All notes on beers in the style

Russian Imperial Stout

Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout

12 oz single from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. Pour is a nice looking one, with all the requisite attributes for the style, plus some really nice alcohol legs. Head and lace are not amazing, but solid. Nose is pretty strong, but mainly in alcohol and little else. Usually that's not a good sign but this particular aroma sits OK with me. Very light in the mouth which adds to the drinkability. The beer is a collection of maltiness wrapped inside more alcohol. Obviously some roastiness but very...

Dragonslayer

22 oz bottle that I purchased in a Wegman's in Binghamton, NY, USA. Pour is exactly what one would expect; oily black body, with a thin, mocha film on the surface of the beer. The alcohol in the nose seems a little strong and it has me a bit concerned for the tastes. In reality it doesn't manifest itself quite as aggressively as the aroma would suggest, but it is still a prominent feature. At first I didn't think that this was going to be a very hoppy stout, but as the glass and bottle...

Terrapin Big Daddy Vlady’s Russian Imperial Stout

22 oz bottle in the usual Side Project presentation, this is #13. $7.49 for the bottle. The latest in the deluge of beer that is coming out of Terrapin these days (with mixed results I might add). Standard jet black pour with a smallish head. There is a distinct lack of body. The beer really is quite thin. The beer pulls together an odd combination of attributes. It's quite sweet but it brings a terribly unrelenting solvent alcohol presence. The roasty sweetness that IS there and threatens to...

Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout

750 mL bottle from Total Wine in Jacksonville, FL. OK, small hiss/fizz as the cap is prized off, in a moment you'll see why that detail is relevant. Pour gives a rich looking, thick, jet-black body with a few very dark brown highlights at the edges. The beer leaves some very impressive, tobacco colored film/oil on the inside of the glass like alcohol legs that cover the whole surface of the vessel. Impressive. ZERO head. ZERO lace. Nose gives a really sweet, alcohol based aroma with some...

St Petersburg Imperial Stout

Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. 500 mL bottle. Jet black pour with standard appearance in terms of head and lace. Not a great deal to report but nevertheless, looks good. Nose is quite rich and boozy and promises much. Frankly, tastes are less impressive. There is a very distinct chalky nature to the beer which detracts from the richness in the mouth and also leads to a diminished taste profile. Elements of alcohol and light roasts are there, but the residue that coats the teeth and tongue...

Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew

750 mL bottle. The usual hoopla that is associated with DFH (relatively) limited releases that is beginning to leave me cold. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of DFH but the hysteria that has been building over a number of beers in the recent past is getting tedious. Ho hum. Pour reports nothing. It's jet black and there is not much head. Perhaps a few red highlights but so what. Good but standard. Not a particularly rich RIS, in fact rather average. Solid roast notes, a decent splash of...

Imperial Russian Stout

750 mL bottle, #396 out of 400; 2009 vintage. Shared with BEERchitect on a visit to Lexington, KY. Standard, balck pour with a less than impressive mocha-like head (ABV obviously curtails this a little)) but still surprisingly poor given the fizzy nature of the beer. The carbonation seems really high at first and this leads to an annoyingly, prickly mouthfeel that subsides a bit but seems present throughout the brew for me. Nose and tastes release a LOT of burned character, and it all gets a...

Joshua Norton Imperial Stout

22 oz bomber from the October 2009 bottling, drunk in Feb 2010. Pour gives a standard black affair with medium head, retention and a little lace. Nose and tastes are quite restrained with all of the usual roast, light bitter and mild-chocolate notes but it is ALL very restrained and tempered. This is also true of the alcohol which gives a tiny bit of heat to the finish, but to describe it any other way than subtle would be wrong. If you are looking for an aggressive, hop-forward high alcohol...

Smuttynose Imperial Stout (Big Beer Series)

22 oz bottle from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. 2009 bottling from earlier this year. Been holding on to this for a few months, tonight was the night to crack it open. Into the Terrapin snifter in a number of pours. Simple stuff on the pour; black as night, mocha head, medium in size. Simple and as expected. Nose at first gives a bready like aroma but this soon gives way to a quite aggressive, medicinal hop base against a background of a touch of solvent alcohol. This beer drinks very harshly...

Boaks Monster Mash Imperial Stout

12 oz single as an extra as part of a recent trade. Pour is the requisite black ink body with some nice lace in a mocha, coffee color that is provoked by an aggressive pour. Opaque, even at the extremeties. Nose gives away plenty of really strong malts and a touch of alcohol. Alcohol is fairly well hidden and I might have said that it was more in the 7-8% range rather than 10%. Simple roasted flavors, touches of alcohol and a fairly large dose of licorice make up the body of the beer. Smooth...

Vortex II

22 oz bottle from Brusin' Ales from the Jan 2009 release (I think). Pour is a standard jet black but it provides a very fizzy tan head. Short lived head and not much retention. Nose and tastes give a LOT of sweetness and some bitterness that is characterized by some chicory. Definitely reminds me of the old Camp Coffee! The sweetness is noticeable as it rings up some lactose sweetness as well. Perhaps even feels a touch infected, as if the sweetness is just about to go sour. these competing...

Imperial Stout

If I had to sum up this 12 oz, single bottle offering simply, I would say that is has most of the general attributes of the style, but it lacked any real depth in every department. Summarized thus; + A blackish pour, but lacked any significant viscosity or motor oil color + Body felt fairly light and especially light for the style + Alcohol seemed well below the 8.2% advertised; unusual for a RIS + Nose and tastes had some of the roasty character that one would expect, but ultimately the...

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout

$2.99 for the 12 oz bottle from Total Wine, Perimeter, Atlanta, GA, USA. This one goes into the Terrapin 22 oz snifter in small portions. I want to let this one warm over an extended period. Standard, black opaque beer with a thinnish, dark tan spotty head and a small collar. Light solvent alcohol in the nose but with some sweetness. The tastes are really quite light too, and definitely sit on the side of milk chocolate rather than dark. It's not really very aggressive at all and it reminds me...

Sexual Chocolate

You never know what you might find! So, I take a completely unplanned trip up to Asheville, NC for the weekend and while I'm hanging out in Brusin' Ales, one of the customers (Scott) says that the Mellow Mushroom (a few feet away) has just tapped their keg of Sexual Chocolate! Happy coincidence. After all the hype surrounding this beer, and all of the trouble that people have gone to in order to get it, I found it a little perplexing/strange/amusing that it should be sitting there and being...

Blackbeerd Imperial Stout

64 oz growler poured by Jaime herself at the brewery. Shared with the usual suspects at The Brick Store, Decatur, GA, USA on a Friday afternoon. Pretty standard "black as night" pour with a small mocha colored head. Lace is small and settles to a bubbly surface. Aroma and taste come together to give a very distinct porter, black patent malt presence. I don't know what malts are used here, but that's what it tastes like! Body is definitely not a viscous as many of the style and for me this adds...

Black Albert

Notes added 04/16/2022 2021 Vintage. This is the bottle pictured. Light solvent alcohol nose that does not really manifest itself in the initial tastes too much. The beer drinks very easily considering, and if anything feels a little thin. Alcohol is of course there, and burns a little at the extremities of the tongue, but nothing too harsh or cloying. Plenty of gentle smoke in there too. Finish has more solvent alcohol, but again not too abrasive. It’s not especially bitter, not especially...

B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout

Big thanks go out to Tim (5thOhio) for the chance to have a crack at this (at the time) top 100 beer. 22 oz bomber poured into the Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs chalice. Jet black body with no hint of any light penetrating the beer. Fine mocha head on top, no lace. Standard nose for the style. Fairly light mouthfeel, not at all heavy or cloying which can happen with the style. Light roastiness like a bitterness that a coffee can give without the coffee taste. Light bitterness in the initial...

Imperial Stout

$5.99, Greens, Ponce, Atlanta, GA, USA. Standard, jet black body with the espreso foam colored head - the color of the head reminds me of the tobacco stained wallcoverings of really old, Snug bars from the 70's. Attractive color. Some lace, but not extensive. Nose has the usual roasty bitter profile, but follows up with a touch of alcohol. Carbonation seems a little on the high side of the style. Mellow drinking. The taste does not crash into the tastebds with the bitterness that the nose...

Old Heathen Imperial Stout

12oz bottle from a recent trip to Greensboro, NC. I *think* this came as a single from either Total Wine in Greensboro or City Beverage in Winston-Salem. I've had some very good Weyerbacher experiences, and I was hoping for (and expecting) a good experience here too - alas, this wasn't as good as I thought it would be. Pour is a solid black with a dark brown highlight near the surface. Thin film of mocha head, but no lace to speak of. Mild solvent and some chocolate in the aroma. The...

Portsmouth Kate The Great

Many thanks to Lance for sharing the Growler. Shared at The Brick Store with a few of the usual suspects. Poured into the tulip, the body is jet black with a nice mocha head. At first the aroma and taste are both simply solvent like - very strong alcohol, almost varnish like. The alcohol was all I got initially, and I described the finish as basically vodka-like. It was not a good start for me. However, this beer changed just about more than any other I have tasted as it warmed. And I don't...

Duck-Rabbit Rabid Duck

12oz single purchased on a recent trip to Greensboro, NC, USA before this made it to GA. Typical motor oil pour with some good looking Mocha/tan head. Lace is scant. Nose and taste represent a mild, milk chocolate lightly roasted malt. A hint of alcohol in the nose. Some darker cooking chocolate/Bourneville in the taste. A touch of bitterness. Slightly thin for the style and this brew lacks a little of the mouth coating attributes that one might have expected. A little smoke in the finish and...

Black Hole

So I stroll into Green's, Ponce, Atlanta, GA, USA and take a look inside the Belgian walk-in and I see a bottle of silver foiled neck, Black Hole. It appears to be $9.95, and given that RIS is by no means my favorite stlye, AND I am really wary of the hype associated with many beers, I elect to pass. Anyway, off I go to The Brick Store, Decatur , GA, USA (10 minutes down the road) and Dave insists on cracking a bottle of the same for "research purposes". Pretty much exactly as you would...

Founders Imperial Stout

Thanks to Hoppymeal for the trade. Ink black pour with a similar viscosity. Tiny ring of head around the outer extremeties, virtually no lace. It sits there looking menacing! Alcohol, roasted malts and chocolate in the nose. A high density RIS with a lot of dark (plain) chocolate character. Bourneville in a glass. Alcohol is present and warming but not burning. Coats the mouth, extremely smooth. Light bitterness and more alcohol complete the package in the finish.

Dark Force

Green's, Ponce, Atlatna, GA, USA. Batch #74, bottled May '07, Best Before May '11. Poured into the Urthel stemmed goblet in small portions, this is black pour but does have a few dark brown notes too. Mocha head with a coffee feel. Head is spotty but lace is fairly scant. Chocolate malts and dark chocolate bitterness are the keys here - not much else. The wheat doesn't make much of an appearance for me, except perhaps in the mouthfeel which is very light for this type of beer. As a RIS this is...

Heavy Seas – Peg Leg (Imperial Stout)

This was described to me by a fellow BA as a RIS wannabe. I largely agree. Thanks to BA SilentSabre for this sample. Nice color (jet black) with some head (very small), well formed but pretty short lived. Some lacing. This may be advertised as a RIS, but this tastes and drinks like a lactose milk stout. Typical, slightly sour tastes with a rather thin body for the style. Very light for the style but still decent. Not a heavy RIS by any stretch, but a nice lactose, milk stout. Don't expect too...

Cherry Russian Imperial Stout

Billed as "Big Poppa Cherry Stout" at the Brick Store, Decatur, GA, USA. $6.00 for small sevring - still very good value. Let me start by saying a couple of things. I didn't think I would like this a great deal and at the same time, one of these is plenty in one sitting to make sure that you still enjoy it. Jet black viscous pour with a large, dark brown mocha head. This is THICK, but considering everything, very drinkable. To be honest I didn't notice the cherries a great deal. Either in the...

Ten FIDY

On tap, The Brick Store, Decatur, GA, USA. $6.00 The beer arrived in a thistle type glass, as black as night and with about a quarter of an inch of dark, mocha colored, highly pitted, dense foam being supported by the upper surface of the beer's body. What I first notice is that when I lift the glass to get a good whiff, it appears as though the glassware has an unusually thick or dense foot. Closer inspection suggests that it is actually the sheer density of the liquid inside the vessel that...

Dark Lord Imperial Stout

Review #1000, December 24th 2006. 22 oz bomber, 2006 vintage, gold wax dipped neck. Poured into the Duvel Goblet. Thanks to Beerinator for the trade as part of Xtreme BIF 39. Pours jet black with a wonderful expresso like head that becomes a simple film fairly quickly. Milk chocolate color to the head and the spotty film. Perhaps the "blackest" beer I have encountered, but definitely not the most viscous. Nose is all sweet alcohol and the initial tastes match that aroma. Actually a lot more...

Heresy

Thanks go out to BeerBeing and SilentSabre for this. 12oz bottle poured into the Koningshoeven small chalice. Pour is black with a nice brown head. Little lacing. Film on the surface of the body. Some serious chocolate alcohol aromas - fantastic and it promises much. Mouthfeel is light without sacrificing too much. A nice drinkable combo of real taste and depth without turning into an effort to drink it. In fact high drinkabilty for the style. A little too much carbonation for the style, but a...

Lagunitas Imperial Stout

22 oz Bomber with the distinctive Lagunitas label. Dark brown rather than black pour and plenty of red highlights. Small head with not much lacing. A lot of sweetness in the nose. OK, on to the crucial stuff. This beer is going to sit badly with some people because of the style that this is being categorized as. If you open this, drink it and score it as a RIS, you are going to be disappointed and critical. However, if you take it for what it is (rather than the somewhat arbitrary category...

Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

$6.75 on tap at Taco Mac, East West Connector, Atlanta, GA, USA. Jet black pour - opaque. Smallish head, but nice lace lacing and a ying-yang symbol forms in light brown bubbles on the surface of the beer. Silky milk chocolate mouthfeel with a hint of mild tobacco?? Aftertaste is all evaporating alcohol, almost as if you can feel the alcohol rising to the roof of the mouth and in the back of the throat. There is more of a mouth and tongue coating with the draft version than the bottle but it...

Great Lakes Blackout Stout

Poured into the Gouden Carolus mini-chalice. Black coffee colored with a head that disappears very quickly to leave no lacing or head. Sugary mouthfeel, but without the viscous feel. Liquorice taste with a dark burned, smoked malt background. Warming hop finish completes the package. Sweet, a nice RIS, but not my favorite.

Imperial Stout

750 mL, XS packaged, black "ceramic", swing-top bottle. 2006 vintage. Opaque black - jet black with a fast receding, coffee colored, fine bubbled head. Some lacing but not very extensive. Motor oil is a good descriptor. Aroma is dark, burned sugar with lots of alcohol. Amazingly dense - the glass feels ultra-heavy. Each mouthful burns with bitterness as it enters the mouth, but like the head, it receded quite quickly to leave a rich, fully coating, dark creaminess. Seriously big, this is a...

Winter Stout (Russian Imperial Stout)

Another really nice offering from St. George. Part of their mixed sixer, the Dragon Pack. Not much to say about the pour, except that it qualifies as a RIS. Viscous and a small (1/8th of an inch) head forms and recedes to give a classic spotty cream finish. Has an espresso look. Sugary, toffee caramels in the nose. Sweetness with lovely malts and only the mearest hint of bitterness in the finish. Extremely smooth, this drinks like a much, much more expensive brew. It IS sweeter than most...

Left Hand Imperial Stout

Appearance lacks the deep black opaque nature that one would expect from the style, and in fact there are red and brown highlights and a rather thin mouthfeel considering the RIS moniker. Thin spotty head, and a lack of lacing. Very strong alcohol presence in the taste, and a real burn on the way down. Quite acidic with sharp finish and lingering aftertaste. This is a very powerful drink, but it lacks subtlety and is very strong in the alcohol department with a lack of balance.

Imperial Stout

Delicious. A lighter version of the massive American versions of this beer for sure (the very phrase RIS conjours up thoughts of mind blowing excess), but of course the pay-off is that you get subtleties and grace that a massive smack you in the face American version lacks. Don't get me wrong, I love many of the American versions too, but many of them lack the craft of a beer like this. Jet black pour and a tan head that produces nice lacing. Smooth as silk on the way down, with mild and...

The Czar

The pour is certainly very, very dark brown if not quite black in hue. Quite a few ruby red highlights, but not quite a jet-black as I was anticipating. Aroma is really quite sweet with a little roastiness. Taste is very smooth and sweet, with the bitterness reserved for the very end of the short finish. Some carbonation in the mouthfeel and the head is a little more "airy" than the style would suggest. Very drinkable RIS considering the strength.

Siberian Night Imperial Stout

Very solid example of the style. Jet black appearance with some red highlights when held up to an intense light. Obviously very little head unless poured from some height into the glass. Whatever foam that creates, is gone quickly and doesn't really make the spotty, creamy film that I would like to see. Pretty sweet rather than dark and bitter. I like it that way, but I expect it will be too sweet for some, especially those who are expecting,or looking for, a more hoppy RIS. Incredibly smooth...

Yeti Imperial Stout

Genuine, thick black appearance with a small tan head, and a little lacing - not much, but some. Alcohol and toasted malts make up the majority of the aroma. I was pleased to find that this wasn't mega-complex. That may sound strange to some, but I was glad that the beer really was simply a really nice, strong stout. Sometimes brewers get into the habit of trying to produce something that is way too complicated, this didn't. Smoothness and strength are the key descriptors here. There are a lot...

Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

Oak-aged to add vanilla notes? Well, vanilla is too subtle a flavor to pick up in this massive beer, and to be frank, I don't see much difference between this and the regular Yeti. Classic opaque pour with a small head (I assume because of the ABV) and all the classic burned, roasted overtones in the aroma. Lots of chocolate and coffee in the tastes, but the main taste is the lingering licorice finish. Quite smooth until the end when the bitter finish kicks in. Alcohol is very well hidden, but...

Storm King Stout

Jet black (some very small ruby red highlights) with very little head at all. A little lacing, this is a bit short on looks apart from the deeply opaque body. Slight smokiness, with alcohol and small chocolate overtones make up the nose. Mouthfeel is good, as expected for a high alcohol stout. Tastes are espresso based with alcoholic warmth and some smoke to the fore. Some sweetness, but its not cloying or sickly like some beers of the style with high ABV. More bitter hops in the finish than...

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout

A definite viscosity in the pour, that, coupled with the opaque blackness, lets you know that you are in for something of genuine quality. Pour is classic, black stout black, with a small, bubbly head that ultimately fades to the type of head I love on a Porter or Stout - that classic, spotty, creamy, tan film that lingers and laces the glass. Initial notes are of depth. Deep, bitter flavors of cooking chocolate - that really bitter, cocoa flavor, a small amount of smoke - but very little, and...

Winter Brew 2004

Dark, Porter like appearance, with a very strong alcohol taste. No head, a flat coca-cola like appearance. The aroma is all alcohol and so are the initial tastes. I found this fairly abrasive with no smoothing out of the alcohol and as a result it was not very drinkable. Some acidity in the mouth too. The alcohol was very porly masked and any subtlety that was supposed to be there in terms of hops or malt was lost on me. Definite lack of smoothness. Not a very good beer. Perhaps I was thinking...

Stone Imperial Russian Stout

What a great surprise. A sweet, delicious, thick treacle like beer that drank superbly and left an amazing feeling of well being and satisfaction. Poured into a Westmalle chalice to reveal a thick, inky blackness that has yet to be matched by just about anything I can remember pouring - except black ink! Small tan head that left quickly to leave a classic, spotty cream film over the surface of the beer. Looks like a small oil slick in the glass! An interesting juxtaposition of complex notes...

Bell’s Expedition Stout

Inky blackness characterizes this stout and it comes with that classic coffee colored head. It's very "coffeeish" with the usual coating in the mouth and sweetness associated with a stout of this quality. I had absolutely NO idea that the ABV was as high as reported here. It disguises that magnificently. There was no hint to me that this was anything other than just a strong beer, I would never have guessed the 11.5%. Tasty, sweet and a nice stout. Stouts are not my favorite style, but this...

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

=== 08/11/06 === (05/06) Vintage. Continued improvement. Still looks the same but with increasing lactose, cocoa and milk chocolate notes. Milder. === 11/26/05 === (05-06) Vintage. Mostly the same characteristics as below, but some apparent extra bitterness. I'm going to wait some more for this to mellow out. === 10/25/05 === Now sampling a year old (04-05) vintage, the same vintage that I reviewed a year before, below. Either one of two things has happened. Firstly I suppose it is possible...

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Excellent value and if you can find it on notro you should definitely try it. Nitro definitely adds to the experience here. A beer that I have grown to enjoy more over the years. Pours with a jet black appearance and an impressive head that fades quickly. The aroma is "dark", meaning it is simply dense with "bitterness", chocolate, but over riding the whole thing is quite a strong black coffee. This is replicated in the taste. It's certainly a beer that is well made, but for my palate and...