Samuel Smith Brewery is the oldest currently operating, independently owned brewery in Yorkshire, founded in 1758. This brewery has long been the standard-bearer for great English beers in the United States. For me, this brewery holds a special place in my beer drinking history. Their Nut Brown ale was the first beer that truly blew my mind. Since then, I’ve drunk many of their beers and enjoyed them all. Somehow, I’d missed their Imperial Stout. I was planning on a post for Thanksgiving and during my research, discovered that Imperial Stouts are a great choice for the traditional dessert offerings. Now seemed like a good time to try this beer.
Initially created as a stronger version of the English stout for export to the Russian Empire and Baltic region during the 18th and 19th centuries, Imperial Stout is now the pinnacle of strong dark beers.
Appearance: Deep black with a dark tan head. Great head retention.
Aroma: Espresso, prunes, raisins, chocolate.
Taste: Bitter chocolate, dark fruit, sherry notes, flourless chocolate cake. There is an underlying hop bitterness to back up the rich maltiness.
Overall Impression: There is a lot of flavor packed into this beer, especially when you consider the lower alcohol level (for an Imperial Stout). Balanced and interesting, this beer is an enjoyable sipping experience for a cold fall evening. If you’re looking to try your first Imperial Stout, this is a great “training” beer. This isn’t a slight, though. It’s so well-built at a lower alcohol level that you can’t help but like it and want to dive deeper into the realm of Imperial Stouts.
Availability: Nationally at great beer stores and discerning bars.