad mixture, but again it's not strong.

M: Medium bodied and low carbonation. Feels very thin and smooth while leaving a bitter coffee feeling. Alcohol is also very well hidden and shows only the slightest burn in the throat as the drink warms up.

D: I was expecting a lot from this beer while reading the reviews, but it looks like the batches this year have changed quite a bit. It's not what I would expect from an Imperial, but it's not a bad stout.

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Photo of mintjellie
3.77/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black with two fingers of mocha head. Decent retention with a little bit of lace left behind. Smells of dark roast coffee and molasses; dark chocolate and plums. Tastes of black coffee, burnt toast, blackstrap molasses, and dark fruit. Lingering char in the aftertaste. Medium-bodied with low carbonation. It feels smooth, but seems a little thin for an Imperial Stout. Even if the thin body makes it less filling and easier to drink, I still wish it was a bit chewier. Sometimes you want to drink something substantial. Body aside, this is still a tasty and enjoyable stout.

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John By Imperial Stout from Scotch Irish Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.86 out of 5 with 84 ratings