Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout
Moylan's Brewery

Ryan Sullivan's Imperial StoutRyan Sullivan's Imperial Stout
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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #813
Ranked #16,575
3.9 | pDev: 12.82%
Moylan's Brewery
California, United States
Very Good
Ryan Sullivan's Imperial StoutRyan Sullivan's Imperial Stout
Reviews: 333 | Ratings: 460 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Impetuous
Impetuous from Montana

3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Dark brown body with light brown head. Very little lacing.

Flavors are sweet malts, a very noticeable vanilla, and pine malts providing a nice backbone. Carbonation is very light.

Pretty good!

May 03, 2018
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Schoeni from Germany

4.44/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark Brown head, very nice beige colour at the top. The Aroma is very malty, roasted malts, coffee, cocoa, Little bit of dark fruits. I taste it and its really nice, some bitter chocolate, cognac and tobacco. I dont even taste the high amount of alcohol...they really have this beer created to sit back, smoke a cigar..and do nothing! anyway, this beer is brilliant! tastes like a Barrel aged one, i dont know but in these cold days,...what could be better? in nov/dec/jan.esp..in the winters:. this beer is warming you!!

Nov 14, 2016
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

4.06/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

$ 14.34/bomber (including tax)($ 0.652/oz) at State Line Liquors, Elkton, MD
Undated bottle (2014 vintage) at 42 degrees into a hand washed and dried JK snifter, allowed to warm to 50 degrees
Aroma – faint aroma of sherry
Head average (Maximum 3.8 cm, aggressive pour), light brown, fizzy/frothy, diminishing to an irregular three to four mm ring and a heaped partial layer
Lacing excellent – continuous ring of tiny bubbles with a laced edge
Body – dark brown/black, opaque
Flavor – slightly sweet, sherry and chocolate truffles; no coffee, no hops, no malt, no alcohol (although the stomach starts smoldering almost immediately
Palate – medium, creamy, soft carbonation

A decent RIS, found sitting on the shelf at room temperature. I would like to try this a little fresher to see if the expresso and roasted malt come through. Despite not really tasting like a RIS, and rising above whatever abuse this has had to endure at the store, this is still quite good.

Aroma 4, Appearance 4.25, Flavor 3.75, Palate 4, Overall 4.5

Jul 24, 2016
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DavoleBomb from Pennsylvania

3.59/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

2.75 A: Black color. Not much of a head formed - just about half a finger, which then fell quickly. Strangely enough, a short ring of lacing was left behind.

3.75 S: This is easily one of the fruitiest imperial stouts I've smelled. Big black cherry influence with a secondary nondescript dark fruitiness. Dry roastiness with medium roast coffee, caramel, molasses, and milk chocolate.

3.75 T: Tastes like it smells. Lots of cherry and dark fruits with roasted barley and coffee. Semi-sweet with chocolate, caramel, and molasses in descending strength.

3.25 M: Medium body. Carbonation on the lower end of normal. Light on the tongue, but lacking creaminess.

3.5 D: Pretty solid beer with a strong fruitiness.

May 27, 2016
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chinchill from South Carolina

4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, aged for about 1 year, served in a Belgian snifter.

Pours basically black in the glass, covered by a dark tan head that has decent retention. very good lacing.

Aroma: inviting if a bit tame
Flavor: rich and complex, with a very solid base of dark roasted grains. Hints of black coffee, unsweetened chocolate, and dark fruits. Lasting and pleasant aftertaste. Mildly bitter.

Feel: the full body is exceptionaly smooth, with perfect, soft carbonation.

O: has all the traits of a fine RIS without any detectable flaws. Well done.

Mar 11, 2014
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Jeffo from Netherlands

1.5/5  rDev -61.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Got this one at De Bierkoning in Amsterdam. What a huge mistake that was.

From a bomber into a snifter
2013 batch

APPEARANCE: Pours out clear black and yields a two finger, medium looking, creamy, tan head with great retention. Clear black body with higher levels of carbonation evident. Head fades to a full cap and clings to the sides of the glass. A splotchy wisp remains until the end and leaves dots of lacing down the glass. Decent looking.

SMELL: Anise, lightly roasted notes and a touch of dark chocolate all trying desperately to compete with the dominating aroma of rotten vegetables and cabbage. Just nasty.

TASTE: Much the same here, though the competition has basically given up. Straight up rotten vegetables and cabbage. A hint of roasted flavors and anise try initially while a faint touch of stale coffee comes out after the swallow, but none of this can save this rotten cabbage bomb. Medium strength but lingering aftertaste is very off-putting. Chocked down about 3 oz of this before Drain was called into action.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes a touch dry. Decent feel.

OVERALL: Awful. There's no other word to describe it. They seem to have engineered the look and feel just fine, but really, how the hell did this beer win all these awards that are proudly displayed on the label? A real winner doesn't need to brag, so I guess the label is their own way of convincing themselves that it doesn't suck. Shameful. Either this was simply a bad batch or the people involved in these competitions need to give their heads a shake. I am inclined to think it's perhaps the former, so if someone gives me a different batch for free, I'll gladly take a second stab at this.

Feb 24, 2014
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johnnnniee from New Hampshire

3.77/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from 2005 leftover from the Tasters Choice meetup.
Pours a solid dark brown with a huge bubbly tan head that persists forever. The aroma is heavy on the milk chocolate with bits of roast, dark fruit and a hint of sherry. The flavor is rich dark and milk chocolate with a little bit of caramel. Light fruity tartness with hints of earth. Medium body with a light to moderate level of carbonation and a sweet light syrupy mouthfeel. This bottle held up surprisingly well for its age! I may have to revisit a fresh bottle, because this was a pretty good beer.

Feb 05, 2014
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BierJager89 from California

4.23/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Black with a mocha head.

S: Coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malt in faint nose.

T: Dark and milk chocolates, coffee and mocha. Delicious.

M: Full bodied and kind of creamy smooth.

O: One of my favorites from this brewery. Definitely recommended.

Feb 04, 2014
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pkalix from California

3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

smells like most stouts do, except i'm getting an algae kind of aroma off the top. some chocolate, very smooth; nice properties but the algae smell has me leery. very slight bitterness, but the dark chocolate and slight espresso dominate. overall a decent brew and a decent abv.... toward the end of the bottle the algae seemed to not be as strong....

Dec 08, 2013
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StraightNoChaser from Georgia

3.42/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

appearance: Very dark ruby. Thick frothy tan head.
smell: "medium" rich. Some chocolate roastiness typical of an RIS. Mostly dry with a bit of sweetness.
taste: Much like the nose, typical RIS malty roastiness. A slightly bitter finish.
overall: Not bad, not great. Pleasant enough sipper but honestly won't be seeking this out again.

Apr 22, 2013
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TheManiacalOne from Rhode Island

4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass. I’m pretty sure it’s at least 3 years old.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a thin brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains rich chocolate, roasted malts, some dark fruit and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of dark chocolate and black coffee. Then a hearty roasted malt character comes in. The hops presence is very mild yet surprisingly still noticeable given the age of the beer. There’s a little bit of smokiness in the background and a good balance as this beer seems to have aged quite nicely. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this beer has aged well and is well-worth drinking for a long time.

Dec 27, 2012
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TheBrewo from New York

3.45/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

We pour a brew of the darkest brown. It gives a little light towards the bottom of the snifter, but not much. It holds a one and a half finger head of massive, creamy medium brown bubbles. Retention is low, with flecks of lacing left down the glass. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears average. The aroma is of a chocolatey malted milk balls. The malts are way forward, with light roast of coffee and the sweetest milk chocolates. Other notes are quite blunted, but cooling vanilla, tootsie roll sweetness and chalkiness, yeasty metallics, boozy cherry sweetness, and raw cacao leak out through the cracks. Warmth brings the alcohol forward significantly, with fire and fumes. Our first impression is that there is interesting charred bitterness to the malts, with a curious vegetable metallic twang on the back. As we sip, malts hit in the form of roasted char bitterness mixing with faintly bittered grassy hops. The malts are more chocolate than anything else, giving a significant souring pucker. These push to the peak and enhance, with more notes of fusel booze, faint oaky musk, medicinal phenols, and dried, old milk chocolates. The finish comes with chili pepper spiciness, black peppery booze, raw vegetable metallics, toffee sweetness, chalky chocolates, and drying black tea tannins. The aftertaste breathes of bone dry, chalky grain, gritty chocolate malts, grassy hops, metallic yeast, faint vanilla coolness, muddy mineral, and dirty adjuncts. The body is full, and the carbonation is light. There is decent slurp and smack to the sip, with little froth or cream to the lip. The coating is thick, with stickiness to the lips, and eventual astringent dryness down the tongue. The abv is appropriate, and the beer is more of a sipper.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was the ease of drinkability and coolness of the booze. For a ten percenter the booze was relatively well integrated, with smoothness of chocolatey malts, and a nicely bittering hop component. This blend of flavors helped keep things easily sippable. The nose lost points for us, as it was overwhelmed by the one-dimensionality of the chalkiness and malted milk ball sweetness. This is a decent representation of the style, and otherwise is a pretty nice beer for sippin’.

Dec 08, 2012
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DrDemento456 from Pennsylvania

4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Snagged a bottle of this for 7 bucks at the Giant Eagle.

A - Pours a bit less heavy than I expected but the color deep black is spot on. Head is a 1/4 inch of mocha goodness which sticks around for a while.

S - Mild licorice maybe some molasses, light roasted coffee, and a very inviting level of bitter sweet chocolate.

T - Very enjoyable the flavors were roast in the start giving a nice smooth latte taste then onto the chocolate not to heavy or sweet. The finish does have a respectable level of citrus like hops and again more chocolate.

M - Very creamy and smooth and unlike other heavy stouts this one seemed very carbonated giving it a slick medium body.

Overall a very tasty imperial stout and dangerously drinkable too. Might pick up another bottle if I am in the neighborhood.

Dec 05, 2012
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hoplover82 from Texas

4.28/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours pitch black with a small to medium coffee crema colored head that has excellent retention and lacing.
S-The aroma is very pungent with the first pour (which is impressive) with bold notes of super sweet chewy caramel up front, along with milk chocolate and roasty dark malts and some toffee in the back and light roasted fresh coffee, very mocha specialty coffee notes, but very sweet in the nose for sure.
T-The flavor is also very pungent up front with simi-sweet chocolate (because of the pleasant bitterness from the hops) and the caramel is in the back here along with some interesting butterscotch flavors. The roastiness is up front as well, but it's well balanced and so complex, very enjoyable indeed. The coffee notes stay in the nose, not in the flavor at all.
M-The mouthfeel is huge and cream with a lively carbonation which is nice for a change, (most beers this big are lightly carbonated, but this one has a little more) it also has a nice and balanced finish.
O-Overall I had a great experience with this beer. I got this one for a birthday gift and am very glad. A great Imperial Stout indeed!

Nov 29, 2012
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DoubleJ from Wisconsin

3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Go figure, an imperial stout right after a very refreshing saison on a warm day. On-tap at the Crow Burger Kitchen, on to the beer:

Obsidian black in the glass with a small mocha tanned head on top. The nose is sweet and rather mild for the style. The aroma of molasses, raisin, and a kiss of cocoa arise.

Some smokiness is first notes in the beer's taste. Modest charred malts and dark chocolate character add extra life to the taste. It also appears to have a minty note too. The beer is nearly full bodied (the viscosity seems to pick up with time, first starting as a medium-full body), carbonation isn't aggressive, and the double digit alcohol is worked well into the beer.

This was overdue, and I'm glad to finally introduce myself to Ryan O'Sullivan. A worthy entry among imperial stouts.

Aug 31, 2012
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warnerry from Michigan

2.75/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle purchased about two years ago

A - Pours black with one finger of brown head. Head has pretty good retention and leaves some spotty lacing.

S - Lots of chocolate and roasted malt in the aroma, with a bit of char. Smell has a bit of sweet chocolate and mostly bittersweet chocolate.

T - The taste is a pretty big letdown after the aroma. Huge amount of char and some sourness, though it doesn't taste like infection sourness. Some dark fruits, milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate, but covered up by the intense char and sour character. Ashy finish.

M - Even on a warm summer night, this seemed quite thin. Dry, bitter, ashy feel.

O - Started strong enough, but the taste was pretty unpleasant and the mouthfeel quite disappointing. Won't be having this again.

Jul 26, 2012
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BostonHops from Massachusetts

3.86/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a snifter.

pours that customary imperial stout used-motor oil black - totally opaque - while yielding a solid 1" mocha-toned head; surprisingly great retention and lots of lacing. great appearance even in a style where it can be tough to stand out. nose is good. i get roasted malt, chocolate, maybe a touch of coffee - all pretty typical for the style. not getting much else.

taste improves a bit on the nose. the roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee are all there, but i also get a few secondary notes of dark fruits. well-hidden 10% ABV. very tasty. creamy, medium-full mouthfeel with average carbonation. funny, though, at the same time it also has a watery feel to it. sort of conflicting.

overall this is a very nice RIS. doesn't rival any of my favorites but it's worth a try.

(originally reviewed: 05-24-2011)

Jun 14, 2012
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isualum12 from Idaho

3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I had this at an amazing imperial stout tasting party here in Boise with at least 75 beers. This was about average at the party...Poured from bomber into taster. Poured very dark with a finger and a half of a coffee colored head.

Smelled chocolate and coffee on the nose. nothing too overwhelming. Tasted chocolate, coffee, and tobacco.
Fairly good. I would have it again...

Mar 20, 2012
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mactrail from Washington

3.45/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Has both a perfumey and grainy flavor that are a little peculiar. Malty nose with some charcoal. Slightly harsh flavor with a lot of burnt barley flavors. Some pleasant sweet malt comes through, however, and it drinks better after a few sips.

Winey character and mouthfeel. Quite bitter aftertaste. Quite alcoholic along with that bitterness for an eye-opening experience. I would wish for a mellower and silkier RIS, since there are so many good ones. Still, for the money it's a powerful and flavorful ale.

Feb 15, 2012
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superspak from Ohio

4.22/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, no bottling date. Pours thick almost pitch black color with a small fairly dense tan head with good retention that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Some spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas of huge milk and dark chocolate fudge, caramel, toffee, molasses, coffee, roasted malt, toast, wood, and a bit of herbal hops. Fantastic aromas here with good strength and balance. Taste of big dark chocolate, caramel, toffee, roasted malt, coffee, toast, wood, slight dark fruit, and light herbal hops. Light bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, toffee, caramel, coffee, and roasted malts for a while. Great balance of big robust flavor. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a nice creamy and slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is surprisingly well hidden with only a slight warming after the finish. Way too drinkable to be a 10% beer; this goes down very smoothly. Overall this is a very excellent and balanced imperial stout offering. Extremely enjoyable and smooth.

Feb 11, 2012
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fullthrottle77 from California

3.16/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bomber into tulip glass. Poured very dark with a finger and a half of a mocha colored head. Smelled faint chocolate and coffee notes, nothing too overwhelming. Tasted chocolate, coffee, and tobacco. The tobacco was most prevalent in my opinion. Overall a decent imperial stout, not bad, not great just pretty average.

Jan 21, 2012
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jondeelee from Massachusetts

4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout opens with a thick whiff of malts, which bring a tantalizing blend of dark and light aromas. Included in these are chocolate malts, heavy cream, coffee, light tobacco, caramel, and a touch of Grape Nuts cereal-like lighter grains. Brown sugar, toffee and vanilla linger around the edges, joined by a smidgen of old port and cognac. Hops add just a touch of citrus backing, bringing subtle hints of bitterness to counter the sugars. The overall effect is beautifully balanced and nuanced, hampered only by the aromas' slightly weakened state: the volume knob seems to have only been set at eight instead of ten.

On the tongue, the beer opens dark and rich, with an immediate shot of brown sugar, fig juice, vanilla, and chocolate malt. These are quickly joined by caramels and toffee, then heavier layers of ash and tobacco, with hints of black malt, providing a layering effect. The darker flavors come to dominate the flavor profile as the beer sits on the tongue, set off by a perfect balance of citrusy hops, which provide subtle pine resin and grapefruit rind bitterness. The aftertaste is more of the darker flavors, as well as a lingering hop bitterness and touches of ash, and lasts for a long time. Mouthfeel is an odd-feeling medium, given the flavors, and carbonation is medium-low.

Overall, this is excellent Imperial Stout, and it says much of the flavors that the 10% ABV is completely hidden beneath them. The mouthfeel is surprisingly watery for these flavors and for this style, which does offset some of the beer's better qualities, but even this does not fully detract from the excellent flavor profile. I do wish that the flavors were slightly stronger--again, the volume knob seemingly set at eight instead of ten--but the beer is still delicious, and worth trying.

Jan 09, 2012
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Fatehunter from Oregon

4.09/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass. Pitch black with a half finger of tan head.

Rich smelling. Roasted and burnt malt, chocolate and licorice.

Starts like a milk stout, a little sweet, then quickly turns to burnt, super burnt malt overpowering everything in sight, slight bittering at the end.

Smooth texture, a fair level of carbonation, kind of crisp.

The taste is really bold and in your face burnt malt. That may not be enjoyable to some, but I liked it. This is not a shy beer.

Dec 31, 2011
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Sweasty from Texas

3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sitting down to another imperial stout. This one comes care of Moylan's. Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout pours a near pitch black. Its a shade above black hole. Not the darkest stout I have had to date. Things are topped off by a fingers worth of dark khaki head. Head settles to a ring. Plenty of lace is left in its wake.

The aroma is nice. Roasted coffee hits first. Some bitter sweet chocolate hits next. Beneath the dark roasty malt notes, hops come into play. Some citrusy hop, grapefruit mostly, notes shine. Beneath the citrus, some earthy/herbal notes round things out.

The hops in the nose are much stronger on the palate. Bitter grapefruit dominates upfront. Some herbal notes hit next. Beneath the hops, coffee notes strike first. Dark french roast coffee stands out. Some bittersweet chocolate present as well. A light caramel quality hits beneath the roast. The finish is wet with lingering grapefruit notes.

Ryan Sullivan's is medium bodied with a creamy mouthfeel.

Moylan's has created a nice imperial stout. It definitely leans toward the hoppy side of the style. It's not the most complex stout in its category, and it drinks a bit boozy. Regardless its a tasty enough cold weather brew.

Dec 28, 2011
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kjlued from North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very good RIS but not as good as I was hoping considering all the awards listed on the bottle.

Extremely dark with a nice caramel colored head.
Not quite as rich as I like in a RIS but definitely worth buying and trying.

Serving 22oz bottle poured in to Sam Adams glass.

Dec 17, 2011
Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout from Moylan's Brewery
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 460 ratings