Great Lakes 25th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout | Great Lakes Brewery

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Great Lakes 25th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial StoutGreat Lakes 25th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout
25 Ratings
Great Lakes 25th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial StoutGreat Lakes 25th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Imperial stout aged in Buffalo Trace barrels.

Added by TheSevenDuffs on 02-19-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 25 |  Reviews: 13
Reviews by Jeffo:
Photo of Jeffo
4.62/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got a bottle of this from pensteen and hopsolutely. Thanks a lot for this one guys. Really glad to try this one.

From a 750ml wax topped bottle into a snifter
IBU: 80
3 months in Kentucky bourbon barrels

APPEARANCE: Pours out black and yields a small, medium looking, mocha colored head with decent retention. Head recedes to a faint wisp and ring. Jet black body with no real carbonation evident. A light swirly wisp and ring remain with some falling dots of lace down the glass. Really black body for sure. Good looking.

SMELL: Big nose of bourbon, oak, vanilla, some nice roasted espresso, and dark baker's chocolate. A bed of alcohol under all the fun as well. Excellent mix of roasted and chocolate fudge from the base beer, and then the sweet bourbon barrel aromas from the ageing process.

TASTE: Roasted flavors, burnt coffee beans, sweet caramel and bourbon up front, into a burnt and roasted, dark baker's chocolate finish. Bourbon and oak show up at the swallow as well. Excellent balance here. Big and lingering finish of bourbon, vanilla, sweet caramel, roasted, burnt coffee and bitter chocolate. Both base beer and barrel are great and work very well together. Wonderful.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. Creamy on the palate, enough weight for sure, goes down smooth and finishes mouth-coating. A touch of heat lingers after the swallow, but well measured.

OVERALL: I'd love to try the base beer for this as well. Superb balance, and both the base beer and barrel aging are able to shine here. This one got a lot of praise from local fans, and that praise is more than deserved. Exceeded expectations, and as long as earlier reviewers are drinking the same beer I am, I feel they have been too harsh. This is excellent, and actually reminds me of Cycle Brewing RareR DOS. Highly recommended. Thanks again guys.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Sammy
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of DaveBar
4.49/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

5oz pour at the brewery. Warmed it up to around 10deg C

A- Nice and dark 1/4" head that filmed out within a minute or two. Super dark pretty much black colour.

S- Oodles of bourbon here.

T- Nice bourbon back bone on a quality stout. Pretty much 90% of a Bourbon County. Enough said.

M- Creamy and rich

O- I like this one a lot. It's definitely worth seeking out. A Canadian version of Bourbon County. So enjoyable and will buy on sight!

Food Pairing

This one like most heavy stouts that are bourbon barrel aged is difficult to pair due to the level of bourbon in them. Definitely will do well with anything chocolate that is for sure.


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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.76/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a deep black color stout with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma consists of roasted malt with medium bourbon notes and light vanilla notes. Taste is also dominated by dry roasted malt notes which are somewhat offset by large black chocolate notes with some medium bourbon notes with light vanilla notes also perceptible. Body is full with oily texture and good carbonation with no real apparent alcohol notes. Interesting beer with good balanced thought is missing a little something to keep up with some of its cousins.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.81/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Fresh bottle poured in to Great Lakes tulip.

A - Deep inky black with one finger of medium brown head.

S - A big oak aroma up front with some lighter bourbon notes coming through. Roast, semi-sweet chocolate and some sweet molasses.

T - A big oaky character dominates with lighter bourbon notes coming through from the barrel. Some chocolate, roast and the slightest hint of vanilla. A noticeable alcohol presence is warming throughout.

M - Medium, almost full bodies. Somewhat thick at times. Light carbonation.

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Photo of spinrsx
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of liamt07
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

Photo of philmen
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of cfalovo97
3/5  rDev -27%

Photo of Derek
4.43/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a tan head, thin ring of retention leaves some nice lace.

S: Considering the strength, the nose is rather subtle, but it is nice... molasses, black licorice with hints of espresso and bourbon.

T: The bourbon is very complimentary. Bakers chocolate, espresso, molasses, black licorice, roasted nut and oak. Solid bitterness, nice alcohol warmth.

M: Fairly full body is smooth with a light roasted acidity and drying alcohol finish. Perfect for the style.

O: Not at all brash, so it won't knock your socks off like some. It's a really big brew for sure, but the flavours are incredibly well integrated and it's an absolute pleasure to drink. It's not easy to achieve this balance. Very well-crafted, world-class brew. Hell of a way to celebrate an anniversary!

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Photo of jrenihan
3.86/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Beer is pitch black with a small tan head that fades quickly.

Smell contains bourbon, a bunch of vanilla, some oak.

Like the nose, the flavour contains plenty of the barrel. Oak, vanilla, bourbon. A bit hot. Some coffee and a bit of chocolate underneath it. Quite sweet.

Full bodied, moderately carbonated, the sweetness dries the mouth, a bit sticky.

Overall, not bad, but the barrel is too strong and the beer is a bit one-dimensional. I would like to get more of the base beer. Perhaps it will improve with time but given the quality of GLB's Stalin's Choice, I am a bit disappointed.

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Photo of iamstevetay
4.24/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of wordemupg
4.16/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle poured into tulip 29/6/13, big thanks to liamt07 for sending the bottle

A looks black right out of the bottle but has a deep cola edge when tilted, short lived finger of mocha foam burns out in seconds and leaves no lace

S woody bourbon with faint smoke, vanilla, char, booze, more smouldering wood and some bakers chocolate, licorice and more bourbon barrel

T slightly more booze then the nose with even more char, boozy fudge and some dark roasted coffee I didn't smell, rich and boozy with intense dark roast

M not as thick as the color would imply but far from thin, a little heat and very sticky with loads of char and burnt barrel on the finish

O I'd guess this spent more then 3 months in the barrel because there's an intense charred bourbon barrel aspect that's hard to miss, smells and tastes solid and I suppose that's what matters most

If I had another I'd age it for a while, big barrel presence and I'd believe it spent a year aging on wood if was told such, something I'd like more of but I'd sit on it for some time

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Photo of korguy123
3.8/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Red waxed bottle. The last of the 25th Anniversary bottles.
Poured into GLB tulip.

Totally opaque black pour with hints of red and brown swirling around. Half finger dark brown head. Slightly creamy looking. Lacing is minimal.

Dark chocolate and some cocoa powder. Slight Nesquik with some medium roast coffee. Molasses, vanilla, brown sugar, with some oak in the back end. A little light on the bourbon.

Dark chocolate and coffee up front making way for smooth bourbon and a light wood dryness. Molasses and some vanilla. A peak of alcohol comes through in the back end.

Medium to full body, slightly creamy

I think this is a good was to finish a year of celebration. The price tag was a little higher than the other releases but understandable and worth the extra couple dollars.

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Photo of kevinlater
4.66/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

sample at the glb tap takeover at barvolo in toronto, aug 22 2015. 2013 vintage. 12% abv, not sure if this is the same beer

a: pitch black with a dark brown head

s: dominant sweet bourbon (oaky vanilla, caramel) but not much else

t: bourbon notes up front, but then the extremely massive roast profile kicks you in the face. however the roastiness is never offensive. then follows a big caramel presence and some bitter cocoa notes. the finish tapers off with dark fruit flavours. perfect balancing between the extremes of decadently sweet and bitter/roasty characteristics

m: very thick and full, with mild carbonation. it's only fitting moderate bitterness/dryness at the end

o: amazingly indulgent. blew me away

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Photo of biegaman
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This 25th anniversary bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout is black and inky as a 25 year Modena balsamic vinegar, both having been shuttered in wooden barrels (albeit the former for only 3 months). Still, this opaque beer looks like it's never seen the light. Even its head is the colour of a particularly healthy top soil, dark and thick as wet mud.

No wonder this wasn't made available in the United States - it smells enough like a fine Cuban Montecristo to be confiscated at the border. There's a perfect amount of cigar-like spice (cinnamon, nutmeg) as well as a tangy wood note and vanilla courtesy of the bourbon barrels.

Each sip fills the mouth with splinters of wood; light a match and you could start a fire. The barrel is more appreciated than the bourbon. The flavour indeed contains large elements of oak including, most noticeably, a rich vanilla presence as well as coconut, roasted coffee bean and sweet cedar notes. The malts impart a touch of semi-sweet dark chocolate flavour too.

The brewery gauged that this would keep for 3 years - a rather conservative estimate given it's black as tar, 11% alcohol and aged in 80 proof barrels. This review comes a little over a year since its release and seems a little mellower, a little more approachable. It's probably got the strength to hold up another 20+ months but it'd be a pointless risk. My guess is it's peeked now.

Great Lakes 25th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout is a balanced offering that layers the palate with copious amounts of complex flavors including vanilla, coconut, chocolate, coffee, toasted nuts, and a sweet hint of raisin on the finish. What more can it offer? I can't think a better beer to release to celebrate an anniversary.

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Photo of Cycle69
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of NightINgale
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of Digimaika2
4.49/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased Winter 12/13 and tasting with about one year's worth of aging.

(4.25) A: Pours thick with a relatively thin mocha coloured head that quickly forms a ring with an island of bubbles in the middle. Although thin, the head has good retention and solid patches of lacing are clearly evident.

(4.5) S: Bitter dark chocolate, espresso bean, sweet caramel, dark fruits, vanilla, and gingerbread. The bourbon is quite subtle and really blends well with the intense dark chocolate aroma. This encompasses all the hearty and rich aromas that I enjoy in this style.

(4.5) T: As per the aroma (thankfully) with bitter dark chocolate and oaky bourbon upfront. Vanilla, espresso, caramel, anise, and subtle dark fruits round this out very well. The alcohol is superbly hidden with the bourbon providing a more oaky-cherry taste. This reminds me of an affogato (espresso poured over gelato) in flavour but also in terms of balancing the sweet with the bitter.

(4.5) M: Full bodied with a moderate carbonation. Sticky and viscous with a slight gritty texture. Not overly syrupy which I find can be quite prevalent in this style.

(4.5) D: This is probably one of the best bourbon RIS I’ve had yet. The bourbon for me extolled wonderful wood and cherry flavours without being overly boozy. Very happy to have found this last bottle on the shelf (it was meant to be!) and will be keeping my eyes out for the next release.

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Photo of Cadbury
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of decimator
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a goblet. ABV 11%.
At almost $15 this is the most I've ever paid for a single bottle of beer at the LCBO.

A - Poured a near black with a 1cm brown head. Head reduced to a thin ring of bubbles. Minimal lacing.

S - Vanilla, oak, dark chocolate, some dark fruit, a bit of whiskey in the background.

T - Brown sugar, molasses, some dark chocolate, vanilla, some booze, oak & bitter hops in the finish. As it warms the wood notes become more prominent in the finish.

M - Medium carbonation, medium-heavy body, thick, syrupy, minimal heat, dry finish.

O - A pretty good RIS overall.

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Photo of 2beerdogs
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

Photo of valianes
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of peensteen
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Jet black, ring of reddish-tan head, some lace here as well. Smell is just wonderful, chocolate and bourbon, fudge brownie like, vanilla, light coffee and oak, well roasted but not chared or burnt, more fudgey-chocolate. Taste is not quite as nice as the nose, roasty with chocolate and coffee, vanilla and oak are fairly present but the overall bourbon is light, more chocolate-vanilla flavours with a medium bitterness, aftertaste of vanilla. Lightly carbonated, medium-full body. Solid stuff here, great way to end the anniversary series, something I'm glad I have a few more of.

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Photo of DaPan
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Great Lakes 25th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout from Great Lakes Brewery
Beer rating: 4.11 out of 5 with 25 ratings