Empress Catherine | Short's Brewing Company

very good
17 Reviews
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Empress CatherineEmpress Catherine

Brewed by:
Short's Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Empress Catherine is a dark, opaque stout with sweet aromas of molasses and black currants. Rich flavors of dark chocolate and heavy roast provide a malty balance to the pronounced bitterness in the finish.

Added by CMUbrew on 11-13-2013

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Reviews: 17 | Ratings: 121
Photo of maximum12
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Thanks to tectactoe for this bottle, a hardy survivor of a summertime trade. 12 oz. bottle hoarded for me, myself, & I. Split three ways.

The pour is Microsoft Mouse black with fleeting carbonation: you blink, you miss. Black licorice flows out of the aroma like a dark lava flow, & I wasn’t even sniffing yet. On closer inspection, there’s black licorice & the vague outline of blackberries. Or maybe that was just the muffin I had this morning repeating on me. Interesting, if overpowering.

Empress Catherine might be overstating her station by a good ways. The taste fits oddly on a big stout. It reminds me most of a nut brown ale, very acorn-forward. Underneath the squirrel feed is harsh bitterness, which might come from the prominent roast or accompanying hops, with bits of chocolate & grainy earthiness. The finish finally catches up to the nose, with a long trail of dark fruit, anise & black licorice lingering into forever. Thin. A bottle for myself will be enough.

Very strange take on an imperial stout that almost works, but ultimately is too schizophrenic for its own good. Decent enough.

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Photo of lochef81
3.61/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Another in a long line of RIS that I've been tasting before the heat of summer hits. Ah, Shorts my long hated nemesis. The last few things I've tasted from you(hopstache, superfluid, publican porter) have made me reconsider, I hope this one keeps me doubting my opinion. This stout pours a near black mahogany color with a light tan head that leaves a nice film and lacing. The nose is overwhelmed by coffee notes but also carries an abundance of hops not normally found in an imperial stout. The mouthfeel is rather light for a RIS more that of a porter or a black ipa. The flavor is that of burnt coffee and bitter hops. There is a slight roasted malt sweetness and vanilla flavor that somewhat balance the beer but overall it is brutally bitter and not in a good way. It's not the delicious bitterness of hops or burnt malt but that of a beer that does not know what it is meant to be; black ipa or imperial stout. This is definitely a good beer but not what it bills itself to be.

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Photo of Mitchster
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 2.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

$2.19 for a 12oz bottle @ BevCo. 8% ABV and 55 IBU's per the website. Imperial stout?

Pours out to a very dark brown, not quite black, forming a small head with poor retention and no lacing. Thin layer of sediment in the bottle. Mild carbonation, ~2.0 carbs or so. The nose immediately reminds me of Founders Porter or the Old version of Kalmazoo stout when it was brewed in Kzoo way back when. Plenty of roast, burnt marshmallows, lots of black walnut, a hint of dark chocolate, and I'm guessing Willamette hops. Very nice nose. Mouthfeel is full, a little chalky and charred, moderately strong hop and roast malt acidity. The taste is a recap of the nose...lots of black walnut. The acidity of the hops and roast interferes with it's potential smoothness. Moderate hop flavor in addition to it's moderate bitterness. Green leafy hop in the finish. Moderately astringent as well.

As other reviewers here have noted, this is an aggressively hopped (slightly bigger, but not Imperial) stout. It doesn't have many of the characteristics of other quality Imperial stouts in that it's not as full bodied, is a bit lighter in color, is more burnt/charred, is lower in ABV and OG, more aggressively hopped, and has no dark fruit character. Still, it's a decent refrain from other stouts if you're in the mood for something like this, but I think it's a misnomer.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, dated 1/27/2014 on the neck. Extra'd to me by Nesto114. Thanks a lot David! Poured into a Bell's snifter today, 3/2/2014.

Review #465.

App- Pours just like a RIS should, though looks a bit watery as it pours. Dark black body, one finger tan head, fair retention that dissipates into a thin collar, plenty of lacing.

Smell- First descriptor that comes to mind is nutty. Faint dark fruits, dark chocolate, charred malts.

Flavour- Tastes even more nutty than it smells though nowhere near peanut butter nutty. Charred malts, dark chocolate, bitter black coffee with an strong herbal, earthy finish. Solid flavour profile, clearly a hopped up RIS.

Mouthfeel- Thinner bodied for a RIS; chalky but not very thick and even a bit watery. Drinkable, aftertaste is charred malts and a bitter earthiness that leaves a fairly dry finish. Not difficult to drink, no heat.

Overall- Solid, hoppy RIS that suffers from a thin mouthfeel compared to others of the same style. It's also quite nutty, which is not something I associate with Russian Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of kylelenk
3.69/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Had on tap from Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A-Black as night. Nice mud colored head that dissipates into nothingness leaving just a sticky resin lacing on the side of the glass.

S-A bit of something metallic here. You get a bunch of smokey malt notes with a surprising hop nose.

T-A bit over hopped for my preference. There is the usual suspects are here: the chocolate, the coffee, the malt. They're all sitting way at the back of the bus compared to how hopped the beer is.

M-Strongest suit of the beer. Has that nice, thick, chewy body that Short's nails so well.

O-Decent but not for those that like hopped stouts.

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Photo of PaulyB83
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass. Bottling date has rubbed off.

A- Pours black with a slight amount of light coming through on the edges. Has a medium sized light brown head.

S- Some dark roasted malts, slight black currant, and a hop presence that is definitely out of style.

T- Similar to aroma, coffee, dark chocolate, some black currant, finishes with lots of hops.

M- Light for an RIS.

O- You really could label this an Imperial Black IPA if you wanted to, I think it might get better scores as well. Not a bad beer but just less than what I'm expecting for a RIS, especially one from Short's all of their stouts that I've had to this point have exceeded my expectations.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark brown with a thin collar of tan head. The nose is heavily roasted with dark fruits, earthy hops, and burnt malts. The hops come through quite strongly. The taste is very similar to the nose. Robust hops, heavy roasted character, a bit of earth and chocolate. Mouthfeel is where this beer take a hit. The body doesn't match the big flavors. A bit on the thin side with above average carbonation. Overall, nice flavors here, more body would elevate this beer significantly.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours black with a two-finger foamy tan head. Light sticky lacing.

S - Dark roasted malts, coffee, and earthy hops.

T - Follows the smell. Earthy hops upfront lead into a decent amount of coffee and dark chocolate. Finish is mostly bitter black coffee.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Thin mouthfeel with a dry finish.

O - This is a decent beer. Reminds me more of a Black IPA than an Imperial Stout. Still worth checking out.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

I picked up a bottle of Short's Empress Catherine last week for $2.29 at The Lager Mill. I had this beer a couple weeks ago at a local Short's tap takeover and I thought it was pretty nice stout that was a little similar to their Mystery Stout and I'm interested see how the bottles version is, so lets see how it goes. No visible bottling date, but I know it's fresh. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- the label looks ok, it's got an old Victorian portrait vibe to it, it's a little eye catching. It poured a nice dark black color that took on some ruby hues on the edges when held to the light with two fingers worth of darker tan head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and it left some nice patchy rings of lacing behind. This is a very nice looking beer, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts off with a slightly higher amount of medium sweetness followed by the malts being the first to show up and they impart some roasted, charred, and chocolate like aromas with some coffee showing up in the background. Up next comes the hops which impart some earthy, floral, and piney hop aromas with the earthy hops seeming to stick out the most. This beer had a pretty nice aroma, it was very hoppy for the style but the roasted malts seemed like they did a good job and keeping it fairly balanced.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with a medium amount of sweetness followed by the malts being the first to show up and they impart all the same aspects that they did in the aroma with the chocolate and charred malt flavors seeming to stick out the most. Up next comes the hops which impart the same aspects that they did in the aroma with the earthy hops still sticking out the most with a slight bit of piney and floral hops in the background. On the finish there's lower amount of high bitterness followed by a roasty, chocolate, charred and earthy hops like aftertaste. This is a pretty nice tasting beer, it's very hoppy and it could almost pass for a Black IPA.

M- Fairly smooth, a little rich, fairly dry, a little creamy, on the lighter side of being medium bodied with a slightly lower amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is very nice and it works well with this beer.

Overall I thought this was a pretty nice beer and a nice, but very hoppy version of the style, it was on verge of being a Black IPA and i don't know if I would be able to pick it out as an Imperial Stout, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. This beer had nice drinkability, it was fairly smooth, a little rich, fairly dry, a little creamy, a little filling and the taste did a nice job at holding my attention, I could drink a couple of these, I thought the hops would hurt the drinkability a little, but I find this to be pretty easy drinking for the style. What I like the most about this beer was how well well the malts worked with the hops, they didn't seem to clash at all. What I liked the least about this beer was the higher amount of bitterness, I think it could be toned down a little. I would buy this beer again, it was a very limited release so I don't think it's still around, but I would for sure buy it again if they release it next year and I'll be putting a couple in the cellar to see how it changes over time. I would recommend this beer to anyone who likes their Imperial Stouts on the hoppy side. All in all I enjoyed this beer, it wasn't really what I expect out of a standard Imperial Stout, but Knowing Short's I figured they would put a twist on this one to make it a little unique and that's exactly what they did. It isn't my favorite Imperial Stout or my favorite Short's beer, but it may be one of the better hoppy Imperial Stouts I've had and I like it more than Victory's Storm King. Nice job guys, this was a nice and unique Imperial Stout, keep up the good work.

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Photo of andrewjraab
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pitch black with a mocha head that quickly dissipates to a fine ring around a snifter. Some decent spotty lace clings after each drink.

S - Malts, chocolate, hops present, caramel, toasted nuts, coffee.

T - Malt forward - dark / bitter chocolate, caramel. Malts followed by a prominent amount of hops, and finishes very dry and bitter. Some anise flavors faint in the back end. Moutfeel is chewy and syrupy.

O - Another solid brew from Shorts. This drinks more like a black IPA to me rather than an RIS, but a very nice beer nonetheless

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Empress Catherine

$2 single poured into a shaker pint. No bottling date.

Appearance: Pours black with ruby on the sides of the glass. Looks to have good clarity. Half finger beige head. (4.25/5)

Smell: Smells like a black IPA. A lot of hops overlying the roasty base. Bold. Just a lot of earthy hops with coffee and roasted malts. I like it, but not so much in an Imperial Stout. (3.75/5)

Taste/feel: Super silky mouth feel is what I notice first. Moderate carbonation. A little thin, but nice. The taste is like the smell indicates. Loads of earthy hops, but plenty of coffee flavors to bring this beer back down to earth as an Imperial Stout, and not a Black IPA. The hops are mostly present before the swallow, as the aftertaste is bitter black coffee. (3.75/5, 3.75/5)

It's a tasty beer. Quite different, as I haven't had too many hoppy Imperial Stouts. This is a beer I'd return to if I wanted something like a Black IPA rather than an Imperial Stout, just because I'm generally not a HUGE fan of hoppy stouts.


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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 1/27/2014. Pours pitch black color with brown edges with a 1-2 finger fairly dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, roasted malt, char, toast, pine, floral, grass, light citrus, light smoke, and floral/roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good complexity and balance of deep roasted malt and a good amount of pine/floral hop notes; with great strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, roasted malt, char, toast, light smoke, floral, grass, pine, and floral/roasted earthiness. Good amount of pine/roast bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, coffee, cocoa, roast, char, toast, floral, grass, pine, light smoke, and floral/roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice complexity and balance of deep roasted malt floral/piney hops flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a moderately creamy, smooth, and lightly chalky/sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice imperial stout. All around good complexity and balance of deep roasted malt and floral/pine hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of CMUbrew
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Black, of course. A darkish head sits on top for a spell and looks good while it is there.

S: Roast qualities and alcohol. Smells like an enjoyable stout.

T: Nice roasty char character with a minimal alcohol presence that only increases slightly with warming.

M: A little too thin for style and my preference, though the ABV didn't have me expecting anything overly viscous.

O: Just a little bit lacking overall. Everything could have been better, though I couldn't score it lower in the other categories. A very nice value though, as I have come to expect from Short's.

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Photo of alarmclock314
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle, no date. Pours brownish/black with a medium sized tan head; some lacing. Smells of roasted malt, cocoa, coffee, earthy hops, sweet lactose, nuts, and molasses. Mellower flavor of roasted malt, cocoa, coffee, sweet lactose, nuts, and some earthy hops. Mild bitterness and sweetness. Thin body and medium carbonation for the style. Overall, it's a pretty good beer if you like drinkable and sweeter stouts, but it don't fit well as a RIS.

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Photo of Morakaton
3.99/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Served from refrigeration, sipped as it warmed from cool to room temperature. Bottle dating - unknown, but the beer just came out in early February

Well, this beer marks the second of the 4 beers Short's had lined up near the beginning of the year that I've been wanting to try (the first being Publican Porter, my all time favorite Porter, the third Goodnight Bodacious, and finally Freedom of '78). Upon reading some of the other reviews, I was a bit worried this beer wouldn't impress me, but I think some of the negativity comes the idea that this beer is a big thick and chewy imperial stout in the likes of Ten Fidy and FIS, when it's actually it's own unique thing.

Appearance and aroma - The beer poured a nice dark brown, not quite the darkest of any imperial stout, but dark enough. There was quite a bit of character in the foam, with a nice amount of lacing. The nose led to impressions of char and smoke, roasted malt, and a rather boisterous amount of hops for an imperial stout!

Mouthfeel and taste - Like I said before, this stout does not have the same extremely thick body of other imperial stouts, and is slightly watery, docking it some points. With that said, it was still rather consistent feeling, lacking a bit in carbonation but not disappointing overall. The beer tasted roasty with a hint of char, and a bit of nuts came through too. The hops were very prominent when it was cold, but as it warmed the hop balance became very nice. Booziness was mostly prominent at cooler temperatures as well, but faded as it warmed. I would think the dislike here is that the beer wasn't as chocolatey and malty as other staples in the imperial stout category, and the nuttiness may confuse people as well. However, I found the beer unique in that regard. Just because a beer is titled imperial stout does not necessarily mean it has to be a clone of the big guns, right?

Overall - It's definitely worth a purchase if you can find it at a reasonable price. It's not nearly as strong as Publican Porter or Goodnight Bodacious, and definitely not the norm in it's category of beer (but anything from Short's hardly ever is), but it's still a great beer from Short's.

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Photo of Flopjack
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into tulip

Appearance - Black with 1/2 finger off white head.

Smell - Hoppy floral notes and very roasty right away, nuts, chocolate, coffee.

Taste - Hop bitterness right at first that leads into a smoky wood like flavor as well as some nutty characteristics. Definitely has roasted flavors, and ends with a mild milk chocolate flavor. Alcohol is not overwhelming.

Mouthfeel - Medium/full bodied, medium carbonation, refreshing, and crisp.

Overall - Good beer. Defintely surprised by the hop presence, but I also got flavors in a different than usual way. Unique.

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Photo of GRPunk
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Undated bottle poured into a Stone RIS snifter

A- A normal pour created a very short-lived, 1-finger, tan head. Near jet black body shows dark brown edges when held to the light. Decent lacing, though much of it slides down the glass back into the body.

S- Very rich and a little sweet at first. Medium roast coffee with a couple packets of sugar in the raw. Hints of raisin and just a little smoke. Some dark chocolate.

T- Mmm, that's good. As aroma suggests, bold, sweetened coffee. Some dark chocolate. Lots of dark roasted grains. Hints of higher ABV and some leafy/tobacco-like hops, especially in the finish leading to a clean aftertaste.

M- Full body. Slightly chalky with a little alcohol warmth. Slight hop bite as well.

O- A very solid imperial stout. I know it's spent a good month or more in the fridge and it seems to be drinking really well. I'd buy this one again, especially at the $2.19 pricing point for a 12oz. bottle.

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Empress Catherine from Short's Brewing Company
3.79 out of 5 based on 121 ratings.
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