John By Imperial Stout | Scotch Irish Brewing Company

John By Imperial StoutJohn By Imperial Stout
Liked This Beer
3.86 w/ 84 ratings
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:
No notes at this time.

Added by CanuckRover on 12-18-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 84 |  Reviews: 82
Photo of papat444
2.71/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Thanks to derek for sending this my way.

Poured from a 341ml. stubby.

Appearance: Pours an opaque black but as it's poured i see some definite brown tinges. Insanely thick, frothy head that's at least 3 fingers thick with a light mocha color.

Smell: A bit discrete, even at room temp. but still able to detect coffee with slight bitterness, some roasted malt and weirdly enough, a dry fruit-like aroma.

Taste: Wow, sourness hit's me like a punch in the face! I'm getting hints of coffee but it's totally overwhelmed but a permeating tartness. It gradually subsides to a whisper but that was not pleasant at all. Though hard to get that taste out, it gets better as i detect some espresso and more fruit but that sour aspect is still in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Creamy vs. watery and it's hard to tell which wins. Not entirely pleasant i must say.

Drinkability: I almost stopped drinking it but persisted and glad i did as the taste marginally improved but it's still a bit of a chore to get through this one.

Overall: At first i thought i got a bad bottle, but it got better taste-wise (a little) so i figure it can't be that. Maybe if i had tried it at a cooler temp? Regardless, it wasn't a great joy to drink but i will seek it out again and i'll be able to compare.

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Photo of bort11
2.76/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Sent in from northyorksammy.

341 ml stubby bottle (wtf up with that measurement?) poured into a goblet. Nice looking dark brown head and leaves some lacing on the glass. Color is a solid dark brown that is almost black.

Smell is pretty acrid and smells of charred wood and a little bit of licorice. Taste is very acrid and sort of taste like burnt hair smells. There is some aspirin chalkiness in the finish. Mouthfeel is pretty light for an RIS and is more on par with an American 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 Jeffo
3.17/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Got this as a Christmas gift. Thanks a bundle Sis!

Poured into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours pitch black with no carbonation and basically no head at all, save for a few juice-like bubbles on the top. Only a slightly present patchy wispy film on top keeps me from thinking it's juice. Poured out like black tar; thick and dark. A bit of lace halfway down comes out of nowhere. Average at best.

SMELL: Roasted smoky barley malt with a pinch of coffee and licorice in the background.

TASTE: Burnt and smoked barley malt with coffee and licorice in the background again, especially in the mild lingering aftertaste, which is a nice touch. Pretty boozy for a 6.7% Imperial stout. Nice, but perhaps a bit too boozy for the style. Needs to be hidden better.

PALATE: Medium body and low carbonation. Very smooth and finishes slightly sticky. No bite, which is surprising given the booziness in the taste profile.

OVERALL: A good brew overall, but nothing spectacular or worth seeking out. A little too boozy for the style as well, so that makes it tough to drink more than a couple. This would make a decent sipper in the evening, however.

As a final note, Scotch Irish also brews a Plain Porter. I was interested in trying it, but the three bottles I had were all off. I'll have to try again the next time I'm in town.

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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 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 shamus
3.23/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Ah the Scotch-Irish brewery from the land of my fathers and mothers (Ottawa Valley!). These are always a surprise to me. Either excellent or a big, "WAH?". For example the Sgt. major's Indian pale was once my favourite of that genre but in the last year it has been hard to swallow. I wrote to the brewery and inquired as to what had changed. The response was that due to the world-wide hop shortage they had tried a different variety of hops than usual and admitted it did not result in a great product. They promised a switchback soon.

This Imperial Stout is suffering from the fact that I just drank a Peche Mortel before. one of the best bar none. So this is a review in comparison.

Pours smoothly with an attractive head, not a strong smell, a bit smokey; pleasant but nothing note-worthy. Tastes very tinny and watery. No complexity to the after-taste. Disappointing. Not a disaster but nothing special. Sigh.

perhaps I'll try it again without the influence of Peche Mortel preceding it.

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

Cheers to biegaman for this brew in a trade/bet. Pours with a thick head which settles quickly. Black in color. Not much smell beyond a hint of burnt malt. Tastes of chocolate malt with some tartness which is out of place. Mouthfeel is smooth & a drinakble IS at 6.7%. I have had porters with more taste & kick.


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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 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 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 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 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 bobsy
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2007: Wonderfully attired stubby bottle from the LCBO. Pours pitch black with a generous milk chocolate head, leaving large amounts of lacing as the drink is consumed. Strong cocoa smell, accented with coffee. The taste reveals bittersweet chocolate and espresso, revelling in a thick, creamy palate. As the drink warms, some of the fruitier more vinous qualities become evident. This really is an excellent offering!

2008: A truly excellent beer, and just as good as I remember. The coffee seems more prominent this time, and provides a bitter kick in the finish. The body does not seem as heavy, but seems to increase from light to medium as the palate acclimatises. This beer really improves the more you drink - my first sip was worryingly underwhelming, but by the end of the second bottle I was craving another. While the bottle says imperial stout I feel that its a little unfair to compare it within the style. There are obviously a lot of similarities in the flavour, but the alcohol content and viscosity is simply not high enough. I prefer to view this as a strong stout, and the best one currently made in the province.

I have downgraded the mouthfeel and upped the drinkability.

2009: Less imperial stout than ever, with a thinner mouthfeel, poorer appearance and paler flavours, in which the coffee dominates. Its a damn decent stout, and would do well in that category, but its out of its depths playing with the big boys.

Totally re-rated.

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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 ccrida
3.59/5  rDev -7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

33cl stubbie (thx northyorksammy!) poured into my large Gulden Draak tulip, John By IS is a blackish brown with a ridiculously large dark tan head that has tediously long last leaves heavy lace. The settle on this is as rocky as the best Belgian, and for that reason I have no choice but to give this a 5.

Smell is strong chocolate and caramel and light roast, nice robustness, but an interesting tang from the crystal.

Taste is also rather robust, a similar taste profile, I definitely appreciate the depth in spite of the relatively light strength for the style. Herbal hops. Reminds me a bit of Samuel Smiths. Still, like the nose, I think there's just too much crystal malt, or something else, minerals maybe, that provide excessive sharpness.

Mouthfeel is dry and malty, medium heavy body, nice carbonation though.

Drinkability isn't too bad, it's got a very robust flavor for the size, but it's really not quite my taste in the style regardless. If anything, I tend to be biased towards strongly flavored beers that aren't as strong, and while that this is, I just can't say I love it, to tangy.

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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 TheHammer
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Came in a nice stubby bottle, man I wish they would bring back the stubby. This beer's head is out of control. Seriously, I thought I was giving it a modest pour and I ended up with a good two and a half fingers of creamy head that overflowed the glass. That being said, it laces incredibly well and retains exceptionally. The head is a nice light brown color and the beer itself is as dark as night. Perfect appearance, save I think it may be a bit over carbonated, judging by how much head I got.

Smell - Burnt malt smell is dominant, but strong coffee smell with a bit of dark chocolate is present. In the background I'm catching roasted almonds with a touch of plum and citrus. Great stuff thus far.

Taste - I know it's a stout, and it's supposed to be bitter, but this stuff is far too strong. Starts with a nice sweeter fruit and malt flavor but then it hammers your tongue with a strong coffee, dark chocolate and hop bitterness that feels like you just got hit by a wrecking ball. Finishes off with more of the same bitterness and a touch of fruit again. The bitterness however llingers a bit too long. I can't even notice the alcohol it's so bitter.

Mouthfeel - The extra head made the start of the beer quite good at the start, but as I got down near the end, the bitter aftertaste got out of control and built up over time, leaving me hesitant to drink more. It is a stout though, so I suppose I shouldn't knock that much off for that. Apart from the monstrous head, the carbonation is quite good.

Drinkability - It goes down smoothly and it isn't very heavy on the gut. That being said, the bitterness of this beer is out of control and untempered which stops you from having more then one.

Final Thoughts - This beer will wake you up, that is for sure. This stuff from pour, to smell, to taste is in your face a bitter as all heck. The only non-aggressive part of this beer is how it feels in your stomach. It's not that heavy, and sits quite well and I suspect the biggest problem I have with this beer is a problem with the style itself (being my first RIS). I'd prefer something a bit milder, but I can see the appeal.

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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 Antilochus
3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 341mL bottle into a small nosing glass for this tasting. Purchased at a Kingston LCBO, all the way from Bytown.

Not sure if this is actually an RIS. Appearance is ruby black, with a nice brownish tan head. Looks like it is going to be a lacemaker.

Strong aromas of roasted malt, oats, milk chocolate, caramel, old coffee. Notes of peanuts, cooked vegetables, corn syrup. Some whisky-like (sm)oakiness. No fruit. Interesting.

Roasted malt, dry on the palate. Good carbonation. Medium bodied. Peanuts in the finish with assorted burnt grains. Very dry. I suspect oats for the espresso-like sourness.

Very drinkable with the low sugar content, hits you pretty hard. I wonder if this is actually 6.7%?

Hopefully in the future this kicks up the alcohol and cleans up the aromas.

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Photo of tpd975
3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Another brew from Canada from Jan (biegaman)

A: Ink black with a huge 4 finger espresso colored head. Nice retention and tons of thick sheetlike lacing. Cool stubby bottle adds to the appearence.

S: Rather light aroma, by American standards at least. Some dark roasted malt giving off slight aromas of coffee, chocolate, and a bit of brown sugar sweetness.

T: Nice roasted flavors without being over the top. Charcoal, coffee, molasses, and bitter chocolate mostly. There are touches of dark fruits in piney hops in the finish.

M: Sort of thin for an RIS, yet it is able to maintain an almost creamy quality.

D: Low ABV, and mild flavors make it pretty drinkable.

Overall: Pretty mild nothing too bold. It is an RIS I could drink several of which is a testament in its own right.

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John By Imperial Stout from Scotch Irish Brewing Company
Beer rating: 67.9% out of 100 with 84 ratings
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